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Mob Psycho 100 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 31, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Mob Psycho 100” was one of the coolest, wildest and craziest anime series I have watched in 2017.  From ONE, the creator of “One-Punch Man”, this is a different but equally enjoyable anime series worth watching and one that I highly recommend!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Toho Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Mob Psycho 100

DURATION: (12 Episodes) 300 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16×9), Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0 and English 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: PG

Release Date: December 5, 2017


Originally Created by ONE

Directed by Yuzuru Tachikawa

Series Composition: Hiroshi Seko

Music by Kenji Kawai

Character Design: Yoshimichi Kameda

Art Director: Ryo Kono

Sound Director: Kazuhiro Wakabayashi

Director of Photography: Mayuko Furumoto

Anime Production: Bones


Featuring the following voice talent:

Setsuo Ito/Kyle McCarley as Shigeo “Mob” Kageyama

Akio Ohtsuka/Michael Sorich as Ekubo

Atsumi Tanezaki/Cherami Leigh as Tome Kurata

Ayumi Fujimura/Abby Trott as Ichi Mezato

Hiroyuki Kagura as Daichi Shiratori/Kaito Shiratori

Kōhei Amasaki/Chris Hackney as Takeshi Hoshino

Miyu Irino/Max Mittelman as Ritsu Kageyama

Rumi Ookubo/Cristina Vee as Ishiguro

Sanae Fuku/Mela Lee as Rei Kurosaki

Takahiro Sakurai/Chris Niosi as Arataka Reigen

Toshihiko Seki/Patrick Seitz as Musashi Goda

Uki Satake/Ryan Bartley as Tsubomi Takane

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Xander Mobus as Sakurai/Tenga Onigawara

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Erik Scott Kimerer as Teruki Hanazawa

Yūsuke Kuwahata/Bobby Thong as Gou Asahi


Mob is an 8th grader with powerful psychic abilities who wants to be normal. When not exorcising evil spirits he attempts to suppress his powers, causing stunted emotions. But when he hits 100 percent, his pent-up feelings unleash a dark power.


Manga artist ONE became viral when his webcomic series “One-Punch Man” debuted.  While it had no official publisher and his art for the most part was quite rough, when the manga was remade into a digital manga illustrated by Yusuke Murata (best known for “Eyeshield 21”) and was serialized in “Weekly Young Jump”.

As ONE would become popular worldwide, he would go on to create another series from 2012-2017 titled “Mob Psycho 100”, which was serialized on the online version “Weekly Shonen Sunday” site, “Ura Sunday”.

With a total of 15 manga volumes published, a one season anime series which aired in July-September 2016 and a live action TV drama starting in January 2018, “Mob Psycho 100” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The anime series revolves around Shigeo Kagayama, who looks like an average boy and is given the nickname “Mob” (which means “background character” in Japanese).

While Mob may look nerdy and weak, the truth is that he is a powerful Esper.

Mob works for Arataka Reigen, a self-proclaimed psychic but in truth, he is a con artist who happens to excel in persuasion and perception but also quite clever and agile, with a lot of skills that makes one wonder if he’s a very skilled person.  Who happens to also be Mob’s mentor.

And through Reigen, Mob has learned one important lesson from his master and that is to never use his Esper abilities against anyone.

Partly becomes if Mob’s feelings reach 100%, he is overcome with a strong emotion that makes him unable to control his powers and he literally becomes a black-souled being that can destroy and hurt people.

And his younger brother Ritsu had witness this.  Ritsu is different from Mob that he exceeds in athletics and academically.  He is taller, more handsome and popular.  But he wishes he has his brothers psychic power and is often envious of his older brother.

Meanwhile, Mob runs to various obstacles, from ghosts to other ESPers that want to fight him and with Mob trying to control his emotions and keeping to the promise to never use his powers on anyone living, how will things turn out for Mob when the going gets rough?

What happens when Mob meets an upper class evil spirit named Dimple who can possess the bodies of others?  And what happens when Mob confronts a “hidden boss” named Teruki Hanazawa whose intent is to beat Mob to a pulp.

And just when things are starting to get peaceful, what happens when Ritsu’s ESPer power starts to develop and an evil ESPer organization known as Claw starts to reveal themselves?


VIDEO:

“Mob Psycho” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). Colors are vibrant and backgrounds are extremely detailed. Character designs are fantastic and are respectful to ONE’s original digital manga (with better detail of course).  But the series looks great in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Mob Psycho” is presented in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 and English 5.1. Featuring crystal clear dialogue and music along with wonderful sound effects during the more action-driven scenes that utilize the surround channels.  And both the Japanese and English soundtrack, the voice actors were well-cast for both.  And as for the English dub, I have to say that I noticed names for the English dub that I have heard before and the casting was wonderful because I found Kyle McCarley’s Mob and Chris Niosi for Arataka Reigen.

I suppose I have been critical of Funimation in the past for using the same voice actors over and over for various anime series and as talented as they are, I don’t want to hear that same voice for every character because an ADR director felt comfortable with that person and wanted to use them for every series.  Lately, Funimation has been doing a great job of stepping outside of that circle, casting new talent and this is a series indicative of that.  Great casting and the English dub voice actors on this series did a wonderful job!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Mob Psych0 100.” comes with the following special features:

  • Mob Psycho Shorts – (39:54) 8-bit video-game like animation featuring the “Mob Psycho 100” characters.
  • Promo Video
  • Flipbook Video
  • Commercials
  • Textless Closing Song

I’m not sure how often I come across an anime series that captivates your attention through fascinating characters, wild concepts and surreal plotlines, but “Mob Psycho 100” does just that.

A story of a teen trying to keep his powers in check and to not bring his emotions up to 100%, he has shut his emotions, not have had any social interactions and has pretty much kept to himself.

But despite not having any friends and not having any true skills (beyond his ESPer powers), he does want to improve his life and be better.

But lately Mob is learning that he is not the only ESPer in town and there are many out there like him, those who have yet to make a decision of how they would use their powers for good, others for evil.

What makes this series work is that it’s wild, crazy and a whole lot of fun.  The many characters at first was a cause of worry because there are many of them, but the way the series is able to develop these characters and build them into the story was done well.  So, big credit to Hiroshi Seko for the overall series composition.

But I absolutely was proud of the direction from Yuzuru Tachikawa of making this series faithful to ONE’s original works.  It has that crazy, wild style of “ONE-PUNCH MAN” but it’s so much different and refreshing that I had a lot of fun watching this anime series.  No doubt one of the best anime series I have watched in 2017.

As for the Blu-ray, the anime series is vibrant in HD and the lossless soundtrack is wonderfully done, with the voice acting for both Japanese and English dub soundtrack to be exceptional.

And you also get numerous extras such as Mob Psycho Shorts, promo videos, flipbook videos and more.

Overall, “Mob Psycho 100” was one of the coolest, wildest and craziest anime series I have watched in 2017.  From ONE, the creator of “One-Punch Man”, this is a different but equally enjoyable anime series worth watching and one that I highly recommend!

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season 1, Part 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The second half of season one of “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” is exciting and action-packed!   Featuring a major battle between the human army vs. the vampires!  What will happen when Yu and Mika reunite?  Find out in “Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season 1, Part 2”!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © Takaya Kagami, Yamato Yamamoto, Daisuke Furuya. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season, 1 Part 2

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 13-24 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese 2.0 and 5.1 TrueHD, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: September 27, 2016


Originally created by Daisuke Furuya (Storyboard), Takaya Kagami (Story) and Yamato Yamamoto (Art)

Director: Daisuke TokudoNaoyuki Tatsuwa

Series Composition by Hiroshi Seko

Music by Asami Tachibana, Hiroyuki Sawano, Megumi Shiraishi, Takafumi Wada

Character Design by Satoshi Kadowaki

Art Director: Seiko Yoshioka

Anime Production: Wilt Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaito Ishikawa/Ian Sinclair as Shiho Kimizuki

Kensho Ono/Justin Briner as Mikaela Hyakuya

Miyu Irino/Micah Solusod as Yuichiro Hyakuya

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Chris Burnett as Yoichi Saotome

Saori Hayami/Felecia Angelle as Shinoa Hiragi

Takahiro Sakurai/Eric Vale as Ferid Bathory

Yūichi Nakamura/Dave Trosko as Guren Ichinose

Yuka Iguchi/Alex Moore as Mitsuba Sangu

Aoi Yūki/Monica Rial as Krul Tepes

Atsumi Tanezaki/Skyler McIntosh as Sayuri Hanayori

Daisuke Ono/Duncan Brannan as Norito Goshi

Kenichi Suzumura/Austin Tindle as Crowley Eusford

Tatsuhisa Suzuki/Jerry Jewell as Shinya Hiragi

Tomoaki Maeno as Kureto Hiragi

Yu Shimamura/Trina Nishimura as Mito Jūjō

Yui Ishikawa as Shigure Yukimi


With the Shinjuku Battle behind him and Mika lost to the side of the vampires, Yuichiro begins searching for a way to turn his old friend back into a human. But first, he and the rest of his squad must focus on controlling the powerful demons they’ve made contracts with. If they hope to survive, they’ll have to walk the line between being possessed by their demon’s powers and being completely consumed by them. As they continue training, a new threat appears in the form of Kureto Hiragi the ruthless lieutenant general of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army. While he prefers to keep his true intentions hidden, Kureto makes it clear he can match the cruelty of any vampire. When he receives intel that the main unit of the vampire army plans to attack again, Guren and the rest of the Black Demon Army are sent on a suicide mission deep behind enemy lines. Their objective: exterminate the vampire nobles before humanity makes its last stand and the Seraph of the End is unleashed.


In 2012, mangaka Takaya Kagami (“The Legend of the Legendary Heroes”), artist Yamato Yamamoto (“Kure-nai”, “Denpa Tei na Kanojo”) and storyboard artist Daisuke Furuya teamed up to work on the dark fantasy manga series “Owari no Serafu”.

While the manga series is ongoing in Japan, the first season of the anime series was released on television in 2015 and was released on Blu-ray + DVD in the US in May 2016.

Produced by Wilt Studios, the anime series is directed by Daisuke Tokudo (“Guilty Crown”, “Hal”), series composition by Hiroshi Seko (“Attack on Titan”, “Ajin: Shototsu”, “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress”), character design by Satoshi Kadowaki (“Attack on Titan”, “Kannagi: Crazy Shine Maidens”) and art direction by Seiko Yoshioka.

“Seraph of the End” begins with an introduction of how an unknown virus brought the world to a sudden end. Only children under 13-years-old survived and those children were enslaved by vampires.

The story introduces us to an impulsive boy named Yuichiro Hyakuya who wants nothing more but to kill vampires. But his friend Mikaela Hyakuya is a boy who is more levelheaded and tries to get his friend to think straight and know they are not powerful enough to defeat them.

For Yuichiro, he wants nothing more but his fellow friends to escape captivity from the underground city of Sanguinem and reach the outside.

And one day, all of them decide to make their escape…but will they be successful?

Yuichiro Hyakuya wants nothing more but to get his revenge on the vampires who killed his friends, especially his best friend, Mikaela Hyakuya, who sacrificed his life in order for Yuichiro to escape.

Fast forward years later and as Yuichiro is wanting to become a member of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, the army responsible for fighting against the vampires, he needs to learn discipline and train for combat. But first he must go through the various tests in school which include being friends with others and being a team player, all are hard for Yuichiro to try and do.

But now is his chance to pass the test to advance, but it means having to partner with another hot-headed teen like himself, who doesn’t mind getting into brawls…Kimizuki.

Will Yuichiro, Kimizuki and Yoichi be ready for their next test? And will Yuichiro make new friends?

Meanwhile, what happened to Mikaela Hyakuya after Yuichiro escaped from the Vampire lair?

In the second half of the first season, Yuichiro still trying to learn more about his special abilities, must find a way to get his cursed gear Asumaru to work with him.

Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes, interesting partnerships or rivalries created within the ranks of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army and the vampires. The Japanese Imperial Demon Army plans to launch a sneak attack on the vampire nobles and Yuichiro’s team must be ready to go into battle.

The problem is that they continue to work as individuals rather than a team and are not taking the attack as seriously as they should.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Imperial Demon Army is planning to launch a sneak attack on the vampire nobles and Yuichiro’s squad must take on the Fifteenth Progenitor vampire, Lucal Wesker.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Guren Ichinose and Major General Shinya Hiragi work together to take on the Thirteenth Progenitor vampire, Crowley Eusford and vampire nobles, Horn and Chess.

But with their Japanese Imperial Demon Army soldiers being depleted in the war against the nobles, do humans even have a chance?

Or is there a true enemy pulling the strings between the Japanese Imperial Demon Army and the Vampires?


VIDEO:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is absolutely vibrant and colorful. The background, especially the foreground artwork are beautifully painted and well-detailed, while the character designs are well-done and well-shaded. This is a gorgeous looking anime series and definitely a series a television series that caught my attention because it’s not soft, if features amazing detail and is full of colors and really does a great job of complimenting the manga series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” is presented in Japanese 2.0 Dolby TrueHD and English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series. The voice acting is fantastic for both Japanese and English soundtracks. Of course, with the English 5.1 soundtrack having better use of more audio channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season 1, Part 2″ comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 16 Commentary – Audio Commentary featuring Alex Moore, Ian Sinclair, Felecia Angelle and Dave Trosco.
  • Episode 21 Video Commentary -Video commentary featuring Monica Rial, Justin Briner, Eric Vale and Austin Tindel.
  • Episode 24 Commentary – Audio commentary featuring Micah Solusod, Garrett Storms, Dave Trosco and Justin Briner.
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • US Trailer
  • Promo Videos
  • BD/DVD Promos
  • Seraph of the Endless Parts 10-13 – (18:49) Hilarious omake that were shown at the end of each episode.

EXTRAS:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” comes with a slipcover and both the Blu-ray + DVD discs for this first season.


“Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” is a dark fantasy anime series based on the manga by mangaka Takaya Kagami (“The Legend of the Legendary Heroes”), artist Yamato Yamamoto (“Kure-nai”, “Denpa Tei na Kanojo”) and storyboard artist Daisuke Furuya.

The three teamed up to work on the dark fantasy manga series “Owari no Serafu” (“Seraph of the End”) and an anime adaptation courtesy of Wilt Studios. The series was rather enjoyable as the storyline featured children living underground as slaves of vampires. Literally, as cattle that they can feed upon.

Wanting nothing more but to escape the vampires even though they are not powerful, the main protagonist Yuiichiro is your typical headstrong teen who desires nothing more but to defeat them but desperately wants the power to do so.

But in order to join the Demon Army, he must make friends and learn the importance of family. But as for his orphan family and the person he was most close to, Mikaela…what will happen when Yuichiro find out the boy he called brother, has become a vampire?

While Mika became a vampire, he still harbors his hatred towards the vampires. While Yuichiro, thinking Mika is dead, has used his thirst for revenge to become a member of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, the army responsible for fighting against the vampires. And he has trained with his partners and received discipline and power to fight back.

But when he has a chance to kill the vampires, he is shocked to find out that the one he has to kill is Mikaela, and vice versa, as Mikaela finds out the vampire hunters he is to kill, one is Yuichiro.

But now that they know that one another is alive, what will happen to them now?

In the second half of the series, Yuichiro and his team prepare for the army’s sneak attack against the vampire nobles.  But the group are often messing around and not taking things as seriously as they should.

Do they know the ramifications if one of their own is killed in battle?  Are they ready to face the danger that is coming their way?  For now, the army thinks the team has zero chance because their lack of teamwork.

As the army prepares its sneak attack, the group must team up with Makoto Narumi’s team in order to take out the vampire, Fifteenth Progenitor Lucal Wesker.

Also, the series features the battle against Lucal Wesker but showing how the fight against the other nobles have led to the decimation of squads and now, Lt. Col. Guren Ichinose needs whoever is still alive to launch a fight against the powerful vampire, Crowley Eusford and fellow nobles, Chess and Horn.

Meanwhile, Mikaela Hyakyuya, Yuichiro’s childhood friend who has turned into a vampire is looking for him.  But what will he find?

There is quite a bit of potential that leaved me wanting to watch more after all was done, as the humans vs. vampires war seems to get exciting with each episode.

The animation production by Wilt Studio is fantastic! The series is colorful, well-shaded and the art backgrounds was really well done! The series really compliments the original manga style with violence, darkness and more! So, on Blu-ray, picture quality and lossless audio is fantastic! Voice acting is wonderful on both Japanese and English soundtracks, with the English dub getting a nod for its 5.1 lossless soundtrack!

And the Blu-ray also comes with a good number of special features including a video and two audio commentaries!

Overall, the second half of season one of “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” is exciting and action-packed!   Featuring a major battle between the human army vs. the vampires!  What will happen when Yu and Mika reunite?

Find out in “Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season 1, Part 2”!  Recommended!

 

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season, 1 Part 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

seraph1

“Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” is an exciting, dark and kick ass anime series that I look forward for the second season! An exciting and enjoyable anime series that I definitely recommend!

Image courtesy of © Takaya Kagami, Yamato Yamamoto, Daisuke Furuya. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season, 1 Part 1

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-12  (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese 2.0 and  5.1 TrueHD, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 24, 2016


Originally created by Daisuke Furuya (Storyboard), Takaya Kagami (Story) and Yamato Yamamoto (Art)

Director: Daisuke TokudoNaoyuki Tatsuwa

Series Composition by Hiroshi Seko

Music by Asami Tachibana, Hiroyuki Sawano, Megumi Shiraishi, Takafumi Wada

Character Design by Satoshi Kadowaki

Art Director: Seiko Yoshioka

Anime Production: Wilt Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaito Ishikawa/Ian Sinclair as Shiho Kimizuki

Kensho Ono/Justin Briner as Mikaela Hyakuya

Miyu Irino/Micah Solusod as Yuichiro Hyakuya

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Chris Burnett as Yoichi Saotome

Saori Hayami/Felecia Angelle as Shinoa Hiragi

Takahiro Sakurai/Eric Vale as Ferid Bathory

Yūichi Nakamura/Dave Trosko as Guren Ichinose

Yuka Iguchi/Alex Moore as Mitsuba Sangu

Aoi Yūki/Monica Rial as Krul Tepes

Atsumi Tanezaki/Skyler McIntosh as Sayuri Hanayori

Daisuke Ono/Duncan Brannan as Norito Goshi

Kenichi Suzumura/Austin Tindle as Crowley Eusford

Tatsuhisa Suzuki/Jerry Jewell as Shinya Hiragi

Tomoaki Maeno as Kureto Hiragi

Yu Shimamura/Trina Nishimura as Mito Jūjō

Yui Ishikawa as Shigure Yukimi


The world of Seraph of the End Vampire Reign is overrun with vampires, and humans have been hunted to the brink of extinction. The only way they can fight back is with a series of demonic weapons known as Cursed Gear. Reserved for soldiers with exceptional talent, these weapons require humans to form pacts with ancient demons in exchange for their power.

Yuichiro Hyakuya is a young member of the Moon Demon Company, a prestigious army squadron armed with Cursed Gear and tasked with exterminating vampires. After the blood-sucking monsters killed his family when he was a child, Yuichiro vowed he wouldn’t stop fighting until every last one was dead.

But when a familiar face from his past appears sporting a new set of fangs, the line drawn between good and evil begins to blur. There’s something special about Yuichiro – a dark power that the vampires call the Seraph of the End. When that power is unleashed, will he be the key to humanity’s salvation or its complete destruction? Don’t miss out on the first season of Seraph of the End Vampire Reign!

 


In 2012, mangaka Takaya Kagami (“The Legend of the Legendary Heroes”), artist Yamato Yamamoto (“Kure-nai”, “Denpa Tei na Kanojo”) and storyboard artist Daisuke Furuya teamed up to work on the dark fantasy manga series “Owari no Serafu”.

While the manga series is ongoing in Japan, the first season of the anime series was released on television in 2015 and was released on Blu-ray + DVD in the US in May 2016.

Produced by Wilt Studios, the anime series is directed by Daisuke Tokudo (“Guilty Crown”, “Hal”), series composition by Hiroshi Seko (“Attack on Titan”, “Ajin: Shototsu”, “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress”), character design by Satoshi Kadowaki (“Attack on Titan”, “Kannagi: Crazy Shine Maidens”) and art direction by Seiko Yoshioka.

“Seraph of the End” begins with an introduction of how an unknown virus brought the world to a sudden end. Only children under 13-years-old survived and those children were enslaved by vampires.

The story introduces us to an impulsive boy named Yuichiro Hyakuya who wants nothing more but to kill vampires. But his friend Mikaela Hyakuya is a boy who is more levelheaded and tries to get his friend to think straight and know they are not powerful enough to defeat them.

For Yuichiro, he wants nothing more but his fellow friends to escape captivity from the underground city of Sanguinem and reach the outside.

And one day, all of them decide to make their escape…but will they be successful?

Yuichiro Hyakuya wants nothing more but to get his revenge on the vampires who killed his friends, especially his best friend, Mikaela Hyakuya, who sacrificed his life in order for Yuichiro to escape.

Fast forward years later and as Yuichiro is wanting to become a member of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, the army responsible for fighting against the vampires, he needs to learn discipline and train for combat. But first he must go through the various tests in school which include being friends with others and being a team player, all are hard for Yuichiro to try and do.

But now is his chance to pass the test to advance, but it means having to partner with another hot-headed teen like himself, who doesn’t mind getting into brawls…Kimizuki.

Will Yuichiro, Kimizuki and Yoichi be ready for their next test?  And will Yuichiro make new friends?

Meanwhile, what happened to Mikaela Hyakuya after Yuichiro escaped from the Vampire lair?


VIDEO:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is absolutely vibrant and colorful. The background, especially the foreground artwork are beautifully painted and well-detailed, while the character designs are well-done and well-shaded. This is a gorgeous looking anime series and definitely a series a television series that caught my attention because it’s not soft, if features amazing detail and is full of colors and really does a great job of complimenting the manga series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” is presented in Japanese 2.0 Dolby TrueHD and English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series. The voice acting is fantastic for both Japanese and English soundtracks.  Of course, with the English 5.1 soundtrack having better use of more audio channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – Season 1, Part 1″ comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Commentary – Audio commentary featuring Micah Solusod, Eric Vale and Justin Briner.
  • Episode 8 Commentary – Audio Commentary featuring Alex Moore, Ian Sinclair, Felecia Angelle and Micah Solusod.
  • Episode 11 Volume Commentary – Video Commentary Micah Solusod (voice of Yuichiro), Justin Briner (voice of Mikaela Hyakuya), Felecia Angelle (voice of Shinoa) and Alex Moore (voice of Mitsuba).
  • Textless Opening and Closing Songs
  • US Trailer
  • Promo Videos
  • BD/DVD Promos
  • Seraph of the Endless Parts 1-9 – (18:49) Hilarious omake that were shown at the end of each episode.

EXTRAS:

“Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign” comes with a slipcover and both the Blu-ray + DVD discs for this first season.


“Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” is a dark fantasy anime series based on the manga by mangaka Takaya Kagami (“The Legend of the Legendary Heroes”), artist Yamato Yamamoto (“Kure-nai”, “Denpa Tei na Kanojo”) and storyboard artist Daisuke Furuya.

The three teamed up to work on the dark fantasy manga series “Owari no Serafu” (“Seraph of the End”) and an anime adaptation courtesy of Wilt Studios.  The series was rather enjoyable as the storyline featured children living underground as slaves of vampires.  Literally, as cattle that they can feed upon.

Wanting nothing more but to escape the vampires even though they are not powerful, the main protagonist Yuiichiro is your typical headstrong teen who desires nothing more but to defeat them but desperately wants the power to do so.

But in order to join the Demon Army, he must make friends and learn the importance of family.  But as for his orphan family and the person he was most close to, Mikaela…what will happen when Yuichiro find out the boy he called brother, has become a vampire?

While Mika became a vampire, he still harbors his hatred towards the vampires.  While Yuichiro, thinking Mika is dead, has used his thirst for revenge to become a member of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, the army responsible for fighting against the vampires.  And he has trained with his partners and received discipline and power to fight back.

But when he has a chance to kill the vampires, he is shocked to find out that the one he has to kill is Mikaela, and vice versa, as Mikaela finds out the vampire hunters he is to kill, one is Yuichiro.

But now that they know that one another is alive, what will happen to them now?

There is quite a bit of potential that leaved me wanting to watch more after all was done, as the humans vs. vampires war seems to get exciting with each episode.

The animation production by Wilt Studio is fantastic!  The series is colorful, well-shaded and the art backgrounds was really well done!  The series really compliments the original manga style with violence, darkness and more!  So, on Blu-ray, picture quality and lossless audio is fantastic!  Voice acting is wonderful on both Japanese and English soundtracks, with the English dub getting a nod for its 5.1 lossless soundtrack!

And the Blu-ray also comes with a good number of special features including a video and two audio commentaries!

Overall, “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” is an exciting, dark and kick ass anime series that I look forward for the second season!

An exciting and enjoyable anime series that I definitely recommend!

 

 

The Garden of Words (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Visually stunning with an immersive soundtrack and a story that is so emotional that for those who have never watched a Makoto Shinkai film will automatically become a Makoto Shinkai fan after watching this film!  “The Garden of Words” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of ©Maoto Shinkai/CoMix Wave Films. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Garden of Words (言の葉の庭)

YEAR OF FILM: 2013

DURATION: 46 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 16×9 HD Native, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 5.1, Subtitles: English

RATED: TV 14 D

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RELEASE DATE: August 6, 2013

 

Originally Created by Makoto Shinkai

Written, Directed, Storyboards by Makoto Shinkai

Music by Daisuke Kashiwa

Character Design by Kenichi Tsuchiya

Art Direction by Hiroshi Takiguchi

Animation Director: Kenichi  Tsuchiya

Anime Production by CoMix Wave Inc.

Featuring the voices of:

Kana Hanazawa/Maggi Flecknoe as Yukari Yukino

Miyu Irino/Patrick Poole as Takao Akizuki

Fumi Hirano/Shelley Calene-Black as Takao’s mother

Megumi Han/Allison Sumrall as Satō

Mikako Komatsu/Hilary Haag as Aizawa

Suguru Inoue/Mike Yager as Matsumoto

Takeshi Maeda/Crash Buist as Takao’s older brother

Yuka Terasaki/Brittney Karbowski as Girlfriend of Takao’s older brother

When Takao, a young high school student who dreams of becoming a shoe designer, decides to skip school one day in favor of sketching in a rainy garden, he has no idea how much his life will change when he encounters Yukino. Older but perhaps not as much wiser, she seems adrift in the world. Despite the difference in their ages, they strike up an unusual relationship that unexpectedly continues and evolves, with random meetings in the same garden on each rainy day.

But the rainy season is coming to a close, and there are so many things still left unsaid and undone between them. Will there be time left for Takao to put his feelings into actions and words? Between the raindrops, between the calms in the storm, what will blossom?

Just the mere mention of Makoto Shinkai’s name and fans of his work go crazy.

The former Falcom graphic designer, who took the anime industry by storm back in 2001 when he released his anime OVA titled “Voices of a Distant Star”, which he created on his Power Mac G4 and using several software and voice acted by he and his wife Miko and music provided by his friend Tenmon.

The OVA inspired many for the fact it was independent, created on a small budget but looked significantly better than some major anime series by well-known animation studios.

Suffice to say, the person who grew up inspired by Miyazaki films was now given a chance to create more animated films and he would eventually achieve success with “The Place Promised in Our Early Days” (2004), “5 Centimeters Per Second” (2007) and in 2011, he directed, wrote and produced “Children Who Chase Lost Voices (“Hoshi o Ou Kodomo”).

In May 2013, Shinkai’s latest film “Kotonoha no Miwa” (The Garden of Words) was released.

“The Garden of Words” is a film that revolves around a 15-year-old student named Takao Akizuki.  Takao lives with a mother who wants to be young and an adult brother about to move out of the home.  Dedicated in pursuing a goal of making his own shoes, both his mother and brother feel that he won’t succeed.

For Takao, he loves sketching out shoe designs and when it rains, he tends to head to the park where he can find peace and quiet.  One rainy day, he skips the first class of school and heads to the park to create some sketches and notices a young woman drinking a beer in the morning.

The two don’t speak to each other at first but with each rainy morning, Takao finds the young woman named Yukari Yukino and both begin talking to each other and enjoy their discussions.  When she sees his sketches, she talks to him about shoemaking and for Takao, he wants to make a pair of shoes in her size. He measures her feet and both have fun.

But the truth is for Yukari, outside of her discussions with Takao, her life is not fun.  She is quitting work and we get a sense that something bad has happened to her.  She looks depressed and she feels the only time she has any happiness is talking with Takao.  But Takao does sense sadness within Yukari for some reason and he always hopes he can comfort her in some way.

But with the rainy season ending, both realize it’s time to pursue their regular lives but as the days go by with no rain, both realize how happy they are to be around each other.

After the summer break from school, when Takao returns, he sees Yukari and he is surprised.  Takao’s friends tell him that the woman is Miss Yukino who tool a leave of absence from school and talked about how she had troubles in the school because one of the male students had a crush on her, so the girlfriend of the guy, she and her friends began creating rumors about Miss Yukino and started to bully her.

Takao feeling hurt about what happened to Yukari, decides to confront the teenagers who caused problems with her.  But finding out that Yukari is actually a school teacher, it doesn’t stop him from wanting to see her.

VIDEO:

“The Garden of Words” is presented in 1080p High Definition and looks magnificent on Blu-ray!  First, let me discuss how Shinkai Makoto has worked in his previous films, he and his staff tend to do a lot of research on locations, taking many photos in the process and use these photos as a source of inspiration for his films.  And often, the results are stunning.  From the way he captures sunlight on a building during a certain time of the day, sun and clouds interacting at a certain time of the day, many animated films tend to not show time during animation.  Usually it’s day or night, but with Shinkai films, you know when there is overcast, you know when the sun is rising or setting and he fully incorporates that to his films.

The other thing you will notice with “The Garden of Words” is his attention to detail with greenery (which were inspired from his research taken at Shinjuku Gyoen park).  The park looks so lush and beautiful and sets a feeling of peace and serenity for both the characters of Takao and Yukari.  Detail is also present during a scene where Takao is studying in his room, Yukari studying at work and just the scenes of rain hitting pavement, rain hitting a pond and the detail of these art backgrounds are fantastic and amazing.

Character designs are well-detailed, movement is well-done and for the most part, “The Garden of Words” is a film that looks magnificent on Blu-ray!

AUDIO:

“The Garden of Words” is presented in English and Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1.  The lossless track is well-done, from the moment you hear the rain hitting a pond, rain hitting pavement, the sound of the train and the train arrival announcement, the cars in the background.  The sounds are immersive as they come from the surround and rear surround channels.  Audio coming from the center and front channels are crystal clear, both voice acting tracks, English and Japanese are well-acted and I saw no differences between either lossless soundtracks.  But Shinkai fans with a good audio setup will enjoy listening to this film!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Garden of Words” comes with the following special features:

  • Japanese Commentary – Voice actress Risa Mizuno (of “The Place Promised in our Early Days”) interviews director Makoto Shinkai for the Japanese audio commentary.  Note: You need to select “languages” to find the audio commentary.
  • English Commentary – Audio commentary by Patrick Poole (voice actor for Takao) and Maggie Flecknoe (voice actress for Yukino).  Note: You need to select “languages” to find the audio commentary.
  • Interviews – (52:22) Interviews with director Makoto Shinkai, voice talents Kana Hanazawa and Miyu Irino.
  • Storyboards – (45:09) Watch the entire film with the Japanese voice acting but instead of animation, you will watch the original storyboards.
  • English Production Stills – (5:08) Featuring stills of the English voice talent working behind-the-scenes.
  • Garden of Words Japanese Trailer – (2:31) The Japanese theatrical trailers for “Garden of Words”.
  • The Works of Makoto Shinkai – (9:06) A featurette showcasing all Makoto Shinkai major animated works.

When it comes to the work of Makoto Shinkai, after the first film I was sold.  Similar to Studio Ghibli great, the animation prodigy who created an animated film by himself has since created one hit film after the other.  Where Studio Ghibli features a storyline that captures director Hayao Miyazaki’s thoughts on the world but yet manages to capture one’s attention towards fantasy and modern political issues, Shinkai Makoto films try to captivate you by stunning, heavily detailed animation that captures realism and characters that are emotional but well-thought out.

Suffice to say that with Shinkai’s first three films, he scored the home run with his 2007 film “5 Centimeters Per Second”, Shinkai would return to the more action/fantasy style of storyline in 2011 with “Children Who Chase Lost Voices”.

In 2013, I first heard of “Kotonoha no Niwa” (The Garden of Words) reading Japanese newspapers and eventually seeing the flyer from Tokyo Anime Fair and just seeing the lush greenery used for the promotional poster and seeing two individuals, I knew already that Shinkai has returned to the more realistic type of storyline that made me love “5 Centimeters Per Second” so much.

But seeing the duration at less than 50 minutes, I was a bit surprised but I figured, if Shinkai can tell a story this long, let’s see how things turn out.

And for the most part, after watching “The Garden of Words”, the time was appropriate and it’s a storyline that nearly worried me.

Why?  Well, when it comes to student/teacher relationships and let me first preface that this is not about a student and teacher having a romantic relationship, Japan has flirted with the storylines quite often and have had great results in TV ratings.

Japan tends to visit a storyline known as “Kou Kou Kyoushi”  every 20 years via TV drama, originally starring in 1974, the series about an ill-fated relationship between a male teacher and his student and engaging in forbidden love.  With the last incarnation made in 2003, one can expect a new series in 2023.

In 1999, the drama “Majo no Jouken” surprised fans with its story of a female teacher and a high school boy engaged in forbidden love, another dark storyline about a doomed relationship.

And while Japan has flirted with the student and teacher relationship many times, fortunately, “The Garden of Words” is not about that type of relationship and Shinkai managed to come up with a storyline that isn’t too dark or ominous, let alone banal.

If anything, it’s about a teenager and a young woman who engage in discussion during the rainy days at a local park.  A teenage boy who dreams of creating shoes experiences his first feelings of love towards someone, while a young woman is lost in the dark after an unfortunate incident that has left her not wanting to live.

Both of these individuals needs that other person, for Takao it’s about needing that person that makes him pursue his goals of making shoes, something that his mother and older brother do not support.  And then there is Yukino, a woman who needs Takao, because he is the only person that has made her feel there is hope for living.

The story is not as emotionally complex when compared to his 2007 masterpiece “5 Centimeters Per Second” but “The Garden of Words” is no doubt his most visually stunning film yet.  The amount of detail that is captured in the art backgrounds is simply amazing.  The use of CG to give the sense of rain drops hitting water or the small things in life from a train passing by, the sound of the train station and the city, the rain clouds coming in.  Just small details in life that are captured with efficacy in an animated film.

Most animation companies do not go for that type of realism.  Yes, you do get realistic photos of a neighborhood or setting, but Shinkai films go even further by capturing environments and weather but also capturing the sounds that one would hear in that setting. It’s amazing work that he and his staff are able to capture!

The picture quality on the Blu-ray release of “The Garden of Words” is stunning, the lossless soundtrack is immersive and there is a good number of long special features included with this release, from commentary to the storyboards for the entire film.

The voice acting for both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-done.  Both voice talents were able to capture the emotional moments of the film remarkably well and for the most part, I’m more than happy with how this film and the casting for both Japanese and English soundtracks.  The Blu-ray release looks and sounds great and you get a very good number of special features included!

While many have asked if I liked it better than “5 Centimeters Per Second”, my answer is that I enjoyed his 2007 film much more, because the character interaction and its dramatic storyline was much more complex let alone it was a longer film that captured a relationship over the years.  “The Garden of Words” is still a beautiful and captivating film but nowhere near the brilliance of Shinkai’s 2007 masterpiece.  But I would say it’s my favorite Shinkai film after “5 Centimeters Per Second”.

Visually stunning with an immersive soundtrack and a story that is so emotional that for those who have never watched a Makoto Shinkai film will automatically become a Makoto Shinkai fan after watching this film!  “The Garden of Words” is highly recommended!

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