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Kiznaiver (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 10, 2018 by · 1 Comment 

If you are looking for an anime series that is short but yet has a solid storyline with cool animation, definitely give “Kiznaiver” a chance!

Image courtesy of © TRIGGER, Mari Okada. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Kiznaiver

DURATION: (12 Episodes) 300 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16×9), Japanese and English Linear PCM, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: December 26, 2017


Originally Created by Mari Okada

Original Character Design by Shirow Miwa

Directed by Hiroshi Kobayashi

Series Composition: Mari Okada

Music by Yuuki Hayashi

Character Design: Mai Yoneyama

Art Production by Masanobu Nomura

Anime Production: Trigger


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hibiku Yamamura/Natasha Strickey as Noriko Sonozaki

Yuuki Kaji/Ryland Strachan as Katsuhira Agata

Junichi Suwabe/Michael Adamthwaite as Kazunao Yamada

Kōtarō Nishiyama/Hans Wackershauser as Yoshiharu Hisomu

Mie Sonozaki/Jennifer Cameron as Mutsumi Urushibara

Misaki Kuno/Katrina Salisbury as Nico Niyama

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Scott Roberts as Tsuguhito Yuta

Rina Satou/Lori Bachynski as Honoka Maki

Tomoaki Maeno/Lucas Gilbertson as Hajime Tenga

Yuka Terasaki/Caitlynne Medrek as Chidori Takashiro


An original TV anime series by acclaimed animation studio TRIGGER (Kill la Kill) and the renowned writer Mari Okada (Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, The Anthem of the Heart).

The story is set in Sugomori-city, built in a reclaimed land, which was once prosperous as a futuristic city. Katsuhira Agata, a high school boy who is living in the city, has a strange body which can feel no pain at all and he doesn’t know why. Before summer vacation, by the guidance of a mysterious girl named Noriko Sonozaki, he is chosen as a member of “Kiznaiver,” a group of people who share pain. Then he finds his classmates who are also connected as “Kiznaiver,” however, they originally belong to different groups that never got along.

Sonozaki says, “This is an experiment to guide the world filled with wars to peace.” Following her words, they have to face various trials.

One summer story of boys and girls who have to share each other’s wounds begins.


From Trigger (“Kill la Kill”), Aniplex and Crunchyroll comes a collaboration that would lead to the anime series “Kiznaiver” written by Mari Okada and features the directorial debut of Hiroshi Kobayashi.

The 12-episode anime series aired on April – June 2016 and now the series will be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex of America Inc.

“Kiznaiver” begins with an introduction to Katsuhira Agata, an apathetic and emotionless person who suffered something in his past, which changed him for the worst.  He is often bullied and beaten up because he doesn’t care, and because he shows no emotion when being hit, it angers his bullies even more.

He often gets an earful from his childhood friend Chidori Takashiro, who had loved Katsuhira when he used to smile and show emotion but she has been concerned for him since he had changed.

Meanwhile, while getting beaten up, he is rescued by Hajime Tenga.  An impulsive person, who bullies the bullies and protects people he cared about.  But even when rescuing Katsuhira, Hajime is shocked by the lack of emotion from Katsuhira, especially when he was getting beaten and bullied.

One day, a mysterious girl named Noriko Sonozaki, who lacks human kindness and also is emotionless appears to Katsuhira and tells him that his high tolerance to pain and his submissive nature is what leads to him being bullied.  Noriko pushes Katsuhira down a flight of stairs.

When Katsuhira awakes, he is inside an underground hospital facility along with Chidori, Tenga and several others.

Noriko appears and tells them the true nature of the city they live in, Sugumori City and how it was actually created to test a large-scale experiment known as the Kizna system, which connects people through shared pain and suffering, both physical and emotional.

Those who are connected to the Kizna system are known as Kiznaivers.  And Katsuhira and his classmates that they have been selected to become Kiznaivers.  And sharing each other’s pain which allows them to build relationships and bonds with other different people.

But will these individuals, who are very different from each other, actually bond with one another?  And what is the mysterious connection that Noriko has with the other Kiznaivers?


VIDEO:

“Kiznaiver” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). Colors are vibrant and backgrounds are extremely detailed. Character designs are well-done and I like the overall look and style created by Trigger. I didn’t notice any banding issues while watching the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kiznaiver” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM.  Voice acting are well-done on both soundtracks and dialogue is crystal clear through the front channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kiznaiver” comes with the opening and ending credits.

EXTRAS:

“Kiznaiver” comes with a slipcase and six collectible pin-up cards.


For those who are looking for an entertaining, sci-fi and short anime series, will no doubt want to check out “Kiznaiver”.

A series about a group of people who find out they are Kiznaiver and were experimented on for world peace via the Kizna System, which connects people through shared pain and suffering, both physically and emotionally.

And we start to see how each of these individuals are suffering through some sort of pain.

The series main protagonist, Katsuhira Agata, is apathetic and barely has any emotions.  While others have certain issues which each episode slowly tries to deconstruct each person and show how they tried to hide their pain, but learn that they need to confront the inner struggle that they deal with, head on.

As one would expect, these individuals are all different in background and style, if I have to make any comparisons, I would like to think of it as a sci-fi “Breakfast Club”, where people are annoyed by each other but slowly become friends.  In the case of “Kiznaiver”, they have a shared pain that they feel from other individuals and are forced to endure it.

As the first eight episodes focuses on the main kiznaiver group, it’s episode 9-12 that explores the mysterious connection that Noriko has with Katsuhira and the others.

For the most part, the anime series is fascinating, as anime series don’t solely focus on character emotions and inner pain as a collective, especially when their pain somehow affects the city they live in. But I did enjoy the series for having a refreshing storyline, cool voice acting (for both Japanese and the English dub) and overall art design.

While the series looks and sounds great in HD, unfortunately the Blu-ray set is lacking when it comes to the special features (just the opening and ending theme only).  But you do get a slipcase and collectible pin-up cards.

Overall, if you are looking for an anime series that is short but yet has a solid storyline with cool animation, definitely give “Kiznaiver” a chance!

Fate/Grand Order First Order (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” may be a shorter animated film that is more about promoting the popular Android/iOS video game and expanding on the prologue, but even for an alternate universe storyline featuring a few of the “Fate/stay night” characters, it’s still an entertaining, action-packed animated film worth watching.

Image courtesy of © Type Moon. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Fate/Grand Order First Order

DURATION: 72 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: October 24, 2017


Original Concept by Kinoko Nasu

Directed by Hitoshi Nanba

Script: Ayumi Sekine

Music by Ryo Kawasaki

Original Character Design by Arco Wada, Mata, PFALZ, Takashi Takeuchi

Art Director: Takuya Ebisawa

Chief Animation Director: Keiksuke Goto

Anime Production: Lay-Duce


Featuring the following voice talent:

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Griffin Burns as Ritsuka Fujimaru

Rie Takahashi/Erica Mendez as Mash Kyrielight

Ayako Kawasumi/Kari Wahlgren as Artoria Pendragon (Alter)

Ayako Kawasumi as Fou

Junichi Suwabe/Kaiji Tang as Emiya

Kenichi Suzumura/Xander Mobius as Romani Archaman

Madoka Yonezawa/Kira Buckland as Olga Marie Animusphere

Nobutoshi Canna/Tony Oliver as Cú Chulainn

Tomokazu Sugita/Jalen K. Cassell as Lev Lainur

Yuu Asakawa/Melissa Fahn as Medusa


The year AD 2017.
The last era in which magecraft still thrived.

The Chaldea Security Organization was founded to ensure the continuation of human history. They survey a world which magecraft couldn’t observe and science couldn’t measure all to prevent the certain extinction of humanity.

But one day, the future that Chaldea continued to observe disappears and humanity’s extinction in 2019 becomes clear. Rather, it had already happened.

The cause seems to be related to Fuyuki, a provincial town in Japan, in the year AD 2004. There, an “unobservable region” that had not existed before appears.

Based on the assumption that Fuyuki is the reason for humanity’s extinction, Chaldea issues an order to explore, investigate, and possibly destroy this singularity – a quest for the Holy Grail, the Grand Order.


Back in 2015, the online free-to-play RPG game “Fate/Grand Order” (based on the Fate/stay night visual novel game by Type-Moon) was created for Android and iOS.

In 2016, anime studio Lay-duce created an animated television film titled “Fate/Grand Order: First Order” which is an adaptation of the game’s prologue.

The film is directed by Hitoshi Nanba (“Dash! Yonkuro”, “Golden Kamuy”, “Jungle no Ouja Taa-chan”), screenplay by Ayumi Sekine (“Dusk maiden of Amnesia”, “Idolish 7”, “Aldnoah.Zero”), music by Ryo Kawasaki (“Altair: A Record of Battles”, “Reikenzan: Eichi e no Shikaku”), character design by Keisuke Goto (“Gatchaman Crowds”, Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee”, “Yatterman”) and art direction by Takuya Ebisawa (“Afro Samurai: Resurrection”, “Eureka Seven”, “Glass Fleet”).

And now the animated film will be released in the U.S. on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex of America.

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” begins with a girl named Mash Lyrielight looking for her pet squirrel, Fou-san.  Fou-san rests upon a sleeping Fujimaru Ritsuka at an observatory built for the future of mankind located inside the Chaldea Security Organization.

The last thing that Fujimaru remembers is taking part in a test on the Spiriton Dive for rayshifting and that he has the potential to make a contract with a servant.

Mash explains that Chaldea Security Organization wants to ensure that humanity continues and how a mini-Earth was created inside Chaldea and that it would lead to life for 100 years but now the Earth is starting to fade and that mankind may end in 2018.  A new calamity, spacial singularity F has started to show up in Japan and is possibly the reason why mankind is fading.

So, Rayshifting allows people to go into the past in hopes to find out what may be causing to the decline of humanity and destroy it.

Fujimaru meets a Mage engineer named Leff Lynor, who happened to develop the Near-Future Observation Lens called Shiva.

The two head to a briefing held by Olga Marie Animusphere, a young woman who comes from the Mage family but because he falls asleep, he is kicked out of the briefing.  Fujimaru ends up meeting Dr. Roman and while the two are talking, an accident takes place and many people in the briefing are killed, while Mash is crushed by debris.

Fujimaru stays with her and a Rayshift process takes place and the two and Fou-san are sent to Fuyuki City, Japan in the year 2004.

Immediately, Fujimaru is attacked by Archer and Mash, in her Servant gear, protects him with her huge shield.  They then see Olga under attack from a skeleton army and Mash goes to help.

Olga receives a message from Dr. Roman that 47 potential Masters are in critical condition and will be put in cryo.

Mash who was killed by the falling debris was given an opportunity to live on as a Demi-Servant because she helped with investigating Singularity F and Fujimaru is now her master.

As the three search around, they come across Medusa Lancer who is turning humans to stone and killing them, and Lancer ends up trapping the three with her chains but is rescued by Caster.

Caster exlpains to everyone that during the last Holy Grail War, there was a fire in Fuyuki City and many humans were killed while leaving their Servants alive.  Saber Alter would corrupt Archer, Assassin Lancer, Rider and Berserker with a dark shadow.  And Archer and Caster are the only ones that have not yet been defeated.

The three decide to help Caster in hopes to resolve the Singularity F issue, but will it work?


VIDEO:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16 x 9). Colors are vibrant and backgrounds are well-done, characters are well-shaded and for the most part, the anime series looks fantastic in HD!  I didn’t notice any major banding issues or artifacts.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” is presented in Linear PCM English and Japanese 2.0. The anime is well-acted both in Japanese and English.  Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” comes with  the Fate/Grand Order Game Opening (1:37), Fate/Grand Order Announcement Trailer (2:04), eight trailers featuring a servant character, First Order Dub PV (1:27), First Order Cast Interview (13:50) with English dub voice talents Tony Oliver (Caster), Erica Mendez (Mash) and Griffin Burns (Fujimura).

EXTRAS:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” comes with a 30-track (42-minute) CD soundtrack and a 20-page booklet.


I have been a big fan of the “Fate/stay night” Type-Moon Japanese visual novels, anime series and video games.

So, with the announcement back in 2015 of a “Fate/Grand Order” Android/iOS game, I was a little giddy.  The cool thing about this game is that it would be a reboot of the original Fate/Apocrypha project from 2012 and is meant to be a parallel world to “Fate/stay night” and “Fate/Grand Order” is mean to expand the prologue to the video game.

So, some fans may find the animated television film to be a bit short, considering “Fate/stay night” has received longer television seasons or an animated film, but at 70-minutes long, the story focuses on another timeline where humanity is supposed to be wiped out in 2018.

And we see the Chaldea Security Organization trying to extend humanity while trying to find out why these singularities are disrupting the continuation of human history and if they can send individuals who can rayshift (time-travel).

The anime series focuses on two individuals, Fujimaru and his demi-servant Mash, who come across the servant characters that many may be familiar with in “Fate/stay night” but seeing many of their favorites, especially the often good protagonist, Saber Alter, now corrupted by darkness.  And the two remaining servants are Caster and Archer who need to battle to the death (there is also an appearance of Medusa in a brief battle).

While entertaining, it’s a film that is meant to introduce people to the primary characters of “Fate/Grand Order” and then people can jump on aboard and find out how the story ends by playing the video game.

Overall, animation is well done.  Lay-Duce did a magnificent job with the animation, character design and background art.  Animation is vibrant and colorful, while lossless audio is presented in LPCM Stereo in Japanese and English.  Voice acting is well-done for both soundtracks and dialogue and music is crystal clear.

There are numerous special features, primarily trailers, but you do get a cool interview featuring Tony Oliver (ADR Director and voice of Caster), Erica Mendez (voice of Mash) and Griffin Burns (voice of Fujimaru).  But another cool addition to this release is that it comes with a 20-page booklet and CD soundtrack.

Overall, “Fate/Grand Order First Order” may be a shorter animated film that is more about promoting the popular Android/iOS video game and expanding on the prologue, but even for an alternate universe storyline featuring a few of the “Fate/stay night” characters, it’s still an entertaining, action-packed animated film worth watching.

 

Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is a captivating fantasy tale that will no doubt attract RPG video gamers and action/adventure anime fans. With several volumes of the light novel having been published, one can only hope that more episodes and seasons are created because this is one anime series that I would love to watch more of. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Ao Jumonji,  OVERLAP/Grimgar. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions

ORIGINAL TV AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: 12 Episodes (335 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 2, 2017


Originally created by Ao Jumonji

Directed by Ryosuke Nakamura

Script by Ryosuke Nakamura

Music by R.O.N.

Original Character Design by Eiri Shirai

Character Design by Mieko Hosoi

Art Director: Hidetoshi Kaneko

Chief Animation Director: Mieko Hosoi

Animation Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Ricco Fajardo as Haruhiro

Chika Anzai/Jad Saxton as Mary

Daisuke Namikawa/Todd Haberkorn as Kikkawa

Fukushi Ochiai/Jarrod Greene as Moguzo

Haruka Terui/Sarah Wiedenheft as Shihoru

Hiroki Yasumoto/Mike McFarland as Brittany

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Orion Pitts as Ranta

Mamiko Noto/Jamie Marchi as Barbara

Mikako Komatsu/Jeannie Tirado as Yume

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Justin Briner as Manato

Tomokazu Seki/Jason Liebrecht as Renji



Back in 2013, writer Ao Jumonji and illustrator Eiri Shirai collaborated on a Japanese light novel series titled “Hai to Genso ni Gurimugaru” (“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions”).  With a total of nine novels created, a manga adaptation by Mutsumi Okubashi was serialized in “Gangan Joker” in 2015.

Due to the popularity of the series, a 12-episode anime series produced by A-1 Pictures aired in Japan from January through March 2016 and an OVA followed afterward.

The series is directed and written by Ryosuke Nakamura (“Aiura”, “Nana”, “Psychic School Wars”, “Moryo no Hako”), music by R.O.N. (“Aquarion Logos”, “Solty Rei”, “Unlimited Fafnir”), character design by Mieko Hosoi (“Aiura”, “Aoi Bungaku”) and art direction by Hidetoshi Kaneko (“”Devil Hunter Yohko”, “Chance Pop Session”, Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals”, “Jubei-Chan the Ninja Girl”, “Mermaid’s Scar”, “X”).

And now the “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is available on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

The story follows a young man named Haruhiro and several people who awaken in a fantasy world and remember nothing but their own names.  They all find out that they must become Trainee Volunteer Soldiers and must support themselves to survive and that is by killing goblins to earn money.  As many of the strong join groups, Haruhiro and others were not chosen and so they form their own group.

As Haruhiro and his friends become Trainee Volunteer Soldiers, they must join forces to survive and train and use their skills to defeat goblins.

The primary characters in “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” are:

  • Haruhiro – A softspoken person who is level-headed and becomes the group’s thief.
  • Yume – She is brave and is the hunter of the group.   She often tries to protect Shihoru and is att odds with Ranta.
  • Shihoru – The shy member of the group. She is a mage.
  • Ranta – The Dark Knight of the group.  He is perverted and outspoken and tends to cause trouble with the group because of his rash decisions.
  • Manato – The teams priest (healer) and the group leader.  A strategist that sees the positive in each member of the group.
  • Moguzo – The tallest and heaviest member of the group and the team’s warrior.  Loves cooking.
  • Mary – A priest (healer) who became colder due to the death of her friends.
  • Renji – Arried the same time Haruhiro and others but has graduated from being a trainee quickly.

VIDEO:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is presented in 1080p High Definition and A-1 Pictures did a wonderful job with this series.  The backgrounds are nicely painted and look like it was painted with watercolors.  Meanwhile, characters are well shaded and colors are vibrant.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is presented in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  Dialogue and music including environment and ambiance are well-utilized throughout the surround channels for the lossless English dub soundtrack.  Both soundtracks are well-acted but in terms of channel utilization, with the English lossless soundtrack receiving a 5.1 treatment, that soundtrack has an edge.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” comes with the following special features:

  • OVA 2.5 – Staking Our Youths on the Bath Wall – One More Centimeter
  • Episode 04 Video Commentary – Featuring Funimation staff Godswill (social media coordinator), Casey (promo video) and Ian (senior graphic designer)
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.


For those who play video games, I’m sure the gamer had once thought, “what if we were in our own video game?”.

It’s something I know my RPG-loving friends have joked about and while we have seen anime where characters’s avatars or consciousness were trapped in a video game (ala “.Hack” or “Sword Art Online”) but what if people were transported into a fantasy world where they fought in classes like an RPG video game?

This is somewhat of the idea in “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions”.  Numerous people transported to a fantasy world and they have no choice but to fight or die.

Fighting is the only option for one to make money, buy food or purchase things and to do that, you must become a soldier.  And for these new people who have arrived, they immediately must become Trainee Volunteer Soldiers and join up in guilds.  Train and learn new skills and fight goblins who will do all they can to kill you.

The anime series focuses on a group of people who were not selected to join a major guild, so they join forces and become their own group.  And as they become friends and try to learn how to use their skills to fight goblins, they don’t know how bad the dangers are until one of their own is killed.

And now they must find a way to continue on, grow as a team and protect each other.

Featuring beautiful animation and beautifully painted backgrounds courtesy of A-1 Pictures, the anime series looks vibrant and gorgeous on Blu-ray.  The lossless soundtrack for both English and Japanese soundtracks are fantastic but the English soundtrack gets an edge as it was made into a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack, while the Japanese version is a stereo lossless soundtrack.

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” come with an OVA and an episode 4 video commentary by the English dub talent.

Overall, “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is a captivating fantasy tale that will no doubt attract RPG video gamers and action/adventure anime fans.  With several volumes of the light novel having been published, one can only hope that more episodes and seasons are created because this is one anime series that I would love to watch more of.

Recommended!

Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!! – The Complete Series (A J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Sky Wizards Academy – The Complete Series” is an anime series that is easy to follow, is a lot of fun and fully of action. If you enjoy magical academy anime series and are looking for an anime series with a shorter duration, “Sky Wizards Academy” is worth watching!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!! – The Complete Series

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2014

DURATION: (Episodes 1-12) 300 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: June 7, 2016


Originally created by Yume Mizusawa

Directed by Hiroyuki Kanbe

Series Composition by Naruhisa Arakawa

Music by Yasaharu Takanashi

Original Character Design by Ayumu Kasuga

Character Design by Kazuaki Morita, Masahiro Yamane

Art Director: Katsuhisa Takiguchi

Art Design by Tsukasa Ohira

Anime Production by Production iMS


Featuring the following voice talent:

Maaya Uchida/Morgan Garrett as Twoearle

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Austin Tindle as Sōji Mitsuka

Sumire Uesaka/Bryn Apprill as Tail Red

Chinatsu Akasaki/Mikaela Krantz as Erina Shindō

Hiromi Igarashi/Jennifer Green as Miharu Mitsuka

M.A.O/Michelle Rojas as Mikoto Sakuragawa

Tesshō Genda/Cris George as Lizadgildy

Tetsu Inada/Chris Rager as Draggildy

Yōko Hikasa/Leah Clark as Anko Isuna

Yuka Aisaka/Sarah Widenheft as Tail Blue

Yukari Tamura/Tia Ballard as Mega Neptune Mk. II


Soji Mitsuka of Gonna Be the Twin-Tail is an ordinary high schooler with an extraordinary obsession. Twin tails are his fire, his air, his will to live! But when a mysterious woman from another world enlists his help to fight hideous monsters with various moe fetishes, Soji must transform into a powerful pigtailed…girl?

With the help of his childhood friend, the class president, and his endless devotion to pigtails, Soji and his crew form a twin-tailed threesome to take on the monsters who feed on the “attribute power” of humans. But Soji’s new pigtailed powers come with a price; his surging popularity as the new heroin in town makes the twin-tailed trend explode, giving the monsters ample attribute powers to feed upon! Don’t miss the action in Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!


“Ore, Twintail ni Narimasu”…What began as a light novel series by Yume Mizusawa and illustrator Ayumu Kasuga, would become an anime adaptation in 2014 courtesy of Production IMS.

And now the anime series known as “Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!” is currently available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The series revolves around teenager Soji Mitsuka. He has an obsession with twin-tail hair and one day, he comes across a mysterious girl known as Twoearle, who has come from a parallel world.

But when Twoearle arrives, so do many monsters who appear in the city and declare that all twintails belong to them. As the monsters attack and feed off the spiritual energy of humanity, Twoearle gives Soji with Tail Gear, which is an imaginary armor which gives him twintail attributes, turning him to a red-headed twin-tail female warrior.

As Soji names his female warrior persona as Tail Red, she becomes popular and becomes a hero in the city.

His childhood friend Aika has a tsundere personality and is overprotective of Soji, but she also has a crush on him. She becomes jealous when she discovers Soji with Twoearle (because she is well-endowed and Aika is not) and the two women start to have a rivalry with each other. She becomes a Twintail Warrior known as Tail Blue and is excellent in fighting and martial arts.

The three eventually meet Erina Shindo, the Student Council President of Yogetsu Private Academy and she is a masochist and exhibitionist. She falls for Soji and gets aroused when Soji calls her name and she eventually becomes Tail Yellow, despite the fact that she hates twintails.

As these three twintails try to protect humanity from the monsters, they meet another girl from a parallel world named Isuna a.k.a. Tail Black, an obsessed fan of Twoerle and her persona on Earth is a singer named Anko Isuna. Why does Isuna have a deep hatred towards Tail Red? And can Soji keep his secret that he is Tail Red?


VIDEO:

“Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!! – The Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). Animation from Production IMS is good as character designs are well-done, art backgrounds are also well-done. There is subtle softness as one can expect from the majority of anime TV series but the anime series is colorful and animation is done well.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!! – The Complete Series” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. The series for the most part features crystal clear dialogue and music. The English dub has the edge with its 5.1 surround soundtrack but both voice acting for Japanese and English are well-acted.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!! – The Complete Series” features the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Commentary – Featuring a hilarious audio commentary with Austin Tindle (voice of Soji) and Morgan Garrett (voice of Twoerle).
  • Episode 11 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Jerry Jewell, Bryn Apprill as Tail Red and Mikaela Krantz as Tail Yellow.
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailer – Funimation trailer for “Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!! – The Complete Series”.

EXTRAS:

“Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!! – The Complete Series” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.


Watching the anime series “Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!!”, there is a part of me that found the anime series reminiscent to the classic ’80s manga/anime series “Ranma 1/2” but also having a touch of the “Neptunia” video game series with dose of fan service included.

The series revolves around a teenager named Soji Mitsuka who has an obsession/fetish with twin-tails. And his love for twin-tails gets him into some trouble when a well-endowed being known as Twoearle comes from a parallel world, bringing monsters following her, that want twin-tails to be their own (as these monsters also have an obsession/fetish towards twin-tails).

So, Soji is given power to fight the monsters, but in the process, he turns into a female warrior with twin-tails.

At first I found the anime series to be a bit awkward, fun and crazy but also action-packed.  And was wondering if this is an anime series that would focus more on comedy or action…or would it be another ecchi perverted fanservice driven anime series.

Fortunately, the former is primarily focused on and we see Soji really getting into the role as a twin-tail warrior and despite the series having female twin-tailed characters that fall for him, he’s a kindhearted person that just has an obsession and not at all not too perverted.  Although, it would be interesting if it did go that direction.

I found the anime series to be simple, fun, action-packed but I have to admit that part of the enjoyment of this anime series came from listening to the audio commentaries, especially the slightly mature and hilarious audio commentary between voice actor Austin Tindle and voice actress Morgan Garrett, which was fun to listen to.  While the audio commentary with Mikaela Krantz and Bryn Apprill was also fun to listen to.

As for picture quality, while not a top-notch quality driven anime series, animation and character designs along with background art is good.  The series is colorful but like many other anime TV series, there is slight softness.

Overall, for those who want an escape and are getting burned out with banal anime and want to laugh and watch a crazy, action-packed anime series, may find “Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!!” to be to their liking.

Say “I Love You.”: Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 20, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Say ‘I Love You’.” is no doubt one of the biggest surprises for 2013.  A delightful, addictive and wonderful teenage-romance anime series that I watched from beginning to end in one sitting. It’s that good!  Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © Kanae Hazuki-KODANSHA/Say “I Love You” Committee.  All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Say “I Love You.”: Complete Collection

ANIME SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2009

DURATION: Episode 1-13 (325 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14 LD

Release Date: December 24, 2013

Originally Created by Kanae Hazuki

Director by Takuya Sato

Series Director: Toshimasa Kuroyanagi

Series Composition by Takuya Sato

Music by Yuuji Nomi

Character Design: Junko Watanabe, Yoshiko Okuda

Art Director: Yuka Hirama

Anime Production by ZEXCS

Featuring the following voice talent:

 Ai Kayano/Caitlynn French as Mei Tachibana

Takahiro Sakurai/Leraldo Anzaldua as Yamato Kurosawa

Minako Kotobuki/Emily Neves as Megumi Kitagawa

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Greg Ayres as Kenji Nakanishi

Risa Taneda/Monica Rial as Asami Oikawa

Tomoaki Maeno/Andrew Loves as Kai Takemura

Yumi Uchiyama/Carli Mosier as Aiko Mutō

Friends suck, and trusting someone is just setting yourself up. That’s the lesson Mei Tachibana learned after her heart was ripped out and only a shell was left where a girl used to be. But unlike so many, she found an easy solution: she’ll never make another friend. Ever.

 

Okay, maybe that’s not as easy as it sounds, but it’s worked for Mei – or at least, it did until handsome, charming and annoyingly popular Yamato Kurosawa came along. For some freakish reason, he seems to like Mei. He even gave her his phone number! As if she would ever call him. Except she did. But only because she needed help. Still, he came. He actually came. And now things are getting way too complicated.

 

Mei’s no princess in a tower. She’s not waiting for a knight in shining armor to rescue her. So why did he have to kiss her and confuse everything? And why are those three little words so hard to say?

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In 2008, manga artist Kanae Hazuki created “Suki-tte Ii na yo” (Say “I Love You.”) which received a 13-episode anime adaptation in October 2012 and will be released on Blu-ray in Dec. 2013 courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

Produced by ZEXCS, the series is directed and features series composition by Takuya Sato (“Steins;Gate”, “Strawberry Marshmallow, “Fate/stay night”), music by Yuuji Nomi (“Bokurano”, “Royal Space Force – The Wings of Honneamise”, “Whisper of the Heart”), character designs by Junko Watanabe (“Blood+”, “Eden ofthe East: Paradise Lost”) and Yoshiko Okuda (“Gatchaman Crowds”, “Hellsing Ultimate”) and art backgrounds by Yuka Hirama (“Initial D: Third Stage”, “Street Fighter alpha”, “Boogiepop Phantom”).

“Say ‘I Love You.'” is a series that revolves around a 16-year-old teenager named Mei Tachibana.  She has been bullied since she was a child, never had any friends and often teased by the girls in high school for her look and not having had a boyfriend.    And because of a childhood incident in which a rabbit died at her school and the children all put the blame on her, she has since had a lack of trust towards people, thinking that people want to get close and then betray you.

Meanwhile, at the same high school is popular Yamato Kurosawa.  All the girls want to be with him and his friend Kenji Nakanishi wishes he can be like him, but Kenji is often says things without thinking and turns them off.  But Yamato Kurosawa is the guy that many girls dream of being with.

But one day, Kenji runs into her and when Yamato sees her for the first time, Kenji tells Yamato that Mei is the quite girl that never talks to anyone and is often looking out the window in class.

One day, while Kenji was behaving crazy, he sees a girl (which happens to be Mei Tachibana) walking up the stairs and tugs on her blouse.  When Yamato tells Kenji to stop, Mei mistakens Yamato Kurosawa as the pervert and gives him a roundhouse kick.

All the girls are dismayed of what Mei has done but instead of being upset, Yamato laughs it off.

Meanwhile, when Mei opens her locker later in the day, she sees a letter from someone upset of what she had done and tells her that she better apologize to Yamato.  Meanwhile, inside her locker are many thumbtacks as a warning.

Yamato then shows up and wants to apologize to her for Kenji’s action, but Mei does the apologizing and gives him many band aids for his cuts he received after falling after she kicked him.  But feeling uncomfortable about being around someone, she tries to walk off quickly away from him but yet Yamato keeps following her wherever she goes. Yamato tells her that he wants to be friends but Mei doesn’t want to be friends.  He wants to get her phone number but she is not interested in giving it out.  So, he ends up giving her his phone number and tells her to call him if she wants.

One day while working at her bakery job, Mei is freaked out when one of the male customers starts following her wherever she goes.  Mei runs into the convenience store scared and the guy just continues to stand there waiting for her to come out. Mei tries to call her mother for help but her mother is not home.  Not knowing what she should do, she has the paper with Yamato’s phone number and she calls him for help.

Surprised that Mei has called her, Yamato rushes to her rescue.  He tells her to hold on to his arm while they walk out.  The guy who was waiting asks if they are dating and while he looks, Yamato gives Mei a long kiss.  Making the guy leave!

Mei trembles after receiving her first kiss but is not sure how to behave or how to interpret it.  But Yamato tells her that he helped her out with her problem and now he has her phone number and wants to be friends with her.

The next day, Mei tries to understand what happened the previous night but wonders if that kiss meant anything but she can’t help but start thinking and dreaming about Yamato.

She eventually meets Asami Oikawa, a good friend of Yamato and Kenji’s and she learns from Asami that Yamato has kissed every girl in school except one girl, Miki Arai.  Hearing that, Mei is hurt that Yamato can just kiss any girl without meaning.  And thinking that why would Yamato go for a girl like her, when there are beautiful girls like Asami, who is popular in school for her big chest.

But when she and Asami head to the restroom, she hears girls talking bad about Asami and bullying her because of her breasts.  Later that day, Mei overhears two girls talking badly about Asami and tries to tell them to stop talking badly about her and in the process, Mei gets beaten up by the girls.

When Yamato sees her with a big bruise and scratches on her face, she tells him that she fell.  But he takes one of the band aids he has given her and puts it on her face. As she heads to the clinic, she sees Asami and the two start talking.  Meanwhile, the girls that were talking bad about Asami and beat up Mei, show up and Asami learns that Mei got in a fight to protect her.

Meanwhile, as Kenji who was hit in the face by a soccer ball, goes to the school clinic, he sees the ruckus and tries to defend Asami but once again, he starts talking without thinking about why he likes Asami’s big breasts and she runs out crying.

Kenji is devastated that he hurt Asami because he really likes her, but Mei gives him some advice and when Kenji decides to listen to Mei, he goes to Asami and comforts her but also confessing his true feelings for her.

Meanwhile, later that day, Mei follows Yamato to the karaoke and inside, Miki Arai starts flirting with him but he’s not interested.  When he leaves, he sees Mei hiding and Mei confronts him about about kissing girls for the fun of it and that kisses are meant for people you love and a kiss should be with only a meaning of love.

Hearing that, Yamato confronts Mei and kisses her, kisses her repeatedly showing her a kiss that he has given for fun, but a passionate kiss that he gives for love and that the kiss he is giving her is because he feels love for her.

And the girl who had been living a life without friends, becomes the big talk at school as word gets around that she and Yamato are dating.  But of course, with many other girls wanting Yamato, life for Mei Tachibana in high school is not going to be quite easy.

But having had a life of not saying anything or standing back, will she continue loving Yamato, even if that means that she has to put up with a lot of pain?

The main characters of “Say “I Love You.” are:

  • Mei Tachibana – The main protagonist who is a girl who has been bullied by classmates all her life.  She has lived a life with no friends and staying away from people, feeling that people just want to get close and betray her.  So, she never wants to have friends but when she meets Yamato Kurosawa and he kisses her, that one kiss would change her life forever.  While she has never had many friends, she is quite blunt and tells people how she feels and in someway, it’s constructive criticism that ends up helping people.
  • Yamato Kurosawa – The most popular guy in school that many girls want to be with and also has kissed many girls, he falls for Mei Tachibana.  When Yamato was young, he used to be bullied until he got older and became popular with the girls.
  • Asami Oikawa – Asami is a good friend of Yamato and Kenji.  She has a complex about her breasts, which she has been teased throughout grade school and high school.  But she idolizes Yamato after he stood up for her.  She becomes good friends with Mei after Mei defends her from bullies. She is also dating Kenji Nakanishi.
  • Kenji Nakanishi – A good friend of Yamato who gets into trouble because he is always talking before thinking, especially about girls.  But he is in love with Asami and the two become a couple thanks to advice given to him by Mei.
  • Aiko Muto – She is dating Masashi Tachikawa but for the longest time, she has been in love with Yamato.  She can be cold and has a bad-mouth.  She has used a lot of cosmetics and lossed a lot of weight in order to become attractive for Yamato and because of her extreme use of cosmetics, she has damaged her skin.  She has had sex with Yamato before and thus, she can’t understand why Yamato would go for Me.  But although she sees Mei as a rival, when she is bullied by how she used to be and looked like, of all people to defend her from a bully…it was Mei.
  • Masashi Tachikawa – Aiko’s boyfriend and a person who has loved her, no matter how she looked like back then and now.
  • Kakeru Hayakawa – A guy who has slept and been with many girls like Yamato. But when he finds out that Yamato is dating Mei Tachibana, he can’t understand why he would go for a girl like her and wants to try to get close to Mei.
  • Megumi Kitagawa – A popular model who transferred to Yamato’s school.  When she was in grade school, she was teased and bullied and called ugly.  But now that she is a model and adored, she tries to win friends by giving them things and she despises Mei and can’t understand why Yamato would go for someone as plain as Mei.
  • Kai Takemura – A childhood friend of Yamato who was bullied and because he hid and neglected his studies due to the bullies, he moved away.  But he returns back, bigger and stronger and wanting his revenge on the bullies that tormented him. He is addicted to collectables from a theme park, “Land”.  But the first person he meets and falls for is a girl that works at the bakery shop….Mei.
  • Nagi Kurosawa – Yamato’s younger sister who is great at cooking and making stuff animals.  But after being betrayed by her friends who used her just to go to her house and have her cook for them, she feels that she has been betrayed and has stopped going to school, not wanting to be around people ever again.

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VIDEO:

“Say “I Love You.”: Complete Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition. I absolutely loved the character designs to this anime series and it’s overall look.  The series features a good emphasis on style, hairstyles and locations.  And manages to capture teenage life with well-detailed and shaded character designs and art backgrounds that are beautiful.

A vibrant anime series which I didn’t see any banding or artifact issues during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Say “I Love You.”: Complete Collection” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.  While the series is front-channel driven series, dialogue and music is crystal clear and is appropriate for this teenage romance anime series.  While the Japanese voice acting is well-done and usually the version I prefer, in the case of “Say ‘I Love You.'”, Caitlynn French hits the ball out of the ballpark with this wonderful performance as Mei Tachibana.  The awkwardness, the sadness, the playfulness of Mei Tachibana’s character and capturing the eventual growth of her character before she meets Yamato and after, this was one of the best casting decisions I have heard in an anime series and I was very impressed with French’s performance.  Also, Leraldo Anzaldua did a fantastic job as the voice of Yamato.

But I absolutely loved the English dub for this anime series!  Great job by everyone involved.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Say “I Love You.”: Complete Collection” comes with clean opening and closing animation, Japanese promos and “Mei & Marshmallow” animations (typically shown at the end of an episode).

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I have watched and read plenty of Shojo series and I have to admit that I was captivated by Kanae Hazuki’s “Say ‘I Love You’.” anime series.

I have never watched or read the manga series before but it was unlike other anime series, which typically has become a cliche in Japanese animation, of a teenager falling for the handsome, popular guy in school.  Usually a storyline that features a love triangle or some situation that threatens the relationship, while “Say ‘I Love You’.” does follow a similar banality that we often see in shojo romance anime series, it’s different.

For one, “Say ‘I Love You’.” revolves around a teenage girl who was bullied and never had any friends.  She doesn’t know, nor does she care about the social atmosphere at school because she has shunned it, but her life of just trying to be the person that no one pays attention to, changes when she meets Yamato Kurosawa.

And because of how she is, that becomes the main drive of the series of wondering about her emotions, especially about jealousy, how to deal with rumors that she hears on campus about Yamato and how to deal with it.

Also, another major difference that “Say ‘I Love You’.” tries to showcase that even these beautiful girls at school, some have had history of unpleasant things happening to them.

I think anyone who has graduated from high school and looked back at those who were popular or unpopular and have reconnected with these individuals later on in life can understand how high school can really be a living hell for certain students.

Typically in an anime series, the well-endowed female character is often used as a sexual, fan service character which is long overused in anime but also manga.  But for the character of Asami Oikawa, life is not easy for her as other people may think.  Yes, they may get attention from the guys in school and people talk about that person behind their backs, but we see how its affected Asami Okawa and how she tries to hide it.

Aiko Muto is another example of a female who was uncomfortable with her life, lost a lot of weight and tried to experiment with so much makeup and somewhat destroying herself in order to pursue some type of perfection or trying to look beautiful.

Once again, a relevant topic as we have seen many young women (especially in Asian countries), who have had plastic surgery to change themselves to the point of no return.

Megumi Kitagawa is another example of one who has changed herself.  In this case, Megumi was called ugly and plain by people in school during grade school but now, she lives a life of trying to prove that she is beautiful and wants people to know it.  Especially wanting Yamato to be with her, now that she is beautiful.  But can’t understand why he would choose a girl who is unpopular and plain, something she has worked hard to change herself and not be.

And last, Yamato Kurosawa, the popular guy with many girls around him, also had a life that was not like that before.  He was bullied, he always hid from bullies and in the process, regrets how he treated his old friend Kakeru Hayakawa, by not sticking up for him when he was bullied, because of fear.

These are a lot of the cruel things that people endure through grade school and high school and rarely do you find a series who tries to show that bullying is not cool.  And the person in the series, of all people to defend or even speak her mind about how she feels, is no other than Mei Tachibana, the girl who has been bullied and never had any friends growing up.

It’s a very delightful, positive and enjoyable series that I literally watched from beginning to end.  I absolutely loved it!

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality looks great in HD and as for the lossless soundtrack, while both Japanese and English soundtracks are DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, while the Japanese was good, for the English dub, the voice acting by both Caitlynn French and Leraldo Anzaldua was fantastic.

Caitlynn French literally played the character of Mei Tachibana with amazing efficacy.  You feel, you hear the awkwardness through Mei’s voice, thanks to French’s performance.  It definitely made this series much more captivating that all talent for the English dub did so well and this is coming from a guy who typically prefers to watch anime with its original Japanese soundtrack.

As for the special features, its a little on the slim side with the usual clean and opening endings and you do get the Japanese promos but it would have been wonderful if an audio commentary was included.

Overall, “Say ‘I Love You’.” is no doubt one of the biggest surprises for 2013.  A delightful, addictive and wonderful teenage-romance anime series that I watched from beginning to end in one sitting. It’s that good!

“Say ‘I Love You’.” is highly recommended!

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