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Ultimate Otaku Teacher Part 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you enjoy anime that is set in high school and focuses on a hardcore otaku teacher trying to help his students through unusual ways, will no doubt want to give “Ultimate Otaku Teacher Part 2” a try!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Ultimate Otaku Teacher Part Two

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 13-14) 300 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

Release Date: February 1, 2017


Originally created by Takeshi Azuma

Directed by Masato Sato

Series Composition by Atsushi Maekawa

Music by Ryuuichi Takada

Character Design by Isao Sugimoto

Art Director: Daiki Kuribayashi

Art Design by Iho Narita

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiroshi Kamiya/Anthony Bowling as Jun’ichirō Kagami

Rena Matsui/Mikaela Krantz as Suzune Kagami

Aki Toyosaki/Tia Ballard as Kōtarō Araki

Aya Hirano as Yamato Tōne

Ayahi Takagaki as Tim Berners Lynn

Ayane Sakura as Kisaki Tenjōin/Sachiko Tanaka

Azusa Tadokoro/Dawn M. Bennett as Kiriko Shikishima

Daisuke Namikawa/Eric Vale as Hell Gates

Kana Hanazawa/Lindsay Seidel as Reiko Mukyō

M.A.O/Alexis Tipton as Madoka Kuramachi

Rina Hidaka/Monica Rial as Kanon Chinami

Risa Taneda/Kristi Yang as Matome Nishikujō

Risae Matsuda/Felecia Angelle as Taki Komiya

Saori Ōnishi/Caitlin Glass as Makina Momozono

Satsumi Matsuda/Bryn Apprill as Nagaru Komiya

Shiina Natsukawa/Leah Clark as Moemi Kushinada

Sora Amamiya/Sarah Wiedenheft as Minako Kanō

Suzuko Mimori/Jad Saxton as Koyomi Hiiragi

Tomoko Tsuzuki/Terri Doty as Kazuya Momozono


The ultimate otaku teacher, Junichiro Kagami, is back with his unique group of students. But as the school year goes on, things start to get…spooky! When tasked to clean out the old dorms, Kagami and his students stumble upon the ghost of a former classmate. All she wants to do is pass on to the next life but is having a little trouble. Are they up for this spiritual lesson?

Things heat up when conflict arises between a gang leader and pop idol. Are street smarts more important than school smarts? Once things start to calm down, even Kagami’s most troubled students start settling into better lives. Realizing that he’s neglected things he used to care about like his blog, figurines, and anime, Kagami begins to question if teaching is where he truly belongs. When the opportunity to work on his Anywhere Door arises, he’ll have to make a tough choice.

What does Kagami really yearn to do: teach or research?


In 2011, mangaka Takeshi Azuma created the manga series “Denpa Kyoshi” (which translates to “electromagnetic-wave teacher”).

As the series is still ongoing in Japan, an anime adaptation was produced by A-1 Pictures in 2015 and the anime has now be released in two parts on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The anime series is directed by Masato Sato (“Explorer Woman Ray”, “Silent Mobius”, “Montana Jones”), script by Atsushi Maekawa (“Digimon Adventure”, “Bakugan Battle Brawlers”, “Dragon Ball Z”), music by Ryuuichi Takada (“Idolm@ster”, “Dusk maiden of Amnesia”), character design by Isao Sugimoto (“Bakuon!!”, “Kemeko Deluxe!”, “Maze”) and background art by Daiki Kuribayashi (“Show By Rock!!”, “Code: Breaker”, “Chaos;Child”).

The anime series introduces us to Jun’ichiro Kagami, a 24-year-old mega-otaku who rather work on his anime blog. But while a big otaku, Jun’ichiro was once an intelligent physics major who published a paper that would make headwaves in the scientific world when he was 17. And Jun’ichiro was scouted to work at one of the most important research centers in the world. But when he wanted to create the “Anywhere Door” that allows teleportation, he became ridiculed by academics and so far, his efforts to dispute his critics have failed and he hasn’t developed the technology to create it.

So, Jun’ichiro decudes that he suffers from “YD” and only wants to work that he yearns to do and not do anything else. And that is be a hardcore otaku.

But his younger sister Suzune is tired of him staying at home and not making a living, and because she is responsible for the family finances, she forces her brother to get a job. Or else she will beat him up.

So, Jun’ichiro takes up a job to become a teacher at Hiiragi Academy and help students and teach students his own way. So, he can balance his teaching job (doing things his way) and also focus on his otaku lifestyle. But can he teach these students with his otaku style?

In the second part of “Ultimate Otaku Teacher”, new characters are introduced such as Tim Bernards Lynn, the head scientist at CERM Particle Physics Laboratory; Madoka Kuramachi, the student council treasurer; Joe Odawara, a student of Jun’ichiro who wants to confess his love to Makina; gang leader Taki Komiya and childlike intern, Reiko Mukyo.

Also, what happens when Jun’ichiro challenges Hell Gates, the CEO of Activision Frigate and a computer game world champion. If Jun’ichiro wins, Hell Gates must takeover KMC. If Hell Gates wins, Jun’ichiro can never play any computer game ever again.

And what is the results of Jun’ichiro teaching at the academy? Does he pass or fail?


VIDEO:

“Ultimate Otaku Teacher” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. A vibrant anime series from A-1 Pictures.

I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Ultimate Otaku Teacher” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. The series for the most part features crystal clear dialogue and music and is front-channel driven.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ultimate Otaku Teacher Part 2” features the following special features:

  • Episode 15 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Kyle Phillips, Alexis Tipson (voice of Madoka Kuramachi) and Colleen Clinkenbeard (voice of Tim Berners Lynn) and script writer and voice actor, Clifford Chapin (voice of Joe Odawara).
  • Episode 21 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Kyle Phillips and voice talents Felecia Angelle (voice of Taki Komiya), Mallorie Rodak (voice of Yamato Toune) and Bryn Apprill (voice of Nagare Komiya)
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailer – Funimation trailer for “Ultimate Otaku Teacher”.

EXTRAS:

“Ultimate Otaku Teacher” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.


What happens when you get a former intelligent academic student turned hardcore otaku and make him a teacher and allow him to teach his students with his otaku style?

This is the story of Jun’ichiro Kagami, a hardcore otaku who has kept away from working professionally because he wants a job which he can be himself.

Unfortunately, not many jobs are open to that until Koyomi Hiiragi, chairman of Icho Academy who wants Japan to be a more amusing place. Having spied and followed Jun’ichiro, she feels that his teaching methods, no matter how absurd they may be, can teach the students at the Academy.

Each episode features how Jun’ichiro helps out a student. In Part 2, for example, Jun’ichiro wants to save student council treasurer, Madoka Kuramachi. Madoka’s family owns the KMC company who makes a video game that Jun’ichiro plays. And the company is about to be take over by Activision Frigate, a rival company and she is being forced to marry the rival company’s CEO, Hells Gate.

Another episode has Jun’ichiro trying to help a ghost who is a big fan of “Kisaki Tenjoin” and wants to know how the manga ended before author Sachiko could complete it. And the ghost wants desperately to know how the manga would have ended.

And how will Jun’ichiro help Taki Komiya, a gang leader named Taki, whose twin sister happens to be to be idol singer, Komi-Ryu.

And the series culminates as we learn the results of Jun’ichiro being at teacher. Will he succeed?

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is vibrant and colorful, while lossless audio for both Japanese and English soundtracks are 2.0 DTS-HD MA. For special features, you get two audio commentary.

Overall, “Ultimate Otaku Teacher Part 2” is an anime series that may be compared to “Assassination Classroom”, teachers who have their own way of teaching their own students, students who are truant or have major problems at school. Where “Assassination Classroom” is more action-packed and driven by the fact the students must grow in order to assassinate their alien teacher who plans to destroy the planet, “Ultimate Otaku Teacher” is about an otaku teacher who loves his anime, video games and figurines.

While he is obsessed with otaku duties, the fact that he is given an opportunity to teach at an Academy and be himself is a major plus to him. So, using his love for video games, anime, etc. allows him to reach out to these troubled students.

The series has elements of what people tend to enjoy in an anime series. From having an otaku protagonist, a tsundere sister and students who are helped by Jun’ichiro’s otaku ways, may it be through video games or something really weird or awkward, he manages to get the job done.

Overall, if you enjoy anime that is set in high school and focuses on a hardcore otaku teacher trying to help his students through unusual ways, will no doubt want to give “Ultimate Otaku Teacher Part 2” a try!

Ultimate Otaku Teacher Part 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you enjoy anime that is set in high school and focuses on a hardcore otaku teacher trying to help his students through unusual ways, will no doubt want to give “Ultimate Otaku Teacher Part 1” a try!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Ultimate Otaku Teacher Part 1

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 1-12) 300 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

Release Date: November 15, 2016


Originally created by Takeshi Azuma

Directed by Masato Sato

Series Composition by Atsushi Maekawa

Music by Ryuuichi Takada

Character Design by Isao Sugimoto

Art Director: Daiki Kuribayashi

Art Design by Iho Narita

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiroshi Kamiya/Anthony Bowling as Jun’ichirō Kagami

Rena Matsui/Mikaela Krantz as Suzune Kagami

Aki Toyosaki/Tia Ballard as Kōtarō Araki

Aya Hirano as Yamato Tōne

Ayahi Takagaki as Tim Berners Lynn

Ayane Sakura as Kisaki Tenjōin/Sachiko Tanaka

Azusa Tadokoro/Dawn M. Bennett as Kiriko Shikishima

Daisuke Namikawa/Eric Vale as Hell Gates

Kana Hanazawa/Lindsay Seidel as Reiko Mukyō

M.A.O/Alexis Tipton as Madoka Kuramachi

Rina Hidaka/Monica Rial as Kanon Chinami

Risa Taneda/Kristi Yang as Matome Nishikujō

Risae Matsuda/Felecia Angelle as Taki Komiya

Saori Ōnishi/Caitlin Glass as Makina Momozono

Satsumi Matsuda/Bryn Apprill as Nagaru Komiya

Shiina Natsukawa/Leah Clark as Moemi Kushinada

Sora Amamiya/Sarah Wiedenheft as Minako Kanō

Suzuko Mimori/Jad Saxton as Koyomi Hiiragi

Tomoko Tsuzuki/Terri Doty as Kazuya Momozono


Junichiro Kagami is on his sister’s last nerve. Despite his genius and scientific accomplishments, he’s spent most of his adult life cooped up inside, surrounded by anime and manga, working on trivial things like a blog. But now, it’s time for him to get a real job! His reason for being such a bum? He suffers from YD: a debilitating illness that means he can only do things he yearns to do. Tired of this lame excuse, his sister gets him a job doing something he’d never expect teaching!

Teaching is the last thing Kagami yearns to do, at least until he comes across the various problems his students face outside of the classroom. Between their quirky dreams, serious attitude problems, and surprising secrets, Junichiro is definitely in for some far-out lessons.

What he teaches these kids will be beyond the books!


In 2011, mangaka Takeshi Azuma created the manga series “Denpa Kyoshi” (which translates to “electromagnetic-wave teacher”).

As the series is still ongoing in Japan, an anime adaptation was produced by A-1 Pictures in 2015 and now the anime will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The anime series is directed by Masato Sato (“Explorer Woman Ray”, “Silent Mobius”, “Montana Jones”), script by Atsushi Maekawa (“Digimon Adventure”, “Bakugan Battle Brawlers”, “Dragon Ball Z”), music by Ryuuichi Takada (“Idolm@ster”, “Dusk maiden of Amnesia”), character design by Isao Sugimoto (“Bakuon!!”, “Kemeko Deluxe!”, “Maze”) and background art by Daiki Kuribayashi (“Show By Rock!!”, “Code: Breaker”, “Chaos;Child”).

The anime series introduces us to Jun’ichiro Kagami, a 24-year-old mega-otaku who rather work on his anime blog.  But while a big otaku, Jun’ichiro was once an intelligent physics major who published a paper that would make headwaves in the scientific world when he was 17.  And Jun’ichiro was scouted to work at one of the most important research centers in the world.  But when he wanted to create the “Anywhere Door” that allows teleportation, he became ridiculed by academics and so far, his efforts to dispute his critics have failed and he hasn’t developed the technology to create it.

So, Jun’ichiro decudes that he suffers from “YD” and only wants to work that he yearns to do and not do anything else.  And that is be a hardcore otaku.

But his younger sister Suzune is tired of him staying at home and not making a living, and because she is responsible for the family finances, she forces her brother to get a job.  Or else she will beat him up.

So, Jun’ichiro takes up a job to become a teacher at Hiiragi Academy and help students and teach students his own way.  So, he can balance his teaching job (doing things his way) and also focus on his otaku lifestyle.

But can he teach these students with his otaku style?


VIDEO:

“Ultimate Otaku Teacher” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing.  A vibrant anime series from A-1 Pictures.

I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Ultimate Otaku Teacher” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. The series for the most part features crystal clear dialogue and music and is front-channel driven.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ultimate Otaku Teacher Part 1” features the following special features:

  • Chapter 3 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Kyle Phillips, Mikaela Krantz (voice of Suzune Kagami), Jad Saxton (voice of Koyomi Hiiragi) and Anthony Bowling (voice of Junichiro Kagami).
  • Chapter 9 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Kyle Phillips and voice talents Apphia Yu (voice of Kisaki Tenjoin/Sachiko Tanaka), Jarrod Greene  (voice of Seijuro Nanami) and Tia Ballard (voice of Kotaro Araki).
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailer – Funimation trailer for “Ultimate Otaku Teacher”.

EXTRAS:

“Ultimate Otaku Teacher” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.


What happens when you get a former intelligent academic student turned hardcore otaku and make him a teacher and allow him to teach his students with his otaku style?

This is the story of Jun’ichiro Kagami, a hardcore otaku who has kept away from working professionally because he wants a job which he can be himself.

Unfortunately, not many jobs are open to that until Koyomi Hiiragi, chairman of Icho Academy who wants Japan to be a more amusing place.  Having spied and followed Jun’ichiro, she feels that his teaching methods, no matter how absurd they may be, can teach the students at the Academy.

Each episode features how Jun’ichiro helps out a student.  For example, Jun’ichiro has to help a delinquent named Seijuro Nanami (who left school because his father, a disgraced baseball player is in heavy debt) and to help him, he challenges him to a game of soccer.

Another episode features Jun’ichiro trying to help his sister’s friend Kanan Chinami, a woman who has a voice of an anime character.  Embarrassed by this, she stops talking and only communicates via text.  So, Jun’ichiro must find a way to get Kanan to finally talk.

In another episode, Jun’ichiro finds out his partner Luce, who he plays online via the MMORPG Uroboros is a boy named Kotaro Araki who is an anti-social cross-dresser and prefers to look like a girl.  But Kotaro is afraid of how people in school may think of him because he prefers to be a cross-dresser, so Jun’ichiro must find a way to get Kotaro to not be afraid to reveal himself to his classmates.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is vibrant and colorful, while lossless audio for both Japanese and English soundtracks are 2.0 DTS-HD MA.  For special features, you get two audio commentary.

Overall, “Ultimate Otaku Teacher Part 1” is an anime series that may be compared to “Assassination Classroom”, teachers who have their own way of teaching their own students, students who are truant or have major problems at school.  Where “Assassination Classroom” is more action-packed and driven by the fact the students must grow in order to assassinate their alien teacher who plans to destroy the planet, “Ultimate Otaku Teacher” is about an otaku teacher who loves his anime, video games and figurines.

While he is obsessed with otaku duties, the fact that he is given an opportunity to teach at an Academy and be himself is a major plus to him.  So, using his love for video games, anime, etc. allows him to reach out to these troubled students.

It will be interesting to see how the series develops overtime.  If the focus is about a teacher helping out his students with each episode, that is something that can get quite old.    So, I hope that the storyline shows some dramatic elements and doesn’t become too banal episode after episode.

If anything the series has elements of what people tend to enjoy in an anime series.  From having an otaku protagonist, a tsundere sister and students who are helped by Jun’ichiro’s otaku ways, may it be through video games or something really weird or awkward, he manages to get the job done.

Overall, if you enjoy anime that is set in high school and focuses on a hardcore otaku teacher trying to help his students through unusual ways, will no doubt want to give “Ultimate Otaku Teacher Part 1” a try!

Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

January 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Fantastic, captivating and surprising!  The second documentary of AKB48 “Documentary of AKB48: Show Must Go On” gives viewers an inside glimpse of how AKB48 reacted after the tsunami and earthquake disaster, the competitive nature of the senbatsu elections but also how the group persevered during intense heat during a concert performance, scandals and more.  If you are an AKB48 fan, this second documentary for the group is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2012 [Documentary of AKB48]. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: DOCUMENTARY of AKB48 Show must go on 少女たちは傷つきながら、夢を見る スペシャル・エディション

YEAR OF FILM RELEASE: 2012

DURATION: 121 minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Color, Dolby Digital, 16:9 LB, Dolby Digital 5.1

COMPANY: Toho Visual Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: April 20, 2012

Directed by Eiki Takahashi

Executive Producer: Shinzuke Akimoto, Yasushi Akimoto, Kenji Kitagawa, Yasushi Kubota, Jun’ichi Niizaka

Producer: Yoshihiro Furusawa, Kumiko Isono, Kaori Kishibe, Akihiro Makino, Tadashi Matsumura

Line Producer: Atsushi Obinata, Manabu Shinoda

Music by Hiroto Ohtsubo

Cinematography by Taku Murakami

Edited by Jun’ichi Ito

Starring:

Maria Abe

Yasushi Akimoto

Rina Chikano

Reina Fuji

Natsumi Hirajima

Miori Ichikawa

Anna Iriyama

Tomomi Itano

Misaki Iwasa

Tomomi Kasai

Yuki Kashiwagi

Ayaka Kikuchi

Rie Kitahara

Kana Kobayashi

Haruna Kojima

Mika Komori

Asuka Kuramochi

Ami Maeda

Atsuko Maeda

Yuka Masuda

Natsumi Matsubara

Jurina Matsui

Rena Matsui

Sakiko Matsui

Sae Miyazawa

Miho Miyazaki

Shiori Nakamata

Chisato Nakata

Tomomi Nakatsuka

Sayaka Yamamoto

Moeno Nito

Sayaka Nakaya

Misato Nonaka

Mina Oba

Aika Ohta

Shizuka Ohya

Yuko Oshima

Rino Sashihara

Sumire Sato

Amina Sato

Haruka Shimada

Haruka Shimazaki

Mariko Shinoda

Mariya Suzuki

Shihori Suzuki

Minami Takahashi

Aki Takajo

Miku Tanabe

Mayumi Uchida

Ayaka Umeda

Mayu Watanabe

Yui Yokoyama

Rumi Yonezawa

 

「DOCUMENTARY of AKB48+1 」を再編集ロングバージョンにて収録!2012年1月23日にNHK総合でO.AされたAKB48初心者には分かりやすく、コアファンまでをも満足させる特集番組にさらに未公開カットを大幅に加えたディレクターズカット版で収録

When I first reviewed “Documentary of AKB48: To Be Continued”, the first documentary of AKB48 introduced us to the members of the group and we got to learn about their background.

But since that first documentary, I have learned much more about the group.  From their struggles during their initial startup and having to give out flyers to people on the streets of Akihabara in hopes that someone would catch their show.  To only performing in front of seven people in the audience and no one hardly giving a care to this idol pop group.

This was no regular idol group.  These were young women handpicked by producer Yasushi Akimoto and Tomonobu Togasaki was the manager who listened to fans and communicated those needs to Akimoto.  And together with their crew, through a lot of working and trying to instill confidence to these young ladies, that were at its all time low, all Akimoto needed for these young ladies was to believe in him, to put their trust in him and things will happen.

From their beginning in 2006, it was not until 2010, when AKB48 started to gain attention thanks to their single “River”.  But it wasn’t until 2011 when the lives of AKB48 would change.  The group broke records by proving that a music group can still sell over a million copies of a single or album in Japan, the group had a video game release and also would win the artists of the year by taking the Grand Prix Award at Nihon Record Taishou (Japan’s equivalent to the Oscars).

But behind-the-scenes, there were a lot of things going on behind-the-scenes that many people may not realize.  And this behind-the-scenes would be featured in the second AKB48 documentary “Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on”.

With the February theatrical release of AKB48’s third documentary “Documentary of AKB48: No Flower without Rain” around the corner, I recently decided to purchase the import DVD version of the second documentary after learning that unlike the first documentary which was released in the U.S. courtesy of New People Entertainment, I received confirmation that there were no plans to release the second documentary in the U.S.

March 2011 was to highlight AKB48’s 3-day live concert titled “Takamina ni tsuite ikimasu” (We will follow Takamina), but on March 11, 2011, the tsunami and earthquake disaster struck Japan and immediately, AKB48 began charity efforts to raise money for victims of the disaster.  Even going to the devastated areas and performing for the children and families  who had lost their homes.

The documentary shows us these efforts as AKB48 performed in those locations but also introducing us to Karen Iwata, a member of AKB48 who was also one of the people who was displaced during the earthquake and tsunami disaster and discussing the challenges she faced during that time.

The documentary then would go to the Senbatsu Elections of 2011 and the tense competition between 2010 #1 senbatsu member Yuko Oshima vs. #2 senbatsu member Atsuko Maeda (who won #1 in 2009).    These two have worked their hardest in gaining fan attention but while it was incredibly emotional for Atsuko Maeda to win the #1 spot once again by a large margin, we see the heartbreak of Yuko Oshima who seemed calm and reserved but broke down heavily after congratulated and hugged by Mariko Shinoda.

This scene was the first time anyone had a chance to see what takes place in the backstage of a senbatsu election, how emotional these young ladies are to take the top positions but most of all, how competitive these elections are.  The election would also be important for members such as Rino Sashihara, who would place #9 but previously placed #19 and Rie Kitahara who was voted at #16 and rose up to #13.  Both who are very good friends and both who were not so visible as members of AKB48, will now have their chance to shine as members of the top 16.

We also get a glimpse of injuries that have taken place during theater performances.  Aki Takajo slipping from the stairs backstage but bounced back, worked hard and was able to move up to the #12 spot in the 2011 senbatsu elections.

We are then introduced to the Kenyuusei members who would receive a surprise that they would become part of AKB48’s fourth team, Team 4.

And continued performances by AKB48  in areas devastated by the earthquake and tsunami disaster and expressing how touched they were by the people they met.  Minami Minegishi was touched how these two girls would give her a gift, which was flowers and a pine cone and how being given those gifts by two girls who lost everything, truly touched her.

The next feature would be the Tokyo Dome concert in which AKB48 members were unorganized and it would be one of their most horrendous performances in front of a large audience.  Akimoto was so displeased that he wasn’t sure if AKB48 had what it takes to perform in front of a large audience, if they couldn’t perform well for the Seibu concert.  And Mina Takahashi being a leader and givng an important talk to all members that they need to improve , so much that the group practiced and prepared over and over to get things right.  But because of the mental strain during rehearsals, Atsuko Maeda started to hyperventilate and was taken to the doctor and Jurina Matsui and Yui Yokayama would have to step up as Yuko would fill in for Atsuko Maeda’s role.  But Atsuko Maeda managed to come back just in time to join Team A for the concert.

We also get to see the strain on AKB48 in performing during the high heat and humidity and the group being pushed to the limit and various members started to hyperventilate or to have difficulties breathing when heading to backstage for a costume change.  But we get to see how Atsuko Maeda starting to hyperventilate during a concert performance, Yuko Oshima also having breathing problems and team leader Minami Takahashi collapsing after the concert.  You can tell by the faces of some of the members, that they weren’t feeling well and to do an encore when they were dealing with heat exhaustion.

The next section would feature Team 4 leader Mina Oba and her scandal.  Fans found an older personal blog of Mina Oba where she discussed breaking up with her boyfriend before joining AKB48 and other troubling situations that idols are not to be engaged in.  Minami Takahashi discusses how things are different for these newer members of AKB48, because while her group joined at a young age, before they had experiences with relationships, there are people who have joined the group who have had relationships before entering AKB48.  But how Haruka Shimada had to step in as leader as Mina Oba faced her suspension.

Next to be featured is the overseas fan events that AKB48 members have taken part in and the growing fandom internationally for AKB48.

The next segment will feature the next Senbatsu, the Janken Taikai senbatsu in which a member can become center by winning the rock-paper-scissors tournament.  And at the second Janken Taikai senbatsu, Mariko Shinoda became the second winner.

In 2011, we get to see AKB48 members who accompanied Karen Iwata to her home area to perform for people who have lost their homes and the return of Mina Oba after her suspension, as she ask her fellow teammates for their forgiveness of what she put them through.

And last, the culmination of all the hardwork that AKB48 had put into the year, with “Flying Get” becoming the biggest seller of 2011 and also earning AKB48 the grand prize at Nihon Record Taishou and getting ready to perform for Kouhaku Uta Gassen to end 2011.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on” is presented in 16:9 widescreen and presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital.

The picture quality of the DVD is very good, great colors and many outdoor shots featuring a combination of various footage from concerts, theater performances, personal interviews and more. Dialogue and music is clear, there are no subtitles included and is in straight Japanese.

It’s important to note that this is a region 2 DVD and will not play on a region 1 player (unless you have a non-region DVD player) but can be played on a MAC or PC using free video playing software such as VLC or Daum PotPlayer.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on” comes with the following special features:

  • Documentary of AKB48: AKB48 + 1 Directors Cut – (1:03:18) The following is the “Documentary of AKB48: AKB48 +1” which was shown on television but is the director’s cut.  Using each letter in the alphabet, we get to learn of AKB48.  For example, A stands for Akihabara and we get a look at the theater where the members  perform train and perform early in the morning.  B is for band in which the AKB48 members had to learn how to play instruments for “Give me five!”.  C is for “Coming of Age Ceremony” for the AKB4 members who turned 20-years-old and so forth.
  • First Rabbit Music Video – (5:15) The music video for “First Rabbit” which features the members singing the song at the studio and rehearsing on stage or at the dance studio.
  • Commercial – (:46) “Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on” commercial.
  • Theatrical trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on”.

EXTRAS:

“Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on” comes with two DVD’s and a black slip case, with a large pink obi.

Since watching the first documentary, it allowed me to learn more about AKB48.

Being one of the first people in the U.S. to be approached to cover AKB48 since the release of their early stage albums, typically I have see how idol groups have gotten their members through auditions, through television shows and eventually had the aid of TV to help make them popular.

But for AKB48, this was a group that had to work hard to get where they were at and by no means, was this group an overnight success.  It took five years for Japanese audiences to warm up to the group, to support their music and eventually the members on television and accept them.

In 2011, while I was familiar with AKB48’s headline on the news, primarily for their dominating sales and eventually winning the Grand Prize at Nihon Record Taishou, after watching “Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on”, I never knew how things were behind-the-scenes.  The last and their first documentary, “Documentary of AKB48: to be continued” was more about introducing people to the group’s top members.

But for this documentary, 2011 was a busy year as the group were dedicated in raising money for the earthquake and tsunami victims.  Meanwhile, the competition for senbatsu elections and who would be the center ace on AKB48 singles and music videos was very competitive, especially between Atsuko Maeda and Yuko Oshima.

And it was the first time that I was aware of how much that top spot meant to those two members and literally see the agony of defeat, when previous #1 winner, Yuko Oshima lost to Atsuko Maeda and seeing her breakdown in front of her friends.

But possibly the biggest shocker for me was to see the concert.  It’s no surprise to see how summer and humidity can make things a bit uncomfortable in Japan but to see members being treated for heat exhaustion and literally passing out or experiencing hyperventilation issues, this was a surprise.

I was wondering how AKB48 would adjust to losing a member such as Atsuko Maeda or Yuko Oshima but also how strict they are upon themselves when they know they did a crappy job onstage.  Producer Yasushi Akimoto is very direct with them, while AKB48 captain, Minami Takahashi spares no punches knowing that if they do bad, the show won’t go on if their fans are disappointed.

We also get to see the scandal that hit AKB48 in 2011 with Team 4 captain Minami Oba (which pales in comparison to what took place in 2012 and will be featured in AKB48’s third documentary in theaters in Feb. 2013).

But we get to see the good and the bad of AKB48 through this documentary.  We get to see members in an emotional state as Yuko Oshima loses to her rival Atsuko Maeda, we see Karen Iwata returning back to the place she once called home and performing in front of an audience who no longer have homes due to the tsunami and earthquake, especially since she and her family lost everything as well on March 11th.

Other memorable moments include Mina Oba returning back to Team 4 after her suspension but also coming face to ace with her good friend but also the person who replaced her temporarily as captain, Haruka Shimada.

But if there is one that will forever stick in my memory is the concert and seeing everyone with oxygen masks, members passing out due to heat exhaustion but also seeing Atsuko Maeda hyperventilating and no one knowing if she is going to come back.  We can see her on stage, her face not all right at all, but yet not wanting to disappoint her fans and feeling terrible, she goes out there and performs the best she can.

But also to see Yuko Oshima giving her 100% but also succumbing to the heat and also wanting to come back.  And of course, AKB48 captain Minami Takahashi, the glue of AKB48 trying to keep everyone together, keeping everyone motivated and focused but then when all is done, seeing her collapse and literally was out after the concert ended.

“Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on” allows us to see more of each member working as a team and no matter how bad things get, they know that the show must go on and they must persevere.

As for the DVD, it’s important to note that there were two versions that were released.  This special edition features two DVD’s and comes with the Director’s Cut of “Documentary of AKB: AKB48 + 1”, while the four DVD-box set comes with the first two DVD’s featured on the special edition plus two DVD’s featuring longer interviews with various AKB48 members.  Also, the limited edition comes with an 84 page booklet.

With the third AKB48 documentary is about to hit theaters in February, so far the first two documentaries for AKB48 have been stellar.  And while this second documentary will not be released on DVD in the U.S., fortunately you can find it for under $20 online.  Also, you can find English fan subtitles online as well.

Overall, “”Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on” gives us a upclose look of what takes place behind-the-scenes of AKB48.  The good, the bad but also showing us that despite any hardships or challenges that this group has to face, they find a way to get back on their feet.  But also knowing that no matter what happens, the show must go on!

AKB48’s second documentary is highly recommended for fans!


AKB48 Team Surprise – Suteki na Sankaku Kankei (Pachinko Version – #10) (a J!-ENT World Groove CD Single Review)

December 6, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The tenth CD single from AKB48 Team Surprise features the return of AKB48’s graduation song composer Hiroshi Uesugi who brings a ragtime, American-style pop song with Japanese idol pop vocals for “Suteki na Sankaku Kankei”.  An addictive pop track with fun lyrics and yet another AKB48 Team Surprise CD single that I can easily recommend to AKB48 fans!

GROUP: AKB48 Team Surprise (AKB48 チームサプライズ)

CD SINGLE: Suteki na Sankaku Kankei (素敵な三角関係)(Pachinko Edition)

LABEL: AKS

CATALOG #: AKBS-20019/20

DURATION: 4:24

RELEASE DATE: November 2012

  1. 素敵な三角関係

DVD INFO: 16:9 LB, Region 2, Duration: 4:45

  1. 素敵な三角関係 Music Clip

To commemorate the release of the Pachinko AKB48 game machine and a tie-in with Pachinko company Kyoraku, 16 senbatsu members of AKB48 would form a special team known as “Team Surprise” and a total of 12 songs featured in the pachinko game will be released via a CD+DVD single beginning in September 2012.

The members to participate in this special project are (note: the lineup is before their fall 2012 lineup change):

Team A: Maeda Atsuko, Takahashi Minami, Takajo Aki, Shinoda Mariko, Kojima Haruna, Team K: Oshima Yuko, Itano Tomomi, Yokoyama Yui, Miyazawa Sae, Minegishi Minami; Team B: Watanabe Mayu, Kashiwagi Yuki, Kitahara Rie; Team 4: Shimazaki Haruka; SKE48 Team S: Matsui Rena and HKT48 Team H: Sashihara Rino

Each week from September through mid-November, a single plus its music video was released via a pachinko hall version (which can be won or sold at pachinko halls) and a web version, each featuring two different covers and will come with exclusive collectors cards for the pachinko hall and another for the web version. It’s important to note that because these releases are not sold in regular stores, the best way for those living outside of Japan to purchase these singles is through eBay.

And here we are with the tenth AKB48 Team Surprise CD single “Suteki na Sankaku Kankei”, a song that translates into “Amazing Love Triangle” and is sung by Rino Sashihara, Minami Mingeishi, Rena Matsui, Rie Kitahara, Sae Miyazawa and Yuki Yokoyama.

The single that I am reviewing is the Pachinko Hall version and features images of the group members on an 8-page booklet featuring lyrics, production credits and liner notes from Ishigami. The back cover of the CD features an image of Mariko Shinoda, Haruka Shimazaki and Rena Matsui (note: by putting all 12 CD’s together, like a puzzle, you can see a complete image). Also, by visiting the official website for “Suteki na Sankaku Kankei”, you can get access to liner notes, gallery (a few photos are what is featured in the CD insert), wallpaper and poster.

“Suteki na Sankaku Kankei” is a fun, American ragtime idol pop song composed by Hiroshi Uesugi (who has worked on arrangements for a lot of music artists including AAA, SPEED, MAX, SMAP, Berryz Kobo, ℃-ute and many more artists but also best known among AKB48 fans for writing the AKB48 songs “Sakura no Hanabira”, “Sakura no Shiori” and “Baby! Baby! Baby!”).

The artist who is gets the center position for this CD single is Rino Sashihara and on the music video, you will see both Sashinara and Rena Matsui.  But listening to the track, you seem to hear more Rino and Rena more than the other girls.  But overall, the song is quite upbeat and the lyrics are quite fun to listen to.

The song revolves around three people growing up together, two girls and one boy.  One day, one of the girls arrived to a meetup and saw the other girl and boy kissing.  And the girl who saw them kissing was shocked because she also liked the guy.

But because she respects her friends, she is going to keep smiling and not be sad and not affect their relationship as friends.  And as long as she is not sad, things will be fine.  So, she will accept this amazing love triangle.

As for the DVD, the music video features the six members coming out of a truck and performing and later riding a carousel while singing their song.   It’s a cute and colorful idol pop video with fun choreography.

It’s important to note that this is a region 2 DVD and will not play on a region 1 player (unless you have a non-region DVD player) but can be played on a MAC or PC using free video playing software such as VLC or Daum PotPlayer.

Overall, the AKB48 Team Surprise CD singles may not be for everyone, primarily because there is only one song and one music video and they cost the same price of a regular single.

But yet, if you are an AKB48 collector and you want to collect them all, this is a fun and different AKB48 pop track and if you are a Rino Sashihara or Rena Matsui fan, the two seem to have the more dominant vocals. But it is a single that I have listened to several times now and have not grown tired of it.

“Tabidachi no Toki”, the seventh AKB48 Team Surprise CD+DVD release is recommended!

AKB48 Team Surprise – Suiyoubi no Alice (Pachinko Hall Version) (a J!-ENT World Groove CD Single Review)

September 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The second CD single “Suiyoubi no Alice” from AKB48 Team Surprise features a special cute voice group featuring Mayu Watanabe, Haruka Shimazaki, Rena Matsui, Rino Sashihara and Minami Minegishi. A sweet and fun idol pop track about a guy who hopes to meet his “Alice in Wonderland” on a Wednesday.  A fun CD+DVD single release worth checking out!

GROUP: AKB48 Team Surprise (AKB48 チームサプライズ)

CD SINGLE: 水曜日のアリス (Pachinko Hall Version) / Suiyoubi no Alice (Pachinko Hall Version)

LABEL: AKS

CATALOG #: AKBS-20003/4

DURATION: 4:03

RELEASE DATE: September 8, 2012

  1. 水曜日のアリス

DVD INFO: 16:9 LB, Region 2, Duration: 4:08

  1. 水曜日のアリス Music Clip

To commemorate the release of the Pachinko AKB48 game machine and a tie-in with Pachinko company Kyoraku, 16 senbatsu members of AKB48 would form a special team known as “Team Surprise” and a total of 12 songs featured in the pachinko game will be released each week via a CD+DVD single beginning in September 2012.

The members to participate in this special project are (note: the lineup is before their fall 2012 lineup change):

Team A: Maeda Atsuko, Takahashi Minami, Takajo Aki, Shinoda Mariko, Kojima Haruna, Team K: Oshima Yuko, Itano Tomomi, Yokoyama Yui, Miyazawa Sae, Minegishi Minami; Team B: Watanabe Mayu, Kashiwagi Yuki, Kitahara Rie; Team 4: Shimazaki Haruka; SKE48 Team S: Matsui Rena and HKT48 Team H: Sashihara Rino

Each week from September through mid-November, a single plus its music video was released via a pachinko hall version (which can be won or sold at pachinko halls) and a web version, each featuring two different covers and will come with exclusive collectors cards for the pachinko hall and another for the web version.

It’s important to note that because these releases are not sold in regular stores, the best way for those living outside of Japan to purchase these singles is through eBay.

One of the cool aspects of AKB48 Team Surprise is the ability to create groups or pairings that you would probably never see from AKB48. And for the second CD single, “Suiyoubi no Alice”, the single features Mayu “Mayuyu” Watanabe at the center position and joining her are Haruka “Paruru” Shimazaki, Rena Matsui, Rino Sashihara and Minami Minegishi

“Suiyoubi no Alice” can be translated to “Wednesday’s Alice” and the version of the single that I am reviewing is the Pachinko Hall version.  The front cover features the five members (in 1950s style outfits) and features images of each member inside the 8-page booklet.  Featured are lyrics, production credits and liner notes from Ishigami. The back cover of the CD features Minami Minegishi and Yui Yokoyama (note: by putting all 12 CD’s together, like a puzzle, you can see a complete image).

Also, by visiting the official website for “Suiyoubi no Alice”, you can get access to liner notes, gallery (a few photos are what is featured in the CD insert), wallpaper and poster.

“Suiyoubi no Alice” is an upbeat, sugary sweet idol pop track as one can expect featuring Mayuyu as the lead center. According to Ishigami in the liner notes, he often wondered if there were songs about days, especially Wednesday.  He thought about Eiichi Otaka’s “Ame no Wednesday”, Simon and Garfunkel’s “Wednesday Morning, 3:00 AM, Alan Sillitoe’s novel “Saturday Night, Sunday Morning” and New Order’s “Blue Monday”.

And then came the thought of fantasy girl and eventually “Alice in Wonderland” came to mind and thus “Suiyoubi no Alice” (Wednesday’s Alice) was born.  And then the next step was to focus a group that had cute voices and so, the five members of AKB48 Team Surprise were selected for this single.

The song is about a guy who dreams of his fantasy girl.  In a garden on a Wednesday and seeing the flowers bloom, he wishes he can close his eyes and go to Wonderland.  Not having any date, wanting to be the rabbit and  hoping he can meet Alice.  And one day hopes he can meet his Alice, but only on Wednesday as his schedule is full on other days.  A fun, cute song overall.

As for the DVD, the music video features the five members inside a house (well furnishings of a house on stage) and the group performing.  Interacting together inside the house and then getting up and performing.

It’s important to note that Ishigami mentions in the liner notes of how he liked how the other members outside of Mayuyu do not look directly to the camera, as they are looking at the distance, perhaps a further view of the world.  A fun video and I like the fact that it’s not all girls just dancing on stage, we get to see the girls in a fun performance and interacting with the environment.

It’s important to note that this is a region 2 DVD and will not play on a region 1 player (unless you have a non-region DVD player) but can be played on a MAC or PC using free video playing software such as VLC or Daum PotPlayer.

Overall, the AKB48 Team Surprise CD singles may not be for everyone, primarily because there is only one song and one music video and they cost the same price of a regular single. But yet, if you are an AKB48 collector and you gotta collect them all, this is a pretty cool upbeat pop track. And if you are a fan of Mayuyu, Paruru, Miichan, Rena or Rino, this is a single that will interest you!

“Suiyoubi no Alice”, the second AKB48 Team Surprise CD+DVD release is a sweet, fun song worth checking out!

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