Top

Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale (a J!-ENT Anime Film Review)

March 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

I found the storyline of “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” to be extremely satisfying and as a person who has watched the series and loved nearly every episode, I really enjoyed seeing the progression of Kirito and Asuna’s relationship and how that relationship plays a big part in the film’s storyline. I really do feel that fans will enjoy this SAO film! A wonderful and engrossing storyline filled with action and drama, “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of  2017 © REKI KAWAHARA/PUBLISHED BY KADOKAWA CORPORATION ASCII MEDIA WORKS/SAO MOVIE Project. © RK/KC AMW/SM


Originally created by Reki Kawahara

Original Character Design by abec

Directed by Tomohiko Ito

Scenario by Reki Kawahara, Tomohiko Ito

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design: Shingo Adachi

Art Director: Takayuki Nagashima

Chief Animation Director: Shingo Adachi

Sound Director: Yoshikazu Iwanami

CGI Director: Ryuta Undo

Director of Photography: Kentaro Waki

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Haruka Tomatsu as Asuna Yūki

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Kazuto Kirigaya/Kirito

Ayahi Takagaki as Rika Shinozaki/Lizbeth

Ayana Taketatsu as Suguha Kirigaya/Leafa

Hiroaki Hirata as Klein

Hiroki Yasumoto as Andrew Gilbert Mills/Agil

Kanae Itō as Yui

Miyuki Sawashiro as Shino Asada/Sinon

Rina Hidaka as Keiko Ayano/Silica

Sayaka Kanda as Yuna

Takeshi Kaga as Professor Shigemura

Yoshio Inoue as Eiji

Kouichi Yamadera as Akihiko Kayaba


2022 – The NerveGear, the world’s first dedicated full-dive device developed by the genius programmer, Akihiko Kayaba. It was a revolutionary machine that opened up infinite possibilities for the world of VR (Virtual Reality.) 4 years later…. A next-generation, wearable multi-device called the Augma has been released to compete with the NerveGear’s successor – the Amusphere. A cutting-edge machine boasting the ability to enhance AR (Augmented Reality) to the maximum, the Augma offers a safe, user-friendly experience, as it can be used while the player is awake, making it an instant hit. Its killer title is an ARMMORPG developed exclusively for the Augma, “Ordinal Scale (a.k.a. OS).” Kirito is about to join Asuna and the others as an Ordinal Scale player, but…


The year 2026.

Two years after the “Sword Art Online” fiasco perpetrated by SAO creator Akihiko Kayaba which left many gamers injured or dead, a new technology is to be released.  A technology that is thought to be safe and nothing like the Nerve Gear that was used in “Sword Art Online”.

Now people can use the Augma, the successor to the Amusphere full-dive system which allows a player to play a game that simulates reality while the player is conscious (via augmented reality).

And one of the popular games created for the Augma is “Ordinal Scale”.  A game which has quickly gain popularity that Asuna, Lisbeth and Silica are playing it, but surprisingly Kirito hasn’t jumped aboard to play the game just yet until now.

As people get into the game, part of the main appeal to “Ordinal Scale” is the game’s mascot, an AI idol singer named Yuna who appears during the game to increase the stats of players.

While everyone is playing, the #2 ranked player Eiji helps the Kirito, Asuna and team defeat the level boss but Eiji uses the words “switch”, a term that was used in SAO to Asuna.

Meanwhile, Asuna tells Kirito that Eiji is most likely a member of the Knights of the Blood Oath named Nautilus, Yui tells them that the appearance of Aincrad bosses in “Ordinal Scale” are similar to the line up with the SAO dungeon maps.

As Asuna goes to play the game with her friends again, immediately Yuna and Eiji appear and Eiji pushes Asuna towards the level boss.

When Asuna is hit, she passes out and suddenly, Asuna starts to realize that her memories from SAO are starting to disappear. Concerned, Kirito takes Asuna to the hospital to get checked out and it is learned that the Augma device has scanned her brain for SAO memories, and it may have happened to other SAO players that are playing “Ordinal Scale”.

With Asuna’s memory loss of SAO, that means her memories of her friends, but most importantly her memories of Kirito will disappear.

A desperate Kirito tries to search for answers and promises that he will do whatever he can to get Asuna’s memories back.  But what will his search unveil?

What is “Sword Art Online” about:

In 2002, writer Reki Kawahara wrote a novel series titled “Sword Art Online” under the name Fumio Kunori.

While Kawahara would receive critical acclaim for his novel “Accel World” in 2009, which earned Kawahara an ASCII Media Works’ 15th Dengeki Novel Prize and also winning the Grand Prize in 2008, the popularity of his “Accel World” storyline would lead to “Sword Art Online” being republished and also featuring the art work of illustrator, abec.

This time using his real name on ASCII Media Works’ Dengeku Bunko label from April 10, 2009 and a spin-off series in 2012.  The series has since spawned a total of ten manga adaptations, two anime series, one TV film, five video games and now an animated film.

The original “Sword Art Online” series is set in 2022 and many are playing the Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG), “Sword Art Online” (SAO for short).

The game comes with a virtual reality helmet known as a Nerve Gear which uses the five senses of the brain and so players can control their characters with their mind.

The anime series focuses on protagonist, Kirito, one of the 1,000 beta testers of the Closed Beta version of SAO.  On November 6th, the game is released to the public and Kirito is enjoying the game and meets Klein, who has experience playing RPG’s but learns from Kirito about the basics of the game.

While the two are talking, suddenly they are transported to the main courtyard and are unable to log out.  They are told by the creator of SAO, Akihiko Kayaba, that all of the people playing are stuck in the game.  If anyone takes of the virtual reality helmet of a player, they will die.

As for those playing the game, if they want to be free of the game, they must reach the 100th floor of the game’s tower and defeat the final boss.  But if their avatars (their game character) dies in the game, their bodies will also die in the real world.  Also,  people in the real world who were stuck in the game have died by someone removing their Nerve Gear.

In the first series, Kirito and Asuna have become an online couple and while Kirito was able to succeed and free everyone by defeating the final boss of “Sword Art Online”, he has been utilized by law enforcement to assist in troubles that have affected users (as seen in “Sword Art Online II”).

In reality, Kazuto Kirigaya (Kirito) and Asuna Yuuki (Asuna) have continued their relationship outside of the game.  Asuna dreams of marrying Kazuto and having a family with him in the future.

And with the 2017 animated film “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”, with Asuna’s memories of SAO fading, the dreams of her and Kirito being together may now be in jeopardy.


If there is one thing that “Sword Art Online” has proved over the years, that Reki Kawahara’s light novels and the anime adaptation inspired from it, are popular among many fans worldwide.

I had no doubt in my mind that “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” would do well as a theatrical release, not just in Japan but other countries worldwide, especially the United States.

Considering the film is not a Studio Ghibli film or an animated film with no Disney or Hollywood movie studio connect, “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” grossed $1.35 million in the first four days of its North American run.

In fact, the film set an opening weekend record for an Aniplex of America theatrical release and has played in 560 theaters nationwide.

And that is for a film that debuted in American theaters with Japanese voice acting and English subtitles.  And for those who dislike reading during their films, Aniplex of America will be releasing the film with an English dub soundtrack in April 2017 for a limited theatrical engagement.

Watching “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”, it has everything that fans have loved in the series.  A lot of action, a lot of humor but also emotional drama as viewers have watched and seen the relationship between Kazuto (Kirito) and Asuna evolve and in this film, you really see how far their love for each other has blossomed.  And so, this film has become a fight for love and Kazuto doing all that is necessary to make sure that the young woman he loves is saved from losing her memories due to a new threat.

Fans will also love seeing characters from the past making their appearance in the video game but one will no doubt be anticipating the next SOA storyline as the ending teaser (after all the credits are done) shows us another menacing threat that will surely surprise fans of the series.

Animation is fantastic as A-1 Pictures did a wonderful job with capturing emotion in the faces of the characters but also within action sequences.  Voice acting is wonderful in its original Japanese soundtrack and English subtitles were easy to read.  And having watched the original series in both Japanese and English, I’m expecting the English dub to be equally fantastic when the English version of the film is released in US theaters this April.

If there was anything that I didn’t get into all that much in regards to “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is the overuse of AI idol singer Yuna.  Music plays a big part in the film and where idol singers through battle is something we are accustomed to seeing in “Macross” anime series or film, it was not something I expected all that much in “Sword Art Online” and felt it was done a little bit too much for my tastes but at the same time, I’m sure it benefits Aniplex for music soundtrack sales and I’m sure fans who loved the music in the film will no doubt be seeking to purchase the soundtrack.

But I also hope that Aniplex, a company known for giving fans a lot of swag with their limited edition releases, will include the film’s soundtrack with the Blu-ray release of “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”.

I absolutely enjoyed “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” but I do recommend people who know nothing about the series to at least watch the SAO series before jumping into the film.

Overall, I found the storyline of “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” to be extremely satisfying and as a person who has watched the series and loved nearly every episode, I really enjoyed seeing the progression of Kirito and Asuna’s relationship and how that relationship plays a big part in the film’s storyline.  I really do feel that fans will enjoy this SAO film!

A wonderful and engrossing storyline filled with action and drama, “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” is highly recommended!

The Rolling Girls: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are in the mood for an action-driven anime series with cute moe characters and zany storylines, then “The Rolling Girls: The Complete Series” is for you!  Otherwise, it’s a series with lost potential and average at best.

Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Rolling Girls: The Complete Series

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 1-12) 300 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), English DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: August 2, 2016


Directed by Kotomi Deai

Screenplay by Yasuyuki muto

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Original Character Design by tanu

Character Design by Katsuhiko Kiatada

Art Director: Eriko Shibayama, Kunihiko Inaba, Ryo Kono, Seiki Tamura, Shinobu Takahashi, Shunichiro Yoshihara

Anime Production: Wit Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ari Ozawa/Felecia Angelle as Nozomi Moritomo

Rina Hidaka/Monica Rial as Yukina Kosaka

Risa Taneda/Jad Saxton as Ai Hibiki

Yumiri Hanamori/Leah Clark as Chiaya Misono

Akio Ohtsuka/J. Michael Tatum as Dandy

Ayumi Fujimura/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Masami Utoku

Fuyuka Oura/Jamie Marchi as Kuniko Shigyou

Hiroki Touchi/Eric Vale as Tomomori Moritomo


Wit Studio (Attack on Titan, Seraph of the End) is back with Rolling Girls, a road-trip adventure filled with vibrant color, energetic style, and a whole lot of heart.

Between super-powered fighters known as “Bests” battling across the city and fanatical vigilante squads cheering them on from the ground below, it’s easy for an average girl to get lost in the shuffle. But when her town’s Best gets taken out by a rival, Nozomi Moritomo gasses up her motorcycle and sets off across Japan to take her place.

Joined by the feisty wannabe Best, Ai, the wandering artist Yukina, and the spacy but mysterious Chiaya, Nozomi and her makeshift motorcycle gang cross the country settling scores between warring districts.

In a world that favors the Best over the rest, it’s hard for an average girl to find where she belongs, but one thing’s for sure–until she gets there, it’s going to be a wild ride.


In 2014, Yosuke Miyagi and illustrator Bonkara would create two volume manga for “The Rolling Girls” for “Monthly Comic Garden” and the manga series “Ro~lling Gi~rls Inspiration x Traveler” followed by Miyagi and illustrator Sheepbox  for “Online Magazine comic Blade” is currently ongoing.

In January-March 2015, Wit Studio’s anime adaptation of the “The Rolling Girls” aired on television and in the US courtesy of Funimation Channel.  And now the series will be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Funimation.

The anime series was directed by Kotomi Deai (“Silver Spoon”, “Natsume Yujin-Cho Go”), screenplay by Yasuyuki Muto (“Afro Samurai”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn RE:0096”, “Persona -trinity soul-“), music by Masaru Yokoyama (“Freezing”, “Hyperdimension Neptuna”, “Plastic Memories”), character design by Katsuhiko Kitada (“Hal”, “Doukyusei -Classmates”).

“Rolling Girls” is set ten years after the “Great Tokyo War” and many of Japan’s political and economic elites have mysteriously disappeared. So, the country was split up to 10 prefectures and independent city-states that compete against each other.

In these competitions, the vigilantes who fought in the war are known as the “Best” (Mosas) and represent their prefecture.  And their supporters are known as the “Rest” (Mobs).

Two Best’s are often battling, Masami Utoku of Tokorozawa who assumes the design of the green-suited superhero “Maccha Green” and Kuniko, who is the “legendary executioner” and the Best of Higashi Murayama.

The rivalry between these two are huge and Kuniko despises Masami and when Kuniko takes the battle to great heights, both were barely able to survive and were hospitalized.

One of Maccha Green’s/Masami Utoku’s biggest supporters is her childhood friend, Nozomi Moritomo.  The only daughter of the Morimoto family who runs the Moritomo Restaurant in Tokorozawa.

Masami always had protected Nozomi and during the battle with Kuniko, she nearly died trying to protect her friend.

Not wanting anyone to protect her, Nozomi is told by her Best to go on a road trip with her friends Yukina Kosaka (a shy and tone-deaf runaway); a former Rest of Higashi Murayama, Ai Hibiki (temperamental and joins up with Nozomi and friends); and Chiaya Misono, a girl wearing a gasmask who somehow knows the names of Nozomi, Yukina and Ai.  She is also the adopted daughter of Haruka Misono, president of Tokorozawa.

And together, these four characters travel to find heart-shaped power stones (which gave amazing power to Maccha Green and Kuniko) and to grow as friends and to also observe other prefectures.

What will these four individuals discover during their adventures?  And can they trust and work with each other?


VIDEO:

“The Rolling Girls” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9 widescreen). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured are beautifully animated and there is wonderful use of artistic backgrounds that are beautifully painted and the use of water colors and matte like surface and also the use of purple line art for its character designs.

Colors are vibrant, black levels are deep. There is slight softness, but that is expected with anime TV series. But overall, due to the detail, Wit Studio did a great job with this anime series!

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Rolling Girls” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Dialogue and music is clear through the front channels for the lossless stereo soundtrack but because the English is 5.1, there is better use of the surround channels.

Voice acting for both soundtracks are well-done! Lossless audio is crystal clear and while not the most immersive soundtrack (which I typically don’t expect TV series to boast incredible immersive lossless soundtracks, unlike a film or OVA series), “The Rolling Girls” does sound very good on Blu-ray!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Rolling Girls: The Complete Series” features the following special features:

  • Episode 8 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Colleen Clinkenbeard (ADR Director), Jad Saxton (voice of Ai Hibiki), Monica Real (voice of Yukina Kosaka).
  • Episode 12 Video Commentary – Featuring audio commentary Clifford Chapin (Assistant ADR Director), Felecia Angelle (voice of Nozomi Moritomo) and Leah Clark (voice of Chiaya Misono).
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Previews for Episodes 2-12
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “The Rolling Girls”
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

EXTRAS:

“The Rolling Girls: The Complete Series” comes with both a Blu-ray and DVD version.


“The Rolling Girls” is an animated series that started off with amazing potential but somehow became a little too convoluted and tried to do too much within its 12-episode run.

I loved the idea of the “Bests” and the “Rests” and how the Best represented various prefectures and how they go into battle.  It’s an interesting way to show battles between the prefectures and I absolutely loved the incorporation of some Tokusatsu with the hero Maccha Green. But after the two episodes, the series goes in another direction as it focuses on the adventures of four young ladies trying to find Power Stones which have powered the Bests.

While I found the characters to be quite cute and their adventures to be fun, the constant bickering, the politics, aliens and everything else thrown to the viewer really got me confused that I had to rewatch episodes, just in case I missed out on something.

I felt that too many things were incorporated in this anime series to attract all types of otaku but yet the storyline doesn’t have any meaningful substance.  And it’s a shame because I felt the series had better potential earlier in the series.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is presented in 16:9 widescreen and animation is very detailed and quite vibrant. Wit Studio did a magnificent job in featuring wonderful character designs but also  the use of painted background and also foreground art. The Blu-ray release comes with two audio commentaries, textless opening and ending songs.

Overall, if you are in the mood for an action-driven anime series with cute moe characters and zany storylines, then “The Rolling Girls: The Complete Series” is for you!  Otherwise, it’s a series with lost potential and average at best.

Bottom