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Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Entertaining and quite enjoyable, if you are a fan of Sailor Moon and friends, “Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2” is definitely recommended!

Image courtesy of © Naoko Takeuchi / PNP / KODANSHA / TOEI ANIMATION. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2

DURATION: Episodes 15-26 (276 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 28, 2017


Originally Created by Naoko Takeuchi

Director: Chiaki Kon

Series Composition: Yuji Kobayashi

Character Design by Akira Takahashi

Music by Yasuharu Takanashi

Art Design by Takashi Kurahashi

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kotono Mitsuishi/Stephanie Sheh as Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon

Rina Satou/Cristina Vee as Rei Hino/Sailor Mars

Ami Koshimizu/Amanda C. Miller as Makoto Kino/Sailor Jupiter

Hisako Kanemoto/Kate Higgins as Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury

Shizuka Itou/Cherami Leigh as Minako Aino/Sailor Venus

Sayaka Ohara/Veronica Taylor as Michiru Kaiō/Sailor Neptune

Kenji Nojima/Robbie Daymond as Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Kamen

Misato Fukuen/Sandy Fox as Chibi-usa/Sailor Chibi Moon

Ryou Hirohashi/Michelle Ruff as Luna

Youhei Oobayashi/Johnny Yong Bosch as Artemis

Shoko Nakagawa/Debi Derryberry as Diana


The next set in the brand new anime series, Sailor Moon Crystal!

Usagi Tsukino is a little clumsy and a crybaby, but she’s also one spirited eighth grader. One day she meets Luna, a black cat with a crescent moon mark on her forehead, and transforms into the pretty guardian of love and justice in a sailor suit, Sailor Moon! As a chosen guardian of justice, Usagi apparently has a mission to protect a princess, and to find her fellow Guardians and the phantom Silver Crystal. Meanwhile, Queen Beryl of the Dark Kingdom sends her subordinates to the town where Usagi lives. They cause strange events to occur there, all in an effort to acquire the tremendously powerful Silver Crystal… Can Sailor Moon and the other Guardians successfully find the phantom crystal, and protect the princess…!?


Back in 1991, mangaka Naoko Takeuchi would create her shojo manga series “Bishojo Senshi Sailor Moon”.

Serialized in “Nakayoshi” (from 1991-1997) with a total of 18 tankobon (graphic novel) versions published, the series would reach enormous popularity with over 35 million copies sold worldwide and the release of the anime series would further the popularity worldwide with 200 episodes created (1992-1997), three animated films, a live-action TV series, musicals, video games and more.

In 2014, Toei Animation did a reboot of the anime series titled “Sailor Moon Crystal” to celebrate the 20th Anniversary but instead of releasing the anime on television, the series was released online on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

The anime series would feature voice actress Kotono Mitsuichi reprising her role as Sailor Moon in Japan while in America, the series would feature an all new English cast.

There first arc titled “Dark Kingdom” was featured in episodes 1-14, while the second arc “Black Moon” is featured in episodes 15-26.  A third season “Death Busters” aired in Japan on April 2016 and a sequel/fourth season was announced in January 2017.

And now the second arc (“Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2”) will be released on Blu-ray/DVD as a normal and a limited edition courtesy of Viz Media.

In the second arc, while Usagi and Mamoru are alone, a pink-haired girl falls from the sky.  She immediately points a gun towards Usagi and demands that Usagi give her the Legendary Silver crystal.

As Mamoru goes to the pink-haired girl, he finds out it is a fake gun and because her name is also Usagi, she is called “Chibi-usa”.  When they take Chibi-usa back to Usagi’s home, she immediately hypnotizes Usagi’s parents and they allow her to stay with them.

As for the others, Rei and Minako are looking into incidents of people being abducted and spontaneously combusting.

Meanwhile, the Black Moon Clan is after the Legendary Silver Crystal and with the Spectre Sisters, Rubeus and Prince Demande after the Crystal, they start to go after each of the Sailor Senshi’s and try to kidnap them in order to lure Sailor Moon.

But who can Usagi and Mamoru turn to for help?  Perhaps King Endymion and Neo Queen Serenity?


VIDEO:

“Sailor Moon Crystal” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the animation from Toei Animation is vibrant and colorful.

While the first series of “Sailor Moon Crystal” received a lot of flack with its earlier animation (which had to be redone for the Blu-ray and DVD release), this second series features much better character design and animation, as well as background art.  Better shadowing and for the most part, the series looks much better!

Picture quality is great and I didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sailor Moon Crystal” is presented in Japanese and English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. Both soundtracks are done quite well and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the front channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Interview with the band Momoiro Clover Z Part 2 – (9:58) Featuring footage from Momoiro Clover Z’s appearance at Anime Expo and an interview with the group about their feelings of “Sailor Moon Crystal” and the characters.
  • Art Gallery
  • Clean Opening
  • Clean Ending

As a person who watched the anime series as it was airing in Japan and also reviewing it when the DVD’s were first released in the United States, “Sailor Moon Crystal” is no doubt an entertaining, action-packed, dramatic reboot without the filler episodes.

Back in the ’90s and even with today’s popular anime adaptation of successful manga, filler episodes are important to not just to allow for a mangaka to continue their work on a manga series and further the story, so the manga doesn’t catch up too quickly.

The caveat, as some have seen for series such as “Dragon Ball Z”, “Bleach”, “Naruto” and even “One Piece”, filler episodes can drag on for a long time.  But for companies banking on the successful anime to produce merchandise for years, filler episodes have become part of anime culture.

The same was the case with the original “Sailor Moon” series, as much was focused on to give various members their own identity through many character building episodes, establishing friendships, quarrels and such, and adding so many episodes that in the process, not only was there a ton of merchandising but the character was popular enough to get fans or parents to purchase the merchandise for their daughters.

In America, fans were purchasing soundtracks and video games for the 3DO and the original PSX back in the ’90s and every year since Sailor Moon appeared in Japan, conventions have always had someone sporting an outfit from the series.  It was a popular series and eventually, “Sailor Moon” was released in America.  So popular that even American band Barenaked Ladies featured the mention of “Sailor Moon” in their 1998 hit song “One Week”.

So, “Sailor Moon Crystal” as an ONA (Original Net Animation) versus being shown on television would seem like a big surprise but there was no doubt that Toei Animation was already banking on the series popularity that people would turn into the series online and for the most part, their gamble paid off as people were watching, people responded (especially about the animation in the first arc) and while opinion was mixed, “Sailor Moon” merchandise not just for children but also for adults have become popular in Japan.

But with “Sailor Moon Crystal”, no filler, it’s a series straight-up trying to complete various arcs within 12-14 episodes.  No long seasons and as I grow less patient with anime filler episodes, so thrilled that “Sailor Moon Crystal” arcs manages to achieve completion quickly and not test my or others who are low on patience.

And here we are with the “Black Moon Arc”, the second series featuring episodes 15-26.  Now featuring better character designs and animation, the storyline now introduces Chibi-Usa, as well as an appearance of Sailor Pluto.

While there are not too much of an emphasis on the other Sailor Senshi, there are a few episodes where we get to see each character put up a fight against the servants of Black Moon.

This latest arc primarily focuses on Chibi-Usa and the connection she has with Usagi and Mamoru and how she entered the present-time and left the future and what had happen to everyone, but also the origins of the Black Moon.

There is no doubt an emphasis on emotional drama especially between Usagi and Mamoru but also the two and their relationship with Chibi-Usa but this latest features a focus on the emotional ties that bond these three forever.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is no doubt better with better shading and detail, while colors are vibrant and the series looks great in HD, part of the benefit with watching this series on Blu-ray is to find out how wonderful the acting is for both the Japanese and English dub.

It was awesome to have Kotono Mitsuishi return to voice Usagi/Sailor Moon for the Japanese dialogue and the Japanese voice acting by everyone else is great.  But with the English dub, I just felt that Stephanie Sheh did an amazing job as Usagi.  Both voice actresses were able to nail the emotional scenes with efficacy and also big kudos to Sandy Fox as Chibi-Usa.

Also on the Blu-ray release, the included interview with Momoiro Clover Z was also fantastic and it was great to see them discuss Sailor Moon and their opinion of the characters and hearing about their favorite character in the series.

Overall, “Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2” features the entire “Black Moon Arc” and features a great balance of humor, drama and action.  The voice acting in Japanese and the English dub was superb and the animation is much better.

Entertaining and quite enjoyable, if you are a fan of Sailor Moon and friends, “Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2” is definitely recommended!

 

Laughing Under the Clouds: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Laughing Under the Clouds: The Complete Series” is an anime series that will entertain those who enjoy action-driven anime series with a good balance of humor and drama, cool characters and set in the Meiji era dealing with samurai and ninjas. How cool is that?  “Laughing Under the Clouds: The Complete Series” is worth checking out!

Image courtesy of © Kara Kemuri/MAG Garden, NTV, VAP. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Laughing Under the Clouds: The Complete Series

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2016

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

RATING: TV 14

Release Date: August 23, 2016


Originally created by Kemuri Karakara

Directed by Hiroshi Haraguchi

Series Composition by Yuuya Takahashi

Music by Shuichiro Fukuhiro

Character Design by Takao Maki

Art Director: Yuki Ikenoue

Chief Animation Director:Takao Maki

Anime Production: Doga Kobo


Featuring the following voice talent:

Yuichi Nakamura/Christopher Wehkamp as Tenka Kumo

Yuuki Kaji/Dave Trosko as Soramaru Kumo

Tsubasa Yonaga/Terri Doty as Chutaro Kumo

Kenichi Suzumura/Micah Solusod as Abe no Hirari

Rina Satou/Morgan Garrett as Botan

Takahiro Sakurai/Robert McCollum as Shirasu Kinjo

Hiroki Yasumoto/Christopher R. Sabat as Seiichirō Takamine

Yuuki Fujiwara/Clifford Chapin as Mutsuki Ashiya

Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Kiiko Sasaki

Kousuke Toriumi/Eric Vale as Abe no Sōsei

Shinichiro Miki/Ian Sinclair as Naoto Kagami

Koji Yusa/J. Michael Tatum as Kotaro Fuma

Mamiko Noto/Jamie Marchi as Nishiki

Hiro Shimono/Joel McDonald as Rakucho Takeda


Under the cloudy skies of turn-of-the-century Japan, three brothers shine brightly. Orphaned at a young age, the responsibility of providing for the Kumo family fell to the eldest brother, Tenka. A skilled swordfighter and proud guardian of his rambunctious younger siblings, Soramaru and Chutaro, Tenka Kumo walks through life with unfailing optimism and devotion to his family. 

But heavy clouds are beginning to settle over their secluded shrine — a growing gloom that signals the return of a deadly serpent known as the Orochi. As the Japanese military’s Yamainu Squad searches for the serpent’s human vessel, the unrest caused by the strict laws of the Meiji era spreads rebellion across the countryside. 

As the Kumo family’s ancient connection to the Orochi comes to light, old rivalries will be reignited, and the brothers’ carefree life will give way to the darkness of an ancient prophecy. As long as they stick together, what’s the worst that could happen?


In 2011, manga artist Karakara-Kemuri would create a supernatural manga series titled “Donten ni Warau” (Laughing Under the Clouds) which was serialized by Mag Garden on “Monthly Comic Avarus”.

A 12-episode anime series adaptation was created by Doga Kobo in 2014 and now, the anime series will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.  The series was also the first anime series for Funimation to show on their network, not long after the episode aired in Japan.  So, where directors and voice actors have time to shoot episodes and it being released months later, this series was a move to a direction where viewers want to see an episode released in US immediately after it is shown in Japan.

The series was directed by Hiroshi Haraguchi (“KAHEY – A Certain Captain’s  Life”), series composition by Yuuya Takahashi (“Luck & Logic”, “Lupin the Third”, “Tiger & Bunny”), music by  Shuichiro Fukuhiro (“Genshiken: Second Generation”, “Robot Girls Z” series), character design by Takao Maki *”Zegapain”, “Majestic Prince”) and art direction by Yuki Ikenoue (“Outbreak Company”, “Himouto! Umaruchan”).

The series is set around 1878 and takes place around the Maiji Restoration (which established imperial rule of Japan to Emperor Meiji and led to the end of the shogunate).  This would lead to samurai rebelling against the system and many escaping jail.

As the government builds a giant prison in the middle of Lake Biwa, the people responsible of taking them to the prison are the Kumo Brothers.

The Kumo Brothers also try to protect the Orochi’s vessel.  The Orochi is a serpent that has cursed Japan since ancient times and can bring havoc if it’s not sealed. Every several hundred years, Orochi tries to reincarnate into the body of a human and possess them.

The Kumo Brothers consists of:

  • Tenka Kumo – The eldest brother who is the parent of his younger brothers after the death of his parents.  He prefers to take on the enemies and not let his younger brothers fight.
  • Soramaru Kumo – The middle child who was entrusted with the family’s twin swords.  He feels that he needs to prove to people that he is strong and can protect the Kumo household like his brother.  Unfortunately, Soramaru suffers from amnesia due to a childhood trauma and witnessing his parent’s murder and nearly being strangled to death.  So, he does not like anyone touching his neck area.
  • Chutaro Kumo – The youngest brother and is the fastest of the brothers. He is always trying to prove himself to his brothers.

The brothers are assisted by Shirasu Kinjou, one of the last remaining members of the Fuma ninja clan and is currently freeloading at the Kumo shrine.

But trouble starts to set when people are after the Orochi vessel in hopes of resurrecting Orochi.


VIDEO:

“Laughing Under the Clouds: The Complete Series” 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. Very good animation during the more action intense sequences.

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Laughing Under the Clouds: 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 and there is good use of the surround channels during the action sequences.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Laughing Under the Clouds: The Complete Series” features the following special features:

  • Chapter 1 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by voice talents Christopher Wehkamp (voice of Tenka Kumo), Terri Doty (voice of Chutaro Kumo) and Dave Trosko (voice of Soramaru Kumo).
  • Episode 10 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Lead Adaptive Writer J. Michael Tatum (voice of Narsus) and voice talents Robert McCollum (voice of Shirasu)
  • Textless Opening Song #1 and #2 and Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailer – Funimation trailer for “Laughing Under the Clouds”

EXTRAS:

“Laughing Under the Clouds: The Complete Series” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.


For those wanting an action series that focuses on action, there is no doubt that many people will be entertained with the series “Laughing Under the Clouds”.

For one, it’s a short anime series with only 12-episodes, there are a lot of action sequences and a lot of cool characters, especially as it deals with three brothers taking on unforgiving samurai’s and also ninjas.

But the series is an interesting take on the Meiji era when the shogunate was disbanded, many samurai lost their jobs and those who didn’t like what happened, rebelled and crime rates increased.  And many samurai’s escaping incarceration.

In “Laughing Under the Clouds”, to house these criminals, an inescapable lake prison was created.  And the Kumo brothers led by the eldest brother, Tenka, are responsible for taking these criminals by water to the prison.  But the Kumo family does more than ferry criminals, they are also protecting the orochi vessel, which a monstrous orochi has been sealed for hundreds of years.

The Japanese military’s Yamainu Squad is looking for it but also others are looking for this vessel in order to unleash the Orochi.

While we see many people try to obtain the orochi vessel and people you think are on the side of good, showing their bad side, and also some on the bad side of things, showing their good side, “Laughing Under the Clouds” with its humor and action seems like a simple anime series but actually it’s quite complex.  And there are also many scenes that will no doubt touch you as some tragic things may happen throughout the series.  So, I’ll leave it at that and just say that for those who have interest in series revolving around samurai and ninjas, will enjoy this action-driven anime series.

As for the Blu-ray, picture quality is good. The series is colorful and I really didn’t see any issues with artifacts or banding. As for the lossless soundtrack, the English dub is very well-acted and the Japanese soundtrack as well. But the English dub gets a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD treatment, while the Japanese soundtrack only gets 2.0 (which is typical of anime TV series). And as for special features, you get two audio commentaries and more.

Overall, “Laughing Under the Clouds: The Complete Series” is an anime series that will entertain those who enjoy action-driven anime series with a good balance of humor and drama, cool characters and set in the Meiji era dealing with samurai and ninjas.  How cool is that?

“Laughing Under the Clouds: The Complete Series” is worth checking out!

Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray review)

November 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

wannabe

“Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s:” is a mature anime series for those who love wrestling, idol groups and fan service galore.  But while the series is no doubt targeted for men who love sexy fan service, the story of an idol-turned-wrestler was quite enjoyable and made the anime series worth watching.

Image courtesy of © ESE/Project SekaiTsuyo Project. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2013

DURATION: 12 Episodes (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATING: TV MA

Release Date: June 2, 2015


Originally Created by ESE

Directed by Rion Kujo

Series Composition by Kazuho Hyodo

Music by Kayo Konishi, Yukio Kondoo

Character Design by Rin-Sin

Art Director: Minoru Maeda

Anime Production: ARMS


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayana Taketatsu/Elizabeth Lewis as Sakura Hagiwara

Kana Asumi/Monica Rial as Elena Miyazawa

Chiaki Takahashi/Lydia Mackay as Jackal Tōjō

Eri Kitamura/Vanessa DeSilvio as Makoto Kirishima

Haruka Tomatsu/Martha Harms as Rio Kazama

Hisako Kanemoto/Cristina Vee as Moe Fukuoka

Kana Hanazawa/Megan Shipman as Juri Sanada

Kyōko Narumi/Leah Clark as Misaki Toyoda

Miku Itō/Didi Duron as Yūho Mochizuki

Rina Satou/Bryn Apprill as Kanae Fujishita

Sora Amamiya/Kristin Sutton as Aika Hayase

Sora Tokui/Elizabeth Evans as Hornet

Sumire Uesaka/Morgan Garrett as Kurea Komiyama

Suzuko Mimori/Anastasia Munoz as Chinatsu Suzumoto

Yuka Ōtsubo/Michelle Lee as Nanami Kanno

Ayahi Takagaki/Heather Walker as Yunbo Yamamoto

Fumihiko Tachiki/David Thompson as Seiichi Inoba

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Greg Ayres as Chairman (Sakura Hagiwara Fan Club President)

Yoshiko/Alex Moore as Yoshiko


The eye-popping world of women’s professional wrestling is sweaty, sadistic, and savagely sexy. Famous Japanese pop idol Sakura Hagiwara is better suited for the dance floor than the wrestling ring, but this ravishing songstress is about to put her body to the ultimate test.

When she and fellow idol Elena are assigned to pose as wrestlers for a very special show, a vicious lady brawler by the name of Rio decides to teach the girls a lesson they won’t soon forget. Rio unleashes a flurry of ferocious of attacks on Elena, contorting her divine female form into an array of very naughty positions. Shocked by the blush-inducing beating taken by her friend, Sakura vows to get her heavenly curves ready to rumble and redeem the good name of idols everywhere by becoming a bona fide diva of the pro-wrestling world!


Back in 2013, the anime adaptation of “Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai!” produced by ARMS Corporation and directed by Rion Kujo (“Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero”, “Love Doll”) and a screnplay by Kazuho Kyodo (“Mobile Suit Gundam AGE”, “Robot Girls”, “Bakegyamon”) aired on television.

Based on the manga series by ESE and Kiyohito Natsuki, the series was released on Blu-ray + DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

Sakura Hagiwara is the leader and center of the idol group, Sweet Diva.

Having won the center position four straight times, Sakura’s friend and teammate Elena Miyazawa has always been inspired to work harder to someday become center.

As the group becomes popular, the group has received a request to participate in a TV special in which the idols take part in a wrestling match.  Sakura enlists herself, which Elena follows.

But as Sakura and Elena head to Berserk Gym, they begin their training and are insulted by wrestler Rio Kazama who tells them that idols should not be in the ring as they are not atheletes.  As Elena takes on Rio, Rio easily beats on Elena, prompting Sakura to challenge Rio in a wrestling match for the TV special.  The loser will get their hair cut off.

As Sakura and Rio get into the televised wrestling match, she is instantly defeated, humiliated and her long hair is cut.

Disappointed and embarrassed by her loss, she and Sweet Diva are further shamed by Rio.  Upset, Sakura issues Rio another challenge for a rematch and will train to be as a wrestler in order to take on Rio in their rematch.  This leaves Elena being the temporary leader/center of Sweet Diva.

As idol singer Sakura prepares her training for pro wrestling, she must overcome all the pain and train with all her might in order to prepare for her rematch.


 

VIDEO:

“Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The animation focuses on closeups and most of the frames are primarily of fan service quality or in relation to wrestling.  Character designs are good, shading is well-done.  Background art is primarily not utilized as much as they are just solid walls and basic paint jobs, most of the focus by ARMS is Sakura or her rival’s facial expressions during a wrestling match or often showcasing their boobs or crotch area.

Overall, picture quality is vibrant, colorful and saw no major banding or artifact problems during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  Voice acting for both Japanese and English are done very well.  The series pretty much lies on the shoulder of Ayana Taketatsu and Elizabeth Lewis’ shoulders as the character Sakura Hagiwara is put into grueling training sessions and the voice actresses have to showcase their character in intense pain and varying emotional high and lows.

The series is primarily dialogue and music driven but there is good use of ambiance for the audience in the wrestling hall.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s” Blu-ray also comes with the following:

  • Episode 01 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Elizabeth Lewis and Martha Harms and also featuring comments from other voice actresses participating on a “FUNimation Fight Night – Wanna Be the Strongest in the World! Round 1”.
  • Episode 07 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Leah Clark and Lydia Mackay and also featuring comments from other voice actresses participating on a”FUNimation Fight Night – Wanna Be the Strongest in the World! Round 2″.
  • OVA’s – (23:59)Featuring six mature-themed OVA’s.
  • Textless Opening Song “Beautiful Dreamer”
  • Textless Closing Song “Fan Fanfare!!!”
  • U.S. Trailer

EXTRAS:

Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s” come with both the Blu-ray and DVD version of the series.


Back when I was just starting off in college, myself and a group of friends would watch GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling).

The wrestling focused on sexy female wrestlers who looked different than the female wrestler shown on other wrestling shows.  And as they engaged in wrestling and suffice to say, for college kids, we were captivated each weekend.  Suffice to say GLOW, found a way to captivate an audience by combining sex and wrestling.

A lot has changed since then, as the WWE has been focusing on sexy wrestlers but also honing on those with wrestling talent and audiences are still captivated.

Meanwhile, in Japan, variety shows experiment with having popular idols take on pro female wrestlers and interject a mix of comedy, these specials tend to be a big hit among viewers.

Watching the anime series “Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!”, which is an adaptation of ESE’s manga series, he had no doubt has found a way to bring the sexy and wrestling and make a mature series.

The concept is popular in Japan as mentioned, bring popular idols who wrestle against a professional female wrestler or two.  But most of the time, they are staged and we actually see the idol on television performing several moves.  But “Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!” takes the story into another direction with the idols trying to prove they can take whatever pro female wrestlers can dish.

And sure enough, the idols get their butts kicked.  But for Sweet Diva team leader Sakura Hagiwara, having always been the darling of the media and leader/center of Sweet Diva, she had been accustomed to winning, not losing.  And now, having felt the embarrassment and shame brought by female wrestler Rio, Sakura announces that she will take a break from being an idol to train as a wrestler until she can beat Rio in their rematch.

And of course, the road to training for Sakura is not going to be easy, as the wrestlers will not give her any special favors.  If she’s wanting to be a wrestler, then she’s going to have to deal with all the pain and misery, until she can finally wrestle and take care of herself.

Meanwhile, #2 member of Sweet Diva, Elena, is distraught because she is thrust to the leadership position, when she has depended so much on Sakura for guidance but also inspiration as her rival.

The anime series, while very good (if you enjoy pro wrestling and Japanese idol groups), is mature.  There is a lot of nudity and of course, the usual fan service of Sweet Diva girls wanting to feel up on Sakura because she is well-endowed or the numerous closeups focused on a wrestler’s breast or crotch throughout a matchup.

But for those who love fan service, will no doubt get a lot of it in this series and even moreso in the included short OVA’s.

Picture quality is quite vibrant and I saw problems with artifacts or banding.  The lossless audio is dialogue and musically-driven but I have to say that the voice acting on both the English and Japanese soundtracks were fantastic.  Both Ayana Taketatsu and Elizabeth Lewis do a phenomenal job playing the main protagonist role of Sakura.

The two audio commentaries were far out as the English dub female voice actresses discuss a real fight that took place in their life involving them and some of the stories were quite wild and crazy.

And as mentioned, you get the six short OVA’s and even more nudity is featured.

Overall, “Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!: The Complete Series + OVA’s:” is a mature anime series for those who love wrestling, idol groups and fan service galore.  But while the series is no doubt targeted for men who love sexy fan service, the story of an idol-turned-wrestler was quite enjoyable and made the anime series worth watching.

A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part Two (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

April 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“A Certain Scientific Railgun” is a humorous, fun and action-packed series with characters that eventually grow on you overtime.  Again, it is different from “A Certain Magical Index” but that’s probably a good thing as the series focuses more on the friendships of the girls trying to enjoy teenage life but yet have super abilities.  If you enjoyed “A Certain Magical Index” or an anime fan who is looking for an action series that is fun and primarily featuring all female characters, definitely give “A Certain Scientific Railgun” a chance!

Image courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part Two

DURATION: Episodes 13-24

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Bilingual Japanese & English, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 13+

Release Date: April 16, 2013

Originally created by Kazuma Kamachi

Original Manga by Motoi Fuyukawa

Original Character Designs by Kiyotaka Haimura

Directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai

Series Composition by Seishi Minakami

Music by Maiko Iuchi

Character Design by Yuichi Tanaka

Art Director: Tomonori Kuroda

Mecha Animation Director: Yukinobu Tuneki

Anime Production by J.C. Staff

Featuring the following voice talent:

Rina Satou/Brittney Karbowski as Mikoto Misaka

Satomi Arai/Alison Viktorin as Kuroko Shirai

Aki Toyosaki/Cherami Leigh as Kazari Uiharu

Atsuko Tanaka/Anastasia Munoz as Harumi Kiyama

Kana Ueda/Trina Nishimura as Mii Konori

Kanae Itō/Brina Palencia as Ruiko Saten

Minako Kotobuki/Jamie Marchi as Mitsuko Kongō

Misaka’s electro-manipulation abilities – and delightfully destructive Railgun projectile move – make her a rockstar in Academy City. The techno-metropolis is packed with supernaturally powered students known as espers, including Misaka’s flirty friend and roommate, Kuroko. She uses her teleportation skills as a member of the Judgment law enforcement team, fighting crime alongside her fellow agent Uiharu.

Joined by their friend Saten, a spunky Level 0 esper, Misaka, Kuroko, and Uiharu have a blast taking on danger whenever and wherever it arises. Luckily, in a city full of super-powered gangs, mad scientists, and the occasional weird monster, the girls have no problem finding plenty of excitement, action, and adventure!

Contains episodes 13-24.

What is causing the “Poltergeist” incidents around the city and are multiple espers suffering from RSPK syndrome and losing control of their abilities simultaneously? Mikoto and friends try to find out in “A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part Two”!

In 2004, writer Kazuma Kamachi and illustrator Kiyotaka Haimura began working on the light novel series “Toaru Majutsu no Index” (A Certain Magical Index). The novel would then receive a manga adaptation in 2007 which was published on “Monthly Shonen Gangan” and a year later, receiving an 24-episode anime adaptation courtesy of J.C. Staff, followed by a second season airing in 2010-2011.

The series would go on to have a spinoff manga series titled “A Certain Scientific Railgun” (Toaru Kagaku no Rerugan) which would be published in 2007 and a release in the US in 2011. The anime series for “A Certain Scientific Railgun” aired on Tokyo MX in 2009-2010 and with the second season airing in Japan in April 2013 titled “Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S”, FUNimation is releasing the first season on DVD in America on April 16, 2013.

Like “A Certain Magical Index”, “A Certain Scientific Railgun” is produced by J.C. Staff and is directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai (“My-HIME”, “anohana: The Flower We Saw that Day”, “Waiting in the Summer”), series composition by Seishi Minakami (“Birdy the Mighty: Decode”, “Shakugan no Shana III: Final”, “Living for the Day After Tomorrow”, “Bakuman”), music by Maiko Iuchi (“Dog Days”, “Waiting in the Summer”), character designs by Yuichi Tanaka (“Mass Effect: Paragon Lost”, “Natsuiro Kiseki”, “Samurai 7”) and art direction by Tomonori Kuroda (“Sola”, “Aria the Scarlet Ammo”, “Ai Yori Aoishi”, “Hayate the Combat Butler!!”).

“A Certain Scientific Railgun” is set during the same time of “A Certain Magical Index” and in Academy City, a technologically advanced academic city located in Western Tokyo which studies scientifically advanced superhuman students with powers. Some who join an organization known as Judgment and using their special abilities for good and keeping peace in the city.

The series focuses on Mikoto Misaka, an electromaster and the third most powerful of the seven Level 5 espers in Academy City. Mikoto attends Tokiwadai Middle School, one of the elite schools in the city.

The city is currently holding a “System Scan” to test the power levels of several schools including Tokiwadai Middle School.

In the latter part of the first half of the season, it was revealed that Dr. Kiyama was assigned by her boss, Gensei Kihara, to be a teacher of a group of “Child Errors” and prepare them for an experiment.  Dr. Kiyama began to be fond of these children but somehow these children had ended up in comas and Kihara covered it up.

So, Dr. Kiyama has been trying to find ways to save her students using a Tree Diagram, but was denied. And due to the frustrations that she experienced, an AIM burst had manifested.  And the result was Mikoto taking on the AIM Burst.

By second season, it’s back to the fun and games for the girls.  Episode 13, begins with the group participating in a swimsuit photoshoot, Mitsuko gets attacked by the Skill-Out gang Big Spider but is saved by a mysterious red-headed man with a spider tattoo.  A man who may have a link to Mii.

As the group participates in a video game battle, a trip to the park and Midsummer festival, things start to go crazy once against when a Poltergeist incident occurs where the girls are.  Is it Dr. Kiyama or is someone else involved?

The main characters of “A Certain Scientific Railgun” are:

  • Mikoto Misaka – A powerful Electromaster who is known as “The Railgun”. She attends Tokiwadai Middle School, a school for the wealthy and one of the elite schools of Academy City. She also has a strong sense of morals and hates injustice.
  • Kuroko Shirai – A level 4 psychic and a member of Judgment. She is an eser that can teleport and has a big crush on Mikoto. She gets very jealous when others get Mikoto’s attention, especially Toma.
  • Kazari Uiharu – A student at Sakugawa Middle School and a member of Judgment. Best friends with Ruiko Saten and is known for wearing flowers on her head. Often shy and humble, but known for her sweet tooth.
  • Mitsuko Kongou – A student at Tokiwadai Middle School that can utilize the “Aero Hand”. She is Kuroko’s rival.
  • Ruiko Saten – A student at Sakugawa Middle School who does not have an esper ability. Best friends with Kazari Uiharu and is addicted to urban legends.
  • Mii Konori – A member of Judgement and senpai to Kuroko and Uiharu. She is also the Chief of the 177th Branch of Judgment and has the power of X-ray vision.
  • Telestina Kihara Lifeline – The head of the Multi Active Rescue unit (MAR) and is currently investigating earthquakes happening in Academy City.
  • Toma Kamijo – The main protagonist for “A Certain Magical Index”. A teenager who has a high sense of justice and despite having a psychic rank of zero, has a mysterious power of the Imagine Breaker which nullifies all magic, psychic or divine powers and unfortunately, his good luck. But because of his sense of justice, each person he comes in contact with develop respect or love towards Toma because of his willingness to protect them.
  • Dr. Harumi Kiyama – A Cerebral physiologist who tends to want to take off her clothes when she’s hot.  Revealed to be a scientist trying to save a group of children that she experimented on.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“A Certain Scientific Railgun” is an anime series presented in 1080p High Definition. Art backgrounds are well-detailed, with some environements looking very beautiful and character designs are well-shaded. For those familiar with “A Certain Magical Index” will be familiar with J.C. Staff’s style to this anime series. But for the most part, the series looks very good and surprised it was not released on Blu-ray.

Audio is presented in English 5.1 surround and Japanese stereo. The English soundtrack has better dynamic range as one would expect form its 5.1 soundtrack compared to the front-channel driven Japanese stereo track. Voice acting for both soundtracks are well-done!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part Two” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 17 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Jade Saxton (Komoe), Martha Harnes (Yomokawa) and Kara Edwards (Tesso).
  • Episode 24 Audio Commentary– Featuring audio commentary by Zac Bolton (ADR Director), Colleen Clinkenbeard (Therestina) and Anastasia Munoz (Kiyama).
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs – Textless version of “Only My Railgun”, “Level 5”, “Dear My Friend” and “Real Force”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

For those looking for an anime series with a dose of humor, fun and action, will surely find “A Certain Scientific Railgun” to their liking.

A bit different from “A Certain Magical Index” which had a more darker storyline, a big part of the charm of “A Certain Scientific Railgun” are its characters and their mannerisms.

And after a considerable battle featured in the first half, things become more fun as the girls partake in a bikini photoshoot, going to the park, going to the festival but also dealing with people from one’s past.  But for those wanting those major battles and that special twist will surely find it by episode 20.

But for the most part, this is a series about friendship and a group of girls with abilities that somehow get involved in situations involving criminals or bad people. We see both Mikoto and Kuroko get into the thick of things but we eventually learn each other’s character traits. Mikoto’s naiveness, Kuroko who is from Judgment is still a girl with a teenage crush on Mikoto and then other characters who lend their expertise (or somehow get involved in the trouble), getting themselves involved.

And of course, the humor with Kuroko always wanting to glomp Mikoto or Dr. Kiyama always wanting to take off her clothes when hot, is quite funny because it always happens in the most unexpected situations.

But there is this underlying storyline created from the first half that relates to the Poltergeist incidents and the girls wondering if Dr. Kiyama is up to no good or is she a person worth trusting?  Also, a new antagonist is revealed, and I suppose one can say “expect the unexpected” when the reveal is made.

As for the DVD, the animation and art background by J.C. Staff is very well done. It does surprise me that there is no Blu-ray release of this series but for the most part, the series is well-acted on both English and in Japanese with the English getting a better treatment with its 5.1 soundtrack over its Japanese 2.0 counterpart. But fans should be pleased with the animation, art and voice acting of “A Certain Scientific Railgun”. Also, you get two audio commentaries included in part one.

Is there anything negative about the series, really there isn’t anything that I can think of that is negative unless one compares it to the more action-driven “A Certain Magical Index”. But it’s good to keep things different and “A Certain Scientific Railgun” is more upbeat and fun, but you can also expect a good dose of action as well.

Overall, “A Certain Scientific Railgun” is a humorous, fun and action-packed series with characters that eventually grow on you overtime.  Again, it is different from “A Certain Magical Index” but that’s probably a good thing as the series focuses more on the friendships of the girls trying to enjoy teenage life but yet have super abilities.

If you enjoyed “A Certain Magical Index” or an anime fan who is looking for an action series that is fun and primarily featuring all female characters, definitely give “A Certain Scientific Railgun” a chance!

A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part One (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

April 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“A Certain Scientific Railgun” is a humorous, fun and action-packed series that is recommended for fans who enjoyed “A Certain Magical Index”!

Image courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part One

DURATION: Episodes 1-12

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Bilingual Japanese & English, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 13+

Release Date: April 16, 2013

Originally created by Kazuma Kamachi

Original Manga by Motoi Fuyukawa

Original Character Designs by Kiyotaka Haimura

Directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai

Series Composition by Seishi Minakami

Music by Maiko Iuchi

Character Design by Yuichi Tanaka

Art Director: Tomonori Kuroda

Mecha Animation Director: Yukinobu Tuneki

Anime Production by J.C. Staff

Featuring the following voice talent:

Rina Satou/Brittney Karbowski as Mikoto Misaka

Satomi Arai/Alison Viktorin as Kuroko Shirai

Aki Toyosaki/Cherami Leigh as Kazari Uiharu

Atsuko Tanaka/Anastasia Munoz as Harumi Kiyama

Kana Ueda/Trina Nishimura as Mii Konori

Kanae Itō/Brina Palencia as Ruiko Saten

Minako Kotobuki/Jamie Marchi as Mitsuko Kongō

Misaka’s electro-manipulation abilities – and delightfully destructive Railgun projectile move – make her a rock star in Academy City. The techno-metropolis is packed with supernaturally powered students known as espers, including Misaka’s flirty friend and roommate, Kuroko. She uses her teleportation skills as a member of the Judgment law enforcement team, fighting crime alongside her fellow agent Uiharu.

Joined by their friend Saten, a spunky Level 0 esper, Misaka, Kuroko, and Uiharu have a blast taking on danger whenever and wherever it arises. Luckily, in a city full of super-powered gangs, mad scientists, and the occasional weird monster, the girls have no problem finding plenty of excitement, action, and adventure!

In 2004, writer Kazuma Kamachi and illustrator Kiyotaka Haimura began working on the light novel series “Toaru Majutsu no Index” (A Certain Magical Index).  The novel would then receive a manga adaptation in 2007 which was published on “Monthly Shonen Gangan” and a year later, receiving an 24-episode anime adaptation courtesy of J.C. Staff, followed by a second season airing in 2010-2011.

The series would go on to have a spinoff manga series titled “A Certain Scientific Railgun” (Toaru Kagaku no Rerugan) which would be published in 2007 and a release in the US in 2011. The anime series for “A Certain Scientific Railgun” aired on Tokyo MX in 2009-2010 and with the second season airing in Japan in April 2013 titled “Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S”, FUNimation is releasing the first season on DVD in America on April 16, 2013.

Like “A Certain Magical Index”, “A Certain Scientific Railgun” is produced by J.C. Staff and is directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai (“My-HIME”, “anohana: The Flower We Saw that Day”, “Waiting in the Summer”), series composition by Seishi Minakami (“Birdy the Mighty: Decode”, “Shakugan no Shana III: Final”, “Living for the Day After Tomorrow”, “Bakuman”), music by Maiko Iuchi (“Dog Days”, “Waiting in the Summer”), character designs by Yuichi Tanaka (“Mass Effect: Paragon Lost”, “Natsuiro Kiseki”, “Samurai 7”) and art direction by  Tomonori Kuroda (“Sola”, “Aria the Scarlet Ammo”, “Ai Yori Aoishi”, “Hayate the Combat Butler!!”).

“A Certain Scientific Railgun” is set during the same time of “A Certain Magical Index” and in Academy City, a technologically advanced academic city located in Western Tokyo which studies scientifically advanced superhuman students with powers.  Some who join an organization known as Judgment and using their special abilities for good and keeping peace in the city.

The series focuses on Mikoto Misaka, an electromaster and the third most powerful of the seven Level 5 espers in Academy City.  Mikoto attends Tokiwadai Middle School, one of the elite schools in the city.

The city is currently holding a “System Scan” to test the power levels of several schools including Tokiwadai Middle School.

In the first few episodes, we are introduced to a few members of Judgment and how they become friends with Mikooto and how some of them use their abilities against criminals.  Meanwhile, Mikoto is irked whenever she runs into a guy named Toma Kamijo, a teenager who has a high sense of justice and despite having a psychic rank of zero, has a mysterious power of the Imagine Breaker which nullifies all magic, psychic or divine powers and unfortunately, his good luck. But because of his sense of justice, each person he comes in contact with develop respect or love towards Toma because of his willingness to protect them.   For Mikoto, she is unaware of her feelings but knowing that for some reason, Toma bothers her.

Meanwhile, the girls begin to work with Dr. Kiyama, but is she friend or foe?

The main characters of “A Certain Scientific Railgun” are:

  • Mikoto Misaka – A powerful Electromaster who is known as “The Railgun”. She attends Tokiwadai Middle School, a school for the wealthy and one of the elite schools of Academy City. She also has a strong sense of morals and hates injustice.
  • Kuroko Shirai – A level 4 psychic and a member of Judgment.  She is an eser that can teleport and has a big crush on Mikoto.  She gets very jealous when others get Mikoto’s attention, especially Toma.
  • Kazari Uiharu – A student at Sakugawa Middle School and a member of Judgment.  Best friends with Ruiko Saten and is known for wearing flowers on her head.  Often shy and humble, but known for her sweet tooth.
  • Mitsuko Kongou –  A student at Tokiwadai Middle School that can utilize the “Aero Hand”. She is Kuroko’s rival.
  • Ruiko Saten – A student at Sakugawa Middle School who does not have an esper ability.  Best friends with Kazari Uiharu and is addicted to urban legends.
  • Mii Konori  – A member of Judgement and senpai to Kuroko and Uiharu.  She is also the Chief of the 177th Branch of Judgment and has the power of X-ray vision.
  • Telestina Kihara Lifeline – The head of the Multi Active Rescue unit (MAR) and is currently investigating earthquakes happening in Academy City.
  • Toma Kamijo – The main protagonist for “A Certain Magical Index”. A teenager who has a high sense of justice and despite having a psychic rank of zero, has a mysterious power of the Imagine Breaker which nullifies all magic, psychic or divine powers and unfortunately, his good luck. But because of his sense of justice, each person he comes in contact with develop respect or love towards Toma because of his willingness to protect them.
  • Dr. Harumi Kiyama – A Cerebral physiologist who tends to want to take off her clothes when she’s hot.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“A Certain Scientific Railgun” is an anime series presented in 1080p High Definition.  Art backgrounds are well-detailed, with some environements looking very beautiful and character designs are well-shaded.  For those familiar with “A Certain Magical Index” will be familiar with J.C. Staff’s style to this anime series.  But for the most part, the series looks very good and surprised it was not released on Blu-ray.

Audio is presented in English 5.1 surround and Japanese stereo. The English soundtrack has better dynamic range as one would expect form its 5.1 soundtrack compared to the front-channel driven Japanese stereo track. Voice acting for both soundtracks are well-done!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“A Certain Scientific Railgun – Season One, Part One” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 3 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Brina Palencia (Ruiko) and Cherami Leigh (Kazari).
  • Episode 6 Audio Commentary– Featuring audio commentary by Brittney Karbowski (Mikoto) and Alison Viktorin (Kuroko).
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs – Textless version of “Only My Railgun” and “Dear My Friend”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

For those who have watched “A Certain Magical Index” and enjoyed the anime series, will find “A Certain Scientific Railgun” to be a show that continues the fun and humor of the series but also its action and that is one thing viewers can expect from this series, to be action-packed!

While I enjoyed “A Certain Magical Index” for its darker tone, “A Certain Scientific Railgun”, for its first half of the season, is primarily character building episodes.  Featuring a variety of female characters who are friends of Mikoto and how each of them are around her and how they get involved in a variety of cases or happen to be in the wrong place in the wrong time.

There is a difference between the two series.  With “A Certain Magical Index”, there was this back-story revolving around Index and people trying to capture her and of course, Toma being a low level Esper but actually having a special ability that makes him even more powerful than other powerful Espers.  But we get to see how Mikoto ends up running into Toma and the correlation between both series.

But for the most part, this is a series about friendship and a group of girls with abilities that somehow get involved in situations involving criminals or bad people.  We see both Mikoto and Kuroko get into the thick of things but we eventually learn each other’s character traits.  Mikoto’s naiveness, Kuroko who is from Judgment is still a girl with a teenage crush on Mikoto and then other characters who lend their expertise (or somehow get involved in the trouble), getting themselves involved.

And of course, the humor with Kuroko always wanting to glomp Mikoto or Dr. Kiyama always wanting to take off her clothes when hot, is quite funny because it always happens in the most unexpected situations.

But the series does start to get a bit darker and more complex around episode 9.  Especially when the girls become intrigued with a “Level Upper” that levels up a person’s skills.  But is it real or a myth?

As for the DVD, the animation and art background by J.C. Staff is very well done. It does surprise me that there is no Blu-ray release of this series but for the most part, the series is well-acted on both English and in Japanese with the English getting a better treatment with its 5.1 soundtrack over its Japanese 2.0 counterpart. But fans should be pleased with the animation, art and voice acting of “A Certain Scientific Railgun”. Also, you get two audio commentaries included in part one.

Is there anything negative about the series, really there isn’t anything that I can think of that is negative unless one compares it to the more action-driven “A Certain Magical Index”.  But it’s good to keep things different and “A Certain Scientific Railgun” is more upbeat and fun, but you can also expect a good dose of action as well.

Overall, “A Certain Scientific Railgun” is a humorous, fun and action-packed series that is recommended for fans who enjoyed “A Certain Magical Index”!

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