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Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – Season One (A J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 22, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress” is more or less a zombie storyline about human survival but there are other elements introduced that makes this storyline fresh and unique.  If you love action-driven anime series, “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – Season One

DURATION: (Episodes 1-12) 300 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: January 16, 2018


Directed by Tetsuro Araki

Screenplay by Ichiro Okouchi

Script by Hiroshi Seko

Original Character Design by Haruhiko Mikimoto

Character Design by Tadayoshi Yamamuro

Music byHiroyuki Sawano

Art Direction by Shunichiro Yoshihara

Anime Production: Wit Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Sayaka Senbongi/Janice Kawaye as Mumei

Tasuku Hatanaka/Robbie Daymond as Ikoma

Kaito Ishikawa/Chris Niosi as Uryū

Kanae Oki/Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Kajika

Kensuke Satou/Kyle Hebert as Kibito

Maaya Uchida/Veronica Taylor as Ayame

Mamoru Miyano/Roger Craig Smith as Biba

Mariya Ise/Abby Trott as Yukina

Maxwell Powers/Elijah Ungvary as Suzuki

Ryota Ohsaka as Sukari

Toshiki Masuda/Jamieson K. Price as Kurusu

Yuuki Kaji/Ben Diskin as Takumi


The world is overrun with Kabane, infected humans with an appetite for flesh. While the last of humanity has retreated into fortress-like stations connected by armored trains, some remain as hopeful as Ikoma. Servicing the trains for a living, Ikoma uses his spare time to build a weapon that could defeat the Kabane. Unapologetically optimistic, he eagerly awaits the day when he can test it. When a train is hijacked by the Kabane, he may finally get his chance. But an unexpected turn of events puts him in a situation that will test not only his weapon but his own humanity.


From “Attack on Titan” director Tetsuro Araki and “Code Geass” writer Ichiro Okouchi comes the anime series “Kotetsujo no Kabaneri” (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress) courtesy of Wit Studio.

An anime series that receive a lot of hype online thanks to the original character designs being created by anime industry legend, Haruhiko Mikimoto (“Macross”, “Gunbuster”,  “Orguss”).

The 12-episode anime TV series premiered in the spring of 2016 on Fuji TV’s Noitamina block and will now be co-released in the US on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of a partnership between Crunchyroll and Funimation.

The series takes place during a time when a mysterious virus infects humans during the industrial revolution and turns them into kabane (corpses) and the virus rapidly spreads.  The only way to kill a kabane is to pierce its glowing heart or severing its head.  And if bitten by a kabane, the person will turn into one.

In the island country of Hinomoto, humans have created fortresses to protect themselves from kabane.  Steam locomotives (Hayajiro) transport various wares between stations and one day, a hayajiro is hijacked by kabane and it crashes into Aragane Station, allowing the kabane to attack the city.

One of the people in the city, a young engineer named Ikoma, is constructing an anti-kabane weapon.  His shop is infiltrated by kabane and he is able to use his weapon and make it work by defeating it. Unfortunately, during the battle he is bitten.

Ikoma finds a way to resist the virus thanks to jewel in his hand and resists the virus.  He becomes a Kabaneri, a human-kabane hybrid and along with another kabaneri named Mumei, the two try to fight their way to protect the human survivors.

But who are more of a threat?  The kabane or power-hungry humans?


VIDEO:

“Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress” is created in 1080p High Definition (16×9 HD Native). The episodes are colorful and absolutely vibrant. Great detail with character designs based on Haruhiko Mikimoto’s well-kn0w style and wonderful animation for fight scenes.  Background artwork is also very detailed.   I saw no major softness, banding issues or artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress”” features a wonderful soundtrack on Blu-ray. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese). Dialogue is crystal clear for both soundtracks, while action sequences are well-utilized for its surround channel on the English soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress” comes with the opening and closing songs.

EXTRAS:

“Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD for season 1.


At first glance, I thought “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress” was going to be another zombie story clone.  Human survivors vs. the undead.

And for the most part, the humans vs. the undead is a big part of the story but what you have is a story about a steamsmith named Ikoma who develops a bolt gun-like weapon to fight against the Kabane and joins with a group of people trying to fight back.  He is protective of his close friends, Takumi (who helped him develop the gun) and Kanjika, who helps raise the orphans who lost their families to Kabane.

We learn there is another Kabaneri, a fighter who believes she must be stronger in order to not end up as a kabane and because she fights so much, she requires blood to stop herself from attacking people.

The anime series introduces us to another characters such as Ayame Yomogawa, the leader of the Aragane survivors who comes from a noble family but is trying to understand all that is happening around her.  Protecting her is a bushi named Kurusu, an excellent swordfighter who is attracted to Ayame.

And as these individuals survive and fight their way against Kabane.  By episode 7, the series starts to take a turn for a more serious story as we are introduced to a man known as Biba, a man that Mumei calls her brother.

Biba runs a group known as the hunters and is the eldest son of a Shogun.  In his mind, strength makes people superior and the weak don’t deserve a chance to live.  And because of that, he locks up Ikoma and turns his friends into slaves for blood experimentation in order to create artificial kabaneri.

So, the second half go from survival from the kabane, to survival from Biba and his group of Hunters.  To make things worse, as Ikoma wants to save Mumei, Biba has brainwashed her to fight for him and to kill Ikoma.

I absolutely loved the character designs for this anime series and Haruhiko Mikimoto’s style is quite pronounced and no doubt made me nostalgic for his classic anime work, especially for “Macross”.    His style is very unique for him and it’s always a delight to see Mikimoto’s involvement with an anime series.  Background art and overall mechanical design are well-done and the lossless soundtrack is quite solid, with its many action scenes.  The English has the upper edge with the 5.1 lossless soundtrack but for the most part, dialogue for both soundtracks are crystal clear.

Overall, I really enjoyed the first season of “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress”.  The series is action-packed and there is enough story that the series is not enveloped by its action sequences.  But I will say the series goes quickly and you’re left wanting more and more.

Sure, “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress” is more or less a zombie storyline about human survival but there are other elements introduced that makes this storyline fresh and unique.  If you love action-driven anime series, “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress” is recommended!

 

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

February 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“Terraformars” is an anime series that will no doubt entertaining anime fans who are looking for a lot of action (but also a lot of violence).  This is a series that spares no expense of offing key characters and a series that showcases the survival of the Annex 1 team on Mars as they take on thousands of evolved cockroaches intent on killing them.  While it does not incorporate everything that the manga series featured, it’s still a solid, action anime series worth watching!

Image courtesy of © Ken-Ichi Tachibana, Yu Sasuga/SHUEISHA Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Terra Formars

DURATION: (Episodes 1-13) 312 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: January 23, 2018


Directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki

Series Composition: Shogo Yasukawa

Music by Shusei Murai

Originally Created by Kenichi Tachibana and Yu Sasuga

Character Design:  Masanori Shino, Satoshi Kimura

Art Director: Minami Kasuga

Anime Production: LIDEN FILMS


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hidenobu Kiuchi/Christopher Smith as Shōkichi Komachi

Kaito Ishikawa/Robbie Daymond as Marcos Eringrad Garcia

Kenn/Steve Cannon as Alex Kandori Stewart

Shizuka Itou/Eric Lindbeck as Michelle K. Davis

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Chris Niosi as Akari Hizamaru

Ai Kayano/Erica Lindbeck as Sheila Levitt

Aki Toyosaki/Erin Fitzgerald as Yaeko Yanasegawa

Akira Ishida/Todd Haberkorn as Joseph G. Newton

Ayane Sakura/Cristina Vale as Eva Frost

Chiaki Takahashi/Cherami Leigh as Kanako Sanjō

Daisuke Ono/Max Mittelman as Keiji Onizuka

Kenji Akabane/Christopher Smith as Ivan Perepelkina

Koji Yusa/Doug Erholtz as Adolf Reinhard

Kouji Ishii/Peter Lurie as Narration

Tetsuo Komura/Kyle Hebert as Liu Yiwu

Tomokazu Sugita as Ichirō Hiruma

Tooru Nara/Max Mittelman as Aleksandr Asimov

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Keith Silverstein as Shichisei Hiruma

Unshō Ishizuka/Patrick Seitz as Sylvester Asimov


In the deep silence of space, the planet Mars hisses with death. On Earth, a mysterious virus is devastating the human race. To find a cure and give humanity a fighting chance of survival, a multinational team of genetically modified citizens must race to the Red Planet and uncover its secrets. What awaits is the bloody aftermath of a colonization attempt gone horribly wrong–hordes of hyper-evolved cockroaches known as “Terraformars” roam keen to kill. Earth’s chosen stand ready for combat and ready to change the course of human history. The question is which species can unite for victory.


In 2011, writer Yu Sasuga and artist Kenichi Tachibana would create “Terra Formars”, a manga series that would become a major hit in Japan.

First serialized in Shueisha’s “Weekly Young Jump”, “Terra Formars” was ranked #1 in the 2013 “Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” top 20 Manga for Male Readers survey and an anime series produced by LIDEN FILMS would be air on Japanese TV in 2015.

And now the series will be released on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of Viz Media.

With Earth looking to colonize Mars which is undergoing its final stages of Terraforming and now becoming a green planet, a group of 15 men and women have been sent to Mars to check on the Terraformation of the planet.

Meanwhile, on Earth, the planet is falling into ruin due to environmental destruction and energy shortages, so Mars has been the focus by scientists.

Scientists have used moss and a black organism to darken the surface of the planet and causing it to absorb more sunlight, increase temperatures and melting the carbon dioxide.

The black organism used by scientists were cockroaches.

As the 15 men and women of BUGS 2 arrive on the planet on their mission to evaluate the planet but also to find out what happened to the first crew (BUGS 1) that landed on the planet.

The team discover that the Terraforming has succeeded but to their shock, the cockroaches have mutated with human bodies.

And now the humans have become the hunted.

Because the cockroaches exhibit all abilities of a cockroach, it was learned that scientists embedded human DNA in them and their mutation has made them beings that would not just survive in Mars but also exhibiting human characteristics and a hatred towards humanity (as humanity has had a hatred towards cockroaches).

But humanity also has found a way for humans to counteract the cockroaches by using injections of insects on humans that will briefly give them insect powers. But is it enough for the humans to survive in Mars as they are now considered the pests for the planet in which the humanoid cockroaches are the primary species?

The anime series is set 20-years later and Shokichi Komachi is now the new head of U-NASA. As one of the few survivors to escape from Mars and survive the cockroach onslaught, the Earth he has returned to is not just facing an overpopulation problem but also a widespread virus that came from Mars.

The bad news that the only way to stop it is to confirm the existence of the virus and determine its type and bring it back to Earth in hopes to create a vaccine.

But will Shokichi find a new group of people willing to sacrifice their lives for humanity by going to Mars and prepare for the onslaught of cockroach/humans that have infested the planet and want nothing more than to kill the humans?

As the Terraformars have invaded the spacecraft of Annex 1, it becomes a battle of survival as the recruits must prepare for a crash landing on Mars, but to find out that not only have Earth’s recruits have evolved, so have the Terraformars!

On Mars, the officers come across different types of Terraformars that somehow have other insect abilities. Did they evolve that way or is someone responsible for the insects becoming bipedal humanoid.


VIDEO:

“Terraformars” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16×9). Featuring character designs that respect Tachibana’s original manga artwork, overall picture quality is well-done and colors are vibrant.  I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding issues with this series on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Terraformars” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Crystal clear dialogue and music through the front channels.  Both soundtracks are well-acted.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Terraformars” comes with interviews with the English dub talent (Erica Lindbeck, Chris Niosi, Patrick Seitz and Viz Media’s Terraformars Team), clean opening and ending and an art gallery.

EXTRAS:

“Terraformars” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD of the series.


In America, there have been a number of sci-fi films that have featured humanity taking on various alien species on Mars.

But what makes Yu Sasuga and Ken-Ichi Tachibana’s “Terraformars” so fascinating and also exciting is the science of Terra Formation and how scientists were able to create something that may lead to their own demise.

It’s interesting because of all species to bring on Mars, any human would know that cockroaches are the most resilient insect. Not only are they quick but they are very hard to kill.

Stepping on them doesn’t always fully kill them, throwing them away in a toilet in water also doesn’t kill them as they try to escape. So, for anyone familiar with the resilient cockroach can possibly think if a cockroach evolved to something much larger than a human being, not only would it be powerful but also hard to kill.

And despite humans ability to strategize, without having the same power to fight back, humans on Mars are literally defenseless. And to fight back, the use of insect injections from powerful insects in the planet may be what is needed to fight against these human cockroaches.

This first half features Shokichi recruit a ragtag bunch of people willing to sacrifice themselves in hopes for a payday but also in hopes for a vaccine to help eliminate the virus from Mars that have been killing people all over the globe.  But will these new recruits encounter the same tragic experience that Shokichi had once endured?

And once the humans return to Mars, unfortunately things don’t happen all that well as it all seems doom and gloom from the start as the Terraformars have invaded the spacecraft of Annex 1 and when the crew does reach Mars, they realize that the enemies they have fought, also have gain intelligence and a new brand of fighting back. Which does not sound good for humanity, at all!

It’s a very exciting and action-packed anime series for sure.  But having read Yu Sasuga and Kenichi Tachibana’s manga series prior to watching the anime, there are differences.

For one, the manga began with the first 15 men and women of BUGS 2 to arrive on the planet on their mission to evaluate the planet but also to find out what happened to the first crew (BUGS 1) that landed on the planet.  The team discover that the Terraforming has succeeded but to their shock, the cockroaches have mutated with human bodies.

In the anime series, it immediately begins with the introduction to Akari Hizamaru trying to save his childhood friend Yuriko and then by episode 2, featuring the Annex 1 heading to Mars.

The manga series put a lot of thought into its introduction, a glimmer of what will transpire on Earth and then the introduction to the characters and Annex 1 heading to Mars.  The manga also went into a lot of details trying to describe the insect or mammal/animal they were tested with.

The anime series focuses on Akari and Michelle K. Davis, with other episodes giving certain characters their own introduction.  While still action-packed and exciting, the anime series does miss out on a lot of the character building storylines and that’s unfortunate.

The animation is respectful to the manga series and one thing I like about the anime series is seeing the color differentiation with the characters.  The manga series could get a bit confusing as certain characters look the same (and it doesn’t help that so many characters are introduced), so the animation does have that as an advantage.  Picture quality is good with slight softness but LIDEN FILMS did a good job.   The lossless soundtrack in Japanese and English stereo and the voice acting for both soundtracks are well-acted.

 

As for special features, the Blu-ray comes with interviews, clean opening and ending and an art gallery.

Overall, “Terraformars” is an anime series that will no doubt entertaining anime fans who are looking for a lot of action (but also a lot of violence).  This is a series that spares no expense of offing key characters and a series that showcases the survival of the Annex 1 team on Mars as they take on thousands of evolved cockroaches intent on killing them.  While it does not incorporate everything that the manga series featured, it’s still a solid, action anime series worth watching!

Sailor Moon R: The Movie (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

There is no doubt that “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” was ahead of its time. A classic, dramatic “Sailor Moon” film that manages to balance drama and action very well. If you are a big fan of the film, definitely own this film on Blu-ray, it’s the definitive version worth purchasing! Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1993 TOEI ANIMATION. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Sailor Moon R: The Movie

ORIGINAL THEATRICAL DATE: 1993

DURATION: 90 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: April 18, 2017


Originally Created by Naoko Takeuchi

Director: Kunihiko Ikuhara

Screenplay: Sukehiro Tomita

Character Design by Kazuko Tadano

Music by Akiko Kosaka, Takanori Arisawa, Tetsuya Komuro

Art Design by Junichi Taniguchi

Animation Director: Kazuko Tadano

Anime Production: Toei Animation/TV Asahi


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Hisakawa/Kate Higgins as Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury

Emi Shinohara/Amanda C. Miller as Makoto Kino/Sailor Jupiter

Kotono Mitsuishi/Stephanie Sheh as Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon

Michie Tomizawa/Cristina Vee as Rei Hino/Sailor Mars

Rica Fukami/Stephanie Morgenstern as Minako Aino/Sailor Venus

Kae Araki/Sandy Fox as Chibi Usa

Keiko Han/Jill Frappier as Luna

Tohru Furuya/Robbie Daymond as Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Kamen

Yasuhiro Takato/Ron Rubin as Artemis

Hikaru Midorikawa/Ben Diskin as Fiore

Hiromi Nishikawa as Campanula

Mahito Ohba as Newscaster

Megumi Ogata as Mamoru Chiba (as a child)

Tomoko Maruo as Fiore (as a child)

Wakana Yamazaki as Flower Youma Gurishina

Yumi Touma as Kisenian


Long before Mamoru found his destiny with Usagi, he gave a single rose in thanks to a lonely boy who helped him recover from the crash that claimed his parents. This long-forgotten friend, Fiore, has been searching the galaxy for a flower worthy of that sweet gesture long ago. This Xenian flower is beautiful, but has a dark side- it has the power to take over planets! To make matters worse, the strange plant is tied to an asteroid hurling towards Earth! Faced with an enemy blooming out of control, It’s up to Sailor Moon and the Sailor Guardians to band together, stop the impending destruction and save Mamoru!


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 2016, Viz Media showcased “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” at Anime Expo featuring a new English dub, uncut for the first time in American theaters.

The original film was released in theaters back in 1993 and was directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara and written by Sukehiro Tomita and takes place after the original “Sailor Moon R” series.

And now, “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Viz Media.

The film begins with Usagi, Mamoru, Chiba-Usa and friends taking a trip to the Jindai Botanical Garden.

Meanwhile, we see a flashback of a young Mamoru giving a rose to a mysterious boy and the boy promising to return to bring Mamoru many flowers.

As Mamoru steps outside after the other Sailor Senshi are caught spying on the two as they are about to kiss, the mysterious boy, now a man comes to give Mamoru flowers and holds his hand.

Usagi sees the man’s affections towards Mamoru and Usagi tells him that Mamoru is her boyfriend and the mysterious man knocks her down and vows that no one will prevent him from keeping his promise and he disappears.

As the Sailor Senshi are talking among others, they talk about how Mamoru is not only popular with the women but also probably towards men.  Meanwhile, a ball of light is seen floating and buries itself to the ground and a flower grows.

The following morning, Rei meanwhile senses an evil aura and she and the other Sailor Senshi follow Rei and find many of the local city people all fallen to the ground.  When they go to check on them, the people awaken (like zombies) with plants controlling them and they try to attack them.

They find that the person responsible is a flower monster named Glycina and it drains energy from people. As the Sailor Senshi tries to fight her, Fiore appears and uses a flower called Xenian to hurt them.

As Mamoru shoes up to talk to Fiore and prevent him from fighting the Sailor Senshis, he learns that the Xenian is controlling his mind.  As Fiore tries to attack Usagi, Mamoru saves her just in time but is hurt.  Fiore manages to take the injured Mamoru away from Earth to an asteroid and plans to revive him in a crystal.

What is this connection between Fiore and Mamoru?  And can Usagi and friends save Mamoru and defeat Fiore?  And why is Fiore so angry?


VIDEO:

“Sailor Moon R: The Movie” is presented in 1080p High Definition and one must remember that this is an old school anime film and created with cels not digitally as anime is made today.  And handling of anime series were done differently back then and so you may see some occasional spotting in certain frames.

With that being said, this HD version is no doubt the best version I have seen of this film to date.  Having had the original Pioneer DVD, this Blu-ray release from Viz Media is much better in terms of color vibrance and sharpness.  I didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sailor Moon R: The Movie” 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.  It’s important to note that this animated film on Blu-ray features the current cast featured on the Viz Media releases and not the English dub from the 2000 Pioneer DVD release.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sailor Moon R: The Movie” comes with the following special features:

  • Make Up! Sailor Guardians Featurette – (16:32) A special feature about the Sailor Guardians, a recap that was shown originally before the animated film in Japan in theaters (presented in Japanese and English).
  • Theatrical Intro with English Cast – (10:46) Featuring the English dub voice talent: Stephanie Sheh, Robbie Daymond and Ben Diskin being interviewed about the film.
  • 2017 Los Angeles Premiere – (34:29) Featuring a post-panel with Voice Director – Suzanne Goldish, the English voice talent of “Sailor Moon R” (from the Los Angeles Premiere) and cosplayers.
  • Gallery – “Sailor Moon R” image gallery
  • Trailer – “Sailor Moon R” theatrical trailer

Back in 1993, “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” was released in Japanese theaters and for many fans of the animated series, this was anticipated holiday movie release during the Christmas time in Japan.

At the time, Toei Animation really did a lot of promotion for the film, going so far to have a special “Sailor Moon and X’mas” event in Ginza limited to several hundred people.

One of the earlier personal anime-driven websites in the early ’90s owned by Hitoshi Doi, said of the movie, “It was a great movie.  Maybe my favorite movie of all time”.

Meanwhile, on anime BBS, there was a lot of discussion about the content and possible homosexual storyline about love between two boys.  A topic that was debated at the time and while not super controversial, it was enough for Pioneer Entertainment to release it in 1999 on VHS edited and in Japanese only with English subtitles.

But for the bilingual DVD release back in 2000, Pioneer Entertainment released it uncut but also an edited version of the VHS dub as it was censored for content.

Needless to say, with the release of “Sailor Moon R: The Movie”, the goal was to release this film, with the new English voice cast that have been used for Viz releases.  But most importantly, to feature a storyline that is not censored but to accept what the original Japanese story had been about and not changing the story to reflect that two young male characters that do care about each other.

So, with the changing of the times, we have a new Blu-ray release of “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” that gets things right by not deviating from the story’s original intention.

I actually wrote back when the original DVD was released, “The movie is actually pretty good.  Touching in some areas and it’ll maybe make you want to cry.  When people buy this, they may think they can just buy this for their kids but if you want to explain to your children about homosexuality references and so forth, then go ahead and buy it.”

Watching this film nearly 25-years later and 17-years after the DVD was released, I look back and see Hitoshi Doi’s 1993 post and in Japan, they don’t make any references about two boys liking each other, in fact, fans loved it because of its dramatic storyline of sacrifice and love.  In addition to the action sequences involved as well.

It’s a shame that back then, companies had to censor the film and it was unfortunate, that I felt the need to warn parents because of the references.  Things have changed so much in terms of what can be accepted in film or pop culture in terms of references to LGBT.  If anything, there is no warning that should be needed.  Children watching this may think friendship, while its the parents who may be doing most of the questioning, hopefully people can watch this film and not make such a big deal of the references made between Mamoru and Fiore.

The story revolves around a young Mamoru and a boy named Fiore.  Mamoru gives Fiore a rose and a young Fiore made a promise to bring a flower back to Mamoru.  So, Fiore made it his life duty to fulfill that promise by searching for a flower across the galaxy just for Mamoru.

And when Fiore comes back as an adult to Mamoru to give him the flower he had found and showing his true affections that he has long had for Mamoru, Usagi tells Fiore that Mamoru is her boyfriend.

Needless to say, that doesn’t suit well for Fiore and to make things worse, since Fiore is possessed by the Xenian flower, he uses the power of the flower-monster Glycina to feed on people’s energy and uses it against Sailor Moon and friends.

But it’s a battle for Mamoru’s affections…who will win?  Usagi or Fiore?

No doubt the ending is quite predictable but the film features a strong dramatic storyline that shows how deep Usagi’s love for Mamoru and her friends.  And how far she will go to sacrifice her life for those who are important to her.

As for the Blu-ray release, “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” looks very good in HD.  One must remember that this is an old school anime film and created with cels not digitally as anime is made today.  And handling of anime series were done differently back then and so you may see some occasional spotting in certain frames.  But colors and sharpness are wonderful and this is the best version I have seen of the film to date.

And for lossless audio, we get a lossless audio stereo track that sounds great in HD!

And this release also comes with the original Make Up! Sailor Guardians Featurette, which was shown prior to the film’s screening in Japan, to get fans and also non-fans up to speed about each character and where the story is heading at that point of time. Plus, you get interviews with the English cast and the post-screeening of the film panel shown at the film premiere in Los Angeles.

Overall, there is no doubt that “Sailor Moon R: The Movie” was ahead of its time. A classic, dramatic “Sailor Moon” film that manages to balance drama and action very well.  If you are a big fan of the film, definitely own this film on Blu-ray, it’s the definitive version worth purchasing!

Recommended!

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!

 

God Eater Vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“God Eater” is a wonderful action-packed series that is more on the deeper, violent side of anime series showcasing an apocalyptic setting. Humanity has nearly been obliterated by monstrous Aragami and only a small group of God Eaters, wielding aragami-derived weapons known as God Arc can fight back. But it’s these mysterious New Types that can wield the God Arcs to amazing weapons that may give humanity a chance. A thrilling, action-packed anime series so far, “God Eater” vol. 1 and 2 are highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © BNEI/PROJECT G.E. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: God Eater Vol. 2

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 8-13 (141 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese & English Linear PCM Stereo, Subtitles: English and Spanish

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: January 31, 2017


Director: Takayuki Hirao

Script by Kei Tsunematsu, Takayuki Hirao

Music by Go Shiina

Original Character Design by Koichi Itakura

Character Design by Keita Shimizu

Art Director: Masaru Yanaka

Anime Production: ufotable


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ryūichi Kijima/Robbie Daymond as Lenka Utsugi

Atsuko Tanaka/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Tsubaki Amamiya

Chiaki Omigawa as Licca Kusunoki

Daisuke Sakaguchi/Lucien Dodge as Kōta Fujiki

Hiroaki Hirata/Kyle Hebert as Lindow Amamiya

Kanae Itō/Erika Harlacher as Hibari Takeda

Kazuya Nakai/Crispin Freeman as Soma Schicksal

Maaya Sakamoto/Cherami Leigh as Alisa Illinichina Amiella

Rica Fukami/Wendee Lee as Aisha Gauche

Rikiya Koyama/Spike Spencer as Johannes von Schicksal

Sayaka Ohara as Sakuya

Taiten Kusunoki as Paylor Sakaki

Tomohisa Asou as Daigo Oguruma


After the previous encounter with Dyaus Pita that left them both physically and mentally scarred, Lenka and Alisa both return to the base. Feeling there might be a correlation with the Aragami’s behaviors, Lindow decides to go off the reservation and investigate the truth behind the “Aegis Project.” At the same time, Director Johannes Von Schicksal announces the plan to accelerate the completion of the Aegis Project through Operation Meteorite – a means to wipe out a large amount of Aragami and receive their cores.

With newfound resolve, Lenka returns to the battlefield with his new God Arc, designed by Dr. Paylor Sakaki. However, when Lenka is reunited with his teammates, what awaits them is a twisted fate, and the aura of despair brought on by the black Vajra…

The epic conclusion to the anime series based on the best-selling video game God Eater by Bandai Namco Entertainment!


How does the past affect the present?

In the second half of “God Eater”, we learn how Johannes, Sakaki and Aisha were experimenting with the Managam Project and the gathering of Oracle Cells began and how the first Aragami emerged.

And how Lenka’s heightened compatibility is caused by God Arc’s Oracle cells invading his body, but when he uses this power, it may lead quickly to an earlier death the more he uses his God Arc.

Also, the tragic past of Lenka is revealed.  And Lenka and friends must take on Pita.

All this and more in conclusion to the first season of “God Eater”!

What is “God Eater” about?

In 2010, “God Eater”, a sci-fi adventure video game series developed by Shift and published by Bandai Namco was released in the U.S. for the Sony PSP.

Since then, several “God Eater” video games have been released and in 2015, an anime series created by ufotable aired on television in July 2015.

The series is directed by Takayuki Hirao (“Death Note”, “Garden of Sinners”, “Magical Sisters Yoyo & Nene”), script by Takayuki Hirao (“Magicl Sisters Yoyo & Nene”, “GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack”) and, character design by Keita Shimizu (“ef: a tale of memories”, “REC”, “Negima!?”), art direction by Masaru Yanaka (“Ghost Hunt”, “Ai Yori Aoshi ~Enishi~”, “Samurai Girls”) and music by Go Shiina (“Kyousougiga”, “Tales of Zestiria the X”, “GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack”).

A total of 13 episodes were created and now, “God Eater” vol. 1 (featuring the first seven episodes) will be released on Blu-ray in North America courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

The series is set in 2071, and the world has been nearly destroyed by mysterious monsters known as Aragami.

To fight these Aragami, an organization known as Fenrir has God Eaters, people who can wield “God Arc” weapons made from Aragami cells to exterminate them.

And it is being discovered that certain people, known as New Types, can wield God Arc’s and switch from gun and blade form.

The series revolves around a young man named Lenka Utsugi, who desperately wants to destroy all Aragami. But unfortunately, he is not ready for battle despite his hot headed temper that wants to fight and destroy them.

Lenka and Kota Fujiki are sent to training under a stern woman named Tsubaki. And as Lenka is always determined of wanting to help anyone, unfortunately that leads him to make rash decisions which would let him be killed during training mode.

This is unacceptable and when Lenka breaks orders from Tsubaki to not fight, while trying to fight and rescue someone from the Aragami, he reveals that he is a New Type.

But because he’s not fully-trained, he is almost killed until he is rescued by the First Unit of God Eaters, Soma, Lindow and Sakuya.

But because Lenka disobeyed orders, he is jailed and is awaiting court-martial and may need to surrender his God Arc. But because of his New Type abilities and that New Type users are a rarity, he is given a second chance to fight, must team up with Russia’s New Type, Alisa Illinichina Amiella. Another person who has a hot-temper and disregards rules.

And as Lenka and Alisa join a team of God Eaters, can these New Type God Eaters work together and defeat the Aragami but also rescue many human lives?

Also, is there someone pulling the strings behind-the-scenes and are wanting the Aragami to succeed?


VIDEO:

“God Eater” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is absolutely vibrant and colorful. The background, especially the foreground artwork are beautifully painted and well-detailed, while the character designs are well-done and well-shaded. This is a gorgeous looking anime series and I thought the Aragami designs were very awesome.

But for the most part, character designs and background art for “God Eater” look fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“God Eater” is presented in Japanese and English linear PCM stereo. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“God Eater” vol. 2 comes with the following special features:

  • God Eater Extra 02 Bonus Part A – (10:57) Interviews with Go Shiina and Naomi Kaitani about the music of the series.
  • God Eater Extra 02 Bonus Part B – (8:59) Featuring an interview with the band Ghost Oracle Drive (bassist Takenori Sakauchi, guitarist Kazuki Sato, drummer Toshiyuki Wakayama and vocalist Kenta Matsukuma).
  • God Eater Extra 03 – (23:25) A special episode summary of the series and its characters with interviews with the anime staff and more.
  • Textless Opening and Endings

EXTRAS:

“God Eater” vol. 2 comes with a slipcase and a 20-page deluxe booklet.


Having played “God Eater” on the Sony PSP and Sony Vita, I have to say that the “God Eater” anime series had made me enjoy the series even more, now that we have a much more intuitive storyline that is not only addicting but action-packed.

While there is some level of banality of an unknown hero that fights for an organization and no one knows if the newcomer is ready for battle, which many have seen in anime such as “Blue Demon” and “Seraph of the Vampire”, “God Eater” is an anime series that is much more deeper, violent and for the most part, humanity is on the losing side of the battle against these monstrous entities known as Aragami.

The main protagonist is Lenka Utsugi, a boy raised on the poor side of town, despises Aragami with a passion but even more, hates turning a blind eye to the suffering of humans who can’t defend themselves.

He wants to help everyone, anyone even though it’s against Fenrir’s orders and it tends to get him in trouble.

But as he is a New Type starting to discover his own ability and not fully trained, Fenrir needs all the help they can get to fight these Aragami. And for now, he and another hot-headed New Type named Allisa is what they have.

And both want to help humanity, and despise Fenrir’s practice of only helping those that are useful to the cause.

The first seven episodes develop the story of Lenka and later Allisa but also doing a good job of showing how dismal things are on the planet and how devastating the Aragami are. How they kill with no remorse, they kill anything that stands in their way and no one understands why, or why these monstrous things have shown up on their planet.

The second half focuses on the past of Lenka but also the past of Johannes, Sakaki and Aisha were experimenting with the Managam Project and the gathering of Oracle Cells began and how the first Aragami emerged.

But also the true enemy is revealed.

Overall, the second half and conclusion to “God Eater” was fantastic.  A lot of drama, emotion and action featured in each episode and this second half shows us the apocalyptic world and the sacrifices that are necessary for humanity to continue on.  Unfortunately, certain people have their own interpretation of how the world should be.

But for the series as a whole, fans should be happy with the overall storyline and also a teaser of what to look forward to, if another season is created.

It also helps that characters from the video game are featured in the anime series, and so, this series does give a much more deeper appreciation for the entire “God Eater” series.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is fantastic as characters are fully of detail, are well-shaded. The Aragami look absolutely frightening and their animation and overall design is fantastic. Background art is well-done, music adds to the riveting fast-paced, action-packed environment of the series.

And you also get the special features with crew interviews plus a 20-page deluxe booklet as well.

Overall, “God Eater” is a wonderful action-packed series that is more on the deeper, violent side of anime series showcasing an apocalyptic setting. Humanity has nearly been obliterated by monstrous Aragami and only a small group of God Eaters, wielding aragami-derived weapons known as God Arc can fight back. But it’s these mysterious New Types that can wield the God Arcs to amazing weapons that may give humanity a chance.

A thrilling, dramatic and action-packed anime series, “God Eater” vol. 1 and vol. 2 are highly recommended!

 

God Eater Vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“God Eater” is a wonderful action-packed series that is more on the deeper, violent side of anime series showcasing an apocalyptic setting. Humanity has nearly been obliterated by monstrous Aragami and only a small group of God Eaters, wielding aragami-derived weapons known as God Arc can fight back. But it’s these mysterious New Types that can wield the God Arcs to amazing weapons that may give humanity a chance. A thrilling, action-packed anime series so far, “God Eater” vol. 1 is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © BNEI/PROJECT G.E. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: God Eater Vol. 1

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-7 (166 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese & English Linear PCM Stereo, Subtitles: English and Spanish

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: November 28, 2016


Director: Takayuki Hirao

Script by Kei Tsunematsu, Takayuki Hirao

Music by Go Shiina

Original Character Design by Koichi Itakura

Character Design by Keita Shimizu

Art Director: Masaru Yanaka

Anime Production: ufotable


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ryūichi Kijima/Robbie Daymond as Lenka Utsugi

Atsuko Tanaka/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Tsubaki Amamiya

Chiaki Omigawa as Licca Kusunoki

Daisuke Sakaguchi/Lucien Dodge as Kōta Fujiki

Hiroaki Hirata/Kyle Hebert as Lindow Amamiya

Kanae Itō/Erika Harlacher as Hibari Takeda

Kazuya Nakai/Crispin Freeman as Soma Schicksal

Maaya Sakamoto/Cherami Leigh as Alisa Illinichina Amiella

Rica Fukami/Wendee Lee as Aisha Gauche

Rikiya Koyama/Spike Spencer as Johannes von Schicksal

Sayaka Ohara as Sakuya

Taiten Kusunoki as Paylor Sakaki

Tomohisa Asou as Daigo Oguruma

 


In the early 2050s, unknown life forms called “Oracle Cells” began their uncontrolled consumption of all life on Earth. Their ravenous appetite and remarkable adaptability earned them first dread, then awe, and finally the name Aragami, the “Mad Gods.” In the face of an enemy completely immune to conventional weapons, urban civilization collapsed, and each day humanity was driven further and further toward extinction.

The year is now 2071… the domain of the mad gods lies here in the Far East.

One single ray of hope remains for humanity. Following the development of “God Arcs” — living weapons which incorporate Oracle Cells — their wielders are organized into an elite force.

In a world ravaged by mad gods, these “God Eaters” fight a desperate war…


In 2010, “God Eater”, a sci-fi adventure video game series developed by Shift and published by Bandai Namco was released in the U.S. for the Sony PSP.

Since then, several “God Eater” video games have been released and in 2015, an anime series created by ufotable aired on television in July 2015.

The series is directed by Takayuki Hirao (“Death Note”, “Garden of Sinners”, “Magical Sisters Yoyo & Nene”), script by Takayuki Hirao (“Magicl Sisters Yoyo & Nene”, “GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack”) and, character design by Keita Shimizu (“ef: a tale of memories”, “REC”, “Negima!?”), art direction by Masaru Yanaka (“Ghost Hunt”, “Ai Yori Aoshi ~Enishi~”, “Samurai Girls”) and music by Go Shiina (“Kyousougiga”, “Tales of Zestiria the X”, “GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack”).

A total of 13 episodes were created and now, “God Eater” vol. 1 (featuring the first seven episodes) will be released on Blu-ray in North America courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

The series is set in 2071, and the world has been nearly destroyed by mysterious monsters known as Aragami.

To fight these Aragami, an organization known as Fenrir has God Eaters, people who can wield “God Arc” weapons made from Aragami cells to exterminate them.

And it is being discovered that certain people, known as New Types, can wield God Arc’s and switch from gun and blade form.

The series revolves around a young man named Lenka Utsugi, who desperately wants to destroy all Aragami.  But unfortunately, he is not ready for battle despite his hot headed temper that wants to fight and destroy them.

Lenka and Kota Fujiki are sent to training under a stern woman named Tsubaki.  And as Lenka is always determined of wanting to help anyone, unfortunately that leads him to make rash decisions which would let him be killed during training mode.

This is unacceptable and when Lenka breaks orders from Tsubaki to not fight, while trying to fight and rescue someone from the Aragami, he reveals that he is a New Type.

But because he’s not fully-trained, he is almost killed until he is rescued by the First Unit of God Eatrs, Soma, Lindow and Sakuya.

But because Lenka disobeyed orders, he is jailed and is awaiting court-martial and may need to surrender his God Arc.  But because of his New Type abilities and that New Type users are a rarity, he is given a second chance to fight, must team up with Russia’s New Type, Alisa Illinichina Amiella.  Another person who has a hot-temper and disregards rules.

Can these two New Type God Eaters work together and defeat the Aragami but also rescue many human lives?


VIDEO:

“God Eater” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is absolutely vibrant and colorful. The background, especially the foreground artwork are beautifully painted and well-detailed, while the character designs are well-done and well-shaded. This is a gorgeous looking anime series and I thought the Aragami designs were very awesome.

But for the most part, character designs and background art for “God Eater” look fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“God Eater” is presented in Japanese and English linear PCM stereo. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“God Eater” vol. 1 comes with the following special features:

  • God Eater Extra 00 – (23:43)  This is the “God Eater Burst Prologue” featuring the prologue and interview with the game production staff.  The OVA features God Eater Soma joining Fenrir with Lindow and Tsubaki.  The OVA takes place six years before “God Eater Burst”.
  • God Eater Extra 01 – (23:26) Featuring an interview with the anime production crew of ufotable.
  • God Eater Extra 02 – (23:23) Featuring interviews with the musical composer, Go Shiina and the music artists.
  • Textless Opening and Endings

EXTRAS:

“God Eater” vol. 2 comes with a slipcase and a 32-page deluxe booklet.


Having played “God Eater” on the Sony PSP and Sony Vita, I have to say that the “God Eater” anime series had made me enjoy the series even more, now that we have a much more intuitive storyline that is not only addicting but action-packed.

While there is some level of banality of an unknown hero that fights for an organization and no one knows if the newcomer is ready for battle, which many have seen in anime such as “Blue Demon” and “Seraph of the Vampire”, “God Eater” is an anime series that is much more deeper, violent and for the most part, humanity is on the losing side of the battle against these monstrous entities known as Aragami.

The main protagonist is Lenka Utsugi, a boy raised on the poor side of town, despises Aragami with a passion but even more, hates turning a blind eye to the suffering of humans who can’t defend themselves.

He wants to help everyone, anyone even though it’s against Fenrir’s orders and it tends to get him in trouble.

But as he is a New Type starting to discover his own ability and not fully trained, Fenrir needs all the help they can get to fight these Aragami.  And for now, he and another hot-headed New Type named Allisa is what they have.

And both want to help humanity, and despise Fenrir’s practice of only helping those that are useful to the cause.

The first seven episodes develop the story of Lenka and later Allisa but also doing a good job of showing how dismal things are on the planet and how devastating the Aragami are.  How they kill with no remorse, they kill anything that stands in their way and no one understands why, or why these monstrous things have shown up on their planet.

Needless to say, the first half of the series leaves people with many questions but no doubt setting up for an action-packed second half, which hopefully gives us answers to why the Aragami exist?  But also, how Lenka and Allisa develop throughout the course of the series.

It also helps that characters from the video game are featured in the anime series, and so, this series does give a much more deeper appreciation for the entire “God Eater” series.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is fantastic as characters are fully of detail, are well-shaded.  The Aragami look absolutely frightening and their animation and overall design is fantastic.  Background art is well-done, music adds to the riveting fast-paced, action-packed environment of the series.

And you also get the prologue OVA and crew interviews included in the special features plus a 32-page deluxe booklet as well.

Overall, “God Eater” is a wonderful action-packed series that is more on the deeper, violent side of anime series showcasing an apocalyptic setting.  Humanity has nearly been obliterated by monstrous Aragami and only a small group of God Eaters, wielding aragami-derived weapons known as God Arc can fight back.  But it’s these mysterious New Types that can wield the God Arcs to amazing weapons that may give humanity a chance.

A thrilling, action-packed anime series so far, “God Eater” vol. 1 is highly recommended!

 

Charlotte: Volume 2 (a J !-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you love high school anime series with a sci-fi flair and captivating storyline but also plenty of humor, definitely give “Charlotte” vol. 2 a try! A more emotional and action-packed second half but an anime series definitely worth recommending!

Image courtesy of © 2016 ANIPLEX, INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Charlotte: Volume 2

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 8-15 (168 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese & English Linear PCM Stereo, Subtitles: English and Spanish

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: November 15, 2016


Director: Yoshiyuki Asai

Script by Jun Maeda

Music by ANANT-GARDE EYES, Hikarisyuyo, Jun Maeda

Original Character Design by Na-Ga

Character Design by Kanami Sekiguchi

Art Director: Kazuki Higashiji

Anime Production: P.A. Works


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayane Sakura/Lauren Landa as Nao Tomori

Kouki Uchiyama/Ray Chase as Yū Otosaka

Daisuke Ono/Robbie Daymond as Shunsuke Otosaka

Eiji Takemoto/Ben Prinsky as Kumagami

Maaya Uchida/Ryan Bartley as Misa/Yusa Nishimori

Momo Asakura /Kira Bucklandas Ayumi Otosaka

Takahiro Mizushima/Lucien Dodge as Jōjirō Takajō


For the sake of his siblings, and to save every ability-wielder on Earth, Yu makes a certain decision. It is a choice that provides salvation to all of them, but at the same time, it is a choice that makes him pay a huge price in return.


In order to help people Yuu must make a major decision in order to save the people he cares about?  At the cost of his own memories or life.

Find out what happens to Yuu and friends in the final volume of “Charlotte”.

What is “Charlotte” about?

In July-September 2015, the 13-episode anime series “Charlotte” aired on television.

Produced by P.A. Works, directed by Yoshiyuki Sakai (“Aria – The Natural”, “Captain Earth”, “Star Driver”) and written by musician Jun Maeda (“Angel Beats: Heaven’s Door”, “Angel Beats: Track Zero”), the series features character designs by Kanami Sekiguchi (“CANAAN”, “Shirobako”, “True Tears”) and art direction by Kazuki Higashiji (“Street Fighter Alpha”, “Tari Tari”, “Hanasaki Iroha – Blossoms for Tomorrow”).

And the series is now available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex USA.

The anime series begins with an introduction to teenager Yuu Otosaka. He looks like a normal teenager and lives with his younger sister Ayumi.

But in truth, Yuu is far from normal. One day, when a comet called Charlotte passed over the Earth, it spreads dust onto the Earth which causes a small percentage of adolescent children who have inhaled the dust to have superhuman abilities when they reach puberty.

Yuu is one of those people who finds out that he can take over another person’s body for five seconds.

As a first year-student, he uses his ability to beat up bad people, cheats on his exams which enable him to become an honor student and because of his ability, he has become narcissistic and quite rude.

The only thing he cares about is his younger sister Ayumi, despite the fact that she keeps cooking food with pizza sauce (which grosses him out, but he eats to make his sister happy).

One day, Yuu is called into the office and learns he must retake a test because he perfected it and there has been reports he has been cheating. So, he is requested to retake the exam. When Yuu tries to take over the body of the examiner, he is caught by Nao Tomori and Jojiro Takajo.

Nao threatens Yuu to turn him in and get him into big trouble or he can attend Hoshinoumi Academy and become a member of the student council.

Yuu also learns that both Nao and Jojiro have special abilities like him and the the reason why it’s important for him to join them is because they will be responsible for convincing other people with special abilities and have them stop using it, or else, they will be taken by scientist and experimented on.

Because Yuu has no choice but to help, he and his sister Ayumu move to a new school and are provided a new home.

But as Yuu will now have to use his abilities in helping Nao and Jojiro confront others with superhuman abilities but will he be prepared for his new duties?

In the second half of the series, Yuu starts to react over the music of the band, Zhiend.  Meanwhile, as Yuu’s memories start to come back, Yuu and his sister are approached by someone close to them that they thought was dead.

And Yuu learns a major lesson of how others want to manipulate those with special abilities.


The main characters of “Charlotte″ are:

  • Yuu Otosaka – Has the ability to possess people for five seconds. He lives with his younger sister Ayumu. After being caught for cheating by using his special ability, he is forced to join Nao and others of the Hoshinoumi Academy student council to stop other young people from using their power. He can be cold and narcissistic but he eventually starts to show compassion to his teammates.
  • Nao Tamori – She is smart but also short-tempered and narcissistic. She is the student council president of Hoshinoumi Academy and has the special ability to make herself invisible but it is limited to one person that she chooses at a time.
  • Jojiro Takajo – A fanboy of idol Yusa Nishimori, he is a member of Hoshinoumi Academy and has the ability to travel at very fast speeds. Problem is that he can’t control his ability and often gets in injuries, despite wearing protective gear.
  • Yusa Nishimori – A popular idol singer of the band How-Low-Hello. Her real name is Yusa Kurobane and has the ability to channel the dead but is unaware when she is possessed.
  • Misa Kurobane – Misa’s older sister who died in an accident six months prior to the storyline. She can possess Yusa anytime and can easily change Yusa’s appearance. She has the power of telekenesis and unlike Yusa who is sweet and good-natured, Misa is a tomboy and has a bad temper.
  • Ayumi Otosaka – Yuu’s sweet younger sister who goes to junior high school. She always cooks for her older brother but almost all the food she cooks for him is with pizza sauce, which makes the food to sweet (and her brother can’t stand). She is a huge fan of How-Low-Hello and loves idol singer Yusa Nishimori.

VIDEO:

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

P.A. Works did a wonderful job on the animation!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Charlotte” is presented in Japanese and English linear PCM stereo. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Charlotte” vol. 2 comes with the following special features:

  • Special Episode: The Strong Ones – A full OVA episode that takes place between episodes 3 and 5 and features  Yuu and Nao meeting up with a telepath named Iori Sekiguchi.
  • English Bloopers – (5:21) Featuring outtakes from the English dub sessions.
  • English Trailer
  • Textless Opening and Endings
  • Web Previews

EXTRAS:

“Charlotte” vol. 2 comes with a slipcase featuring a box illustration by Na-Ga (original character designer), a blu-ray case cover illustration by Kanami Sekiguchi (character designer) and four collectable cards.


When it comes to anime series with special abilities, high school settings at student councils, I often think about the anime series “Irregular Magic High School” and wondered if a series like “Charlotte” would distinguish itself.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to see the concept of “Charlotte” about a teenager who has special abilities and joining with other students with special abilities to use their powers to stop other young people from using them.

This is not a story about good vs. bad but pretty much people with super abilities trying to help and warn others by telling them not to use their powers or else they risk the chance of being kidnapped and experimented on by scientists.

At first the series starts out as humorous and fun, as we see Yuu, Nao and Jojiro teaming up to stop others with abilities but as the series progresses, it quickly goes from an anime series with a lot of humor and fun, to something much more darker with something tragic happens to one of the primary characters.

The first six episodes pretty much are character building and getting us to know the mission of the student council members but why it’s important for them to help others with special abilities but also learning from Nao of how her musician brother, who was full of life, suddenly turned to someone that is no longer himself and is in terrible mental shape. And she never wants to see anyone go through that ever again.

Meanwhile, the second half features Yuu discovering how people aim to manipulate those with special abilities.  To dissect them, to torture them and use them as experiments.  In order to save those with special abilities, Yuu will need to make a major decision in order to save them but that means losing his memories of those dear to him.

While I definitely don’t want to spoil any episodes, I will say that I found this anime series to be wonderfully animated. The character designs are really well-done, background art is gorgeous and this is one of the better looking anime TV series that I have seen released on Blu-ray for 2016 so far. P.A. Works did a wonderful job with the animation!

As the Blu-ray release is vibrant and colorful, I was also pleased with the lossless soundtrack to find that an English dub track was included. Typically, this doesn’t happen much with Aniplex releases, but “Charlotte” does include an English dub soundtrack. And both the Japanese and English soundtrack feature wonderful voice acting.

The Blu-ray release also comes with a special OVA episode, four postcards and box illustration by Na-Ga (original character designer) and a blu-ray case cover illustration by Kanami Sekiguchi (character designer).

Overall, if you love high school anime series with a sci-fi flair and captivating storyline but also plenty of humor, definitely give “Charlotte” vol. 2 a try! A more emotional and action-packed second half but an anime series definitely worth recommending!

 

Charlotte: Volume 1 (a J !-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you love high school anime series with a sci-fi flair and captivating storyline, definitely give “Charlotte” vol. 1 a try! You won’t be disappointed. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 ANIPLEX, INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Charlotte: Volume 1

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-7 (170 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese & English Linear PCM Stereo, Subtitles: English and Spanish

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: August 16, 2016


Director: Yoshiyuki Asai

Script by Jun Maeda

Music by ANANT-GARDE EYES, Hikarisyuyo, Jun Maeda

Original Character Design by Na-Ga

Character Design by Kanami Sekiguchi

Art Director: Kazuki Higashiji

Anime Production: P.A. Works


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayane Sakura/Lauren Landa as Nao Tomori

Kouki Uchiyama/Ray Chase as Yū Otosaka

Daisuke Ono/Robbie Daymond as Shunsuke Otosaka

Eiji Takemoto/Ben Prinsky as Kumagami

Maaya Uchida/Ryan Bartley as Misa/Yusa Nishimori

Momo Asakura /Kira Bucklandas Ayumi Otosaka

Takahiro Mizushima/Lucien Dodge as Jōjirō Takajō


A small percentage of adolescents have onsets of special abilities. Yu Otosaka deftly uses an ability that takes over a target’s body for five seconds and gets accepted into a prestigious high school. Just when he is about to start a stable high school life as a popular honor student, a girl named Nao Tomori appears before him. Their encounter reveals the cruel destiny for wielders of special abilities.


In July-September 2015, the 13-episode anime series “Charlotte” aired on television.

Produced by P.A. Works, directed by Yoshiyuki Sakai (“Aria – The Natural”, “Captain Earth”, “Star Driver”) and written by musician Jun Maeda (“Angel Beats: Heaven’s Door”, “Angel Beats: Track Zero”), the series features character designs by Kanami Sekiguchi (“CANAAN”, “Shirobako”, “True Tears”) and art direction by Kazuki Higashiji (“Street Fighter Alpha”, “Tari Tari”, “Hanasaki Iroha – Blossoms for Tomorrow”).

And the series is now available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex USA.

The anime series begins with an introduction to teenager Yuu Otosaka.  He looks like a normal teenager and lives with his younger sister Ayumi.

But in truth, Yuu is far from normal.  One day, when a comet called Charlotte passed over the Earth, it spreads dust onto the Earth which causes a small percentage of adolescent children who have inhaled the dust to have superhuman abilities when they reach puberty.

Yuu is one of those people who finds out that he can take over another person’s body for five seconds.

As a first year-student, he uses his ability to beat up bad people, cheats on his exams which enable him to become an honor student and because of his ability, he has become narcissistic and quite rude.

The only thing he cares about is his younger sister Ayumi, despite the fact that she keeps cooking food with pizza sauce (which grosses him out, but he eats to make his sister happy).

One day, Yuu is called into the office and learns he must retake a test because he perfected it and there has been reports he has been cheating.  So, he is requested to retake the exam.  When Yuu tries to take over the body of the examiner, he is caught by Nao Tomori and Jojiro Takajo.

Nao threatens Yuu to turn him in and get him into big trouble or he can attend Hoshinoumi Academy and become a member of the student council.

Yuu also learns that both Nao and Jojiro have special abilities like him and the the reason why it’s important for him to join them is because they will be responsible for convincing other people with special abilities and have them stop using it, or else, they will be taken by scientist and experimented on.

Because Yuu has no choice but to help, he and his sister Ayumu move to a new school and are provided a new home.

But as Yuu will now have to use his abilities in helping Nao and Jojiro confront others with superhuman abilities but will he be prepared for his new duties?


The main characters of “Charlotte″ are:

  • Yuu Otosaka – Has the ability to possess people for five seconds.  He lives with his younger sister Ayumu.  After being caught for cheating by using his special ability, he is forced to join Nao and others of the Hoshinoumi Academy student council to stop other young people from using their power.  He can be cold and narcissistic but he eventually starts to show compassion to his teammates.
  • Nao Tamori – She is smart but also short-tempered and narcissistic.  She is the student council president of Hoshinoumi Academy and has the special ability to make herself invisible but it is limited to one person that she chooses at a time.
  • Jojiro Takajo – A fanboy of idol Yusa Nishimori, he is a member of Hoshinoumi Academy and has the ability to travel at very fast speeds.  Problem is that he can’t control his ability and often gets in injuries, despite wearing protective gear.
  • Yusa Nishimori – A popular idol singer of the band How-Low-Hello.  Her real name is Yusa Kurobane and has the ability to channel the dead but is unaware when she is possessed.
  • Misa Kurobane – Misa’s older sister who died in an accident six months prior to the storyline.  She can possess Yusa anytime and can easily change Yusa’s appearance.  She has the power of telekenesis and unlike Yusa who is sweet and good-natured, Misa is a tomboy and has a bad temper.
  • Ayumi Otosaka – Yuu’s sweet younger sister who goes to junior high school.  She always cooks for her older brother but almost all the food she cooks for him is with pizza sauce, which makes the food to sweet (and her brother can’t stand).  She is a huge fan of How-Low-Hello and loves idol singer Yusa Nishimori.

VIDEO:

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

P.A. Works did a wonderful job on the animation!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Charlotte” is presented in Japanese and English linear PCM stereo. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels and I heard no distortion while watching this anime series.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Charlotte” vol. 1 comes with the following special features:

  • Beginning of a New “Destiny” – (24:07) A Japanese featurette with staff interviews and main cast interviews.
  • Textless Ending Ep. 3-4
  • Web previews for Episodes 2-7

EXTRAS:

“Charlotte” vol. 1 comes with a slipcase and four collectable cards.


When it comes to anime series with special abilities, high school settings at student councils, I often think about the anime series “Irregular Magic High School” and wondered if a series like “Charlotte” would distinguish itself.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to see the concept of “Charlotte” about a teenager who has special abilities and joining with other students with special abilities to use their powers to stop other young people from using them.

This is not a story about good vs. bad but pretty much people with super abilities trying to help and warn others by telling them not to use their powers or else they risk the chance of being kidnapped and experimented on by scientists.

At first the series starts out as humorous and fun, as we see Yuu, Nao and Jojiro teaming up to stop others with abilities but as the series progresses, it quickly goes from an anime series with a lot of humor and fun, to something much more darker with something tragic happens to one of the primary characters.

The first six episodes pretty much are character building and getting us to know the mission of the student council members but why it’s important for them to help others with special abilities but also learning from Nao of how her musician brother, who was full of life, suddenly turned to someone that is no longer himself and is in terrible mental shape.  And she never wants to see anyone go through that ever again.

So, using their abilities, they hope to warn others.

While I definitely don’t want to spoil any episodes, I will say that I found this anime series to be wonderfully animated.  The character designs are really well-done, background art is gorgeous and this is one of the better looking anime TV series that I have seen released on Blu-ray for 2016 so far.  P.A. Works did a wonderful job with the animation!

As the Blu-ray release is vibrant and colorful, I was also pleased with the lossless soundtrack to find that an English dub track was included.  Typically, this doesn’t happen much with Aniplex releases, but “Charlotte” does include an English dub soundtrack.  And both the Japanese and English soundtrack feature wonderful voice acting.

The Blu-ray release also comes with an entertaining featurette with cast and staff interviews and you also get the Aniplex swag of collectable pinup cards and a slipcase.

Overall, if you love high school anime series with a sci-fi flair and captivating storyline, definitely give “Charlotte” vol. 1 a try!  You won’t be disappointed.

Recommended!

 

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