“Sengoku Basara: End of Judgement” is a series that will interest those who continue to play the “Sengoku Basara” video games and those who have watched the previous anime series and the animated film. With the many characters featured, literally there can be new “Sengoku Basara” anime series dedicate to various army’s and multiple storylines. This third series focuses on the Battle of Sekigahara and focuses on Ishida Mitsunari and Tokugawa Ieyasu. All in all, an anime series with a good combination of humor and action but also more of a focus on human emotion after tragedy. If you enjoy “Sengoku Basara”, definitely give “Sengoku Basara: End of Judgment” a try!
Image courtesy of © CAPCOM/TEAM BASARA. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Sengoku Basara: End of Judgement
DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes)
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, Japanese 2.0 Dolby TrueHD, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment
RATED: TV 14
Release Date: December 27, 2016
Directed by Takashi Sano
Series Composition by Natsuko Takahashi
Character Design by Michinori Chiba
Art Director: Daisuke Jinba
Chief Animation Director: Toshimitsu Kobayashi, Yumenosuke Tokuda
Anime Production by Telecom Animation
Featuring the following voice talent:
Kazuya Nakai/Robert McCollum as Date Masamune
Souichiro Hoshi/Johnny Yong Bosch as Sanada Yukimura
Tomokazu Seki/Matthew Mercer as Ishida Mitsunari
Toru Ohkawa/Liam O’Brien as Tokugawa Ieyasu
Ami Koshimizu/Kat Steel as Tsuruhime
Fumihiko Tachiki/Mark Stoddard as Ohtani Yoshitsugu
Jun Fukuyama/Tony Oliver as Kobayakawa Hideaki
Kenichi Ogata/R. Bruce Elliott as Shimazu Yoshihiro
Mamiko Noto/Laura Bailey as Oichi
Masakazu Morita/Eric Vale as Maeda Keiji
Natsuko Kuwatani/Stephanie Sheh as Kasuga
Noriaki Sugiyama/Brittney Karbowski as Otomo Sourin
Rikiya Koyama/Richard Epcar as Kuroda Kanbee
Romi Park/Greg Ayres as Uesugi Kenshin
Takehito Koyasu/Michael Sinterniklaas as Sarutobi Sasauke
Tessho Genda/Chris Ayres as Takeda Shingen
Toshiyuki Morikawa/Travis Willingham as Katakura Kojuro
Get ready for the hacking, slashing battle of a lifetime in a new adaptation of the Sengoku Basara franchise. The new installment, based on the world created by Capcom, revolves around one massive conflict featuring mechanized samurai, mystical ninjas, gun-toting warriors, and a blinding array of deadly special moves! During the turbulent period of warring states, numerous feudal lords sought to rule the land of the rising sun. With Nobunaga defeated, Hideyoshi lead a brutal campaign to wipe out the remaining combatants. His ambitions were crushed, however, when he was betrayed by the idealistic Tokugawa Ieyasu. Ieyasu’s rebellion marked the start of a new conflict that would put old and new alliances to the test as Hideyoshi’s loyal followers began plotting their revenge, and the other remaining lords prepared their armies for the showdown at Sekigahara.
When it comes to video games that feature samurai’s and a general taking on hoards of enemies, in the US, “Samurai Warriors” (similar to Dynasty Warriors) from KOEI is well-known. But in Japan, CAPCOM began their own series known as “Sengoku Basara” (Devil Kings) which takes place during the Sengoku period and a similar concept as their rivals and has also earned its strong fan following.
In 2005, the first game was released for the Sony Playstation 2 and was released in the U.S. (as “Devil Kings”) but unfortunately, CAPCOM tried to change the whole story of the Sengoku period by trying to connect it to their “Devil May Cry” series in order to attract players but because of the changes and the localization crew feeling they needed to make it more difficult in America, needless to say, it was a failure. People wanted the same game that was in Japan and within the last six years, there have been numerous video game releases.
In Japan, two seasons of “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings” aired. Followed by “Sengoku Basara II” in 2010, a film version titled “Sengoku Basara: The Last Party” was released in 2011 and in 2014, a third TV series titled “Sengoku Basara: End of Judgment” based on the video game “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes” was released and was released by Funimation.
What is “Sengoku Basara: End of Judgement” about?
The third anime series is much different from the previous two seasons as the previous were animated by Production I.G. and now the series is produced by Telecom Animation Film. As this storyline is considered an “alternate setting” and instead of focusing on many battles, the storyline focuses on the Sekigahara Battle and takes place after the death of Oda Nobunaga.
The anime series takes place during the Sengoku Period and the warlord Oda Nobunaga was betrayed and killed by his retainer Akechi Mitsuhide. Toyotomi Hideyoshi would defeat Mitsuhide and would launch an attack on Odawara Castle, home of the Houjoi Clan.
As the Date Army got involved with the battle, they were defeated by Toyotomi’s warrior, Ishida Mitsunari.
Toyotomi’s attack was short-lived as Tokugawa Ieyasu would defeat Toyotomi Hideyoshi and kill him in combat. But another force tried to attack Tokugawa’s forces, Oda Nobunaga’s sister, Oichi. As for Toyotomi’s army, the new leader would now be led by Ishida Mitsunari.
Meanwhile, word gets through to Chousokabe Motochika that his land had been attacked by his friend, Tokugawa. And due to his betrayal, Chousokabe wants revenge.
And as everyone worries about war in the land, new alliances are formed. Who will be left standing?
“Sengoku Basara: End of Judgment” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the animation from Telecom Animation is slightly different from Production I.G. when it comes to character design and also background designs. It’s subjective to the viewer and I’m slightly biased towards Production I.G., but I will say that Telecom Animation did a good job.
Colors are absolutely vibrant and bold. Also, very good lighting effects throughout the film. I detected no banding, artifacting or anything negative about the picture quality for “Sengoku Basara: The Last Party”.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Sengoku Basara: The Last Party” is presented in lossless English and Japanese 5.1 Dolby TrueHD. Personally, I enjoyed the Japanese soundtrack because the generals sound much more menacing while I felt the English dub, as good as it is, sometimes I feel certain voice talent are overly used and they sound the same for no matter what characters they play.
Personally, I enjoyed the Japanese soundtrack because the generals sound much more menacing while I felt the English dub, as good as it is, sometimes I feel certain voice talent are overly used and they sound the same for no matter what characters they play. In the first season, I mentioned that although I enjoy Johnny Yong Bosch’s acting work when it comes to “Bleach”, but his Yukimura (Sengoku Basara) sounds like an annoying version of Ichigo (Bleach). But with that being said, the English dub has grown on me and felt the FUNimation English dub actors did a fine job.
Subtitles are in English.
“SSengoku Basara: Edge of Judgement” contains the following special features:
- Episode 01 Audio Commentary – Audio Commentary by Taliesen Jaffe (ADR Director) and Michael Sinterniklaas (voice of Sarutobi Sasuke).
- Episode 03 Audio Commentary – Audio Commentary by Christopher Bevins (ADR Director), Robert Mccollum (voice of Data Masamune) and Eric Vale (voice of Maeda Keiji).
- Textless Opening and Closing Song – Featuring “Thunderclap” and “Hokkyokusei ~Polaris~”.
There is no doubt that in Japan, “Sengoku Basara” has a pretty strong fan following from its video games and anime series, especially among the cosplayers who are often seen doing group cosplay of the characters from the series.
For “Sengoku Basara”, it’s a popular video game series that has tried to make these warring clans (that happen to live in the same time period) and generals with amazing abilities take on each other. But in order to keep the storylines fresh for the video games, alternate settings are going to be common place and the same can be said for the “Sengoku Basara” anime series.
In the case of “Sengoku Basara”, because there are many characters, instead of focusing on a certain historical battle of the same two people, the series tends to focus on other characters.
“Sengoku Basara: End of Judgment” is the third series and the two characters foucused on is Ishida Mitsunari and Tokugawa Ieyasu. For those not familiar with Japanese history, the “Battle of Sekigahara” was a battle that would establish the Tokugawa shogunate and prove to people the power and leadership of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
The series focuses on the storyline of Oda Nobunaga as the person who had control of most of Japan until he was betrayed by his retainer Akechi Mitsuhide. Toyotomi Hideyoshi avenged his master. And this is where the anime series differs from history as Tokugawa Ieyasu betrays Toyotomi Hideyoshi, leaving Hideyoshi’s warrior Ishida Mitsunari to seek revenge on his former friend.
In the first series, we saw various battles between Sanada Yukimura and Date Masamune vs. Oda Nobunaga and Kojuro vs. Mitsuhide. In the second series, the series focused on Toyotomi Hideyoshi as the antagonist.
And for this third anime series, we have Ieyasu Tokugawa as the main antagonist and Mitsunari wanting revenge on Ieyasu for killing his master, Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
The other characters have significant roles but more of showing which their allegiance lies. Fans of Date Masamune and Sanada Yukimura may be surprised that their significance in the series is decreased, but they still remain important to the storyline.
And it’s probably best to leave it at that because of the numerous characters featured, unless you are familiar with the game and the anime series, just the sheer mention of the characters and the alternate plots will confuse people.
But I will say that if you followed the anime and the video games, “Sengoku Basara: End of Judgment” is an interesting way to keep the storyline fresh as it’s an anime with new motivations, interesting perspectives but most of all, a focus on different characters, but yet also introducing new characters as well. Also, how this series tend to show more of the human emotion after the deaths of various leaders and how certain individuals are affected by the deaths.
The third series features a new anime production team with Telecom Animation in charge, but cast of both the Funimation series and the video game series are involved in the third series as it was a collaboration between Funimation and Capcom as mentioned in the first audio commentary.
Animation is very good, but it’s subjective as I’m sure there are those who prefer Production I.G.’s animation and those who may prefer the Telecom Animation animation. But the anime series is colorful and vibrant and both lossless soundtracks are well-done with the English dub having an edge with the 5.1 lossless soundtrack.
Overall, “Sengoku Basara: End of Judgement” is a series that will interest those who continue to play the “Sengoku Basara” video games and those who have watched the previous anime series and the animated film. With the many characters featured, literally there can be new “Sengoku Basara” anime series dedicate to various army’s and multiple storylines. This third series focuses on the Battle of Sekigahara and focuses on Ishida Mitsunari and Tokugawa Ieyasu. All in all, an anime series with a good combination of humor and action but also more of a focus on human emotion after tragedy.
If you enjoy “Sengoku Basara”, definitely give “Sengoku Basara: End of Judgment” a try!
“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
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.
“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.
“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”
“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!
If you are in the mood for an uplifting, vibrant and fun anime series, “Barakamon” is one of the rare series that you come across and you can’t help be captivated by its storyline, its characters and animation. Recommended!
Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Barakamon: The Complete Series
ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015
DURATION: (Episodes 1-12) 300 Minutes
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), English DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0, English subtitles
RATED: TV 14
Release Date: August 9, 2016
Originally created by Satsuki Yoshino
Directed by Masaki Tachibana
Music by Kenji Kawai
Character Design by Majiro
Art Director: Hiroshi Kato, Izumi Hoki
Anime Production: Kinema Citrus
Featuring the following voice talent:
Daisuke Ono/Robert McCollum as Seishū Handa
Suzuko Hara/Alison Viktorin as Naru Kotoishi
Atsushi Ono/Greg Dulcie as Iwao Yamamura
Fumihiko Tachiki as Vice Principal
Hiroshi Ito/Bill Flynn as Kousaku Kotoishi
Junichi Suwabe/Duncan Brannan as Takao Kawafuji
Kei Hayami as Tomoko Kido
Kouki Uchiyama/Clifford Chapin as Hiroshi Kido
Megumi Han/Jessica Cavanagh as Akihiko Arai
Nozomi Furuki as Miwa Yamamura
Rina Endō/Lara Woodhull as Hina Kubota
Rumi Ookubo/Apphia Yu as Tamako Arai
Seiya Kimura/Leah Clark as Kentarō Ōhama
Tanuki Sugino/R. Bruce Elliott as Yūjirō Kido
Toshihiko Miki/Ed Blaylock as Curator/Director
Yuuki Kaji/Austin Tindle as Kosuke Kanzaki
After an unfavorable critique drives uptight young calligrapher Sei Handa of Barakamon past his breaking point, his parents decide to ship him off to Japan’s Goto Islands to cool off. But instead of a peaceful paradise, Handa discovers a village full of quirky characters with little regard for personal space. On top of that, Handa’s temporary apartment has already been claimed as home base by the village elder’s granddaughter, Naru, who has a knack for getting into trouble. Will Handa ever be able to redeem his impulsive misdeed? Will he ever be able to write like the masters? Will the village kids ever learn to KNOCK first??
Back in 2009, Satsuki Yoshino created the manga series “Barakamon”.
Serialized in Square Enix’s “Gangan Online”, an anime series adaptation by Kinema Citrus was created in 2014. And a spin-off series titled “Handa-kun” began serialization in November 13th, with a anime adaptation which began airing on July 2016.
The anime series was directed by Masaki Tachibana (“King of Fighters: Another Day”, “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0”), music by Kenji Kawai (“Death Note”, “Eden of the East”, “Blue Seed”, “Gantz”, “Mobile Suit Gundam 00”), character design by Majiro (“Macross Delta”, “Nagareboshi Lens”, “Ongaku Shojo”), art direction by Hiroshi Kato (“Black Lagoon”, “Blood: The Last Vampire”, “Blue Exorcist”, “Boogiepop Phantom”) and Izumi Hoki (“Ah! My Goddess: The Movie”, “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods”, “Spice and Wolf”, “Tears to Tiara”).
The first anime adaptation will be released on Blu-ray & DVD courtesy of FUNimation.
“Barakamon” is a series that follows hotheaded yet celebrated calligrapher Seishu Handa.
Despite being a talented calligrapher, one day after being criticized by the gallery curator, Seishu punches the elderly director after being told that he needs to create his own original style (his style of calligraphy was inspired by his father’s work) because his style is unoriginal.
Wanting to find his own style, Handa’s father recommends him going to the remote Goto Islands off the western coast of Kyushu. But also hoping his son needs his own time away.
He is welcomed by the villagers who are not familiar with him or his work and when he moves into his home, a 7-year-old girl named Naru Kotoishi acts as if the place is hers and more than often, she is often bothering Handa.
But as the villagers welcome Handa and call him sensei, the hot-headed Handa starts to warm up to the people in the area and starts to find his own way and possibly discover his own style.
And because he never had any friends, starts to learn more about what it means to have people you care about.
“Barakamon” features the following characters:
- Seishu Handa – A short-tempered 23-year-old master calligrapher who has dedicated his life to his art. But after socking the director gallery after his work is called unoriginal, Seishu is shipped to the Goto Islands by his father to have his son calm down but also hopes that he can be inspired by creating his own style. He is called “Sensei” by the villagers.
- Naru Kotoishi – A bug-loving 7-year-old girl who likes to visit and bother Handa. She likes Handa and goes to his home to play everyday.
- Miwa Yamamura – A 14-year-old tomboy who hangs out with Tamako. She also visits Handa’s home and has the keys because his home used to be her “Secret Base”.
- Tamako Arai – A 14-year-old student who hangs out with Miwa. She is a big fan of manga and wants to become a manga artist but she has been having difficulty with her interest to yaoi and often imagines Handa in yaoi.
- Hiroshi Kido – The hot-headed son of the village chef. He is a student who doesn’t do well at school but is inspired by Handa.
- Hina Kubotai – Naru’s friend who is shy and always cries.
- Akihiko Arai – Tamako’s younger brother who is often gaming and watches over his grandmother’s store. Very mature for his age.
“Barakamon” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). Gorgeous backgrounds and great animation with the character design which are well-shaded. Colors are absolutely vibrant, black levels are deep. Kinema Citrus did a great job with this anime series!
I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Barakamon” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Dialogue and music is clear through the front channels for the lossless stereo soundtrack but because the English is 5.1, there is better use of the surround channels.
Subtitles are in English.
“Barakamon: The Complete Series” features the following special features:
- Episode 1 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Mike McFarland (ADR Director), Alison Viktorin (voice of Naru) and Robert McCollum (voice of Seishu Handa).
- Episode 12 Video Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Felecia Angelle (Assistant ADR Director), Lynsey Hale (voice of Miwa Yamamura), Apphia Yu (voice of Tamako Arai), Duncan Brannan (voice of Takao Kawafuji)
- Textless Opening Song: “Rashisa”
- Textless Closing Song: “Innocence”
- U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Barakamon”
- Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers
“Barakamon” comes with both a Blu-ray and DVD version.
“Barakamon” is a fascinating, anime series that is reminiscent to another anime series titled “Silver Spoon”, in which the student protagonist moves to the country side in order to find himself and find direction but also be inspired by the people around him.
With “Barakamon”, the protagonist Seishu Handa is a Master Calligrapher and at 23-years-old, has dedicated his life to his craft. But because his calligraphy is inspired by his father’s style, when told by the gallery director that his work was “unoriginal”, Handa does a terrible thing by hitting the elderly director.
Impulsive and has a short-temper, Handa is sent by his father to a remote area in the Goro Islands where everything is countryside and ocean but perhaps the peace and quiet is what he truly needs to accomplish work and discover his own, new personal style.
But things do not go quiet and peaceful as Handa would hope as his home is constantly attracting a 7-year-old girl named Naru Kotoishi, who never leaves him alone, teenagers Miwa Yamamura, Tamako Arai and Hiroshi Kido and other children who happen to show up.
And because the home is the children’s former “Secret Base”, each of them have keys to get into Handa’s new house.
But while Handa short-temper does come out, he also learns to see the calming effect of the countryside, the villagers and finds himself for the first time caring for the people in the area, especially the children.
And while Handa had acted like a spoiled child, this time around, he may mature and possibly discover a new calligraphy style inspired by his stay at the island.
For the most part, the anime series is a lot of fun because it revolves around Handa taking part of things that he would never do, from fishing, watching over young children, catching bugs and for the first time, he finds out how life is, just having fun and doing whatever is necessary to be inspired by whatever he can find in the island and create awesome work to take back home to Tokyo for the next competition.
The series is episodic but there is a connection with episode after episode as it relates to Handa’s growth as a person living on the island. But the series are quite entertaining that you may find yourself watching all episodes in one sitting. It’s how captivating the anime series really is!
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is presented in 16:9 widescreen and animation is very detailed and quite vibrant. Kinema Citrus did a magnificent job in featuring wonderful character designs but also gorgeous background art. The Blu-ray release comes with two audio commentaries, textless opening and ending songs.
Overall, if you are in the mood for an uplifting, vibrant and fun anime series, “Barakamon” is one of the rare series that you come across and you can’t help be captivated by its storyline, its characters and animation. Recommended!
“PSYCHO-PASS” is a sci-fi crime thriller with cool characters, a captivating and also excitingly dark storyline and awesome animation from Production I.G. And for fans of the series, if you love “PSYCHO-PASS”, then you will definitely want to check out the “PSYCHO-PASS Season 1 – Complete Collection – Premium Edition”! Highly recommended!
Image courtesy of © PSYCHO-PASS Committee. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: PSYCHO-PASS Season 1 – Complete Collection
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2012-2013
DURATION: Episodes 1-22 (550 Minutes)
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080i High Definition, English 5.1 and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English
RATED: TV M
RELEASE DATE: March 11, 2014
Chief Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro
Directed by Naoyoshi Shiotani
Series Composition by Gen Urobuchi
Music by Yuugo Kanno
Character Design by Kyoji Asano
Art Director: Koji Eto
Mechanical Design: Shinobu Tsuneki
Anime Production: Production I.G.
Featuring the voices of:
Kana Hanazawa/Kate Oxley as Akane Tsunemori
Tomokazu Seki/Robert McCollum as Shinya Kōgami
Akira Ishida/Scott Freeman as Shuusei Kagari
Kenji Nojima/Josh Grelle as Nobuchika Ginoza
Kinryuu Arimoto/Jason Douglas as Tomomi Masaoka
Miyuki Sawashiro/Lydia Mackay as Shion Karanomori
Noriko Hidaka/Stephanie Young as Dominator
Shizuka Itou/Lindsay Seidel as Yayoi Kunizuka
Takahiro Sakurai/Alex Organ as Shōgo Makishima
Yoshiko Sakakibara/Linda Leonard as Jōshū Kasei
Welcome to a world where just thinking about a crime is enough to enough to make you guilty. Bad intentions can no longer be hidden, and the police know exactly which tainted minds are about to cross over to the wrong side of the law. The great equalizer in the war on thugs is the Dominator, a futuristic weapon that can read minds and assess the risk that a citizen will turn criminal.
Cops work in teams made up of Enforcers and Inspectors. Enforcers take out the bad guys, Inspectors stop their partners from going rogue, and the all-powerful Sibyl System keeps a watchful eye on us all. Society is paralyzed by its deepest, darkest desires, and trial by jury has been replaced by the wrath of the Dominator. Welcome to the future. How guilty are you?
In Japan, Katsuyuki Motohiro is a respected TV and filmmmaaker.
From directing the popular “Odoru Daisousassen” drama and film series (known as “Bayside Shakedown” in Asia and the U.S.), “Udon”, “Shaolin Girl” and “Space Travelers”, Katsuyuki Motohiro was given a chance to work on an anime series. And in this case, becoming the executive producer for Production I.G.’s series “PSYCHO-PASS”.
Working with director Naoyoshi Shiotani (“Blood-C”, “Blood-C: The Last Dark”, “Tokyo Marble Chocolate”), writer Gen Urobuchi (creator of the “Fate/Zero” series and writer of “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”) and producer Joji Wada (“Guilty Crown”, “Kimi ni Todoke”, “Robotics;Notes”, “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings”), “PSYCHO-PASS” became a popular anime series and now a sequel and a film was announced in Japan.
Here in the United States, “PSYCHO-PASS” was released by FUNimation as a Blu-ray+DVD combo with a two-set release and also a complete collection premium edition bundled with a soundtrack, decal, ID holder, keychain and slipcase.
“PSYCHO-PASS” aired on Fuji TV’s Noitamina from Oct. 2012 through March 2013 and help spawn a manga series and also several novels.
“PSYCHO-PASS” is set in the year 2113, during a time when the Sibyl System can measure a person’s mental state, personality and probability of a person committing a crime by utilizing a cymatic scan of the brain known as “Psycho-Pass”.
If the Crime Coefficient of an individual is too high, they are pursued by the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division and are apprehended or taken down with lethal force.
The female protagonist of the series is Akane Tsunemori, a new rookie inspector for the PSBCI and each inspector are partnered with a special team of latent criminals known as Enforcers.
One of the Enforcers that she is partnered with is Shinya Kogami, the male protagonist of the series who is a former inspector who took on the Specimen Case which somehow increased his Crime Coefficient to an abnormal level. With the death of an Enforcer working under him during a case, the Sibyl System has demoted him and thus his limited freedom has made him an Enforcer for Akane.
But for the PSBCI, an inspector and enforcer must use a special weapon known as “Dominators”. Weapons that can only fire at criminals with a higher-than-acceptable Crime Coefficient.
The first half of the series features Akane going on cases with the Enforcers. Unlike other inspectors, despite passing exams with high scores, she is unwilling to see people who have been deemed as criminals to be killed. And that is what attracts Kogami in working for Akane, because of her calm-demeanor and her way of handling situations prevents him from killing anyone.
Currently, the PBSCI are trying to capture their #1 target, Shingo Makishima. A man responsible for Kogami’s demotion, the death of his Enforcer. But unlike other criminals and despite of his crimes, his Crime Coefficient levels never reach dangerous levels and so, inspectors and enforces can not fire at him because has has managed to beat the Psycho-Pass system.
Will Akane and Kogami be able to capture the ruthless Shingo Makishima?
“PSYCHO-PASS” features the following characters:
Akane Tsunemoto – A rookie inspector for the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division. Top at her class in employment exams, she joined the police because of her high scores and believes she can make a difference. But unlike other inspectors who will not hesitate to kill, she would rather give people a chance and let justice handle them than having them killed. But what happens when she crosses paths with the sadistic Shingo Makishima?
Shinya Kogami – A former inspector of Unit One turned enforcer. During a case, his Crime Coefficient skyrocketed to abnormal levels and due to the death of an enforcer, he was demoted to an Enforcer by the Sibyl System because of his violent actions. But working with Akane, has made him calm. He has trained himself, so his superiors will never have to worry about killing criminals.
Nobuchika Ginoza – A veteran inspector working with Akane and responsible for coordinating the Enforcers of Unit One. He has a hatred for those with higher Crime Coefficients.
Tomomi Masaoka – The eldest Enforcer of Unit One. He is responsible for guiding Akane and teaching her how the system works. He is a former detective who’s dislike for the Sibyl System has made him an enforcer due to a Psycho-Pass done on him.
Shusei Kagari – An Enforcer of Unit One. And often seen joking or flirting with Akane.
Yayoi Kunizuka – The only female Enforcer of Unit One. Very calm and cool!
Shion Karanomori – An enforcer and an analyst for the Public Safety Bureau’s General Analysis Division. Her responsibility is to analyze data and evidence.
Joshu Kasei – The Chief of the Bureau.
Shogo Makishima – The primary antagonist who has managed to elude the Public Safety Bureau and has managed to bypass the Psycho-Pass and keep his Crime Coefficient down despite his murderous crimes.
I think it’s a given when you see Production I.G. attached to an anime series, you expect quality! Not only in character designs but also background art. And once again, Production I.G. has delivered with “PSYCHO-PASS”.
The anime series is presented in 1080p High Definition but for it’s overall animation direction, there is a hint of softness which I believe to be more intentional but it’s definitely one of the more stylish anime series that I have seen released in the United States for 2014.
The character designs for the series is fantastic! I love the character designs, the outfits and the actual shading that goes for each character. And while this quality is a norm for Production I.G., compared to a lot of anime series, not many studios put so much into character designs and anime backgrounds and giving the overall series a high-production feel.
While the series leans more towards the darker/softer side instead of vibrant and colorful, “PSYCHO-PASS” still looks wonderful on Blu-ray! I didn’t notice any major banding or artifacts during my viewing of the series.
“PSYCHO-PASS” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. And as expected, the English dub track has a better dynamic range and is much more surround driven because of its 5.1 soundtrack. But overall, both soundtracks are well-acted, especially the Japanese soundtrack for the more emotional scenes. Dialogue is crystal clear, as with the music on both lossless tracks.
“PSYCHO-PASS Season 1 – Complete Collection” comes with the following special features:
- EPISODE 5 COMMENTARY – Featuring audio commentary by Scott Freeman (voice of Shusei Kagari), Lydia Mackay (voice of Shion Karanomori) and Lindsay Seidel (voice of Yayoi Kunizuka).
- EPISODE 11 COMMENTARY – Featuring audio commentary by Kate Oxley (voice of Akane Tsunemori), Rob McCollum (voice of Shinya Kogami) and Alex Organ (voice of Shogo Makishima).
- EPISODE 13 COMMENTARY – Featuring audio commentary by Zach Bolton (ADR Director), Jason Douglas (voice of Tomomi Masaoka) and Josh Grelle (voice of Nobucika Ginoza).
- EPISODE 18 COMMENTARY – Featuring audio commentary by Zach Bolton (ADR Director), Stephanie Young (voice of Dominator) and Linda Leonard (voice of Joshu Kasei).
- Psycho-Pass at Sakura-Con Part 1 – (21:20) Featuring interviews with Executive Director Katsuyuki Motohiro, Director Naoyoshi Shiotani and Producer Joji Wada.
- Psycho-Pass at Sakura-Con Part 2 – (20:17) Featuring interviews with Executive Director Katsuyuki Motohiro, Director Naoyoshi Shiotani and Producer Joji Wada plus coverage of the PSYCHO-PASS cosplayers at “Sakura-Con”.
- Textless Opening Song and Closing Songs
- U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “PSYCHO-PASS”.
Prior to watching “PSYCHO-PASS”, the mere mention of Katsuyuki Motohiro’s name was enough for me to want to watch this anime series!
Having seen the impact and being entertained by his live action drama and movie series “Odoru Daisousassen”, it was an instant given for me that I have to watch this series because of his focus on characters but also the conflicts that police officers often are under, especially against a major criminal.
And in the case of “PSYCHO-PASS”, the collaboration between Katsuyuki Motohiro and Production I.G. was a win-win!
Having watched the series from beginning to end, what makes “PSYCHO-PASS” so captivating is its characters and storyline. We get to see the characters of Akane Tsunemori and Shinya Kogami grow throughout the series and because of its number of characters, there are episodes that are strong in character development and showing the viewer how various people became enforcers, also seeing Akane being tested for her demeanor and being analyzed via Psycho-Pass especially when Akane comes across the antagonist Shogo Makishima.
By episode 15, things go into full-swing as the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division pursues Shogo Makishima and more revelations of the Sybil System are revealed.
Without spoiling the series, I will say that I look forward to season two as there are many twists and turns throughout this series but fans who love sci-fi (especially in a “Blade Runner” type of way), will no doubt enjoy “PSYCHO-PASS” for its strong storyline. It’s important to note that this series is not for the timid as there is a lot of violence and it was one of the major criticisms in Japan was because of its graphic violence. But to show how sadistic the antagonist, Shogo Makishima is… and so, the series definitely hooks people as a crime thriller as well. But definitely, not an anime series for the kids or those who do not like to see violence.
It’s important to note that FUNimation has released two parts of “PSYCHO-PASS” season 1 for those who are not interested in the premium edition.
While I am reviewing primarily the discs, the premium edition does come with awesome swag which include the soundtrack CD’s, a Criminal Investigation Division Logo Decal, a Criminal Investigation Division ID holder and a Criminal Investigation Division Business Card Case and Keychain, all housed in an exclusive chipboard artbox.
Overall, “PSYCHO-PASS” is a sci-fi crime thriller with cool characters, a captivating and also excitingly dark storyline and awesome animation from Production I.G.
And for fans of the series, if you love “PSYCHO-PASS”, then you will definitely want to check out the “PSYCHO-PASS Season 1 – Complete Collection – Premium Edition”! Highly recommended!
“Blood-C” is an animated series that does continue the “Blood” series by name, features a wonderful collaboration between Production I.G. and CLAMP and as expected, the animation and art backgrounds looks fantastic and is also well-acted for both the Japanese soundtrack and the English dub. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with how “Blood-C” ended but I just hope that the reason why it ended the way it did, was to set things up for the animated film “Blood-C: The Last Dark”.
Images courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Blood-C: The Complete Series
YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2011
DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes)
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Directed by Tsutomu Mizushima
Screenplay by Juni’Ichi Fujisaku, Nanase Ohkawa
Music by Naoki Sato
Original Story by CLAMP
Original Character Design by CLAMP
Art Director: Hiromasa Ogura
Chief Animation Director: Takayuki Goto
Anime Production: Production I.G.
Featuring the voices of:
Keiji Fujiwara/Bill Jenkins as Tadayoshi Kisaragi
Kenji Nojima/Robert McCollum as Fumito Nanahara
Nana Mizuki/Alexis Tipton as Saya Kisaragi
Atsushi Abe/Chris Burnett as Itsuki Tomofusa
Jun Fukuyama/Todd Haberkorn as Dog
Masumi Asano/Martha Harms as Yūka Amino
Miho Miyagawa/Lydia Mackay as Kanako Tsutsutori
Misato Fukuen/Lindsay Seidel as Nene Motoe/Nono Motoe
Tatsuhisa Suzuki/Scott Freman as Shinichirō Tokizane
Horrifying beasts with a hunger for human flesh prey on the citizens of a quiet town. In moonlit twilight, Saya slays the monsters and returns home drenched in blood. As the attacks increase in frequency and intensity, her enemies relay cryptic messages about a broken contract. Limbs are torn from flesh and skulls are crushed and devoured while the huntress struggles with paralyzing visions and gaping holes in her memory.
When the humans Saya promised to protect reveal the sickening truth about her role in the violence, she learns her mission isn’t as clear cut as she thought – and her most sadistic foe of all is so close she can taste it.
Back in 2000, the animated film “Blood: The Last Vampire” was released in theaters and released in the United States.
The animated film set in 1966 was focused on a vampire named Saya who hunts down bat-like creatures known as chiropterans. The animated film would eventually lead to a manga series “Blood: The Last Vampire 2000” and three Japanese light novels plus a video game.
In 2005, a 50-episode anime series titled “Blood+”, an alternate timeline would be featured and would focus on an amnesiac named Saya Otanashi who lives the life of an ordinary school girl. Until she is attacked by a Chiropteran and finds out that she somehow can fight against them and is the only one that can defeat them. This leads to a storyline with Saya, her family and friends trying to rid the world of the Chiropteran and her starting to remember her history.
In 2011, a new anime and manga series was created by this time by the famous manga creators, CLAMP. The anime series was 12-episodes long while an animated film titled “Blood-C: The Last Dark” was released in the summer of 2012.
In “Blood-C”, the series focuses on Saya Kisaragi, a normal, clumsy schoolgirl who lives with her father, Tadayoshi, a priest in the local shrine. She trains as a miko (a priestess) and has a secret life of learning a sacred sword and the “art of the sword” to slay Furukimono (monsters).
It is learned that Saya is following the path that her mother had done before she died. But as time goes on, she is unsure about herself, her duties of fighting the monsters and her true self.
Meanwhile, more monster incidents are happening in town and people including friends are disappearing or are attacked and killed. And the guilt of not being able to protect them begins to make Saya question her role even more.
“Blood-C” is presented in 1080p High Definition. With Production I.G. responsible for the production, I expected the series to look fantastic and for the most part, the animation does not disappoint. Characters and monsters are incredibly well-shaded, art backgrounds have the Production I.G. quality of being amazingly detailed and for the most part, this series looks incredible.
But possibly the biggest surprise is that this is the first CLAMP anime series that doesn’t look like a CLAMP anime series. Typically for CLAMP, characters proportions have long necks, long limbs and such, but for “Blood-C”, the characters look different. If anything, the anime production is stylish, visually the series looks very cool and I like the character design of Saya. She looks very innocent and pure but can easily transform to a killer.
“Blood-C” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Because the English soundtrack gets the 5.1 treatment, there is better dynamic range with the English soundtrack, especially during the action sequences. But both sound very good, dialogue is crisp and clear but the English dub does get the edge in terms of dynamic range due to its 5.1 soundtrack. With that being said, for the English dub track, voice actress Alexis Tipton does a wonderful job playing the character Saya. From playing a character with varying emotions, Tipton also gets to show off her singing voice as well. Robert McCollum does an excellent job of playing Fumihito as well.
As for the Japanese soundtrack, you have one of Japan’s well-known voice actresses and anime theme song singers in Japan for the role of Saya. Singer/voice actress Nana Mizuki (Fate Testarosa of “Magical Girl Lyrical Nanonha”, Hinata Hyuuga of “Naruto”, Victini of “Pokemon”) does an amazing job playing Saya and also singing the ending theme song for “Blood-C”. Nana does a great job in capturing the various emotions of the character. Also, Kenji Nojima does a great job playing Fumihito.
Subtitles are in English.
“Blood-C: The Complete Series” comes with the following special features:
- Episode 6 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR director Jerry Jewell and Robert McCollum (voice of Fumihito). Do not listen to the audio commentary before completing the series, as there are spoilers.
- Episode 12 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR director Jerry Jewell and Alexis Tipton (voice of Saya). Do not listen to the audio commentary before completing the series, as there are spoilers.
- Original Commercials – (2:12) The Japanese TBS commercials for “Blood-C”.
- Promotional Videos – (3:26) The Japanese promotional videos for “Blood-C”.
- Textless Opening Songs for “Spiral” and “Junketsu Paradox”
- Textless Closing Song for “Junketsu Paradox”
- U.S. Trailer – (1:02) FUNimation trailer for “Blood-C: The Complete Series”.
- Trailers – Featuring FUNimation trailers.
“Blood-C: The Complete Series” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.
The “Blood” series has always been popular for anime fans in the West. A vampire storyline of a vampire who hunts down Chiropterans (bat-like creatures) and the Saya has always been a character where one can expect to kick some serious ass!
“Blood-C” felt like a series that you invest your time in and by the time you get to the final episode, you feel as if you have been punked!
While the animated film “Blood-C: The Last Dark” had received positive reviews, the television series was panned in Japan and I can see why.
First, I’m going to discuss the positive. The positive of this series is the fact that Production I.G. has done a wonderful job when it comes to the animation and art backgrounds of this TV series. Characters and even the chiroptherans are well-animated and shaded and the characters are nicely drawn.
Another positive is the voice acting. In Japan, you have Nana Mizuki doing a stellar job on voice acting and also singing the ending theme for the series. I also felt the English dub was wonderful and it was great to hear Alexis Tipton in a role where she can really show off her voice talent. From various emotional states to even singing, she did a fantastic job.
But while the animation, art and voice acting are well-done, the problem with “Blood-C” is its story.
I suppose part of the problem lies in the fact that if you have watched “Blood the Last Vampire”, watched “Blood+” and even watched the live-action film, you feel you know the series and how it was always about Saya taking on the chiropterans and you know that she is a character that is going to serve up a major ass kicking.
But somehow, it seemed as if the writers saved that for the animated film instead.
By episode 8, you find out that nearly every classmate by Saya was killed by a chiropteran and just when you think that you’re going to see the Saya (that we have seen in the previous incarnations of “Blood) in major kick-ass mode, we get a major reveal that you don’t expect and I must say, it really felt like a kick in the gut.
In fact, I’m not going to even get into it but I just felt that for something that was carrying a lot of potential by episode 8, it just went downhill from there. I rarely get frustrated by watching an anime series, but this series left me frustrated.
Especially if you have been a fan of the “Blood” series, from “Blood+” to “Blood-C”, it was disappointing because I was expecting something big after episode 8 but instead, the story just went downhill.
As for the Blu-ray release, “Blood-C” looks fantastic on Blu-ray and the English lossless soundtrack has the edge because it’s in 5.1 and has better dynamic range. The Blu-ray also has two audio commentaries and the Japanese commercials and promotional video.
Overall, “Blood-C” is an animated series that does continue the “Blood” series by name, features a wonderful collaboration between Production I.G. and CLAMP and as expected, the animation and art backgrounds looks fantastic and is also well-acted for both the Japanese soundtrack and the English dub.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed with how “Blood-C” ended but I just hope that the reason why it ended the way it did, was to set things up for the animated film “Blood-C: The Last Dark”. If you want a “Blood” series that is exciting and entertaining, “Blood+” is much better.