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Ushio & Tora: Complete TV Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Ushio & Tora – Complete TV Series” is definitely one of my favorite anime releases on blu-ray for 2017!

Image courtesy of © 2017 Sentai Filmworks. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Ushio & Tora Complete TV Series

DURATION: Episodes 1-39 (975 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio for OVA’s and 16×9 for movies, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV14

Release Date: August 29, 2017


Originally Created by Kazuhiro Fujita

Director: Satoshi Nishimura

Series Composition: Kazuhiro Fujita, Toshiki Inoue

Music by Eishi Segawa

Character Design: Tomoko Mori

Art Director: Tomoyuki Shimizu

Animation Director: Mika Takahashi, Tomoko Mori

Director of Photography: Uehama Makishi, Yuuya Kumazawa

Anime Production: MAPPA, Studio VOLN


Featuring the following voice talent:

Rikiya Koyama/Brett Weaver as Tora

Tasuku Hatanaka/David Matranga as Ushio Aotsuki

Ai Kayano/Brittney Karbowski as Omamori-sama

Ai Satou as Oyakume-sama

Aki Toyosaki /Brittney Karbowski as Yū Hiyama

Ayahi Takagaki/Emily Neves as Jun Moritsuna

Daisuke Namikawa/David Wald as Hyō

Fumiko Orikasa as Mikado Hizaki

Hidekatsu Shibata as Nigira

Kana Hanazawa/Carli Mosier as Jie Mei

Keiji Fujiwara as Shigure Aotsuki

Kiyono Yasuno as Mayuko Inoue

Maaya Sakamoto/Emily Neves as Sumako Aotsuki

Mamoru Miyano/John Gremellion as Giryō

Masaki Terasoma as Kyōji Atsuzawa

Megumi Han/Blake Shepard as Kirio

Megumi Hayashibara as Hakumen no Mono

Mikako Komatsu/Allison Sumrall as Asako Nakamura

Nana Mizuki/Stephanie Wittels as Hinowa Sekimori

Nao Nagasawa as Izuna

Risa Shimizu/Patricia Duran as Kagari

Ryota Ohsaka/Clifford Chapin as Satoru Moritsuna

Shinichiro Miki/Jay Hickman as Raishin

Toshio Furukawa as Yamanmoto

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Ian Sinclair as Nagare Akiba

Yui Makino/Kira Vincent-Davis as Reiko Hanyū

Yuuka Nanri/Tiffany Grant as Saya Takatori

Yuuki Kaji/John Gremillion as Jūrō


Ushio always ignored his father’s crazy tales about the temple where they live. All that talk of restless souls and vicious monsters are nothing more than stories, right? However, Ushio quickly rethinks his position when he discovers a locked basement with an actual demon pinned to the wall by a spear! The tiger-striped demon threatens to eat Ushio if he doesn’t free him, so Ushio naturally chooses to ignore him. However, when the demon’s presence starts to attract others, Ushio is forced to remove the spear to save himself. To make a bad situation even worse, freeing the demon, Tora, also bonds Ushio to the cursed Beast Spear, sending him on a journey where unspeakable dangers await. The battle is only beginning for these unlikely partners!


Back in 1990, Kazuhiro Fujita created the manga series “Ushio and Tora”.

So popular the series came to be, it received an anime adaptation via three OVA series from 1992-1993.  In 2015, a 30-episode animated TV series was produced by MAPPA and Studio VOLN and now the series will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

The series revolves around Ushio Aotsuki, the son of a temple priest and a lady shaman. He’s also a kid who stands up for his friends and can have a temper.

One day, while cleaning up books in the store room, he finds a door and when he opens it and goes inside, he discovers a tiger-like Yokai named Tora.  He also sees a spear that has held the yokai in place and Tora tries to get Ushio to remove it.  But when he tells Ushio that he would eat him and eat all humans, Ushio decides not to help him (even going so far as to kick the spear in place several times).

But when Tora’s aura starts to leak from the wounded area, yokai’s escape into the real world and the only way he can defeat these yokai is with Tora’s help, so Ushio removes the spear off of Tora.  But when Tora tells him that he will not help, Ushio starts to get angry while holding the spear and his hair grows very long, scaring Tora.  It also means that he was destined to wield the Beast Spear.

But the two make an agreement, after they rid of the yokai, Ushio will allow Tora to eat him.

So now, Ushio and Tora work together to stop the yokai that threaten humans.  But are all yokai bad?  And how will the relationship between Ushio and Tora evolve as they continue to work together?

Ushio also goes on an adventure while tracking down Yokai to know more about his mother and why the yokai are after him specifically.

Ushio & Tora features the following characters:

  • Ushio Aotsuki – A kind-hearted individuals who stands up for his friends and can have a bit of a temper.  He values all life and friendships and his kindness helps bridge together humans and yokai.
  • Tora – A tiger-like yokai who was pinned in the basement of Ushio’s temple.  He was once known as Nagatobimaru and was feared.  At first he hated humans but being around Ushio and friends, he is amazed to see how lifestyle has changed among humans and starts to enjoy parts of modern society, especially for hamburgers.
  • Asako Nakamura – Ushio and Mayuko’s friend.  She and Ushio grew up with each other and both care deeply about each other, despite her having more of a temper than Ushio.  Her family runs a ramen restaurant.
  • Mayuko Inoue – A friend of Ushio and Asako.  She cares for both Ushio and Asako.  She also cares for Tora and often buys him hamburgers and she may have Shaman abilities.
  • Shigure Aotsuki – Ushio’s father, who is often stern but also keeps a secret from his son of what he does behind-the-scenes.
  • Reiko Hanyuu – An orphan who’s father was very overprotective and became an oni, so any boys that try to get close to her are in danger.  As she tries to commit suicide, only Ushio can help her father realize what he is doing is hurting his daughter.  After being free, she becomes friends with Ushio and friends.
  • Hyou – A powerful Chinese exorcist who has come to Japan to seek out the yokai who killed his wife and daughter and took out his right eye and left scars on his face.  The yokai is believed by Hyou to be Tora.
  • Jie Mei – A sprit guardian who lives in the Beast Spear who sacrificed her life to create the blade of the spear.
  • Giryo – The brother of Jie Mei, a blacksmith who went insane when he couldn’t prevent his sister’s sacrifice.  His anger, remorse and regret is built and trapped in the shaft of the beast spear.
  • Yu Hiyama – A girl whose father was a pilot who died in an airplane crash due to a Fusama yokai.  She has always blamed her father’s friend Atsuzawa but when Ushio shows her the truth, she learns to forgive and help out Ushio and Tora.
  • Saya Takatori – A descendent of the white-haired women who maintain the success of the Takatori household by appeasing the childlike spirit Omamori.
  • Hinowa Sekimori – A tough and cold girl who was one of the four chosen to control the Beast Spear and she rejects Ushio for possessing it for being undisciplined and reckless.

VIDEO:

“Ushio & Tora: Complete TV Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Even back when I watched the initial OVA, I was always impressed of how the animation was true to the manga illustrations of Kazuhiro Fujita.  The TV Series also captures that style with its unique character design, battle animation and for the most part, the anime series looks great on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

The lossless soundtrack for “Ushio & Tora” is presented in lossless stereo and both soundtracks are well-done.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear but as I love the voice acting by Rikiya Koyama as Tora and Tasuku Hatanaka as Ushio, the English dub is very well-done and Brett Weaver does a great job in portraying Tora, as with David Matranga as the voice of Ushio.

Definitely one of the better English dubbed soundtracks for a Sentai Filmworks series on Blu-ray this year!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ushio & Tora: Complete TV Series” comes with no special features.

 


Back in 1993, J!-ENT was founded and in our first year, one of the earlier anime series I reviewed was an OAV episode of “Ushio & Tora”.  I felt the series had tremendous potential and many people watching it at an anime club were supportive and excited each time a new OAV was release.

But that was the early-to-mid ’90s and haven’t heard anything until 20-years-later and an animated series was created courtesy of Mappa and Studio VOLN and what an awesome series “Ushio & Tora” came to be.

The television series featured more characters, more action and was able to capture the friendships that Ushio and Tora encountered through their adventures but most importantly, capturing a lot of the emotion, a lot of the action and featuring wonderful animation and voice acting.

The storyline about a human, a teenager named Ushio and a yokai named Tora (who wants to eat Ushio) in an alliance that first turns out to be like oil and water and both are not really getting a long.  But through working together, learning from each other and becoming friends, they are able to develop a relationship that works.  And while Ushio and Tora are able to take on many yokai, a bit easily in the first half of the series, by the second half, things become more dire as tons of yokai are now after Ushio and Tora and his friends do all they can to protect humanity.

With the release of “Ushio & Tora” on Blu-ray, watching it in Japanese and also with the English dub soundtrack, both soundtracks are wonderful.  And the voice acting in English is possibly one of the best I have listened to this year.  Mappa and Studio VOLN did a wonderful job with the animation and picture quality is vibrant and colorful.

Overall, “Ushio & Tora – Complete TV Series” is for those who love action-driven anime series.  Series with a lot of heart, humor and violence.  It’s the heard of “Ushio & Tora”, a battle between humans and monsters and one human and one monsters doing all they can to protect humanity against all odds.  And with all 39-episodes collected for a great price, this Blu-ray release is definitely worth purchasing!

“Ushio & Tora – Complete TV Series” is definitely one of my favorite anime releases on blu-ray for 2017!

Sentai Filmworks Licenses ‘Girls’ Last Tour’

September 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

HOUSTON, TX, September 26, 2017 – Sentai Filmworks is proud to announce its acquisition ofGirls’ Last Tour for the Fall 2017 anime simulcast season. The series will soon be available to stream in the U.S. on Anime Strike, the curated on-demand anime subscription from Amazon Channels.

In a future where most of humanity has perished, two young girls named Chito and Yuuri explore the ruins of civilization on their Kettenkrad gun tractor, looking for food and fuel. Despite their bleak existence, the two find meaning in their simple, shared experiences. With Chito behind the wheel and Yuuri handling gun duties, these two set out to salvage what’s left of their post-apocalyptic world.

Animation production for the series will be handled by WHITE FOX (Akame ga Kill!, Grimoire of Zero, The Devil is a Part-Timer!). Takaharu Ozaki (Persona 5 the Animation -The Day Breakers-) directs the series, with series composition by Kazuyuki Fudeyasu (Is the Order a Rabbit?, Monster Musume: Everyday Life of Monster Girls, Hetalia The Beautiful World).

Girls’ Last Tour is scheduled for an October 2017 release in Japan. It will soon be available to stream on Anime Strike for $4.99 per month after a 7-day free trial, and available in non-US territories through select digital outlets for the Fall 2017 simulcast season, with a home video release to follow.

For Sentai Filmworks’ latest announcements regarding this and other great titles, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

About Sentai Filmworks, LLC

Sentai Filmworks is a leading global supplier of anime and official anime merchandise, distributing, and curating one of the industry’s most diverse libraries of top trending and classic titles. Offering thousands of hours of content across both traditional and digital platforms, Sentai is dedicated to bringing captivating stories and iconic characters directly from Japan. With hit series that include Parasyte –the maxim–, No Game, No Life, Food Wars!, Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, and Akame ga Kill!, Sentai’s catalog continues to grow with new favorites like Himouto! Umaru-chan and Monster Musume: Everyday Life with Monster Girls, as well as classic anime series such as Legend of the Galactic Heroes. For more information, visitwww.sentaifilmworks.com.

Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma) Season 1 (A J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma)” Season 1 has turned out to be one of my favorite anime series to watch on Blu-ray in 2017.  Energetic, fun and vibrant, the series left me craving for more and I can’t wait for a second season of “Food Wars!”.

Images courtesy of © Yuto Tsukudo, Shun Saeki/Shuiesha, Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Committee. All rights reserved.


TITLE: Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma) Season 1

ANIME TV AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episodes 1-24 (600 minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 HD Widescreen), English and Japanese 2.0 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14 D

Release Date: August 15, 2017


Directed by Yoshitomo Yonetani

Series Composition by Shogo Yasukawa

Music by Tatsuya Katou

Character Design by Tomoyuki Shitaya

Art Director by Koichiro Bizen

Anime Production: J.C. Staff


Featuring the following voice talent:

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Blake Shepard as Sōma Yukihira

Minami Takahashi/Jad Saxton as Megumi Tadokoro

Risa Taneda/Stephanie Wittels as Erina Nakiri

Ai Kakuma/Juliet Simmons as Mayumi Kurase

Ai Kayano/Leraldo Anzaldua as Ryōko Sakaki

Asami Seto as Miyoko Hōjō

Banjou Ginga/John Swasey as Senzaemon Nakiri

Chinatsu Akasaki/Christina Kelly as Alice Nakiri

Junichi Suwabe/ as Akira Hayama

Junichi Yanagita/Andrew Love as Daigo Aoki

Kengo Kawanishi/Corey Hartzog as Shōji Satō

Maaya Uchida/Luci Christian as Yūki Yoshino

Mamiko Noto as Hinako Inui

Mikako Takahashi as Jun Shiomi

Natsuki Hanae/Bryan Baugus as Takumi Aldini

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Leraldo Anzaldua as Ryō Kurokiba

Rikiya Koyama/Jay Hickman as Jōichirō Yukihira

Rina Hidaka/Jennifer Gilbert as Urara Kawashima

Saori Goto/Karlii Hoch as Nao Sadasuka

Saori Ōnishi/Brittney Karbowski as Hisako Arato

Shizuka Ishigami/Rachel Landon as Ikumi Mito

Taishi Murata/Houston Hayes as Shun Ibusaki

Takahiro Sakurai/Scott Gibs as Satoshi Isshiki

Takehito Koyasu/Ty Mahany as Gin Dōjima

Tomokazu Sugita/Anthony Hunter as Etsuya Eizan

Yūichi Nakamura/Benjamin McLaughlin as Kojirō Shinomiya

Yūsuke Kobayashi/Greg Ayres as Zenji Marui

Yuuki Ono as Isami Aldini


Ever since he was little, Soma Yukihira’s main goals have been to beat his father in a cooking contest and take over the family diner. That’s why, when his dad suddenly announces that he’s shutting the restaurant down and sending Soma to cooking school, Soma is shocked. However, Tohtsuki Academy is no ordinary cooking school.

This elite institution is filled with culinary giants like Erina “God Tongue” Nakiri, who does her best to keep a lowly short-order like Soma from even making it inside the door. However, if the snobs can dish it out, Soma can serve it up, and when he learns that only a handful of the students manage to graduate every year, he swears that the only way he’ll leave is as number one!


In 2012, writer Yuto Tsukuda and artist Shun Saeki created their manga series “Shokugeki no Soma” which continues to be serialized in “Weekly Shonen Jump”.

The manga was voted #3 in the Nationwide Bookstore Employees “Recommend Comics of 2014” in Japan and voted #12 in the 2014 “Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” Top 20 Manga for Male Readers survey and continues to be a popular series in Japan.

In 2015, “Shokugeki no Soma”/Food Wars! would receive a 24-episode anime adaptation courtesy of J.C. Staff and now the hit anime series has been released in the U.S. on Blu-ray courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

The series revolves around a young teen named Soma Yukihara who works for his father, chef Joichiro Yukihira, at their local restaurant.

Trained to cook at an early age and known for trying to combine various foods together as experiments, Soma has been known to cook dishes that make people feel they have tasted the best food ever to touch their tastebuds. But his goal is to someday beat his father in cooking.

But with landsharks trying to get control of the land to build condo units where the restaurant is located, one day while returning to the restaurant, everything inside is removed.

While Soma wants to rebuild, his father tells him that he will be closing the restaurant for two or three years to travel and as for Soma, he is enlisted in Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute where the elite of the elite attend and less than 10% of its students ever graduated.

But his father gives Soma a stern message, if he can’t make it at Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute, he will never beat him.

Determined to prove to his father that he can graduate as an elite cook, Soma is still looked down by his fellow students and faculty because unlike them, he is not wealthy and his family did not own a four or five star restaurant.

But Soma is determined to prove them wrong.

As Soma meets his fellow cooks and making new friends at the Polaris dorm, volume three focuses on Soma and his Polaris Dorm friends visiting the Totsuki Village to compete with other chefs in order to work at the Totsuki Hotel, where under five people have passed the test.

But as Soma and friends are getting ready, a young chef named Takumi Aldini makes himself known to Soma and becomes his rival.

Soma and his friends are participating in cooking pant, but to their surprise, they must figure out how to sell 200 dishes in a buffet location. That means creating food that will last and become tasty for a longer time. Can Soma figure out how to make meals that last instead of a meal that is meant to be eaten right away?

Meanwhile, during a visit back to his family restaurant, Soma finds out that business on Market St. is not going that well. How can he help to bring people back to the area?

Also, Soma and his fellow students find out they will be competing in the Fall Classic and finds out the theme will be about curry. But after meeting Akira Hayama, trained in the worlds best spices and great at making varieties of curry dishes, can Soma find a way to learn about the different spices in the world and compete against Hayama and the other competitors in the world.

The “Fall Classic” is a competition in which all 90 students must compete in making a special curry dish for the judges, but it’s not going to be easy. Especially after meeting Akira Hayama, a man trained in utilizing the best spices from all over the world to create delicious curry.

Having tasted his curry and seeing how great his curry really is, Soma must do all he can to research during summer vacation and come up with the best curry dish for the competition.


VIDEO:

“Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma) Season 1” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The series is well-animated, well-shaded and if anything, J.C. staff did a wonderful job of bringing Shun Saeki’s energetic and fun character designs to animation.  Vibrant, colorful and for the most part, the anime series looks great!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma) Season 1” is presented in Japanese and English 2.0 DTS-HD MA. Dialogue and music on the Blu-ray are both crystal clear through the front channels and voice acting is well-done for both Japanese and English soundtracks.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma) Season 1” comes with the clean opening and ending credits.

 


As a big fan of manga and anime series about food and the culinary industry, “Food Wars! -Shokugeki no Soma” is a series that I absolutely enjoy.

For one, you have an antagonist that was cooking since he was young, often experimenting on different foods, even know that all his combinations are not always successful. But he also was brought up in a family restaurant and has to attend a school of elitist who think their food is the greatest and that they are more refined because they are wealthy.

So, it’s pretty awesome to see how far these people will put him down and until they eat his food, their reaction, and probably this may be the best word to describe their reaction to his food as “orgasmic”.

Literally, Shun Saeki draws these characters in so much pleasure that it’s rather humorous and possibly why the manga series is rated for Older Teens.

While the concept of cooking manga series has been around for decades in Japan, the fact is that there are only a few that have been released in America. “Oishinbo” by Tetsuya Kariya and Akira Hanasaki is one of the most popular cooking series of all time as it details a writer for a food magazine and also son of a notable food critic (who he does not get along with).

You also have “Toriko” but the cuisine is more fantasy than realistic. “Yakitate” which focuses on bread. And of course, there are cooking series popular in Japan such as “Cooking Papa”, “The Antique Bakery”, “Kitchen Palette”, “Kitchen Princess” to name a few.

But “Food Wars! -Shokugeki no Soma” has a fascinating way of combining the underdog storyline that we often see in sports manga series, bringing it to a cooking storyline but also add a few features that are not too mature but suggestive.

While Soma is the main character, you also have characters such as Erina Nakiri, the food critic that has the “God’s Tongue” and her review can easily destroy the career of any chef. And as part of the Elite 10 of Soma’s school, she has tried her best to get him disqualified because of his status but each time she has tried his food, she is even surprised by Soma’s talent but also his carefree attitude.

You also have Megumi Tadokoro, who came up in last place in the Institute’s high school advancement exam and has partnered with Soma and her fear of getting expelled due to her number of bad grades, has put her on the edge. But she learns that being partnered with Soma is not so bad after all.

As for the Blu-ray release, the anime series is vibrant and looks great in HD.  Lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and music and there are no special features but the clean opening and ending animations.

Overall, “Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma)” Season 1 has turned out to be one of my favorite anime series to watch on Blu-ray in 2017.  Energetic, fun and vibrant, the series left me craving for more and I can’t wait for a second season of “Food Wars!”.

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One Week Friends – Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

oneweekfriends-a

Charming and heartwarming, “One Week Friends” is a high school drama that won’t take too much of your time, not too deep but a short, entertaining anime series worth watching.

Image courtesy of © 2015 Toho Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: One Week Friends – Complete Collection

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition/16×9, Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14 LD

Release Date: July 7, 2015


Originally Created by Matcha Hazuki

Directed by Tarou Iwasaki

Series Composition by Shotaro Suga

Music by Irone Toda

Art Director: Akira Ito

Anime Character Design by Eri Yamazaki

Production by Brain’s Base


Featuring the following voice talent:

Sora Amamiya as Kaori Fujimiya

Yoshitaka Yamaya as Yūki Hase

Asuka Kakumoto as Maiko Serizawa

Junji Majima as Jun Inoue

Mai Nakahara as Shiho Fujimiya

Rui Tanabe as Ai Nishimura

Rumi Ookubo as Saki Yamagishi

Shintarō Asanuma as Hajime Kujō

Yoshimasa Hosoya as Shōgo Kiryū


Every lifetime is composed of millions of memories… but what happens if those memories don’t all connect? When Yuki Hase notices that Kaori Fujimiya seems to be alone and friendless at his school, he immediately wants to reach out to her. Much to his surprise, though, his overtures are turned down, and he’s completely stunned when he finds out why: it seems that ever since she was in a tragic accident, Kaori has been losing part of her memory every Monday, including all her recollection of everyone who’s become her friend.

It’s not that she doesn’t want friends, but that she can’t remember having any. That’s not enough of an obstacle for Yuki, however, and he becomes determined to make friends with Kaori every week. Because while most memories fade, there are some that, if you believe strongly enough and never give up, might just be able to last forever.


In 2012, manga artist Matcha Hazuki created the manga series “Isshukan Friends” (One Week Friends) which was serialized in Square Enix’s “Gangan Joker” Magazine (January 2012-2015).

An anime adaptation produced by Brain’s Base aired on television in the spring of 2014 and the anime series was released on Blu-ray courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

With a live film adaptation of the film slated for February 2017, for those who enjoy anime dramas will surely enjoy this 12-episode series.

The series revolves around a high school student named Yuki Hase, who sits right next to Kaori Fujimiya, a person who is often seen sitting alone.

As the two become friends, Yuki eventually starts to fall for Kaori but learns the truth that on every Monday, she loses all memory of her friends and experiences due to a tragic accident.

While it becomes a difficult obstacle for Yuki, he is determined in trying to become closer to Yuki, despite her fading memories and be with her every step of the way.

But what caused this condition with Yuki and how will he be able to get Yuki to include him in her life?


VIDEO:

“One Week Friends – Complete Collection” features beautiful animation by Brain’s Base. Character designs are well-done and well-shaded, while backgrounds and structures are well-detailed. It’s important to note that as a TV series, one can expect quite a bit of softness but forthe most part, the look of the anime series looks very good on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“One Week Friends – Complete Collection” is presented in Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. Dialogue is crystal clear and subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“One Week Friends – Complete Collection” comes with ten segments from Kaori’s Journal and an entry from Hase’s Journal, Japanese promo spots, clean opening and closing animations.


As I was watching “One Week Friends”, I was worried about the banality of the series as each episode would be about Kaori losing her memories every Monday (which is a real condition known as “anterograde amnesia”, according to Wikipedia, “patients have recollections of events prior to the injury, but cannot recall day-to-day information or new facts presented to them after the injury occurred”.) and Yuki doing all he can to see if he can help improve her memory and then we get the typical happy ending that she begins to remember.

In some ways, I thought that the series would become too predictable.

Fortunately, “One Week Friends” became an endearing and charming anime series about high school love but a boy’s determination to be with the girl he likes, while Kaori tries to live life every week with just knowing details from the journal she has written and with each entry, about her trust and happiness of being around Yuki.

The series also has a few side stories, such as Yuki’s classmate and good friend Shogo Kiryu.  Shogo is quite stoic but a classmate named Saki Yamagishi, who likes Shogo, is a bit clumsy and often becomes emotional because she is unsure how to convey her feelings towards him.

Another storyline involves Hajime Kujo, a former classmate of Yuki’s who transfers to the Yuki and Kaori’s school.  He was the boy which Kaori liked and was supposed to meet before she was involved in an accident that led to her loss of memories.  And of course, Yuki becomes a little jealous of Kujo.

While the anime series was completed before creator Hazuki Matcha finished writing the manga series, the anime series is still charming and anime fans who enjoy romantic comedies or romantic dramas will find “One Week Friends” to be a series worth watching.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is beautiful, while slightly soft than eye popping vibrant.  Lossless audio is stereo and clear.  It’s important to note that this anime series is in straight Japanese and there are no English subtitles.  Special features include Kaori’s journal entries and also a journal entry from Yuki.  You also get the usual clean opening and closing animations and Japanese promo spots.

Overall, charming and heartwarming, “One Week Friends” is a high school drama that won’t take too much of your time, not too deep but a short, entertaining anime series worth watching.

SENTAI FILMWORKS LICENSES “Hakuoki ~ Demon of the Fleeting Blossom: Warrior Spirit of the Blue Sky”

April 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

HOUSTON, APRIL 14, 2016 – Sentai Filmworks is proud to announce its latest acquisition, Hakuoki ~ Demon of the Fleeting Blossom: Warrior Spirit of the Blue Sky. As the second feature film based on the successful game and anime series, this title continues the story of Chizuru Yukimura’s search for her father. The famed Shinsengumi are combating the dangerous beings within Kyoto’s shadows, and it won’t be easy. As Chizuru and the men of the Shinsengumi fight for their city, and for their lives, the battle may draw closer than any of them ever imagined.

The film was directed and scripted by Osamu Yamasaki (Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East). Atsuko Nakajima (Get Backers, Ranma ½) handled animation direction and character design, with original character designs provided by Yone Kazuki (Kamigami no Asobi, Nobunaga the Fool).

Hakuoki ~ Demon of the Fleeting Blossom: Warrior Spirit of the Blue Sky will be available through select digital outlets, with a home video release to follow.

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About Sentai Filmworks, LLC
Sentai Filmworks is a leading global supplier of anime and official anime merchandise, distributing and curating one of the industry’s most diverse libraries of top trending and classic titles. Offering thousands of hours of content across both traditional and digital platforms, Sentai is dedicated to bringing captivating stories and iconic characters directly from Japan. With hit series that include Parasyte –the maxim–, No Game, No Life, Food Wars!, Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, and Akame ga Kill!. Sentai’s catalog continues to grow with new favorites like Himouto! Umaru-chan and Monster Musume: Everyday Life with Monster Girls, as well as classic anime series such as Legend of the Galactic Heroes. For more information, visit www.sentaifilmworks.com.

Shirobako Collection 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

shirobako

“Shirobako” is an enjoyable, humorous and entertaining look into the making of an anime series and the challenges that an anime studio encounters. But also the challenges faced by those who want to make it into the industry. “Shirobako Collection 1” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © SHIROBAKO PROJECT.  All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Shirobako Collection 1

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition/16×9, Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: February 9, 2016


Directed by Tsutomu Mizushima

Series Composition by Michiko Yokote

Music by Shiroh Hamaguchi

Original Character Design by Ponkan8

Art Director: Tsukasa Kakizakai, Yusuke Takeda

Anime Character Design by Kanami Sekiguchi

Production by P.A. Works


Featuring the following voice talent:

Asami Takano as Misa Tōdō

Haruka Chisuga as Shizuka Sakaki

Haruka Yoshimura as Ema Yasuhara

Hitomi Ohwada as Midori Imai

Juri Kimura as Aoi Miyamori

Ai Kayano as Rinko Ogasawara

Hironori Saitō as Hironori Madoka

Hiroyuki Yoshino as Tarō Takanashi

Ikumi Hayama as Tsubaki Andō

Junji Majima as Yuuichirou Shimoyanagi


After making an animated film together in high school, Aoi and her friends Shizuka, Ema, Misa, and Midori made a promise to each other: to all get jobs in the anime industry and someday work together again.

Two years later, Aoi is learning that working as a production assistant at a small animation studio is far more demanding than she ever imagined, and Shizuka’s aspiring career as a voice actor involves more time waiting tables than recording.

Meanwhile, Ema’s slowly making a name for herself as a key animator, Misa’s moved from 2D to 3D and now works in computer graphics, and screenwriting hopeful Midori is lagging furthest behind, still looking for her first big break. But are they ready to give up on their dreams just yet? No way! Because while anime may come from inspiration, in the end it’s the ones who’re willing to put in the perspiration that make their dreams real in Shirobako!


 

In October 2014, the anime series “Shirobako”, which was a join production by Warner Entertainment Japan and P.A. Works made its debut in Japan.

A manga adaptation was serialized in ASCII Media Work’s “Dengeki Daioh” and a novel was published by Shueisha in January 2015.

And now, the first half of the series will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in North America courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

“Shirobako” (which translates to “white box”) is directed by Tsutomu Mizushima (“Big Windup!”, “Blood-C”, “Genshiken”), a screenplay by Michiko Yokote (“Ah! My Goddess: The Movie”, “Bleach”, “Naruto”, “Nabari no Ou”, “RIN-NE”), music by Shiroh Hamaguchi (“Big Windup!”, “One Piece”, “Sakura Wars”, “Girls und Panzer”), with art direction by Tsukasa Kakizakai (“Durarara!!”, “Real Drive”, “Samurai 7”) and Yusuke Takeda (“Ghost in the Shell”, “Blood: The Last Vampire”, “009-1”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing”).

The anime series would feature the voices of Asami Takano (“Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid”), Haruka Chigusa (“Amagi Brilliant Park”, “Aquarion Logos”, “Haruchika – Haruta & Chika”), Haruka Yoshimura (“Celestial Method”, “Riddle Story of Devil”, “Saki – The Nationals”), Hitomi Ohwada (“Netoge no Yome wa Onna no Ko ja nai to Omotta?”) and Juri Kimura (“Kuromukuro”, “Monster Strike”, “Mikagura School Suite”, “Queen’s Blade: Grimoire”).

“Shirobako” begins with five friends: Aoi Miyamori, Ema Yasuhara, Shizuka Sakasaki, Misa Todo and Midori Imai working on a high school animation club project together before graduation.  Utilizing each of their skills, all five make a goal to go into the anime industry and one day, each of them will work together on an actual anime.

Fastforward years later, Ema is a key animator, Shizuka is pursuing a career as a voice actress, Misa is a 3D computer graphics operator, Midori is a college student and the main character focused on is Aoi Miyamori, who works as a production assistant for Musashino Animation.

The series focuses on the inner workings of how an anime series is made for television and the challenges that Musashino Animation faces in making sure the series gets aired on television in time, but most importantly, showing viewers the production challenges before an episode is finalized.  Also, showing the various different jobs that employees partake in, while working for an animation studio.

The main story focuses on:

Aoi Miyamori – Aoi is constantly observing each of the employees but showing how her involvement in production is important.

Emi Yasuhara – Emi works hard as an a key animator for “The Third Aerial Girls Squad” and the challenges she faces in trying to get work completed for each episode.

Shizuka Sakaki – Shizuka is a struggling voice actress.  She works as a waitress at the pub and is doing all she can to get a job as a notable character for an anime series.

Misa Todo – Works as the prestigious Super Media Creations but struggles because the work is primarily for automobiles.  She is becoming dissatisfied and trying to find herself and what she really wants to do.

Midori Imai – An aspiring screenwriter still attending college, she hopes to get a job in the animation industry once she graduates.


VIDEO:

“Shirobako Collection 1” features wonderful animation by PA. Works.  Character designs are well-done and well-shaded, while backgrounds and structures are well-detailed.

I also like the detail that went into the office settings and the little things you find on the desks of employees.  But for the most part, animation is well-done and looks vibrant in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Shirobako Collection 1” is presented in Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0.  Dialogue is crystal clear and no signs of hissing or problematic audio issues.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Shirobako Collection 1” comes with the trailer and textless opening and endings.


While there have been anime series based on the anime and manga industry, “Shirobako” is a series that really goes into detail of the various jobs that are done by employees creating a weekly anime series but also the challenges faced in the industry.

“Shirobako” focuses on five friends who made a goal to work on an anime series together, but now into adulthood, we see how these girls have faced challenges and learning that making it in the anime industry is difficult.

And the young ladies must start from the bottom and work themselves up, we see how people like Shizuka is becoming dissatisfied as each role she takes on, is fairly small.  While Misa, who wants to grow as a 3D designer, is growing frustrated that the work she is getting is focused on automobiles and hardly on characters.   And so the seed of doubt is planted in their minds.

Meanwhile, main protagonist, Aoi Miyamori gives us a look at the animation industry through a new anime production studio, Musashino Animation.

From the disagreements that happen between staff members, disagreements on how a character cries during battle to how an episode ends.  Also, the challenges of trying to get a product finished right before deadline and ensuring it gets to the TV companies for airing.  And also a look of a staff that is pushed to the limits and one happens if one gets sick and so forth.

The series features a good balance between humor and serious moments.  And for the most part, “Shirobako” is a lively anime series that will entertain anyone who is interested in the functions of an anime studio.

“Shirobako Collection” 1 features the first 12 episodes and for the most part, the anime series looks wonderful on Blu-ray.  The soundtrack is lossless 2.0 and the English subtitles are easy to see and read.  Special features are limited to the opening and ending animations and trailer.

Overall, “Shirobako” is an enjoyable, humorous and entertaining look into the making of an anime series and the challenges that an anime studio encounters.  But also the challenges faced by those who want to make it into the industry.

“Shirobako Collection 1” is recommended!

Persona4: The Golden Animation Vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 25, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

persona4-golden-2a

If you have played the video game or watched “Persona4: The Animation”, then I definitely recommend giving “Persona4: The Golden Animation” a try. It’s a storyline more focused on character relationships (especially between Yu and Marie), instead of an all-action storyline this time around and getting to know the main characters of the storyline. Still, it’s a fun anime series that “Persona4” fans will definitely want to give this series on Blu-ray a try!

Images courtesy of © 2014 SEGA/P4GA Committee. 2014 Aniplex Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Persona4: The Golden Animation Vol. 2

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 7-12 + OVA episode (90 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: September 29, 2015


Chief Director: Seiji Kishi

Directed by Tomohisa Taguchi

Music by Shoji Meguro, Tetsuya Kobayashi

Original Character Design by Shigenori Soejima

Character Design by Yuu Shindou

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the voices of:

Ami Koshimizu as Yukiko Amagi

Daisuke Namikawa as Yū Narukami

Kana Hanazawa as Marie

Showtaro Morikubo as Yōsuke Hanamura

Yui Horie as Chie Satonaka

Akemi Kanda as Nanako Dōjima

Chizu Yonemoto as Izanami-no-Okami

Isamu Tanonaka as Igor (special performance)

Kappei Yamaguchi as Kuma

Mitsuaki Madono as Tōru Adachi

Rie Kugimiya as Rise Kujikawa

Romi Park as Naoto Shirogane

Sayaka Ohara as Margaret

Tomokazu Seki as Kanji Tatsumi

Unshou Ishizuka as Ryōtarō Dōjima


Yu follows Adachi into the Midnight TV to find the truth behind a series of incidents in the rural town in spite of Marie’s warning to stay away from him. When Yu’s Persona and Adachi’s Persona fight, Yu understands what happened to Adachi before. Yu cannot find words to comfort Adachi and goes back to the real world. Meanwhile, Marie continues searching for the memories she had lost. Can Yu and his friends reach the truth?


Nanako has been hospitalized and Yu has figured out who is responsible for the murders.  Now Adachi and the person responsible get into a battle of Personas, Izanagi vs. Magatsu-Izanagi.

Meanwhile, Yu and friends continue to help Marie find out her how to get back her lost memories.

All this and more in the final episodes of “Persona 4: The Golden Animation” plus the + OVA episode featuring an alternate, gloomy ending.

What is “Persona4: The Golden Animation” about?

The “Shin Megami Tensei: Persona” role-playing video game series developed and published by Atlus and has won over fans due to its darker storyline and it’s one of the few games to incorporate a Japanese atmosphere incorporating simulation type games relating to its characters.

Created back in 1996, “Shin Megami Tensei: Persona” has continually evolved and its fifth installment, “Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4” (the fifth installment in the SMT: Persona series) was no doubt a popular title in the series when it was released on the PlayStation 2 in 2008.

The video game would inspire a 25-episode anime series titled “Persona4: The Animation”, which aired on Japanese television in 2011-2012 (and released on Blu-ray in North America in 2013), followed by a 13-episode (12 episodes + 1 OVA) anime series titled “Persona4: The Golden Animation” which aired in 2014.

Created as an expansion of the original “Persona 4: The Animation”, this 2014 version is produced by A-1 Pictures and is directed by Tomohisa Taguchi.

The story focuses on the character Yu Narukami and how he meets a mysterious girl named Marie who has lost her memory. Marie is a character that was featured in the Playstation Vita game, “Persona 4 Golden”.

Aniplex has noew released the second volume of “Persona 4: The Animation” featuring the final six-episodes released in September 2015.

What is “Persona 4” about?

“Persona4” begins with a clip inside the limousine as an older man named Igor and his assistant Margaret introduce themselves to someone. They explain their location, The Velvet Room as a place that exists between “dream and reality” and not many people can find this special room.

We are then introduced to high school student Yu Narukami arriving in the countryside of Inaba. Because his parents are working abroad, he must live with his uncle, Ryotaro Dojima, the resident investigator and his cousin Nanako Dojima for the entire year.

While attending Yasogami High School, he meets two people who become his friends. Yosuke Hanamura is a teenager who also moved to Inaba a year prior and his father own the huge department store, Junes (pronounced as “Joo-Ness”). And his friend Chie Satonaka is a teenage girl with an appetite. While she is often teasing and hitting her friend Yosuke, she also hangs out with her best friend Yukiko Amagi.

Meanwhile, a student named Saki Koshi is seen cutting class and discovers the body of TV announcer Mayumi Yamano.

With the murder of a known TV personality scaring people in town, leading to Ryotaro Dojima and his partner Detective Adachi investigating the crime scene, For Yu, he has heard of the rumors at school that a “Midnight Channel” shown on television may be connected to the murders. Apparently, if one watches the channel at midnight, they should be able to see an image of a person When Yu watches the channel at midnight, he sees someone show up. The image is of a young woman. When Yu puts his hand on the TV, he is nearly pulled into the TV.

Yu tries to tell Chie and Yosuke about it but they don’t believe him, but Chie said she wants to see if it would happen on a larger television. So, the three head to Junes Department Store to see if he can duplicate the same situation on a bigger television set and sure enough, when Yu sticks his hand, it goes through the TV set and all three are pulled in.

The trio end up in different world and encounter a bear named Teddie. Teddie explains that they are in a world where if foggy, it would be clear on Earth. If it is clear on Earth, then it would be foggy in his world. And to see things in his world, he must wear special glasses.

The trio are then attacked by shadows and fearing for their lives, the persona of Yu Narukami is awakened. It is learned that Yu has the Persona of the Wild Card and that it could lead to infinite possibilities, which include the use of other Personas or fusing two or more Personas to create something more powerful.

Eventually as Yu and his friends enter the TV set, they encounter other classmates and friends who eventually join the team and together they try to find the culprit responsible for murdering people and also sending people to the alternate world.

What is “Persona4: The Golden Animation” about?

The anime series showcases various situations that have happened in the original anime series (and video game) but instead of continuing story about Yu and friends, “Persona4: The Golden Animation” begins with Yu visiting the Velvet Room and Margaret introducing him to Marie and asking him to take her to the outside world and help her regain her lost memories.

Meanwhile, someone is murdering people in the city and Yu and friends look to uncover who is responsible.

And with each episode, Marie is helped by Yu and friends, who try to help her discover her lost memories.

[NOTE: Because the series skips around various storylines, if you have never played the video game or watched the original anime adaptation, you will not want to watch this anime series just yet as various mysteries are revealed in early episodes].


The main characters of “Persona4: The Golden Animation vol. 2” are:

  • Yu Narukami – The main protagonist who moves to the countryside of Inaba for a year while his parents are traveling. He stays with his uncle, local police detective Ryotaro Dojima and his daughter Nanako Dojima. Yu begins attending Yasogami High School and begins to make friends. And as he develops these relationships with friends, he begins to attain more stronger persona and is the only person in the group who can use different persona’s during battle.
  • Yosuke Hanamura – A teenager who moved to Inaba a year before Yu. His father is owner of the Junes Department Store. He is often thinking about girls and wanting to score!
  • Chie Satonaka – A friend of Yosuke and a girl who is obsessed with kung-fu. She is best friends with Yukiko Amagi and often beating up Yosuke when he is in pervert mode.
  • Yukiko Amagi – Introverted yet popular, Yukiko’s family owns a famous ryokan in the city and is expected to take over the family business.
  • Kanji Tatsumi – A delinquent and bully, but deep inside he’s a tough guy that loves sewing cute things. He is often teased for liking guys or being interested in Naoto.
  • Teddie – A bear from the TV world, he becomes good friends with Yu and friends and is invited to stay in the human world, where he created a human version of himself. Always excited and curious, Teddie wants to know more about the human world, but also wanting to remember his past.
  • Naoto Shirogane – A young detective who moves to Inaba to help the police investigate the serial-murder case. Despite looking like a boy, he’s actually a girl.
  • Ryotaro Dojima – The uncle of Yu and father of Nanako. Ryotaro is a police detective and is often so busy with his work especially with the escalating crimes, that he has to leave Nanako at home.
  • Nanako Dojima – The young daughter of Ryotaro who looks at Yu as her “Big Bro”. Nanako likes the companionship of Yu and his friends and although she can take care of herself at home when her father is away, Nanako worries that her father is more interested in catching bad guys than her.
  • Marie – A young lady who has lost her memories. Yu and friends try to help her find her lost memories and get her involved through their various activities. But meanwhile, she goes through certain moments of fear for some reason.

 

VIDEO:

“Persona4: The Golden Animation” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is vibrant and colorful. The overall look of “Persona 4” is stylish and cool, but it’s interesting to see its use of pink with white on the faces of the characters. It’s definitely a different use of coloring for characters but watching this anime series, color plays a big part in this series to set a mood. May it be the looming danger of the fog rolling into Inaba, the use of blues in the Blue Room but for the majority of the anime series, everything is colorful. Chie’s red hair and green/yellow track jacket, Yukiko and Rise’s use of red and of course the beautiful combination of animation and CG elements, for the most part, I felt the series compliments the video game remarkably well.

But overall anime production from A-1 Pictures is very good, with a slight difference from the original anime adaptation done by A.I.C. Asta. The series looks wonderful on Blu-ray with no banding or artifacts. “Persona4: The Golden Animation” looked sharp, black levels were nice and deep and colors were absolutely vibrant! “Persona 4: The Golden Animation” looks awesome!

AUDIO:

“Persona4: The Golden Animation” is presented only with a Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack. With that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels. I know that “Persona4: The Animation” featured the original series with an English dub soundtrack, but that release was through a different company, this is through Aniplex Inc. and hopefully in the future, possibly a dual soundtrack release will be created.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Persona4: The Golden Animation Vol. 2” comes with the OVA “Another End” episode titled “Thank You Mr. Accomplice”.

EXTRAS:

“Persona4: The Golden Animation Vol. 2” comes with a slipcase, seven collectible postcards, a 20-page booklet (featuring art gallery and character information) and a “Persona 4 the Golden Animation: Original Soundtrack Vol. 2” featuring the following tracks with music by Tetsuya Kobayashi, Shihoko Hirata and the popular Kana Hanazawa track, “Dazzling Smile”:

  1. prospect
  2. Single Bell
  3. Kung fu
  4. Get Carried Away
  5. by any chance
  6. Discouragement
  7. My eyes only
  8. Things left behind
  9. Divine
  10. Signal Fire of a Counterattack
  11. Fight Alone
  12. Just Like the Wind
  13. Detachment
  14. Long Way
  15. Dazzling Smile

persona4-golden-2b

If you thought “Persona4: The Animation” would be the end all anime series based on the popular videogame, along comes “Persona 4: The Golden Animation – Volume 2”.

While the original animated series is much better because it features a continuing storyline and also background on the primary characters and more.

With “Persona4: The Golden Animation”, it incorporates stories from the original anime series and what we saw from the Vita video game. But pretty much, this latest anime series is about Yu and friends trying to help a girl named Marie, who has lost all her memories. But also mysterious due to the number of pains she receives, for some unknown reason.

If anything, the series compliments the original animation but doesn’t incorporate a lot of the action, it’s pretty much friends having fun with Marie and doing whatever is necessary for her to get back her memories.

With the second volume of “Persona4: The Golden Animation” also showcases Yu confronting the person responsible for the murders and seeing life from that person’s eyes.  But it’s an interesting storyline towards the end as we get to see Yu and Marie interact much more.

But while people may want to play the video game and then watching the original anime series first, “The Golden Animation” serves as an extra storyline via anime for fans of the video game.

I personally am a big fan of the entire “Shin Megami Tensei” video game series. My first experience with a “Shin Megami Tensei” video game was “Persona II: Eternal Punishment” and I absolutely loved the game for its characters but also it’s darker theme, use of Personas and it’s use of Japanese pop culture ingrained into an RPG game, the video games were a distinct style compared to other games from the major software makers.

And things changed no doubt with “Persona 3” which included a dating simulator and the ability for one to strengthen relationships, friendships and the overall gameplay becoming much more stylish and cool! Suffice to say, when “Persona 4” came out, once again, Atlus was able to create cool characters and further the experience for fans and gamers (who love Japanese RPG’s), but most importantly, making the games different from other companies and continuing to set the “Shin Megami Tensei: Persona” apart from its competitors.

And more American video game critics have started to take notice in the “Shin Megami Tensei” series. While many people who are discovering it are wondering, what is the appeal?

While “Persona4: The Animation” is a series that captures the fun of the video game series but in animated format. One should not watch “Persona 4: The Golden Animation” expecting a connected series, but these are pretty much bits and pieces of what happened in the “Persona 4 Golden” video game series and focuses primarily on Marie. So, in a way, for those used to the action, will find this latest series to be lacking a bit. But for those who love character development, will enjoy “Persona4: The Golden Animation”.

The Blu-ray looks absolutely fantastic! Colorful, vibrant, the anime series looks fantastic on Blu-ray. As for the audio, it’s only in Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, so for those who were hoping an English dub like the original anime series on Blu-ray, this is not the case, as it is Japanese only.

There is a special feature in the fact you get the alternate ending episode OVA titled “Thank You Mr. Accomplice” and what happens if Yu never contacted his friends. It’s a gloomier alternate ending but interesting choice if Yu decided to handle things on his own.

“Persona4: The Golden Animation Vol. 2” comes with a slipcase, seven collectible postcards, a 20-page booklet (featuring art gallery and character information) and a “Persona 4 the Golden Animation: Original Soundtrack Vol. 2” featuring the following tracks with music by Tetsuya Kobayashi, Shihoko Hirata and the popular Kana Hanazawa track, “Dazzling Smile”.

Overall, if you have played the video game or watched “Persona4: The Animation”, then I definitely recommend giving “Persona4: The Golden Animation” a try. It’s a storyline more focused on character relationships (especially between Yu and Marie), instead of an all-action storyline this time around and getting to know the main characters of the storyline.  Still, it’s a fun anime series that “Persona 4” fans will definitely want to give this series on Blu-ray a try!

Hamatora the Animation – Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 15, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

hamatara-a

“Hamatora” is a fascinating and action-packed series on a world with individuals with supernatural powers and the protagonist is a leader of a detective agency.  Featuring a good balance of humor and action, the series does become much more darker and violent towards the end.  But for the most part, an entertaining action-packed anime series worth checking out!

Image courtesy of © cafe nowhere / Hamatora Project. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Hamatora the Animation – Complete Collection

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080pHigh Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV MA VS

Release Date: September 22, 2015


Original Concept by Natsu Shobu, Yuki Kodama

Original Character Design by Yuki Kodama

Chief Director: Seiji Kishi

Directed by Hiroshi Kimura

Series Composition by Jun Kumagai, Touko Machida

Music by Makoto Yoshimori

Character Design by Yu Wazu

Art Director: Kouki Nagayoshi

Anime Production by NAZ


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiroshi Kamiya/Leraldo Anzaldua as Art

Ryota Ohsaka/Adam Gibbs as Nice

Wataru Hatano/David Wald as Murasaki

Atsushi Ono/Carl Masterson as Master

Ayaka Ohashi/Juliet Simmons as Rei

Ayami/Kasi Hollowell as Chiyū

Emiri Katō/Christina Kelly as Hajime

Eri Kitamura/Margaret McDonald as Honey

Jun Fukuyama/Blake Shepard as Birthday

Katsuki Murase/George Manley as Three

Kiyono Yasuno/Nancy Novotny as Koneko

Megumi Ogata/Carli Mosier as Momoka

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Greg Ayres as Seo

Takuya Eguchi/Mike Yager as Mao

Yūichi Nakamura/Andrew Love as Ratio

Yuuki Ono/Chris Patton as Moral


Nowhere may seem like just another Yokohama cafe, but as with many of its employees, this apparently innocent eatery leads a double life. Because Nowhere is also where you can find Hamatora, the mysterious detective agency run by P.I.s who are also M.H.s. That’s M.H. as in Minimum Holders, individuals gifted with extraordinary powers and abilities.

For the right price, you can hire founder Nice, who moves at the speed of sound, and partner Murasaki, whose super strength and near invulnerability are a significant asset. Of course, with incredible talents like these up their sleeves, Nice may not decide to take a case unless it personally interests him. But when a series of serial murders all turn out to involve other Minimum Holders, that interest is about to become extremely personal. Something monstrous is going on, and Minimum Holders as a class may be targeted for extinction!


In 2013, writer Yukino Kitajima and illustrator Yuki Kodama created the manga series “Hamatora” (which derives from the words “Yokohama Troubleshooter”).

The manga series was serialized in Shueisha’s “Young Jump” magazine and several months later, an anime TV series for the first 12 episodes produced by NAZ debuted on TV Tokyo from January through March 2014, followed by a second series titled “Re:_Hamatora” several months later produced by Lerche and a Ninteno 3DS RPG game titled “Hamatora: Look at Smoking World”.

And now the first season will be released in the U.S. on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

“Hamatora” takes place in today’s modern time but when several humans known as Minimum Holders are discovered to possess supernatural abilities.  These special individuals are then trained at Facultas Academy to develop their powers and their existence is confidential to the world.

The series revolves around a Minimum Holder named Nice who has a detective agency known as “Hamatora” in Yokohama and together with his partner Murasaki, they take on cases that involve other Minimum Holders.

But instead of having a few of these enemy Minimum Holders serving time, they are given a chance to become allies and partner up with Hamatora.

But recently, crimes are being committed by people who posses a Minimum but they were not born with it.  Who is turning regular humans to Minimums and who is also responsible for the murder of other Minimum Holders?

Find out in “Hamatora the Animation – Complete Collection”!

The following characters in “Hamatora” are:

  • Nice – The main protagonist and the founder of the detective agency known as “Hamatora”.  A former member of the Facultas Academy and despite being a genius, because he doesn’t take any job, he is often broke.  When he puts his headphones on, he is able to use his power, Sonic Minimum.
  • Murasaki – A former agent of Facultas who was sent to capture Nice, but ends up becoming his partner.  He is a rational thinker and has the Holder ability known as Gravity minimum.  His goal is to someday defeat Nice.
  • Hajime – A girl who tends to stay at Nowhere Cafe and likes to eat.  She has a powerful Holder ability.  She is one of the founders of Hamatora and close to Nice. She also has for some reason, lost all her memories.
  • Koneko – An employee of Nowhere Cafe and also is Hamatora’s receptionist and contract negotiator.

 

VIDEO:

“Hamatora the Animation – Complete Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  The anime series is colorful and vibrant.  Characters are well-designed and well-shaded, while background art is good.  Interesting choices to have these red splatters on the bodies, which at first made me do a second take if those were artifacts or some sort of splotchiness, but those are intentional art that was utilized by NAZ.   But for the most part, picture quality is very good and didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Hamatora the Animation – Complete Collection” is presented in English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.  Dialogue and music are crisp and clear through the front channels.  I heard no hiss or problematic issues with the audio.  Both Japanese and English voice acting are well done.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Hamatora the Animation – Complete Collection” comes with Clean Opening and Closing, Japanese Disclaimers, Japanese Promos.


 

I first discovered “Hamatora” while in Japan looking at the Nintendo 3DS game.  Having no idea what the series was about, watching the first season on Blu-ray made me feel reminiscent of the X-Men.

While the X-Men, the storyline revolves around the fear of mutants (individuals with supernatural abilities) and the struggle between the good and the bad, “Hamatora” has similarities but revolves around a detective agency trying to uncover cases that involve the killing of Minimum Holders (the name given to individuals with special abilities) and also humans given the Minimum power, despite not being born with it.

For the most part, the first season serves as an introduction to the characters and seeing Nice and Murasaki take on various humans given the minimum power, who will later become allies.  But also learning who is responsible and how demented the person really is and why he is giving normal people these abilities.

As the story progresses, it goes from lighthearted to something much darker and more violent and yes, even a bit bloody.

While the first season is only 12-episodes, the first season is fascinating and if you enjoy stories like the “X-Men”, then you will enjoy the special abilities that each person has.  The protagonist Nice is an interesting character.  A genius, yet a person who is often broke, he is also a person trying to understand why these humans would want to have a minimum power and when he confronts those who are on the wrong side of the law, it’s interesting to see him and others use their supernatural ability.

As for the Blu-ray release, “Hamatora the Animation – Complete Collection” features a colorful and vibrant palette, but NAZ gave an interesting animated style for the first season.  I didn’t notice any extensive banding issues or artifacts, but the series looks very good in HD.  Lossless soundtrack is presented in Japanese and English DTS-Master Audio 2.0.  The dialogue and musical score are crystal clear through the front channels.  Special features are your typical clean opening and closing theme, Japanese promos and disclaimers.

Overall, “Hamatora” is a fascinating and action-packed series on a world with individuals with supernatural powers and the protagonist is a leader of a detective agency.  Featuring a good balance of humor and action, the series does become much more darker and violent towards the end.  But for the most part, an entertaining action-packed anime series worth checking out!

 

Persona 4: The Golden Animation Vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 15, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

persona4-golden-1a

If you have played the video game or watched “Persona 4: The Animation”, then I definitely recommend giving “Persona 4: The Golden Animation” a try.  It’s more focused on character relationships, instead of action this time around but still a fun anime series that “Persona 4” fans will definitely want to give the Blu-ray release a try!

Images courtesy of © 2014 SEGA/P4GA Committee. 2014 Aniplex Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Persona 4: The Golden Animation Vol. 1

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 1-6 (150 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: July 21, 2015


Chief Director: Seiji Kishi

Directed by Tomohisa Taguchi

Music by Shoji Meguro, Tetsuya Kobayashi

Original Character Design by Shigenori Soejima

Character Design by Yuu Shindou

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the voices of:

Ami Koshimizu as Yukiko Amagi

Daisuke Namikawa as Yū Narukami

Kana Hanazawa as Marie

Showtaro Morikubo as Yōsuke Hanamura

Yui Horie as Chie Satonaka

Akemi Kanda as Nanako Dōjima

Chizu Yonemoto as Izanami-no-Okami

Isamu Tanonaka as Igor (special performance)

Kappei Yamaguchi as Kuma

Mitsuaki Madono as Tōru Adachi

Rie Kugimiya as Rise Kujikawa

Romi Park as Naoto Shirogane

Sayaka Ohara as Margaret

Tomokazu Seki as Kanji Tatsumi

Unshou Ishizuka as Ryōtarō Dōjima


Spring. Far from the city, time flows peacefully in this rural town. As the cherry blossoms scatter in the wind, a young man named Yu Narukami steps off the train at Yasoinaba Station. Yu has come to this town, where his uncle lives, for family reasons; he will be transferring into the local high school, Yasogami High.

And so begins his school life… The shopping mall after school. A series of murders taking place in town. The Midnight Channel, airing late at night… What lies in store for Yu and his friends “this time around?”


The “Shin Megami Tensei: Persona” role-playing video game series developed and published by Atlus and has won over fans due to its darker storyline and it’s one of the few games to incorporate a Japanese atmosphere incorporating simulation type games relating to its characters.

Created back in 1996, “Shin Megami Tensei: Persona” has continually evolved and its fifth installment, “Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4” (the fifth installment in the SMT: Persona series) was no doubt a popular title in the series when it was released on the PlayStation 2 in 2008.

The video game would inspire a 25-episode anime series titled “Persona 4: The Animation”, which aired on Japanese television in 2011-2012 (and released on Blu-ray in North America in 2013), followed by a 13-episode anime series titled “Persona 4: The Golden Animation” which aired in 2014.

Created as an expansion of the original “Persona 4: The Animation”, this 2014 version is produced by A-1 Pictures and is directed by Tomohisa Taguchi.

The story focuses on the character Yu Narukami and how he meets a mysterious girl named Marie who has lost her memory.  Marie is a character that was featured in the Playstation Vita game, “Persona 4 Golden”.

Aniplex has released the first volume of “Persona 4: The Animation” featuring the first 6-episodes released in July 2014.

What is “Persona 4” about?

“Persona 4” begins with a clip inside the limousine as an older man named Igor and his assistant Margaret introduce themselves to someone. They explain their location, The Velvet Room as a place that exists between “dream and reality” and not many people can find this special room.

We are then introduced to high school student Yu Narukami arriving in the countryside of Inaba. Because his parents are working abroad, he must live with his uncle, Ryotaro Dojima, the resident investigator and his cousin Nanako Dojima for the entire year.

While attending Yasogami High School, he meets two people who become his friends. Yosuke Hanamura is a teenager who also moved to Inaba a year prior and his father own the huge department store, Junes (pronounced as “Joo-Ness”). And his friend Chie Satonaka is a teenage girl with an appetite. While she is often teasing and hitting her friend Yosuke, she also hangs out with her best friend Yukiko Amagi.

Meanwhile, a student named Saki Koshi is seen cutting class and discovers the body of TV announcer Mayumi Yamano.

With the murder of a known TV personality scaring people in town, leading to Ryotaro Dojima and his partner Detective Adachi investigating the crime scene, For Yu, he has heard of the rumors at school that a “Midnight Channel” shown on television may be connected to the murders. Apparently, if one watches the channel at midnight, they should be able to see an image of a person When Yu watches the channel at midnight, he sees someone show up. The image is of a young woman. When Yu puts his hand on the TV, he is nearly pulled into the TV.

Yu tries to tell Chie and Yosuke about it but they don’t believe him, but Chie said she wants to see if it would happen on a larger television. So, the three head to Junes Department Store to see if he can duplicate the same situation on a bigger television set and sure enough, when Yu sticks his hand, it goes through the TV set and all three are pulled in.

The trio end up in different world and encounter a bear named Teddie. Teddie explains that they are in a world where if foggy, it would be clear on Earth. If it is clear on Earth, then it would be foggy in his world. And to see things in his world, he must wear special glasses.

The trio are then attacked by shadows and fearing for their lives, the persona of Yu Narukami is awakened. It is learned that Yu has the Persona of the Wild Card and that it could lead to infinite possibilities, which include the use of other Personas or fusing two or more Personas to create something more powerful.

Eventually as Yu and his friends enter the TV set, they encounter other classmates and friends who eventually join the team and together they try to find the culprit responsible for murdering people and also sending people to the alternate world.

What is “Persona 4: The Golden Animation” about?

The anime series showcases various situations that have happened in the original anime series (and video game) but instead of continuing story about Yu and friends, “Persona 4: The Golden Animation” begins with Yu visiting the Velvet Room and Margaret introducing him to Marie and asking him to take her to the outside world and help her regain her lost memories.

And with each episode, Marie is helped by Yu and friends who befriend her and try to help her discover her lost memories.

[NOTE: Because the series skips around various storylines, if you have never played the video game or watched the original anime adaptation, you will not want to watch this anime series just yet as various mysteries are revealed in early episodes].


“Persona 4: The Animation” consists of the following characters:

  • Yu Narukami – The main protagonist who moves to the countryside of Inaba for a year while his parents are traveling. He stays with his uncle, local police detective Ryotaro Dojima and his daughter Nanako Dojima. Yu begins attending Yasogami High School and begins to make friends. And as he develops these relationships with friends, he begins to attain more stronger persona and is the only person in the group who can use different persona’s during battle.
  • Yosuke Hanamura – A teenager who moved to Inaba a year before Yu. His father is owner of the Junes Department Store. He is often thinking about girls and wanting to score!
  • Chie Satonaka – A friend of Yosuke and a girl who is obsessed with kung-fu. She is best friends with Yukiko Amagi and often beating up Yosuke when he is in pervert mode.
  • Yukiko Amagi – Introverted yet popular, Yukiko’s family owns a famous ryokan in the city and is expected to take over the family business.
  • Kanji Tatsumi – A delinquent and bully, but deep inside he’s a tough guy that loves sewing cute things. He is often teased for liking guys or being interested in Naoto.
  • Teddie – A bear from the TV world, he becomes good friends with Yu and friends and is invited to stay in the human world, where he created a human version of himself. Always excited and curious, Teddie wants to know more about the human world, but also wanting to remember his past.
  • Naoto Shirogane – A young detective who moves to Inaba to help the police investigate the serial-murder case. Despite looking like a boy, he’s actually a girl.
  • Ryotaro Dojima – The uncle of Yu and father of Nanako. Ryotaro is a police detective and is often so busy with his work especially with the escalating crimes, that he has to leave Nanako at home.
  • Nanako Dojima – The young daughter of Ryotaro who looks at Yu as her “Big Bro”. Nanako likes the companionship of Yu and his friends and although she can take care of herself at home when her father is away, Nanako worries that her father is more interested in catching bad guys than her.
  • Marie – A young lady who has lost her memories.  Yu and friends try to help her find her lost memories and get her involved through their various activities.  But meanwhile, she goes through certain moments of fear for some reason.

 

VIDEO:

“Persona 4: The Golden Animation” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is vibrant and colorful. The overall look of “Persona 4” is stylish and cool, but it’s interesting to see its use of pink with white on the faces of the characters. It’s definitely a different use of coloring for characters but watching this anime series, color plays a big part in this series to set a mood. May it be the looming danger of the fog rolling into Inaba, the use of blues in the Blue Room but for the majority of the anime series, everything is colorful. Chie’s red hair and green/yellow track jacket, Yukiko and Rise’s use of red and of course the beautiful combination of animation and CG elements, for the most part, I felt the series compliments the video game remarkably well.

But overall anime production from A-1 Pictures is very good, with a slight difference from the original anime adaptation done by A.I.C. Asta.  The series looks wonderful on Blu-ray with no banding or artifacts. “Persona 4: The Golden Animation” looked sharp, black levels were nice and deep and colors were absolutely vibrant! “Persona 4: The Golden Animation” looks awesome!

AUDIO:

“Persona 4: The Golden Animation” is presented only with a Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack. With that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.   I know that “Persona 4: The Animation” featured the original series with an English dub soundtrack, but that release was through a different company, this is through Aniplex Inc. and hopefully in the future, possibly a dual soundtrack release will be created.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Persona 4: The Golden Animation Vol. 1” comes with no special features

EXTRAS:

“Persona 4: The Golden Animation Vol. 1” comes with a slipcase, six collectible postcards, a 24-page booklet (featuring art gallery and character information) and a “Persona 4 the Golden Animation: Original Soundtrack Vol. 1” featuring the following tracks with music by Shoji Meguro and Tetsuya Kobayashi:

  1. Friendly Conflict
  2. Golden Days
  3. Perfect Plan
  4. Just Like the Wind ~Instrumental~
  5. Hiai
  6. fearful
  7. True Story
  8. a little
  9. a downfall
  10. impatience
  11. Ying Yang

If you thought “Persona 4: The Animation” would be the end all anime series based on the popular videogame, along comes “Persona 4: The Golden Animation – Volume 1”.

While the original animated series is much better because it features a continuing storyline and also background on the primary characters and more.

With “Persona 4: The Golden Animation”, it incorporates stories from the original anime series, but pretty much, this latest anime series is about Yu and friends trying to help a girl named Marie, who has lost all her memories.  But also mysterious due to the number of pains she receives, for some unknown reason.

If anything, the series compliments the original animation but doesn’t incorporate a lot of the action, it’s pretty much friends having fun with Marie and doing whatever is necessary for her to get back her memories.

But for the mostpart, I am a big fan of the entire “Shin Megami Tensei” video game series. My first experience with a “Shin Megami Tensei” video game was “Persona II: Eternal Punishment” and I absolutely loved the game for its characters but also it’s darker theme, use of Personas and it’s use of Japanese pop culture ingrained into an RPG game, the video games were a distinct style compared to other games from the major software makers.

And things changed no doubt with “Persona 3” which included a dating simulator and the ability for one to strengthen relationships, friendships and the overall gameplay becoming much more stylish and cool! Suffice to say, when “Persona 4” came out, once again, Atlus was able to create cool characters and further the experience for fans and gamers (who love Japanese RPG’s), but most importantly, making the games different from other companies and continuing to set the “Shin Megami Tensei: Persona” apart from its competitors.

And more American video game critics have started to take notice in the “Shin Megami Tensei” series. While many people who are discovering it are wondering, what is the appeal?

While “Persona 4: The Animation” is a series that captures the fun of the video game series but in animated format. One should not watch “Persona 4: The Golden Animation” expecting a connected series, but these are pretty much bits and pieces of what happened in the “Persona 4 Golden” video game series and focuses primarily on Marie.  So, in a way, for those used to the action, will find this latest series to be lacking a bit.  But for those who love character development, will enjoy “Persona 4: The Golden Animation”.

The Blu-ray looks absolutely fantastic! Colorful, vibrant, the anime series looks fantastic on Blu-ray. As for the audio, it’s only in Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, so for those who were hoping an English dub like the original anime series on Blu-ray, this is not the case, as it is Japanese only.  There are also no special features but you do get the Aniplex swag with an original CD soundtrack, booklet and more.

Overall, if you have played the video game or watched “Persona 4: The Animation”, then I definitely recommend giving “Persona 4: The Golden Animation” a try.  It’s more focused on character relationships, instead of action this time around but still a fun anime series that “Persona 4” fans will definitely want to give the Blu-ray release a try!

SENTAI FILMWORKS LICENSES “FOOD WARS! SHOKUGEKI NO SOMA”

April 6, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

HOUSTON, April 6, 2015 – Sentai Filmworks is proud to announce its latest acquisition Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma, as part of their Spring 2015 anime season acquisitions. Adapted from the original work of Shun Saeki and Yuto Tsukuda, this comedy tournament series will pit a promising young cooking prodigy against a class of potential master chefs in a boiling hot battle to see who will reign supreme in the cooking arena!

Yoshitomo Yonetani will be directing the series, with series composition duties going to Shogo Yasukawa. Character designs will be provided by Tomoyuki Shitaya, with music duties going to Tatsuya Katou. Animation production will be handled by J.C. Staff, known for their work on A Certain Magical Index.

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma is scheduled for an April 2015 release and will soon be available through select digital outlets with a home video release to follow.

About Sentai Filmworks
Sentai Filmworks is one of the fastest-growing anime companies in North America, producing hit series like Persona 4, Girls und Panzer, Devil Survivor 2, Bodacious Space Pirates, Majestic Prince and High School of the Dead as well as high profile theatrical films such as Grave of the Fireflies, K-ON! and Appleseed. Sentai Filmworks’ programs are distributed through Super D, Diamond Comic Distributors, Section23Films and Waxworks through retailers Amazon, Best Buy, Fry’s, FYE, Hastings, Suncoast, The Right Stuf, Wal-Mart and other good and fine stores. Digital product offerings may be found at Amazon, Anime Network, Crunchyroll, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix, PlayStation Network, Rovi, Samsung, Vudu, XBOX Marketplace and YouTube.

www.sentaifilmworks.com
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