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

February 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: Terra Formars

DURATION: (Episodes 1-13) 312 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: January 23, 2018


Directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki

Series Composition: Shogo Yasukawa

Music by Shusei Murai

Originally Created by Kenichi Tachibana and Yu Sasuga

Character Design:  Masanori Shino, Satoshi Kimura

Art Director: Minami Kasuga

Anime Production: LIDEN FILMS


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hidenobu Kiuchi/Christopher Smith as Shōkichi Komachi

Kaito Ishikawa/Robbie Daymond as Marcos Eringrad Garcia

Kenn/Steve Cannon as Alex Kandori Stewart

Shizuka Itou/Eric Lindbeck as Michelle K. Davis

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Chris Niosi as Akari Hizamaru

Ai Kayano/Erica Lindbeck as Sheila Levitt

Aki Toyosaki/Erin Fitzgerald as Yaeko Yanasegawa

Akira Ishida/Todd Haberkorn as Joseph G. Newton

Ayane Sakura/Cristina Vale as Eva Frost

Chiaki Takahashi/Cherami Leigh as Kanako Sanjō

Daisuke Ono/Max Mittelman as Keiji Onizuka

Kenji Akabane/Christopher Smith as Ivan Perepelkina

Koji Yusa/Doug Erholtz as Adolf Reinhard

Kouji Ishii/Peter Lurie as Narration

Tetsuo Komura/Kyle Hebert as Liu Yiwu

Tomokazu Sugita as Ichirō Hiruma

Tooru Nara/Max Mittelman as Aleksandr Asimov

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Keith Silverstein as Shichisei Hiruma

Unshō Ishizuka/Patrick Seitz as Sylvester Asimov


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The black organism used by scientists were cockroaches.

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

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

And now the humans have become the hunted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

April 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2

DURATION: Episodes 15-26 (276 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 28, 2017


Originally Created by Naoko Takeuchi

Director: Chiaki Kon

Series Composition: Yuji Kobayashi

Character Design by Akira Takahashi

Music by Yasuharu Takanashi

Art Design by Takashi Kurahashi

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kotono Mitsuishi/Stephanie Sheh as Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon

Rina Satou/Cristina Vee as Rei Hino/Sailor Mars

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

Hisako Kanemoto/Kate Higgins as Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury

Shizuka Itou/Cherami Leigh as Minako Aino/Sailor Venus

Sayaka Ohara/Veronica Taylor as Michiru Kaiō/Sailor Neptune

Kenji Nojima/Robbie Daymond as Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Kamen

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

Ryou Hirohashi/Michelle Ruff as Luna

Youhei Oobayashi/Johnny Yong Bosch as Artemis

Shoko Nakagawa/Debi Derryberry as Diana


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jormungand: The Complete First Season (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

jormungand-s1

Featuring an adaptation of the first six manga volumes, anyone who loves anime with a lot of gun battles and violence, will no doubt find “Jormungand: The Complete First Season” to be an exciting and explosive series that manages to get better and better with each episode.  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Sentai Holdings, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Jormungand: The Complete First Season

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2012

DURATION: 13 Episodes (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English DolbyTrue HD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATING: TV MA

Release Date: February 21, 2014

Originally Created by Keitaro Takahashi

Directed by Keitaro Motonaga

Series Composition by Yousuke Kuroda

Music by Taku Iwasaki

Character Design by Kazuhisa Nakamura

Art Director: Yoshito Takamine

3D Director: Hiroshi Souma

Anime Production: White Fox

Featuring the following voice talent:

 Mutsumi Tamura/Micah Solusod as Jonah

Sayaka Ohara/Carli Mosier as Valmet

Shizuka Itou/Anastasia Munoz as Koko Hekmatyar

Unshou Ishizuka/Christopher Smith as Lehm

Ami Koshimizu/Brittney Karbowski as Schokolade

Gô Shinomiya/Patrick Seitz as Mao

Hitoshi Yanai/Christopher Bevins as Tojo

Katsuyuki Konishi/Ian Sinclair as R

Kenji Nomura/Akron Watson as Wilee

Kiyoshi Katsunuma/Cris George as Ugo

Masaya Matsukaze/Eric Vale as Kasper Hekmatyar

Megumi Toyoguchi/Gwendolyn Lau as Dr. Minami Amada

Saori Kato/Shelley Calene-Black as Karen Lo

Shuuichirou Moriyama/Cole Brown as Narrator

Takaya Hashi/Jerry Russell as Chen Guoming

Tooru Nara/Robert McCollum as Scarecrow

Tsutomu Isobe/Mark Stoddard as George Black

Wataru Hatano/Greg Ayres as Lutz

Yumi Touma/Clarine Harp as Chiquita

Jonah is a child soldier and the newest bodyguard for Koko, an international arms dealer with an entourage of hired guns. The cold-blooded kid hates Koko’s line of work, but following her into the darkest corners of the black market might be the only way he can find those responsible for his family’s slaughter. Besides, his employer isn’t like most merchants of death. She uses guile and cutthroat tactics to keep her clients armed to the teeth—all while cultivating her own warped plan for the future of world peace. With the CIA desperate for her capture, assassins eager to collect her head, and the potential for every contract to end in ultra-violence, Koko and her comrades in arms bring the boom to every corner of the world.

In 2006, mangaka Keitaro Takahashi’s manga series “Jormungand” was serialized in “Monthly Sunday Gene-X” magazine,

With a total of 11 volumes released, a 12-episode anime TV series from White Fox  (“Tears to Tiara”, “Steins;Gate”) was aired in Japan in spring/summer 2012, with a second season titled “Jormungand: Perfect Order” airing in fall/winter 2012.

As the manga series has been released in the US, “Jormungand: The Complete First Season” ( will be released on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

“Jormungand” is a series that revolves around a female arms dealer named Koko Hekmatyar, who sells weapons through HCLI, an international shipping corporation.  She and her team sell weapons in various countries through her shipping corporation, easily hiding and selling weapons from authorities and law enforcement.

Joining her are several former military veterans who are among the bodyguards at HCLI but also a young boy named Jonah, a child soldier who hates arms dealers.  A child which Koko seems to be carefree and cheerful around.

The series follows the adventures of Koko and her soldiers as they must deal with private clients, rival arms dealers and encounter a lot of trouble along the way.

The primary characters in “Jormungand” are:

  • Koko Hekmatyar  – The arms dealer and main protagonist.  She is the daughter of global shipping magnate, Floyd Hekmatyar.  While behaving in a child-like upbeat manner around Jonah, she is ruthless and calculating and is seen as a monster.
  • Jonathan (Jonah) Mar – A child soldier from the Middle East.  Taken in by HCLI, he despises arms dealers but he still acts as a bodyguard for Koko.
  • Sofia Velmer – An ex-mechanized Jager major of the Finnish Rapid Deployment Force who is smitten with Koko.  She is very good with knives and lost an eye during an attack.
  • Lehm Brick – The second in command and oldest member of Koko’s crew.  A former Delta Force operator and great with a sniper.
  • Mao – A former artillery officer from an Asian country.  He is the only officer in Koko’s group that is married with children.
  • Renato Socci – A former Italian Army Bersaglieri intelligence officer.
  • Ugo – A former mafia driver.
  • Lutz – A former sniper from the SWAT unit.
  • Akihiko Tojo – A former operator of the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s secret SR unit.
  • William (Wiley) Nelson – An African American who is an explosive expert and former ex-Lt. of the 20th Engineer Brigade of the XVIII Airborne Corps.

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VIDEO:

“Jormungand: The Complete First Season” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  First, let me discuss the backgrounds.  The backgrounds are wonderfully painted and look absolutely beautiful!  The mechanical designs are also well-done, may it be vehicles or the weapons, there is a lot of detail that went into the weaponry.

Which now leads us to the character designs.  The animation is not the most colorful, in fact, some may find the colors to be soft or not as colorful as some may hope.  But the anime series does utilize Keitaro Takahashi’s manga by showcasing detail but saturated colors.

It’s a creative style even seen in the manga covers and having read the manga series, I felt the series does give the manga some justice.  If anything, “Jormungand” is not a happy series, there is a lot of violence and so I felt the series looks great the way it does.  I didn’t notice any banding or artifact issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Jormungand: The Complete First Season” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1  and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  As one can expect, the English lossless  5.1 soundtrack sounds much better thanks to the fact that this action-driven series utilizes the surround channels.  While dialogue and music is crystal clear.  The acting for the English dub is actually very well done.  Although, those who prefer their anime with the original Japanese soundtrack, will find the acting to be very well-done.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Jormungand: The Complete First Season” features the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Christopher Bevins (ADR Director), Anastasia Munoz (voice of Koko) and Carli Mosier (voice of Valmet).
  • Casting Koko’s Crew with American Director Christopher Bevins – (20:18) A discussion with the casting for the series with ADR Director Christopher Bevins and Chris George (ADR Engineer and voice of Ugo).
  • Episode 12 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Chris George (voice of Ugo), Micah Solusod (voice of Jonah) and Chris Smith (voice of Lehm).
  • Textless Opening and Closing theme – Textless theme for “Borderland”, “Ambivalentidea” and “Shiroku Yawarakana Hana”.
  • U.S. Trailer – (1:11) FUNimation trailer for “Jormungand: The Complete First Season”.

For anime fans who enjoy series such as “Black Lagoon” or even “Golgo 13” will find “Jormungand: The Complete First Season” to be a series for them.

Violence, plenty of gun battles  but somewhere along with all the bloodshed, there is humor but also a growing feel of an ominous presence within protagonist Koko Hekmatyar.

For one, you sense a screw is loose with the leader of the private/black market arms dealer.  A woman who doesn’t hesitate to kill people and has been looked at by her enemies as a monster, around a young boy named Jonah, she is always so chipper, so happy and fun around him.

And thus the first season is more or less an introductions to Koko’s group of former military veterans and why they joined with Koko and using their abilities to protect her or take out the enemies.  Meanwhile, Jonah represents a boy ravaged by war, hates weaponry and was forced to live a life of being a child soldier.   Now working with Koko and trying to understand the life that he and the others currently live.

There are not a lot of answers for the first season of the series, mainly character introductions and character building episodes to establish how deadly Koko and her group truly are.  And their arms dealings with a variety of people and military groups.

And with the escalation of deaths and violence in the last few episodes, it’s right to the conclusion of the final episode of season one that we learn that the group has a traitor.

As for the Blu-ray release, the anime features character designs that compliment Keitaro Takahashi’s manga work, while backgrounds are beautifully painted and mechanical designs to be very detailed.  The lossless soundtrack is very good and well-acted, while the English dub gets the upper nod thanks to its lossless 5.1 soundtrack, over its 2.0 Japanese stereo soundtrack. The Blu-ray also comes with two audio commentaries and a video commentary track as well!

Overall, “Jormungand: The Complete First Season” is a fascinating series as it goes into a group that sells weapons to those who can afford it.  The episodes for season one was more about showing the danger of the arms business that the HCLI group are each involved in but with “Jormungand: Perfect Order”, I expect the series to pick up and get better!

Featuring an adaptation of the first six manga volumes, anyone who loves anime with a lot of gun battles and violence, will no doubt find “Jormungand: The Complete First Season” to be an exciting and explosive series that manages to get better and better with each episode.  Recommended!

 

Bodacious Space Pirates: Collection 1 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

inuyashamovies

“Bodacious Space Pirates” is a fun, humorous and entertaining sci-fi anime series! A coming-of-age story about a teenager who must take over her deceased father’ job of being a Captain of a pirate ship.  Can she do it?  Find out in “Bodacious Space Pirates: Collection 1”!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Sentai Filmworks. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Bodacious Space Pirates Collection 1

YEAR OF RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: 13 episodes (325 Minutes)

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

RATED: TV 14 VD

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RELEASE DATE: January 8, 2013

Original Creator: Yuichi Sasamoto

Original Character Design: Noriyuki Matsumoto

Directed by Tatsuo Sato

Series Composition by Tatsuo Sato

Music by Elements Garden, Hitoshi Fujima, Junpei Fujita, Noriyasu Agematsu

Art Director: Akira Ito

Chief Animation Director: Hiroshi Takeuchi

Animation Character Design: Akira Yasuda, Hiroshi Takeuchi

Art Design by Masahiro Sato, Stanislas Brunet, Thomas Romain, Yann Le Gall

Anime Production by Satelight

Featuring the voices of:

Kana Hanazawa/Caitlynn French as Chiaki Kurihara

Masaya Matsukaze/Christopher Patton as Kane MacDougall

Mikako Komatsu/Luci Christian as Marika Kato

Shizuka Itou/Carli Mosier as Misa Grandwood

Ai Kayano/Margaret McDonald as Ai Hoshimiya

Asuka Nishi/Emily Neves as Ursula Abramov

Atsushi Ono as Jotoff Sief Sydow

Chiaki Omigawa/Brittney Karbowski as Mami Endō

Chinatsu Akasaki as Maki Harada

Haruka Tomatsu/Monica Rial as Princess Gruier Serenity

Hiroki Yasumoto as Shō

Hisako Kanemoto/Kalin Coates as Grunhilde Serenity

Kanako Nomura/Allison Sumrall as Shōko Kobayashimaru

Kaoru Mizuhara/Monica Rial as Luka

Keiji Fujiwara/Kalob Martinez as Hyakume

Kenta Miyake/George Manley as Schnitzer

Kiyono Yasuno as Aster Aruhanko

Maaya Uchida/Tiffany Grant as Izumi Yunomoto

Mariya Ise/Elizabeth Bannor as Natalia Grennorth

Natsumi Takamori/Tiffany Terrell as Sasha Staple

Rikiya Koyama as Narrator

Rina Satou/Shannon Emerick as Jenny Dolittle

Satomi Satou as Lilly Bell

Suzuko Mimori as Belinda Percy

Yōko Hikasa as Lynn Lambretta

Yoshino Nanjou as Yayoi Yoshitomi

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Greg Ayres as San-Daime

Yui Horie/Hilary Haag as Coorie

Yuiko Tatsumi/Hayley Adams as April

Yuko Kaida/Shelley Calene-Black as Ririka Katō

Most families have a skeleton or two in the closet, but Marika is understandably shocked to learn that what her family has been hiding is a skull and crossbones! While the revelation that her late father was a space pirate would have been earthshaking enough for most teenage girls, discovering that he was the captain of the notorious pirate ship Benten Maru will change Marika’s life forever. You see, pirating is a family business, and she’s just inherited the position of captain – and her father’s former crew is quite intent on making sure Marika accepts the job!

What’s a girl to do? Well, if you’re a high school student whose prior total naval experience has been working at the space yacht club, there’s really only one moral dilemma that has to be resolved: are pirates allowed to wear really short mini-skirts?

Yuichi Sasamoto’s 2008 light novel series “Miniskirt Space Pirates” is among the few light novels that received an anime adaptation.

Produced by Satelight, the anime series known as “Moretsu Pirates” (“Bodacious Space Pirates”) was aired in Japan between January through June 2012.  And with the announcement of an animated film scheduled for release in February 2014, “Bodacious Space Pirates” will be released in the U.S. on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sentai Filmworks in two parts, the first feature episodes 1-13.

“Bodacious Space Pirates” is an anime series written and directed by Tatsuo Sato (“Lagrange – The flower of Rin-ne”, “Cat Soup”, “Stellvia”), featuring art direction by Hiroshi Takeuchi (“AKB0048”, “Elfen Lied”, “Durara!!”), character designs by Hiroshi Takeuchi (“Shutsugeki! Machine Robo Rescue”, “Idolm@ster: Xenoglassia”, “Big O”) and music by Elements Garden, Hitoshi Fujima, Junpei Fujita and Noriyasu Agematsu.

“Bodacious Space Pirates” is an anime series that revolves around a happy teenager named Marika Kato.  She is someone that loves being part of the space yacht club at Hakuho Academy and working at the Retro-Maid Cafe with  her good friend Mami.

One day while coming home, she meets Misa Grandwood and Kane McDougal who has important business with her mother Ririka.  And that business pertains to her.

With Marika now an older teenager, the three reveal to her that her father was a famous space pirate and that both of her parents were space pirates.  And in order to continue the Kato lineage of captains of the Bentenmaru, she must become the Captain of the Bentenmaru.

At first Marika is not sure if she wants that responsibility but one day while working on a space ship for the yacht club, working alongside new student Chiaki Kurihara, both were put into a situation where they had to captain a ship and prevent problems from happening.  With Marika becoming successful, she decides to become the Captain of the Bentenmaru but relies on the crew in helping her with the job.

While on the outside, Marika may seem like a regular teenager, Bentenmaru medic Misa Grandwood and helmsman Kane McDougal observe and evaluate to see if Marika is up to the job.

With part one of “Bodacious Space Pirates”, the series focuses on Marika’s training as the new Captain of the Bentenmaru but also being hired by Princess Gruier Serenity of the Serenity Royal Family to find a Golden Ghost Ship, a first-generation colony transport ship whose descendants became the first settlers of Serenity.  But most importantly to find the Artificial Womb room, a lab that genetically creates and births children for the Serenity Royal Family.  But due to political turmoil in her country, Princess Gruier wants to destroy the Artificial Womb.

But wanting to stop her is her youngest sister, Princess Brunhilde.

Will Marika succeed in her first major job as the Captain of the Bentenmaru?

“Bodacious Space Pirates” features the following characters:

Marika Kato – A student and member of the space yacht club at Hakuho Academy and also works a part-time job as a waitress.  Marika lives with her mother Ririko, who she refers to her with her first name.  Marika suddenly learns that her deceased father Gonzemon Kato was a pirate and since she is the descendant, she is the new captain of the pirate sop, the Bentenmaru.  Trying to divide time with school, her job and her duties as a pirate, Marika must train and continue her father’s legacy.

Chiaki Kurihara – A mysterious girl who transfers to Marika’s school and sees herself as a rival to Marika.  She may seem cold and not wanting to be near Marika, but she is deciding if she wants to become a space pirate as she is the heir to the Barbaroosa.

Misa Grandwood – The sexy medic of the Bentenmaru and the doctor at Hakuho Academy. She is responsible for watching over Marika’s progress as Captain of the Bentenmaru.

Kane McDougal – The helmsman at Hakuho Academy and the adviser of the space yacht club but also Marika and Chiaki’s teacher.

Hyakume – The Bentenmaru’s radar and sensor specialist.

Coorie – The Bentenmaru’s electronic warfare specialist.

Schnitzer – The Bentenmaru’s tactical officer and a cyborg.  A good friend of Marika’s mother, Ririka.

San-Daime – The Bentenmaru’s engineer who has an obsession with teddy bears.

Luca – The Bentenmaru’s navigator and psychic.

Ririka Sato – A former pirate of the Bentenmaru and mother of Marika.

Mami Endo – Marika’s best friend and co-worker at the retro-maid cafe.

Jenny Doolittle – President of the space yacht club and heir to a major space shipping conglomerate.

Lynn Lambretta – The vice-president of the space yacht club and a skilled hacker, also Jenny’s girlfriend.

Gruier Serenity – The Seventh Princess of the Serenity Royal Family of the Serenity Star System who’s father was good friends with Marika’s father.  She hires the Bentenmaru pirates to find the Golden Ghost Ship.

Grunhilde Serenity – The eighth Princess of the Serenity Royal Family of the Serenity Star System.  She and her sister Gruier have conflicted feelings of finding the legendary Golden Ghost Ship and is trying to prevent her sister and the Bentenmaru pirates from achieving their goal.

VIDEO:

“Bodacious Space Pirates” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  While a series that displays a lot of color (primarily when they are in Earth), there are some noticeable banding with areas with a lot of red, in space.  While character design and mechanical design look very good and sharp, for the most part, this is is a colorful anime series.

AUDIO:

The lossless soundtrack for “Bodacious Space Pirates” features an English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 soundtrack. While the series is front-channel driven, both are equal when it comes to the use of the front channels. As for voice acting, both are also well-done and acting from both the Japanese and American talent will satisfy viewers.  If there were two key difference between soundtracks is the audio presentation for Misa Grandwood and Chiaki Kurihara.  For the English dub, Misa’s presentation has that raspy sexy adult voice which fits the style of the character, while the English dub version of Chiaki features more of a monotone direction, as opposed to a more livelier version in the Japaneese soundtrack.  But for the most part, fans should be happy with both lossless soundtracks.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Bodacious Space Pirates: Part One” comes with the clean opening and closing animation.

I am a big fan of sci-fi anime especially if driven with an all-female cast.

In the ’90s, probably the best known anime series to feature all-female characters and the concept of space pirates was Katsuhito Akiyama’s “Sol Bianca” series.

While “Sol Bianca” is old school anime and a more serious storyline, “Bodacious Space Pirates” is spunkier, humorous and fun thanks to its high school characters.  You have Marika Kato, a regular teenager just wanting to have fun and be with her friends but now her life has changed drastically when she finds out that her parents were space pirates and as a descendant, she must continue the Kato line of being Captain of the Bentenmaru.

And we watch as this teenager who has a smart but spunky, yet vibrant side to her as opposed to another teenager, Chiaki Kurihara who is the opposite.  More cold, more observing and just nothing like Marika.  But yet both must fulfill their duty as captains of space pirates for their own ship.

From learning the basics of combat and teamwork, to reading a script and playing a part like an actor of trying to steal jewels from innocent civilians, but also a kindness that makes her different from other pirates, but her willingness and passion to be in space.

The first half of the anime series focuses on Marika’s training as the Captain of the Bentenmaru but also working together with Chiaki.  While the first half features episodes that deal with Marika’s first major job as she is hired by a princess to find a mysterious ghost ship.

Like most sci-fi anime series, there are many characters but in this case, the crew of the Bentenmaru are not as focused on as other series tries to integrate many crew members.  If anything, your mind is focused primarily on Marika and a few key characters who are trying to make sure their new Captain does the right thing, or try to support her as best as they can.

As for the Blu-ray release, the series looks vibrant on Blu-ray.  There are a few banding issues but nothing terrible.  The soundtrack is primarily a lossless 2.0 front-channel driven soundtrack but dialogue is clear and it’s an interesting direction in which the English dub does something different than its Japanese counterpart.  As for special features, you get the usual clean opening and ending animations.

Overall, “Bodacious Space Pirates” is a fun, humorous and entertaining sci-fi anime series! A coming-of-age story about a teenager who must take over her deceased father’ job of being a Captain of a pirate ship.  Can she do it?  Find out in “Bodacious Space Pirates: Collection 1”!

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