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Your Name. (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

I have to say, Makoto Shinkai’s “Your Name.” was a pleasure to watch.  I absolutely love this film and I highly recommend it!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Toho Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Your Name.

DURATION: 107 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: PG

Release Date: November 7, 2017


Originally Created by Makoto Shinkai

Directed by Makoto Shinkai

Script/Screenplay/Storyboard: Makoto Shinkai

Music by RADWIMPS

Character Design:Masashi Ando, Masayoshi Tanaka

Art Director:Akiko Majima, Takumi Tanji, Tasuku Watanabe

Executive Producer: Yoshihiro Furusawa

Producer: Genki Kawamura, Katsuhiro Takei, Kouichirou Itou

Anime Production: CoMix Wave Films


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mone Kamishiraishi/Stephanie Sheh as Mitsuha Miyamizu

Ryunosuke Kamiki/Michael Sinterniklaas as Taki Tachibana

Aoi Yūki/Cassandra Morris as Sayaka Natori

Etsuko Ichihara/Glynn Ellis as Hitoha Miyamizu

Kaito Ishikawa/Ray Chase as Shinta Takagi

Kanon Tani/Catie Harvey as Yotsuba Miyamizu

Masaki Terasoma/Scott Williams as Toshiki Miyamizu

Masami Nagasawa/Laura Post as Miki Okudera

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Ben Pronsky as Tsukasa Fujii

Ryō Narita/Kyle Hebert as Katsuhiko Teshigawara


From director Makoto Shinkai, the innovative mind behind Voices of a Distant Star and 5 Centimeters Per Second, comes a beautiful masterpiece about time, the thread of fate, and the hearts of two young souls.

The day the stars fell, two lives changed forever. High schoolers Mitsuha and Taki are complete strangers living separate lives. But one night, they suddenly switch places. Mitsuha wakes up in Taki’s body, and he in hers. This bizarre occurrence continues to happen randomly, and the two must adjust their lives around each other. Yet, somehow, it works. They build a connection and communicate by leaving notes, messages, and more importantly, an imprint.

When a dazzling comet lights up the night’s sky, something shifts, and they seek each other out wanting something more; a chance to finally meet. But try as they might, something more daunting than distance prevents them. Is the string of fate between Mitsuha and Taki strong enough to bring them together, or will forces outside their control leave them forever separated?

The Combo comes packaged in a beautiful silver holographic foil slipcover.


Makoto Shinkai, the superstar animation filmmaker who have produced animated film which have been hit after hit and just when you wonder if Shinkai could repeat his success, he hits a grand slam with his 2016 animated film “Your Name.”.

The former Falcom graphic designer, who took the anime industry by storm back in 2001 when he released his anime OVA titled “Voices of a Distant Star”, which he created on his Power Mac G4 and using several software and voice acted by he and his wife Miko and music provided by his friend Tenmon.  The OVA inspired many for the fact it was independent, created on a small budget but looked significantly better than some major anime series by well-known animation studios.

Suffice to say, the person who grew up inspired by Miyazaki films was now given a chance to create more animated films and he would eventually achieve success with “The Place Promised in Our Early Days” (2004), “5 Centimeters Per Second” (2007) and in 2011, he directed, wrote and produced “Children Who Chase Lost Voices (“Hoshi o Ou Kodomo”) and in May 2013, “Kotonoha no Miwa” (The Garden of Words) was released.

But his 2016 animated film “Your Name.” (in Japan, known as “Kimi no Na wa.”), which he wrote and directed and was produced by CoMix Wave Films has now made Shinkai an internationally known filmmaker and the film has also broke many records in Japan.

“Your Name.” became the fourth highest grossing film of all time in Japan, the 7th highest grossing traditionally animated film, is now the highest grossing anime film and the 4th highest grossing non-English film worldwide.

The film has made over $355 million worldwide and has been nominated and has won awards worldwide and now the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The film begins with what looks like a meteor splitting off and part of it descending.

We are then introduced to Mitsuha, a high school girl living in the Hida mountainous region of Gifu.  She wakes up and is shocked that she has breasts and her sister Yotsuba thinks she’s acting very strange.

While she goes to school with her good friend Sayaka Natori and Katsuhiko “Tessie” Teshigawara, her friends are a little surprised that she has no recollection of her behavior the previous day.

Performing a dance with her sister and embarrassed that her friends from school are watching her, while descending from the temple, she screams that she was a handsome boy living in Tokyo.

The following morning, we are introduced to a high school boy named Taki living in Tokyo.  But when he wakes up, it’s Mitsuha and she can’t understand why she’s in a boy’s body.  She goes out, trying to hang out with the guys, go to school and the work a job as a restaurant server, Mitsuha thinks she’s in a dream. Because no way she could switch to another body.  She realizes that Taki keeps a diary and starts typing on his phone.

When Taki wakes up, he is shocked to see the diary and shocked when his friends tell him how he behaved the day before.  He and Mitsuha eventually realize that they switch bodies and to prevent any problems, they make rules that neither are able to break and because they switch bodies a few times each week, the two communicate by leaving each other messages.

Mitsuha, her younger sister and her grandmother take their ritual alcohol (kuchikamizake) to an offering at a shrine on the mountaintop where a meteor hit thousands of years ago.  The shrine that the sisters leave their kuchikamizake is believed to represent the body of the village guardian god who rules human experiences and connections

She writes to Taki telling him that a comet is expected to pass Earth on the day of the village festival.  When she and her friends go to check out and see the beautiful comet, they can see a falling star.

As for Taki, the day she wrote the message was the last time he had heard from her.  The two are also unable to switch bodies.

Taki tries calling Mitsuha and all he can think about is her and he begins drawing scenes of the Mitsuha’s village and surroundings. But curious of why Mitsuha has stopped writing him, he decides to visit the Hida Region.

While arriving, he tries to show people of where a village (where a meteor hit long ago) is located.  And a restaurant owner and his wife tell Taki that they know of the village and that her husband is from there.

When Taki asks where it is, they tell him that the place no longer exists since three years ago.

Taki doesn’t understand and they explain that three years ago, a meteor hit her village and everyone very close to the impact area around the village were killed.

Taki decides to learn what happened on that fateful day and what happened to Mitsuha.  But can he find a way to send her a message or switch bodies again in order to save her and everyone in the village?


VIDEO:

“Your Name.” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). Colors are vibrant and backgrounds are extremely detailed.  Character designs are fantastic and this is an awesome animated film to marvel on how far Shinaki’s work has gone through to achieve such realism!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Your Name.” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  Featuring crystal clear dialogue and music along with wonderful sound effects during the more action-driven scenes that utilize the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Your Name.” comes with the following special features:

  • Interview with Makoto Shinkai – (25:35) Featuring a Funimation interview with Makoto Shinkai.
  • Makoto Shinkai Filmography – (10:47) A look at all of Makoto Shinkai’s animated films via excerpts.
  • Special TV Program – (22:26) Hosted by Ryunosuke Kamiki (voice of Taki) and guest starring Makoto Shinkai and Mone Kamshiraishi (voice of Mitsuha), the special visits various locations where Shinkai films were shot, interviews and more!
  • Trailers

I am a huge fan of Makoto Shinkai’s work.  The amount of detail to capture reality through his animated work, the ability to capture human relationships and bonding, capturing human emotion from highs and lows.

One of my favorite films from Shinkai was “5 Centimeters Per Second” (Byoku 5 Centimeter) which was a film about love through different periods of time, breaking up and moving on, his film “Children Who Chase Lost Voices” dealt with fallen relationships and sacrifice, while “The Garden of Words” explored an woman trying to find what is important about life and finding the light and learning why life is worth living, after a dark past.

Relationships are a big part of Makoto Shinkai’s work and that goes as far back as Shinkai’s shorts, “She and Her Cat” (Kanojo to Kanjo no Neko).

And as science fiction has played a big part in Shinkai’s earlier works, he manages to blend sci-fi with a touching story about a teenage boy named Taki and a teenage girl named Mitsuha who switch bodies intermittently throughout the week after they sleep.  They are not sure how it happened and why it’s happening, considering these two have never met prior and they live very far from each other.

And as the two start to communicate with each other, often playful messages of support or what happened while the other person was occupying the other person’s body, these two manage to grow close from their unique correspondence.

But one day, the communication and body switch stops which leaves Taki wanting to get answers of what happened to Mitsuha and why she stopped contacting him.  And to the surprise of Taki, the Mitsuha that Taki was communicating with died three years ago when a meteor destroyed her entire village and everyone was in the blast proximity were killed.

But what if Taki was able to relay a message to her?  What if he could switch bodies with her once more, knowing what he knows?

“Your Name.” was no doubt the best Shinkai film I have watched.  From the detail of Shinjuku, Shibuya and many other locations animated and beautifully drawn, to a script well-executed and captivating, during my viewing of the film, all I kept hoping for was a different outcome unlike “5 Centimeters Per Second”.  Rooting for the two characters and while knowing Shinkai likes to play things close to reality, I just wanted to see something magical.

While the film is no doubt unique in some ways, the storyline concept of trying to prevent one’s death in the past is not new.    In fact, the storyline of two protagonists from two different years in time and yet are able to communicate, can be seen in the 2000 South Korean film “Il Mare” (Siworae) from filmmaker Lee Hyun-seung.

But the way Shinkai writes the film and manages to explore different facets of their relationship and also interjecting some elements of “5 Centimeters Per Second” in to the film in order to make viewers guessing of what direction Shinkai would take the characters to.

As for the film on Blu-ray, picture quality is vibrant and detailed.  The Lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and music, while surround channels manages to utilize the various sound effects with clarity.  And the special features include an interview with Makoto Shinkai and a special TV program about “Your Name.” and Shinkai’s oevure.

I have to say, Makoto Shinkai’s “Your Name.” was a pleasure to watch.  I absolutely love this film and I highly recommend it!

Danganronpa 3: Despair Arc (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Danganronpa 3: Despair Arc” will no doubt please the fans of the video games or those curious of jumping into the anime series, so they can enjoy the video games.  Dark, twisted, violent but consistent with the video games, this anime series on Blu-ray and DVD is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Danganronpa 3: Despair Arc

DURATION: 300 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: October 3, 2017


Chief Director: Seiji Kishi

Directed by  Daisei Fukuoka

Series Composition: Norimitsu Kaiho

Music by Masafumi Takada

Character Design: Kazuaki Morita

Art Director: Eiji Wakamatsu

Producer: Yoshinori Terasawa

Anime Production: Lerche


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mai Nakahara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Chisa Yukizome

Minami Takayama/Johnny Yong Bosch as Hajime Hinata/Izuru Kamukura

Ai Kayano/Stephanie Sheh as Mikan Tsumiki

Ami Koshimizu/Brina Palencia as Ibuki Mioda

Daisuke Kishio/Aaron Dismuke as Fuyuhiko Kuzuryū

Hiroki Yasumot/Patrick Seitz o as Nekomaru Nidai

Jun Fukuyama/Todd Haberkorn as Teruteru Hanamura

Kana Hanazawa/Christine Marie Cabanos as Chiaki Nanami

Kanata Hongō/Justin Briner as Ryōta Mitarai

Kotono Mitsuishi/Clarine Harp as Peko Pekoyama

Megumi Ogata/Bryce Papenbrook as Nagito Komaeda

Miho Arakawa/Natalie Hoover as Sonia Nevermind

Romi Park/Morgan Garrett as Akane Owari

Suzuko Mimori/Kira Buckland as Hiyoko Saionji

Tomokazu Sugita/Scott Frerichs as Tanaka the Forbidden

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Kyle Hebert as Kazuichi Sōda

Yu Kobayashi/Carrie Keranen as Mahiru Koizumi


Hope’s Peak High School is a special school that nurtures those with exceptional talents and abilities. While only top students are a part of the main course, anyone can join the preparatory course, like Hajime Hinata has. Hinata wants nothing more than to be part of the talented elite, but his desires lead him to a fateful encounter that drives the future of the school into despair.


The video game franchise “Danganronpa” was no doubt surprising and entertaining but in its unique way, dark and violent.

Created by Spike Chunsoft and released for the Playstation Portable, Playstation Vita and other platforms, the adventure visual novel video game “Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc” was first released on the PSP in 2010.  Followed by “Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair” which followed in 2013 on the PS Vita.  And in 2017, “Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony” was released on the Vita.

And in 2016, two concurrent anime series were produced by Lerche was created, and would serve as the conclusion to the “Hope’s Peak Academy” saga.

One is titled “Danganronpa 3: Future Arc” which takes place after the events of the video game “Danganronpa 2”, while “Danganronpa 3: Despair Arc” takes place prior to the events of the first game and what happened to Hajime Hinata and the cast of “Danganronpa 2” prior to the tragedy that changed the world.

And both are available on Blu-ray + DVD courtesy of Funimation.

“Danganronpa 3: Despair Arc” begins with Chisa Yukizome being assigned as an assistant home room teacher of Hope Peak Academy’s 77th class.  And she finds it difficult to get her students to attend class and she is often going around the school and bring them back to the classroom.  But as Chisa is a teacher, she is also a spy for her friend Kyosuke.

We are introduced to Hajime Hinata, a student from the Hope Peak’s Reserve Course and one of the first people he makes friends with is a gamer named Chiaki Nanami.

Meanwhile, two deaths happened on campus and the higher-ups are covering the deaths up.

As Chisa tries to keep the class together, certain students have other things in mind and as for Hajime, what happens when he  goes through a project known as Kamakura Project in which his original personality is removed form his body and is infused with many talents.

Meanwhile, two new students plan to join Hope’s Peak as part of the 78th class, Junko Enoshima and Mukuro Ikusaba.


VIDEO:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16 x 9). Colors are vibrant and backgrounds are well-done, characters are well-shaded and for the most part, the anime series looks fantastic in HD! I didn’t notice any major banding issues or artifacts.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” is presented in Linear PCM English and Japanese 2.0. The anime is well-acted both in Japanese and English. Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Danganronpa 3: Despair Arc” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 7 Audio Commentary – An audio commentary featuring Christian Lamont (ADR Director) with Christine Marie Cabanos.
  • Episode 10 Video Commentary – (23:52) An video commentary featuring Christopher Bevins (co-ADR Director), Christian Lamont (co-ADR Director) and Natalie Hoover.
  • Textless Opening and Closing songs

 


When I first played a “Danganronpa” game, I thought it was fascinating and fun as it incorporated characters with different personalities.  That is until we saw a killer bear named Monokuma with it’s half divide image of white and evil black and big belly button.

But what hits you is the savage deaths of each individual and how people end up getting killed.

It was revealed in “Danganronpa 3” that the person responsible for the deaths is Junko Enoshima, the founder of the terrorist organization, Ultimate Despair and is the True Ultimate Despair.

And here we are now with two anime series from Lerche, “Future Arc” and “Despair”.

With “Despair”, it’s a bit different from the video games in which people were stuck in rooms and were limited to areas they had to live in and everyone being suspicious of each other, as each person had a motive to kill.

But with “Despair Arc”, it seems like a normal school setting at Hope Peak Academy.  You have a cool and caring teacher named Chisa Yukizome and students who are different but many who are just normal students.  But this is just appearances as things changes and people start to die.  And for student Hajime Hinata, he wants to seek the truth.

By episode 5, things change when Junko Enoshima and her sister Mukuro Ikusaba enroll at Hope’s Peak for the new school year and Hajime undergoes testing for the Kamakura Project.  His personality removed and his body infused with every know talent and now goes under the persona, Izuru Kamakura.

As Junko starts to see animator Ryota working on an anime that can utilize subliminal messaging to prompt emotions with viewers, she starts to leak information about experiments and murders to the Reserve Course students and then, leading Ryota to watch a grizzly video of student’s killing each other.  And then Juno telling him that she will be combining his anime with the video to brainwash people and sending them into despair and will subject his classmates to another killing game if he refuses to cooperate.

The series no doubt sets up a chain of events but seeing how far Junko will go to spread despair among everyone in the world and cause self-destructive anarchy.  And watching the events that would lead to “The Tragedy”.

For the most part, “Danganronpa” fans will enjoy the storyline as people gain more insight to how devious, cold and calculating Junko Enoshima is.  From the first game, many thought she would be just a tragic statistic but the anime series helps put the storyline into perspective.  She’s no doubt a person of true evil and while I would like to say “Danganronpa” is a series that may have hope similar to a story like “Battle Royale” where violence and students dying became common place.  But at least “Battle Royale” provided viewers/readers with a glimmer of hope.

“Danganronpa” video games and even the anime series may have given some semblance in hope but in truth, with the popularity of the video games and there is money to be made, I don’t see any end for Ultimate Despair, nor do I see Junko Enoshima going anywhere anytime soon.  She’s no doubt one of the more memorable female antagonists in an anime series and who is any close to defeating her and her terrorist organization?  That remains to be seen.

As for the anime series, the series is absolutely vibrant for a TV series and the character designs very much respects the original character design and art direction of the video games.  Lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue, music and also sound effects through the surround channel.  English soundtrack gets a slight nod for its 5.1 soundtrack, as opposed to the Japanese stereo lossless soundtrack.  But with that being said, both are well-acted and fans of the video games should be thrilled with this anime series.  And as for special features, you get an audio and video commentary.

Overall, “Danganronpa 3: Despair Arc” will no doubt please the fans of the video games or those curious of jumping into the anime series, so they can enjoy the video games.  Dark, twisted, violent but consistent with the video games, this anime series on Blu-ray and DVD is recommended!

K: Missing Kings (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

June 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

K: Missing Kings” is an action-packed sequel which “K” fans have waited a few years to be released in America.  And the animated film sets things up for the upcoming TV series, “K: Return of Kings” (to be released by Viz Media in July 2017).  If you loved the original series, then definitely give “K: Missing Kings” a try!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © Viz Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: K: Missing Kings

DURATION: 75 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Widescreen, English & Japanese 5.1 & Stereo Audio, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: March 14, 2017


Originally created by GoRA

Series Director: Hiromitsu Kanazawa

Directed by Shingo Suzuki

Series Composition by GoRA

Music by Mikio Endo

Character Design by Shingo Suzuki

Art Director: Ken Naito

Chief Animation Director: Makoto Furuta

Mechanical Design: Hiroshi Okubo

Animation Production by GoHands


Featuring the following voice talent:

Daisuke Namikawa/Sam Regal as Yashiro Isana

Daisuke Ono/Matthew Mercer as Kuroh Yatogami

Kenjiro Tsuda/Keith Silverstein as Mikoto Suoh

Mikako Komatsu/Stephanie Sheh as Neko

Tomokazu Sugita/Patrick Seitz as Reisi Munakata

Hiro Shimono/Quinton Flynn as Kotosaka

Jun Fukuyama/Ben Diskin as Misaki Yata

Kaori Nazuka/Cherami Leigh as Dōhan Hirasaka

Kazuyuki Okitsu/Robbie Daymond as Nagare Hisui

Mamoru Miyano/Johnny Yong Bosch as Saruhiko Fushimi

Masakazu Morita/Chris Hackney as Yukari Mishakuji

Miyuki Sawashiro/Carrie Keranen as Seri Awashima

Satomi Satou/Janice Kawaye as Kukuri Yukizome

Takahiro Sakurai/Todd Haberkorn as Izumo Kusanagi

Yui Horie/Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Anna Kushina

Yūichi Nakamura/Grant George as Rikio Kamamoto

Yuuki Kaji/Lucien Dodge as Tatara Totsuka


Silver Clan members Kuro and Neko are on a mission to find their king, Shiro, who went missing after the battle on the School Island involving four of the seven colored kings. During their search, the two discover that Red Clan member Anna Kushina has become the target of the mysterious Green Clan, which intends to use the girl’s special power to track down Shiro. Now the Silver and Red Clans find themselves joining forces to protect Shiro and Anna from this new threat. But will this unexpected alliance be enough to counter the Green Clan’s top fighters, as well as its king?


In 2012, the anime series “K” produced by the studio GoHands aired on television.

The series focused on Yashiro Isana, a normal guy who lives in the technologically advanced Shizume City and attends Ashinaka High School.  But when Tatara Totsuka, a prominent member of the well-known HOMRA is killed, many are curious of who killed him.  With the mysterious killer (known as the “Colorless King”) being identified, he looks almost exactly like Yashiro Isana.

And now the Red Clansmen of HOMRA led by the Red King, Mikoto Suoh, wants Yashiro dead and everyone is suspecting him as the killer of Tatara Totsuka.  Can Yashiro and others find out who is responsible for killing Tatara?

The series continues in the animated film “K: Missing Kings” which was released in Japan back in 2014.  The film takes place a year after the events of the TV series and a year after the disappearance of Shiro, the Silver King.  Kurou Yatogami and Neko are searching for Shiro and they run into members of the recently disbanded red clan HOMRA.

Rikio Kamamoto and Anna Kushina are being pursued by the Green Clan who will stop at nothing to get Anna and use her power.  With Anna being kidnapped, Kuro and Neko join forces with members of Scepter 4 in hopes to rescue Anna from the Green Clan.  But what is their true purpose of wanting Anna?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

It’s important to emphasize that if you want the best video quality of this animated film, it is available on Blu-ray.  I am reviewing the DVD version of the film and for the most part picture quality is as good as it can get on DVD.

“K: Missing Kings” is presented in 16:9 Widescreen and is presented in English and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital and stereo.  Picture quality is vibrant and with this being an animated film, much better production when it comes to backgrounds and overall character designs.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

K: Missing Kings” comes with trailers.


For those who have watched the “K” anime series, the first animated film “K: Missing Kings” is a worthy sequel as we see Silver Clan members Kuro Yatogami and Neko continuing their search for the Silver King and we see the disbanded HOMRA (Red Clan) dealing with the kidnapping of Anna Kushina.

With the Green Clan causing more problems and causing mass destruction, deaths and kidnapping Anna, the Silver clan, members of the HOMRA and members of Scepter 4 do all they can to get Anna back and stop the Green Clan.

For the most part, this animated film is action-packed and quite entertaining.  It’s a worthy sequel for the anime series but for those who have never watched the TV series, will definitely want to watch it in order to understand the characters.

Anime production by GoHands is magnificent and the voice acting in both the Japanese and English soundtracks are well done.  While I reviewed the DVD version and not the Blu-ray release, for the most part, the DVD looks very good.  But I wish there were special features included aside from the basic trailers.

Overall, “K: Missing Kings” is an action-packed sequel which “K” fans have waited a few years to be released in America.  And the animated film sets things up for the upcoming TV series, “K: Return of Kings” (to be released by Viz Media in July 2017).  If you loved the original series, then definitely give “K: Missing Kings” a try!  Recommended!

Boruto – Naruto the Movie (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a big fan of the “Naruto” manga/anime series, I highly recommend “Boruto – Naruto the Movie”. Action-packed, full of drama and excitement. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2002 Masashi Kishimoto/2007 Shippuden, BMP 2015. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Boruto – Naruto the Movie

ORIGINAL THEATRICAL DATE: 2015

DURATION: 90 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, DTS-HD Master Audio: English and Japanese 5.1,  2.0 Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: March 28, 2017


Originally Created by Masashi Kishimoto

Director: Hiroyuki Yamashita

Screenplay: Masashi Kishimoto

Character Design by Hirofumi Suzuki, Masashi Kishimoto, Tetsuya Nishio

Music by -yaiba-, Yasuharu Takanashi

Art by Akemi Konno, Kazuyuki Hashimoto, Kentaro Akiyama, Masanobu Nomura, Mutsuo Koseki, Naruyo Kiriyama, Satoshi Matsuoka

Art Design by Hiroto Tanaka, Masaaki Endou

Chief Animation Director: Tetsuya Nishio

Anime Production: Pierrot


Featuring the following voice talent:

Junko Takeuchi/Maile Flanagan as Naruto Uzumaki

Yuko Sanpei/Amana C. Miller as Boruto Uzumaki

Akira Ishida/Liam O’Brien as Gaara

Chie Nakamura/Kate Higgins as Sakura Uchiha

Daisuke Namikawa/Xander Mobus as Momoshiki

Hana Takeda/Laura Bailey as Kurotsuchi

Hidenori Takahashi/Max Mittelman as Konohamaru Sarutobi

Hiroki Yasumoto/Wally Wingert as Kinshiki Otsusuki

Kokoro Kikuchi/Cherami Leigh as Sarada Uchiha

Kouki Miyata/Brian Beacock as Chōjūrō

Nana Mizuki/Stephanie Sheh as Hinata Uzumaki

Noriaki Sugiyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Sasuke Uchiha

Ryota Takeuchi/Catero Colbert as Darui

Ryūichi Kijima/Robbie Daymond as Mitsuki

Satoshi Hino/Ben Diskin as Sai

Showtaro Morikubo/Tom Gibis as Shikamaru Nara

Yoichi Masukawa/Brian Donovan as Rock Lee

Atsushi Abe/Spike Spencer as Inojin Yamanaka

Hisao Egawa/Catero Colbert as Killer Bee

Kengo Kawanishi/Bryce Papenbrook as Yurui

Kensho Ono/Todd Haberkorn as Shikadai Nara

Saori Hayami/Melissa Fahn as Himawari Uzumaki

Yukari Tamura/Danielle Judovits as Tenten


Boruto: Naruto the Movie takes place in the Hidden Leaf Village with Naruto as the Seventh Hokage. The Hidden Leaf Village is planning to host the Chunin Exams to train new shinobi from the village and from their allied villages. Among the entrants are Sasuke’s daughter, Sarada, Mitsuki, an exceptionally talented yet mysterious shinobi… And Boruto, Naruto’s talented but impetuous son.

Meanwhile, Sasuke who’s been on a mission in another dimension appears before Naruto to warn of a strange impending danger. Shrouded with an evil aura, Momoshiki and Kinshiki appear and attempt to assassinate Naruto. Petrified, Boruto is shielded by Naruto, only to disappear in front of Boruto’s own eyes.


The popular manga series “Naruto” has been going strong since its debut in Shueisha back in 1999 via “Weekly Shonen Jump” magazine.   With 72 volumes published, the manga series ended in November 2014.  Meanwhile, the anime series, the first titled “Naruto” began in 2002-2007 and lasted for 220 episodes.  And would continue with “Naruto: Shippuden” which lasted from 2007-2017 with a total of 500 episodes created.

The original manga by Masashi Kishimoto is about a young ninja named Naruto Uzamaki, a ninja of the Konoha leaf village who grew up facing prejudiced within his fellow ninjas because the evil nine-tailed fox was sealed inside him. But throughout the series, we have seen how Naruto is a kind-hearted boy who has worked hard in protecting his friends and staying true to his word with the goal of someday becoming the next Hokage of the village.

In 2014, Kishimoto wrapped up the “Naruto” manga and in the final chapter (featured in volume 72), Naruto would eventually become the Hokage of the Leaf Village and he and his wife Hinata would have two children, Boruto and Himawari.

Meanwhile, Sasuke and Sakura would have a daughter named Sarada, Shikamaru Nara and Temari would have a son named Shikadai, Sai and Ino would have a son named Inojin and Choji Akimichi and Karui would have a daughter named Chocho.

Everyone has grown up and Naruto is busy as the new Hokage at the village, this causes resentment from Naruto’s son Boruto who feels that his father was never there for him or the family.

This leads us to the film “Boruto – Naruto the Movie” which featured anime production from Studio Pierrot, direction by Hiroyuki Yamashita, a screenplay by Masashi Kishimoto, music by -yaiba- and Yasuharu Takanashi and character design by Hirofumi Suzuki, Masashi Kishimoto and Tetsuya Nishio and art design by Hiroto Tanaka and Masaaki Endou.

The film begins with Boruto telling his story and him and his team partners, Sarada and Mitsuki being trained by Master Konohamaru and trying to capture a bear (or panda).   After their mission, the four go to see Naruto, the Seventh Hokage.

And as Boruto gets into a little argument with his father (for not being part of his life due to his duties as Hokage), he reminds his father about his sister and Naruto’s daughter, Himawari’s birthday and how he needs to be there.

Meanwhile a scientist comes in and introduces the group to a new invention.  Now, a jutsu can be contained in a mini-seal and put into a bracelet which gives anyone, ninja or not, the power to use a jutsu.  No chakra is even needed to use the new technology and the scientists want it used for the upcoming Chunin exam but Naruto is against it and believes a ninja should use their own skills.

Meanwhile, Boruto meets with the scientist and takes the special bracelet.

With the next Chunin exams coming up, Sarada and Mitsuki want to take the exam but Boruto, he has no desire.  He doesn’t want to be like his father and that means not wanting to be Hokage.  But for Sarada, she wants to be Hokage and tries to get Boruto to take part in the Chunin exam to let his father know he could do it.

Meanwhile, Sasuke Uchiha returns to the village and Boruto, not wanting to be anything like his father, goes to Sasuke to take him in as a pupil.  But Sasuke will only agree if Boruto can learn the Sharingan jutsu.

As the groups get ready for their Chunin Exam to see who will become a ninja, round three will be in front of a public audience.  During a battle Boruto uses the bracelet to best his opponent, but for Naruto, he is disappointed that his son resorted to such a tactic and disqualifies his son from the Chunin exam and also taking away his ninja bandana as punishment.

This leads to an argument and Boruto complains that his father is never there for him.  Meanwhile, a new evil force attacks everyone at the Chunin Exam.


VIDEO:

“Boruto – Naruto the Movie” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the film looks vibrant.  Colors look fantastic in HD and with this being a film ,there is a good amount of backgrounds and detail in the background artwork.  Picture quality is fantastic!

I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Boruto – Naruto the Movie” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0. Both soundtracks are fantastic and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the center, front and surround channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Boruto – Naruto the Movie” comes with the following special features:

  • Special Naruto OVA – (10:23) It’s Naruto’s big day as his inauguration as Hokage is about to take place.  But time’s getting late because Boruto and Himawari are arguing.  But what happens when Boruto upsets his little sister?
  • Clean End Credits
  • Storyboards – Featuring a gallery of the storyboards for the film
  • Art Gallery – Featuring an art gallery from the film.
  • Trailer – Featuring the Japanese trailers.

Watching “Boruto – Naruto the Movie”, I can’t help but be entertained by the fact that the film focuses on the children of the characters that many of us grew up reading.

“Naruto” having lasted so long as a manga and anime series was a big part of the lives of many people who watched “Naruto” grow from a child, to a teenager and a young adult.  Seeing how his heart and his passion would inspire so many but also seeing him determined to defeat those who threatened the village or his friends.

With Naruto, he is a student that felt he had to prove himself through hardwork and determination.

So, it’s fascinating to see how Boruto is much different than his father.  Naruto, who had always said he would become Hokage is now the new Hokage of the Leaf Village but this new role means being busy with work and unfortunately, that means no time spent with the family.

Hinata is literally taking care of both children and you can see how Boruto is upset at his father for neglecting them, but he harbors a bit of anger for his father not being there for him.

What’s even more interesting is that Boruto is not too aware of his father’s past and how he grew up, so he is not aware of the challenges or difficulties his father grew up with.

And because of his feelings towards his father, he asks his dad’s rival, Sasuke Uchiha to become his master.

But during this peaceful time, a lot has changed as well.  Scientists have developed bracelets with technology that allow anyone to harness jutsu used by ninjas and to make things worse, a new evil has decided to attack the Leaf Village during the Chunin exams (like what happened to Naruto and friends when he was much younger).

And I’ll leave it that.

This is a new beginning, a new chapter as Boruto will continue the storyline of the ninjas at the Leaf Village and while I’m not sure if “Boruto” will last for another 15 years but for this film to jumpstart the new generation and Naruto’s son, Boruto, now the focal point, needless to say, this series will be interesting, considering that he’s not like his father at all.

And if you think Boruto Uzumaki has special skills learned from his father, wait until one gets to see the included OVA which shows us how powerful Himawari Uzumaki can get.

As for the Blu-ray release, the film is vibrant and with it being a film, has more detail when it comes to art backgrounds.  Lossless soundtrack is also well-done and the voice acting for both Japanese and English dub are magnificent.

Overall, if you are a big fan of the “Naruto” manga/anime series, I highly recommend “Boruto – Naruto the Movie”.  Action-packed, full of drama and excitement.

Recommended

 

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

April 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: Sailor Moon R: The Movie

ORIGINAL THEATRICAL DATE: 1993

DURATION: 90 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: April 18, 2017


Originally Created by Naoko Takeuchi

Director: Kunihiko Ikuhara

Screenplay: Sukehiro Tomita

Character Design by Kazuko Tadano

Music by Akiko Kosaka, Takanori Arisawa, Tetsuya Komuro

Art Design by Junichi Taniguchi

Animation Director: Kazuko Tadano

Anime Production: Toei Animation/TV Asahi


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Hisakawa/Kate Higgins as Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury

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

Kotono Mitsuishi/Stephanie Sheh as Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon

Michie Tomizawa/Cristina Vee as Rei Hino/Sailor Mars

Rica Fukami/Stephanie Morgenstern as Minako Aino/Sailor Venus

Kae Araki/Sandy Fox as Chibi Usa

Keiko Han/Jill Frappier as Luna

Tohru Furuya/Robbie Daymond as Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Kamen

Yasuhiro Takato/Ron Rubin as Artemis

Hikaru Midorikawa/Ben Diskin as Fiore

Hiromi Nishikawa as Campanula

Mahito Ohba as Newscaster

Megumi Ogata as Mamoru Chiba (as a child)

Tomoko Maruo as Fiore (as a child)

Wakana Yamazaki as Flower Youma Gurishina

Yumi Touma as Kisenian


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sailor Moon R: The Movie” is presented in Japanese and English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. Both soundtracks are done quite well and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the front channels.  It’s important to note that this animated film on Blu-ray features the current cast featured on the Viz Media releases and not the English dub from the 2000 Pioneer DVD release.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended!

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

April 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2

DURATION: Episodes 15-26 (276 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 28, 2017


Originally Created by Naoko Takeuchi

Director: Chiaki Kon

Series Composition: Yuji Kobayashi

Character Design by Akira Takahashi

Music by Yasuharu Takanashi

Art Design by Takashi Kurahashi

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kotono Mitsuishi/Stephanie Sheh as Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon

Rina Satou/Cristina Vee as Rei Hino/Sailor Mars

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

Hisako Kanemoto/Kate Higgins as Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury

Shizuka Itou/Cherami Leigh as Minako Aino/Sailor Venus

Sayaka Ohara/Veronica Taylor as Michiru Kaiō/Sailor Neptune

Kenji Nojima/Robbie Daymond as Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Kamen

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

Ryou Hirohashi/Michelle Ruff as Luna

Youhei Oobayashi/Johnny Yong Bosch as Artemis

Shoko Nakagawa/Debi Derryberry as Diana


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

January 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The first half of “Erased” was magnificent but the second volume is equally captivating and so enjoyable. A murder mystery thriller that will attract fans who love sci-fi and a mystery-driven anime series with a wonderful conclusion. I absolutely enjoyed this series from beginning to end! A fantastic anime series and another Aniplex Blu-ray release that is highly recommended!

Purchase this Blu-ray from Rightstuf

Image courtesy of © 2016 Kei Sanba/KADOKAWA/Bokumachi Animation Committee. 2016 Aniplex Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Erased Volume 1

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: (Episodes 1-6) 150 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATING: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: October 18, 2016


Originally Created by Kei Sanbe

Directed by Tomohiko Ito

Series Composition by Taku Kishimoto

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design by Keigo Sasaki

Art Director: Masaru Sato

Chief Animation Director: Kenichi Yoshida

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aoi Yūki/Stephanie Sheh as Kayo Hinazuki

Shinnosuke Mitsushima/Michelle Ruff as Satoru Fujinuma (29-years-old)

Tao Tsuchiya/Ben Diskin as Satoru Fujinuma (10-years-old)

Akari Kitō/Christine Marie Cabanos as Hiromi

Akemi Okamura/Carrie Keranen as Akemi Hinazuki

Ayaka Nanase/Ryan Bartley as Osamu

Chinatsu Akasaki/Cherami Leigh as Airi Katagiri

Minami Takayama/Sara Cravens as Sachiko Fujinuma

Mitsuru Miyamoto/David W. Collins as Gaku Yashiro

Takahiro Mizushima/Max Mittelman as Jun Shiratori

Yō Taichi/Erica Mendez as Kenya

Yukitoshi Kikuchi/Bobby Thong as Kazu


The dream production staff includes director Tomohiko Ito (Sword Art Online), character designer Keigo Sasaki (Blue Exorcist), composer Yuki Kajiura (Sword Art Online, Fate/Zero, Madoka Magica), and animation studio A-1 Pictures (Sword Art Online, Your lie in April, Blue Exorcist).

The series finale that ends with a shocking yet emotional twist…


In 2012, Kei Sanbe’s manga series “Boku Dake ga Inai Machi” (which translates to “The Town Without Me”) was serialized in Kadokawa’s “Young Ace” magazine.

With a total of eight volumes publish (the manga series concluded in March 2016), a 12-episode anime adaptation by A-1 Pictures and Fuji TV’s Noitamina was created, along with a live action film.

The series is directed by Tomohiko Ito (“Silver Spoon”, “Sword Art Online”), series composition by Taku Kishimoto (“Joker Game”, “91 Days”, “Bunny Drop”), music by Yuki Kajiura (“Fate/Zero”, “Black Butler”, “Amatsuki”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Seed”), character designs by Keigo Sasaki (“Blue Exorcist”, “Nanatsu no Taizai”, “Seven Deadly Sins”) and art direction by Masaru Sato (“Brain Powered”, “Captain Tsubasa”, “Deltora Quest”, “Armitage III”).

And “Boku Dake ga Inai Machi”, known as “Erased” was released in the U.S. on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex, Inc. with the first volume featuring the first six episodes and now, volume 2 featuring the final remaining six episodes.

“Erased” begins in 2006 with an introduction to Satoru Fujinuma, a 29-year-old manga artist who occasionally experiences a “Revival”, which allows him to go back in time and he is able to use that power (which he has no control over) to save people.

When Satoru saves a boy from being killed by a driver who died from a heart attack, the save lands Satoru in the hospital.

While his co-worker Airi Katagiri is there to watch over him, Satoru’s mother Sachiko comes to visit him.

Sachiko discusses with his son about the traumatic things he experienced, such as when students went missing and were found dead and Satoru’s adult friend, Jun Shiratori was accused of the crime.

While Sachiko and Satoru are out and he begins to experience another revival, Sachiko notices a boy being consoled by his mother and a man staring at them. And wondering if he was trying to watch the kid and kidnap him.

Sachiko and her friend, a journalist named Sawada feel that the true killer of the children long ago is still alive and has not been caught and feel’s that June Shiratori was falsely accused of the murders.

Sachiko wants to alert her son but before she can, someone comes into Satoru’s home and stabs Sachiko to death.

When Satoru returns home, he finds his mother dead and when he goes to turn her over, he gets her blood on his hands, in which a neighbor spots Satoru with blood on him. Immediately, she calls the police and when they come, Satoru is looked at as the person responsible for the murder.

Satoru runs away from the scene and he becomes wanted man. He immediately goes into revival mode and is taken back to 1986, when he was 11-years-old and comes across Kayo Hinazuki, a girl that he was good friends with and the first victim of the serial killer.

He will also come across other victims but can Satoru protect them all?


VIDEO:

“Erased: Volume 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Picture quality is absolutely fantastic as A-1 Pictures did a magnificent job with the character design and animation. May it be the subtle movement, facial expressions, action sequences plus the amazing art backgrounds make this series one of the best I have seen all year on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Erased: Volume 2″is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM 2.0. Dialogue and musical score is crystal clear through the front channel. Both Japanese and English dub soundtracks are wonderfully acted.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Erased: Volume 2” features the following special features:

  • Episode 7 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Alex Von David, voice talents Erika Mendez (voice of Sachiko) and Christine Marie Cabanos (voice of Hiromi), Ryan Bartley (voice of Kenya) and Bobby Thong (voice of Kazu).
  • Episode 8 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Alex Von David, voice talents Stephanie Sheh (voice of Kayo) and Michelle Ruff (voice of young Satoru),
  • Episode 11 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Alex Von David, voice talents Sara Cravens (voice of Sachiko) and Ben Diskin (voice of Satoru).
  • Episode 12 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Alex Von David, voice talents David Collins (voice of Gaku Yashiro), Ben Diskin (voice of Satoru) and Michelle Ruff (voice of young Satoru).
  • Promo Video – Japanese and English promo video for “Erased”.
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs

EXTRAS:

“Erased: Volume 21” comes with a slipcover, an original 36-page illustration book and rough sketches and short manga (“ERASED” chapter – “KAYO/After February 1988) by Kei Senbei, a 40-page deluxe booklet and an Boku Dake ga Inai Machi Original Soundtrack 02 featuring music by Kajiura Yuki (Duration: 41 Minutes).


If you had the power to go back in time, when you were only 11-years-old, to stop the murders of friends and protect them from a serial killer, would you do it? Can you do it?

This is the story of Kei Sanbei’s “Erased” adapted into a 12-episode anime series and receiving rave reviews from fans for its thrilling mystery story about a man named Satoru who suffers the tragedy of seeing his bludgeoned mother and being accused of the crime.

Since he was a young boy, he had the special ability known as “Revival” and that is to go back in time for a brief amount of time in order to save lives.

But this time, his life and the people that are dear to him, their lives are in danger when a serial killer from Satoru’s past, has killed his mother.

The death of his mother sends Satoru back in time at the age of 11, a time when his friend Kayo was found murdered and other children were also murdered. A friend of Satoru and the wrong person accused, Satoru has the opportunity to save the lives of those who were killed in the past.

But with him in the body of his 11-year-old self, can Satoru still make a difference? And who is the person responsible for the murders?

The first six episodes of “Erased” were fantastic. With many people that Satoru comes into contact showing potential of being evil, who can he trust? And who is responsible for the crime? And as Satoru tries to manage the troubles from 1988 and 2006, will he be able to save his childhood friend, Kayo, who was the first victim of the serial killer?

In the second volume featuring the final six episodes, Satoru has friends who join him in trying to investigate a potential serial killer.  Satoru knows that if he can save Kayo, he may be able to save the other victims.  But can he do it alone?  Can he trust his friends or should he keep silent to keep them safe?

And who is the person responsible for the murders?  All this and more is answered in the final volume of “Erased”!

As always, A-1 Pictures has done a phenomenal job with the animation and background art. Special features include four audio commentaries with the English dub ADR Director and multiple voice talents and as expected from Aniplex, plenty of swag with the second original soundtrack, a sketch and another short manga and a 40-page deluxe booklet is included.

Overall, the first half of “Erased” was magnificent but the second volume is equally captivating and so enjoyable.  A murder mystery thriller that will attract fans who love sci-fi and a mystery-driven anime series with a wonderful conclusion. I absolutely enjoyed this series from beginning to end!

A fantastic anime series and another Aniplex Blu-ray release that is highly recommended!

Purchase this Blu-ray from Rightstuf

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

October 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The first half of “Erased” is magnificent, captivating and a murder mystery thriller that will attract fans who love sci-fi and mystery-driven anime series. Highly recommended!

Purchase this Blu-ray from Rightstuf

Image courtesy of © 2016 Kei Sanba/KADOKAWA/Bokumachi Animation Committee.  2016 Aniplex Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Erased Volume 1

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: (Episodes 1-6) 150 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATING: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: October 18, 2016


Originally Created by Kei Sanbe

Directed by Tomohiko Ito

Series Composition by Taku Kishimoto

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design by Keigo Sasaki

Art Director: Masaru Sato

Chief Animation Director: Kenichi Yoshida

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aoi Yūki/Stephanie Sheh as Kayo Hinazuki

Shinnosuke Mitsushima/Michelle Ruff as Satoru Fujinuma (29-years-old)

Tao Tsuchiya/Ben Diskin as Satoru Fujinuma (10-years-old)

Akari Kitō/Christine Marie Cabanos as Hiromi

Akemi Okamura/Carrie Keranen as Akemi Hinazuki

Ayaka Nanase/Ryan Bartley as Osamu

Chinatsu Akasaki/Cherami Leigh as Airi Katagiri

Minami Takayama/Sara Cravens as Sachiko Fujinuma

Mitsuru Miyamoto/David W. Collins as Gaku Yashiro

Takahiro Mizushima/Max Mittelman as Jun Shiratori

Yō Taichi/Erica Mendez as Kenya

Yukitoshi Kikuchi/Bobby Thong as Kazu


“I’m gonna do what I didn’t the first time to change everything!”

Erased is a sci-fi thriller series based on the award winning manga series (2014 Manga Taisho Award) by Kei Sanbe.

29-year old Satoru Fujinuma is a struggling manga artist who works part time as a pizza delivery man. But he has a secret ability which he names “Revival.” This ability allows Satoru to go back in time to prevent life-threatening incidents from happening.

Now a series of tragic incidents are unfolding before Satoru’s eyes and they may change his life forever…

The dream production staff includes director Tomohiko Ito (Sword Art Online), character designer Keigo Sasaki (Blue Exorcist), composer Yuki Kajiura (Sword Art Online, Fate/Zero, Madoka Magica), and animation studio A-1 Pictures (Sword Art Online, Your lie in April, Blue Exorcist).


In 2012, Kei Sanbe’s manga series “Boku Dake ga Inai Machi” (which translates to “The Town Without Me”) was serialized in Kadokawa’s “Young Ace” magazine.

With a total of eight volumes publish (the manga series concluded in March 2016), a 12-episode anime adaptation by A-1 Pictures and Fuji TV’s Noitamina was created, along with a live action film.

The series is directed by Tomohiko Ito (“Silver Spoon”, “Sword Art Online”), series composition by Taku Kishimoto (“Joker Game”, “91 Days”, “Bunny Drop”), music by Yuki Kajiura (“Fate/Zero”, “Black Butler”, “Amatsuki”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Seed”), character designs by Keigo Sasaki (“Blue Exorcist”, “Nanatsu no Taizai”, “Seven Deadly Sins”) and art direction by Masaru Sato (“Brain Powered”, “Captain Tsubasa”, “Deltora Quest”, “Armitage III”).

And now, “Boku Dake ga Inai Machi”, known as “Erased” will be released in the U.S. on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex, Inc. with the first volume feature the first six episodes.

The series begins in 2006 with an introduction to Satoru Fujinuma, a 29-year-old manga artist who occasionally experiences a “Revival”, which allows him to go back in time and he is able to use that power (which he has no control over) to save people.

When Satoru saves a boy from being killed by a driver who died from a heart attack, the save lands Satoru in the hospital.

While his co-worker Airi Katagiri is there to watch over him, Satoru’s mother Sachiko comes to visit him.

Sachiko discusses with his son about the traumatic things he experienced, such as when students went missing and were found dead and Satoru’s adult friend, Jun Shiratori was accused of the crime.

While Sachiko and Satoru are out and he begins to experience another revival, Sachiko notices a boy being consoled by his mother and a man staring at them.  And wondering if he was trying to watch the kid and kidnap him.

Sachiko and her friend, a journalist named Sawada feel that the true killer of the children long ago is still alive and has not been caught and feel’s that June Shiratori was falsely accused of the murders.

Sachiko wants to alert her son but before she can, someone comes into Satoru’s home and stabs Sachiko to death.

When Satoru returns home, he finds his mother dead and when he goes to turn her over, he gets her blood on his hands, in which a neighbor spots Satoru with blood on him.  Immediately, she calls the police and when they come, Satoru is looked at as the person responsible for the murder.

Satoru runs away from the scene and he becomes wanted man.  He immediately goes into revival mode and is taken back to 1986, when he was 11-years-old and comes across Kayo Hinazuki, a girl that he was good friends with and the first victim of the serial killer.

Satoru is determined in making sure Kayo survives and prevent the killer from hurting anyone.

But can he do it?


VIDEO:

“Erased: Volume 1” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Picture quality is absolutely fantastic as A-1 Pictures did a magnificent job with the character design and animation.  May it be the subtle movement, facial expressions, action sequences plus the amazing art backgrounds make this series one of the best I have seen all year on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Erased: Volume 1″is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM 2.0.  Dialogue and musical score is crystal clear through the front channel.  Both Japanese and English dub soundtracks are wonderfully acted.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Erased: Volume 1” features the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Alex Von David, voice talents Ben Diskin (voice of Satoru) and Cherami Leigh (voice of Airi).
  • Episode 7 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Alex Von David, voice talents Ben Diskin (voice of Satoru) and Cherami Leigh (voice of Airi).
  • Promo Video – Japanese and English promo video for “Erased”.
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs

EXTRAS:

“Erased: Volume 1” comes with a slipcover, an original 40-page short manga by Kei Sanbe, a 40-page deluxe booklet and an Boku Dake ga Inai Machi Original Soundtrack 01 featuring music by Kajiura Yuki (Duration: 39 Minutes).


If you had the power to go back in time, when you were only 11-years-old, to stop the murders of friends and protect them from a serial killer, would you do it?  Can you do it?

This is the story of Kei Sanbei’s “Erased” adapted into a 12-episode anime series and receiving rave reviews from fans for its thrilling mystery story about a man named Satoru who suffers the tragedy of seeing his bludgeoned mother and being accused of the crime.

Since he was a young boy, he had the special ability known as “Revival” and that is to go back in time for a brief amount of time in order to save lives.

But this time, his life and the people that are dear to him, their lives are in danger when a serial killer from Satoru’s past, has killed his mother.

The death of his mother sends Satoru back in time at the age of 11, a time when his friend Kayo was found murdered and other children were also murdered.  A friend of Satoru and the wrong person accused, Satoru has the opportunity to save the lives of those who were killed in the past.

But with him in the body of his 11-year-old self, can Satoru still make a difference?  And who is the person responsible for the murders?

The first six episodes of “Erased” are fantastic.  With many people that Satoru comes into contact showing potential of being evil, who can he trust?  And who is responsible for the crime?  And as Satoru tries to manage the troubles from 1988 and 2006, will he be able to save his childhood friend, Kayo, who was the first victim of the serial killer?

As always, A-1 Pictures has done a phenomenal job with the animation and background art.  Special features include two audio commentaries with the English dub ADR Director and two voice talents and as expected from Aniplex, plenty of swag with an original soundtrack, short manga and deluxe booklet included.

Overall, the first half of “Erased” is magnificent, captivating and a murder mystery thriller that will attract fans who love sci-fi and mystery-driven anime series.  Highly recommended!

Purchase this Blu-ray from Rightstuf

Eureka Seven: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who grew up watching “Eureka Seven” or for those wanting to watch this classic sci-fi mecha anime series in completion, now you can with “Eureka Seven: The Complete Series”. A fantastic anime series that I will forever cherish and a deep and entertaining sci-fi anime series that I highly recommend!

Image courtesy of © 2005-2006 BONES. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Eureka Seven: The Complete Series

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: (Episodes 1-50) 1250 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080i High Definition (4×3 SD Remaster), English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Funimation

RATING: TV 14

Release Date: August 30, 2016


Series Director: Tomoki Kyoda

Series Composition by Dai Sato

Music by Naoki Sato

Character Design by Kenichi Yoshida

Art Director: Atsushi Morikawa, Kazuo Nagai

Chief Animation Director: Kenichi Yoshida

Anime Production: BONES


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaori Nazuka/Stephanie Sheh as Eureka

Keiji Fujiwara/Crispin Freeman as Holland

Michiko Neya/Kate Higgins as Talho Yuki

Yuko Sanpei/Johnny Yong Bosch as Renton Thurston

Akio Nakamura/Kirk Thornton as Matthieu

Ami Koshimizu/Kari Wahlgren as Anemone

Aya Hisakawa/Melissa Fahn as Ray

Eriko Kigawa/Peggy O’Neal as Maeter

Fumie Mizusawa/Jessica Straus as Gidget/Linck

Juurouta Kosugi/Patrick Seitz as Charles Beams

Kouji Tsujitani/Kim Strauss as Dewey Novac

Mamoru Miyano/Steve Staley as Moondoggie

Mayumi Asano/Megan Hollingshead as Hilda

Michiko Neya/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Maurice

Rikiya Koyama/Jamieson K. Price as Norb

Shigenori Yamazaki/Peter Doyle as Dominic Sorel

Tamio Ohki/Kyle Hebert as Ken-Goh

Tarô Yamaguchi/Tony Oliver as Hap

Yasunori Matsumoto/Doug Stone as Stoner


Relive the classic era of anime with the studio that brought you Escaflowne, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Wolf’s Rain. Returning to the spotlight after almost a decade, Eureka Seven – the greatest anime love story ever told – makes its long-awaited arrival on Blu-ray!

Renton is a teenager trapped working as a mechanic in a backwater town. He dreams of joining up with a daredevil group of pilots known as Gekkostate and following in his father’s heroic footsteps.

When a mysterious beauty named Eureka shows up asking for a tune-up, Renton soon finds himself drawn into a high-flying mecha dogfight that makes him a target of the military. When the dust settles on the spectacular battle, Renton is invited to join Gekkostate, but he soon discovers that even a dream come true has a dark side.


“Eureka Seven”, the popular mecha anime TV series from Bones has spawned video games, novels, movies and also a manga series which ran in Kadokawa Shoten’s “Monthly Shonen Ace” from 2005-2006 with a total of six graphic novels released.  And a sequel to the anime series titled “Eureka Seven: AO” would air on television in 2012-2013 (and would focus on the character, Ao Thurston).

As the anime series was a big hit in the US airing on the Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” and it was a series that introduced many people to anime.

And now this anime sci-fi classic will be released as a complete collection on Blu-ray courtesy of Funimation.

“Eureka Seven” revolves around a boy named Renton Thurston, a young 14-year-old who is brash and tends to enjoy living for the moment.  His hobby is grabbing his lift board (somewhat like a surf or skateboard but is used for floating in the air) and just riding it and having fun.  Renton, also happens to be the son of the late military hero Adroc Thurston and the grandson of famous scientist Axel Thurston.  But unlike them, Renton is not into studying nor does he have any career ambitions, he’s just a boy who idolizes Ray-Out Magazine’s Holland Novak, a professional lift board rider.

One day, a mecha (an LFO known as Nirvash typeZERO – the world’s first humanoid mobile machine – Light Finding Operation) crashes near his home and inside it comes out a girl who piloted it.  While repairs are being done on the LFO, Renton becomes happy when the girl tells him that she knows Holland (Renton’s lift board idol) and immediately, Renton becomes happy but the more he sees this girl, he starts to fall for her.

The military (U.F. Force) then disrupts their meeting as they try to get the girl and the two quickly escape on the LFO together.   While being pursued, somehow the two managed to create “The Seventh Swell” and grabs the attention of Holland and his crew (known as The Gekko State).  Can Renton be the source of hidden power of the Nirvash?

Meanwhile, we learn from the military why they are pursuing Eureka and that she and the Nirvash were part of a major military secret project that was stolen by Holland and now they want her back.  Meanwhile, the crew wonder if Renton is the real deal of what happened with the Nirvash or was it freak situation that just happened.  As for Renton, he’s just happy to be part of a group that Holland belongs to and most of all, to be near Eureka.

While the bulk of the main storyline of the first half of the manga series features The Gekko State trying to hide from the military or getting into battles with each other, a third party, an alien race known as the Coralians have reappeared and for some reason, they are also going after Eureka.

Outside of the storyline involving the Gekko State and UF Force, the other primary storyline is Renton and Eureka’s storyline as two people who don’t understand their emotions but they are attracted to each other.  The other storyline focuses on the Novak brothers as we see Holland doing what he can to protect his team but trying to calm his hatred towards his brother Dewey, and vice-versa as Dewey tries to put his plan to rule UF Force and using anemone (a girl who looks similar to Eureka but are quite different) to destroy Gekko State and those who will stand in his way.


The main characters of the series are:

Renton Thurston – The main protagonist.  A 14-year-old who loves to ride a lift board and a boy who feels that he can never live up to his father’s legacy.  He idolizes Holland, has a crush on Eureka and will do whatever he can to help her (including becoming a member of Gekko State).

Eureka – An unusual young woman with blue hair.  She is the pilot of the mecha Nirvash typeZERO.  She doesn’t comprehend these emotions she has when she’s around Renton.  She is also the adoptive mother of three young kids: Maurice, Maeter and Linck.  She and Holland are the primary pilots of Gekko State.

Holland Novak – The popular lift boarder but also the leader of the Gekko State.  He tries to analyze Renton and wonder if he is the person behind the secret power of the Nirvash typeZERO.  Holland is a former member of the SOF, a military unit but when he was ask by Norb to protect Eureka, he took her and the Nirvash from the military to protect her.  Now he is a wanted man.  Meanwhile, he has a deep hatred towards his brother Dewey.  Holland pilots the LFO known as Terminus typeR909.

Yuki Taiho – A friend of Holland and Dewey when they were in the military.  Yuki now pilots the Gekko and is a close confidant of Holland.

Gekko State – A group of lift riders and friends who support Novak’s goal.  Other members include Matthieu, Hilda, Stoner, Ken-Goh, Mischa, Gonzy, Jobs, Woz, Hap, Gidget and Moondoggie.  Also, joining the team are three orphans: Maurice, Maeter and Linck.

Colonel Dewey Novak – The main antagonist who takes control of the U.F. Force and has a deep hatred towards his brother Holland and the Coralians.   His greatest asset is Anemone who is loyal to him.

Anemone – A person who resembles Eureka but belongs to Dewey of the U.F. Force.  She can sense Eureka and she loves to eat sweet things.  She is the pilot of Nirvash LFO, typeTheEND.

Lieutenant Dominic Sorel – A young lieutenant assigned to tend to Anemone’s needs and works for Col. Dewey Novak.  Although a high ranking officer of the U.F. Force, he seems to have some differences with his superior which he keeps to himself.

The Coralians – Eureka Seven takes place 10,000 years after humanity left for space after the arrival of the aliens known as Scub Coral.  Because they merged with the planet, humans were forced to leave the planet and moved into a planet known as Land of Kanan which parts of the land are occupied by the Scrub Coral.  The Coralians are manifestations that either ravage a land, attack humans (after they have been attacked) or a human-form of Coralian who try to learn from humanity.


VIDEO:

“Eureka Seven: The Complete Series” is presented in 1080i High Definition (SD Remaster). It’s important to note that this is an older anime series from 2005-2006 and was aired in standard format.  Overall, picture quality is good for the overall animation but there is slight softness and this series was released before anime companies would focus in creating anime in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Eureka Seven: The Complete Series” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  The series did not receive a Funimation 5.1 treatment, considering the series was released many years ago by Bandai Visual.  But for the most part, dialogue in Japanese and English is crystal clear and English subtitles are clear and legible.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Eureka Seven: The Complete Series” features the following special features:

NOTE: Japanese audio commentary comes with English subtitles

  • Episode 1 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton) and Kaori Nazuka (Eureka).
  • Episode 7 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) and Mamoru Miyano (Moondoggie).
  • Episode 13 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) and Shigenori Yamazaki (Dominic)
  • Episode 15 Commentary- Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka), Akio Nakamura (Matthieu) and Mayumi Asano (Hilda).
  • Episode 20 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) and Kenji Fujiwara (Holland).
  • Episode 26 Commentary- Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kenichi Yoshida (character designer) and Masayuki Miyaji (storyboard artist).
  • Episode 27 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka), Jurota Kosugi (Charles) and Aya Hisakawa (Ray)
  • Episode 32 Commentary- Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) and Ami Koshimizu (Anemone).
  • Episode 36 Commentary- Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka), Eriko Kigawa (Maeter) and Fumie Mizusawa (Gidget)
  • Episode 39 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka), Yasunri Matsumoto (Stoner) and Taro Yamaguchi (Hap)
  • Episode 43 Commentary- Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) and Kenji Tsujitani (Dewey).
  • Episode 50 Commentary- Featuring audio commentary by Japanese voice talents Yuko Sanpei (Renton), Kaori Nazuka (Eureka), Kazuhiro Wakabayashi (sound director) and Tomoki Kyoda (director)
  • Yuko Sanpei (Renton) and Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) Interviews Part 1
  • Yuko Sanpei (Renton) and Kaori Nazuka (Eureka) Interviews Part 2
  • Interview with Stephanie Sheh (Eureka)
  • Interview with Johnny Yong Bosch (Renton)
  • Keiji Fujiwara (Holland) and Michiko Neya (Talho) Interviews Part 1
  • Keiji Fujiwara (Holland) and Michiko Neya (Talho) Interviews Part 2
  • Keiji Fujiwara (Holland) and Michiko Neya (Talho) Interviews Part 3
  • Interview with Crispin Freeman (Holland) Part 1
  • Interview with Crispin Freeman (Holland) Part 2
  • Interview with Crispin Freeman (Holland) Part 3
  • Kate Higgins (Talho)
  • Episode 50 (Special Textless Version)
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs 1-3
  • U.S. Trailer
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Eureka Seven: The Complete Series” comes with a slipcover.


Over a decade ago, “Eureka Seven” made its debut on Japanese television.

Not long after, the series would air in America on Adult Swim and for many, it gave more recent anime fans a glimpse of a sci-fi mecha anime series with a love story (while others have grown up with watching it in various “Gundam” series and “Macross”).

“Eureka Seven” is an awesome series.  From when it starts out, I really enjoyed the underdog theme going for it with Renton being this unlikely hero but turning out to be a young kid who is really turning out to be more than anyone has expected.

Eureka is also an interesting character as she is quite mysterious and the whole Gekko State team is pretty cool and for the most part, cool characters and interesting antagonists.  Throw in the alien Coralians and you have that secondary evil that made you wonder how this series will progress.

For those not familiar with “Eureka Seven”, I think those who have followed the “Mobile Suit Gundam” or “Gurren Lagann” series will definitely find “Eureka Seven” to be an entertaining series.

You get a large group of characters but a storyline focusing on the underdog who turns out to be quite the hero but yet has the low self esteem issue and tends to doubt himself.  Sure, it’s a prevailing theme with many mecha series but in this case, where Gundam focuses on survival and “Gurren Lagann” focuses on eradicating the evil on the planet, “Eureka Seven” so far has been a storyline featuring a band of renegades with stolen military technology and trying to avoid being detected by the military.

Problem is, both sides have similar technology and it’s all about who will be the last person standing, in this case…it’s either Gekko State or the UF Forces.

And as the series progresses, things really become dramatic as the Gekko State faces several tragedies and the group taking part in a major battle.  And of course, Renton and Eureka’s up-and-down friendship/relationship and much more.

As for the anime series on Blu-ray, I have to emphasize that this is an older anime series released in 2005-2006, so picture quality is featured in 4:3 standard format and 1080i, not 1080p.   With that being said, while the series is not vibrant as one would usually see in a newer anime series on Blu-ray, the upscale is still very good.  Character designs, art backgrounds and everything else about the series looks very good on Blu-ray. There is a slight softness but that can be expected with an anime TV series.

As for the audio, it’s presented in English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 and for the most part, dialogue, music and special effects are crystal clear through the front channels.

And as for special features, you get a ton of audio commentary from the Japanese voice actors (with English subtitles) and also interviews with both Japanese and English dub voice cast.

Overall, for those who grew up watching “Eureka Seven” or for those wanting to watch this classic sci-fi mecha anime series in completion, now you can with “Eureka Seven: The Complete Series”.  A fantastic anime series that I will forever cherish and a deep and entertaining sci-fi anime series that I highly recommend!

Your Lie in April Vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

yourlieinapril-2

“Your Lie in April” is captivating, heartbreaking but also inspiring. It is rare to watch an anime series that captivates you on all levels, may it be animation, music, storytelling, this series is fantastic! “Your Lie in April” is highly recommended and definitely one of the top anime releases on Blu-ray for 2016!

Image courtesy of © 2015 Aniplex Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Your Lie in April Vol. 2

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2014-2015

DURATION: Episodes 12-22 (250 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition/16:9 HD Widescreen, English and Japanese 2.0 Stereo, Subtitles: English and Spanish

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: May 31, 2016


Originally Created by Naoshi Arakawa

Directed by Kyohei Ishiguro

Series Composition/Screenplay by Takao Yoshioka

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Character Design by Yukiko Aikei

Art Director: Hisao Usui

Anime Character Design by Tomoaki Takase

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Natsuki Hanae/Max Mittelman as Kōsei Arima

Risa Taneda/Erica Lindbeck as Kaori Miyazono

Ai Kayano/Stephanie Sheh as Nagi Aizato

Ayane Sakura/Erica Mendez as Tsubaki Sawabe

Mamiko Noto/Wendee Lee as Saki Arima

Ryota Ohsaka/Kyle McCarley as Ryōta Watari

Saori Hayami/Erika Harlacher as Emi Igawa

Shizuka Ishigami/Julie Ann Taylor as Nao Kashiwagi

Yuuki Kaji/Erika Scott Kimerer as Takeshi Aiza


Summer passes and Kaori spends more time in the hospital than school. After much struggling, Kousei comes to realize that he’s onstage now because of the people who support him. Playing the notes that they all gave him, Kousei pours his entire soul into his performance so that it will reach Kaori.


It has been a long road for piano child prodigy Kosei Arima.  Since the loss of his mother and the abuse he had to take as a child, he has been out of piano competitions and have been unable to play well enough to compete.

Until he met the free-spirited violinist Kaori Miyazono.

She has been able to get Kosei Arima to play again, to help him with his problems and the two have built a strong relationship.

But when Kaori starts becoming ill and unable to play, will Kosei Arima lose his will to play the piano again?

Find out in the second and final volume of “Your Lie in April”!

What is “Your Lie in April”?

Back in 2011, Naoshi Arakawa created the manga series “Shigatsu wa Kimi n o Uso” (Your Lie in April).

The manga was serialized in Kodansha’s “Monthly Shonen Magazine” from 2011-2015 and would be adapted into an anime series from October 2014-March 2015 on Fuji TV’s noitamina block.

The anime series was produced by A-1 Pictures and was directed by Kyohei Ishiguro (“Lance N’ Masques”), series composition and screenplay by Takao Yoshioka (“Elfen Lied”, “High School DxD”, “Ikki Tousen”, “Sekirei” and “Sky Girls”), music by Masaru Yokoyama (“Freezing”, “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans”, “Queen’s Blade: Rebellion”), character design by Yukiko Aikei (“Accel World”, “Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere”, “Aikatsu Stars!”) and art direction by Hisayo Usui (“Saint Young Men”, “Fairy Tail”, “Angel Beats!”).

With a live film adaptation of “Your Lie in April” to hit theaters in Japan in Sept. 2016, the first volume of the anime series (featuring episodes 1-11) was released in the U.S. on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

“Your Lie in April” is a series that revolves around a former child prodigy in playing piano named Kosei Arima. Known as the “human metronome”, he was also emotionally and physically abused by his mother who was very strict on him when it came to playing the piano and being perfect.

While he dominated piano competitions all throughout Japan, when his mother died of an illness, he suffered psychological trauma in which caused him to no longer hear the notes of the piano after playing for several minutes.

One day, he comes across violinist Kaori Miyazono, a free-spirited violinist who doesn’t follow the rules of adhering strictly to the score but is beloved by audiences for her music.

While walking home, she hears Kosei playing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, only for a few minutes before he starts to lose the ability to hear the notes, once he starts to concentrate.

Immediately Kaori appoints him as her accompanist for the second round of preliminaries, which he refuses and tells her that he can’t play.

But eventually, she convinces Kosei to play for the preliminaries and their musical journey together begins.

The main characters of “Your Lie in April” are:

  • Kosei Arima – A former child prodigy pianist known as “the human metronome”. Because of his domination at competitions, showing up to school and competitions with bruises and scratches and people seeing his mother abusing him, a lot of rumors have followed him everywhere he goes. But when his mother died, it left him in psychological trauma for some reason and he is no longer able to hear the notes when he concentrates. So, he has given up piano and is focusing on a normal life.
  • Kaori Miyazono – A free-spirited violinist who walks to the beat of her own drum, playing music the way she wants to. Despite drawing the ire of judging panels, the audiences love to see her play. She develops a strong friendship with Kosei when she asks him to become her accompanist.
  • Tsubaki Sawabe – Kosei’s childhood friend who has been with him since they were younger. She is athletic but she also has feelings towards Kosei and is jealous of the time he is spending with Kaori.
  • Ryota Watari – Kosei and Tsubaki’s childhood friend and the captain of the soccer team. He tells Kosei that Kaori is his love interest, so Kosei respects that, despite feeling a little jealous towards Ryota.
  • Takeshi Aiza – A rival pianist of Kosei. He has always respected Kosei’s domination at competition and looked to him as a hero. But as Takeshi has dominated competitions in Kosei’s absence, he has been waiting to compete against him.
  • Emi Igawa – A pianist who began after listening to Kosei play when she was five-years-old. Unlike Kosei, she wants to reach the audience through playing with emotion. She hopes to reach Kosei the same way, as she may have feelings towards him.
  • Saki Arima – The mother of Kosei who was very strict and abusive emotionally and physically towards him. She accepts nothing less than perfection. She was very ill and when she passed away, it sent Kosei into psychological trauma.
  • Hiroko Seto – Saki’s close friend from college and a renowned pianist. She is the person responsible for discovering Kosei’s piano talents. She blames herself for the abuse of Kosei, that she becomes his guardian.
  • Nagi Aiza – The younger sister of Takeshi Aiza.  She has always wanted her brother to notice her but he has been fixated with his rivalry to Kosei.  So, what happens when Nagi becomes Kosei’s student?

VIDEO:

“Your Lie in April” features gorgeous animation by A-1 Pictures. Character designs are well-done, because the anime series often takes place outdoors, the animators chose to show a wonderful amount of detail, vibrant colors and backgrounds and structures are well-detailed. Overall, picture quality is vibrant and the series looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Your Lie in April” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo. Dialogue and music are crystal clear and subtitles are in English and Spanish.

Both English dub and the Japanese soundtrack features awesome performances by the voice talent. I was impressed by bot soundtracks as they are done very well.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Your Lie in April” vol. 2 comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening
  • Textless Ending
  • Gag Reel – Featuring an English dub gag reel
  • Audio Commentary (Ep. 22) – Featuring audio commentary by ADR director Matt Seitz and voice talents Max Mittelman and Erica Lindbeck.

EXTRAS:

“Your Lie in April” vol. 2 comes with three collectible postcards and a 10-track CD soundtrack (Duration: 19 Minutes) featuring music by Masaru Yokoyama.


Once in awhile, there are anime series that captivates you with its vibrant animation, its beautiful music, humor but also a deep storyline.

“Your Lie in April” is one of those series that I watched and found myself instantly hooked on its characters and its moving storyline that got better with episode after episode.

The story revolves around a former child prodigy pianist named Kousei Arima who literally has lost his will to play the piano after suffering psychological trauma after the death of his mother.

And while a loss of a family member of loved one can be banal in many storylines for film or TV series, “Your Lire in April” is different in the fact that Kousei was raised by his mother, but his mother was strict and abusive.

She never let him have any fun, disciplined and beat him when he didn’t get his notes correctly. She didn’t care about anything else about him, only that he plays the piano perfectly and she was his harshest critic.

He is looked at by many people negatively because of that lack of love or emotional demeanor. His piano playing was methodic and not emotional, he played the way his mother had taught him and beating his piano rivals at competitions were the goal. Being the perfect pianist was the only way to live his life.

But when she passed away, each time he would play, he would be swallowed by his memories of his strict mother angered at him. So much to the point that he would be unable to play the piano when trying to concentrate and literally not be able to hear the notes.

So, he has quit playing the piano for two years and living a normal school life with his childhood friends Tsubaki Sawabe and Ryota Watari.

But life changes for Kosei when he befriends and watches the violin performance of Kaori Miyazono.

While talented, she is free-spirited and doesn’t play for the judges, she plays for the audience.

Surprised by the way she approaches her music and the way she is as an individual, he is intrigued by her. But is shocked when she chooses him to be her piano accompanist for her preliminary competition.

Fearful and doubting himself of playing the piano again, he eventually decides to do it for this one time. But Kosei is unaware that this new friendship with the vibrant Kaori Miyazono, will change his life forever.

As we get into the second volume, after seeing Kosei grow and being able to play again, he starts to feel emotions that he has never felt for anyone and inside, he has fallen for Kaori.

Meanwhile, his childhood friend Tsubaki has started to realize that she has emotions towards Kosei and is unable to tell him, because she knows how he feels about Kaori.

And as we start to see progress with Kosei and even taking in a young student, Nagi Aiza, the younger sister of Takeshi Aiza, the pianist who has looked at Kosei as his major rival.

And just when Kosei is taking major steps to compete as a pianist again, his world is rocked once again when Kaori becomes very ill and is hospitalized.  Afraid that the same thing that happen to his mother may happen to Kaori, Kosei once again loses his will to play.

Will Kosei find the courage and the way to play the piano?

“Your Lie in April” vol. 2 comes with the final eleven episodes. On Blu-ray, the animation is vibrant, detailed and looks fantastic in HD. I absolutely love the colors, the character design, the animation and background art for this anime series. And the lossless audio, may it be with the English dub or the original Japanese soundtrack, are both well-performed.

The second volume of “Your Lie in April” comes with three postcards but for those who were captivated by the music of this anime series, will be happy to know that another CD soundtrack featuring ten songs from the latter half of the anime series is included. (note: the solo piano and violin segments featured in the competitions are not included in this soundtrack.)

Overall, “Your Lie in April” is a rarity to find released in America.  As action-driven anime is what is primarily released, I have to say how happy I am that “Your Lie in April” was released and it features both Japanese an English dub. It’s a deep anime series and storywise, it’s been a long time since I have fallen in love with an anime series like this.

While the Japanese voice acting was wonderful, I just have to say that when it comes to English dubs, the acting by both Max Mittelman and Erica Lindbeck and also the other voice dub cast, have done an amazing job!  The writing was well done for the English version and I was amazed by the overall quality.

“Your Lie in April” is captivating, heartbreaking but also inspiring. It is rare to watch an anime series that captivates you on all levels, may it be animation, music, storytelling, this series is fantastic!

“Your Lie in April” is highly recommended and definitely one of the top anime releases on Blu-ray for 2016!

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