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My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0: S.ifr – The OVA Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 9, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0:S.ifr – The OVA Collection” is recommended for those who have watched “My-Otome” and no the background of the characters.  While the OVA series can be watched on its own, I still recommend one to immerse themselves with “My-Otome” then “My-Otome Zwei” and last, “My-Otome 0:S.ifr”.

Image courtesy of © Sunrise. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0: S.ifr – THE OVA Collection

DURATION: (7 Episodes) 192 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), Japanese 5.2 and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: January 9, 2018


My Otome-Zwei

Directed by Masakazu Obara

Series Composition: Hiroyuki Yoshino

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Original Creator: Hajime Yatate

Character Design: Hirokazu Hisayuki

Art Director: Shinji Takasuka

Anime Production: Sunrise

My-Otome 0: S.ifr

Directed by Hirokazu Hisayuki

Scenario: Tatsuto Higuchi

Music by Kuniaki Haishima

Original Creator: Hajime Yatate

Character Design: Hirokazu Hisayuki

Mechanical Design: Hiroyuki Taiga

Anime Production: Sunrise


Featuring the following voice talent – My Otome-Zwei

Ami Koshimizu/Kris Rundle as Nina Wáng

Mika Kikuchi/Angie Beers as Arika Yumemiya

Yukana/Katie Rowan as Mashiro Blan de Windbloom

Ai Shimizu/Caitlynne Medrek as Mikoto Minagi

Akira Ishida/Graham Ko as Nagi Dài Artai

Junko Iwao/Morgan Partridge as Akane Soir

Katsuyuki Konishi/Phil Fulton as Sergay Wáng

Kiyomi Asai/Maizun Jayoussi as Miyu

Kumiko Higa/Leah Dubbin-Steckel as Irina Woods

Mai Nakahara/Carol-Anne Day as Mai Tokiha

Mamiko Noto/Morgan Partridge as Yukino Chrysant

Minami Kuribayashi/Lori Barnes-Smith as Erstin Ho

Mitsuki Saiga/Hazel Forman as Chie Hallard

Naomi Shindoh/Melanie Risdon as Shizuru Viola

Rie Tanaka/Tracy Sutton as Tomoe Marguerite

Ryoka Yuzuki/Lori-Barns Smith as Haruka Armitage

Ryoko Shintani/Jayna Mitchell as Aoi Senoh

Saeko Chiba/Cheryl McMaster as Natsuki Kruger

Sakura Nogawa/Leda Davies as Shiho Huit

Toshihiko Seki/Ethan Cole as Rad

Youko Matsuoka/Barb Mitchell as Maria Graceburt

Yukari Tamura/Mariette Sluyter as Midori

Yuuka Nanri/Marcy Lannan as Juliet Nao Zhang

My-Otome 0: S.ifr

Ami Koshimizu as Sifr Fran

Aya Endo as Lena Sayers

Yuko Sanpei as Elliot Chandler

Akeno Watanabe as Iruma Vandebelt

Akiko Kimura as Rei Juggernaut/Reito


Discover more about the power of Otome in two exciting OVAs. After the battle of Windbloom, Arika and her friends face another threat when a strange new creature appears. In the sub-only prequel, catch a new story where the powers of HiME and Otome combine, and Arika and Nina’s mothers have their own adventure.


Back in 2004, Sunrise created the anime series “My-HiME”. Directed by Masakazu Obara and written by Hiroyuki Yoshino, the anime series lasted for 26 episodes and would lead to a new series “My-Otome” (26 episodes, 2005-2006) and two OVA series: “My-Otome Zwei” (4 episodes, 2006-2007) and “My-Otome 0: S.ifr” (3 episodes, 2008).

“My-HiME” was Sunrise’s first Moe anime series and an animation series that captivated viewers.  While the anime series was released on DVD courtesy of Sunrise years ago, the license for all three series was acquired by Funimation and will be released on Blu-ray/DVD in January 2018.

“My-Otome Zwei” takes places one year after “My-Otome” and Arika is now an Otome (who still has yet to graduate from school).  As various nations are coming together to hold a Strategic Otome Limitation Talks and discussion about limiting the number of Otome.

But the peace in Earl changes when a mysterious shadow figure begins to attack Garderobe, meanwhile Queen Mashiro has disappeared and Arika goes to search for her, while the Otome in Garderobe try to look into who this mysterious shadow figure is.

“My-Otome o: S.ifr” is a prequel that explains who is Arika Yumemiya’s mother is (Lena Sayers) and the origins of Nina Wang’s mother (Sifr Fran), the origins of Schwartz, Aswad and the Garderobe Academy and the Five Columns are revealed.


VIDEO:

“My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0: S.ifr” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16×9). The former was released in 2006-2007, while the prequel was released in 2008.  OVA’s tend to have better production value and it’s quite evident with the 1080p presentation.  Colors are much more vibrant, while anime production between the two series in terms of character design are different.  But for the most part, the anime series looks great in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“My-Otome Zwei” is presented in English 2.0 and Japanese 5.1, while “My-Otome 0: S.ifr” is presented only in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Crystal clear dialogue and music through the front channels.  Japanese soundtrack sounds great with the 5.1 soundtrack but for the most part, the Japanese soundtrack is well-acted, while the English dub is very good, but kind of has an old-school anime English dub vibe.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0: S.ifr” comes with textless songs and trailers.

EXTRAS:

“My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0: S.ifr – The OVA Collection” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD of the series.


When “My-HiME” was released over a decade ago, it was no doubt considered as an amazing anime series from Sunrise and unlike anything they have done before.

It was the studio’s first moe anime series and one showcasing a strong female cast of characters.

With “My-Otome”, the vibe of the anime series is a bit different. A series that focuses on a girl looking for her mother, decides that she wants to be an Otome and then trying to prove her worthiness by taking part in difficult training and showing that she has what it takes to be an Otome.

With the sequel “My-Otome Zwei”, the OVA series explores Arika trying to search for Queen Mashiro who has gone feeling and a mysterious shadow who has come to Earl and is causing great trouble to the people. The series reunites Arika and Nina Wang joining forces to take on a greater evil and for the most part, it’s another sequel that is action-packed and fun to watch.

“My-Otome 0: S.ifr” is a prequel that explores Arika’s mother Lena Sayers and Nina’s mother Sifr Fan, also Headmistress of Garderobe Una Shamrock.  This is an important story as Arika’s mother was often alluded to in “My Otome” and also how Arika was able to get the Blue Sky Sapphire.

But in this OVA series, Sifr is kidnapped and is rescued by Lena Sayers.  But another kidnapping attempt on Sifr is made and can Lena protect her? But why all the trouble to kidnap Sifr?

For the most part, the OVA series showcases Arika and Nina (“My Otome Zwei), while the “My-Otome 0:S.ifr” explores their parents, Lena and Sifr and how those two became close friends.

It’s not an incredibly deep storyline and unlike the TV series which is thorough in introducing characters and having a consistent plot, the OVA series are more side stories and should only be watched if you watched “My-Otome”.

But I have to say my favorite is still “My-HiME” which has a much deeper, well-written storyline.  But for the most part, I feel that “My-Otome” fans will no doubt love the OVA collection.

Both OVA series look very good in HD and are much better than their TV series counterparts (which were soft as can be expected from a TV series, especially an older series).  But te OVA Collection features better background artwork, better character designs and detailed backgrounds.

It’s important to note that “My-Otome Zwei” is presented in Japanese 5.1 Dolby TrueHD and English 2.0 Dolby TrueHD, while “My-Otome 0:S.ifr” is only in Japanese 5.1 Dolby TrueHD.

Also, I have to note that when you put the Blu-ray in, you’ll notice the prequel is presented first and the sequel second.  I prefer watching the sequel first and then the prequel second.

Overall, “My-Otome Zwei and My-Otome 0:S.ifr – The OVA Collection” is recommended for those who have watched “My-Otome” and no the background of the characters.  While the OVA series can be watched on its own, I still recommend one to immerse themselves with “My-Otome” then “My-Otome Zwei” and last, “My-Otome 0:S.ifr”.

 

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers vol. 3 by Katsuyuki Sumizawa and Tomofumi Ogasawara (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

February 4, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

There is much more of a plot introduced and less confusion with the third volume, so I’m hoping things get better as the manga progresses. “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers” vol. 3 is finally starting to show some promise!

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© 2011 Sotsu-Sunrise. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers vol. 3

STORY BY Katsuyuki Sumizawa

ART by Tomofumi Ogasawara

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Kodansha Ltd.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Vertical Comics

RATED: ALL

RELEASE DATE: November 14, 2017


The Gundams have gathered to put a stop to a planned operation to launch MS Tauruses into space from New Edwards Base. Quatre, Trowa and Wufei attack the base without realizing that the operation is a feint. OZ Commander Treize seizes the chance to launch Operation Pleiades with the aim of dismantling the United Earth Sphere Alliance. As the moderate members of the Alliance attempt to flee to New Edwards Base, Heero’s Wing Gundam alights…


Five different Gundam pilots, each with a different motivation.  With “Operation Pleiades” in effect to dismantle the United Earth Sphere Alliance Military, the Gundams have come togther at New Edwards base and with the actions of one, now they may become the enemy of Earth.

And what happens when Chang Wufei and Treize Khushrenada confront each other?

All this and more in vol. 3 of “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers”.

What is “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers”?

It was back in 1995 when an anime series titled “Shin Kido Senki Gundam Wing” aired in Japan. The sixth installment in the “Gundam” franchise, it was a series that took place in the “After Colony” timeline.

A different setting and an alternate universe than the well-known Universal Century (UC), the AC deals with events primarily “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing” and its sequel “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz”.

The series is set in After Colony 195 and humans have colonized space and developed space colonies at each of the five Earth-Moon Lagrange points. On Earth, the nations formed the United Earth Sphere Alliance and this alliance has oppressed the colonies with their powerful military.

The colonies want to be free and scientists have developed a plan for revenge against the alliance with “Operation Meteor” and five teenage boys have been chosen and trained by five scientists and then sent to Earth with advanced mobile suits known as “Gundams” made from Gundanium alloy designed by each scientist.

The manga introduces us to these five teenage boys with the protagonist being Heero Yuy, Duo Maxwell, Trowa Barton, Quatre Raberba Winner and Chang Wufei.

As the United Earth Sphere Alliance are aware of the attacks on Alliance soldiers, the Organization of the Zodiac (OZ) has their ace mobile suit pilot, Zechs Merquise to find the enemy.

We are also introduced to Relena Darlian, daughter of the Alliance’s Vice Foreign Minister. We learn how she found Heero Yuy, who had washed ashore on the beach neaer the spaceport and she had always wanted to learn more about him, despite him always threatening to kill her. But for Heero, he is more intent to destroy his Gundam before anyone in OZ can get to it and learn the technology.

As Heero points a gun at Relena, she is saved by Duo Maxwell and as for Heero, he is held captive by the Alliance military.

But before they could get any answers from Heero, Duo breaks Heero out and the two escape.

Meanwhile, OZ is planning to unleash their mobile suit, the Epyon.

Five different Gundam pilots, each with a different motivation.


With the release of “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers”, readers who are not familiar with the storyline, may find it a different situation from the UC “Mobile Suit Gundam” storylines, especially if they have only read “Gundam Origin”.

The role has been reversed in the AC universe as Earth’s alliance are the aggressors and the colony who want to be free are the ones with specialized Gundam mecha suits.

The third volume features all Gundams united at New Edwards base to take on Oz.  But Heero decides to go on the attack to kill anything Oz…problem is, what he thought was Oz were not and now the Gundams will be looked at as the enemy of Earth.

Meanwhile Oz’s Commander-in-Chief, Colonel Treize Khushrenada challenges the Gundams to come at him.

As for Relena, her father tells her the truth of who she really is.  And Wufei confronts Treize in a battle, who will become victorious?

There is a lot of panels of fighting and things are so chaotic that it’s easy to get lose.   Writer Katsuyuki Sumizawa has a tough task of having to write stories about five Gundam pilots, let alone introducing characters from Zechs Marquise side that sometimes the storyline pacing becomes a little incoherent and you quickly realize the different writing stiles and character development when compared with “Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin”.

Different writing styles, both mecha/action-driven, many characters but one is engrossing and well-planned, the other is chaotic and incoherent.  In fact, you’ll find pages with a lot of action and then one word bubble.  But things are getting much better, as there is much more of a plot introduced and less confusion with the third volume, so I’m hoping things get better as the manga progresses.

 

“Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers” vol. 3 is finally starting to show some promise!

 /></b></a></p> <p style=

Love Live! Sunshine!! Season One (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 25, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who love idol music, especially those who love the original “Love Live!”, will definitely want to check out “Love Live! Sunshine!! Season One”.  Entertaining and a whole lot of fun, I definitely recommend this Blu-ray release!

Image courtesy of © Sunrise. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Love Live! Sunshine!! Season One

DURATION: (13 Episodes) 325 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: December 5, 2017


Originally Created by Hajime Yatate

Directed by Kazuo Sakai

Series Composition: Jukki Hanada

Music by Tatsuya Kato

Character Design: Yuhei Murota

Art Director: Junichi Higashi

Anime Production: Sunrise


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ai Furihata/Sarah Wiedenheft as Ruby Kurosawa

Aika Kobayashi/Morgan Berry as Yoshiko “Yohane” Tsushima

Aina Suzuki/Jamie Marchi as Mari Ohara

Anju Inami/Jad Saxton as Chika Takami

Arisa Komiya/Morgan Garrett as Dia Kurosawa

Kanako Takatsuki/Megan Shipman as Hanamaru Kunikida

Nanaka Suwa/Michelle Rojas as Kanan Matsūra

Rikako Aida/Jeannie Tirado as Riko Sakurauchi

Shuka Saitō/Apphia Yu as Yō Watanabe

Asami Tano/Trina Nishimura as Sarah Kazuno

Hinata Satō/Amber Lee Connors as Leah Kazuno

Kana Asumi/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Shima Takami

Kanae Itō/Monica Rial as Mito Takami


Chika Takami is swept up in idol fever and ready to start her own school idol group. But getting this club started is harder than this idol-to-be expected. She’ll have to work hard to form the idol group of her dreams with her new group of friends.


Back in 2010, ASCII Media Works’ “Dengeki G’s Magazine”, the. music label Lantis and the animation studio Sunrise would create a school idol project known as “Love Live!” about a group of schoolgirls who dreamed of becoming idols in order to save their school, which was slated to shut down.

The original series introduced the group μ’s (Muse) and how a teen named Honoka would find friends to join her in creating an idol group and set their goals high to participate in the ultimate school idol competition, Love Live.

The popularity of the anime series would lead to a manga adaptation, a light novel series and video games.

Fastforward to 2016 and a new idol project was created, meant to be a spin-off of “Love Live!” and would be titled “Love Live! Sunshine!!”.

“Love Live! Sunshine!!” is set in Uchiura, Numazu, Shizuoka (countryside/seaside area) and begins with a girl named Chika Takami who is a big fan of μ’s (Muse) because they are normal girls who saved their school from being demolished.

With Uranohoshi Girls’ Academy planning to be closed down, the school is going to be merged with the other high school, Numazu.   Inspired by the idol group, she and her friends hope they can do the same by forming an idol group and saving their school.

But will they be able to save Uranohoshi Girls’ Academy?

The main characters in the series are:

  • Chika Takami – The main protagonist and the leader of the group.  Inspired by μ’s (Muse), she is determined to form an idol club and become idols to save their school.  She is the group’s lyricist.
  • Riko Sakurauchi – A pianist who came from Akihabara’s Otonokizaka Girls’ Academy.  She stopped pursuing her passion and moved to Numazu, so she can “feel” the sea.  She has a fear of dogs, loves yuri manga and is a composer of the group.
  • You Watanabe – A childhood friend of Chika who dreams of becoming a ship captain like her father.  She is the costume coordinator for the group.
  • Dia Kurosawa – The student council president of Uranohoshi Girls’ Academy.  She is a huge fan of μ’s (Muse) but hides her idol enthusiasm, trying to prevent Chika from creating an idol club at school.
  • Kanan Matsuura – Chika’s childhood friend who follows Chika’s lead.  Kanan lives alone with her grandfather in a nearby island where they run a diving gear shop.  Because she often needs to take care of the shop alone, she has difficult attending school.  She, Dia and Mari were childhood friends who formed an idol group known as Aquours but it didn’t last.
  • Yoshiko Tsushima – A student who calls herself a “fallen angel” for having angered God and wants everyone to call her that.  She is looked at being strange but Chika invites her to become an idol.
  • Hanamaru Kunikida – Her family runs a local temple and has never seen modern technology so much, so she is enamored with them.  A childhood friend of Yoshiko.
  • Mari Ohara – She is half Japanese and a quarter Italian and American.  Her family is wealthy and runs a hotel chain.  She was friends with Dia and Kanan and formed an idol group in the past known as Aquours but she is not sure why her former once close friends are avoiding her.
  • Ruby Kurosawa- Dia’s younger sister who has dreamed to become an idol.  She has a fear of men and is extremely shy.

VIDEO:

“Love Live! Sunshine!!” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). Colors are vibrant and backgrounds are well-done.  But this is an anime series that focuses a lot on character close-ups and idol performances.  The anime series looks great in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Love Live! Sunshine!!” is presented in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Voice acting are well-done on both soundtracks and dialogue is crystal clear with the English dub being more immersive due to the 5.1 soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Love Live! Sunshine!! Season One” comes with the promo videos, commercial, textless opening song and trailers.

EXTRAS:

“Love Live! Sunshine!!” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD plus a Funimation Digital HD code.


“Love Live!” was no doubt one of the pop culture phenomenon that won the attention of fans worldwide. From those who loved the music or people who loved to cosplay as one of the characters, the series generated enthusiasm towards the characters and the voice actresses and also interested in various merchandise.

But in today’s Japan were idol music and idol groups are still popular, “Love Live!” came at such a wonderful time and many people loved the anime series.

So, it’s no surprise that ASCII Media Works, Lantis and Sunrise to capitalize on the popularity of the series.

Showcasing a similar concept of a group of girls trying to save their school and making it into the “Love Live!” competition, “Love Live! Sunshine!!” is an interesting perspective when things don’t always go right but also showcasing a group that worked hard in making their dreams come true, no matter the challenges they had to face.

The series begins with Chika Takami, inspired by the idol group μ’s (Muse).  Normal teenagers who went on to save their school and setting their goals to win the ultimate high school idol competition “Love Live!” and then eventually disbanding.

“Love Live! Sunshine!!” connects to the original series in spirit but also goes to show that this group of idols, known as Aquours are different.  But also situations are different as Chika finds herself in opposition with the student council president, Dia Kurosawa, who is very much against not interested in having an idol group started on school campus (and Chika and friends not aware that Dia and her friends were the original members of Aqours).

But the first season spotlights on character dynamics, getting us to know the different sides of the characters and how the would come together as a group (similar to Muse).  But also showing the agony of defeat as things don’t go so well at times.

And eventually setting things up for the group preparing themselves to compete in the “Love Life!” competition for the second season.

For the most part, I found “Love Live! Sunshine!!” entertaining.  The characters are each different in their own way, from those who have phobias, those who act strangely, those with life goals and those feeling the pressure of trying to succeed for the sake of their school.

“Love Live! Sunshine!!” looks great in HD with its colorful palette and for its lossless soundtrack, both soundtracks are fantastic but the English dub soundtrack has the edge thanks to its 5.1 soundtrack, the Japanese is 2.0 lossless.  As for special features, I would have thought that there would be the usual audio or video commentary from Funimation but there wasn’t anything but the usual promotional videos, textless opening, etc.

Overall, for those who love idol music, especially those who love the original “Love Live!”, will definitely want to check out “Love Live! Sunshine!! Season One”.  Entertaining and a whole lot of fun, I definitely recommend this Blu-ray release!

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers vol. 2 by Katsuyuki Sumizawa and Tomofumi Ogasawara (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

January 20, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who haven’t watched the anime series will find “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers” to be a deep, complex but also action-packed mecha manga series and it’ll be interesting to see if the manga continues to be more action-driven or will it find a balance with more of a plot to help with the character development.

 /></b></a></p> <p style=

© 2011 Sotsu-Sunrise. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers vol. 2

STORY BY Katsuyuki Sumizawa

ART by Tomofumi Ogasawara

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Kodansha Ltd.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Vertical Comics

RATED: ALL

RELEASE DATE: September 5, 2017


“Our target is OZ!” is the rallying cry of the five young Gundam pilots that fell to earth like meteors. They begin to attack OZ facilities scattered around the globe. Trowa, in the Heavyarms, launches a fierce attack on an MS factory on Corsica, when suddenly the Gundam Sandrock appears, with Quatre in the pilot’s seat, leading a Maganac corps. The battle between these two Gundam pilots, who had been unaware of each other’s existence until they end up engaged in combat, takes an unexpected turn…


Five different Gundam pilots, each with a different motivation.  Trowa Barton had come to Earth from the L-3 colonies in the Gundam Heavyarms and launches an assault on the MS production factory on Corsica but there to confront him is Quatre Raberba Winner, pilot of the Gundam Sandrock.

Meanwhile, Heero Yuy, pilot of the Wing Gundam has stolen parts from Duo Maxwell’s Gundam Deathscythe and now Duo wants revenge.

We also learn about Chang Wufei, pilot of the Shenlong Gundam and learn of the struggles from his past.

All this and more in vol. 2 of “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers”.

What is “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers”?

It was back in 1995 when an anime series titled “Shin Kido Senki Gundam Wing” aired in Japan. The sixth installment in the “Gundam” franchise, it was a series that took place in the “After Colony” timeline.

A different setting and an alternate universe than the well-known Universal Century (UC), the AC deals with events primarily “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing” and its sequel “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz”.

The series is set in After Colony 195 and humans have colonized space and developed space colonies at each of the five Earth-Moon Lagrange points. On Earth, the nations formed the United Earth Sphere Alliance and this alliance has oppressed the colonies with their powerful military.

The colonies want to be free and scientists have developed a plan for revenge against the alliance with “Operation Meteor” and five teenage boys have been chosen and trained by five scientists and then sent to Earth with advanced mobile suits known as “Gundams” made from Gundanium alloy designed by each scientist.

The manga introduces us to these five teenage boys with the protagonist being Heero Yuy, Duo Maxwell, Trowa Barton, Quatre Raberba Winner and Chang Wufei.

As the United Earth Sphere Alliance are aware of the attacks on Alliance soldiers, the Organization of the Zodiac (OZ) has their ace mobile suit pilot, Zechs Merquise to find the enemy.

We are also introduced to Relena Darlian, daughter of the Alliance’s Vice Foreign Minister. We learn how she found Heero Yuy, who had washed ashore on the beach neaer the spaceport and she had always wanted to learn more about him, despite him always threatening to kill her. But for Heero, he is more intent to destroy his Gundam before anyone in OZ can get to it and learn the technology.

As Heero points a gun at Relena, she is saved by Duo Maxwell and as for Heero, he is held captive by the Alliance military.

But before they could get any answers from Heero, Duo breaks Heero out and the two escape.

Meanwhile, OZ is planning to unleash their mobile suit, the Epyon.

Five different Gundam pilots, each with a different motivation.  Trowa Barton had come to Earth from the L-3 colonies in the Gundam Heavyarms and launches an assault on the MS production factory on Corsica but there to confront him is Quatre Raberba Winner, pilot of the Gundam Sandrock.  What happens when these two pilots and their Gundam’s confront each other?

Meanwhile, Heero Yuy, pilot of the Wing Gundam has stolen parts from Duo Maxwell’s Gundam Deathscythe and now Duo wants revenge.

We also learn about Chang Wufei, pilot of the Shenlong Gundam and learn of the struggles from his past.

And is a new group being created by Zechs Merquise, when he comes to the aid of Lucrezia Noin?


With the release of “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers”, readers who are not familiar with the storyline, may find it a different situation from the UC “Mobile Suit Gundam” storylines, especially if they have only read “Gundam Origin”.

The role has been reversed in the AC universe as Earth’s alliance are the aggressors and the colony who want to be free are the ones with specialized Gundam mecha suits.

The second volume can be described as a volume of chaos.

There is a lot of panels of fighting and things are so chaotic that it’s easy to get lose.   Writer Katsuyuki Sumizawa has a tough task of having to write stories about five Gundam pilots, let alone introducing characters from Zechs Marquise side that sometimes the storyline pacing becomes a little incoherent and you quickly realize the different writing stiles and character development when compared with “Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin”.

Different writing styles, both mecha/action-driven, many characters but one is engrossing and well-planned, the other is chaotic and incoherent.  In fact, you’ll find pages with a lot of action and then one word bubble.  And in this volume alone, then you get character development solely focused on Chang Wufei’s character that has much more of a plot going into his history and then leading up to his battle with Lucrezia Noin.

While I found the volume to be entertaining, considering I am a Gundam fan, I also found volume 2 to be a bit hard to follow at times.

But it’ll be interesting how the other manga will be and if they manage to give more character building stories with the other characters and showcase their origin but for now, it seems the focus is panels with pure action.

But for the most part, for those who haven’t watched the anime series will find “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers” to be a deep, complex but also action-packed mecha manga series and it’ll be interesting to see if the manga continues to be more action-driven or will it find a balance with more of a plot to help with the character development.

 /></b></a></p> <p style=

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers vol. 1 by Katsuyuki Sumizawa and Tomofumi Ogasawara (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

September 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who haven’t watched the anime series will find “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers” to be a deep, complex but also action-packed mecha manga series worth reading.

 /></b></a></p> <p style=

© 2011 Sotsu-Sunrise. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers vol. 1

STORY BY Katsuyuki Sumizawa

ART by Tomofumi Ogasawara

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Kodansha Ltd.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Vertical Comics

RATED: ALL

RELEASE DATE: July 18, 2017


In the year A.C. (After Colony) 195, humankind had flown its nest, the Earth, to search for new hope while living in space colonies. However, the United Earth Sphere Alliance has used its military might under the guise of “justice and peace” to seize control of some colonies, and those colonies have lost their autonomy and have been forced into silence. But the seeds of resistance have not been entirely crushed. “Operation Meteor” is about to take flight…


It was back in 1995 when an anime series titled “Shin Kido Senki Gundam Wing” aired in Japan.  The sixth installment in the “Gundam” franchise, it was a series that took place in the “After Colony” timeline.

A different setting and an alternate universe than the well-known Universal Century (UC), the AC deals with events primarily “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing” and its sequel “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz”.

The series is set in After Colony 195 and humans have colonized space and developed space colonies at each of the five Earth-Moon Lagrange points.  On Earth, the nations formed the United Earth Sphere Alliance and this alliance has oppressed the colonies with their powerful military.

The colonies want to be free and scientists have developed a plan for revenge against the alliance with “Operation Meteor” and five teenage boys have been chosen and trained by five scientists and then sent to Earth with advanced mobile suits known as “Gundams” made from Gundanium alloy designed by each scientist.

The manga introduces us to these five teenage boys with the protagonist being Heero Yuy, Duo Maxwell, Trowa Barton, Quatre Raberba Winner and Chang Wufei.

As the United Earth Sphere Alliance are aware of the attacks on Alliance soldiers, the Organization of the Zodiac (OZ) has their ace mobile suit pilot, Zechs Merquise to find the enemy.

We are also introduced to Relena Darlian, daughter of the Alliance’s Vice Foreign Minister.  We learn how she found Heero Yuy, who had washed ashore on the beach neaer the spaceport and she had always wanted to learn more about him, despite him always threatening to kill her.  But for Heero, he is more intent to destroy his Gundam before anyone in OZ can get to it and learn the technology.

As Heero points a gun at Relena, she is saved by Duo Maxwell and as for Heero, he is held captive by the Alliance military.

But before they could get any answers from Heero, Duo breaks Heero out and the two escape.

Meanwhile, OZ is planning to unleash their mobile suit, the Epyon.


With the release of “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers”, readers who are not familiar with the storyline, may find it a different situation from the UC “Mobile Suit Gundam” storylines, especially if they have only read “Gundam Origin”.

The role has been reversed in the AC universe as Earth’s alliance are the aggressors and the colony who want to be free are the ones with specialized Gundam mecha suits.

The first volume primarily focuses on Heero Yuy, while the other characters are featured are in the manga series but will no doubt be focused on in the next issues.

While I enjoy many Gundam manga adaptations that are derived from anime series, it’s important to note that Katsuyuki Sumizawa remains on-point with what happened in the anime series, while Tomofumi Ogasawara does well of capturing the characters but it seems more emphasis are put in the action sequences and Ogasawara blowing things up.

For those jumping in, with no familiarity with the series, may be confused right off the bat.  Wondering who these characters are and what Operation Meteor is all about.

The characters may confuse people but fortunately the book brings everything back to Heero Yuy and allows for character development with him, his belligerent attitude towards Relena Darlian but also bringing in Duo Maxwell.

But it’ll be interesting how the other manga will be and if they manage to give more character building stories with the other characters and showcase their origin, because the introduction to the manga literally throws everyone in battle and unlike the anime series which is colored, some characters may look similar as the manga is of course, black and white.

But for the most part, for those who haven’t watched the anime series will find “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz: Glory of the Losers” to be a deep, complex but also action-packed mecha manga series worth reading.

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Tiger & Bunny Vol. 8 by Mizuki Sakakibara (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

November 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

tigerandbunny-8

The hunt for Jake Martinez continues in volume 8  of “Tiger & Bunny”.  Recommended!

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© Mizuki Sakakibara 2012. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Tiger & Bunny Vol. 8

STORY AND ART BY: Mizuki Sakakibara

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Kadokawa Shoten

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC

RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: November 10, 2015


The heroes have discovered the secret behind the Mad Bears controlled by Kriem and begin to disable the exosuits that are threatening to destroy Sternbild. Meanwhile, Kotetsu and Barnaby finally figure out what Jake’s secret power is!


Tiger and Bunny are on the hunt for Jake Martinez, before he destroys Sternbild.  Meanwhile, Rock Bison is gravely injured and finds out the secret power of Jake.

Find out in volume 8 of “Tiger & Bunny”, a manga that is based on the anime TV series!

What is “Tiger & Bunny”?

In 2011, the anime studio Sunrise, best known for its anime series for “Mobile Suit Gundam”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “Dirty Pair”, “City Hunter” to name a few, went on to work on anime series that would captivate older viewers but also something unique and different for anime fans. And the 25- episode TV series “Tiger & Bunny” was created.

In Japan, a one-shot manga by Masakazu Katsura (“Video Girl Ai”, “DNA2″, “Zetman”) was published in “Weekly Shonen Jump”. Featuring the original planning and story by Sunrise, original script by Masfumi Nishida and original character design and hero design by Masakazu Katsura, the first volume of the “Tiger & Bunny” manga was released in April 2013 courtesy of Viz Media and here we are two years later with the eighth volume.

“Tiger & Bunny” takes place in NC1978 in the city of Sternbild City. 45 years prior, humans with supernatural abilities known as “NEXT” began appearing in the planet. And now, these people with special abilities and are superheroes sponsored by major corporations such as Pepsi, Softbank, Calbee, etc. and are featured on the popular reality TV show titled “Hero TV”.

Each season, these heroes try to achieve points by capturing/defeating criminals and the best ranked superhero will be crowned as “King of Heroes”. While each are competing with each other, often they work as a superhero team.

In volume 1, we were introduced to veteran hero Wild tiger has been slipping the ratings and causing unbelievable damage. Upset by his performance, Wild Tiger is forced to team up with the young Barnaby Brooks Jr., a rookie with an attitude but gets the job done. But with Barnaby being a young man who is more reserved and serious, the question was if he would get along with the veteran Wild Tiger/Kotetsu T. Kaburagi.

Barnaby has shown dislike to his partner calling him “Bunny” and the fact that Wild Tiger tends to make brash moves without thinking. While Wild Tiger relies on his instincts.

But we learned how Kotetsu (Wild Tiger) is a veteran who knows that the younger Barnaby is what people are interested in watching. Even his daughter (who doesn’t know he is Wild Tiger), is a huge fan of Barnaby. Meanwhile, Barnaby is bothered by his memories of his past and still wanting to find clues for whoever killed his parents.

But for now, the studios want Wild Tiger and Barnaby to be partners, despite both men not wanting to work with each other, the must do a lot of promotional activities, whether or not they want to work together.

How long can this working relationship last?

Meanwhile, the Ouroboros criminal organization is planning to have the sadistic Jake Martinez released from prison.

Jake is believed to be responsible for killing Barnaby’s parents and has been sentenced to 250 years in prison.  But one of the reasons why he is a criminal that the govt. wants to keep behind bars is because of his mysterious power.  What is that secret power?

In volume 8, as Tiger and Bunny try to find Jake Martinez, they learn about his secret power, meanwhile Jake threatens to destroy part of Stern Bild if NEXT does not bring him 100 Anti-NEXT.


The primary characters are of “Tiger & Bunny” are:

  • Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger – One of the main protagonist, he is one of the oldest superheros and unlike others, tends not to listen to orders as he is the “Crusher of Justice” and could care less about the ratings. Because he causes too much damage and likes to do things alone, he was forced to take on a new partner, Barnaby Brooks Jr. Kotetsu is also a single father who never gets to see his daughter because of his superhero obligations, so she lives with his mother. His daughter is unaware that he is a superhero. Tiger’s power is the ability to increase his physical abilities for five minutes using his “Hundred Power”. His sponsors are Bandai and Softbank.
  • Barnaby Brooks Jr./Bunny – A rookie that is called “Bunny” by Kotetsu. He is more about strategy and is not as rash as Kotetsu. He has a reason why he became a superhero and that is to find the one who killed his parents. His sponsors are Amazon Japan and Bandai. He also has similar powers to Kotetsu and becoming “King of Heroes” is important to him.
  • Karina Lyle/Blue Rose – A popular girl in high school who wants to be a singer. She has freezing power abilities and is sponsored by Pepsi Nex and Suntory. She represents Titan Industry.
  • Keith Goodman/Sky High – A popular hero and is the current “King of Heroes”. He is upbeat and has the power to control air current. He is sponsored by Tamashii Nations and Ustream and represents Poseidon Line.
  • Nathan Seymour/Fire Emblem – An effeminate hero with flame abilities, Nathan wants to be part of the girls. He is sponsored by FMV and Animate and represents Helios Energy.
  • Huang Pao-Lin/Dragon Kid – A tomboy Chinese girl who has the power to generate electrical discharge. She lived in China with her parents but they wanted her to go to Sternbild City to become a hero. She is sonosred by Calbee and DMM.com and is represented by Odysseys Communication.
  • Antonio Lopez/Rock Bison – Kotetsu’s best friend since high school, his power is invulnerability. He is in last place of the Hero’s standings and is sponsored by Gyu-Kaku and represents Kronos Foods.
  • Ivan Karelin/Origami Cyclone – A young hero who is typically seen standing behind-the-scenes and not fighting, Ivan has the power to shapeshift and copy the appearance and voice of another. His sponsors are .ANIME and he represents Helperidese Finance.

As a person who enjoys anime, we have seen the team dynamic in many forms.

From the sentai teams of yesteryear, may it be “Gatchaman”, “Voltron” to super teams such as the Z-Warriors of “Dragon Ball Z”, the ninjas of “Naruto” or the high school friends as seen on “Bleach” and “Yu Yu Hakusho”.

But with “Tiger & Bunny”, instead of superheroes being chummy chummy, for the time being, the hero partners which consist of Wild Tiger and Barnaby are complete opposites and both do not enjoy working with each other. But because ratings are up, they are literally stuck together and must try to work as partners.

With volume 8 of “Tiger & Bunny”, the manga series by Mizuki Sakakibara features the hunt for Jake Martinez and also the relationship between Tiger and Barnaby, and Barnaby questioning Tiger if he trusts him?

The two also find out about Jake’s secret power and why the government wants him to stay incarcerated.

Meanwhile an armored vehicle is in the freeway and Blue Rose, Fire Emblem and Dragon Kid are sent to investigate.

As always, the illustrations by Mizuki Sakakibara are good and the artwork manages to capture the action quite nicely. Once again, if you watched the anime series first, then you will see how much they are both the same with nothing new offered in the manga series (considering the manga came after the anime series), but yet the manga manages to capture each individual/superheroes quite well and the action is also well featured throughout the manga series.

Overall, you don’t get to read manga from Japan about superhero teams but in this case, “Tiger & Bunny” differs from the American superhero teams for the fact that these superheroes are sponsored, flawed and each are competing with each other on live television for points by catching criminals.

An exciting, action-packed volume, “Tiger & Bunny” vol. 8 is recommended!

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Valvrave the Liberator: Complete 1st Season (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

valverave-1

If you are a mecha fan or fan of action-driven anime, “Valvrave the Liberator” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © SUNRISE/VVV Committee, MBS. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Valvrave the Liberator: Complete 1st Season

DURATION: 300 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Aniplex of America

RATED: 16 and Up

Release Date: September 18, 2014

Director: Kou Matsuo

Series Composition: Ichiro Okouchi

Music by Akira Senju

Original Character Design: Katsura Hoshino

Character Design: Tatsuya Suzuki

Art Director: Masatoshi Kai

Chief Animation Director: Tatsuya Suzuki

Anime Production: Sunrise

Featuring the following voice talent:

Asami Seto as Shōko Sashinami

Haruka Tomatsu as Saki Rukino

Ryohei Kimura as L-elf

Ryota Ohsaka as Haruto Tokishima

Ai Kayano as Aina Sakurai

Aki Toyosaki as Liselotte

Aoi Yūki as Akira Renbōkōji

Daisuke Namikawa as Satomi Renbōkōji

Daisuke Ono as Cain

Hiroyuki Yoshino as Yūsuke Otamaya

Jun Fukuyama as A-drei

Koji Yusa as Figarro

Mamoru Miyano as H-neun

Minako Kotobuki as Takahi Ninomiya

Misato Fukuen as Marie Nobi

Nana Mizuki as Kriemhild

True Calendar, Year 71 – A new age where 70% of the human population lives in space thanks to the development of the “Dyson Sphere,” a city in space.

The world is divided into two main powers: The Dorssia Military Pact Federation, a power which grew out of a military alliance, and the Atlantic Rim United States (ARUS), which grew in power as it expanded its trade agreements. The minor nation of JIOR has declared neutrality between these two forces and maintained its peace through economic prosperity.

Within JIOR’s Sphere, Haruto Tokishima lived an ordinary life as a high school student in the division known as “Module 77” until the Dorssian military begins their sudden invasion. The whole world will be shaken when Haruto meets the mysterious humanoid weapon, Valvrave!

In the spring of 2013, Sunrise released their latest mecha anime series titled “Kakumeiki Valvrave”.

Directed by Kou Matsuo (“Rozen Maiden”, “Yozakura Quartet”, “Kurenai”) and written by Ichiro Okouchi (“Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion”, “RahXephon”, “Azumanga Daioh” ), the series features music by Akira Senju (“Red Garden”, “Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike”, “Mobile Suit Victory Gundam”), art direction by Masatoshi Kai (“Blue Exorcist”, “Akira”, “Red Garden”) and character designs by Tatsuya Suzuki (“Samurai Champloo”, “Gasaraki”).

And the first season of “Valverave the Liberator” has been released by Aniplex of America.

The series is set during the 71st year of the True Era.  A time where humans have migrated to other planets and live in the Dyson sphere which was constructed around an artificial sun.  The world is divided into the Dorssia Military Pact Federation which is known for its military prowess, while the Atlantic Ring of United States (ARUS) is the other super power known for its military might.

But in between the two superpowers is JIOR (Japan and Islands of the Oceanic Republic) which is a neutral country that is peaceful and chooses no sides.  And because of their economic well being, they were responsible for creating the Dyson sphere.

One day, teenager Haruto Tokishima and his friends from Sakimori High School based in the Dyson sphere’s “Module 77” were enjoying time together.  For Haruto, what matters to him is spending time with Shoko Shashinami, the daughter of the prime minister of JIOR that Haruto has liked, but has never had the guts to confess his true feelings.

But while enjoying their time together, Dorssia attacks JIOR and sends their team of elite soldiers to capture a powerful mecha known as Valvrave.   While trying to steal Valvrave, one of the JIOR scientists is able to launch the elevator of Valvrave, preventing Dorssia from capturing it.

While Haruto and his friends escape for shelter during the attack, Shoko is caught in a missile attack and she is feared to be dead.  Shocked and angered that Shoko is dead, Haruto wants revenge and he decides to climb inside the cockpit of the Valverave.

Willing to give up his humanity to save Shoko, he is taken over by Valvrave and easily defeats the Dorssia pilots.  But when Valverave lands, Haruto gets out of the cockpit, unaware of what just happened.  The elite soldiers come after him, especially L-eif, a secret agent of the Dorssian military and as L-eif attempts to capture the Valvrave, he shoots Haruto multiple times.

Thinking Haruto is dead, L-eif is shocked that Haruto has awakened but looks like a vampire who then bites into L-eif and takes over his body.  Taking over the body of L-eif, Haruto realizes that as he possess someone with a bite to their neck, he also learns their abilities and Haruto uses L-eif to shoot after his former teammates, making them think L-eif is a traitor.

As Dorssia tries to claim JIOR for their own, the students of Sakimori High School decide they will not allow the Dorssian military control them and they fight back thanks to Haruto and his ability to use the Valvrave.  But as Haruto feels he can help people for the greater good, he starts to find out that he suffers from excessive headaches and his thirst to bite on someone is starting to overcome him

What has happened to Haruto and can the students of JIOR trust anyone during this war?  Especially the other super power, ARUS?

 

VIDEO:

“Valvrave the Liberator: Complete 1st Season” is presented in 1080p High Definition with gorgeous character designs and background art by Sunrise and staff.  Environments are detailed, while character designs are crisp.  Colors are vibrant, line detail is very goo dand I did not notice any banding issues or artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Valvrave the Liberator: Complete 1st Season” is presented in Japanese Linear PCM Stereo with English subtitles

While I would have enjoyed to hear a more immersive lossless soundtrack, the Japanese dialogue and music is crystal clear.  It’s important to emphasize to those interested in this anime series is that there is no English dub track!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Valverave the Liberator: Complete 1st Season” comes with the textless opening and endings, trailers and commercials.

EXTRAS:

“Valvrave the Liberator: Complete 1st Season” comes with six collectable postcards, a deluxe poster specially illustrated by Katsura Hoshino (the original character designer) and a slipcase.

A mecha anime series with a twist, “Valvrave the Liberator” has a style and feel reminiscent of anime series such as “Mobile Suit Gundam” and also “Lelouch: The Last Rebellion”.

While the adults represent a world of corruption as both Dorssia and ARUS want control of the Valvrave, the students of Sakimori High School are the underdogs.  A group that is trying to be JIOR’s last stand against the superpowers by utilizing the power of Valvrave and also other mecha they discover in secret fortresses underneath their high school.

Throw in a story of a good-natured teenager who behaves almost like a hungry vampire after accepting control of the Valvrave and an antagonist, a skilled secret agent of Dorssia who ends up teaming up with JIOR plus plenty of unanswered questions of loyalty and the underdogs vs. the superpowers type of storyline and you get a chaotic mecha anime series with many teenagers who don’t know if they will survive until the next day.

The first season focuses on the students fighting back as the representatives of JIOR, with no one to trust but themselves, but knowing that they must do all they can to protect themselves against the heavily attacking offensive of Dorssia and the schemes of ARUS.

Suffice to say, the series has caught my attention because of the intrigue of its characters, not knowing who will survive and who will die but also unexpected situations that add more drama but also more mecha action sequences for a variety of characters.

The animation from SUNRISE is beautifully done with backgrounds that are heavily detailed, a colorful palette that is often vibrant and crisp colors that look sharp on Blu-ray!  The lossless soundtrack is presented in Japanese Linear PCM stereo, so while I would love for this to be an immersive soundtrack, the Japanese dialogue and its music are crystal clear.  While special features include the textless openings, trailers and commercials.

You also get the Aniplex swag such as collectable postcards and a poster!

Overall, “Valvrave the Liberator: Complete 1st Season” is an exciting mecha anime series that is different and unique due to how the main protagonist is able to utilize the mecha but also how the hero unfortunately must bare with the burden that in order to save the people he cares about, he must combat his desires to feed on people, even though he knows he is losing the power to control himself.

If you are a mecha fan or fan of action-driven anime, “Valvrave the Liberator” is recommended!

Tiger & Bunny Vol. 4 by Mizuki Sakakibara (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

March 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

tigerandbunny-4

“Tiger & Bunny” volume 4 is a character building volume as it delves into the lives of Origami Cyclone, Blue Rose and Dragon Kid but also we learn the true identity of the vigilante known as Lunatic.  An exciting, action-packed volume, “Tiger & Bunny” vol. 4 is recommended!

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© Mizuki Sakakibara 2012. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: Tiger & Bunny Vol. 4

STORY AND ART BY: Mizuki Sakakibara

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Kadokawa Shoten

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC

RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: February 11, 2014

 

The heroes face down the deranged NEXT killer, Lunatic. Lunatic’s vigilantism has the city on edge, and the heroes find themselves having to convince everyone that NEXT are working for the good of Stern Bild City. Lunatic is in the wrong, but there is much more to the madman than anyone knows…

Tiger and Bunny come in contact with a vigilante named Lunatic.  Who is he and does he have any connection with Ouroboros?

Meanwhile, what happens when Blue Rose and Dragon Kid are put into a mission to babysit the mayor’s son?  Also, will Origami Cyclone find his way?

Find out in volume 4 of “Tiger & Bunny”, a manga that is based on the anime TV series!

What is “Tiger & Bunny”?

In 2011, the anime studio Sunrise, best known for its anime series for “Mobile Suit Gundam”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “Dirty Pair”, “City Hunter” to name a few, went on to work on anime series that would captivate older viewers but also something unique and different for anime fans. And the 25- episode TV series “Tiger & Bunny” was created.

In Japan, a one-shot manga by Masakazu Katsura (“Video Girl Ai”, “DNA2″, “Zetman”) was published in “Weekly Shonen Jump”. Featuring the original planning and story by Sunrise, original script by Masfumi Nishida and original character design and hero design by Masakazu Katsura, the first volume of the “Tiger & Bunny” manga was released in April 2013 courtesy of Viz Media.

“Tiger & Bunny” takes place in NC1978 in the city of Sternbild City. 45 years prior, humans with supernatural abilities known as “NEXT” began appearing in the planet. And now, these people with special abilities and are superheroes sponsored by major corporations such as Pepsi, Softbank, Calbee, etc. and are featured on the popular reality TV show titled “Hero TV”.

Each season, these heroes try to achieve points by capturing/defeating criminals and the best ranked superhero will be crowned as “King of Heroes”. While each are competing with each other, often they work as a superhero team.

In volume 1, we were introduced to veteran hero Wild tiger has been slipping the ratings and causing unbelievable damage. Upset by his performance, Wild Tiger is forced to team up with the young Barnaby Brooks Jr., a rookie with an attitude but gets the job done. But with Barnaby being a young man who is more reserved and serious, the question was if he would get along with the veteran Wild Tiger/Kotetsu T. Kaburagi.

Barnaby has shown dislike to his partner calling him “Bunny” and the fact that Wild Tiger tends to make brash moves without thinking. While Wild Tiger relies on his instincts.

But we learned how Kotetsu (Wild Tiger) is a veteran who knows that the younger Barnaby is what people are interested in watching. Even his daughter (who doesn’t know he is Wild Tiger), is a huge fan of Barnaby. Meanwhile, Barnaby is bothered by his memories of his past and still wanting to find clues for whoever killed his parents.

But for now, the studios want Wild Tiger and Barnaby to be partners, despite both men not wanting to work with each other, the must do a lot of promotional activities, whether or not they want to work together.

How long can this working relationship last?

In volume 4 of “Tiger & Bunny”, both Tiger & Bunny must take on a super vigilante known as Lunatic.  His way of justice is killing those who have committed a major crime.

Meanwhile, the mayor has received death threats and both Blue Rose and Dragon Kid are given a mission to babysit the child and keep it safe.  Meanwhile, we learn more about Origami Cyclone’s past and how his past has affected his performance as a superhero.

The primary characters are of “Tiger & Bunny” are:

  • Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger – One of the main protagonist, he is one of the oldest superheros and unlike others, tends not to listen to orders as he is the “Crusher of Justice” and could care less about the ratings. Because he causes too much damage and likes to do things alone, he was forced to take on a new partner, Barnaby Brooks Jr. Kotetsu is also a single father who never gets to see his daughter because of his superhero obligations, so she lives with his mother. His daughter is unaware that he is a superhero. Tiger’s power is the ability to increase his physical abilities for five minutes using his “Hundred Power”. His sponsors are Bandai and Softbank.
  • Barnaby Brooks Jr./Bunny – A rookie that is called “Bunny” by Kotetsu. He is more about strategy and is not as rash as Kotetsu. He has a reason why he became a superhero and that is to find the one who killed his parents. His sponsors are Amazon Japan and Bandai. He also has similar powers to Kotetsu and becoming “King of Heroes” is important to him.
  • Karina Lyle/Blue Rose – A popular girl in high school who wants to be a singer. She has freezing power abilities and is sponsored by Pepsi Nex and Suntory. She represents Titan Industry.
  • Keith Goodman/Sky High – A popular hero and is the current “King of Heroes”. He is upbeat and has the power to control air current. He is sponsored by Tamashii Nations and Ustream and represents Poseidon Line.
  • Nathan Seymour/Fire Emblem – An effeminate hero with flame abilities, Nathan wants to be part of the girls. He is sponsored by FMV and Animate and represents Helios Energy.
  • Huang Pao-Lin/Dragon Kid – A tomboy Chinese girl who has the power to generate electrical discharge. She lived in China with her parents but they wanted her to go to Sternbild City to become a hero. She is sonosred by Calbee and DMM.com and is represented by Odysseys Communication.
  • Antonio Lopez/Rock Bison – Kotetsu’s best friend since high school, his power is invulnerability. He is in last place of the Hero’s standings and is sponsored by Gyu-Kaku and represents Kronos Foods.
  • Ivan Karelin/Origami Cyclone – A young hero who is typically seen standing behind-the-scenes and not fighting, Ivan has the power to shapeshift and copy the appearance and voice of another. His sponsors are .ANIME and he represents Helperidese Finance.

As a person who enjoys anime, we have seen the team dynamic in many forms.

From the sentai teams of yesteryear, may it be “Gatchaman”, “Voltron” to super teams such as the Z-Warriors of “Dragon Ball Z”, the ninjas of “Naruto” or the high school friends as seen on “Bleach” and “Yu Yu Hakusho”.

But with “Tiger & Bunny”, instead of superheroes being chummy chummy, for the time being, the hero partners which consist of Wild Tiger and Barnaby are complete opposites and both do not enjoy working with each other. But because ratings are up, they are literally stuck together and must try to work as partners.

With volume 3 of “Tiger & Bunny”, the manga series by Mizuki Sakakibara primarily focuses on Kotetsu and Barnaby. Two people who are like oil and water but overtime, they start to realize that both need each other as superhero partners but most of all, as new friends.

The third volume makes a major revelation that those responsible for his parents murder as identified by a tattoo is related to Ouroboros, an organization that a police investigator tells him to lay off and not pursue.

And as Barnaby starts to do his investigations all alone, he is not prepared for the fact that another masked individual intends to kill those who are criminals, including those who may know who killed Barnaby’s parents.

Meanwhile, when Barnaby gets into a bit of trouble, will he put trust into his teammate to back him up?

For volume 4 of the manga series, Tiger & Barnaby must take on the masked vigilante known as Lunatic, who’s way of justice is not the justice system but by killing those who have committed major crimes.

Meanwhile, the volume focuses on character building as we learn more about Origami Cyclone and his past and how his past affected his performance as a super hero and why he has been in last place.  Also, we get to see how lives are for both teenagers, Blue Rose and Dragon Kid who have issues with their parents.  Blue Rose’s father is not so supportive of her being a superhero or a singer.  While Dragon Kid is trying to discover herself and her feminine side.

As always, the illustrations by Mizuki Sakakibara are good and the artwork manages to capture the action quite nicely.  Once again, if you watched the anime series first, then you will see how much they are both the same with nothing new offered in the manga series (considering the manga came after the anime series), but yet the manga manages to capture each individual/superheroes quite well and the action is also well featured throughout the manga series.

Overall, you don’t get to read manga from Japan about superhero teams but in this case, “Tiger & Bunny” differs from the American superhero teams for the fact that these superheroes are sponsored, flawed and each are competing with each other on live television for points by catching criminals. This volume is a character building series as it delves into the lives of Origami Cyclone, Blue Rose and Dragon Kid but also we learn the true identity of the vigilante known as Lunatic.

An exciting, action-packed volume, “Tiger & Bunny” vol. 4 is recommended!

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