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GATE Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“GATE Complete Collection” is an anime series that is probably one of the better anime series I have seen from Sentai Filmworks in the past few years.  It’s addictive, exciting and so much fun!  I definitely recommend it

Image courtesy of © Takumi Yanai/AlphaPolis/GATE Project. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: GATE Complete Collection

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-24 (600 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV MA VSL

Release Date: July 11, 2017


Original Creator: Takumi Yanai

Original Character Design: Daisuke Izuka

Directed by Takahiko Kyogoku

Series Composition by Tatsuhiko Urahata

Music by Yoshiaki Fujisawa

Character Design by Jun Nakai

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Chief Animation Director: Jun Nakai

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hisako Kanemoto/Juliet Simmons as Tuka Luna Marceau

Junichi Suwabe/David Wald as Yōji Itami

Haruka Tomatsu/Jessica Boone as Pina Co Lada

Hiroki Yasumoto/Ty Mahany as Akira Tomita

Ikumi Hayama/Shanae’a Moore as Hamilton Uno Law

Kaito Ishikawa/Tyler Galindo as Takeo Kurata

Maaya Uchida/Stephanie Wittels as Shino Kuribayashi

Nao Tōyama/Brittney Karbowski as Lelei la Lelena

Risa Taneda/Molly Searcy as Rory Mercury

Satomi Akesaka/Allison Sumrall as Mari Kurokawa

Yōko Hikasa/Rachel Landon as Yao Ha Ducy

Yumi Uchiyama/Patricia Duran as Bozes Co Palestea


When a mysterious gate suddenly appears in Tokyo’s Ginza district and begins spewing armed warriors and flying monsters, the world is thrown into turmoil. Although the deadly attack is thrown back by Japan’s Self Defense Force, there’s now a new and entirely unknown land on the other side of the portal, and Japan is effectively at war with a nation on the other side.

Determined to secure peace, the JSDF must send an armed force into the Gate, but ogres, dragons and a ruthless Empire populated by elves, humans, and half-animal warriors aren’t the only dangers they’ll face. With the resources of two worlds at stake, the balance of power on both sides of the Gate is destabilizing, and betrayal can come at any time, from any quarter. There, trapped right in the middle of the ensuing firestorm, stands officer Yoji Itami and the JSDF’s Third Reconnaissance Team as they plunge into the GATE.


In 2006, author Takumi Yanai and illustrator Daisuke Izuka and Kurojishi created a fantasy novel series titled “Gate: Jietai Kano Chi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri” (“Gate: Thus the Japanese Self-Defense Force Fought There!”).

The novel would receive a manga adaptation in 2011 and spin-off mangas in 2015.  And an anime adaptation of the series was created by A-1 Pictures and released in July to September 2015 and its second half airing in January through March 2016.

The anime series is directed by Takahiko Kyogoku (“Love Live! School Idol Project”), a screenplay by Tatsuhiko Urahata (“Beyblade”, “Black Bullet”, “DNA2”, “Nana”), music by Yoshiaki Fujisawa (“Dimension W”, “Love Live! School Idol Project”), character design by Jun Nakai (“Generation Gawl”, “Mardock Scramble”) and art direction by Maho Takahashi (“Amagami SS”, “Cross Game”, “Himawari!”, “KanColle”).

And with the announcement of a new novel series titled “Gate: Weigh Anchor”, the anime adaptation titled “GATE” and the complete collection was released on Blu-ray and DVD in the United States on July 2017 courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

The series revolves around Yoji Itami, a 33-year-old otaku who loves doujinshi.  While he may seem like a clumsy otaku, in truth, Yoji is actually a soldier of the Japan Self Defense Force that works in Special Forces and a certified Ranger.

One day, a portal from another world appears in Ginza and soldiers from that other world including monsters attack Tokyo but the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) has advanced weaponry and manages to kill and repel the enemy.  But thanks to Itami, he helped escort hundreds of people to safety during the attack on Ginza and is promoted to first lieutenant.

And because of his heroism, the Prime Minister tasks Itami to go with a JSDF task forced backed by the United States to go through the gate and explore the new world but most importantly to capture and demand reparations from those responsible for the attack.

As the Empire of the other world sends a large army to fight against the JSDF, the JSDF displays their power with modern weaponry and obliterates them.  Itami is then assigned to lead the 3rd Recon Unit and through his travels, meets the following people who are from the other world but join him on his adventures:

  • Tuka Luna Marceau – A 165-year-old High Elf.  She lost her family and fellow villagers when a flame dragon attacked her village.  She is having a hard time coping with her father’s death.
  • Lelei La Lelena – A 15-year-old sorcerer of the Rurudo nomad tribe and a student of an elderly sorcerer.  Very intelligent, she quickly learns Japanese and becomes a translator.  Her tribe was also devastated due to the Fire Dragon.
  • Rory Mercury – A 961-year-old demi-goddess and an apostle of Emroy (God of death).  She cannot die and recovers from all wounds.  When she becomes 1,000-years-old, she will become a full goddess.  She has excellent fighting skills and carries a large scythe and wears gothic lolita clothing.
  • Yao Haa Dushi – A 300-years-old Dark Elf, who seeks the aid of the JSDF to help her village which is being ravaged by the Fire Dragon.
  • Pina Co Lada – The princess from the Empire.  She is dedicated to the Empire’s welfare and wants peace between Japan and the Empire after seeing their awesome power.  But also seeing how the Japanese are not after their land and how they treat their people, including prisoners.  Seeing how they truly are, she wants to let her father, the king of the Empire know.

VIDEO:

“GATE Complete Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Animation is very good, detailed and vibrant. From many location scenes and varying backgrounds, the background art is great.  Character designs and animation from A-1 Pictures is great and if anything, with A-1 Pictures behind the production, they really go all out and have not been disappointed with any of their anime series releases.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“GATE Complete Collection” is presented in Japanese and English 1.0. Dialogue and musical score is crystal clear through the front channels and the voice acting on both soundtracks are well-done.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“GATE Complete Collection” comes with the following special features:

  • Japanese Promo Videos
  • Animated Comic
  • Clean Opening and Ending Songs

EXTRAS:

“GATE Complete Collection” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the anime series.


There are times when I watch an anime with no expectations and if anything, I wish for something original, refreshing and overly entertaining.  Having reviewed anime since the early ’90s, I have been fortunate to watch anime series that really captivates me and just makes me want to watch it over again.

“GATE” is one of those anime series.  Each and every episode, I absolutely enjoyed them.

While one can say it’s an anime version of “Stargate”, not really.  When the otherworld invades Ginza, Japan, they are reminiscent of knights of past fighting a war with ogres and monsters in the present.

The twist is when Japan sends their Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) to the otherworld, with modern technology, the first army battalion sent by the Empire are literally obliterated.  Shields are not going to guard machine gun bullets.  Armies are not going to survive mortar attacks.  Battalions on horseback are not going to beat tanks.  And archers are not going to defeat military helicopters or jet bombers.

But while the JSDF seem like they may be the bad guys to those in the empire, in truth, they don’t want to kidnap, take over the land or do anything nefarious.  They want to send a warning to the empire, to put it bluntly, don’t come into our territory, kill our people and expect to rule our land.

And as much as it may seem like a serious anime, it really isn’t thanks to the person heading the operation for the JSDF to protect the people (not just in Japan but anywhere they arrive) and that’s Officer Itami.  A man who is a decorated Ranger but in truth, he just wanted a job that would allow him to be an otaku fanboy, so he can read doujinshi.

And with each tribe he meets and visits, he and the JSDF saves them and wants nothing in return.   He eventually is joined by High Elf Tuka Luna Marceau, a 15-year-old sorceress named Lelei La Lelena, a demi-goddess named Rory Mercury and a dark elf named Yao Haa Dushi.

People grateful for what Itami has done for them and now they want to help get his message across to the Empire and other people in the land.

And when Itami and the others meet Pina Co Lada, princess from the empire, at first she thinks that the “men in green” want to take over the empire but the more she stays with Itami, in hopes to spread peace and hopes for the JSDF to not destroy them, she is willing to negotiate a peace agreement with the Japanese.

And the path to protecting people is not easy, thanks to a corrupt empire with a corrupt son wanting to usurp his father, the king.  Then you have a giant flame dragon killing people all over the land.  And on Earth, you have countries who want to go after the other world friends of Itami and causing problems for the JDSF.  So, it’s not an easy path.

But no matter the difficult, Yoji Itami keeps his cool, keeps positive and is willing to go to great lengths to protect people not just in Japan but also people living in the other world led by the empire.

Also, another plus is the many supporting characters featured and the series really becomes a wonderful anime series with action, adventure and fantasy elements combined.

As for the animation on Blu-ray, A-1 Pictures always does a phenomenal job and they did a magnificent job with animating this series along with providing a plethora of background art, to compliment the large area of land and areas that these individuals visit.  The lossless soundtrack is 2.0 but both English and Japanese dialogue are crystal clear.  And there are a few special features included as well.

Overall, “GATE Complete Collection” is an anime series that is probably one of the better anime series I have seen from Sentai Filmworks in the past few years.  It’s addictive, exciting and so much fun!  I definitely recommend it

Oreshura: Complete DVD Set (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

December 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Oreshura” is a delightful, entertaining and addictive harem anime series that focuses on character development and story rather than the usual fan service, nudity and lackadaisical plot.  “Oreshura: Complete DVD Set” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © Yuji Yuji, Softbank Creative Corp./Oreshura Project. All rights reserved.

DVD TITLE: Oreshura: Complete DVD Set

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2013

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (325 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 widescreen, Dolby Digital 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex of America

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

RELEASE DATE: December 17, 2013

Original Creator: Yuji Yuji

Original Character Design: LLO

Directed by Kanta Kamei

Series Composition by Tatsuhiko Urahata

Character Designs by Mai Otsuka

Art Direction: Yasuyuki Yuzawa

Music by Masatomo Ota

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures

Featuring the following voice talent:

Chinatsu Akasaki as Chiwa Harusaki

Ryota Ohsaka as Eita Kidō

Yukari Tamura as Masuzu Natsukawa

Ai Kayano as Ai Fuyuumi

Hisako Kanemoto as Himeka Akishino

Kaori Nazuka as Saeko Kiryū

Nao Tōyama as Mana Natsukawa

Risa Taneda as Kaoru Asoi

Eita Kidou is a high school freshman with excellent grades and a disdain for love. Along with his childhood friend Chiwa Harusaki, a girl who’s nearly a sister to him, Eita lives an ordinary school life concentrating on his studies – until the school’s most beautiful girl, Masuzu Natsukawa, surprisingly confesses her love to Eita. However, her true desire is only to fool the eyes of others and pretend to be a couple.

With a “certain secret” of his in Masuzu’s hands, Eita is forced to play along. Moreover, a fierce battle over Eita begins as his ex-girlfriend, Himeka, and his virtual fiance, Ai, join the fray! Will Eita be able to continue his ordinary school life while maintaining a pretend relationship and dealing with all of his admirers?

In 2011, writer Yuji Yuji began his light novel series “Ore no Kanojo to Osanajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru” (better known as “Oreshura”) which translates to “My Girlfrend and Childhood Friend Fight Too Much”.

Featuring illustrations by Ruroo and published by SoftBank Creative, the popular light novel has received four manga adaptations and in January-March 2013, the anime adaptation by A-1 pictures aired on Japanese television.

And now Ani-lex, Inc. will be bringing “Oreshura: Complete DVD Set” to the U.S. in Dec. 2013.

“Oreshura” revolves around a high school teenager named Eita Kido.  With parents who have divorced and left him behind, Eita wants to make sure he does something good with his life and that is to study hard and go to medical school (despite him not being that bright).

He has an addiction to a video game in which he addresses himself as “Burning Fighter Fighter”.

But in order to focus on medical school, he decides to stay away from anything that revolves around love or even him look at other girls (which was due to his parents divorcing and finding new lovers and abandoning him), with the exception of his childhood friend Chiwa (nickname: “Chihuahua”) Harusaki.

While Chiwa is short, petite, bubbly and looks like a little sister of Eita, the truth is that she is much older than he is.  She was also involved in kendo at a young age but due to critical injury from a car accident a year before they entered high school, she had to quit.  Because of this injury, it is what inspired Eita to want to go to medical school and do whatever he can to help her.

So, avoiding love or any romance is important for Eita as it fuels his desire to go into medical school.

But one day, Masuzu Natsukawa, who is from Sweden decides to sit next to him and unlike other guys at school who stare and confess their love to her, Eita is the only one that doesn’t even look at her.  Immediately, she begins confessing her love to Eita which gets the attention of all students in his class.  And she wants Eita to walk him home.

As the two are walking home, she explains why she did what she did in class and that is she and Eita are the same.  They are anti-romance and anti-love.  She doesn’t like guys confessing their love to her and what best to keep them away than make people think that she and Eita are a couple.

Eita doesn’t want to have anything to do with Masuzu, but she reveals that one day when she bought a used book, inside was a notebook written by Eita when he was younger.  The book contains his most personal feelings about people and celebrities and information so embarrassing that Eita can’t believe she has it.  She begins to blackmail him by saying that he must be her faux boyfriend or else, the book is made public.  Embarrassed by how this information can hurt him, Eita reluctantly agrees.

As news spreads all over campus that Eita is dating the new student, this causes a bit of jealousy on Chiwa’s part.  Chiwa has always liked Eita, but because they have been childhood friends for so long, he looks at her like a little sister which she hates and wishes they never been so close, because he could never look at her as someone he can love romantically.  So, she pretends just to be a concerned friend while deep inside she really likes him and thus, sets up a rivalry between her and Masuzu.

Meanwhile, Masuzu forms a club titled “Maiden Society for Performing Your Own Life” and how to become popular.  Chiwa wants to be popular, so she goes through Masuzu’s training and eventually she gets the attention of a popular guy in school.

As Eita tries to root for Chiwa, he doesn’t know that she’s just doing it for his sake and to be close to him (and to make sure he and Masuzu aren’t doing anything too romantic).

And as Chiwa and Masuzu are constantly at each other’s throats, one day as Eita is trying to protect Chiwa from bad people, he starts to react like his video game avatar “Burning Fighter Fighter” which in turn catches the attention of another girl named Himeka Akishino.

Himeka believes that her ex-life was a person named “Burning Princess Saint Dragon Lady of Dawn” and believes in the past life, she and Burning Fighter Fighter were lovers.  So now, she wants to be reunited with her past love, which complicates things with Chiwa and Masuzu.

And just when these three young women are vying for Eita’s attention, a student named Ai Fuyuumi who grew up with Eita and signed a makeshift marriage registration back in kindergarten believes that Eita should honor their contract, thus she is in the position of being Eita’s fiance and now also vies for Eita’s affection.

What will Eita do, especially since he is anti-romance and sworn from ever being in love?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Oreshura: Complete DVD Set” is presented in 16:9 widescreen and presented in Dolby Digital 2.0.  To keep the compression artifacts to a minimum on DVD, Aniplex Inc. features all 13 episodes on three DVD’s.  For the most part, characters are well shaded and background art is  well-painted, but not as detailed as other anime series with bigger production budgets.  But the animation style works for this series and I didn’t notice any major artifacts during my viewing of the series.

The soundtrack is in Japanese and I would not be surprised if Aniplex does release “Oreshura” on Blu-ray with an English dub soundtrack.  It’s quite an enjoyable series that I do hope it does receive an HD release.  But voice acting is well done and dialogue and music is front-channel driven.

Subtitles are available in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Oreshura: Complete DVD Set” comes with the textless opening and endings and the web version previews.

EXTRAS:

“Oreshura: Complete DVD Set” comes with a slipcover case and a 16-page special booklet which includes the character profiles and episode synopsis plus images of the characters.  Also, the DVD cover is 2-sided and reversible.

Quite often I watch anime series that are too banal and this tends to happen quite a bit with harem anime series.

One guy, usually perverted and surrounded by women (most often well-endowed or wearing skimpy clothing) and the usual fan service and adult humor, they all have their similarities.

But with “Oreshura”, I love the fact that it tries to be different than other harem anime series for the fact that its male protagonist is not interested in love, let alone wanting a girlfriend.  He wants to get into medical school and he does his best to avoid any relationships or romantic commitments.  A lot of these feelings stem from his parents divorcing, finding new lovers and abandoning him.  Compounded by his compassionate heart towards his childhood friend Chiwa who has not been able to participate in any physical activities due to a car accident, and seeing her in pain makes him want to become a doctor or finding ways to heal her.

But staying away or resisting love is not easy.

The circumstances that bring protagonist Eita with Masuzu is both are anti-love, anti-romance and want to be left alone.  So, they pretend to be a faux couple.  And of course, by doing this, she starts to see beyond his attitude of disliking love and seeing a very caring person deep inside.  He may not want love for himself, but for others that he cares about, he is willing to protect them.

And sure enough, you can see Masuzu starting to open up to Eita.  Of course, throw in Eita’s childhood friend, who has always liked him but he treats her like a family member, that these two female characters see each other as rival for Eita’s time and affections.

Throw in two more girls into the loop, one who believes Eita is her past lover from a previous life and another in “Love Hina” fashion, a promise made between two kindergarten students to marry each other when they grow up.

So, we have four females vowing for Eita’s affections and their may possibly be a fifth or sixth.

I found “Oreshura” to be quite entertaining, delightful and a lot of fun.  There is fan service in the anime series but it is kept at a minimum and focuses on the characters and story rather than cheap thrills.

As for the DVD release, it’s important to note that this does not include English dubs, only a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack with English subtitles.  While I do hope that the series receives an HD release and also includes an English dub for those who are more particular to watching their anime in English, I do recommend watching this series as the Japanese voice acting is very good but also, the storyline for “Oreshura” is so entertaining.

And Aniplex Inc. includes a special 16-page booklet with character profiles, episode synopsis and several pages of artwork of the main characters. Plus a 2-sided reversible cover and includes a slipcover.

Overall, “Oreshura” is a delightful, entertaining and addictive harem anime series that focuses on character development and story rather than the usual fan service, nudity and lackadaisical plot.  “Oreshura: Complete DVD Set” is recommended!

Haganai: I don’t have many friends (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

haganai-a

For those wanting a harem anime series that is not overly perverted but is fun and crazy, we’ll enjoy the adventures of the characters in “Haganai: I don’t have many friends” in their quest of learning how to make friends.  An entertaining first season and I can’t wait for season two!

Images courtesy of © 2013 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Haganai: I don’t have many friends

YEAR OF FILM: 2011

DURATION: 13 Episodes

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

RATED: TV M

COMPANY: FUNimation

RELEASE DATE: August 13, 2013

Originally Created by Yomi Hirasaka

Original Character Design: Buriki

Directed by Hisashi Saito

Screenplay by Tatsuhiko Urahata

Music by Tom-H@ck

Character Design by Yoshihiro Watanabe

Art Direction by Yuka Hirama

Anime Production by AIC Build

Featuring the voices of:

Kanae Itō/Jad Saxton as Sena Kashiwazaki

Marina Inoue/Whitney Rodgers as Yozora Mikazuki

Ryohei Kimura/Jerry Jewell as Kodaka Hasegawa

Kana Hanazawa/Alison Viktorin as Kobato Hasegawa

Misato Fukuen/Alexis Tipton as Rika Shiguma

Nozomi Yamamoto/Ashleigh Domangue as Yukimura Kusunoki

Yuka Iguchi/Kristi Yang as Maria Takayama

Yozora’s an abrasive loudmouth whose only friend at school is imaginary. She knows she’s difficult – which makes her better off than Kodoka, a new transfer student who picked up an undeserved bad reputation the second he stepped on campus. Inspired by their shared status as social catastrophes, the two loners unite and start the Neighbors Club, an organization dedicated to finding other misfits and making friends.

In no time, a third member joins their ranks: Sena, a pretty, popular rich girl who annoys Yozora to no end. With Kodoka in the middle of the chaos, the brash brunette and the blonde boy-magnet go ’round and ’round, even as the Neighbors Club begins to grow. Hopefully, the girls can get past their rivalry, because sometimes the friendship you’re looking for is right in front of you, and sometimes the best friends are the friends you never even wanted.

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From light novel author Yomi Hirasaka comes a mature comedy series titled “Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai” (I Don’t Have Many Friends), in shortened form titled “Haganai”.

Originally illustrated by Buriki and published by Media Factory in 2009, the light novel story would receive several manga adaptations written by Itachi and another by Misaki Harukawa and Shuichi Taguchi.

In 2011, a 12-episode anime series was adapted by AIC Build and in Japan. The series is directed by Hisashi Saito (“Fantasista Doll”, “Heaven’s Lost Property”), a screenplay by Tatsuhiko Urahata (“Aria – The Natural”, “Ichigo 100%”, “Monster”, “Nana”, etc.), music by Tom-H@ck (“K-ON!”, “Katekyo Hitman Reborn!”), character designs by Yoshihiro Watanabe (“Bamboo Blade”, “Heaven’s Lost Property”) and background art by Yuka Hirama (“Gurren Lagann”, “The Big O”, “Boogiepop Phantom”, “Gad Guard”).

An OVA was released in Sept. 2012 and a second season titled “Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT” recently aired between January through March 2013.

With a live action film in the works, FUNimation will be releasing the first season of “Haganai” on Blu-ray/DVD in August 2013.

“Haganai” is a series that revolves around Kodaka Hasegawa, a student who just transferred to St. Chronica Academy, a private Catholic school.  But because of his natural blonde/brown hair and his serious looking eyes, the students think he must be some sort of  thug and during his first time in class, he trips and nearly falls on the teacher, which rumors immediately begin in class that Kodaka must be some kind of deviant.  So, the students avoid him like the plague.

One day, he watches a teenage girl named Yozora Mikazuki talking to herself.  He wonders if she is talking to a ghost and approaches her about it.  Yozora, who has a cold attitude tells him that she is talking to her imaginary friend named “Tomo” which Kodaka thinks is weird.  And as the two talk, they discuss how they have no friends in school.

So, in order to change things for them, Yozora starts a new club in school titled the “Neighbor’s Club” for people with no friends but also find ways to get friends.  Immediately, the club starts to bring in others who have no friends and together, each try to experiment in various activities that teenagers are taking part in and see if it can benefit each member in making new friends.

From playing the latest cool multi-player video game, going to the beach, going to the public pool, going to karaoke or a cultural festival, from these new experiences, what will they learn?

But as each club member begin hanging out each other trying to learn how to make new friends, they are totally oblivious that each have made friends with each other and may not need to make friends outside of their circle.

But also, the longer they stay together, the more each tends to have some sort of attraction or bond with Kodaka.

The Neighbors Club consist of the following members:

Kodaka Hasegawa – The main protagonist who is naive about social activities but he is good-natured.  He has been watching over his young sister Kobato since his mother passed away and his father is working in the U.S. as an archaelogist.  Because the family has moved so many times, he has not had many friends but one person from his childhood named Sora.  Kodaka treats everyone with kindness.

Yozora Mikazuki – Very brash and can be very mean or manipulative to others.  She can be physically and emotionally abusive towards others and has a rivalry with Sena Kashiwazaki, who she keeps calling her “Meat”.  She is the founder of the Neighbors Club.

Sena Kashiwazaki – Known for her blonde hair and large breasts, Sena is the daughter of the school’s headteacher and because she is attractive and successful in academics, she can be a bit arrogant.  She sees the male students as servants and she is obsessed with video games, especially dating games and those with adult content.  She and Yozora have a rivalry, but despite each trying to have the upperhand against each other, they try to get along for the sake of the club.

Kobato Hasegawa – Kodaka’s younger sister who is a junior high student at St. Chronica’s Academy.  She has a brother complex and always wanting attention from her brother.  She is addicted to an anime series known as “Fullmetal Necromancer” and wears a red contact lens in one eye and often calling herself a vampire that drinks blood (tomato juice).  She is rivals with Maria, because Maria calls Kodaka her brother.

Yukimura Kusunoki – A male student that has been stalking Kodaka.  A guy with low self-esteem but also one who wears female clothes and acts like a female.  She has been stalking Kodaka to learn how to be more manly, but somehow Yozora tends to make her wear female clothing. Often wearing a maid outfit and cooking food for Kodaka.

Rika Shiguma – The mad scientist at the Academy who is addicted to stories about sex.  When Kodaka saves her after she falls from a bad lab experiment, she wants to repay Kodaka with sexual favors and joins the Neighbor’s Club to get closer to him.  While a genius, she is very unusual but also a big fan of fujoshi (boys love) and mecha intercourse.

Maria Takayama – The supervising teacher of the Neighbors Club.   A ten-year-old nun and a child genius who can’t stand Kodaka’s younger sister, Kobato. She looks up to Kodaka as her older brother.

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VIDEO:

“Hagenai: I don’t have many friends” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Colors are vibrant, very good shading when it comes to the characters, art backgrounds are well-done and the good thing is because each character are often visiting different locations, there are no repetitive backgrounds featuring clouds, trees, and roofs but actually seeing various locations that the characters visit.

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

AUDIO:

“Hagenai: I don’t have many friends”  is presented in English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0.   This type of series is primarily dialogue driven.  But dialogue and music are crystal clear.  I didn’t notice an abundant use of surround channel use, but you do hear it during the more action-driven scenes (during their fantasy video game gaming scenes).

The English dub is very well done, definitely good Americanized translation for the series in terms of character interaction (especially the bickering between Yoshizora and Sena).  But the English dub is well-acted and the Japanese soundtrack is also well done.  But in terms of comparison, the English dub is much better because of its DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack and features a better dynamic range.  But both soundtracks are well-done!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Haganai: I don’t have many friends” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 2 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Jerry Jewell (Kodaka), Jad Saxton (Sena) and Whitney Rogers (Yoshizora).
  • Episode 8 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Zach Bolton (ADR Direct), Alison Viktorin (voice of Koboto) and Kristi Yang (voice of Maria).
  • Blu-ray and DVD Spots – (3:40)  The Japanese Media Factory Blu-ray and DVD TV spots.
  • Original Commercials – (:50) The original Japanese commercials for “Haganai”.
  • Promotional Videos – (2:36) The promotional videos for “Haganai”.
  • TV Spots  – (:49) Japanese TV spots for “Haganai”.
  • Textless Opening Song: Zennenkei Rinjinbu
  • Textless Closing Song: Watashi no Ki-Mo-Chi
  • U.S. Trailer – (1:35) The FUNimation trailer for “Haganai: I don’t have many friends”.

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“Haganai: I don’t have any friends” has the elements of an anime series that resembles the usual harem anime series.

Typically with a harem anime series, it’s a story about one guy as the protagonist and a lot of female characters that are attracted to the male character.  And quite frequently, the type of harem anime series that we see here in the United States are mature series that involve sexual humor.

But before anyone thinks this is an anime series with the overplayed, banal cliche storyline, “Haganai: I don’t have any friends” is different for the fact is that the male protagonist, Kodaka Hasegawa, is not a pervert, he’s like a big brother or good friend that cares about people.  But most importantly, this is not a storyline that deals with sci-fi elements, this is not a series in which fan service is the primary factor of watching the series.

It’s the fascinating storyline of a group of people who become members of a club because they can’t find any friends.  They are without any social experiences that they try to integrate themselves of what people are doing today and see if they can find friends that way or learn the way to become more social that they can attract new friends, not really knowing that within their club, by hanging out together often…they have become good friends.

But because of the mature rating of this anime series, does it fall within the category of other FUNimation perverted harem anime series such as “Sekirei” or “Heaven’s Lost Property”?

The series does feature a character, Sena Kashiwazaki, who happens to be well-endowed and yes, always in scenes where her chest is often bouncing or somehow her boobs become a revolving joke because she is often despised by Yozora Mikazuki, the founder of the club, that each member belongs to.

But where “Sekirei” or even “Heaven’s Lost Property” features multiple women in scantily clad outfits with huge breasts, “Haganai” only features one character, which is Sena, often featured in those situations.

The adult situations are more about the humor within its other wacky characters such as Rika Shiguma, a mad scientist who is addicted to boys love anime/manga and just wants to see Kodaka engage in certain acts that will turn her on.  The other is Yukimura Kusunoki who is a boy but yet looks like a girl and acts like a girl and is often dressed in female’s clothes.  Because he tries to hid his chest like a girl when changing into a swimsuit, because of his feminine ways, it’s too much for Kodaka to even look at him.

But then you have two other members who are younger.  Kobato is Kodaka’s younger sister who has a brother complex (ie. has a crush on her brother) and Maria who is a child genius and she looks at Kodaka like a brother.  But these two are often squalling as Maria is in her nun outfit and Kobato is always in vampire mode and both are often at each other’s throats.

So, in terms of a harem anime series, it’s not so perverted in the sense of other anime series but there is adult humor and a few times where there is nudity featured.  But compared to other anime series where fan service is continually used in every episode, “Haganai: I don’t have many friends” focuses on its characters really trying to learn how to make friends.  Trying to take on varies fads and hobbies that friends take part in, may it be video games, karaoke, going to the beach, going to the public pool, etc.

To see how socially awkward each of them are as they try to experiment with various social activities.  For the video games, we often see the characters in their fantasy form and having fun but its so fun and hilarious because most often, they fail in trying to learn why these things are popular, but not knowing that doing these activities as a team, actually brings them closer together as friends.  In other words, they are trying so hard to make friends that they don’t realize that each of them have become friends with each other.

As for the Blu-ray release, colors are vibrant, very good shading when it comes to the characters, art backgrounds are well-done and the good thing is because each character are often visiting different locations, there are no repetitive backgrounds featuring clouds, trees, and roofs but actually seeing various locations that the characters visit.  But the series does look good on Blu-ray and as for audio, this type of series is primarily dialogue driven.  But dialogue and music are crystal clear.  I didn’t notice an abundant use of surround channel use, but you do hear it during the more action-driven scenes.

Both voice acting on the Japanese and English soundtrack are well-done and there are a good number of special features included with this first season of “Haganai: I don’t have many friends”.

Overall, for those wanting a harem anime series that is not overly perverted but is fun and crazy, we’ll enjoy the adventures of the characters in “Haganai: I don’t have many friends” in their quest of learning how to make friends.  An entertaining first season and I can’t wait for season two!

 

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