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

February 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: Terra Formars

DURATION: (Episodes 1-13) 312 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: January 23, 2018


Directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki

Series Composition: Shogo Yasukawa

Music by Shusei Murai

Originally Created by Kenichi Tachibana and Yu Sasuga

Character Design:  Masanori Shino, Satoshi Kimura

Art Director: Minami Kasuga

Anime Production: LIDEN FILMS


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hidenobu Kiuchi/Christopher Smith as Shōkichi Komachi

Kaito Ishikawa/Robbie Daymond as Marcos Eringrad Garcia

Kenn/Steve Cannon as Alex Kandori Stewart

Shizuka Itou/Eric Lindbeck as Michelle K. Davis

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Chris Niosi as Akari Hizamaru

Ai Kayano/Erica Lindbeck as Sheila Levitt

Aki Toyosaki/Erin Fitzgerald as Yaeko Yanasegawa

Akira Ishida/Todd Haberkorn as Joseph G. Newton

Ayane Sakura/Cristina Vale as Eva Frost

Chiaki Takahashi/Cherami Leigh as Kanako Sanjō

Daisuke Ono/Max Mittelman as Keiji Onizuka

Kenji Akabane/Christopher Smith as Ivan Perepelkina

Koji Yusa/Doug Erholtz as Adolf Reinhard

Kouji Ishii/Peter Lurie as Narration

Tetsuo Komura/Kyle Hebert as Liu Yiwu

Tomokazu Sugita as Ichirō Hiruma

Tooru Nara/Max Mittelman as Aleksandr Asimov

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Keith Silverstein as Shichisei Hiruma

Unshō Ishizuka/Patrick Seitz as Sylvester Asimov


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The black organism used by scientists were cockroaches.

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

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

And now the humans have become the hunted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

March Comes in Like a Lion vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 14, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are looking for a slice-of-life anime series that deals with human emotion and complex relationships, definitely give “March Comes in Like a Lion” volume 1 a chance!  Recommended!

Purchase from RightStuf

Image courtesy of © Aniplex. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: March Comes in Like a Lion vol. 1

DURATION: Episodes 1-11 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: December 19, 2017


Originally Created by Chica Umino

Series Director: Kenjiro Okada

Director: Akiyuki Simbo

Series Composition: Akiyuki Simbo, Fuyashi Tou

Script by Yukito Kizawa

Music by Yukari Hashimoto

Character Design: Nobuhiro Sugiyama

Art Director: Seiki Tamura

Anime Production: SHAFT


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kengo Kawanishi/Khoi Dao as Rei Kiriyama

Ai Kayano/Laura Post as Akari Kawamoto

Akio Ohtsuka/Taylor Henry as Raidō Fujimoto

Akira Ishida/Todd Haberkorn as Tōji Sōya

Daisuke Sakaguchi/Lucien Dodge as Okuyasu Yokomizo

Hiroki Touchi/Ray Chase as Masamune Gotō

Kana Hanazawa/Kayli Mills as Hinata Kawamoto

Kenjiro Tsuda/Kellen Goff as Morio Shigeta

Marina Inoue/Lauren Landa as Kyōko Kōda

Misaki Kuno/Xanthe Huynh as Momo Kawamoto

Mitsuo Iwata/Joe J. Thomas as Manabu Yasui

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Zach Aguilar as Harunobu Nikaidō

Shigeru Chiba as Sōmeiji Kawamoto

Shinichiro Miki/Kirk Thornton as Kai Shimada

Subaru Kimura as Issa Matsumoto

Takahiro Sakurai as Takashi Hayashida

Tesshō Genda as Takanori Jingūji (Japan Shogi League President)

Tomokazu Sugita/Keith Silverstein as Tatsuyuki Misumi

Toru Ohkawa/Cam Clarke as Masachika Kōda

Yōji Ueda/Doug Stone as Hanaoka

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Chris Hackney as Yūsuke Takahashi

Yūichi Nakamura/Xander Mobus as Takeshi Tsujii

Yūji Ueda/Arnie Pantoja as Eisaku Noguchi


From Chica Umino, the author of Honey & Clover, comes the award-winning coming-of-age manga about a shogi player and the meaning of family—now brought to life in full animation for the first time by director Akiyuki Shimbou (Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the Monogatari series)!

Rei Kiriyama is a seventeen year old professional shogi player. Among the youngest in history to go pro, he has many expectations for the future, yet his recent separation from his foster family has left him conflicted and his career has stagnated. However, after meeting a family of three sisters, color slowly returns to his life.


Mangaka Chica Umino is best known for her award-winning manga series “Honey and Clover”, which was adapted into an anime and live-action film.

Umino would followup with “Sangatsu no Raion” (March Comes in like a Lion), an ongoing manga series which began in 2007 and serialized in “Young Animal” and a total of 12 manga volumes have since been published.

In 2016, an anime series adaptation was produced by Shaft and a second season completed at the end of 2017.  A two-part live-action film adaptation was released in March and April 2017 and now the first season of Umino’s anime series will be released in America on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Aniplex of America, Inc.

The series revolves around a 17-year-old professional shogi player named Rei Kirayama.

Shogi is a Japanese version of chess and is a two-player strategy board game which originated in India back in the 6th century and tournaments are held in Japan and the best players compete professionally.

Rei is a loner and often retreated to his room and the only thing he knew in his life was shogi. Often bullied throughout his life and at a young age, his parents and younger sister were killed in a car accident.  Because he was good at shogi, he was taken adopted by his father’s friend and shogi rival, Koda  and would become his apprentice in shogi.

Because Koda put a lot of interested in Rei, he often was hard on his own two kids who were trying to be great shogi players to gain favor with their father but because they were not as good as Rei, he was often bullied and beaten by his older step sister Kyoko.

Because of the abuse at home, Rei left home early to become a professional shogi player, quitting school and trying to live life alone.  But unfortunately things didn’t go well for Rei and one day, he was found abandoned and sick by a young woman named Akari Kawamoto.

Akari is the eldest of three sisters and lives in Sangatsu-cho (March Town) and raises her two younger sisters after their mother died.  She often helps her elder grandfather run a traditional wagashi (Japanese confectionery) shop and in the evening, works as a hostess at a bar in Ginza.

Akari and her two sisters, middle school student Hinata and preschool student Momo care about Rei like a family member and often are concerned about him.

But for Rei, while he was considered a shogi prodigy, he has lost two matches and on the brink of being demoted.  And now he must take on a variety of people including Harunobu Nikaido, a wealthy shogi player who considers Rei his best-friend and lifelong rival.

But as Rei lives in darkness, not knowing what is out there in life if he loses in shogi, will that mean there is nothing left in life for him?

The people he comes in contact with will play a big part in trying to show Rei that he is not alone but will he open his eyes to the people around him and show that there is so much more to his life and how he has made an impact on the people around him?


VIDEO:

“March Comes in Like a Lion” is presented in 1080p High Definition. SHAFT did a wonderful job with this anime series and immediately, you can see, by watching the anime series is how the brought Chica Umino’s characters to life with this anime series.  The character designs and art backgrounds are colorful, vibrant and look great in HD!

I didn’t notice any banding or artifact issues while watching this series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

The lossless soundtrack for “March Comes in Like a Lion” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM. The lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and both soundtracks are well-acted.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“March Comes in Like a Lion” vol. 1 comes with a Textless Opening & Ending, Trailer and Commercial, Meow Shogi Song, “Moving Meow Shogi” Special.

EXTRAS:

“March Comes in Like a Lion” vol. 1 comes with a Digest plus a deluxe booklet, rigid box with package illustrated by Nobuhiro Sugiyama.


I was a huge fan of Chica Umino’s “Honey and Clover”, which was more or less a slice-of-life manga series that focused on art school students and complex relationships.

The same thing could be said about Umino’s “March Comes in Like a Lion” which focuses on a 17-year-old professional shogi player named Rei, who has gone through a lot of tragedy and abuse in his life that his only solace in life is playing shogi and coming home alone, so he would no longer be hurt.

And he left home with his adoptive family to escape abuse (from his older step-sister) to focus on becoming a professional shogi player and quitting school in order to live on his own.

Unfortunately, life is not going easy for Rei, once called a shogi prodigy, he has lost a few matches and any more losses will lead to a demotion and it would take years to build his rank back up.

And because he has known nothing in life but shogi, the depression is setting upon him.  He has lived through so many terrible things in life, with the death of his parents and younger sister, relatives not watching to keep him and the only person willing to take him in is his father’s shogi rival and friend Koda.

Leaving home and moving to Sangatsu-cho (March Town) has given him his own freedom but Rei has not had many social relationships and the depression and pain he harbors is still within him but that has all changed when he met the Kawamoto family, which consists of Akari, Hinata and Momo, who took him in like a family member and often invite him to their home, despite eldest Akari often having to take care of the family with the money she makes working at her grandfather’s confectionery shop and a hostess job in Ginza.

But the Kawamoto sisters care for Rei and when they saw him sleeping with his glasses with tears in his eyes, the sisters are not aware of what kind of pain he has gone through but want to be there for him.

The series also introduces us to Shogi players that are part of Rei’s life, even though he doesn’t want to be that close to them.

One includes the wealthy Harunobu Nikaido, a four-dan shogi player who self-proclaims himself as Rei’s best friend and lifelong rival.  While Nikaido gets on Rei’s nerves, he has a lot of great qualities and also hides the fact that he is chronically ill.

And there are other shogi players that Rei often comes in contact.

But while Rei worries about his losing streak and how he needs to win more matches in order to not lose his ranking, out of nowhere, his abusive older step-sister Kyoko Koda has mysteriously shown up to him recently.

The first season of “March Comes in Like a Lion” is a fantastic series that manages to capture human emotion, where “Honey and Clover” tend to focus on love triangles, problematic relationships and graduation and employment angst, this series focuses on shogi, which is usually rare in manga or anime series.  But also focuses on complex relationships, good and bad.

Umino has done a great job with character development and series director Kenjiro Okada, director Akiyuki Simbo and writers Simbou and Fuyashi Tou have done a great job in adaptating Umino’s manga to an anime series.  Everything is on-point with is pacing and the character designs and background art are absolutely beautiful to look at.

The Blu-ray is vibrant in HD and the lossless soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue and music.  Both Japanese and English dub soundtracks are well-acted.  As for special features, there aren’t many aside from the textless opening and ending, commercial, trailers plus a “Meow Shogi Song” and “Moving Meow Shogi” Special.  And as one can expect from Aniplex, you get a deluxe booklet including end card illustrations and packaging illustration by Nobuhiro Sugiyama.

Overall, as an Umino fan, I may be biased towards her work but she’s such a good artist and storyteller that SHAFT has done a great job of giving her series an anime adaptation that focuses on wonderful storytelling, artwork and voice acting.

If you are looking for a slice-of-life anime series that deals with human emotion and complex relationships, definitely give “March Comes in Like a Lion” volume 1 a chance!  Recommended!

Purchase from RightStuf

Fairy Tail – Collection Nine (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fairy Tail – Collection Nine” is fantastic in the sense that FUNimation is now releasing these huge sets for fans to catch up with the series. And with 25-episodes on four Blu-ray and DVD’s, these collections are definitely worth buying! If you are looking for a long-running adventure/action-packed anime series on Blu-ray, definitely give “Fairy Tail” a try. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2015 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Fairy Tail – Collection Nine

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2014-2015

DURATION: (Episodes 188-212) 625 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

Release Date: September 5, 2017


Originally created by Hiro Mashima

Directed by Shinji Ishihara

Script by Atsuhiro Tomikoa, Fumihiko Shimo, Masashi Sogo, Shoji Yonemura

Music by Yasuharu Takanashi

Character Design by Aoi Yamamoto

Art Director: Junko Shimizu

Chief Animation Director: Takao Sano

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures, Satelight


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Hirano/Cherami Leigh as Lucy Heartfilia

Tetsuya Kakihara/Todd Haberkorn as Natsu Dragneel

Rie Kugimiya/Tia Ballard as Happy

Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Erza Scarlet

Yūichi Nakamura/Newton Pittman as Gray Fullbuster

Shinichi Kotani/R. Bruce Elliot as Makarov

Akira Ishida as Zeref

Daisuke Kishio/Eric Vale as Loki/Loke

Daisuke Namikawa as Jeral/Mystogan

Eri Kitamura/Jamie Marchi as Kana Alberona

Hiroki Touchi as Pantherlily

Hiroki Yasumoto as Elfman

Kazuhiko Inoue as Gildarts Clive

Mai Nakahara as Juvia Loxar

Mariya Ise as Levi Macgarden

Miyuki Sawashiro/Lydia Mackay as Ultear Milkovich

Ryoko Ono/Monica Rial as Mirajane

Satomi Satou as Wendy

Sayaka Narita as Aries

Wataru Hatano as Gajeel Redfox

Yui Horie as Charle


The Grand Magic Games come to an explosive end as the Eclipse Gate opens and the unthinkable happens—dragons emerge! Hell-bent on destroying everything in their path, the guilds must band together to fight the most difficult battle they’ve ever faced. But who is behind the rampaging dragons and what dire news does he bring? It’s Dragons vs. Dragon Slayers as the present and future clash!


With Natsu and others frozen in time for seven years on Sirius Island, the Fairy Tail Guild must participate in the Grand Magic Games, an annual competition to decide who is Fiore’s strongest guild.

But as the fights continue, no one is aware of a conspiracy that is taking place and involves the Eclipse Project and may lead to the destruction of the Fiore Kingdom.

Find out what happens in Collection Nine of “Fairy Tail” (episodes 198-212) available now on Blu-ray + DVD from FUNimation.

What is “Fairy Tail”?

For those who are not familiar with “Fairy Tail”, let’s just say that it’s one of the most exciting, long running anime magic/adventure series to be released in the U.S. on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.

In Japan, “Fairy Tail” is a manga series which began in 2006 and was created by mangaka Hiro Mashima (known for his manga series “Rave Master”). Featured in Weekly Shonen Magazine, the manga series is still ongoing, meanwhile an anime adaptation of the manga series was created in 2009 produced by A-Pictures and Satelight. And similar to the manga series, is also ongoing!

The anime series is directed by Shinji Ishihara (“Aoi Kokuhaku”, “Tenbatsu Angel Rabbie”, “Tokyo Majin” and is written by Masashi Sogo (“Bleach”, “Yukikaze”, “Hunter x Hunter”). The anime series features character design by Aoi Yamamoto, art direction by Junko Shimizu (“Midori Days, “Blue Dragon”, “Trinity Blood”) and music by Yasuharu Takanashi (“Naruto Shippuden”, “Hell Girl”, “Gantz”, Ikki Tosen”).

A Quick Summary of what has taken place in “Fairy Tail” thus far:

“Fairy Tail” revolves around a 17-year-old celestial wizard named Lucy Heartfilia who dreams of joining a sorcerer guild known as Fairy Tail, a group known and feared for the destruction they cause. One day, she runs into Natsu Dragneel, a guy who is traveling to the land of Fiore along with his partner Happy (a talking blue cat with wings) who is searching for his foster parent, a dragon named Igneel who has disappeared.

While traveling to Fiore, both Lucy and Natsu encounter a sorcerer claiming to be the famous Salamander of Fairy Tail. Natsu is the first to object that the man is a phony but the fans of Salamander are dismayed by Natsu’s comments and beat him up, meanwhile Lucy finds out that this fake Salamander is using his sorcerer abilities to make young women fall for him.

As Lucy tries to show her gratitude to Natsu for breaking the spell that would have otherwise have hypnotized Lucy, the two become friends.

But when the fake Salamander tells Lucy that he would get her into Fairy Tail, she knows he is a fake but any chance of getting to join the guild would make her dream come true, so she decides to visit him.

But it’s all a ruse and the fake Salamander is just trying to find female slaves and because he is so powerful, Lucy does not have the magic necessary to beat him. But coming to Lucy’s rescue is Natsu, who is revealed to be a true member of Fairy Tail and also revealed to be the true “Salamander”. And he easily beats the fake Salamander up.

When Natsu discovers that Lucy’s dream is to become a Fairy Tail member, he asks her to join him and he can help her get into the guild and from that moment on, Lucy becomes Natsu’s partner in various Fairy Tail guild missions and for each mission they beat, the more income they make.

And more money means more keys to gain more powers, which would help Lucy become a powerful celestial wizard!

 


“Fairy Tail” Collection Five features the following characters:

  • Natsu Dragneel – Also known as “Salamander”, Natsu is a kindhearted, always hungry wizard who travels with his partner Happy in search of Igneel, a dragon who raised Natsu but is now missing. Natsu is a dragon slayer and a wizard who can perform “Lost Magic and can have physical properties of a dragon. He specializes in Fire Dragon Slayer Magic which allows him to breath fire and ingest fire as a form of nourishment. He is also gifted with other powers not yet revealed in the first volume of “Fairy Tail”.
  • Lucy Heartfilia – A celestial wizard who can summon contracted spirits (with special abilities) through a set of keys known as Gatekeys. She treats these spirits as friends. Her dream is to join Fairy Tail and through meeting Natsu, now her dream can come true.
  • Happy – A blue cat with wings and a best friend to Natsu. He can fly and can carry a person while flying. He is also known to irritate Lucy.
  • Gray Fullbuster – A powerful wizard of Fairy Tail and the opposite of Natsu, in that he has control of ice. Gray has the power of Ice Make which can make him create weapons or anything out of ice. He was raised by the wizard Ur. He also has a bad habit of taking of all his clothes without realizing it.
  • Erza Scarlet – An S-Class wizard (high-ranked) and is the most powerful member of the Fairy Tail guild. She has magic known as “The Knight” which allows her to summon and equip weapons and armor and also has the ability to resist magic attacks. She is feared by others because of her lack of compassion.
  • Mirajane – A 19-year-old S-Class wizard who is the cover girl of Sorcerer’s Weekly magazine and helps Lucy understand what is happening with the members of the Fairy Tail guild. She has the ability to change her appearance to something she previously encountered.
  • Cana Alberona – A short-tempered heaving drinking woman. She uses card magic to cast her spells.
  • Elfman – Mirajane’s younger brother who is known for his physical strength. He can absorb the power of any monster he defeats.
  • Loke – A flirtatious wizard who is often seen in the company of many women.
  • Makarov Dreyer – The elder master of Fairy Tail. He is constantly busy because of his guild members becoming too violent.
  • Juvia Lockser – Originally a member of the Phantom Lord Guild and now a member of Fairy Tail and is obsessed with Gray. She becomes great friends of Lucy but also her rival (thinking that Lucy is interested in Gray).
  • Gajeel Redfox – Originally a member of the Phantom Lord Guild, Gajeel is similar to Natsu in the fact that he is a Dragon Slayer raised by the dragon Metalicana. He can transform his body into metal weapons.
  • Jellal Fernandes – A former child slave that grew up with Erza Scarlet. Thought to be dead, he is found by Oracion Seis and revived by Wendy Marvell and is being used to find the destructive spell known as Nirvana.
  • Wendy Marvell – A female Dragon Slayer who is accompanied by her Exceed partner Carla. A master of Sky Dragon Slayer magic, she can heal injuries. She becomes an ally of Fairy Tail.

VIDEO:

“Fairy Tail” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1). It’s important to note that this is a anime TV series, not a film or an OVA and is a weekly anime series. What that means is A-1 Pictures and Satelight, have their hands full, especially if they have other TV series to work on that week. Typically a lot of anime series are quickly done in order to make it by their weekly deadline and sometimes, they are done the day of deadline. So, production values for TV series are typically not that high if they are working on multiple series.

Fortunately A-1 Pictures has become one of the newer studios that have been doing production for quite a number of popular hit series such as “Blue Exorcist” and “Big Windup!” and Satelight does a lot of the in-between animation. So, while they are a smaller, growing company, they are not overburdened as other studios and that means, more time dedicated to the anime series.

“Fairy Tail” features cool production value. A lot of detailed artwork, because of the many adventures, you get so many locations and not the typical regurgitated scenery.

There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Colors are absolutely vibrant, black levels are deep. I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release. If anything, the Blu-ray really brings out the details and colors of the series and looks fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fairy Tail” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Dialogue and music is clear through the front channels for the lossless stereo soundtrack but because the English is 5.1, there is better use of the surround channels.

In fact, I found myself listening to the English dub track for “Fairy Tail” much more than the Japanese soundtrack because of the 5.1 but also, FUNimation did a magnificent job with the casting of this series. I was very pleased especially with the casting of Lucy, Natsu, Happy, Grey and Erza and for the most part, I think whichever you prefer, you will be pleased with Japanese and English audio tracks.

But for the most part, for a TV series, lossless audio is crystal clear and while not the most immersive soundtrack (which I typically don’t expect TV series to boast incredible immersive lossless soundtracks, unlike a film or OVA series), “Fairy Tail” does sound very good on Blu-ray!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fairy Tail – Collection Nine” features the following special features:

  • Episode 191 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Jim Foronda (voice of Toma/Mato).
  • Episode 196 Video Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Kyle and voice actor/writer Aaron Dismuke (voice of Hibiki).
  • Guild Pride: Mermaid Heel – (6:39) Featuring an introduction to the all-female guild, Mermaid Heel.
  • Episode 200 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Lydia Mackey (voice of Ultear) and Newton Pittman (voice of Grayful Buster).
  • Episode 205 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Cherami Leigh (voice of Lucy).
  • Guild Pride: Quatro Cerberus – Featuring an introduction to the guild, Quatro Cerberus.
  • Textless Opening Songs
  • Textless Closing Songs
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Fairy Tail”
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

EXTRAS:

“Fairy Tail – Collection Nine” Blu-ray also comes with the DVD version of the series (four DVD’s, four Blu-rays) plus a slipcover.


NOTE: It’s important to note that “Fairy Tail – Collection Five” consists of the same Blu-ray sets that were released in 2015 as “Fairy Tail vol. 17” and “Fairy Tail vol. 18”. So, this set incorporates both sets into the collection.

With “Fairy Tail – Collection Nine”, the episodes featured are season seven which focuses on other members of the Fairy Tail Guild having to take on challengers in the Grand Magic Games, an annual competition to determine the strongest Fairy Tail Guild.  While Fairy Tail Guild is no doubt one of the most powerful, unfortunately Natsu and others are frozen in time for seven years on Sirius Island, so they are unable to participate.

Fairy Tail takes on the Sever Tooth Guild and Hisui initiates the Eclipse 2, Eclipse Cannon and Future Lucy makes a great sacrifice, which leads to past characters meeting their future selves and a fierce battle which leads Natsu to take on Rogue, while Lucy tries to close the Eclipse.

Meanwhile, Lucy tries to summon the twelve Zodiac Spirits but why are their changes for the celestial bodies and the revelation of Frosch’s killer is revealed.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good for a TV series and features a good solid lossless soundtrack. It’s important to emphasize that this is a TV series and not a film or OVA, thus the production quality of animated TV shows tend to be lower (and created in a short time) than a film/OVA, so there is a bit of softness and shadowing and detail are not utilized a lot for this series.

As for special features, you do get the English voice actors providing commentary for four episodes and guild introductions.

Overall, “Fairy Tail – Collection Nine” is fantastic in the sense that FUNimation is now releasing these huge sets for fans to catch up with the series. And with 25-episodes on four Blu-ray and DVD’s, these collections are definitely worth buying!

If you are looking for a long-running adventure/action-packed anime series on Blu-ray, definitely give “Fairy Tail” a try.

Recommended!

Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is a captivating fantasy tale that will no doubt attract RPG video gamers and action/adventure anime fans. With several volumes of the light novel having been published, one can only hope that more episodes and seasons are created because this is one anime series that I would love to watch more of. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Ao Jumonji,  OVERLAP/Grimgar. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions

ORIGINAL TV AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: 12 Episodes (335 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 2, 2017


Originally created by Ao Jumonji

Directed by Ryosuke Nakamura

Script by Ryosuke Nakamura

Music by R.O.N.

Original Character Design by Eiri Shirai

Character Design by Mieko Hosoi

Art Director: Hidetoshi Kaneko

Chief Animation Director: Mieko Hosoi

Animation Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Ricco Fajardo as Haruhiro

Chika Anzai/Jad Saxton as Mary

Daisuke Namikawa/Todd Haberkorn as Kikkawa

Fukushi Ochiai/Jarrod Greene as Moguzo

Haruka Terui/Sarah Wiedenheft as Shihoru

Hiroki Yasumoto/Mike McFarland as Brittany

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Orion Pitts as Ranta

Mamiko Noto/Jamie Marchi as Barbara

Mikako Komatsu/Jeannie Tirado as Yume

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Justin Briner as Manato

Tomokazu Seki/Jason Liebrecht as Renji



Back in 2013, writer Ao Jumonji and illustrator Eiri Shirai collaborated on a Japanese light novel series titled “Hai to Genso ni Gurimugaru” (“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions”).  With a total of nine novels created, a manga adaptation by Mutsumi Okubashi was serialized in “Gangan Joker” in 2015.

Due to the popularity of the series, a 12-episode anime series produced by A-1 Pictures aired in Japan from January through March 2016 and an OVA followed afterward.

The series is directed and written by Ryosuke Nakamura (“Aiura”, “Nana”, “Psychic School Wars”, “Moryo no Hako”), music by R.O.N. (“Aquarion Logos”, “Solty Rei”, “Unlimited Fafnir”), character design by Mieko Hosoi (“Aiura”, “Aoi Bungaku”) and art direction by Hidetoshi Kaneko (“”Devil Hunter Yohko”, “Chance Pop Session”, Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals”, “Jubei-Chan the Ninja Girl”, “Mermaid’s Scar”, “X”).

And now the “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is available on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

The story follows a young man named Haruhiro and several people who awaken in a fantasy world and remember nothing but their own names.  They all find out that they must become Trainee Volunteer Soldiers and must support themselves to survive and that is by killing goblins to earn money.  As many of the strong join groups, Haruhiro and others were not chosen and so they form their own group.

As Haruhiro and his friends become Trainee Volunteer Soldiers, they must join forces to survive and train and use their skills to defeat goblins.

The primary characters in “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” are:

  • Haruhiro – A softspoken person who is level-headed and becomes the group’s thief.
  • Yume – She is brave and is the hunter of the group.   She often tries to protect Shihoru and is att odds with Ranta.
  • Shihoru – The shy member of the group. She is a mage.
  • Ranta – The Dark Knight of the group.  He is perverted and outspoken and tends to cause trouble with the group because of his rash decisions.
  • Manato – The teams priest (healer) and the group leader.  A strategist that sees the positive in each member of the group.
  • Moguzo – The tallest and heaviest member of the group and the team’s warrior.  Loves cooking.
  • Mary – A priest (healer) who became colder due to the death of her friends.
  • Renji – Arried the same time Haruhiro and others but has graduated from being a trainee quickly.

VIDEO:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is presented in 1080p High Definition and A-1 Pictures did a wonderful job with this series.  The backgrounds are nicely painted and look like it was painted with watercolors.  Meanwhile, characters are well shaded and colors are vibrant.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is presented in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  Dialogue and music including environment and ambiance are well-utilized throughout the surround channels for the lossless English dub soundtrack.  Both soundtracks are well-acted but in terms of channel utilization, with the English lossless soundtrack receiving a 5.1 treatment, that soundtrack has an edge.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” comes with the following special features:

  • OVA 2.5 – Staking Our Youths on the Bath Wall – One More Centimeter
  • Episode 04 Video Commentary – Featuring Funimation staff Godswill (social media coordinator), Casey (promo video) and Ian (senior graphic designer)
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.


For those who play video games, I’m sure the gamer had once thought, “what if we were in our own video game?”.

It’s something I know my RPG-loving friends have joked about and while we have seen anime where characters’s avatars or consciousness were trapped in a video game (ala “.Hack” or “Sword Art Online”) but what if people were transported into a fantasy world where they fought in classes like an RPG video game?

This is somewhat of the idea in “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions”.  Numerous people transported to a fantasy world and they have no choice but to fight or die.

Fighting is the only option for one to make money, buy food or purchase things and to do that, you must become a soldier.  And for these new people who have arrived, they immediately must become Trainee Volunteer Soldiers and join up in guilds.  Train and learn new skills and fight goblins who will do all they can to kill you.

The anime series focuses on a group of people who were not selected to join a major guild, so they join forces and become their own group.  And as they become friends and try to learn how to use their skills to fight goblins, they don’t know how bad the dangers are until one of their own is killed.

And now they must find a way to continue on, grow as a team and protect each other.

Featuring beautiful animation and beautifully painted backgrounds courtesy of A-1 Pictures, the anime series looks vibrant and gorgeous on Blu-ray.  The lossless soundtrack for both English and Japanese soundtracks are fantastic but the English soundtrack gets an edge as it was made into a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack, while the Japanese version is a stereo lossless soundtrack.

“Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” come with an OVA and an episode 4 video commentary by the English dub talent.

Overall, “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions” is a captivating fantasy tale that will no doubt attract RPG video gamers and action/adventure anime fans.  With several volumes of the light novel having been published, one can only hope that more episodes and seasons are created because this is one anime series that I would love to watch more of.

Recommended!

Fairy Tail vol. 22 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fairy Tail” vol. 22 is an action-packed storyline concluding the Tartaros Arc which features several deaths and a lot of destruction. And the Fairy Tail guild will never be the same.  A fantastic conclusion for season seven!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Fairy Tail Vol. 21

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 253-265) 325 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

Release Date: December 6, 2016


Originally created by Hiro Mashima

Directed by Shinji Ishihara

Script by Atsuhiro Tomikoa, Fumihiko Shimo, Masashi Sogo, Shoji Yonemura

Music by Yasuharu Takanashi

Character Design by Aoi Yamamoto

Art Director: Junko Shimizu

Chief Animation Director: Takao Sano

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures, Satelight


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Hirano/Cherami Leigh as Lucy Heartfilia

Tetsuya Kakihara/Todd Haberkorn as Natsu Dragneel

Rie Kugimiya/Tia Ballard as Happy

Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Erza Scarlet

Yūichi Nakamura/Newton Pittman as Gray Fullbuster

Shinichi Kotani/R. Bruce Elliot as Makarov

Akira Ishida as Zeref

Daisuke Kishio/Eric Vale as Loki/Loke

Daisuke Namikawa as Jeral/Mystogan

Eri Kitamura/Jamie Marchi as Kana Alberona

Hiroki Touchi as Pantherlily

Hiroki Yasumoto as Elfman

Kazuhiko Inoue as Gildarts Clive

Mai Nakahara as Juvia Loxar

Mariya Ise as Levi Macgarden

Miyuki Sawashiro/Lydia Mackay as Ultear Milkovich

Ryoko Ono/Monica Rial as Mirajane

Satomi Satou as Wendy

Sayaka Narita as Aries

Wataru Hatano as Gajeel Redfox

Yui Horie as Charle


With the battle of Tartaros still raging on, the wizards of Fairy Tail may have finally met their match. The threat of three thousand Faces hangs over them, and the power of the Demon Gates takes their breath away when they reveal their true Etherious Forms.

Right when things begin to look up, an even bigger threat appears Acnologia! Beaten and exhausted, can the wizards find the strength to take on Tartaros and this monstrous dragon? When the fire inside Natsu erupts, he will have a startling and unexpected reunion. But the time for catching up and seeking answers will have to wait E.N.D. and the ready-to-detonate Faces are moments from destroying the magical world as they know it!

The final battle for the magical world happens now!


The seventh season of “Fairy Tail” concludes with a devastating finale.

Gray confronts his father Silver, who reveals that he is a corpse that was brought back to life by Keyes’ necromancy curse and he desperately wants his son to kill him, but can Gray do it?

Meanwhile, the search is over for Natsu as his father, the dragon Igneel has returned, as does Mard Geer and Acnologia who intends to wreak destruction on the world.

Erza takes on Kyoka in a battle to the death.

Who will die?  Who will survive?

Find out in the final episodes of the “Tarturos Arc”.  All this and more in vol. 22 of “Fairy Tail” (episodes 253-265) available now on Blu-ray + DVD combo pack from FUNimation.

What is “Fairy Tail”?

For those who are not familiar with “Fairy Tail”, let’s just say that it’s one of the most exciting, long running anime magic/adventure series to be released in the U.S. on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.

In Japan, “Fairy Tail” is a manga series which began in 2006 and was created by mangaka Hiro Mashima (known for his manga series “Rave Master”). Featured in Weekly Shonen Magazine, the manga series is still ongoing, meanwhile an anime adaptation of the manga series was created in 2009 produced by A-Pictures and Satelight. And similar to the manga series, is also ongoing!

With the 22nd Blu-ray release of “Fairy Tail”, this latest volume features episodes 253-265.

The anime series is directed by Shinji Ishihara (“Aoi Kokuhaku”, “Tenbatsu Angel Rabbie”, “Tokyo Majin” and is written by Masashi Sogo (“Bleach”, “Yukikaze”, “Hunter x Hunter”). The anime series features character design by Aoi Yamamoto, art direction by Junko Shimizu (“Midori Days, “Blue Dragon”, “Trinity Blood”) and music by Yasuharu Takanashi (“Naruto Shippuden”, “Hell Girl”, “Gantz”, Ikki Tosen”).

A Quick Summary of what “Fairy Tail” is about?:

“Fairy Tail” revolves around a 17-year-old celestial wizard named Lucy Heartfilia who dreams of joining a sorcerer guild known as Fairy Tail, a group known and feared for the destruction they cause. One day, she runs into Natsu Dragneel, a guy who is traveling to the land of Fiore along with his partner Happy (a talking blue cat with wings) who is searching for his foster parent, a dragon named Igneel who has disappeared.

While traveling to Fiore, both Lucy and Natsu encounter a sorcerer claiming to be the famous Salamander of Fairy Tail. Natsu is the first to object that the man is a phony but the fans of Salamander are dismayed by Natsu’s comments and beat him up, meanwhile Lucy finds out that this fake Salamander is using his sorcerer abilities to make young women fall for him.

As Lucy tries to show her gratitude to Natsu for breaking the spell that would have otherwise have hypnotized Lucy, the two become friends.

But when the fake Salamander tells Lucy that he would get her into Fairy Tail, she knows he is a fake but any chance of getting to join the guild would make her dream come true, so she decides to visit him.

But it’s all a ruse and the fake Salamander is just trying to find female slaves and because he is so powerful, Lucy does not have the magic necessary to beat him. But coming to Lucy’s rescue is Natsu, who is revealed to be a true member of Fairy Tail and also revealed to be the true “Salamander”. And he easily beats the fake Salamander up.

When Natsu discovers that Lucy’s dream is to become a Fairy Tail member, he asks her to join him and he can help her get into the guild and from that moment on, Lucy becomes Natsu’s partner in various Fairy Tail guild missions and for each mission they beat, the more income they make.

And more money means more keys to gain more powers, which would help Lucy become a powerful celestial wizard!

And together, Natsu and Lucy develop a wonderful friendship as they grow as partners but also a guild members with their other teammates.


“Fairy Tail” Vol. 22 features the following characters:

  • Natsu Dragneel – Also known as “Salamander”, Natsu is a kindhearted, always hungry wizard who travels with his partner Happy in search of Igneel, a dragon who raised Natsu but is now missing. Natsu is a dragon slayer and a wizard who can perform “Lost Magic and can have physical properties of a dragon. He specializes in Fire Dragon Slayer Magic which allows him to breath fire and ingest fire as a form of nourishment.
  • Lucy Heartfilia – A celestial wizard who can summon contracted spirits (with special abilities) through a set of keys known as Gatekeys. She treats these spirits as friends. Her dream is to join Fairy Tail and through meeting Natsu, now her dream can come true.
  • Happy – A blue cat with wings and a best friend to Natsu. He can fly and can carry a person while flying. He is also known to irritate Lucy.
  • Gray Fullbuster – A powerful wizard of Fairy Tail and the opposite of Natsu, in that he has control of ice. Gray has the power of Ice Make which can make him create weapons or anything out of ice. He was raised by the wizard Ur. He also has a bad habit of taking of all his clothes without realizing it.
  • Erza Scarlet – An S-Class wizard (high-ranked) and is the most powerful member of the Fairy Tail guild. She has magic known as “The Knight” which allows her to summon and equip weapons and armor and also has the ability to resist magic attacks. She is feared by others because of her lack of compassion.
  • Mirajane – A 19-year-old S-Class wizard who is the cover girl of Sorcerer’s Weekly magazine and helps Lucy understand what is happening with the members of the Fairy Tail guild. She has the ability to change her appearance to something she previously encountered.
  • Cana Alberona – A short-tempered heaving drinking woman. She uses card magic to cast her spells.
  • Elfman – Mirajane’s younger brother who is known for his physical strength. He can absorb the power of any monster he defeats.
  • Loke – A flirtatious wizard who is often seen in the company of many women.
  • Makarov Dreyer – The elder master of Fairy Tail. He is constantly busy because of his guild members becoming too violent.
  • Juvia Lockser – Originally a member of the Phantom Lord Guild and now a member of Fairy Tail and is obsessed with Gray.
  • Gajeel Redfox – Originally a member of the Phantom Lord Guild, Gajeel is similar to Natsu in the fact that he is a Dragon Slayer raised by the dragon Metalicana. He can transform his body into metal weapons.
  • Jellal Fernandes – A former child slave that grew up with Erza Scarlet. Thought to be dead, he is found by Oracion Seis and revived by Wendy Marvell and is being used to find the destructive spell known as Nirvana.
  • Wendy Marvell – A female Dragon Slayer who is accompanied by her Exceed partner Carla. A master of Sky Dragon Slayer magic, she can heal injuries. She becomes an ally of Fairy Tail.

VIDEO:

“Fairy Tail” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1). It’s important to note that this is a anime TV series, not a film or an OVA and is a weekly anime series. What that means is A-1 Pictures and Satelight, have their hands full, especially if they have other TV series to work on that week. Typically a lot of anime series are quickly done in order to make it by their weekly deadline and sometimes, they are done the day of deadline. So, production values for TV series are typically not that high if they are working on multiple series.

Fortunately A-1 Pictures has become one of the newer studios that have been doing production for quite a number of popular hit series such as “Blue Exorcist” and “Big Windup!” and Satelight does a lot of the in-between animation. So, while they are a smaller, growing company, they are not overburdened as other studios and that means, more time dedicated to the anime series.

“Fairy Tail” features cool production value. A lot of detailed artwork, because of the many adventures, you get so many locations and not the typical regurgitated scenery.

There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Colors are absolutely vibrant, black levels are deep. I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release. If anything, the Blu-ray really brings out the details and colors of the series and looks fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fairy Tail” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Dialogue and music is clear through the front channels for the lossless stereo soundtrack but because the English is 5.1, there is better use of the surround channels.

In fact, I found myself listening to the English dub track for “Fairy Tail” much more than the Japanese soundtrack because of the 5.1 but also, FUNimation did a magnificent job with the casting of this series. I was very pleased especially with the casting of Lucy, Natsu, Happy, Grey and Erza and for the most part, I think whichever you prefer, you will be pleased with Japanese and English audio tracks.

But for the most part, for a TV series, lossless audio is crystal clear and while not the most immersive soundtrack (which I typically don’t expect TV series to boast incredible immersive lossless soundtracks, unlike a film or OVA series), “Fairy Tail” does sound very good on Blu-ray!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fairy Tail” vol. 22 features the following special features:

  • Episode 253 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with voice actor Newton Pittman (voice of Gray).
  • Episode 258 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Vic Mignogna (voice of Mard Geer) and Janelle Lutz (voice of Kyoka).
  • Fairy Tail in the Booth: Sting, Rogue and Mard Geer – (3:05) Featuring the behind-the-scenes in the studio showcasing the voice actors for Sting, Rogue and Mard Geer.
  • Textless Opening Song: “Believe in Myself”
  • Textless Closing Song: “Azayakana Tabiji”
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Fairy Tail”
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

EXTRAS:

“Fairy Tail” vol. 22 Blu-ray also comes with both a Blu-ray and DVD version.


With the seventh season “Fairy Tail” and the final “Tartaros” arc coming to a close, we have watched as the dark guild of Zeref’s demons are trying to resurrect their master and Zeref’s ultimate creation, E.N.D.!

In the early part of the “Tartaros Arc”, as the Magic Council discusses Tartaros recent activity and the decrease in dark guilds, Jackal of the Nine Demon Gates infiltrates the meeting and destroys the building the council are meeting at and everyone is killed including Lahar.

News of the Magic Council’s assassination spreads throughout the villages and Doranbolt, who is one of the few survivors from the attack, goes to the dungeon to extract information on Tartaros. And more members of the Nine Demon Gates continue their attacks leading to more deaths.

While this latest volume is probably one of the darkest story plots of “Fairy Tail” prior to the “Tartaros Arc” is a storyline that features the demons of Tartaros planning to destroy Fairy Tail. And with a few of the primary characters escaping, it places each character in danger and fighting their most difficult battle yet.

In this latest 22nd volume, the battles continue as Natsu and Gajeel take on Torafuzar and Tempester, Erza takes on the final Demon Gate Kyoka, but just when all battles reach its peak, Acnolgia shows up out of nowhere and wreaks destruction in the area.

But coming to the defense of the guilds is the one dragon that Natsu has looked for, his fire dragon father Igneel.  And to make things worse, Mard Geer steals the book of the E.N.D.

Needless to say, this is a tragic arc with many deaths and something that will change the course of the Fairy Tail guild.

And what’s shocking is that we have seen the Fairy Tail guild take on powerful foes, nearly lose but are able to overcome their challenges.  But can this latest challenge be too much for them?

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good for a TV series and features a good solid lossless soundtrack. It’s important to emphasize that this is a TV series and not a film or OVA, thus the production quality of animated TV shows tend to be lower (and created in a short time) than a film/OVA, so there is a bit of softness and shadowing and detail are not utilized a lot for this series.

As for special features, you do get the English voice actors providing commentary for two episodes and also get to see a short video clip of a few voice talents recording their scene.

Overall, “Fairy Tail” vol. 22 is an action-packed storyline concluding the Tartaros Arc which features several deaths and a lot of destruction. And the Fairy Tail guild will never be the same.  A fantastic conclusion for season seven!  Recommended!

Fairy Tail vol. 21 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fairy Tail” vol. 21 is an action-packed storyline continuing the battle between Fairy Tail and the demons of Tartaros.  If you have been following the series for this long, you’ll no doubt enjoy the action involving many of the members of the Fairy Tail guild.

Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Fairy Tail Vol. 21

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 240-252) 325 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

Release Date: September 6, 2016


Originally created by Hiro Mashima

Directed by Shinji Ishihara

Script by Atsuhiro Tomikoa, Fumihiko Shimo, Masashi Sogo, Shoji Yonemura

Music by Yasuharu Takanashi

Character Design by Aoi Yamamoto

Art Director: Junko Shimizu

Chief Animation Director: Takao Sano

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures, Satelight


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Hirano/Cherami Leigh as Lucy Heartfilia

Tetsuya Kakihara/Todd Haberkorn as Natsu Dragneel

Rie Kugimiya/Tia Ballard as Happy

Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Erza Scarlet

Yūichi Nakamura/Newton Pittman as Gray Fullbuster

Shinichi Kotani/R. Bruce Elliot as Makarov

Akira Ishida as Zeref

Daisuke Kishio/Eric Vale as Loki/Loke

Daisuke Namikawa as Jeral/Mystogan

Eri Kitamura/Jamie Marchi as Kana Alberona

Hiroki Touchi as Pantherlily

Hiroki Yasumoto as Elfman

Kazuhiko Inoue as Gildarts Clive

Mai Nakahara as Juvia Loxar

Mariya Ise as Levi Macgarden

Miyuki Sawashiro/Lydia Mackay as Ultear Milkovich

Ryoko Ono/Monica Rial as Mirajane

Satomi Satou as Wendy

Sayaka Narita as Aries

Wataru Hatano as Gajeel Redfox

Yui Horie as Charle


On the demon’s playground, anything can happen. With the devastating Face weapon active, the battle against Tartaros seems desperate. The wizards of Fairy Tail must face down the Nine Demon Gates of Tartaros to stop the mass magic purge, or they will all become powerless. As the clock ticks down, what sacrifices will be made to protect the magic across the land? Will it even be enough? Natsu and his friends will have to use everything they’ve got if they want to prevent E.N.D.’s revival. But when each member is up against a different foe, things aren’t looking good for our heroes. In this battle against demons, anything goes; including their ability to resurrect?! And as if demons weren’t enough, familiar foes join the battle with demonic powers that make them stronger than before. When the battle turns in Tartaros’ favor, can Lucy summon the strength to call on the most powerful celestial spirit the Celestial Spirit King?!


The seventh season of “Fairy Tail” continues!

The demons of Tartaros who think they have destroyed Fairy Tail are now going after Happy, Carla and Lily.

Meanwhile, Natsu and Lisanna have escaped their cell and Erza confronts Kyoka.

Also, Wendy finds a newfound power, while Franmalth plans to absorb Natsu, Lucy and Happy’s souls.

Lucy must also make a tough decision in regards to one of her golden Zodiac keys.  And Gray takes on Silver.

All this and more in vol. 21 of “Fairy Tail” (episodes 240-252) available now on Blu-ray + DVD combo pack from FUNimation.

What is “Fairy Tail”?

For those who are not familiar with “Fairy Tail”, let’s just say that it’s one of the most exciting, long running anime magic/adventure series to be released in the U.S. on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.

In Japan, “Fairy Tail” is a manga series which began in 2006 and was created by mangaka Hiro Mashima (known for his manga series “Rave Master”). Featured in Weekly Shonen Magazine, the manga series is still ongoing, meanwhile an anime adaptation of the manga series was created in 2009 produced by A-Pictures and Satelight. And similar to the manga series, is also ongoing!

With the 21st volume Blu-ray release of “Fairy Tail”, this latest volume features episodes 240-252.

The anime series is directed by Shinji Ishihara (“Aoi Kokuhaku”, “Tenbatsu Angel Rabbie”, “Tokyo Majin” and is written by Masashi Sogo (“Bleach”, “Yukikaze”, “Hunter x Hunter”). The anime series features character design by Aoi Yamamoto, art direction by Junko Shimizu (“Midori Days, “Blue Dragon”, “Trinity Blood”) and music by Yasuharu Takanashi (“Naruto Shippuden”, “Hell Girl”, “Gantz”, Ikki Tosen”).

A Quick Summary of what has taken place in “Fairy Tail” thus far:

“Fairy Tail” revolves around a 17-year-old celestial wizard named Lucy Heartfilia who dreams of joining a sorcerer guild known as Fairy Tail, a group known and feared for the destruction they cause. One day, she runs into Natsu Dragneel, a guy who is traveling to the land of Fiore along with his partner Happy (a talking blue cat with wings) who is searching for his foster parent, a dragon named Igneel who has disappeared.

While traveling to Fiore, both Lucy and Natsu encounter a sorcerer claiming to be the famous Salamander of Fairy Tail. Natsu is the first to object that the man is a phony but the fans of Salamander are dismayed by Natsu’s comments and beat him up, meanwhile Lucy finds out that this fake Salamander is using his sorcerer abilities to make young women fall for him.

As Lucy tries to show her gratitude to Natsu for breaking the spell that would have otherwise have hypnotized Lucy, the two become friends.

But when the fake Salamander tells Lucy that he would get her into Fairy Tail, she knows he is a fake but any chance of getting to join the guild would make her dream come true, so she decides to visit him.

But it’s all a ruse and the fake Salamander is just trying to find female slaves and because he is so powerful, Lucy does not have the magic necessary to beat him. But coming to Lucy’s rescue is Natsu, who is revealed to be a true member of Fairy Tail and also revealed to be the true “Salamander”. And he easily beats the fake Salamander up.

When Natsu discovers that Lucy’s dream is to become a Fairy Tail member, he asks her to join him and he can help her get into the guild and from that moment on, Lucy becomes Natsu’s partner in various Fairy Tail guild missions and for each mission they beat, the more income they make.

And more money means more keys to gain more powers, which would help Lucy become a powerful celestial wizard!

And together, Natsu and Lucy develop a wonderful friendship as they grow as partners but also a guild members with their other teammates.


“Fairy Tail” Vol. 21 features the following characters:

  • Natsu Dragneel – Also known as “Salamander”, Natsu is a kindhearted, always hungry wizard who travels with his partner Happy in search of Igneel, a dragon who raised Natsu but is now missing. Natsu is a dragon slayer and a wizard who can perform “Lost Magic and can have physical properties of a dragon. He specializes in Fire Dragon Slayer Magic which allows him to breath fire and ingest fire as a form of nourishment.
  • Lucy Heartfilia – A celestial wizard who can summon contracted spirits (with special abilities) through a set of keys known as Gatekeys. She treats these spirits as friends. Her dream is to join Fairy Tail and through meeting Natsu, now her dream can come true.
  • Happy – A blue cat with wings and a best friend to Natsu. He can fly and can carry a person while flying. He is also known to irritate Lucy.
  • Gray Fullbuster – A powerful wizard of Fairy Tail and the opposite of Natsu, in that he has control of ice. Gray has the power of Ice Make which can make him create weapons or anything out of ice. He was raised by the wizard Ur. He also has a bad habit of taking of all his clothes without realizing it.
  • Erza Scarlet – An S-Class wizard (high-ranked) and is the most powerful member of the Fairy Tail guild. She has magic known as “The Knight” which allows her to summon and equip weapons and armor and also has the ability to resist magic attacks. She is feared by others because of her lack of compassion.
  • Mirajane – A 19-year-old S-Class wizard who is the cover girl of Sorcerer’s Weekly magazine and helps Lucy understand what is happening with the members of the Fairy Tail guild. She has the ability to change her appearance to something she previously encountered.
  • Cana Alberona – A short-tempered heaving drinking woman. She uses card magic to cast her spells.
  • Elfman – Mirajane’s younger brother who is known for his physical strength. He can absorb the power of any monster he defeats.
  • Loke – A flirtatious wizard who is often seen in the company of many women.
  • Makarov Dreyer – The elder master of Fairy Tail. He is constantly busy because of his guild members becoming too violent.
  • Juvia Lockser – Originally a member of the Phantom Lord Guild and now a member of Fairy Tail and is obsessed with Gray.
  • Gajeel Redfox – Originally a member of the Phantom Lord Guild, Gajeel is similar to Natsu in the fact that he is a Dragon Slayer raised by the dragon Metalicana. He can transform his body into metal weapons.
  • Jellal Fernandes – A former child slave that grew up with Erza Scarlet. Thought to be dead, he is found by Oracion Seis and revived by Wendy Marvell and is being used to find the destructive spell known as Nirvana.
  • Wendy Marvell – A female Dragon Slayer who is accompanied by her Exceed partner Carla. A master of Sky Dragon Slayer magic, she can heal injuries. She becomes an ally of Fairy Tail.

VIDEO:

“Fairy Tail” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1). It’s important to note that this is a anime TV series, not a film or an OVA and is a weekly anime series. What that means is A-1 Pictures and Satelight, have their hands full, especially if they have other TV series to work on that week. Typically a lot of anime series are quickly done in order to make it by their weekly deadline and sometimes, they are done the day of deadline. So, production values for TV series are typically not that high if they are working on multiple series.

Fortunately A-1 Pictures has become one of the newer studios that have been doing production for quite a number of popular hit series such as “Blue Exorcist” and “Big Windup!” and Satelight does a lot of the in-between animation. So, while they are a smaller, growing company, they are not overburdened as other studios and that means, more time dedicated to the anime series.

“Fairy Tail” features cool production value. A lot of detailed artwork, because of the many adventures, you get so many locations and not the typical regurgitated scenery.

There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Colors are absolutely vibrant, black levels are deep. I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release. If anything, the Blu-ray really brings out the details and colors of the series and looks fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fairy Tail” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Dialogue and music is clear through the front channels for the lossless stereo soundtrack but because the English is 5.1, there is better use of the surround channels.

In fact, I found myself listening to the English dub track for “Fairy Tail” much more than the Japanese soundtrack because of the 5.1 but also, FUNimation did a magnificent job with the casting of this series. I was very pleased especially with the casting of Lucy, Natsu, Happy, Grey and Erza and for the most part, I think whichever you prefer, you will be pleased with Japanese and English audio tracks.

But for the most part, for a TV series, lossless audio is crystal clear and while not the most immersive soundtrack (which I typically don’t expect TV series to boast incredible immersive lossless soundtracks, unlike a film or OVA series), “Fairy Tail” does sound very good on Blu-ray!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fairy Tail” vol. 21 features the following special features:

  • Episode 243 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Aaron Dismuke (writer) and Jeremy Schwartz (voice of Franmalth).
  • Episode 248 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Cherami Leigh (voice of Lucy) and Jessica Cavanaugh (voice of Aquarius).
  • Katsucon with Cherami Leigh – (7:38) Cherami Leigh talks to “Fairy Tail” cosplayers at Katsucon.
  • Textless Opening Song: “Never-End Tale”
  • Textless Closing Song: “Forever Here”
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Fairy Tail”
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

EXTRAS:

“Fairy Tail” vol. 21 Blu-ray also comes with both a Blu-ray and DVD version.


With the seventh season “Fairy Tail” and the third arc known as “Tartaros” has begun (based on the 40th – 49th volume storyline) in which the dark guild of Zeref’s demons are trying to resurrect their master and Zeref’s ultimate creation, E.N.D.!

As the Magic Council discusses Tartaros recent activity and the decrease in dark guilds, Jackal of the Nine Demon Gates infiltrates the meeting and destroys the building the council are meeting at and everyone is killed including Lahar.

News of the Magic Council’s assassination spreads throughout the villages and Doranbolt, who is one of the few survivors from the attack, goes to the dungeon to extract information on Tartaros. And more members of the Nine Demon Gates continue their attacks leading to more deaths.

While this latest volume is probably one of the darkest story plots of “Fairy Tail” prior to the “Tartaros Arc” is a storyline that features the demons of Tartaros planning to destroy Fairy Tail.  And with a few of the primary characters escaping, it places each character in danger and fighting their most difficult battle yet.

In fact, major characters are having to make difficult decisions or else face death.  And also trying to prevent the powerful Franmalth from absorbing their souls.

If anything, there are major battles between Fairy Tail and the demons, including resurrected souls.

While this volume is action-packed, the concurrent storyline with “Naruto” and the resurrected souls/reanimated corpses didn’t seem all too original and the fact that there are so many characters involved, it’s another situation similar to “Naruto” that one really needs to watch “Fairy Tail” earlier on to know who the characters are, the bond they have with each other and so forth.  There are too relationships at stake with this season alone that fans of the series will appreciate, but it’s not an arc that will be easy for one to jump in, if they never watched earlier seasons.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good for a TV series and features a good solid lossless soundtrack. It’s important to emphasize that this is a TV series and not a film or OVA, thus the production quality of animated TV shows tend to be lower (and created in a short time) than a film/OVA, so there is a bit of softness and shadowing and detail are not utilized a lot for this series.

As for special features, you do get the English voice actors providing commentary for two episodes, voice actress Cherami Leigh at Katsucon and the opening and ending theme songs.

Overall, “Fairy Tail” vol. 21 is an action-packed storyline continuing the battle between Fairy Tail and the demons of Tartaros.  If you have been following the series for this long, you’ll no doubt enjoy the action involving many of the members of the Fairy Tail guild.

Recommended!

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (A J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 24, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Kingslaive: Final Fantasy XV” is a gorgeous, exciting and well-performed CG animated film that serves as a small introduction to the upcoming “Final Fantasy XV” videogame. Some may find it complex with the many characters introduced and the problems existing within kingdoms, and I do recommend watching this film more than once for a better understanding of its storyline.  But this film made me even more excited about the upcoming video game release and if you are a fan of “Final Fantasy” and are planning to purchase “Final Fantasy XV”, I definitely recommend watching this film!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Square Enix Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV

YEAR: 2016

DURATION: 115 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio), English, Portuguese, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Japanese, Spanish and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, Cantonese, Chinese (Simplified), French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Malay, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (Fantasy Violence and Action Throughout)

Release Date: October 4, 2016


Directed by Takeshi Nozue

Written by Takashi Hasegawa

Produced by Hajime Tabata

Associate Producer: Robert A. Dobbins

Production Executive as Juck Somsaman

Music by John R. Graham

Casting by Rui Kawada, Gabriel Moszkowski


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aaron Paul as Nyx Ulric

Sean Bean as Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII

Lena Headey as Lunafreya Nox Fleuret

David Gant as Emperor Iedolas Aldercapt

Darin De Paul as Ardyn Izunia

Trevor Devall as Ravus Nox Fleuret

Adrian Bouchet as Titus Drautos

Liam Mulvey as Libertus Ostium

John DeMita as clarus Amicitia

Andrea Tivadar as Crowe Altius

Todd Haberkorn as Luche Lazarus

Max Mittelman as Tredd Furia

Ray Chase as Noctis Lucis Caelum

Adam Croasdell as Ignis Scientia

Christopher L. Parson as Gladiolus Amicitia

Robbie Daymond as Prompto Argentum

Bo Bragason as Young Luna

David Chun Cheung as Sonitus Belum


The magical kingdom of Lucis is home to the sacred Crystal, and the menacing empire of Niflheim is determined to steal it. King Regis of Lucis (Sean Bean) commands an elite force of soldiers called the Kingsglaive. Wielding their king’s magic, Nyx (Aaron Paul) and his fellow soldiers fight to protect Lucis. As the overwhelming military might of the empire bears down, King Regis is faced with an impossible ultimatum – to marry his son, Prince Noctis to Princess Lunafreya of Tenebrae (Lena Headey), captive of Niflheim, and surrender his lands to the empire’s rule. Although the king concedes, it becomes clear that the empire will stop at nothing to achieve their devious goals, with only the Kingsglaive standing between them and world domination.


On November 26th, many gamers are highly anticipating the release of the Square Enix PS4/XBOX Onevideo game “Final Fantasy XV”.

But before the release of the video game, the animated film “Kingslaive: Final Fantasy XV” was released theatrically in Japan in July 2016 and had a limited theatrical run in North America in August.

The film takes place in parallel to the events that are presented in the “Final Fantasy XV” video game and revolves around Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII, the father of the game’s protagonist, Noctis.  The film focsues on the Kingsglaive, an elite guard sharing Regis’ magical powers that defend the kingdom of Lucis and its crystal from the invading empire of Niflheim.

The film is directed by Takeshi Nozue and written by Takashi Hasegawa.  The talented voice cast includes Sean Bean (“Lord of the Rings” films, “The Martian”), Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”, “Need for Speed”, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”), Lena Headey (“Game of Thrones” “300” films), David Gant (“Braveheart”, “Gandhi”), Darin De Paul (“Julie & Julia”, “Overwatch”, “Doom”), Trevor Devall (“Johnny Test”, “Kid vs. Kat”, “Batman vs. Robin”), Adrian Bouchet (“Clash of the Titans”, “The Monuments Men”, “Predator Dark Ages”), Lian Mulvey (“The Box”, “616”), John DeMita (“Princess Mononoke”, “Castle in the Sky”), Andrea Tivadar (“Inside”), Todd Haberkorn (“Soul Eater”, “D. Grayman”, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”), Max Mittelman (“One Punch Man”, “Fallout 4”), Ray Chase (“Final Fantasy XV”, “Xenoblade Chronicles X”, “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided”), David Chun Cheung (“The Real Target”, “Out of Control”) and Amanda Piery (“The Underwater Realm”, “City of Dreamers”).

And now, the Blu-ray and DVD release of “Kingslaive: Final Fantasy XV” will be available in October 2016.

The setting is in the planet Eos, where each nation once were in possession of magical crystals.  Now only one kingdom, Lucis, it the only nation to possess a crystal and how the ruling Caelum dynasty has used it to create a magical barrier to prevent invaders from destroying their city. Because the magic barrier is huge, it accelerates the age of King Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII (voiced by Sean Bean).

And the Royal Citadel has possession of it and only accessible through the  Ring of the Lucci, a ring passed down from the line of Lucis kings.

But the nations that no longer possess a magical crystal were all conquered by the Niflheim, a military and technologically advanced empire that is now wanting to take control of Lucis.

Niflheim is ran by the emperor, Iedolas Aldercapt (voiced by David Gant).  But most of the duties are ran by Niflheim chancellor, Ardyn Izunia (voiced by Darin De Paul), who is responsible for the empires use of Magitek technology.

To also protect Lucis, an elite unit known as Kingslaive that wields the royal family’s magical power in order to fight against the powerful monsters that try to get into the city, including attacks from Niflheim and Tenebrae.

The film focuses on Kingslaive soldier, Nyx Ulric (voiced by Aaron Paul).  When Nyx was younger, he was saved by King Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII and indebted for saving him, he is tasked to protect Lunafreya Nox Fleuret (voiced by Lena Headey).

Lunafreya was the former princess of Tenebrae, but when her land was attacked by Niflheim, she was captured by the Niflheim empire.  Her older brother, Ravus Nox Fleuret (voiced by Trevor Devall) is a man full of hatred.

His mother was killed by Niflheim’s imperial general, Glauca and during the invasion, while trying to plea for help, King Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII could only rescue so many people.  He tried grabbed his young son Noctis Lucis Caelum (the heir of Lucis) and Lunafreya, but as they tried to escape, Lunafreya decides to stay back for her older brother and was captured.  But in the process, knew he was unable to help Ravus’ mother and Ravus.

Fastforward 12 years later, as the land of Tenebrae becomes a province of Niflheim, Ravus has grown up to become a commanding officer of the Niflheim army and wants nothing more than to destroy Lucis and its king.

As Niflheim chancellor threatens Kings Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII, he offers him a peace treaty, that Regis must cede the territories around Lucis, including the crown city of Insomnia to Niflheim and allow his son Prince Noctics to marry Luna Fraey Nox Fleuret.  King Regis accepts the terms to the peace treaty.

But at the night of the treaty-singing ceremony, the Niflheim delegation begins a surprise attack inside Lucis in order to kill the ruling council and destroy the magical barrier that King Regis had put up.

Can Kingslaive soldier Nyx Ulric protect Lunafreya and the King?


VIDEO:

“Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). An all CG film, the animation is absolutely gorgeous and the technology has come a long way since “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” and the realistic details have come much farther along since “Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children”.

The characters look quite realistic (especially at the beginning of the film with female character Crowe and how close she looks to model Andrea Tivadar, who voiced the character).

The detail on the characters, the monsters, the cities, the vehicles and everything about the film looks magnificent in HD!  If anything, the gorgeous CG made me even more excited for the video game release of “Kingslaive: Final Fantasy VI”.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV” is presented in English, Portuguese, French DTS-HD MA 5.1 and Japanese, Spanish and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital.  The lossless soundtrack for this film is absolutely immersive.  With the number of action sequences, my surround channels and use of LFE through my subwoofer was used quite frequently.  Great use of ambiance when it comes to the monsters, destruction of cities, the revving of a car and more.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Malay, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV” comes with the following special features:

  • A Way with Words: Epic and Intimate Vocals – (4:51) Featuring the talent who voiced the characters in “Kingslaive: Final Fantasy XV”.
  • To Capture the Kingslaive: The Process – (6:01) Featuring the crew and mocap actors at audiomotion studios creating the movement and the challenges of 3D scanning and more.
  • Fit for the Kingslaive: Building the World – (5:29) Featuring the concept art and the imaginative and creative world featured in “Kingslaive: Final Fantasy XV” and interviews with the cast and crew.
  • Emotive Music: Scoring the Kingslaive – (6:04) A behind-the-scenes look at the music of “Kingslaive: Final Fantasy XV” with composer John Graham and his musicians.

EXTRAS:

“Kingslaive: Final Fantasy XV” comes with a slipcover and Ultraviolet HD code.


Before I get into my review for “”Kingslaive: Final Fantasy XV”, I must first say how much I love the “Final Fantasy” series.

I have purchased nearly every game that has been available for the consoles, including portable consoles and PC versions and while I’m not a hardcore gamer, I always try to fit in time for me to play a “Final Fantasy” game, most often right before I go to bed.

So, I admit that I am biased to the series, but also have been critical as I have been more of a fan from “Final Fantasy X-2” and games released before.  While newer games, I have been more critical of how there is more dedication to visuals than gameplay and story.

But with the upcoming worldwide release of “Final Fantasy XV” and the sneak peeks that have been released in the past few years of this highly anticipated video game, I was quite pleased that Square Enix has chosen to release a film that runs parallel to the video game.  Call it a taste before delving into the video game but establishing the world and some of its characters.

What the film does focus on is how the kingdom of Lucis is the last nation to possess a magical crystal and currently, it’s king, Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII has protected it using the royal family’s magical power to erect a magical barrier around the city for over a decade.

The big bad military/advanced technology empire of Niflheim has been wanting in and wanting to control this nation and its cities.  And Niflheim is offering a peace/treaty, which is like having Darth Vader’s Empire offering the rebels a peace treaty and you know how well that is going to work.  It’s not going to happen.  If anything, it’s a way to introduce a trojan horse into the city that will leave the king and his kingdom vulnerable to attacks.

But everything hinges on the marriage of the king Regis’s son Prince Noctis to Princess Lunafreya Nox Fleuret of Tenebrae, who had been captured by Niflheim.

But to make sure they are not being deceived, the king has his trustworthy Kingslaive soldier, Nyx UIric to retrieve and protect the princess and making sure that Niflheim does not have possession of her.

While Nix Ulric is the primary protagonist of the film, if anything, the film is primarily a primer to the kingdom of Lucis and how it’s the last kingdom with a magical crystal and how Niflheim are the protagonist country led by an emperor and his ruthless chancellor, Ardyn Izunia.

The film introduces us to the spunky princess who takes far too many risks and can easily end up dead for her rash decisions and while the video game’s protagonist, Noctis is shown as a young child, he does show up at the end of the credits, so remember to keep watching after the ending credits are completed.

The voice acting by Aaron Paul, Sean Bean and Lena Headey are fantastic!  Actually, the entire film features wonderful voice acting but there is no doubt that the gorgeous visual effects are what captivates viewers of the film.  From its characters, the smoothness of the characters in a fighting sequence, the amazing detail of costumes, detail of character closeups and its vast scenery which are visually impressive.

The film looks absolute incredible in HD and there is no doubt that videophiles and fans of the “Final Fantasy” series will by in awe of how wonderful this film looks, but audiophiles will no doubt love the immersiveness of the film’s lossless soundtrack.  If you have a 7.1 setup, you can expect to see your surround channels and subwoofer being well-utilized throughout the film.  And you also get a few special features as well, that go into the motion capture and the voice acting of the film and more!

With that being said, I discussed the many positives of “Kingslaive: Final Fantasy XV” but are there any negatives?  Quite frankly, with the complex story of the cities and the many characters introduced, I can see some viewers being lost. To be truthful, everything started to kick-in for me by the second viewing of the film, learning about character motivations but most importantly, King Regis, his kingdom and of course, the big bad empire, Niflheim.  So, with this release on Blu-ray and DVD, one may need to watch this film several times in order to understand things thoroughly and how it correlates to the upcoming video game, is something I look forward to.

Last, one hoping to get a glimpse of some closure or finality with the characters or storyline are probably going to be disappointed as the film is more of a primer to the world of Eos and the political struggles between nations and a few characters leading up to the video game release.  And will no doubt add fuel to the fire for those who dislike films that are based on a popular video game series.

But I love “Final Fantasy” games and perhaps my bias to the series has led me to enjoy the film than most people.  Because I absolutely enjoyed the visuals of the film and its acting.

Overall, “Kingslaive: Final Fantasy XV” is a gorgeous, exciting and well-performed CG animated film that serves as a small introduction to the upcoming “Final Fantasy XV” videogame. Some may find it complex with the many characters introduced and the problems existing within kingdoms, and I do recommend watching this film more than once for a better understanding of its storyline.  But this film made me even more excited about the upcoming video game release and if you are a fan of “Final Fantasy” and are planning to purchase “Final Fantasy XV”, I definitely recommend watching this film!

Fairy Tail vol. 20 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fairy Tail” vol. 20 features the war between the wizards and demons begins as the “Tartaros Arc” brings us one of the darkest episodes of the series yet! Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2014 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Fairy Tail Vol. 20

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 227-239) 350 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

Release Date: June 7, 2016


Originally created by Hiro Mashima

Directed by Shinji Ishihara

Script by Atsuhiro Tomikoa, Fumihiko Shimo, Masashi Sogo, Shoji Yonemura

Music by Yasuharu Takanashi

Character Design by Aoi Yamamoto

Art Director: Junko Shimizu

Chief Animation Director: Takao Sano

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures, Satelight


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Hirano/Cherami Leigh as Lucy Heartfilia

Tetsuya Kakihara/Todd Haberkorn as Natsu Dragneel

Rie Kugimiya/Tia Ballard as Happy

Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Erza Scarlet

Yūichi Nakamura/Newton Pittman as Gray Fullbuster

Shinichi Kotani/R. Bruce Elliot as Makarov

Akira Ishida as Zeref

Daisuke Kishio/Eric Vale as Loki/Loke

Daisuke Namikawa as Jeral/Mystogan

Eri Kitamura/Jamie Marchi as Kana Alberona

Hiroki Touchi as Pantherlily

Hiroki Yasumoto as Elfman

Kazuhiko Inoue as Gildarts Clive

Mai Nakahara as Juvia Loxar

Mariya Ise as Levi Macgarden

Miyuki Sawashiro/Lydia Mackay as Ultear Milkovich

Ryoko Ono/Monica Rial as Mirajane

Satomi Satou as Wendy

Sayaka Narita as Aries

Wataru Hatano as Gajeel Redfox

Yui Horie as Charle


In Fairy Tail part 20, when a prestigious client requests the assistance of both Natsu and Gray, the boys momentarily set aside their differences and head to Sun Village – a city entombed by malevolent ice magic. Their investigation into the incident comes to a screeching halt when treasure hunters from the Sylph Labyrinth guild show up to stand in their way. As the wizards go toe to toe with the thieving trio, the battle quickly becomes the least of their worries—one by one the wizards are being transformed into adorable, child-sized versions of themselves! How can they hope to restore the village’s eternal flame if they can’t even fit into their armor?!

Meanwhile, dark forces are at work behind the scenes. Another guild is on the move, and they’ve set their sights on total domination of the magical world. Will Fairy Tail be able to rise to meet their challenge? Find out in Fairy Tail Part 20!


The seventh season of “Fairy Tail” continues!

Natsu and Gray receive a job request from Wizard Saint, Warrod Sequen to save the frozen town, Sun Village.

What happens when Minerva joins the dark guild, Succubus Eye and takes on Erza for what transpired at the Grand Magic Games!

What happens when Jackal of the Nine Demon Gates infiltrates the Magic Council meeting and kills them.

All this and more in vol. 20 of “Fairy Tail” (episodes 227-239) available now on Blu-ray + DVD combo pack from FUNimation.

What is “Fairy Tail”?

For those who are not familiar with “Fairy Tail”, let’s just say that it’s one of the most exciting, long running anime magic/adventure series to be released in the U.S. on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.

In Japan, “Fairy Tail” is a manga series which began in 2006 and was created by mangaka Hiro Mashima (known for his manga series “Rave Master”). Featured in Weekly Shonen Magazine, the manga series is still ongoing, meanwhile an anime adaptation of the manga series was created in 2009 produced by A-Pictures and Satelight. And similar to the manga series, is also ongoing!

With the 20th Blu-ray release of “Fairy Tail”, this latest volume features episodes 227-239.

The anime series is directed by Shinji Ishihara (“Aoi Kokuhaku”, “Tenbatsu Angel Rabbie”, “Tokyo Majin” and is written by Masashi Sogo (“Bleach”, “Yukikaze”, “Hunter x Hunter”). The anime series features character design by Aoi Yamamoto, art direction by Junko Shimizu (“Midori Days, “Blue Dragon”, “Trinity Blood”) and music by Yasuharu Takanashi (“Naruto Shippuden”, “Hell Girl”, “Gantz”, Ikki Tosen”).

A Quick Summary of what has taken place in “Fairy Tail” thus far:

“Fairy Tail” revolves around a 17-year-old celestial wizard named Lucy Heartfilia who dreams of joining a sorcerer guild known as Fairy Tail, a group known and feared for the destruction they cause. One day, she runs into Natsu Dragneel, a guy who is traveling to the land of Fiore along with his partner Happy (a talking blue cat with wings) who is searching for his foster parent, a dragon named Igneel who has disappeared.

While traveling to Fiore, both Lucy and Natsu encounter a sorcerer claiming to be the famous Salamander of Fairy Tail. Natsu is the first to object that the man is a phony but the fans of Salamander are dismayed by Natsu’s comments and beat him up, meanwhile Lucy finds out that this fake Salamander is using his sorcerer abilities to make young women fall for him.

As Lucy tries to show her gratitude to Natsu for breaking the spell that would have otherwise have hypnotized Lucy, the two become friends.

But when the fake Salamander tells Lucy that he would get her into Fairy Tail, she knows he is a fake but any chance of getting to join the guild would make her dream come true, so she decides to visit him.

But it’s all a ruse and the fake Salamander is just trying to find female slaves and because he is so powerful, Lucy does not have the magic necessary to beat him. But coming to Lucy’s rescue is Natsu, who is revealed to be a true member of Fairy Tail and also revealed to be the true “Salamander”. And he easily beats the fake Salamander up.

When Natsu discovers that Lucy’s dream is to become a Fairy Tail member, he asks her to join him and he can help her get into the guild and from that moment on, Lucy becomes Natsu’s partner in various Fairy Tail guild missions and for each mission they beat, the more income they make.

And more money means more keys to gain more powers, which would help Lucy become a powerful celestial wizard!

And together, Natsu and Lucy develop a wonderful friendship as they grow as partners but also a guild members with their other teammates.


“Fairy Tail” Vol. 20 features the following characters:

  • Natsu Dragneel – Also known as “Salamander”, Natsu is a kindhearted, always hungry wizard who travels with his partner Happy in search of Igneel, a dragon who raised Natsu but is now missing. Natsu is a dragon slayer and a wizard who can perform “Lost Magic and can have physical properties of a dragon. He specializes in Fire Dragon Slayer Magic which allows him to breath fire and ingest fire as a form of nourishment.
  • Lucy Heartfilia – A celestial wizard who can summon contracted spirits (with special abilities) through a set of keys known as Gatekeys. She treats these spirits as friends. Her dream is to join Fairy Tail and through meeting Natsu, now her dream can come true.
  • Happy – A blue cat with wings and a best friend to Natsu. He can fly and can carry a person while flying. He is also known to irritate Lucy.
  • Gray Fullbuster – A powerful wizard of Fairy Tail and the opposite of Natsu, in that he has control of ice. Gray has the power of Ice Make which can make him create weapons or anything out of ice. He was raised by the wizard Ur. He also has a bad habit of taking of all his clothes without realizing it.
  • Erza Scarlet – An S-Class wizard (high-ranked) and is the most powerful member of the Fairy Tail guild. She has magic known as “The Knight” which allows her to summon and equip weapons and armor and also has the ability to resist magic attacks. She is feared by others because of her lack of compassion.
  • Mirajane – A 19-year-old S-Class wizard who is the cover girl of Sorcerer’s Weekly magazine and helps Lucy understand what is happening with the members of the Fairy Tail guild. She has the ability to change her appearance to something she previously encountered.
  • Cana Alberona – A short-tempered heaving drinking woman. She uses card magic to cast her spells.
  • Elfman – Mirajane’s younger brother who is known for his physical strength. He can absorb the power of any monster he defeats.
  • Loke – A flirtatious wizard who is often seen in the company of many women.
  • Makarov Dreyer – The elder master of Fairy Tail. He is constantly busy because of his guild members becoming too violent.
  • Juvia Lockser – Originally a member of the Phantom Lord Guild and now a member of Fairy Tail and is obsessed with Gray.
  • Gajeel Redfox – Originally a member of the Phantom Lord Guild, Gajeel is similar to Natsu in the fact that he is a Dragon Slayer raised by the dragon Metalicana. He can transform his body into metal weapons.
  • Jellal Fernandes – A former child slave that grew up with Erza Scarlet. Thought to be dead, he is found by Oracion Seis and revived by Wendy Marvell and is being used to find the destructive spell known as Nirvana.
  • Wendy Marvell – A female Dragon Slayer who is accompanied by her Exceed partner Carla. A master of Sky Dragon Slayer magic, she can heal injuries. She becomes an ally of Fairy Tail.

VIDEO:

“Fairy Tail” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1). It’s important to note that this is a anime TV series, not a film or an OVA and is a weekly anime series. What that means is A-1 Pictures and Satelight, have their hands full, especially if they have other TV series to work on that week. Typically a lot of anime series are quickly done in order to make it by their weekly deadline and sometimes, they are done the day of deadline. So, production values for TV series are typically not that high if they are working on multiple series.

Fortunately A-1 Pictures has become one of the newer studios that have been doing production for quite a number of popular hit series such as “Blue Exorcist” and “Big Windup!” and Satelight does a lot of the in-between animation. So, while they are a smaller, growing company, they are not overburdened as other studios and that means, more time dedicated to the anime series.

“Fairy Tail” features cool production value. A lot of detailed artwork, because of the many adventures, you get so many locations and not the typical regurgitated scenery.

There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Colors are absolutely vibrant, black levels are deep. I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release. If anything, the Blu-ray really brings out the details and colors of the series and looks fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fairy Tail” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Dialogue and music is clear through the front channels for the lossless stereo soundtrack but because the English is 5.1, there is better use of the surround channels.

In fact, I found myself listening to the English dub track for “Fairy Tail” much more than the Japanese soundtrack because of the 5.1 but also, FUNimation did a magnificent job with the casting of this series. I was very pleased especially with the casting of Lucy, Natsu, Happy, Grey and Erza and for the most part, I think whichever you prefer, you will be pleased with Japanese and English audio tracks.

But for the most part, for a TV series, lossless audio is crystal clear and while not the most immersive soundtrack (which I typically don’t expect TV series to boast incredible immersive lossless soundtracks, unlike a film or OVA series), “Fairy Tail” does sound very good on Blu-ray!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fairy Tail” vol. 20 features the following special features:

  • Episode 229 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Nick Landis (voice of Rala), Scott Price (voice of Hiroshi) and Alejandro (voice of Drake)
  • Episode 237 Video Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Tyler Walker (Director/Line Producer/Adapted Script Writer) with Rico Fajardo (voice of Jackal).
  • Guild Pride: Fairy Tail – (6:55) A featurette about the guild known as Fairy Tail.
  • Textless Opening Song: “Yume-Iro Graffiti”
  • Textless Closing Song: “Never Ever” Version 1-6
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Fairy Tail”
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

EXTRAS:

“Fairy Tail” vol. 20 Blu-ray also comes with both a Blu-ray and DVD version.


With the seventh season “Fairy Tail” and the third arc known as “Tartaros” has begun (based on the 40th – 49th volume storyline) in which the dark guild of Zeref’s demons are trying to resurrect their master and Zeref’s ultimate creation, E.N.D.!

As the Magic Council discusses Tartaros recent activity and the decrease in dark guilds, Jackal of the Nine Demon Gates infiltrates the meeting and destroys the building the council are meeting at and everyone is killed including Lahar.

News of the Magic Council’s assassination spreads throughout the villages and Doranbolt, who is one of the few survivors from the attack, goes to the dungeon to extract information on Tartaros.  And more members of the Nine Demon Gates continue their attacks leading to more deaths.

While this latest volume is probably one of the darkest story plots of “Fairy Tail” prior to the “Tartaros Arc” is a storyline featuring Natsu and Gray on a mission to save the Sun Village.  Also, Minerva joins the Succubus Eye dark build and intends to take her revenge against Erza.

So, there is a good number of entertaining storylines in this 20th volume but the main highlight is this exciting, action-packed yet dark volume of “Fairy Tail” as characters are killed and the land being attacked by those of the Nine Demon Gates.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good for a TV series and features a good solid lossless soundtrack. It’s important to emphasize that this is a TV series and not a film or OVA, thus the production quality of animated TV shows tend to be lower (and created in a short time) than a film/OVA, so there is a bit of softness and shadowing and detail are not utilized a lot for this series.

As for special features, you do get the English voice actors providing commentary for two episodes, a Guild Pride video and the opening and ending theme songs.

Overall, “Fairy Tail” vol. 20 features the war between the wizards and demons begins as the “Tartaros Arc” brings us one of the darkest episodes of the series yet!

Recommended!

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