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Dragon Ball Super – Part 3 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 17, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s a battle between brothers as Beerus and his fighters from Universe 7 take on Champa and his fighters from Universe 6 in “Dragon Ball Super” Part 3.  An action-packed arc and it’s a no-brainer that if you are a “Dragon Ball” fan, “Dragon Ball Super” is a must-watch series. And for all its worth, this series created for the past and present fanbase and a new generation of “Dragon Ball” fans, will no doubt love the humor and the action of “Dragon Ball Super”. I definitely recommend this anime series!

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Dragon Ball Super – Part 3

DURATION: (Episodes 27-39) 325 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: February 20, 2018


Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Kimitoshi Chioka

Script by Atsuhiro Tomioka

Produced by Kazuya Watanabe, Kohei Obara, Kyotaro Kimura, Makoto Seino

Character Design by Tadayoshi Yamamuro

Music by Norihito Sumitomo

Art Design by Shinzo Yuki

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Brad Jackson as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Ayano Hirano/Justin Cook as Dende

Eiji Hanawa as Jiren

Eiko Yamada/Carmen Smith as Mai

Kouichi Yamadera/Jason Douglas as Beerus

Kozo Shioya as Majin Buu

Masakazu Morita/Ian Sinclair as Whis

Miki Itou as Cyborg #18

Mitsuo Iwata as Champa

Takeshi Kusao/Alexis Tipton as Trunks


After a startling meeting with Beerus’ brother Champa goes sideways, the godly brothers decide to settle their differences in the best way possible: by putting their best fighters to the test.

It’s a battle of universes as Universe 7—the home of Goku and the Z Fighters—faces Universe 6 in a brand-new Martial Arts Tournament! And the ultimate prize is one worth fighting for—the Super Dragon Balls from Universe 6. Can Goku gather the best fighters for a chance at true glory? And who is the mysterious Monaka that Beerus boasts as his strongest warrior? Get ready for an out-of-this-world competition!


It’s the conclusion of the battle between Goku and Vegeta vs. Frieza and the beginning of  the Universe 6 and 7 Invitational Fighting Tournament as Beerus team takes on his twin, Champa’s team for the Super Dragon Balls.

But Goku must take on Frost, someone that looks exactly like Frieza and what happens when Vegeta takes on a fellow Saiyan?

All this and more in “Dragon Ball Super – Part 3”!

What is “Dragon Ball Super” about?

With the completion of the hugely popular anime series “Dragon Ball Z”, while a new story was created titled “Dragon Ball GT” (1996-1997) and not based on Akira Toriyama’s previous work, Toriyama would return to create an overall plot outline for a new series titled “Dragon Ball Super” produced by Toei Animation.

The series is considered as the true sequel to “Dragon Ball Z” and would take place four years after the DBZ storyline.

The series began airing in July 2015 and as of October 2017, a total of 113 episodes (five seasons) have aired. The first season is 14 episodes long (known as the “God of Destruction Beerus” Arc) and Funimation had released “Dragon Ball Super” Part 1 featuring episodes 1-13 on Bl-ray and DVD.

And now, part 2 (featuring episodes 14-26) which includes the season one finale and the majority of all episodes from season two (known as the Golden Frieza arc).

In season one of “Dragon Ball Super”, Son Goku had defeated Majin Buu and Beerus, the God of Destruction has awakened and wanting to battle a worthy opponent, he chooses Earth and if the hero loses, he will destroy the planet. Son Goku is chosen to defend Earth.

Son Goku has since learned to transfom with the help of the Saiyans and Videl to become Super Saiyan God Goku but is this power enough to fight the strongest opponent in the universe?

In season two, Vegeta undergoes training from Whis, Gohan and wife Videl welcome a new baby named Pan, Sorbet and Tagoma are searching for the Dragon Balls in order to resurrect their leader, Frieza.

And with Frieza resurrected, he plans for his revenge against Goku and Future Trunks and this time, to show him his transformation to Golden Frieza.

The conclusion as Son Goku and Vegeta vs. Frieza is continued in “Dragon Ball Super – Part 3”.

And all was going well as Goku and Vegeta undergo intense training but all is interrupted when Champa and Vados shows up to visit Beerus and Whis.

The two have a disagreement of which universe has better food and when Beerus introduces Champa to Cup Ramen, Champa proposes a challenge. A fighting tournament featuring Universe 6’s best fighters vs. Beerus’ choice of five of Universe 7’s best fighters. Whoever wins gets access to the Super Dragon Balls and Champa’s goal is to switch Earth’s and have Beerus’ Earth switch places with the barren/devastated by war Earth of Universe 6.

All agree to have this tournament take place and now Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, Boo and a fighter of Beerus’ choosing will need to take on Champa’s top five fighters.


VIDEO:

“Dragon Ball Super” is created in 1080p High Definition (16×9 HD Native). The episodes are colorful and absolutely vibrant. Great detail with character designs and wonderful animation for fight scenes. I saw no major softness, banding issues or artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dragon Ball Super” features a wonderful soundtrack on Blu-ray. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese). Featuring the return of the original Dragon Ball Japanese and also English voice dub talent, the quality of the series voice acting continues with this newer series.

Because the English is mixed and utilizes more channels, there is a dramatic difference in sound, although for those with a modern receiver and have a solid 5.1 or 7.2 setup, can easily switch their receiver to stereo on all channels for the Japanese soundtrack for a more immersive soundscape.

There are online stores showing that the Japanese is Dolby Digital 2.0 but this is incorrect, it is indeed a lossless Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. And both soundtracks sound great!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Super – Part 3” comes with the following special features:

  • Anime Expo 2017 Interview with Sean Schemmel & Jason Douglas – (18:48) Interview with Sean Schemmel (voice of Son Goku) and Jason Douglas (voice of Beerus).
  • Textless Opening Songs
  • Textless Closing Songs
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation.

EXTRAS:

“Dragon Ball Super” Part 3 comes with the Blu-ray and DVD of episodes 27-39.


I grew up watching “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z” (as well as “Dragon Ball GT”) and at the time, I was a college student watching these episodes in straight Japanese until over a decade later, they were released on DVD and eventually on Blu-ray courtesy of Funimation.

I played the Japanese video games and always purchased the Japanese animation magazines every month back when Tower Records existed in the US.

So growing up with the anime series and now as an adult with a teenage child who watches “Dragon Ball”, it’s a bit of a surreal feeling that the storyline of Goku and friends are continuing for a new generation of anime fans but also entertaining both young and old.

A series taking place not long after Goku defeated Majin Buu, I liked how the new anime series are now more condensed in storyline arcs. Where battles would last for months (many, many episodes long), I liked how there were only 14 seasons in season one and completed the fight between Goku vs. Beerus and I think any fan couldn’t help but be happy to see Goku’s powers evolve.

And with this part 3, we get the conclusion to the battle between Goku and Vegeta vs. Frieza.  But quickly the series changes gears as Son Goku and friends will need to take on the top warriors of Universe 6. In some ways, it’s kind of an Akira Toriyama nod to DC Comics with Superman and the heroes of Earth-1 and Earth-2 and the differences of similar universes but different outcomes for various planets in the universe.

And with volume 2, the tournament between Beerus team (which includes Goku, Vegeta and Piccolo) vs. Champa’s team (which includes Frost, who looks like Frieza; a saiyan; an assassin and a killer robot) kicks off in high gear and what an entertaining and exciting battle. More importantly, where battles last for so long in “Dragon Ball Z”, I’m glad these battles and the tournament is not stretched out for too long.

I love the fact that Toei Animation was consistent in bringing the original voice talent back and Funimation following the same practice with their English dub voice actors. Both soundtracks are well-acted and on Blu-ray, the anime series is vibrant and colorful in HD while the lossless soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue and sound effects (much better on the English soundtrack thanks to the 5.1 lossless soundtrack).

I also love how Funimation is coming up with newer kind of special features showcasing their English dub actors. In this case, it’s interesting to see a video featurette with Sean Schemmel and Jason Douglas.

Overall, it’s a no-brainer that if you are a “Dragon Ball” fan that “Dragon Ball Super” is a must-watch series. And for all its worth, this series created for the past and present fanbase and a new generation of “Dragon Ball” fans, will no doubt love the humor and the action of “Dragon Ball Super”. I definitely recommend this anime series!

Dragon Ball Super – Part 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s a no-brainer that if you are a “Dragon Ball” fan that “Dragon Ball Super” is a must-watch series.  And for all its worth, this series created for the past and present fanbase and a new generation of “Dragon Ball” fans, will no doubt love the humor and the action of “Dragon Ball Super”.  I definitely recommend this anime series!

Image courtesy of © Bird Studio/Shuiesha/Toei Animation.  All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Dragon Ball Super – Part 2

DURATION: (Episodes 14-26) 325 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: October 3, 2017


Originally created by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Kimitoshi Chioka

Script by Atsuhiro Tomioka

Produced by Kazuya Watanabe, Kohei Obara, Kyotaro Kimura, Makoto Seino

Character Design by Tadayoshi Yamamuro

Music by Norihito Sumitomo

Art Design by Shinzo Yuki

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Masako Nozawa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan (Tien)

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-sennin

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin (Kuririn)

Naoki Tatsuta/Brad Jackson as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Brina Palencia as Chiaotzu/Puar

Tohru Furuya/Christopher R. Sabat as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Ayano Hirano/Justin Cook as Dende

Eiji Hanawa as Jiren

Eiko Yamada/Carmen Smith as Mai

Kouichi Yamadera/Jason Douglas as Beerus 

Kozo Shioya as Majin Buu

Masakazu Morita/Ian Sinclair as Whis

Miki Itou as Cyborg #18

Mitsuo Iwata as Champa

Takeshi Kusao/Alexis Tipton as Trunks


After reaching an alliance with Beerus, the world is at peace once again. But one of the Z Fighters is feeling restless—namely, Vegeta! The Saiyan prince seeks a new way to become stronger and wants to do so under Whis’ guidance. When Goku finds out they’ve left to train, he’s just as eager to join in.

While two of the strongest fighters train in another world, trouble stirs for planet Earth. The remains of a powerful force have started to gather, seeking revenge for their fallen leader—the wicked overlord Frieza! When evil takes on a new form with the force of 1,000 troops, can Gohan and the remaining Z Fighters take him on? Or will Frieza’s vengeance finally see the light of day?


With the completion of the hugely popular anime series “Dragon Ball Z”, while a new story was created titled “Dragon Ball GT” (1996-1997) and not based on Akira Toriyama’s previous work, Toriyama would return to create an overall plot outline for a new series titled “Dragon Ball Super” produced by Toei Animation.

The series is considered as the true sequel to “Dragon Ball Z” and would take place four years after the DBZ storyline.

The series began airing in July 2015 and as of October 2017, a total of 113 episodes (five seasons) have aired.  The first season is 14 episodes long (known as the “God of Destruction Beerus” Arc) and Funimation had released “Dragon Ball Super” Part 1 featuring episodes 1-13 on Bl-ray and DVD.

And now, part 2 (featuring episodes 14-26) which includes the season one finale and the majority of all episodes from season two (known as the Golden Frieza arc).

In season one of “Dragon Ball Super”, Son Goku had defeated Majin Buu and Beerus, the God of Destruction has awakened and wanting to battle a worthy opponent, he chooses Earth and if the hero loses, he will destroy the planet.  Son Goku is chosen to defend Earth.

Son Goku has since learned to transfom with the help of the Saiyans and Videl to become Super Saiyan God Goku but is this power enough to fight the strongest opponent in the universe?

In season two, Vegeta undergoes training from Whis, Gohan and wife Videl welcome a new baby named Pan, Sorbet and Tagoma are searching for the Dragon Balls in order to resurrect their leader, Frieza.

And with Frieza resurrected, he plans for his revenge against Goku and Future Trunks and this time, to show him his transformation to Golden Frieza.

Here is a basic summary of “Dragon Ball Super – Part 2” (episodes 14-26) on the two Blu-ray discs:

Disc 1:

  • EPISODE 14 –  The conclusion of the battle between Son Goku vs. Beerus.
  • EPISODE 15  – Aliens come to Earth and want their champion to fight against Mr. Satan.
  • EPISODE 16 – Krillin wants to start training again and Whis trains Vegeta.
  • EPISODE 17  – The birth of Pan
  • EPISODE 18 – Goku and Whis arrive on Beerus planet to see how far Vegeta is with his training.
  • EPISODE 19 – Sorbet and Tagoma look for the Dragon Balls to revive Frieza.
  • EPISODE 20 – Frieza has been revived and wants revenge against Goku and Future Trunks.
  • EPISODE 21  – With Goku and Vegeta in Beerus’ planet, they are unaware that their friends and family are taking on Frieza’s soldiers.
  • EPISODE 22 – The fight between Piccolo, Gohan, Gotenks vs. Frieza’s soldiers.  Someone dies!

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 23 – Bulma is able to communicate to Whis of what is happening on Earth and Frieza’s resurrection and Goku and Vegeta try to get to Earth as soon as possible.
  • EPISODE 24  – Goku vs. Frieza
  • EPISODE 25 – Frieza shows his transformation, Golden Frieza
  • EPISODE 26 – The fight between Frieza and Goku continues!

VIDEO:

“Dragon Ball Super” is created in 1080p High Definition (16×9 HD Native).  The episodes are colorful and absolutely vibrant.  Great detail with character designs and wonderful animation for fight scenes.  I saw no major softness, banding issues or artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dragon Ball Super” features a wonderful soundtrack on Blu-ray. The series is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese).  Featuring the return of the original Dragon Ball Japanese and also English voice dub talent, the quality of the series voice acting continues with this newer series.

Because the English is mixed and utilizes more channels, there is a dramatic difference in sound, although for those with a modern receiver and have a solid 5.1 or 7.2 setup, can easily switch their receiver to stereo on all channels for the Japanese soundtrack for a more immersive soundscape.

There are online stores showing that the Japanese is Dolby Digital 2.0 but this is incorrect, it is indeed a lossless Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack. And both soundtracks sound great!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Super – Part 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Watching Dragon Ball Super with Jason Douglas and Ian Sinclair – (12:02) Jason Douglas (voice of Beerus) and Ian Sinclair (voice of Whis) and hanging out at Brina Palencia’s apartment to watch “Dragon Ball Super”.
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation.

EXTRAS:

“Dragon Ball Super” Part 2 comes with the Blu-ray and DVD of episodes 14-26.


I grew up watching “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z” (as well as “Dragon Ball GT”) and at the time, I was a college student watching these episodes in straight Japanese until over a decade later, they were released on DVD and eventually on Blu-ray courtesy of Funimation.

I played the Japanese video games and always purchased the Japanese animation magazines every month back when Tower Records existed in the US.

So growing up with the anime series and now as an adult with a teenage child who watches “Dragon Ball”, it’s a bit of a surreal feeling that the storyline of Goku and friends are continuing for a new generation of anime fans but also entertaining both young and old.

A series taking place not long after Goku defeated Majin Buu, I liked how the new anime series are now more condensed in storyline arcs.  Where battles would last for months (many, many episodes long), I liked how there were only 14 seasons in season one and completed the fight between Goku vs. Beerus and I think any fan couldn’t help but be happy to see Goku’s powers evolve.

And with this part 2, we get the conclusion of season one.  But here we are with season two and with this storyline, we get a lot of humor as Chi-Chi is adamant of Goku not fighting, an alien race coming to Earth to challenge Mr. Satan and also Krillin and Gohan getting an itch to wanting to fight and get in battle again.  And as the storyline of Goku and Vegeta wanting to get stronger are part of these main episodes, the surprise is Frieza’s soldiers finding the Dragon Balls to bring his body back and Frieza then showing everyone his latest transformation to Golden Frieza.

And it’s no surprise to me, as I remember when the Frieza arc was taking place for “Dragon Ball Z”, his character was among the most popular in Japanese polls at the time and it was no surprise that we see the character back again and proving to be deadly (as another character dies) and difficult to take down.

While nearly all episodes of season two are featured (the conclusion is episode 27, which will be in part 3), this is no doubt a fun and action-packed collection of episodes and I’m glad that Funimation is releasing these regularly and hopefully we’ll get caught up with the Japanese releases (unlike “One Piece” which Funimation is still hundreds of episodes behind).

I love the fact that Toei Animation was consistent in bringing the original voice talent back and Funimation following the same practice with their English dub voice actors.  Both soundtracks are well-acted and on Blu-ray, the anime series is vibrant and colorful in HD while the lossless soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue and sound effects (much better on the English soundtrack thanks to the 5.1 lossless soundtrack).

I also love how Funimation is coming up with newer kind of special features showcasing their English dub actors. In this case, it’s interesting to see a video featurette with Ian Sinclair, Jason Douglas and his three children to watch “Dragon Ball Super” at Brina Palencia’s apartment.  That was something new and different but major props as this idea was very cool and hope to see more like it from Funimation!

Overall, it’s a no-brainer that if you are a “Dragon Ball” fan that “Dragon Ball Super” is a must-watch series.  And for all its worth, this series created for the past and present fanbase and a new generation of “Dragon Ball” fans, will no doubt love the humor and the action of “Dragon Ball Super”.  I definitely recommend this anime series!

One Piece: Heart of Gold (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Definitely one of the more exciting “One Piece” films I have watched in a decade and definitely the best looking “One Piece” film created. If you are looking for a “One Piece” film with action, wonderful animation and awesome voice acting, definitely give “One Piece Film Gold” a try!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: One Piece: Heart of Gold

ORIGINAL TV AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: 130 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 Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Tatsuya Nagamine

Script by Tsutomu Kuroiwa

Music by Kohei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi, Yasunori Iwasaki

Character Design by Keiichi Ichikawa

Art Director: Yoshito Watanabe, Yukako Ogawa

Chief Animation Director: Keiichi Ichikawa

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Akron Watson as Psycho P

Kiko Mizuhara/Kenneisha Thompson as Naomi Drunk

Kiyohiko Shibukawa/Bryn Apprill as Ashie Miskina

Minami Hamabe/Sara Ragsdale as Orga Miskina

Shun Oguri/Troy Hughes as Mad Treasure



“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 18th season and a total of over 776 episodes having been aired in Japan. Several animated films, many video games and for the most part, a very successful anime/manga series worldwide.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.

To help promote the 13th “One Piece” film titled “One Piece Film Gold”, a TV special (the eleventh) was released on television in July 2016.

The film begins with the World Government and a man known as Mad Treasure pursuing a girl named Myskina Olga.  The reason why they are pursuing her is she knows the location of the Pure Gold, a substance that can buy the entire world.

While managing to escape, she approaches the Straw Hat Pirates and they make a deal to split the profits if they can find the Pure Gold.

And so it leads the group to the lost island of Alchemi, which is located inside the stomach of a large anglerfish known as Bonbori.

Unfortunately, Luffy and Olga are separated from the others but while hanging out, Luffy learns from Olga that she is actually 200 years old and she harbors a grudge towards her father for the death of her mother and most of all, making the Pure Gold which was eaten by Bonbori.

As Mad Treasure and his crew are able to capture Olga and the Straw Hat Pirates, Luffy who is on his own ends up meeting Myskina Acer, Olga’s father.  Who has no idea that his daughter is still alive.  Meanwhile, Zoro and Sanji who were not captured, try to stage a rescue attempt.  But standing in their way are Mad Treasure’s subordinates, Naomi Drunk and Psycho P.

Will Olga and the Straw Hat Pirates discover the Pure Gold?


VIDEO:

“One Piece: Heart of Gold” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the film looks vibrant. While a TV special, the animation looks fantastic and not too soft.  Colors look great!  Animation production from Toei Animation is magnificent!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“One Piece: Heart of Gold” is presented in Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 . Both soundtracks are fantastic and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the center, front and surround channels. But of course, with the English track having a 5.1 soundtrack is the better of the two.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“One Piece Film: Heart of Gold” comes with a theatrical trailer.

EXTRAS:

“One Piece Film Gold” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.


The 11th “One Piece” TV special makes its way to North America along with the 13th “One Piece” film titled “One Piece Film Gold” and serves as correlation to promote the film.

Entertaining, fun and action-packed, the series features the Straw Hat Pirates teaming up with a young girl named Olga, who looks very young but is actually 200 years old and many people are pursuing her because she know the location of Pure Gold, which will allow anyone to buy the world.

While a fun film, Olga is literally a brat.  Often arguing or critical, it’s part of her life of being alone since the death of her parents.  And she has harbored a grunge towards her father because of the death of her mother.

While Luffy and Olga search for the Pure Gold, the others (except Sanji and Zoro) are captured by the main antagonist of the film, Mad Treasure.  A formidable opponent, there to fight for their boss are Naomi Drunk and Psycho P.

For the most part, the special is like other “One Piece” films with a balance of humor and action but the only thing that was not as fun to watch was Olga, who is pretty much a major brat.  But when you see her start to settle down as she sees others who are willing to fight for what they believe in.

While I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t watch “One Piece Film Gold”, you will see a few characters from the film mentioned and certain actions that lead to the group visiting the location featured in the film.  So, there is a solid connection from special to film and most importantly, make sure you watch the film after the ending credits, as there is a major teaser scene for “One Piece Film Gold”.

As for the Blu-ray, surprisingly there are no special features.  It’s a barebones Blu-ray release that looks and sounds good in HD.  Unfortunately, aside from the single trailer, there are no special features included.

Overall, an action-packed, entertaining and fun “One Piece” TV special worth watching.  Especially if you are a big fan of the anime/manga series!

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

April 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: Sailor Moon R: The Movie

ORIGINAL THEATRICAL DATE: 1993

DURATION: 90 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: April 18, 2017


Originally Created by Naoko Takeuchi

Director: Kunihiko Ikuhara

Screenplay: Sukehiro Tomita

Character Design by Kazuko Tadano

Music by Akiko Kosaka, Takanori Arisawa, Tetsuya Komuro

Art Design by Junichi Taniguchi

Animation Director: Kazuko Tadano

Anime Production: Toei Animation/TV Asahi


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Hisakawa/Kate Higgins as Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury

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

Kotono Mitsuishi/Stephanie Sheh as Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon

Michie Tomizawa/Cristina Vee as Rei Hino/Sailor Mars

Rica Fukami/Stephanie Morgenstern as Minako Aino/Sailor Venus

Kae Araki/Sandy Fox as Chibi Usa

Keiko Han/Jill Frappier as Luna

Tohru Furuya/Robbie Daymond as Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Kamen

Yasuhiro Takato/Ron Rubin as Artemis

Hikaru Midorikawa/Ben Diskin as Fiore

Hiromi Nishikawa as Campanula

Mahito Ohba as Newscaster

Megumi Ogata as Mamoru Chiba (as a child)

Tomoko Maruo as Fiore (as a child)

Wakana Yamazaki as Flower Youma Gurishina

Yumi Touma as Kisenian


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended!

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

April 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2

DURATION: Episodes 15-26 (276 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 28, 2017


Originally Created by Naoko Takeuchi

Director: Chiaki Kon

Series Composition: Yuji Kobayashi

Character Design by Akira Takahashi

Music by Yasuharu Takanashi

Art Design by Takashi Kurahashi

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kotono Mitsuishi/Stephanie Sheh as Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon

Rina Satou/Cristina Vee as Rei Hino/Sailor Mars

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

Hisako Kanemoto/Kate Higgins as Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury

Shizuka Itou/Cherami Leigh as Minako Aino/Sailor Venus

Sayaka Ohara/Veronica Taylor as Michiru Kaiō/Sailor Neptune

Kenji Nojima/Robbie Daymond as Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Kamen

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

Ryou Hirohashi/Michelle Ruff as Luna

Youhei Oobayashi/Johnny Yong Bosch as Artemis

Shoko Nakagawa/Debi Derryberry as Diana


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

November 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

dbz-resurresction

“Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” manages to maintain the “Dragon Ball Z” animated film via popcorn action consistency. With a story focused on all-out action and the usual comedy, featuring the return of the Z Warriors taking on a more powerful Frieza, “Dragon Ball Z” fans will be no doubt be excited for this animated film! If you are a DBZ fan, “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © BIRD STUDIO/SHUEISHA, 2015 Dragon Ball Z the movie production committee. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’

DURATION: 95 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9, English and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: October 20, 2015


Original Creator/Character Design by Akira Toriyama

Directed by Tadashi Yamamuro

Screenplay by Akira Toriyama 

Chief Animation Director: Tadayoshi Yamamuro

Music by Norihito Sumitomo

Art Direction by Shinzo Yuki

Anime Production by TOEI ANIMATION


Voice by:

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Ryusei Nakao/Chris Ayres as Frieza

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Ten Shin Han

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Kouichi Yamadera/Jason Douglas as Beerus

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-Sen’nin/Master Roshi

Masakazu Morita/Ian Sinclair as Whis

Masako Nozawa/Kyle Hebert as Son Gohan

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Krillin

Natsuki Hanae/Todd Haberkorn as Jaco

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Shiro Saito/Jeremy Schwartz as Sorbet

Toshio Furukawa/Chris Sabat as Piccolo


Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is the second Dragon Ball film personally supervised by the series creator Akira Toriyama, following Battle of Gods. The new movie showcases the return of Frieza – one of the anime world’s greatest villains. Frieza has been resurrected and plans to take his revenge on the Z-Fighters of Earth. Goku and Vegeta must reach new levels of power in order to protect Earth from their vengeful nemesis.


As the worldwide popularity of “Dragon Ball Z” continues, a 15th film was released in 2015 titled “Dragon Ball Z: Fukkatsu no F” (“Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection “F”).

The animated film did very well in Japan as it took #1 in the Japanese box office earning over $8.1 million (US) and also did very well internationally.  In the US, the film was the first Japanese film to be screened in IMAX 3D and was also screened in Japan at ten 4DX theaters.  The $5 million animated film went on to gross over $62.8 million in the box office making it a major box office success in 2015.

And the film was released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

The film begins with Frieza’s army featuring Commander Sorbet knowing how bad things are without their leader.  But with their Intel which shows that Bulma was not the only human that has the technology to find Dragon Balls, Commander Sorbet and his crew go to Earth in hopes of reviving Frieza by finding Pulaf, Mai and Shu who are in the process of collecting Dragon Balls.

As Sorbet uses the Dragon Ball to revive Frieza, Frieza is briefed on how powerful Son Goku has become, even beating Majin Boo, that he will trained to become even more powerful and will exact his revenge.

As news has traveled throughout space, Jaco the Galactic Patrolman travels to Earth to warn Bulma that Frieza has returned.  But Goku and Vegeta are gone and are training on Beerus’ planet with Whis.  Which leaves Gohan, Piccolo, Krillin, Master Roshi, Tien Shinhan and Jaco to take on Frieza and his soldiers.

As the Z Warriors are not powerful enough to take on Frieza, Bulma sends a distress message to Goku and Vegeta, but are both men ready to take on this newly trained Frieza?


VIDEO & AUDIO

It’s important to note that if you want the best video and audio quality of “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'”, the Blu-ray is the way to go.  As for the DVD, picture quality is very good (as the best it can get on DVD).  Colors are vibrant, the English and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack features crisp and clear dialogue and music, while there are good use of the surround channels on both soundtracks.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

There are no special features that came with “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'”.


I happened to be in Japan during the promotion of “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” and there was no doubt, a lot of excitement for the movie.  The battle between Goku and Frieza was one of the biggest anime battles of all time and while there have been many battles showcased on the “Dragon Ball Z” anime series.

I watched the Goku vs. Frieza arc when it first was broadcasted in Japan and was also reading the Japanese “Shonen Jump”, so I was really into these characters and storyline at that time.

So, I have to say that when I found out that Frieza was being revived, while it does make sense, part of me was hoping that the storyline of Frieza’s death would be left alone.  As we saw how the storyline in relation to Frieza was played out with his older brother Cooler, for the fifth and sixth movies, there was part of me that wanted to see the Frieza storyline to be left in the past and new villains to be focused on from here on in.

With “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'”, Frieza has been revived and after hearing of how Goku has gotten popular, Frieza decides to train for the first time in his life and has now become even stronger and can achieve “Golden Frieza” mode.  And now, a more powerful Goku and Vegeta must take on an even more powerful Frieza, but can they do it?

As a “Dragon Ball” fan, one of the positives of this latest film is to see all Z Warriors making their appearance but one of the biggest surprises for me was to see the Galactic Patrolman, JACO in the film.  Having read Akira Toriyama’s JACO one-shot manga (as the manga series shows a relation to Bulma’s family, moreso with her older sister, Tights), it was wonderful to finally seeing this character animated and utilized in a “Dragon Ball Z” film.

But of course, when you have a story that focuses on Frieza, one can expect an intense battle and for the most part, the storyline doesn’t disappoint when it comes to action.  But part of the excitement in the past, is that Goku and friends are often pushed to the extreme because the situation is quite dire and we see an intense buildup with many episodes in order to have the ultimate battle between Goku and an antagonist.  With a film, there is no true buildup, it’s just a fight and then it’s all over in 95 minutes.

Not to say that it’s bad without the buildup but that’s what made the battles between Goku vs. Piccolo, Vegeta, Frieza, Cell, Majin Boo so exciting! Otherwise, the animated “Dragon Ball Z” films are often quick, popcorn action animated films and are not as satisfying as its TV series counterpart.

When it comes to DBZ animated films, my barometer of best story is the fifth film, “Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan” and have felt the Broly-related DBZ films were so much fun to watch, as didn’t feel rushed.

With “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F'”, the animated film tries to incorporate so many characters and this ongoing bickering between Goku and Vegeta was a bit much.  Nevertheless, I did enjoy the animated film and really, to have Frieza as the main antagonist for a DBZ film is huge.  So, I had no doubt in my mind that with the resurrection of Frieza, Toei Animation were no doubt wanting to go big with an international release.  And for the most part, it paid off as the film did remarkably well in box offices worldwide.

As for the DVD, as mentioned, you will definitely want to go with the Blu-ray release if you want the best video and audio quality.  But on DVD, picture quality is good as it can get on DVD.  Colors are vibrant and the voice acting for both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-done!  The only drag about this DVD release is the lack of special features (aside from FUnimation trailers).

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” manages to maintain the “Dragon Ball Z” animated film via popcorn action consistency.  With a story focused on all-out action and the usual comedy, featuring the return of the Z Warriors taking on a more powerful Frieza, “Dragon Ball Z” fans will be no doubt be excited for this animated film!

If you are a DBZ fan, “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘f'” is recommended!

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition (Movie 14) (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

dbz-movie14

 “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods” is an animated film that “Dragon Ball” fans have hoped of happening for 17 years, but is it the best “Dragon Ball” film ever made? The answer is no. But I do feel that “Battle of the Gods” was exciting for the fact that the film had “Dragon Ball” creator, Akira Toriyama’s involvement and that he tried to feature as many characters from the series as possible. A fun and entertaining “Dragon Ball Z” animated film!  If you are a fan of the manga/anime series, then “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2014 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition (Movie 14)

DURATION: Theatrical Cut (1:25:15), Uncut Version (1:45:10)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV14

Release Date: October 7, 2014

Original Creator: Akira Toriyama

Director: Masahiro Hosoda

Story: Akira Toriyama

Music by Norihito Sumitomo

Character Design: Akira Toriyama

Art Director: Hiroshi Kato, Hirotsugu Kakoi

Art Design: Hiroshi Kato

Produced by Gyarmath Bogdan, Rioko Tominaga

Anime Production: Toei Animation

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kouichi Yamadera/Jason Douglas as Destruction God Beerus

Masakazu Morita/Ian Sinclair as Wiss

Masako Nozawa/Kyle Hebert as Son Gohan

Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel as Son Goku

Masako Nozawa/Kara Edwards as Son Goten

Takeshi Kusao/Laura Bailey as Trunks

Aya Hirano/Justin Cook as Dende

Hikaru Midorikawa/John Burgmeier as Tenshinhan

Hiromi Tsuru/Monica Rial as Bulma

Jouji Yanami as Kaio-sama/Narrator

Kôzô Shioya/Josh Martin as Buu

Masaharu Satou/Mike McFarland as Kame-Sen’nin (Master Roshi)

Mayumi Tanaka/Sonny Strait as Kuririn

Miki Itou/Meredith McCoy as Android 18

Naoko Watanabe/Cynthia Cranz as Chi-Chi

Ryo Horikawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Vegeta

Tohru Furuya as Yamcha

Toshio Furukawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Piccolo

Unshou Ishizuka/Chris Rager as Mr. Satan

Yuko Minaguchi/Kara Edwards as Videl

Eiko Yamada/Colleen Cllinkenbeard as Mai

Jouji Yanami as Dr. Briefs

Kaori Matsumoto as Police woman

Kenji Utsumi as Shenlong

Naoki Tatsuta as Oolong

Naoko Watanabe/Brina Palencia as Puar

Ryouichi Tanaka as Old Kaioshin

Ryûzaburô Ôtomo as Gyuu Mao

Shigeru Chiba/Chuck Huber as Pilaf

Shinichi Karube as Sushi Seller

Shoko Nakagawa as Yogen Gyo

Takahiro Fujimoto as Bubbles

Tesshô Genda as Shuu

Youko Kawanami as Bulma’s Mother

Yuji Mitsuya as Kibitoshin

Following the events of the Dragon Ball Z television series, after the defeat of Majin Buu, a new power awakens and threatens humanity. Beerus, an ancient and powerful God of Destruction, searches for Goku after hearing rumors of the Saiyan warrior who defeated Frieza. Realizing the threat Beerus poses to their home planet, the Z-fighters must find a way to stop him before it’s too late. Only Goku, humanity’s last hope, can ascend to the level of a legendary Super Saiyan God and stop Beerus from destroying Earth, and possibly the entire universe!

In 2013, the 14th “Dragon Ball Z” film (the 18th “Dragon Ball” film overall) titled “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods” premiered in theaters in Japan.

The first “Dragon Ball” movie in 17 years, “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods” is the first film in the movie series that was created as part of the “Dragon Ball” canon and is set during the time skip in chapter 517.  It was also a film in which the original creator, Akira Toriyama was involved and now, the film will make its first appearance on Blu-ray in North America courtesy of FUNimation.

The film features Beerus, the God of Destruction, being awakened by Whis from a long slumber.

With Beerus awakened, this has caused distress for many, including Kaio-sama (King Kai), who tries to keep the existence of Beerus as a secret and knowing that if Son Goku finds out, Goku would do anything to fight him as Goku has always wanted to be the most powerful person in the world.

As Goku is on Planet being trained by Kaio-sama, back on Earth, the Z Warriors are celebrating the birthday of Bulma and everyone is having fun.

On the day that Beerus and Whis come to visit Kaio-sama, in search of the God of Planet Saiyajin, Goku meets Beerus and challenges him to a duel.  Beerus allows for it to happen and gives Goku a chance to fight him with all his power.

But even at Level 3 Saiyan, Goku is easily defeated with two blows.

Meanwhile, Beerus the Destroyer heads to Earth in search of the Super Saiyan God and Kaoio-sama sends a message to Vegeta to protect his friends as Goku was easily beaten with two punches.

But to Vegeta’s surprise, Beerus arrives and interrupts the party and as the Z Warriors fears the destruction of Earth, can the Z Warriors fight against the powerful Beerus?

As Goku tries to learn how he can beat a God, he learns from Shenglong that the power of six pure-hearted Saiyans can help him reach the Super Saiyan God form.  But can Goku defeat Beerus, the god of destruction?

VIDEO:

“Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  As expected from a newer “Dragon Ball Z” film, the colors are vibrant and there is also good use of CG for coloring and shading for background art but also buildings/castles.  Picture quality is sharp and the film looks fantastic in HD!

With that being said, I do feel there is a major difference from the cell-shaded “Dragon Ball Z” films in terms of background art and cell shading, but I do feel the older “Dragon Ball Z” films had something magical in terms of background art and cell work.  But this latest animated film does showcase the vibrant colors in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition” is presented in Japanese and English Master Audio 5.1. with English subtitles.  Dialogue and the film’s musical soundtrack is crystal clear and there are no signs of crackling or hiss during my viewing of the film.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition″ comes with the following special features:

  • Behind the Scenes: Battle of Voice Actors – (9:53) A look at the American English dub actors at the studio doing various scenes from the film.
  • The Voices of Dragon Ball Z: Unveiled – (19:22) Featuring the American English dub actors of “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods”.
  • Textless Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailers – “Dragon ball Z” trailers
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

For many of us that read or watched “Dragon Ball”, many of us have wondered if Akira Toriyama would bring fans a new “Dragon Ball” story.

Of course, a few years ago, fans were given a chance to see “Dragon Ball” remastered and made into “Dragon Ball Kai” with new bits of animation.  But fans have wanted to see these characters come back into animated form, not just for video game sake.

And in 2013, the first “Dragon Ball” film to be release in Japan in 17 years, was released in Japan with major PR buildup, especially all over Tokyo, with exhibitions to Kentucky Fried Chicken leading the charge of “Dragon Ball” swag.

Here we are in 2014 and “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods” has now made its way to America on Blu-ray via an extended edition which includes the theatrical version of the animated film and a 20-minute longer uncut version.

I typically don’t put too much into “Dragon Ball” films, for this one, it was an exception as Akira Toriyama has said its part of the series’ canon and also, for any fan of the series, you can’t help but be excited to see everyone reunite once again!

While I did enjoy “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods” as a fan of the series, I was hoping for more focus on the action rather than a story that tries to bring out every character.

Yes, we get mega action as Goku takes on the god of destruction, Beerus but we also get the comedy that we have typically seen in a “Dragon Ball Z” filler episode.

Aside from the battle, we also get Emperor Pilaf, Shu and Mai trying to steal the Dragon Balls.  Gohan donning the Super Saiyaman outfit once again, Gotenks and Trunks doing the fusion combo and while Trunks tries to impress Gotenks and his mother that he is dating the very short but 40-something year-old Mai, for those wanting some of that comedy will be happy, while those used to the action-driven storyline may find the film straying too far from the action.

But sometimes the comedy is a bit too cheesy.  For example, I found it ridiculous that Beerus was getting jealous of Buu over pudding cups and then all the Z Warriors taking him on and not getting very far.

But when the film does get to the action, especially seeing Vegeta going all out against Beerus, you can’t help but be excited to see Vegeta and also Goku kicking some major butt!

While the extended uncut version of the film is included, I felt the theatrical version was much better because the uncut version just went too long.  I watched the uncut version first and felt part of the story needed trimming down and fortunately, for the theatrical cut, they made the necessary 20-minutes of cuts that was needed.

As for the Blu-ray release, the film looked absolutely vibrant and is full of color.  This is the cleanest, sharpest and most colorful “Dragon Ball Z” animated film yet and it looks great on Blu-ray!  Also, both lossless soundtracks are very good and both acting for both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-done!  While there are no major Japanese featurettes included on the Blu-ray release, you do get two English dub FUNimation featurettes.

Overall, “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods” is an animated film that “Dragon Ball” fans have hoped of happening for 17 years, but is it the best “Dragon Ball” film ever made?  The answer is no.   But I do feel that “Battle of the Gods” was exciting for the fact that the film had “Dragon Ball” creator, Akira Toriyama’s involvement and that he tried to feature as many characters from the series as possible.

A fun and entertaining “Dragon Ball Z” animated film!  If you are a fan of the manga/anime series, then “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods – Extended Edition” is recommended!

One Piece: Collection 9 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

April 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

onepiece-c9

The conclusion of Luffy vs. Foxy the Silver but also the first confrontation between the Straw Hat Pirates and one of the three, Marine Admirals.  Exciting, crazy but so much fun, “One Piece: Collection 9” is recommended! 

Image courtesy of © 2001 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: One Piece: Collection 9

DURATION: Episodes 206-229 (Duration: 600 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English and Japanese stereo

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: April 15, 2014

Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

Script by Hirohiko Uesaka, Hiroshi Hashimoto, Junki Takegami, Michiru Shimada, Naoki Koga, Ryota Yamaguchi, Suminori Takegami, Yoshiyuki Suga

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation

Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

When Luffy and his mates drop anchor at the bizarre island of Long Ring Long Land, they’re challenged to a Davy Back Fight by the fast-talking Foxy Pirates! The Straw Hats are no strangers to squabbles, but the sacred code of pirates decrees that this contest could cost Luffy his crew!

 

Next on the horizon for the Hats, it’s a case of missing memories as everyone but Robin forgets they ever knew each other. Usopp is quick to claim the title of captain, and Zoro does the unthinkable by attacking Luffy! Can Robin recover the crew’s lost recollections before disaster strikes?! She’d better work fast, because far greater foes lie ahead, and the Straw Hats will need all hands on deck if they hope to survive the return of Captain Foxy – and the icy arrival of Admiral Aokiji!

The “Davy Back Fight” competition between Luffy (with an afro wig) vs. Foxy concludes, but who will be the victor?  Meanwhile, while sailing at sea, Nico Robin finds out that everyone on the ship (who has fallen asleep), has lost their memory.  Get a glimpse of each Straw Hat Pirate’s past life before they joined the group.

And as Luffy and Foxy continue to challenge each other, the Straw Hat Pirates come across  the first of the powerful three Marine admirals, Admiral Aokiji.  And the fact that this man has Nico Robin cowering in fear, goes to show how powerful and deadly this man really is.  But why has he been searching for the Straw Hat Pirates?

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide. The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is at 563 episodes and despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation Entertainment began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Four, Voyage One”.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.

The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

Monkey D. Luffy – A 17-year-old guy who is the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates and dreams to be a pirate king by getting his hands on the “ONE PIECE” artifact. When he was young, he accidentally ate a devil fruit which made his body rubbery and can stretch and blow up. An airhead of sorts, loves to eat but always believes and fights for his friends.

Roronoa Zoro – A 19-year-old skilled swordsman. A skilled and very strong fighter. Wants to be the greatest swordsman in the world.

Nami – The navigator of the group. The main female crew member and really good at weapons.

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great.

Sanji – The chef of the crew. A skilled fighter that uses only kicks in battle and is passionate towards Nami.

Tony Tony Chopper – A reindeer with a blue nose. Ate a devil fruit known as human-human fruit which makes him human in someways but keeping his reindeer look. Able to speak to humans, walk upright and also able to have transformations to become a huge beast. But his talent is his medical skills as he was trained by the Doctrine to become a doctor. Has very low self-confidence because he had been treated badly not only by his kind but also by humans and has not really had a friend but the Doctor and Doctrine.

Nico Robin – The former Vice President of Baroque Works who has become the newest member of the Straw Hat Pirates despite some of the crew not trusting her since she was a former enemy. Has the ability to use her body parts and project them elsewhere and other mysterious abilities not yet known.

“One Piece”, Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates continue their search for “One Piece” and last when seen them, the Straw Hat Pirates were taking on the Marines who have captured them and have taken all their treasure.

But the crew have managed to work as a team and take back their treasure. Now they escaped from the Marines but immediately come into contact with a mysterious pirate ship and are captured by the Foxy Pirate crew. And now Captain Foxy and his subordinates have challenged Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates to a “Davy Back Fight” contest and to make things worse, the Foxy Pirate Crew have taken Chopper and if the Straw Hat Pirates don’t win, Chopper will need to join their crew.

The “One Piece: Collection 9” comes with episodes 206-229 on four DVD discs (note: In Japan, these episodes are actually considered as season 7). Here are the spoiler-less summaries of each episode:

  • EPISODE 206 – Farewell, Marine Fortress! The Last Battle for Escape! – How will the Straw Pirates crew escape from the Marine Fortress?
  • EPISODE 207 – Great Adventure at Long Ring Long Land – The Going Merry is captured by the Foxy Pirate Crew.
  • EPISODE 208 – A Davy Back with the Foxy Pirates – Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates are challenged by the Foxy Pirate crew in a Davy Back Fight.
  • EPISODE 209 – Round 1! One Lap of the Donut Race! – The first challenge….a tiny boat race around the island.
  • EPISODE 210 – Silver Fox Foxy! The Merciless Interference! – Fox shows off his Devil Fruit powers and Porche takes Chopper.
  • EPISODE 211 – Round 2! Shoot It Into the Groggy Ring! – The Straw Hat Pirates vs. the Foxy Pirates in a ball game.
  • EPISODE 212 – A Barrage of Red Cards in Groggy Ring! – Sanji and Zoro must work together in order to win…but can they?
  • EPISODE 213 – Round 3! The Round-and-Round Roller Race! – The next round…roller skate competition.
  • EPISODE 214 – A Seriously Heated Race! Into the Final Round! – The Straw Hats come back and now it’s time for the final round!
  • EPISODE 215 – Screaming-Hot Bombardment! Pirate Dodgeball! – Chopper returns back to the Straw Hats but instead of leaving, Luffy accepts another challenge by Foxy.
  • EPISODE 216 – Showdown on the Cliff! Red Light, Green Light! – Foxy takes Robin from Luffy.
  • EPISODE 217 – The Captains Square Off! The Final Combat Round! – It’s the final game….a battle between Luffy and Foxy in a battle of brawn aboard Foxy’s ship.
  • EPISODE 218 – The fight between Luffy and Foxy continues!
  • EPISODE 219  – The conclusion between the battle of Luffy and Foxy.
  • EPISODE 220 – Nico Robin finds out that all the Straw Hat Pirates have lost their memories.
  • EPISODE 221 – Robin and the group try to piece how they lost their memory and what they remember the night before.
  • EPISODE 222 – The group try to find out who is responsible for stealing their memories.
  • EPISODE 223 – Before they can restore their memories, the group must find the entranced Zoro.
  • EPISODE 224 – The thing responsible for stealing memories, tries to steal the memories of the local townspeople.  Can Luffy stop it?
  • EPISODE 225 – The Straw Hat Pirates find a troubled Foxy, Hamburg and Porche stranded in sea.
  • EPISODE 226  – Foxy wants one more battle vs. Luffy.
  • EPISODE 227 – The group encounter the first Marine High Admiral, Aokiji.
  • EPISODE 228 – The Straw Hat Pirates vs. Aokiji.
  • EPISODE 229 – The Straw Hat Pirates meet an old woman named Kokoro and her daughter Chimney, who gives them a map to Water Seven.

VIDEO :

For most television series, because they are created nearly before they are aired on television, unlike film and OVA’s, there typically is not much detail involved in a Japanese animated television series. “ONE PIECE” is probably one of those rare exceptions in that it has really cool character designs and very detailed artistic backgrounds. Of course, since it is on DVD, you will see some artifacting, combing and edge enhancement but it’s not so noticeable unless you are really looking for it.

The anime series is presented in standard 4:3 definition but for a television series, “ONE PIECE” sports cool and unique character designs and beautifully painted artistic backgrounds. Definitely one of the better looking anime series that has remained consistent and has not downgraded since it first aired on television. Character designer Kazuya Hisada (who worked on the “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball GT” series) and Noboru Koizumi (who worked on “Giant Robo”, “Dragon Ball GT” and “Tenchi Universe”) have been very good of capturing “One Piece” creator Eiichiro Oda’s unique style.

It’s important to note that in Japan, the 207th episode was the first “One Piece” episode to be broadcasted in HD and in widescreen. So, it will be interesting to see if FUNimation does release this season on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, the series is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English Stereo and Japanese Stereo. Of course, the English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound is the better audio choice to listen to, although one who has a receiver that can set their audio to all channels can definitely enjoy the Japanese stereo track as well. But both audio tracks are done very well and I have to admit that “ONE PIECE” has one of the most awesome English dub tracks for an anime TV series. Very well done on both audio tracks but again, have been very impressed by the voice talent for the series thus far.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

One Piece: Collection 9″ comes with the following special features:

  • EPISODE 211 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Mike McFarland (Line Producer/ADR Director) and voice actors Ian Sinclair, Eric Vale and Christopher Sabat.
  • EPISODE 215 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Mike McFarland (Line Producer/ADR Director) and voice actresses Tia Ballard (Porche) and Colleen Clinkenbeard (Luffy).
  • EPISODE 218 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Mike McFarland (Line Producer/ADR Director) and voice actress Colleen Clinkenbeard (Luffy) and Jonathan Brooks (Foxy the Silver).
  • EPISODE 229 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Mike McFarland (Line Producer/ADR Director) and voice talent Stephanie Young (Nico Robin) and Sonny Strait (Usopp).
  • Textless Songs – Textless songs for “BON VOYAGE”, “Kokoro no Chizu”, “Dreamship” and “Eternal Pose”.
  • U.S. Trailer – Funimation trailer.
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming FUNimation Entertainment releases.

With this new DVD volume, the Straw Hat pirates have escaped the Marine Fortress but after escaping one troublesome group, they run into another. This time they run into the very odd Foxy Pirate crew.

These episodes are actually quite fun and what makes it so different from past antagonists is that the Captain Foxy and his crew are somewhat, like rejects. Obviously, Captain Foxy and his crew have not received any recognition, so that is why they are taking on the Straw Hat Pirates who have gained notoriety and are wanted by the marines.

And as odd as Foxy and his crew look, you think it’s all fun and games until you realize that the Straw Hat Pirates are put at a disadvantage (Foxy Pirates are constantly cheating) but suffice to say, Luffy and gang have met another challenge. We see Zoro and Sanji being put together as a team and this is a major challenge as both teammates are always at each other’s throat. And because they are distracted towards each other, they are in dangerous of losing their matchup.

Possibly the cutest situation of this entire volume is seeing Chopper being taken by Porche and with Tony Tony Chopper in tears, the crew makes him remember he is a man and must be brave and watching his character trying to put on brave face for his teammates.

But this is probably one of the craziest seasons of “One Piece” that I have seen yet. These episodes are essentially a game competition filled with colorful, odd looking characters but yet so fun to watch. It may not be the darkest or most threatening of adversaries but despite how nonthreatening or goofy the Foxy Pirates look, they have become an interesting opponent so far. And it’ll be interesting to see how things continue for the remainder of this series and to see if Foxy does pose a threat in the next few episodes.

This set also features the conclusion of the season as we get battles between Luffy vs. Foxy the Silver but also insight to the past history of a few of the members of the Straw Hat Pirates, especially learning why Nami desires money so much, and it’s not about greed but something tragic that happened in her past.

But also, ending with the confrontation with Marine High Admiral Aokiji and the fact that Nico Robin is shaking in fear in Aokiji’s presence, goes to show that this man is powerful and dangerous!

With “One Piece: collection 9”, with episode 207 being the first episode to be broadcast in HD and widescreen in Japan, it would be awesome if the series would get a Blu-ray release in the United States. But as for the DVD, the DVD is colorful, vibrant and looks good on DVD, but it would be interesting to see how this series would look in HD and I’m looking forward to whenever that day comes. Audio is good, dialogue is clear. And for special features, we do get two fun audio commentaries featuring the English dub voice talent, textless opening and ending themes plus trailers.

It’s important to note that this is a re-release of “One Piece: Season Four, Voyage One” and “One Piece: Seaason Four, Voyage Two” which were released back in 2012.  But the benefit of buying the collections is that you get nearly two dozen episodes and is great if you have never watched “One Piece” and are looking for an economical way to watch the series, considering there are many episodes included.

Overall, I enjoy the adventures of the Straw Hat Pirates and I’m in it for the long haul.  While, we are 229 episodes down and are over 400 more episodes behind Japan, it is the longest running action anime series in Japan and the fact that young and old continue to read and watch this series, its a testament of how addictive “One Piece” really is.

“One Piece: Collection 9” is recommended!

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