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Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

 I can’t recommend “Wolf’s Rain” enough for those wanting a deep, captivating story with wonderful animation.  It’s a classic anime series for sure!  Yes, it may not be perfect but it’s still one of the shining gems from the early 2000’s worth owning on Blu-ray!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2017 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series

YEAR: 2003

DURATION: Episodes 1-30 (750 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4:3, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1, Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 7, 2017


Originally Creator: Keiko Nobumoto

Directed by Tensai Okamura

Script by Keiko Nobumoto

Music by Yoko Kanno

Character Design by Toshiro Kawamoto

Art Director: Atsushi Morikawa

Mechanical Design by Shinji Aramaki

Anime Production by BONES


Featuring the following voice talent:

Akio Suyama/Joshua Seth as Hige

Hiroki Shimowada/Mona Marshall as Toboe

Kaho Kouda/Kari Wahlgren as Cher Degre

Kenta Miyake/Crispin Freeman as Tsume

Mamoru Miyano/Johnny Yong Bosch as Kiba

Arisa Ogasawara/Sherry Lynn as Cheza

Atsuko Tanaka/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Jagura

Mayumi Asano/Jessica Straus as Blue

Mitsuru Miyamoto/Robert Buchholz as Hubb Lebowski

Takaya Kuroda/Steven Jay Blum as Darcia

Unshō Ishizuka/Tom Wyner as Quent Yaiden


Paradise-a legend, a myth, and a hopeless dream in a world that has become a wasteland. It is not meant for everyone, only the wolves thought to be extinct yet still roam the lands. When the Flower Maiden awakens, the path to the end will open.

Kiba, a lone white wolf, wanders into a poverty stricken city on a quest. The scent of Lunar Flowers and the will to find Paradise is all he has. Along the way, he runs into other outcast wolves: Tsume, Hige, and Toboe, each with their own story and troubles. Fate bringing them together, and together they seek out the Flower Maiden, Cheza, and their way to Paradise. But, doing so is no simple matter.

Up against a world that fears them and a man with mysterious abilities, their journey is overrun with challenges and worse-sacrifices. With limited time, they must fight to protect Cheza against everyone who seeks her and discover the hidden path to their destiny. This group of broken souls will form a pack and take their journey to the doors of Paradise. But is it worth the end of the world?


Back in 2003, BONES anime studio released the 26-episode + 4 OAV anime series “Wolf’s Rain” on Fuji TV.  The series would receive a short two-volume manga retelling by Keiko Nobumoto and Toshitsugu Iida (illustrations) and serialized in “Magazine Z”.

The anime series was done well in Japan but when the anime series was released on Adult Swim, needless to say, it would attract many America viewers.  So popular that the DVD release sold well in North America .  And now 15-years later, the series will be released on Blu-ray as a complete series courtesy of FUNimation.

The series begins with a telling of an old legend that when the end of the world is coming, Paradise will appear.  But only wolves can find Paradise.

While wolves have been extinct on Earth for nearly 200-years, they still exist, but now casting illusions onto themselves to make them appear human to the public.

The anime series first introduces us to an injured lone white wolf who is going to Freeze City (where the majority of people are living in poverty).

As Kiba, the lone white arctic wolf is going to Freeze City following the scent of the Lunar Flower, Kiba is in search for this flower as it is a key to open Paradise but most of all, to protect Cheza, the flower maiden.

Kiba is rescued by a Mexican wolf named Hige, who loves to eat and talk to women.  While he feels comfortable living in human society, he decides to join Kiba in his mission to find Paradise.

Toboe is a red wolf and the youngest of the group.  He is considered the runt of the group and was raised by an old woman who found him outside the city and wears bracelets that she gave him.  He is friendly and protective towards most humans and he was saved by the rash Tsume.  He is not much of a fighter and is quite naive.

Tsume is a grey wolf with a X scar across his chest.  He is a strong fighter, rash, rude and seems as if he is mad at the world.  After his human gang leaves him, he decides to join Kiba, Tsume and Hige in their quest of paradise, even though he is skeptical that it exists.

Meanwhile, an ex-sheriff named Quent Yaiden is on the hunt for wolves, whom he blames for killing his wife and son.  Quent has developed a pure hatred towards wolves and despite hunting them, humans don’t believe that wolves exist but Quent has suspicions that wolves are disguising themselves as humans after he comes across Toboe.

He is approached by a police detective named Hubb Lebowski, who is investigating that wolves are involved, despite being skeptical.

His ex-wife Cher Degre is a scientist studying Cheza and her dedication of learning about Cheza has taken over her life, and thus her divorcing her husband.  But when Cher disappears, Hubb tries to find her.

When Hubb discovers the banned book “Book of the Moon” in Cher’s apartment, he joins forces with Quent in hopes it would lead him to his ex-wife, who he still loves.

Will any of these four wolves searching for Paradise find what they are looking for?


VIDEO:

“Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition. With this being an older anime series, it’s important to note that this is an SD Remaster.  While colors are vibrant, there is softness as one could expect for a TV series.  But for the most part, this classic anime series features wonderful animation and art backgrounds and watching it nearly 15-years later, you can’t help but feel that BONES did a marvelous job with this anime series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD stereo. Both soundtracks are well-acted but I felt the English dialogue had the advantage of the use of the surround channels when it comes to lossless audio utilization.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Cast Interview 1 – (6:57) Featuring an interview with Japanese voice actors: Mamoru Miyano (voice of Kiba), Kenta Miyake (voice of Tsume) and Hiroki Shimowada (voice of Toboe).
  • Cast Interview 2 – (8:18) Featuring an interview with Unshou Ishizuka (voice of Quent Yaiden), Takaya Kuroda (voice of Darcia), Kaho Kouda (voice of Cher Degre), Mitsuru Miyamoto (voice of Hubb Lebowski), Arisa Ogasawara (voice of Cheza).
  • Staff Interview – (6:08) Behind-the-scenes recording with the producers and staff about the creation of “Wolf’s Rain”.
  • Pilot Film – (2:18) Japanese pilot film for “Wolf’s Rain”.
  • Promo Film 1 & 2 – Japanese promotional videos for “Wolf’s Rain”.
  • 15-Second Promos
  • Textless Opening and Closing Songs

EXTRAS:

“Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series.


Back in 2004, “Wolf’s Rain” was no doubt a hit anime series that captivated not just Japanese audiences but also American audiences.

An anime series that managed to have wonderful, dark visuals plus fascinating characters and a lot of action, I enjoyed “Wolf’s Rain” for its originality and also how the series ended.

Similar to feudal Akira Kurosawa series, where you never know if the protagonists are going to survive to the end, “Wolf’s Rain” is a series that shows that in this dismal world, these wolves that dream of paradise have made the decision to move forward, whether or not paradise exists or not.

All I can say is have the tissue box nearby, you’ll be shedding a few tears watching this anime series.

As much as I enjoyed this series, as most people who followed the series back then are aware that “Wolf’s Rain” did suffer production problems.  And episodes 15-18 were recap episodes told from the perspective of Tsume, Toboe, Hige and Hubb expanding the series to 30 episodes.

With the release of “Wolf’s Rain: The Complete Series” on Blu-ray/DVD you get the full series for a lower price.  Back in 2004-2005, people had to purchase all seven volumes to watch the entire series until the limited edition box set was released in late 2005 and a Perfect Collection (Anime Legends) release came out in 2009.

This release is essentially the Perfect Collection but with an SD Remaster onto Blu-ray.  So, for those wanting the better picture quality and lossless soundtrack will want to opt for this version.

Overall, I can’t recommend “Wolf’s Rain” enough for those wanting a deep, captivating story with wonderful animation.  It’s a classic anime series for sure!  Yes, it may not be perfect but it’s still one of the shining gems from the early 2000’s worth owning on Blu-ray!  Recommended!

Jormungand: The Complete First Season (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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Featuring an adaptation of the first six manga volumes, anyone who loves anime with a lot of gun battles and violence, will no doubt find “Jormungand: The Complete First Season” to be an exciting and explosive series that manages to get better and better with each episode.  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Sentai Holdings, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Jormungand: The Complete First Season

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2012

DURATION: 13 Episodes (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English DolbyTrue HD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATING: TV MA

Release Date: February 21, 2014

Originally Created by Keitaro Takahashi

Directed by Keitaro Motonaga

Series Composition by Yousuke Kuroda

Music by Taku Iwasaki

Character Design by Kazuhisa Nakamura

Art Director: Yoshito Takamine

3D Director: Hiroshi Souma

Anime Production: White Fox

Featuring the following voice talent:

 Mutsumi Tamura/Micah Solusod as Jonah

Sayaka Ohara/Carli Mosier as Valmet

Shizuka Itou/Anastasia Munoz as Koko Hekmatyar

Unshou Ishizuka/Christopher Smith as Lehm

Ami Koshimizu/Brittney Karbowski as Schokolade

Gô Shinomiya/Patrick Seitz as Mao

Hitoshi Yanai/Christopher Bevins as Tojo

Katsuyuki Konishi/Ian Sinclair as R

Kenji Nomura/Akron Watson as Wilee

Kiyoshi Katsunuma/Cris George as Ugo

Masaya Matsukaze/Eric Vale as Kasper Hekmatyar

Megumi Toyoguchi/Gwendolyn Lau as Dr. Minami Amada

Saori Kato/Shelley Calene-Black as Karen Lo

Shuuichirou Moriyama/Cole Brown as Narrator

Takaya Hashi/Jerry Russell as Chen Guoming

Tooru Nara/Robert McCollum as Scarecrow

Tsutomu Isobe/Mark Stoddard as George Black

Wataru Hatano/Greg Ayres as Lutz

Yumi Touma/Clarine Harp as Chiquita

Jonah is a child soldier and the newest bodyguard for Koko, an international arms dealer with an entourage of hired guns. The cold-blooded kid hates Koko’s line of work, but following her into the darkest corners of the black market might be the only way he can find those responsible for his family’s slaughter. Besides, his employer isn’t like most merchants of death. She uses guile and cutthroat tactics to keep her clients armed to the teeth—all while cultivating her own warped plan for the future of world peace. With the CIA desperate for her capture, assassins eager to collect her head, and the potential for every contract to end in ultra-violence, Koko and her comrades in arms bring the boom to every corner of the world.

In 2006, mangaka Keitaro Takahashi’s manga series “Jormungand” was serialized in “Monthly Sunday Gene-X” magazine,

With a total of 11 volumes released, a 12-episode anime TV series from White Fox  (“Tears to Tiara”, “Steins;Gate”) was aired in Japan in spring/summer 2012, with a second season titled “Jormungand: Perfect Order” airing in fall/winter 2012.

As the manga series has been released in the US, “Jormungand: The Complete First Season” ( will be released on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

“Jormungand” is a series that revolves around a female arms dealer named Koko Hekmatyar, who sells weapons through HCLI, an international shipping corporation.  She and her team sell weapons in various countries through her shipping corporation, easily hiding and selling weapons from authorities and law enforcement.

Joining her are several former military veterans who are among the bodyguards at HCLI but also a young boy named Jonah, a child soldier who hates arms dealers.  A child which Koko seems to be carefree and cheerful around.

The series follows the adventures of Koko and her soldiers as they must deal with private clients, rival arms dealers and encounter a lot of trouble along the way.

The primary characters in “Jormungand” are:

  • Koko Hekmatyar  – The arms dealer and main protagonist.  She is the daughter of global shipping magnate, Floyd Hekmatyar.  While behaving in a child-like upbeat manner around Jonah, she is ruthless and calculating and is seen as a monster.
  • Jonathan (Jonah) Mar – A child soldier from the Middle East.  Taken in by HCLI, he despises arms dealers but he still acts as a bodyguard for Koko.
  • Sofia Velmer – An ex-mechanized Jager major of the Finnish Rapid Deployment Force who is smitten with Koko.  She is very good with knives and lost an eye during an attack.
  • Lehm Brick – The second in command and oldest member of Koko’s crew.  A former Delta Force operator and great with a sniper.
  • Mao – A former artillery officer from an Asian country.  He is the only officer in Koko’s group that is married with children.
  • Renato Socci – A former Italian Army Bersaglieri intelligence officer.
  • Ugo – A former mafia driver.
  • Lutz – A former sniper from the SWAT unit.
  • Akihiko Tojo – A former operator of the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s secret SR unit.
  • William (Wiley) Nelson – An African American who is an explosive expert and former ex-Lt. of the 20th Engineer Brigade of the XVIII Airborne Corps.

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VIDEO:

“Jormungand: The Complete First Season” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  First, let me discuss the backgrounds.  The backgrounds are wonderfully painted and look absolutely beautiful!  The mechanical designs are also well-done, may it be vehicles or the weapons, there is a lot of detail that went into the weaponry.

Which now leads us to the character designs.  The animation is not the most colorful, in fact, some may find the colors to be soft or not as colorful as some may hope.  But the anime series does utilize Keitaro Takahashi’s manga by showcasing detail but saturated colors.

It’s a creative style even seen in the manga covers and having read the manga series, I felt the series does give the manga some justice.  If anything, “Jormungand” is not a happy series, there is a lot of violence and so I felt the series looks great the way it does.  I didn’t notice any banding or artifact issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Jormungand: The Complete First Season” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1  and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  As one can expect, the English lossless  5.1 soundtrack sounds much better thanks to the fact that this action-driven series utilizes the surround channels.  While dialogue and music is crystal clear.  The acting for the English dub is actually very well done.  Although, those who prefer their anime with the original Japanese soundtrack, will find the acting to be very well-done.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Jormungand: The Complete First Season” features the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Christopher Bevins (ADR Director), Anastasia Munoz (voice of Koko) and Carli Mosier (voice of Valmet).
  • Casting Koko’s Crew with American Director Christopher Bevins – (20:18) A discussion with the casting for the series with ADR Director Christopher Bevins and Chris George (ADR Engineer and voice of Ugo).
  • Episode 12 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Chris George (voice of Ugo), Micah Solusod (voice of Jonah) and Chris Smith (voice of Lehm).
  • Textless Opening and Closing theme – Textless theme for “Borderland”, “Ambivalentidea” and “Shiroku Yawarakana Hana”.
  • U.S. Trailer – (1:11) FUNimation trailer for “Jormungand: The Complete First Season”.

For anime fans who enjoy series such as “Black Lagoon” or even “Golgo 13” will find “Jormungand: The Complete First Season” to be a series for them.

Violence, plenty of gun battles  but somewhere along with all the bloodshed, there is humor but also a growing feel of an ominous presence within protagonist Koko Hekmatyar.

For one, you sense a screw is loose with the leader of the private/black market arms dealer.  A woman who doesn’t hesitate to kill people and has been looked at by her enemies as a monster, around a young boy named Jonah, she is always so chipper, so happy and fun around him.

And thus the first season is more or less an introductions to Koko’s group of former military veterans and why they joined with Koko and using their abilities to protect her or take out the enemies.  Meanwhile, Jonah represents a boy ravaged by war, hates weaponry and was forced to live a life of being a child soldier.   Now working with Koko and trying to understand the life that he and the others currently live.

There are not a lot of answers for the first season of the series, mainly character introductions and character building episodes to establish how deadly Koko and her group truly are.  And their arms dealings with a variety of people and military groups.

And with the escalation of deaths and violence in the last few episodes, it’s right to the conclusion of the final episode of season one that we learn that the group has a traitor.

As for the Blu-ray release, the anime features character designs that compliment Keitaro Takahashi’s manga work, while backgrounds are beautifully painted and mechanical designs to be very detailed.  The lossless soundtrack is very good and well-acted, while the English dub gets the upper nod thanks to its lossless 5.1 soundtrack, over its 2.0 Japanese stereo soundtrack. The Blu-ray also comes with two audio commentaries and a video commentary track as well!

Overall, “Jormungand: The Complete First Season” is a fascinating series as it goes into a group that sells weapons to those who can afford it.  The episodes for season one was more about showing the danger of the arms business that the HCLI group are each involved in but with “Jormungand: Perfect Order”, I expect the series to pick up and get better!

Featuring an adaptation of the first six manga volumes, anyone who loves anime with a lot of gun battles and violence, will no doubt find “Jormungand: The Complete First Season” to be an exciting and explosive series that manages to get better and better with each episode.  Recommended!

 

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