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Terra Formars Vol. 18 (Story by Yu Sasuga, Art by Ken-Ichi Tachibana) (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

July 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Terraformars” is an exciting, violent but addictive series that I am always looking forward to! But I admit that I was a little disappointed about this new direction that writer Yu Sasuga has taken the series  and characters for vol. 18 and not giving a storyline to wrap up the Mars expedition. The abrupt change was not what I was expecting, so for the most part, we have a new storyline and for anyone wanting to jump in, can do so with this volume.

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Image courtesy of © 2011 by Ken-Ichi Tachibana, Yu Sasuga/SHUEISHA Inc. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Terra Formars Vol. 18

STORY BY: Yu Sasuga

ART BY: Ken-Ichi Tachibana

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shueisha, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC

RATED: T for Older Teen

Available on July 18, 2017


A year has passed since the survivors of the Annex mission to Mars returned to Earth. But the war with the Terraformars is far from over! The struggle continues in secret, deep beneath the streets of Tokyo. Akari, now working for a private security firm, looks for dangerous new ways to seek out and destroy the Terraformars before the world is overwhelmed by the alien cockroaches from Mars!


The story has immediately shift later in the future as the crew of the Annex Mission have returned to Earth and many have gone on with their lives but to find out that Terraformars are now on the planet, killing humans but secretly living in spaces…multiplying at a rapid rate and now have an army.

But while there have been many deaths, the question is what are these Terraformars up to and will their army strike?

All this and more in vol. 18 of “Terra Formars”!

What is “Terra Formars”?

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

First serialized in Shueisha’s “Weekly Young Jump” and an OVA and anime series slated later this year, “Terra Formars” was ranked #1 in the 2013 “Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” top 20 Manga for Male Readers survey.

With nine tankobon volumes published in Japan, “Terra Formars” vol. 1 will be released in the United States in July 2014 courtesy of Viz Media (on the Viz Signature imprint).

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

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

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

The black organism used by scientists were cockroaches.

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

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

As the Japanese members, Shokichi Komachi and his childhood friend Nanao Akita try to make contact with one of the beings, the humanoid cockroach snaps Nanao’s neck.

And now the humans have become the hunted.

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

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

In volume 18, Akari Hizamaru and others are working for Ichi Security Co., Ltd.  Their primary duty, to eradicate the Terraformars on Earth.  The technology is able to read bit frames from the brains of the Terraformars who were killed but it is grave importance to find their hideout.

When Akari visits a sewer area in Sumida Ward, what will he discover?


I have to admit that I was shocked and surprised by the fastforwarding of the storyline to Earth.  Having followed the series and seeing everyone trying to survive the onslaught on Mars, immediately the story is fastforwarded to the Annex crew having already escaped from Mars and successfully making it to back to Earth.

It does leave me feeling a bit disappointed because Yu Sasuga did not choose to finish the Mars storyline and decides to immediately skip the storyline during a time which many readers have invested money and time reading to crew having reached Earth.

There are short tidbits of what happened to a few of the crew who have made it back but I felt this took the continuity out of whack and in essence, you get a new storyline, a few returning characters, some new characters and a setting on Earth and with the same enemy.

The storyline focuses on Akari Shimizu who is now working for Ichi Security Co., Ltd. and his job along with his partners are to eradicate the Terraformars on Earth.

The company pinpoints an image taken from a brain scan of one of the diseased Terraformars leading to the sewers in Sumida and thinking that homeless humans are being killed and slaughtered by the Terraformars, he is shocked to discover that it’s the other way around.

Akari sees an old acquaintance named Saito who has been killing Terraformars (which he calls Subterraneans) and they are selling parts of these Terraformars for a price.  But as Akari offers his old friend money because the government would need these bodies, Saito is not so welcoming and a fight ensues between the two.

Meanwhile, we start to learn more about the plans of the Terraformars and what their goal of the army is.  How high their intelligence is and their abilities to graft parts to wild animals such as bears.

And we are introduced to new characters who will be the primary focus of this new arc as humans vs. Terraformars continue but this time…on Earth.

The artwork by Ken-Ichi Tachibana is magnificent. Characters are well-detailed, artwork is just pleasing and the action is well-featured. And of course, the writing and research done by Yu Sasuga has really made “Terraformars” a fascinating and captivating series.

Overall, “Terraformars” is an exciting, violent but addictive series that I am always looking forward to! But I admit that I was a little disappointed about this new direction that writer Yu Sasuga has taken the series  and characters for vol. 18 and not giving a storyline to wrap up the Mars expedition. The abrupt change was not what I was expecting, so for the most part, we have a new storyline and for anyone wanting to jump in, can do so with this volume.

What are the true plans of the Terraformars on Earth?  And can the humans stop them?  Find out what happens in Vol. 18 of “Terra Formars”!

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Nisekoi: False Love Vol. 22 by Naoshi Komi (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

July 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Will Raku accept Marika? And what happens as Raku and friends try to prevent the forced marriage of Marika. All this and more in this entertaining 22nd volume of Naoshi Komi’s “Nisekoi: False Love”. Recommended!

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© 2011 Naoshi Komi. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Nisekoi: False Love Vol. 22

STORY AND ART BY: Naoshi Komi (古味直志)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SHUEISHA, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shonen Jump Manga

RATED: T for Teen

RELEASE DATE: July 4, 2017


Marika has been too sick to come to school lately, but on Valentine’s Day she shows up to gift Raku with chocolate and once again declare her love! She presses Raku to reciprocate, but before he can respond, she is whisked away to her family’s home in Kyushu because of her failing health. But Raku and the gang won’t let her disappear from their lives without a fight!


Marika’s mother is forcing her to get married and with Raku and friends trying to protect and save their friend from getting into a forced marriage, her mother wants to make the wedding happen immediately.

Will Raku and friends be able to get to Marika in time?

All this and more in Naoshi Komi’s hit manga series, “Nisekoi: False Love” vol. 22!

What is “Nisekoi: False Love”?

Naoshi Komi’s manga work is well-known for readers of Shonen Jump. From “Koi no Kami-sama”, “Williams” and “Double Arts”, Komi’s manga “Nisekoi” (False Love) was created as a one shot for Jump NEXT! in 2011 but then receiving the go-ahead as a weekly manga serialized in “Weekly Shonen Jump”.

“Nisekoi” revolves around high school Raku Ichijou. When Ichijou was a kid, he met a girl and he kept a lock, she kept the key and promised each other to get married if they one day find each other.

Since then, Ichijou has kept his promise and has worn the lock around his neck and has been hoping to meet her again.

But Ichijou’s life is a little complicated. While a good-natured individual, unfortunately for him, he is the son of the leader of the Shuei-gumi yakuza syndicate. He has no interested in become part of the yakuza but everyone expects him to be the next one to lead the syndicate in the future.

Meanwhile, while going to school, he sees a foreign girl jumping from a wall and landing on him. He loses the lock on his neck and is very upset of what had transpired. Next thing you know in class, that same girl becomes a new student in his class.

Chitoge Kirisaki just moved from the U.S. to Japan and since her mom is Japanese and her dad is America, she is fluent in both Japanese and English. And suffice to say, when both Ichijou and Kirisaki see each other, they start yelling at each other and she nails him with a hit after he calls her “monkey girl”. People see how tough she is but to make them get along, his teacher puts Ichijou in charge of showing her around school.

He tries his best but the two are like oil and water, they just don’t get along. For the next week of trying to assist her, the two end up arguing and getting in each other’s faces.

If anything, Ichijou focus is more on finding the lock that was lost when Kirisaki landed on him. And he wonders if Kosaki Onodera, the popular girl in school and a person who has treated him with nothing but kindness is the girl that he made the promise with. He hopes it is her.

But just when Ichijou is about to give up, Onodera pleads with him to keep his promise and Ichijou is reminded that a promise is a promise and he intends to keep it. But wants to ask Onodera if there is any chance she may be the girl he made the promise too.

What he doesn’t know is that Onodera does have a key and she has always liked Ichijou but doesn’t have the guts to tell him.

But as Ichijou wonders if Onodera is the girl he made a promise too and excited for the possibility that it might be, when he gets home, his father talks to him about something important.

The problem is that the Shuei-gumi and another rival yakuza gang are in the brink of all-out war that would damage both yakuza gangs, he and the other leader have come up with the plan. Ichijou must pretend to be dating the daughter of the leader of the opposing yakuza gang.

Ichijou doesn’t want to get involved and his father told him that he must forget dating any other girl and focus liking this girl they set him up with.

When the two are introduces, Ichijou is shocked that the girl is Chitoge Kirisaki. And for both of them, they must promise to be boyfriend and girlfriend for three whole years and be convincing to both yakuza gangs that they are truly in love.

Both don’t want to be involved with each other but they have no choice. But now they must find a way to co-exist with each other as both yakuza gangs are suspicious of their relationship especially Kirisaki’s guardian, Claude.

Meanwhile, Ichijou still wants to ask Onodera if she is the girl with the key and Onodera is about to let him know that she is. But before they can, the whole school are told that both Ichijo and Kirasaki are boyfriend and girlfriend.

And now it has made things tough for both Ichijou and Kirisaki, but can they keep this charade of being in love with each other, especially if they despite one another?

And since then, there are a few other complications as not only Chitoge and Onodera have fallen for Raku, but also Chitoge’s bodyguard Tsugumi and Marika Tachibana, who Raku’s father promised Marika’s father that they would marry?

But while Raku Ichijou and Chitoge Kirisaki are supposed to fake their relationship, Chitoge is starting to realize that with each moment spent with Raku, she is slowly falling in love with him.

For volume 19, Chitoge Kirasaki’s father has told her that she and Raku will no longer need to fake their relationship because she and Tsugumi will be moving back to the United States. This leaves Chitoge to become devastated that she will never ever confess her feelings to Raku and will never be around him and her friends. What last resort will Chitoge and Tsugumi pull in order for them to stay in Japan?

Meanwhile, what happens when Onodera and Raku goes on their first date together during the holidays? And what happens when Marika kidnaps Raku?

For volume 22, Marika’s wedding is to take place.  Forcing her daughter to wed a man she doesn’t love and wanting to have the marriage take place much earlier than planned, Raku, Chitoge and friends try to get to her and prevent the wedding from happening.


With volume 22 of Naoshi Komi’s “Nisekoi: False Love”, the manga is now heading towards its final volumes.

As we have read many volumes and seeing women who have fallen for Raku, I think we are now starting to see the storylines start to narrow down which girl Raku would end up with.

With this storyline, this volume completes Marika’s storyline and what a fascinating way to properly do a sendoff for the character.

As Marika is arranged to wed another man and forced by her mother to follow her strict rules, Raku and the others know she doesn’t like the forced marriage but also know that when it comes to her mother, Marika is not a person to go against her mother.  With the wedding security on heightened alert and are prepared for Raku and friends to interfere, will Raku and friends get to her in time?

But what happens when Raku and Marika finally get to talk.  Will he accept her or reject her?

22 volumes in through the series, I really enjoy this manga series because it’s fresh take on the young promise made by youngsters to marry each other and it also has that similarity to “Ranma 1/2” of two people arranged by their parents to be together, although not to be married but to have this fake romance for three years. And then having multiple young ladies vying for his attention.

But with the introduction of other girls who made promises when they were younger, we clearly don’t know which girl Raku promised to marry when he was younger. But with everyone vying for Raku’s attention (and he being totally oblivious to what’s going on), it makes for a very entertaining storyline and series!  But now that we are nearing the finish line, we have seen how Raku starts to pair things down with the ladies who fallen for him.

The artwork by Naoshi Komi is well-drawn, the series is full of humor and for the most part quite delightful in capturing their emotions on each page. But Naoshi Komi’s manga series has been nothing but delightful and very entertaining!

Will Raku accept Marika? And what happens as Raku and friends try to prevent the forced marriage of Marika. All this and more in this entertaining 22nd volume of Naoshi Komi’s “Nisekoi: False Love”. Recommended!

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Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic Vol. 24 by Shinobu Ohtaka (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

June 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” vol. 24 answers many questions that people have been longing for and so it’s definitely a recommended volume worth reading. If you stuck with “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” for this long, volume 24 is highly recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 2009 Shinobu Ohtaka. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic Vol. 24

STORY AND ART BY: Shinobu Ohtaka

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shonen Sunday

RATED: T for Teen

RELEASE DATE: June 13, 2017


An epic dungeon-busting adventure inspired by One Thousand and One Nights!

Deep within the desert lie the mysterious Dungeons, vast stores of riches there for the taking by anyone lucky enough to find them and brave enough to venture into the depths from where few have ever returned. Plucky young adventurer Aladdin means to find the Dungeons and their secrets, but Aladdin may be just as mysterious as the treasures he seeks.

The saga of the lost world of Alma Tran continues. Solomon readies for a final battle against his father David, but the fate of the world may already be set. Solomon and his comrades confront the ultimate power in their universe in a bid to prevent the apocalypse. And as everything begins to fall apart, Ugo puts a desperate plan in motion—if this world cannot be saved, perhaps there can be hope for the next…


As we learn about the Djinn, finally with vol. 24, we find out who the parents of Aladdin are and how Ugo became a Djinn.  And how the fate of the world rests with Aladdin in the saga of the lost world of Alma Tran continues!

All this and more in Shinobu Ohtaka’s hit manga, “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic”!

What is “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic”?

When it comes to opportunities of becoming a manga writer/artist (mangaka), Shinobu Ohtaka’s story.

She has written about her story of how she became a manga artist, as a person who was the person who would sit quietly in the corner of class and was not really great at anything and often playing a supporting role. But if there was one thing that she was confident in, it was drawing pictures.

Her first year in high school, she was submitting manga manuscripts because it was her dream to become a manga author. And like many writers, her submissions were denied and this continued through high school and college. And when she was about to call it quits, she was given the opportunity to do a one-shot and it led to the creation of the series “Sumomo Momomo” in 2004 which would eventually become 22 volume manga series and also a 22-episode anime series.

After completing “Sumomo Momomo”, Shinobu then created “Magi” which would be serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday in 2009 and to this day, the series is till ongoing (currently, at 17 volumes) and an anime adaptation which was aired in Japan in Oct. 2012 – March 2013 and a new second season which has aired in Japan.

In volume 24 of “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic”, the story introduces readers to the distant past.  David has abandoned his base to attack the others and people are worried if they would survive.

Solomon wants to ensure his wife, the pregnant Falan will survive and so Solomon and one of the great (yet no confident) magoi users, Ugo try to stave off the attack.  But when they leave the barrier, they find some of their own outside the barrier burned to death.

In order to save others, Solomon makes the decision to sacrifice himself but to also split his power and divide them among the intelligent beings.

But we see what this sacrifice has done in the long run but most importantly, how this decision would affect the young Aladdin.


The main characters of “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” are:

    • Aladdin – A young magi who doesn’t know too much about himself or the outside world. But he’s kind and goodhearted and wants to protect the people he cares about. When he blows into a flute, a headless blue giant named Ugo comes out.
    • Alibaba – A thief who appears to have a mysterious background that befriends Aladdin.
    • Morgania – A slave who comes from a country of people known for their superior leg strength and speed. She is the slave of the tyrant, Lord Jamil.
    • Amon – A djinn with fire elemental powers contained in Alibaba’s training sword.
    • Sinbad – The King of Sindria and leader of the Alliance of the Seven Seas. He has sailed the seven seas and captured seven dungeons and is a master of seven djinn.
    • Masrur – A Fanalis who works for Sinbad and trains Morgiana in hand to hand combat.
    • Ja’far – A former assassin who becomes loyal to Sinbad.
    • Hakuryuu Ren – The fourth prince in the Kou Empire who becomes an ally of Aladdin, Alibaba and Morgianna but has gone a major transformation.
    • Judar – An evil Magi working for Al-Thamen. Raised by Al-Thamen after the organization killed his parents

Since the beginning of “Magi”, there have been questions of the Djinn, how they came to be and their relationship to Aladdin, especially with the character of Ugo and who his parents may be.

With volume 24 of Shinobu Ohtaka’s “Magi: The Labyrinth”, those questions are answered.

The storyline features how grave things were back then among magoi users when a twisted magoi user known as David goes to exterminate people for what he thinks is God’s will.  This leads to Solomon, David’s son to fight back in order to protect his pregnant wife Falan and also the people he cares deeply about and to make a great sacrifice.

But it’s the sacrifice that sets the wheels in motion and whether or not it’s a good thing or bad thing, we see how the splitting of power and having people have their own magic encased in their bodies and the meaning of the white and black rukh and more.

Overall, “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” vol. 24 answers many questions that people have been longing for and so it’s definitely a recommended volume worth reading.

If you stuck with “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” for this long, volume 24 is highly recommended!

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K: Missing Kings (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

June 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

K: Missing Kings” is an action-packed sequel which “K” fans have waited a few years to be released in America.  And the animated film sets things up for the upcoming TV series, “K: Return of Kings” (to be released by Viz Media in July 2017).  If you loved the original series, then definitely give “K: Missing Kings” a try!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © Viz Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: K: Missing Kings

DURATION: 75 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Widescreen, English & Japanese 5.1 & Stereo Audio, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: March 14, 2017


Originally created by GoRA

Series Director: Hiromitsu Kanazawa

Directed by Shingo Suzuki

Series Composition by GoRA

Music by Mikio Endo

Character Design by Shingo Suzuki

Art Director: Ken Naito

Chief Animation Director: Makoto Furuta

Mechanical Design: Hiroshi Okubo

Animation Production by GoHands


Featuring the following voice talent:

Daisuke Namikawa/Sam Regal as Yashiro Isana

Daisuke Ono/Matthew Mercer as Kuroh Yatogami

Kenjiro Tsuda/Keith Silverstein as Mikoto Suoh

Mikako Komatsu/Stephanie Sheh as Neko

Tomokazu Sugita/Patrick Seitz as Reisi Munakata

Hiro Shimono/Quinton Flynn as Kotosaka

Jun Fukuyama/Ben Diskin as Misaki Yata

Kaori Nazuka/Cherami Leigh as Dōhan Hirasaka

Kazuyuki Okitsu/Robbie Daymond as Nagare Hisui

Mamoru Miyano/Johnny Yong Bosch as Saruhiko Fushimi

Masakazu Morita/Chris Hackney as Yukari Mishakuji

Miyuki Sawashiro/Carrie Keranen as Seri Awashima

Satomi Satou/Janice Kawaye as Kukuri Yukizome

Takahiro Sakurai/Todd Haberkorn as Izumo Kusanagi

Yui Horie/Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Anna Kushina

Yūichi Nakamura/Grant George as Rikio Kamamoto

Yuuki Kaji/Lucien Dodge as Tatara Totsuka


Silver Clan members Kuro and Neko are on a mission to find their king, Shiro, who went missing after the battle on the School Island involving four of the seven colored kings. During their search, the two discover that Red Clan member Anna Kushina has become the target of the mysterious Green Clan, which intends to use the girl’s special power to track down Shiro. Now the Silver and Red Clans find themselves joining forces to protect Shiro and Anna from this new threat. But will this unexpected alliance be enough to counter the Green Clan’s top fighters, as well as its king?


In 2012, the anime series “K” produced by the studio GoHands aired on television.

The series focused on Yashiro Isana, a normal guy who lives in the technologically advanced Shizume City and attends Ashinaka High School.  But when Tatara Totsuka, a prominent member of the well-known HOMRA is killed, many are curious of who killed him.  With the mysterious killer (known as the “Colorless King”) being identified, he looks almost exactly like Yashiro Isana.

And now the Red Clansmen of HOMRA led by the Red King, Mikoto Suoh, wants Yashiro dead and everyone is suspecting him as the killer of Tatara Totsuka.  Can Yashiro and others find out who is responsible for killing Tatara?

The series continues in the animated film “K: Missing Kings” which was released in Japan back in 2014.  The film takes place a year after the events of the TV series and a year after the disappearance of Shiro, the Silver King.  Kurou Yatogami and Neko are searching for Shiro and they run into members of the recently disbanded red clan HOMRA.

Rikio Kamamoto and Anna Kushina are being pursued by the Green Clan who will stop at nothing to get Anna and use her power.  With Anna being kidnapped, Kuro and Neko join forces with members of Scepter 4 in hopes to rescue Anna from the Green Clan.  But what is their true purpose of wanting Anna?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

It’s important to emphasize that if you want the best video quality of this animated film, it is available on Blu-ray.  I am reviewing the DVD version of the film and for the most part picture quality is as good as it can get on DVD.

“K: Missing Kings” is presented in 16:9 Widescreen and is presented in English and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital and stereo.  Picture quality is vibrant and with this being an animated film, much better production when it comes to backgrounds and overall character designs.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

K: Missing Kings” comes with trailers.


For those who have watched the “K” anime series, the first animated film “K: Missing Kings” is a worthy sequel as we see Silver Clan members Kuro Yatogami and Neko continuing their search for the Silver King and we see the disbanded HOMRA (Red Clan) dealing with the kidnapping of Anna Kushina.

With the Green Clan causing more problems and causing mass destruction, deaths and kidnapping Anna, the Silver clan, members of the HOMRA and members of Scepter 4 do all they can to get Anna back and stop the Green Clan.

For the most part, this animated film is action-packed and quite entertaining.  It’s a worthy sequel for the anime series but for those who have never watched the TV series, will definitely want to watch it in order to understand the characters.

Anime production by GoHands is magnificent and the voice acting in both the Japanese and English soundtracks are well done.  While I reviewed the DVD version and not the Blu-ray release, for the most part, the DVD looks very good.  But I wish there were special features included aside from the basic trailers.

Overall, “K: Missing Kings” is an action-packed sequel which “K” fans have waited a few years to be released in America.  And the animated film sets things up for the upcoming TV series, “K: Return of Kings” (to be released by Viz Media in July 2017).  If you loved the original series, then definitely give “K: Missing Kings” a try!  Recommended!

Golden Kamuy vol. 1 – Story & Art by Satoru Noda (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

June 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

While I have only read one volume, Satoru Noda’s “Golden Kamuy” is turning out to be a fantastic, action-packed manga series worth reading!

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© 2014 Satoru Noda. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Golden Kamuy vol. 1

STORY AND ART BY: Story and Art by Satoru Noda

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SHUEISHA, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shonen Jump Manga

RATED: M for Mature

RELEASE DATE: June 20, 2017


In the early 20th century, Russo-Japanese War veteran Saichi Sugimoto searches the wilderness of the Japanese frontier of Hokkaido for a hoard of hidden gold. With only a cryptic map and a native Ainu girl to help him, Saichi must also deal with every murderous cutthroat, bandit and rogue who knows about the treasure!

“Immortal Sugimoto,” a survivor of the assault on 203 Meter Hill during the Russo-Japanese War, now scratches out a meager existence in the post-war gold rush in the wild frontier of Hokkaido. A chance encounter in the woods puts a map to a hidden fortune of Ainu gold in his hands, but Sugimoto is not the only interested party, and everyone who knows about the gold will kill to possess it!


From Satoru Noda comes his award winning manga series “Golden Kamuy”.

Written and art by Satoru Noda, the mangaka also worked with Yu Nakagawa in ensure authenticity of the Ainu language.

The manga series won the 9th Manga Taisho award and with ten volumes currently printed in Japan, the first volume of “Golden Kamuy” will be available in the United States courtesy of Viz Signature on June 2017.

The series revolves around a soldier named Saichi Sugimoto who fought in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 and survived with savagery and toughness.  And because of his braveness, he is known as “Immortal Sugimoto”.

Because his best friend asked him before his death on the battlefield for Sugimoto to take care of his wife and children, Sugimoto hears of a story about hidden Ainu gold (the Ainu are the indigenous people of Japan).  One man killed the Ainu hiding the gold and stole around Y80,000 and buried the gold somewhere in Hokkaido.

While the man was caught and thrown into Abashiri prison, he was sentenced to death and the map of where the gold was hidden was tattooed on the backs of 24 prisoners.

This was told to Sugimoto by a drunken man.  When Sugimoto finds the man killed by a bear, he notices that he had a tattoo all over his back and that the story must be true.

But when the bear goes for an attack on Sugimoto, he is saved by an Ainu girl named Asirpa, a daughter of one of the Ainu men who was killed by those hunting for Ainu gold.

But as Sugimoto and Asirpa team up to find the gold, many dangerous hunters including the deadly 7th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army led by Lt. Tsurumi.


A soldier and an Ainu girl in search of gold stolen from the Ainu people.  The story is about a man named Saichi Sugimoto, a kind hearted man who was turned into a soldier known as “Immortal Sugimoto” during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904.

With a friend’s final dying wish for Sugimoto to take care of his wife and children, that would require money which Sugimoto doesn’t have.  But when he hears about gold that was hidden in Hokkaido, gold stolen from the Ainu people, he teams up with a Ainu girl, who knows how to hunt and also use the wild to heal people, but also her father was killed because of the gold.

Sugimoto is not interested in 50/50, just a small share and wants to give most of it to Asirpa but also to help her get revenge on the people who killed her father.

But immediately, other hunters looking for the gold, are now also hunting for Sugimoto and Asirpa .  Can these two survive?  And what will the two learn as they must take on other hunters and soldiers who are also looking for the gold?

The writing for the first volume manages to establish the primary two characters but also the dangerous environment that Sugimoto and Asirpa are thursted into.  With the two trying to find prisoners who have the map tattoo on their backs, it’s not going to be easy as gold hunters and also the 7th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army are after them.  Illustration is fantastic and manages to capture emotion but also the action.

But most importantly, it’s great that Satoru Noda is consulting with Yu Nakagawa in regards to Ainu language and culture.  For those not familiar with Ainu in Japan, they have a similar unfair treatment in society (as Native Americans in the United States) and prejudice runs rampant in various parts of Japan towards the indigenous Ainu people.  So, it takes great care of making sure to capture the culture on the pages of “Golden Kamuy”.

While I have only read one volume, Satoru Noda’s “Golden Kamuy” is turning out to be a fantastic, action-packed manga series worth reading!

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Food Wars! – Shokugeki no Soma Vol. 18 (Story by Yuto Tsukuda and Art by Shun Saeki) (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

June 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

In vol. 18, can Soma save the Polaris Dorm?  “Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma” is a magnificent manga for those who love cooking, cooking competitions and underdogs faced with the challenges of taking on the top chefs at a prestigious cooking academy.  Highly recommended!

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© 2012 by Yuto Tsukuda, Shun Saeki. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Food Wars – Shokugeki no Soma Vol. 18

STORY AND ART BY: Story by Yuto Tsukuda and Art by Shun Saeki

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SHUEISHA, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shonen Jump Manga

RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: June 6, 2017


The shokugeki to decide the fate of the Polaris dormitory nears its conclusion! Even with the judges firmly in his opponent’s pocket, Soma puts everything he’s gained from his time at the dorm on a plate, cementing Polaris’s future—or lack thereof—at the institute. Meanwhile, Central makes its move, beginning a full-scale purge of anyone daring to resist them! Will Soma survive to take on this next challenge?


The Ninth Seat Etsuya Eizan, of Totsuki’s Council of Ten has an open challenge against Ryoma and to make things interesting, Azami Nakiri who has taken over the Totsuki Institue as the new dean, has now put a wager that if Ryoma loses, the Polaris Dorm must shut down.

With judges that are loyal to Azami, can Ryoma pull out a win against Eizan.

And the Nakiri’s learn the truth of who Ryoma’s father is!

All this and more in volume 18 of “Food Wars! -Shokugeki no Soma”!

What is “Food Wars! – Shokugeki no Soma” about?

In 2012, writer Yuto Tsukuda and artist Shun Saeki created their manga series “Shokugeki no Soma” which continues to be serialized in “Weekly Shonen Jump”.

The manga was voted #3 in the Nationwide Bookstore Employees “Recommend Comics of 2014” in Japan and voted #12 in the 2014 “Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” Top 20 Manga for Male Readers survey and continues to be a popular series in Japan.

With a total of eight tankobon volumes released in the U.S., Viz Media will be releasing the first manga volume titled “Food Wars! – Shokugeki no Soma” in North America in August 2014.

The series revolves around a young teen named Soma Yukihara who works for his father, chef Joichiro Yukihira, at their local restaurant.

Trained to cook at an early age and known for trying to combine various foods together as experiments, Soma has been known to cook dishes that make people feel they have tasted the best food ever to touch their tastebuds. But his goal is to someday beat his father in cooking.

But with landsharks trying to get control of the land to build condo units where the restaurant is located, one day while returning to the restaurant, everything inside is removed.

While Soma wants to rebuild, his father tells him that he will be closing the restaurant for two or three years to travel and as for Soma, he is enlisted in Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute where the elite of the elite attend and less than 10% of its students ever graduated.

But his father gives Soma a stern message, if he can’t make it at Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute, he will never beat him.

Determined to prove to his father that he can graduate as an elite cook, Soma is still looked down by his fellow students and faculty because unlike them, he is not wealthy and his family did not own a four or five star restaurant.

But Soma is determined to prove them wrong.

In volume 18, Soma finds himself in a challenge that his fellow dormmates of the Polaris Dorm are heavily depending on him.  As Soma is challenged by Totsuki’s Council of Ten’s Ninth Seat, Etsuya Eizan, Azami put the wager that if the Soma loses, the Polaris Dorm must shut down for good.

Meanwhile, this matchup opens the flood gates as Azami uses chefs from the Totsuki Council of Ten to help eliminate other cooking clubs at the academy in similar competitions.


As a big fan of manga series about food and the culinary industry, “Food Wars! -Shokugeki no Soma” is a series that I absolutely enjoy.

For one, you have an antagonist that was cooking since he was young, often experimenting on different foods, even know that all his combinations are not always successful. But he also was brought up in a family restaurant and has to attend a school of elitist who think their food is the greatest and that they are more refined because they are wealthy.

So, it’s pretty awesome to see how far these people will put him down and until they eat his food, their reaction, and probably this may be the best word to describe their reaction to his food as “orgasmic”.

With the 18th volume of “Food Wars! -Shokugeki no Soma”, Soma must take on Totsuki’s Council of Ten’s Ninth Seat, Etsuya Eiza. If he loses, the Polaris Dorm must shut down.

Knowing that the competition is rigged, as the judges are going to favor Eiza due to their relationship with Dean Nakiri, Soma must cook a dish to spectacular that it must beat Etsuya Eiza.  But can he do it?

As this matchup opens to foodgates, in order for Azami to gain complete control over the entire institute, he turns his eyes to the other research societies, seminars and other independently operating bodies with the intent of crushing them.  The Azami administration gets members from the top 10 seats to take on shokugeki matchups against these other societies to eliminate them.

Also, what happens when Dean Nakiri and also Erina learn the truth of who Soma’s father is.

For volume 18, the storyline by Yuto Tsukuda has been nothing short of enjoyable. This is a fun manga that left me craving for more and Shun Saeki’s artwork is energetic, fun and the more suggestive artwork that was seen in earlier volumes are not too extreme (in terms of fan service and sexuality).

Overall, “Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma” is a magnificent manga for those who love cooking, cooking competitions and underdogs faced with the challenges of taking on the top chefs at a prestigious cooking academy.  Highly recommended!

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Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign Vol. 12 (Story by Takaya Kagami, Art by Yamato Yamamoto, Storyboards by Daisuke Furuya) (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

June 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you have invested this much time in reading the first eleven volumes of “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign”, you will no doubt want to check out this latest twelfth volume.  More action and more revelations!  Check it out!

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© 2012 Takaya Kagami, Yamato Yamamoto, Daisuke Furuya. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign Vol. 12

STORY AND ART BY: Story by Takaya Kagami, Art by Yamato Yamamoto, Storyboards by Daisuke Furuya

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SHUEISHA, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shonen Jump Manga

RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: June 6, 2017


Three months have passed since the invasion in Nagoya and Yuichiro, Mika and Shinoa Squad are all on the run from both the vampires and the humans! Just as they resolve to ask Krul Tepes for help, Ferid Bathory and Crowley Eusford intercept them with a suspicious proposal to become the group’s new best friends, bringing with them a special hostage for good measure and the secret of the true purpose of the Seraph of the End project.


It was revealed that humans were experimenting on people to create the weapon known as “Seraph of the End” and Guren Ichinose is revealed to be one.

As Yuichiro and his friends are able to escape and literally become fugitives of the Army, they find themselves being wanted by both sides.

But meanwhile, two top vampires, Ferid Bathory and Crowley Eusford are trying to meet up with them.  But why?

All this and more in the twelfth volume of Takaya Kagami and Yamato Yamamoto’s “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign”!

What is “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” all about?

In 2012, mangaka Takaya Kagami (“The Legend of the Legendary Heroes”), artist Yamato Yamamoto (“Kure-nai”, “Denpa Tei na Kanojo”) and storyboard artist Daisuke Furuya teamed up to work on the dark fantasy manga series “Owari no Serafu”.

The series which has a total of six tankobon volumes released in Japan, has been released in the U.S. courtesy of Viz Media with the title “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign”.

“Seraph of the End” began with an introduction of how an unknown virus brought the world to a sudden end. Only children under 13-years-old survived and those children were enslaved by vampires.

The story introduces us to an impulsive boy named Yuichiro Hyakuya who wants nothing more but to kill vampires. But his friend Mikaela Hyakuya is a boy who is more levelheaded and tries to get his friend to think straight and know they are not powerful enough to defeat them.

For Yuichiro, he wants nothing more but his fellow friends to escape captivity from the underground city of Sanguinem and reach the outside.

And one day, all of them decide to make their escape…but will they be successful?

In volume 2, Yuichiro Hyakuya wants nothing more but to get his revenge on the vampires who killed his friends, especially his best friend, Mikaela Hyakuya, who sacrificed his life in order for Yuichiro to escape.

Fast forward years later and as Yuichiro is wanting to become a member of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, the army responsible for fighting against the vampires, he needs to learn discipline and train for combat. But first he must go through the various tests in school which include being friends with others and being a team player, all are hard for Yuichiro to try and do.

But now is his chance to pass the test to advance, but it means having to partner with another hot-headed teen like himself, who doesn’t mind getting into brawls…Kimizuki.

Will Yuichiro, Kimizuki and Yoichi be ready for their next test?

Meanwhile, what happened to Mikaela Hyakuya after Yuichiro escaped from the Vampire lair has been revealed!

In volume 3, as the team has trained and learned to work together, Yuichiro, Yoichi, Kimizuki and Shinoa Hiragi are assigned a new leader named Mitsuba Sangu. An impulsive girl who is also the rival of Shinoa.

As the team goes on their first major mission to fight vampires in Harajuku, will they be ready or will their impulsiveness get in the way?

In volume 4, the Japanese Imperial Army are fighting in a losing battle against the Vampire nobles, a group that includes Yuichiro’s childhood friend Mika, who was changed into a vampire on that fateful day.

As Yuichiro and friends come to join the Japanese Imperial Army on the front lines, Yuichiro comes into contact with Mika for the first time.

But with Mika now a vampire and Yuichiro a vampire hunter, what will happen when these two friends see each other for the very first time since they were separated?

In volume 5, learning that Mika is alive and has been transformed into a vampire, Yuichiro wants nothing more but to help save his friend. But still, he must go through a interview to find out what happened that day he confronted Mika and if he has the resolution to slaughter vampires. Also, factions within the Japanese Imperial Demon Army want Yuichiro to join their faction.

Meanwhile, Yuichiro and crew learn more about their abilities and whether they are possession or manifestation type.

In volume 6, Yuichiro still trying to learn more about his special abilities, must find a way to get his cursed gear Asumaru to work with him.

Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes, interesting partnerships or rivalries created within the ranks of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army and the vampires.

In volume 7, the Japanese Imperial Demon Army plans to launch a sneak attack on the vampire nobles and Yuichiro’s team must be ready to go into battle.

The problem is that they continue to work as individuals rather than a team and are not taking the attack as seriously as they should.

So, will they be ready to partake in this sneak attack?

In volume 8, the Japanese Imperial Demon Army goes on the offensive. And while Yuichiro’s team fared well, the other teams lost many of their soldiers in the war against the nobles.

But in order to make a strong statement of human vs. vampires, they must now launch a battle against the Thirteenth Progenitor vampire Crowley Eusford and nobles, Chess and Horn with whatever soldiers are remaining.

But will they be enough to defeat these powerful vampires?

In volume 9, Lt. Col. Guren Ichinose and Major General Shinya Hiragi were hoping to take down the powerful Thirteenth Progenitor vampire, Crowley Eusford and vampire nobles, Horn and Chess. But they never realized how powerful a vampire he truly is.

And now Guren and Shinya are on the losing end, can Yuichiro save Guren and what bond does Yuichiro have with Guren?

In volume 10, Lt. Col. Guren Ichinose and Major General Shinya Hiragi were hoping to take down the powerful Thirteenth Progenitor vampire, Crowley Eusford and vampire nobles, Horn and Chess. But didn’t realize how powerful he truly is and now Guren has been held captive.

Yuichiro and his team tried to pull off a rescue but Crowley, Horn and Chess showed their true power. In the process, the demon inside Yuichiro came out when he saw his team nearly being decimated.

Now, his family member turned vampire, Mikaela is determined to rescue him from the humans and vampires. But with the Japanese Imperial Army surrounding him, can he save Yuichiro?

And Mikaela reveals the truth of the “Seraph of the End”!

In volume 11, despite the revelation, Yuichiro wants to save Guren, as he feels that his humanity is still in tact. Meanwhile, Ferid Bathory and Crowley Eusford are up to something.

Yuichiro and his friends plus Mikaela must team up as the battle ahead will be deadly.

In volume 12, as Yuichiro, Mikaela and friends try to find a safe spot to evade both the army and the vampires, they are unaware that two of the top vampires are homing in on them.

And as Yuichiro and Mikaela try to put up a fight, Ferid (the vampire who is responsible for killing Yuichiro and Mikaela’s family and also transforming Mikaela into a vampire) pulls out the decapitated head of his family member, Akane.

This sends Yuichiro to demon mode once again and everyone is knowing that Yuichiro is losing his humanity the more he gives into the demon power.  What will happen during and after this confrontation?


As Mikaela continues to distrust humans, with Yuichiro convincing him to fight alongside his friends, who will also be his friends and that vampire and humans can co-exist, Yuichiro’s inner-demon is starting to consume him.

We have seen how bad it could get but this time, Ferid and Crowley are toying with Yuichiro for some apparent reason of trying to bring the demon out but also trying to give them a chance to survive.

But most importantly, Ferid reveals of who was responsible for the virus nearly killing all of humanity.

An action-packed volume, the latest twelfth volume of “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” shows us the battle between Ferid/Crowley vs. Yuichiro and friends. The storyline by Takaya Kagami is enjoyable, humorous and it has its dark, violent moments that easily drives up the ratings to “Older Teen” but for the most part, it’s not a horror manga series, nor is it too dark that it’s twisted or scary partly because of the comedy due to its hardheaded protagonist. The artwork by Yamato Yamamoto is well-done and characters are very expressive.

If you have invested this much time in reading the first eleven volumes of “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign”, you will no doubt want to check out this latest twelfth volume.  More action and more revelations!  Check it out!

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Revolutionary Girl Utena Manga Box Set by Chiho Saito (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

May 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a “Revolutionary Girl Utena” fan, may it be for the manga or for those who only watched the anime and have never read the original manga series, will no doubt find “Revolutionary Girl Utena Manga Box Set” truly worth owning. Recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 1997 Chiho Saito, Be-Papas. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Revolutionary Girl Utena Manga Box Set

Story and Art by Chiho Saito

Story Concept by Be-Papas

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC

RATED: T for Teen

RELEASE DATE: April 11, 2017


The classic manga returns in a deluxe box set! Hardcover editions of Revolutionary Girl Utena and The Adolescence of Utena are included in this two-volume collectors’ set with exclusive color pages and poster.

Once upon a time, a little girl was rescued by a prince. That girl then grows up to be strong and courageous as she awaits his return. To defend a friend’s honor, she challenges a brute to a duel and wins. She is entrusted with the SWORD OF DIOS and the Rose Bride, who is the key to finding her elusive prince. But this won’t end like a fairy tale. Because Utena has the power to REVOLUTIONIZE the world.


Back in 1996, mangaka Chiho Saito created the manga series “Shojo Kakumei Utena” (Revolutionary Girl Utena).  A story based on a concept by Be-Papas.

Serialized in “Ciao”, an anime adaptation would be created in 1997 featuring 39 episodes, while only five volumes of “Revolutionary Girl Utena” were published.

So popular was the anime series that it won “Best TV Animation Award” at Animation Kobe in 1997 and the popularity spread worldwide, leading to many to discover the manga series but also leading to stage productions as many people applauded the series for its borrowed visuals from Takarazuka theater and it being a unique douseiai-style (same sex/gender love) shojo manga.

For those not familiar with this term, in Japanese, Class S refers to strong emotional bonds between schoolgirls and in Japanese culture, depicted as female crushes during adolescence and not true homosexual behavior.  Douseiai-style refers to people of the same sex.

And now the manga series including its side stories are now included in Viz Manga’s “Revolutionary Girl Utena Manga Box Set” featured in two hardback, large omnibus style books.

The story begins with an introduction to Utena Tenjou and how she lost her parents at a young age and was raised by her aunt.  Always trying to be strong for her aunt and keep a happy face, one day she nearly fell in a river but was rescued by a mysterious man.

And now as Utena is a teenager, beautiful, athletic and also bold in the fact that she prefers to wear a male outfit instead of the standard female school clothing, one day she receives a letter that says “This year, finally, we will meet” and it has a scent of roses which reminds her of her mystery man that saved her, whom she refers to as a prince.  She is also given a ring with the emblem of the rose on it.

When circumstances lead to Utena nearly falling in the same river trying to rescue a girl, once again, the mysterious man appears.  And when her good friend investigates the letters she receives each year, he finds out that the letters are a puzzle featuring a photo of Ohtori Private Academy.  And Utena makes a decision to attend the school.

As a popular athlete and beautiful student, she attracts guys and girls.  But one day, while walking through the Private Rose Garden of the Student Council, she sees a student named Saionji slapping a girl named Anthy but was stopped by the Student Council President, Touga Kiryuu.

When Saionji embarrasses Utena’s friend, Wakaba, by posting her love letter for the entire school to read, Utena is upset and he challenges Saonji to a duel.

But what Utena thought was a regular duel is actually quite complicated as the members of the Student Council are duelists and they follow the “Rules of the Rose Seal” and that is the will of “World’s End”.  Whoever is on top of the duelists, wins Anthy who is the Rose Bride and is the possessor of the Sword of Dios.

And during her duel with Saionji, when Utena wins the duel and the sword, an image of a man shows up and it is Dios and activates in Utena’s hands.

And now because Utena won the duel, others on the Student Council will be targeting Utena to duel and to win the Rose Bride but also become possessor of the Sword of Dios.

But what is the World’s End?  What is the Sword of Dios?  And why is Anthy being forced to become the top duelist’s bride?  All will be answered in “Revolutionary Girl Utena Manga Box Set”.


Back in the ’90s, I was a person who discovered “Revolutionary Girl Utena” through the anime series and I have to say that the series managed to captivate not just myself but many people who watched it as Utena Tenjou fights for Anthy’s freedom.  Not knowing why people are dueling and what the World’s End truly is or what the Sword of Dios is.  She’s doing it to be a friend and help Anthy discover her own true freedom.

There are significant differences between anime and manga.  Where the manga wasn’t too long and had extra side-stories, the anime had the opportunity to extend the story (as it lasted 39-episodes) by including four primary arcs, the first that dealt with the Student Council, while the stories involving a Black Rose Saga featuring Souji Mikage, a counselor who uses his powers of persuasion to send students to fight Utena (which is based on one of the side stories).

Also, the anime series featured Utena having to fight the Student Council who have gained new abilities until settling into a story that is in the manga series and that is the introduction to Anthy’s brother Akio.

So, for those watching the anime series and then went to the manga series, may feel disheartened that the additional stories and characters featured in the anime were not in the manga series.

As mentioned, there are side stories.  Such as ChuChu the monkey adding hot and spicy ingredients to Anthy’s cooking to make it test better for Utena.  Another story features Utena and Anthy switching bodies.

Another story features Juri’s mentor, the best swordsman in school named Ruka Tsuchiya, returning back to school.  This is an emotional story spotlighting on Juri.

A really interesting story features Souji Mikage wanting to kill Anthy and so he can install a sick boy, named Mamiya Chida as the Rose Bride in order to save him from his sickness.

And all this and more side stories are included in “Revolutionary Girl Utena Manga Box Set”.   Meanwhile, the story is captivating and the artwork by Chiho Saito is magnificent.  Also, the set comes with a slip case for both books and also comes with a poster.

Overall, if you are a “Revolutionary Girl Utena” fan, may it be for the manga or for those who only watched the anime and have never read the original manga series, will no doubt find “Revolutionary Girl Utena Manga Box Set” truly worth owning.

Recommended!

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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!

Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt vol. 3 – Story and Art by Yasuo Ohtagaki (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

April 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The story has been action-driven, detail of the artwork has been excellent and for mecha fans, “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt” vol. 3 gives readers a gritty, emotional and darker side of the war.

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© 2012 by Yasuo Ohtagaki. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt Vol. 3

STORY AND ART BY: Yasuo Ohtagaki

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Signature

RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: May 16, 2017


In the Universal Century year 0079, humanity is divided between Earth and huge space colonies known as Sides. The colony known as Side 3 proclaims independence as the Principality of Zeon, and declares war on the Earth Federation. As the conflict nears the one-year mark, the Earth Federation and the forces of Zeon are locked in a fierce battle for the Thunderbolt Sector, an area of space scarred by the wreckage of destroyed space colonies.

The Federation attack on the Zeon fleet in the Thunderbolt sector is a bloody fiasco as Io Fleming leads a squadron of inexperienced young pilots into the teeth of the Zeon defenses. Desperate, the Federation throws even the maintenance crews into the fray. Casualties mount as the two fleets clash, and Fleming and his Zeon rival, Daryl Lorenz, engage deep in the ruins of one of the space colonies. Shattered and driven by memories of the past and all they’ve lost, their duel resonates with the fierce emotions of both sides in this deadly conflict.


The Principality of Zeon thanks to their Zeon Sniper Daryl Lorenz and his new Psycho Zaku has taken the Federation by surprise and nearly wiped out the entire fleet.  And with the surviving members of the Federation, they are not aware that Zeon Fleet Commander Kleiber is on their way for support.

Meanwhile, Io Fleming with his Gundam and Zeon Sniper Daryl Lorenz clash once again, but this time, who wins this battle?

What is “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt” about?

Back in 2012, mangaka Yasuo Ohtagaki wrote and illustrated the manga “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt”.

With eight volumes published, the series would receive a 4-episode ONA anime adaptation and a second season is slated for adaptation.

The manga is set during the One Year War (U.C. 0079) and the Earth Federation’s Brotherhood and the Principality of Zeon’s Living Dead Division are in battle in the Thunderbolt Section, a zone that is littered with debris from the destruction of space colonies and because the area has numerous electrical discharging.

Fighting for the Earth Federation is Ace pilot, Io Fleming and for the Principality of Zeon, Zeon’s best sniper, Daryl Lorenz is focused on killing Fleming.

As Io won the first meeting between the two, this time around, both the Federation and Zeon plan to escalate the battle as the Federation plans to send the Gundam in one more time to finish the job, but leading the Gundam are young recruits. Meanwhile, Zeon follows Daryl Lorenz piloting the new Psycho Zaku.

And with a sneak attack, they are able to decimate the Federation.  With only a few survivors of the Federation, what happens when appen’s when Earth Federation’s Moore Brotherhood enters a Zeon ship?

Also, the Federation’s Io Fleming and his Gundam takes on Zeon’s Daryl Lorenz and his new Psycho Zaku.

What will be the outcome of this major battle in the Thunderbolt Sector?


When it comes to the Universal Century Gundam stories, they are my favorite. And while many of us have been entertained by stories involving Amuro Ray, there have been a variety of stories that have taken place in the Universal Century, some more deeper than the others and others just focusing on the action.

“Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt” may seem like the latter because of the action focusing on Earth Federation vs. the Principality of Zeon but once the manga goes into character development, the storyline focuses on how people are growing tired of the war. People sick of seeing deaths of friends and loved ones.

Io Fleming is a man born from a wealthy family and he and his friends are thrusted into war. Fleming is secretly dating Captain Claudia Peer, a captain who is sick and tired of war and that the Earth Federation keeps sending teenage pilots as reinforcements and always depressed and tense when Fleming, the Beehive’s best pilot goes to fight against the Principality of Zeon. Along with Fleming and another childhood friend, engineer Cornelius Kaka, all three were born in privilege and are now assigned to the Beehive.

Fleming is an excellent pilot and surprises the Principality of Zeon when he shows up and takes many of them out with his Gundam and always playing his jazz music through a pilot radio station.

Meanwhile, on the opposite end are the Living Dead Division of the Principality of Zeon. A group that is put together of people who have been significantly injured or maimed and are still fighting with prosthetics.

Their best fighter, Zeon Chief Petty Officer Daryl Lorenz, is an excellent sniper and wants revenge against Fleming for killing his teammates. He has lost his legs in battle and carries a retro-style radio that he listens to in battle.

We see the other side as those who feel they are wronged and want revenge against the Earth Federation for the death of their loved ones.

Zeon scientist Karla Mitchum is responsible for giving the soldiers prosthetics but when her loved one is killed, she wants Daryl to rid of the Earth Federation, especially the man responsible, Io Fleming.

But we see how the grass is definitely not greener on the other side and how difficult life was for children growing up in the Principality of Zeon and in order to make sure their families were taken care of, they had to join the military at a young age.

So, the third volume of “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt” gives us a look as both sides and both were decimated by each other.    People injured and not sure if they will live, but with this latest battle, Zeon has the edge as they managed to do a sneak attack to decimate the Federation.

As only a few of Earth Federation’s Moore Brotherhood around to infiltrate the Zeon ship, what will they find?

Meanwhile, another clash between the elite Io Fleming and his Gundam and Daryl Lorenz and his Psycho Zaku.  But who will have the edge in this latest battle?

The character designs, artwork and storyline by Yasuo Ohtagaki are wonderful and I really like how the emotion of the characters are depicted. The story has been action-driven, detail of the artwork has been excellent and for mecha fans, “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt” vol. 3 gives readers a gritty, emotional and darker side of the war.

After this volume, nothing will ever be the same between the Federation and the Zeon in the Thunderbolt sector.

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