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Tsubasa the Movie/xxxHolic the Movie – Clamp Double Feature (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Featuring a CLAMP double feature of two films with a connected storyline for “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” and “xxxHolic”.  Featuring a good amount of special features and both sporting vibrant visuals and solid lossless audio in English and Japanese.  If you are a CLAMP fan or a fan of the television series, definitely give this release a chance!

 

Image courtesy of © FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Tsubasa the Movie/xxxHolic the Movie – Clamp Double Feature

 

DURATION: (Tsubasa the Movie) 35 Minutes, (xxxHolic the Movie) 60 Minutes

 

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

 

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: 13+

 

Release Date: May 18, 2010

 

 

Tsubasa the Movie: The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom

Originally created by CLAMP

Directed by Itsuro Kawasaki

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design by Yoko Kikuchi

Background Design by Yasunori Miyazawa

Anime Production: Production I.G.

xxxHolic the Movie: A Midsummer’s Night Dream

Originally created by CLAMP

Directed by Tsutomu Mizushima

Screenplay by Jun’Ichi Fujisaku, Yoshiki Sakurai

Storyboard by Tsutomu Mizushima

Music by Tsuneyoshi Saito

Character Design by Kazuchika Kise

Art Director: Shuichi Hirata

Background Art by Yuuko Sugiyama

Anime Production: Production I.G.

 

Tsubasa the Movie: The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom – Featuring the following voice talent:

Daisuke Namikawa/Vic Mignona as Fay D. Flourite

Mika Kikuchi/Carrie Savage as Mokona

Miyu Irino/Jason Liebrecht as Syaoran

Tetsu Inada/Chris Sabat as Kurogane

Yui Makino/Monica Rial as Sakura

Kouki Miyata as Yukito

Maaya Sakamoto/Amber Cotton as Tomoyo

xxxHolic the Movie: A Midsummer’s Night Dream – Featuring the following voice talent:

Jun Fukuyama/Todd Haberkorn as Kimihiro Watanuki

Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Yuuko Ichihara

Kazuya Nakai/J. Michael Tatum as Shizuka Doumeki

Shizuka Itou as Himawari Kunogi

Hisayo Mochizuki/Brina Palencia as Moro

Kazuko Kojima/Leah Clark as Maru

Mika Kikuchi/Carrie Savage as Mokona

This two-disc double feature contains both the Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE movie and the xxxHolic movie!

From the sweeping universe of CLAMP, two journeys run parallel yet intersect. As two souls seek the mystery of truth, worlds collide where the Dimensional Witch waits. There is no coincidence, only the inevitable…

The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom
Our intrepid adventurers have once again encountered a people oppressed, this time landing in a virtual paradise trembling on the very edge of existence. A princess silenced, but not into submission. An evil king who seeks an end to light and happiness. Only the brave of heart will prevail, rescuing the kingdom from darkness eternal…

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Yuko drags her pawns along, invited to a mysterious auction at an intriguing mansion. There, confronted by greed, vanity, and pride, they will navigate through rooms and passages that twist like the souls of holics, the mongers of material satisfaction. As the other guests disappear one by one, the puzzle must be pieced together before they become part of the collection, too.

CLAMP, the all female Japanese mangaka group are known for their manga work such as “RG Veda”, “X”, “Magic Knight Rayearth”, “Cardcaptor Sakura”, “Angelic Layer”, “Chobits” and also “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” and “xxxHolic”.

With the popularity of both anime TV series adaptations of “Tsubasa” and “xxxHolic”, a double feature of both films was released to theaters in Japan back in 2005 and with the release of the “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” on Blu-ray by FUNimation Entertainment, what best than to release the double feature on Blu-ray.

The fantasy shonen manga known as “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” by the well-known mangaka group CLAMP (“X”, “xxxHolic”, “Cardcaptor Sakura”, “Angelic Layer”, “Chobits”) was created in 2003 and has been featured on Kodansha’s Weekly Shonen through October 2009.  In 2005, a 52-episode anime series aired through 2006 and included five OVA’s released between 2007-2009.  The series was featured on FUNimation Entertainment’s “Funimation Channel” in 2008 and had been released on DVD previously in the US back in 2007.

“Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” is about a young man named Syaoran who returns home and meets up with his friend Sakura (who really likes him).  She has wanted to confess her love to him but due to circumstances, she has to go back to the castle.  While Syaoran goes back to the ruins, he sees Sakura who seems to be levitated in light.  As he goes to rescue her, small feathers of light disappear and Sakura is left unconscious.

In order to save Sakura, Syaoran along with a unconscious Sakura, a magician named Fay D. Flourite and a ninja named Kurogane are transported to present day Japan in which they come in contact with a dimension witch (Yuuko Ichihara of the CLAMP anime series “xxxHOLIC”).  Yuuko explains that they were brought together for a reason and that in order to get home, they would need to travel to various alternate universes to find their way back home.  And in each universe, Syaoran must find these feathers which represents Sakura’s memories and are now scattered in various alternate universes, he along with his two compatriots must travel these alternate universes but must find these feathers and return them back to Sakura. After finding each feather(s) for that universe, they will then go to another universe where things are different than the last.

But in order to begin their adventure for Syaoran to revive Sakura and for each of them to return back home, Yuuko must collect payment and that is for each of them to give up something precious.  Syaoran makes the biggest sacrifice in which if he is able to revive Sakura, she will no longer have any memory of Syaoran.  So, the four embark on their trip to various worlds where familiar faces from their own world are different people from different backgrounds and occupations.

For “Tsubasa the Movie: The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom”, the 30-minute animated film features the four main protagonist and Mokona in another land.  Syaoran and Sakura are separated away from Fay and Kurogane.  As for Fay and Kurogane, they are encountered by the king’s soldiers who are wondering how they were able to enter their land (which is protected by a magical birdcage, no one can get in or out).  Immediately, a fight ensues and both men are imprisoned in bird cages.

Meanwhile, Syaoran and Sakura meet Princess Tomoyo who lost her voice when her uncle, the current king took it away from her.  He is now after her ring which will give him the full power to enclose their land permanently and will be in complete control of the kingdom with his magical power.  With the King having so much power, can Syaoran and friends defeat the king and find the feather for Sakura’s memories?

In 2003, “xxxHolic” charged onto the Seinen manga scene on Weekly Young Magazine and is still ongoing today.  The manga which is originally created by the popular mangaka group known as CLAMP (Nanase Ohkawa, Mokona, Tsubaki Nekoi and Satsuki Igarashi) who have created series such as “X”, “Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle”, “Angelic Layer”, “Magic Knight Rayearth”, “Chobits” and many other titles.

“xxxHolic” was first released as a film titled “xxxHolic: A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 2005.  A 24-episode television series followed in 2006 in Japan and a seconds season featuring 13-episodes thereafter.   “xxxHolic” made its North American debut with the first season airing on the FUNimation Channel in January 2009.  Now all episodes of the first season are collected in a four DVD complete series and is currently available now.

The series is known for its unique character designs in which the hands, arms, legs and bodies of the main characters are quite long.  The series was directed by Tsutomu Mizushima (director of anime such as “Genshiken”, “Kujibiki Unbalance” and various “Crayon Shin-Chan” films) and character designs by Kazuchika Kise (who has worked on anime such as the “Patlabor” and “Ghost in the Shell” films).

The anime revolves around the character Kimihiro Watanuki.  A teenager who attends school and is somewhat a student with not many friends and also a lone child (his parents are no longer living).   He’s also a great cook but his emotions are always high and tends to over-react at things.

Ever since he was younger, he has attracted ghosts (because of his blood) who have been after him and it’s come to the point that it has gotten worse.  One day while escaping from the ghosts, he learns that home/shop somehow banished the monsters.  Drawn to come inside the home, Watanuki meets the owner Yuuko Ichihara.

Yuuko is a mysterious woman who offers to stop the ghosts from following Watanuki but in return, she will need payment.  Watanuki agrees and now his bounded by an agreement to cook for Yuuko everyday.

Watanuki is somewhat bound by his rival, Shizuka Doumeki.  The cool archer who is calm and sarcastic.  Having grown up in a Shinto shrine, Domeki has the ability to exorcise ghosts.  So, Watanuki can see them and attracts them, while Doumeki is unable to see them but his presence scares or exorcises them.

So, in a way, the partnership is a must for both individuals and despite how many times Domeki saves Watanuki, because Watanuki is hard headed and can’t stand Doumeki, he knows that he needs Doumeki.

And as Yuko takes on various cases in which people make their wish, she grants them but at times uses Watanuki and Domeki to work on each case.

For “xxxHolic the Movie: A Midnight Summer’s Dream”, a young woman comes to the mansion and asks Yuko if she can make her wish come true.  Yuko agrees and she is joined by Watanuki, Domeki and Mokona as they head to a mansion in which collector’s are getting together to talk about their impressive collections.

But through their conversations, Watanuki senses something sick among each of the collector’s and as he goes to look for a bathroom to throw up, he finds a trap room which takes him to a hidden section in the house where he encounters a house spirit who is interested in keeping Yuko as part of his collection.

Both films has a special connection to each other which is fully explained towards the end of both films.

VIDEO:

“Tsubasa the Movie” and “xxxHollic the Movie” are presented in 1080p High Definition.  It’s important to note that these two films were released in 2005 and with that being said, I know there are other reviewers who have said these films were both upscaled.  Truthfully, if they were upscaled, then similar to “Fullmetal Panic: The Second Raid” (from FUNimation which looks great despite being an upscale), I’m inclined to say that this film looks great.

Both films are quite vibrant in colors and actually look very beautiful in HD.  Unlike the TV series for “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” on Blu-ray in which I had problems with the aliasing, compression artifacts and discolorization problems but because this not a TV series but a film, I was expecting for much improved video quality over the TV series and sure enough, the movie looks great.  Again, colors are vibrant and the artistic backgrounds for the film look wonderful.

The same that can be said about “xxxHolic the Movie: A Midnight Summer’s Dream”.  I felt the colors were vibrant and the artistic backgrounds for the film look fantastic!

The details of the backgrounds for “xxxHolic the Movie” is quite amazing at times.  A lot of detail when it comes to the backgrounds while on the characters, I did notice some slight edge enhancement but once again, nothing like the TV series on Blu-ray.  And this is a major compliment as both series, especially “xxxHolic” is not known for its detail, especially for its characters.  And of course, I’m sure there are some who will take issue of the body size proportions of the “xxxHolic” characters as their neck, arms and legs are larger in proportion compared to other anime series.  But I’ve always saw that as designs quite unique to the CLAMP series.

Overall, if this film truly is an upscale (and the fact that these two films were released in 2005 and the fact that both films were not released via Blu-ray in Japan leads me to believe this release is an upscale) and despite it being upscaled, the colors and background art for both films are wonderful.

It’s not a picture perfect release as you can see ghosting near the edges of the characters, if you look very close but by no means is this going to hamper your enjoyment of both films.  Both CLAMP TV series were never known for their detail to begin with and CLAMP releases tend to be story-driven, but nevertheless, both films looked very good on Blu-ray.  Again, not perfect but very good for an upscaled Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Both “Tsubasa the Movie: The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom” and “xxxHolic the Movie: A Midnight Summer’s Dream” features an English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD and a Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack.  And I have to say that both soundtracks were fantastic.  During the action sequences of the film, there is very good use of the surround channels and also a bit of LFE which I noticed more for “xxxHolic the Movie”.

For the most part, dialogue is understandable and music is crystal clear on both films.  But I was quite pleased to find out that FUNimation did include a lossless Japanese soundtrack with this release.  I also have to add that the music for both film are wonderful!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tsubasa the Movie: The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom” comes with the following special features:

  • 2005 Premiere in Ikebukuro – (8:15) Featuring the main seiyuu cast for both films as they introduce themselves to the viewers at the premiere in Ikebukuro and also answering questions from the host.
  • 2005 Movie Event in Shibuya – Featuring a special screening at Tower Records in Shibuya.  Featuring a music performance by Kinya singing the theme song “Aerial” and guests Yui Makino (voice actress of Sakura) and Miyu Irino (voice of Syaoran) and a video message from music artist Suga Shikao who did the theme song  for “xxxHolic the movie”.
  • Recording Session Montage – (1:59) A brief music  montage with the seiyuu at work and recording for the film.
  • Japanese Staff and Cast Commentary – (35:47) Featuring picture-in-picture audio commentary by Mika Kikuchi (Mokona), Yui Makino (voice actress of Sakura) and Miyu Irino (voice of Syaoran) plus producer Iwasaki from Shochiku.  The producer talksa bout how they made certain animation for the film and the cast being impressed by the final cut of the film.  A fun, upbeat commentary.
  • Additional Movie Event Coverage – (:40) Featuring music artist Kinya commenting about CLAMP’s work.
  • Production Artwork – (6:14) Featuring a music montage with the character designs and sketches for the film.
  • Background Slides – (1:44) Featuring a music montage of the beautiful concept and background art for the film.
  • Origin of Birdcage Kingdom – (1:46) Featuring a music montage about the origin of Birdcage Kingdom (featuring art and the story in Japanese with English subtitles).
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers.

“xxxHolic the Movie: A Midnight Summer’s Dream” comes with the following special features:

  • Opening Day at Shinjuku Cinema Milano – (8:11) Featuring the seiyuu cast and directors Mizushima Tsutomu and Kawasaki Itsuro at the opening day of the film and meeting with the audience including introductions and Q&A interviews.
  • Recording Session Montage – (1:15) Featuring a music montage of the seiyuu recording their character voices for the film.
  • Japanese Staff and Cast Commentary – (58:08) Featuring audio commentary by Sayaka Ohara (Yuko), Jun Fukuyama (Watanuki), Kazuya Nakai (Domeki) and Shochiku producer Iwasaki.  Featuring a picture-in-picture audio commentary.  An upbeat and fun commentary as the cast discuss how impressed they were with the artistic backgrounds for the film.
  • Character Design Slides – (3:05) Featuring a musical montage with the character design and sketches.
  • Background Plates – (2:10) Featuring a music montage with the artistic backgrounds and 3D renders.
  • Original Trailers – (2:33) Featuring three Japanese theatrical trailers for “xxxHolic the Movie” (with English subtitles).
  • FUnimation Trailers – Featuring the trailers for upcoming FUNimation releases.

Fans of both television series can expect to enjoy this double feature Blu-ray release.  Although, “Tsubasa the Movie” is short at 35 minutes, fortunately “xxxHolic the Movie” is about an hour long and also both films include a good amount of special features especially those who want to know more about the promotion of the film in Japan (which are features that I definitely enjoyed).

With many anime films that are based on the their anime TV series counterpart having nothing to do with the series storyline, fortunately these two films can be seen as an extra episode to the television series and also to establish that both series do have a connection with each other.  And most of all, these are two films that have much better picture quality compared to its TV series counterpart and as much as I have griped about “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” Season 1 on Blu-ray, I have no major qualms about this double feature Blu-ray release.

Overall, if you are a CLAMP fan and a big fan of “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” and “xxxHolic”, especially if you have purchased “Tsubasa” on Blu-ray already, you’re definitely going to want this double feature release for your anime on Blu-ray collection!

Definitely recommended!

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Quite Addictive!  CLAMP’s “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” is one of the better anime series available on Blu-ray.  It has all the elements of fantasy, adventure, action, science fiction incorporated to its storyline and the characters are just  fun to watch.  Definitely an anime series worth owning on Blu-ray!

Images courtesy of  © 2008 CLAMP/KODANSHA/NHK-NEP.  All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One

DURATION: 26 Episodes (640 Minutes)

 

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 16×9, Dolby True HD English 5.1 and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, Subtitles: English

 

RATED: TV PG

 

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

 

RELEASE DATE: November 17, 2009

 

Originally Created by CLAMP

Directed by Koichi Moshimo

Screenplay by Hiroyuki Kawasaki

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Character Design by Minako Shiba

Art Director: Shin Watanabe

Sound Director: Toru Nakano

Executive Producer: Hisako Matsumoto

Anime Production by Bee Train

 

 

Featuring the voices of:

Daisuke Namikawa/Vic Mignona as Fay D. Flourite

Mika Kikuchi/Carrie Savage as Mokona

Miyu Irino/Jason Liebrecht as Syaoran

Tetsu Inada/Chris Sabat as Kurogane

Yui Makino/Monica Rial as Sakura

Kouki Miyata as Yukito

Maaya Sakamoto/Amber Cotton as Tomoyo

Shinichiro Miki as Touya

Colleen Clinkenbeard as Yuko Ichihara

J. Michael Tatum as Seishiro Sakurazaka

A true and noble heart holds much power, stronger than the hardest fist and mightier than the most potent magic. Four disparate travelers begin an epic journey; their goals different, their destiny the same. Along the way, the past will meet the future in the present. Of all the paths of every life, mingling in the dimension between dimensions where a foe has the face of an ally, and an ally the face of a monster.

At the center of this heroic undertaking, Syaoran: a young man called upon to save his fated, the princess Sakura. Her memory has been shattered, the very essence of her soul sent adrift across the universe. Feather’s float down on strange lands, torn asunder if only to prove the power of love.

With fellow travelers Kurogane and Fai, a warrior and a wizard, an epic quest begins. One of danger and mystery… The possibilities are endless.

 

The fantasy shonen manga known as “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” by the well-known mangaka group CLAMP (“X”, “xxxHolic”, “Cardcaptor Sakura”, “Angelic Layer”, “Chobits”) was created in 2003 and has been featured on Kodansha’s Weekly Shonen through October 2009.  In 2005, a 52-episode anime series aired through 2006 and included five OVA’s released between 2007-2009.

The series was featured on FUNimation Entertainment’s “Funimation Channel” in 2008 and had been released on DVD previously in the US back in 2007.   Now, the popular series receives its High Definition treatment with the first season (26 episodes) released on Blu-ray in Nov. 2009.

The series is directed by Koichi Mashimo (“Sorcerer Hunters”, “.Hack” series, “”Dirty Pair: Project Eden”, “Noir”) and features a screenplay by Hiroyuki Kawasaki (“Irresponsible Captain Tylor”, “Martian Successor Nadesico”, “Sorcerer Hunters”, “Sakura Wars”, “Tekkaman Blade”).  Music for the series is courtesy of Yuki Kajiura (“Mobile Suit Gundam Seed”, “.Hack” series”, “My-HIME”, “Madlax”), character designs by Minako Shiba (“.Hack” series, “Noir”, “Kuroshitsuji”, “Darker than Black”) and art direction by Shin Watanabe (“Arc the Lad”, “Batman: Gotham Knight”, “Diamond Daydreams”).

“Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” is about a young man named Syaoran who returns home and meets up with his friend Sakura (who really likes him).  She has wanted to confess her love to him but due to circumstances, she has to go back to the castle.  While Syaoran goes back to the ruins, he sees Sakura who seems to be levitated in light.  As he goes to rescue her, small feathers of light disappear and Sakura is left unconscious.

In order to save Sakura, Syaoran along with a unconscious Sakura, a magician named Fay D. Flourite and a ninja named Kurogane are transported to present day Japan in which they come in contact with a dimension witch (Yuuko Ichihara of the CLAMP anime series “xxxHOLIC”).  Yuuko explains that they were brought together for a reason and that in order to get home, they would need to travel to various alternate universes to find their way back home.  And in each universe, Syaoran must find these feathers which represents Sakura’s memories and are now scattered in various alternate universes, he along with his two compatriots must travel these alternate universes but must find these feathers and return them back to Sakura. After finding each feather(s) for that universe, they will then go to another universe where things are different than the last.

But in order to begin their adventure for Syaoran to revive Sakura and for each of them to return back home, Yuuko must collect payment and that is for each of them to give up something precious.  Syaoran makes the biggest sacrifice in which if he is able to revive Sakura, she will no longer have any memory of Syaoran.  So, the four embark on their trip to various worlds where familiar faces from their own world are different people from different backgrounds and occupations.

Meanwhile, as Syaoran and the others try to find the feathers, an enemy rival named Fei Wang Reed has interest in obtaining the feathers.  He will kill anyone and anybody to obtain Sakura’s feathers.

So, the first season is race to get the feather of Sakura’s memories but at the same time, confronting challenges of powerful enemies and rivals from various universes.  Will Syaoran, Fay and Kurogane survive their adventure?

The main characters of “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” are:

  • Syaoran – The main protagonist from the Kingdom of Clow who likes a girl named Sakura.  But when Sakura’s memories are lost, he has made it his mission to find each feather of her memory and bring her back to life, even if she will no longer remember him.  Syaoran is an aspiring archaeologist and in each universe, seems to have developed certain supernatural or fighting skills.
  • Sakura – The princess of Kingdom Clow who has always loved Syaoran.  On the day she was to tell him that she loves him, she loses all her memories and magical powers and left unconscious.  Only when Syaoran brings back a feather of memories and returns it back to her does she start to get better little at a time.
  • Fay D. Flourite – A  magician from the country of Selece.  He has sealed King Ashura and has run away from Selece, never wanting to return back home.  He gladly accepts traveling with Syaoran and Kurogane but unlike them, he has no intention of going back home.  He gives up his treasured item, a tattoo as payment to Yuuko.
  • Kurogane - A ninja who is always fighting and shows no mercy.   And because of this, Tomoyo sends Kurogane (without his approval) to where Syaoran and Fay.  But also cursing him  and that if he kills anyone, his strength will decrease.  Tomoyo’s goal is for Kurogane to learn what true strength is and let him know that it is not about his sword or killing people that brings strength.
  • Mokona Modoki - Two bunny-like creatures that are given to the three by Yuuko Ichihara.  The white creature allows for teleportation to the alternate universes, while the black creature allows the three to keep in direct contact with Yuuko.  But both can also sense Sakura’s feathers of memories.

“Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” features the following 26-episodes on 3 Blu-ray discs:

Disc 1:

  • EPISODE 1: Destinies Converge – Something has gone wrong in the Kingdom of Clow, leaving Sakura unconscious.
  • EPISODE 2: The Power to Fight – Syaoran (with Sakura), Fay and Kurogane are whisked to a new world.  What will be their mission?
  • EPISODE 3: Sword of Demon Destruction – The first alternative universe places Syaoran and the group in the Hansin Republic where people have their own powers.
  • EPISODE 4: Innocent Wandering – Sakura has gone missing.  Will Syaoran be able to find her?
  • EPISODE 5: The Battle of the Mage – The gang leader Shogo challenges Syaoran in a Kudan battle.
  • EPISODE 6: Unshed Tears – The fight between Syaoran and Shogo begins.
  • EPISODE 7: The Broken Memento – The group travel to their next world, the Koryo Country and learn from Chun Hyang of an evil group known as Ryanban.
  • EPISODE 8: God’s Beloved Daughter – Sakura is drawn to the local castle for some reason.
  • EPISODE 9: Princess of Shadows – The gang encounter the Ryanban and learn about their famous weapon.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 10: Mirror of Separation – Syaoran vs. the Ryanban leader’s son.
  • EPISODE 11: The Chosen Tomorrow – The Ryanban takes control of the villagers.
  • EPISODE 12: A Warm Smile – The group are whisked into another world that consists only of a large lake.
  • EPISODE 13: Advocate of Illusions – The group visit a new world, the Jade Country in which the princess is supposedly has a magical feather.
  • EPISODE 14: Truth in History – A ghost princess visits Sakura.
  • EPISODE 15: A Heart That Believes – Sakura tries to rescue children from the castle with the help from the ghost princess.
  • EPISODE 16: Strength in Kindness – The group now goes to the Storm Country in which a fight tournament is taking place.
  • EPISODE 17: Demon Hunters – The group reach Oto Country in which they are attacked by oni.
  • EPISODE 18: Cats and Dogs – Fay and Kurogane learn a secret of Syaoran.

DISC 3:

  • EPISODE 19: Resolution to Live – Syaoran wants to learn how to use a sword and asks Kurogane to teach him.
  • EPISODE 20: The Afternoon Piano – Kurogane trains Syaoran on how to use a sword.
  • EPISODE 21: The Demon’s True Face – The gang encounters the oni Seishiro (from the CLAMP anime/manga series “Tokyo Babylon”).
  • EPISODE 22: Indelible Memory – Syaoran and the group try to protect Seishiro from the town hall.
  • EPISODE 23: The Fading Life – Seishiro starts to attack Syaoran and the others.
  • EPISODE 24: Blade of a Desperate Fight – The group learn that they are in a virtual reality world leading to a battle between Kurogane and Seishiro.
  • EPISODE 25: The Ultimate Game – The battle between the Oni heats up, meanwhile Syaoran tries to get the feather from Seishiro.
  • EPISODE 26: The Last Wish – The group end up in a new world, Tsarastora County where the group learns that if they can reach to the top of a blessed temple, the would be granted a wish.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16×9).  So, far with some of the upconverted anime series from FUNimation Entertainment really looking gorgeous on Blu-ray, “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” has its moments of vibrancy and sharpness with beautiful, colorful backgrounds and the noticeable CLAMP character designs but on Blu-ray, you also see compression artifacting.  There are times where you can see the artifacts quite clearly on a larger television set (I have a 52″, so it really stood out and I would imagine those with larger screens will also see it become more prevalent).  It’s not too distracting as it doesn’t happen throughout the whole episode but you do notice it from time to time.  And in terms of animation, when it comes to CLAMP animated series, there is always less emphasis on the actual look (in fact, one thing you’ll notice with certain characters in “Tsubasa” are similar to “xxxHolic” with characters sporting the long arms, long bodies, long legs, etc.) but more emphasis on the storyline and how the character design and artistic background compliments it.   So, PQ wise, “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” is not going to be the greatest look anime series on Blu-ray but it compliments CLAMP’s storytelling quite nicely.

But where the series does shine is its immersive soundtrack.  One thing you will notice about “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” from the first episode is how much utilization there is for the surround channels of the series.  You literally hear audio all around you and the series during its action sequences, really take over the soundscape all around you.  But all is not perfect.  Front channel music and surround sound good…but it’s almost a similar to the “Grease” effect (for those who have the Blu-ray of the movie “Grease”) where the front channels overpower the center channel.  The sound effects and music are much louder than the spoken dialogue when your volume is low that the only way to get things to sound right is to increase the volume of your receiver or by increasing your center channel volume. Otherwise, once fixed…you realize that “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” does sound awesome and it’s great to have an anime series taking advantage of actions sequences involving explosions and various sound effects.  And as always, the quality of the English dub courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment is well-done with this series.

For those who were hoping for a lossless Japanese audio soundtrack, “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” is presented in Dolby Digital Japanese 2.0 only.  For those who have a modern home theater receiver, this can be easily remedied by selecting stereo on all channels but I can understand for hardcore anime fans who prefer the Japanese dialogue wanting lossless Japanese audio.

Subtitles are only in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” comes with the following special features:

  • Cast Auditions – The cast auditions (audio only)  for those who provided the English dub for the characters Syaoran, Sakura, Kurogane, Fai, Mokona and Yuko.
  • Faces in the Crowd – A text-based character bio.  Featuring a variety of characters that have appeared in other CLAMP manga/anime series.
  • Character Guide – A text based bio for the main characters of “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One”.
  • World Guide – A text based guide to the various worlds featured in the anime series.
  • Textless Theme Songs – Textless opening theme song “Blaze” and closing theme song “Loop”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers.

Let me first say that I have been a big fan of CLAMP-related anime and manga series.  When “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE” was originally released, I felt that the appearances of characters from various CLAMP series was just awesome.

With that being said, I’ve always felt that CLAMP series although known for their character designs, the overall enjoyment of their work is how well written the stories are and how much they focus on character development.  So, with that being said, for those looking for a series that features a well-written storyline that is quite addictive, you’re going to enjoy “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE”.

But those who are looking for the best looking anime on Blu-ray, you may find yourself disappointed that the upconverted anime series has its share of compression artifacts from time to time and is not exactly an anime series that is known to showcase picture-quality via anime on HD especially when compared to other previous upconverted television  anime series on Blu-ray from FUNimation Entertainment such as “Full Metal Panic! – The Second Raid” and even “Burst Angel – The Complete Series”.   Also, I can see those who want lossless Japanese audio being disappointed that there is only a 2.0 Japanese audio track and last, the special features are mainly text-based special features with no major featurettes.

Personally, I feel that those who want an entertaining anime series will enjoy “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE”.  It’s too good of a series to pass up on Blu-ray, especially with its enjoyable and addictive storyline.  Especially how the series features many characters (and alternate versions of them) plus, you also will see CLAMP cameos of characters from other anime/manga series.  Definite cool!  And for those who do enjoy English dubs, you will enjoy the lossless audio as surround channels are well utilized and overall, a pretty solid soundtrack during its action sequences (despite the front channels slightly overpowering the center channel during a lower volume setting).

I do feel that among the current offering on Blu-ray in terms of anime television series, “Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Season One” is definitely one of the better series out there.  It has all the elements of fantasy, adventure, action, science fiction incorporated to its storyline and the characters which are fun to watch.  Definitely a series worth owning on Blu-ray!

xxxHolic – The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

August 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

“Hauntingly cool!  Featuring unique character designs and a fresh, supernatural storyline with each episode. ‘xxxHolic’ is unique, dark, sexy and fun!  Definitely a series worth recommending!”

 

DVD TITLE: xxxHolic – The Complete Series

DURATION: 24 Episodes on 4 DVD’s (600 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: July 28, 2009

Originally created by CLAMP

Directed by Tsutomu Mizushima

Series Composition by Ageha Ohkawa and Michiko Yokote

Music by S.E.N.S.

Character Designs by Kazuchika Kise

Art Director: Hiromasa Ogura

Animation Production by Production I.G.

Featuring the following voice talent:

Jun Fukuyama/Todd Haberkorn as Kimihiro Watanuki

Sayaka Ohara/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Yuuko Ichihara

Kazuya Nakai/J. Michael Tatum as Shizuka Doumeki

Shizuka Itou as Himawari Kunogi

Hisayo Mochizuki/Brina Palencia as Moro

Kazuko Kojima/Leah Clark as Maru

Mika Kikuchi/Carrie Savage as Mokona

There is no such thing as coincidence, there is only the inevitable…

Watanuki has been haunted by dark spirits his entire life, a curse flowing through his bloodline preventing peace.  When his incessant demons drag him to the ornate door of the Dimensional Witch Yuko, he meets a mystical woman of insight and luxury, quick to help those in a bind… For a fee!  One might very well end up paying with their soul!  To be free of his visions, Watanuki will work in her shop of dreams and wishes.  There is always a price to pay…

In 2003, “xxxHolic” charged onto the Seinen manga scene on Weekly Young Magazine and is still ongoing today.  The manga which is originally created by the popular mangaka group known as CLAMP (Nanase Ohkawa, Mokona, Tsubaki Nekoi and Satsuki Igarashi) who have created series such as “X”, “Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle”, “Angelic Layer”, “Magic Knight Rayearth”, “Chobits” and many other titles.

“xxxHolic” was first released as a film titled “xxxHolic: A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 2005.  A 24-episode television series followed in 2006 in Japan and a seconds season featuring 13-episodes thereafter.   “xxxHolic” made its North American debut with the first season airing on the FUNimation Channel in January 2009.  Now all episodes of the first season are collected in a four DVD complete series and is currently available now.

The series is known for its unique character designs in which the hands, arms, legs and bodies of the main characters are quite long.  The series was directed by Tsutomu Mizushima (director of anime such as “Genshiken”, “Kujibiki Unbalance” and various “Crayon Shin-Chan” films) and character designs by Kazuchika Kise (who has worked on anime such as the “Patlabor” and “Ghost in the Shell” films).

The anime revolves around the character Kimihiro Watanuki.  A teenager who attends school and is somewhat a student with not many friends and also a lone child (his parents are no longer living).   He’s also a great cook but his emotions are always high and tends to over-react at things.

Ever since he was younger, he has attracted ghosts (because of his blood) who have been after him and it’s come to the point that it has gotten worse.  One day while escaping from the ghosts, he learns that home/shop somehow banished the monsters.  Drawn to come inside the home, Watanuki meets the owner Yuuko Ichihara.

Yuuko is a mysterious woman who offers to stop the ghosts from following Watanuki but in return, she will need payment.  Watanuki agrees and now his bounded by an agreement to cook for Yuuko everyday.

Watanuki is somewhat bound by his rival, Shizuka Doumeki.  The cool archer who is calm and sarcastic.  Having grown up in a Shinto shrine, Domeki has the ability to exorcise ghosts.  So, Watanuki can see them and attracts them, while Doumeki is unable to see them but his presence scares or exorcises them.

So, in a way, the partnership is a must for both individuals and despite how many times Domeki saves Watanuki, because Watanuki is hard headed and can’t stand Doumeki, he knows that he needs Doumeki.

Part of their rivalry is due to the fact that Watanuki is in love with his classmate Himawari Kunogi.   She shows compassion to both Watanuki and Doumeki.  And each time Watanuki tries to get closer to her by cooking her a meal or trying to take her out to a restaurant, Doumeki is always there and this frustrates Watanuki.

Other characters in the series are twin female artificial beings known as Maru and Moro that work at Yuuko’s shop (and are kept alive if they stay within the gates of the shop) and are cheerful servants willing to be there for both Yuuko and help out Watanuki.  Also, featured is Mokona.  A black rabit looking creature that talks and often makes fun of Watanuki.

In the manga series, “xxxHolic” is tied with two CLAMP manga series “Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle” and “Cardcaptor Sakura” but due to complicated licensing in Japan, references were removed.  But for the most part, the anime series does follow the manga series.

Here is an spoiler-less summary of what is included on the complete set:

DISC 1

  • EPISODE 1: The Inevitable - Watanuki meets Yuuko for the first time and a deal is made.
  • EPISODE 2: Falsehood – A Client has a problem with her finger. Meanwhile, we are introduced to both Doumeki and Himawari.
  • EPISODE 3: Angel – Watanuki and Doumeki must work for the first time.
  • EPISODE 4: Fortune Telling – Watanuki learns about Yuuko’s powers.
  • EPISODE 5: Game of Letters – Watanuki must help a fox family.
  • EPISODE 6: Indulgence – Yuuko and Watanuki try to help a client who is addicted to the Internet

DISC 2

  • EPISODE 7: Hydrangea – A rain sprite  named Ame-warashi seeks Yuuko’s help.
  • EPISODE 8: Contract – A teacher at Watanuki’s school borrows an item from Yuuko’s shop but is warned to not open it.  But of course, she does…
  • EPISODE 9: Pinky Promise – Yuuko receives a Pipe Fox as payment from Ame-warashi which seems to bond with Watanuki.
  • EPISODE 10: Lamplight – Yuuko has a scary story sleepover with Watanuki, Doumeki and Himawari.
  • EPISODE 11: Confession – A Zashiki-warashi accidentally steals Doumeki’s soul.
  • EPISODE 12: Summer Shade – The group heads out to the beach.

DISC 3

  • EPISODE 13: Transfiguration – Watanuki observes a classmate who seems to be growing wings and starting to exhibit bad behavior.
  • EPISODE 14: Seal – Watanuki and Doumeki meet twin sisters and go out on a double date.
  • EPISODE 15: Release - The second part of Watanuki and Doumeki’s double date with the twin sisters.
  • EPISODE 16: Reunion – The Pipe Fox is too big and Yuuko sends Watanuki to purify it and return him to his original state by going to the mystical mountain.
  • EPISODE 17: Self-Mutilation – Watanuki brings a woman to the shop who makes things complicated with her decisions.
  • EPISODE 18: Ground Cherry – Yuuko sends Watanuki and Doumeki on a mission to carry a ground cherry together.

DISC 4

  • EPISODE 19: Unreasonable – Watanuki and friends along with Zashiki-warashi and Ame-warashi have a competition with Yuuko in a snowball fight.
  • EPISODE 20: Atonement – A customer goes to Yuuko to dispose of a photograph.
  • EPISODE 21: Nail Clippers – Watanuki doesn’t believe in superstitions and Yuuko tries to teach him a lesson that there are meanings to superstitions.
  • EPISODE 22: Temptation - Watanuki meets a woman who is lonely because she lost her son and both bond as the woman reminds him of his parents.
  • EPISODE 23: Choice – The second part of the last episode, Watanuki’s associate with the woman can lead to his own demise.
  • EPISODE 24: Sidestory – Reminiscence – We see a story from Watanuki’s childhood when he was chased by ghosts.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“xxxHolic” is presented in 16:9 and its an interesting kind of anime due to its unique character designs. As characters are drawn with long proportions.  If anything, the anime focuses more on the main characters and artistic backgrounds and surrounding characters are not as prominent throughout the anime.    You’ll notice that for the most part, Yuuko is seen in different fashionable outfits while Watanuki and Doumeki are typically in their school uniforms and in Watanuki’s case, his servant uniform.  But overall, it’s a style of animation that is fresh, unique and works quite well with “xxxHolic”.

It’s important to note that anime television series typically don’t have the same detail as with films or OVA’s.  For “xxxHolic”, the series is quite different with its unique character designs but also in scenes with crowds, the characters outside of the primary characters are drawn in white and a black outline.  The anime is not known for a lot of detail in fact, Doumeki is quite calm and collected, as with Yuuko but it is fun to see the overreactions from Watanuki and overall his body language.  But as for art backgrounds, some episodes that utilize multiple scene locations such as episode 14-15 in which Watanuki and Doumeki go out on a double date with twin sisters are episodes that do showcase numerous artistic backgrounds because they visit quite a number of places.

But for the most part, the animation for “xxxHolic” does not sport a lot of detail but the way the character designs are presented, it’s quite unique and makes “xxxHolic” standout from other anime series.

As for audio, you get the English dub in 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound and the Japanese in Stereo.  As I typically enjoy watching my anime in Japanese, I felt the casting for the English dub was well done.   And ended up watching the majority of the series in English but it helps that the English version was in 5.1 and sounds much better through my home theater system.  But for the most part, the anime is front and center channel driven. It’s a dialogue-driven anime and for the most part, “xxxHolic” is not an action-based anime.  But there are certain scenes that utilize the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

The special features featured on the “FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: PREMIUM OVA COLLECTION” DVD include the following:

  • Original Japanese TV commercial (with English subtitles) - (:41) The Japanese TV commercial for “Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa”.
  • Textless ending theme - (4:03) The ending theme for the anime shorts and video clips of Universal Studios Japan.  Also, optional romanized and translated subtitles for the ending theme song.
  • Trailers - Trailers for upcoming FUNimation Entertainment releases

I found “xxxHolic” to be an entertaining series.  If anything, the majority of most episodes included in the first season are self-contained episodes of Watanuki learning from Yuuko dealing with the supernatural or learning about human instinct.  With “xxxHolic” still ongoing and not yet finished, so there really isn’t an ending.   But throughout the sereis, we do see Watanuki start to grow as a person and a guy who was a loner, we see him slowly start to let people into his life and we start to see that although he looks weak, he has a strong heart and a type or persistence, positive qualities that Yuuko sees in him.

For the most part, the series could have been storylines that are full of cliches and redundant “ghost hunting” type of storylines but its not.  Each episode was quite intriguing and for the most part, quite enjoyable.  If there is one thing you can expect to see a lot of, that is a lot of humor with each episode.  For those wondering if it’s a sick or disgusting dark anime, the answer is no.  There are scenes where there is blood and some storylines that are quite dark but this is not a horror anime and nor is it scary by any means.

As mentioned, the unique character designs definitely brings a fresh look for this anime series and although not full of detail, its character designs and its storyline makes the series standout and thus, for those who want an original type of series, “xxxHolic” is that kind of anime series.

“xxxHolic” is unique, dark, sexy and fun!  Definitely a series worth recommending!

 

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