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

February 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: Terra Formars

DURATION: (Episodes 1-13) 312 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: January 23, 2018


Directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki

Series Composition: Shogo Yasukawa

Music by Shusei Murai

Originally Created by Kenichi Tachibana and Yu Sasuga

Character Design:  Masanori Shino, Satoshi Kimura

Art Director: Minami Kasuga

Anime Production: LIDEN FILMS


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hidenobu Kiuchi/Christopher Smith as Shōkichi Komachi

Kaito Ishikawa/Robbie Daymond as Marcos Eringrad Garcia

Kenn/Steve Cannon as Alex Kandori Stewart

Shizuka Itou/Eric Lindbeck as Michelle K. Davis

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Chris Niosi as Akari Hizamaru

Ai Kayano/Erica Lindbeck as Sheila Levitt

Aki Toyosaki/Erin Fitzgerald as Yaeko Yanasegawa

Akira Ishida/Todd Haberkorn as Joseph G. Newton

Ayane Sakura/Cristina Vale as Eva Frost

Chiaki Takahashi/Cherami Leigh as Kanako Sanjō

Daisuke Ono/Max Mittelman as Keiji Onizuka

Kenji Akabane/Christopher Smith as Ivan Perepelkina

Koji Yusa/Doug Erholtz as Adolf Reinhard

Kouji Ishii/Peter Lurie as Narration

Tetsuo Komura/Kyle Hebert as Liu Yiwu

Tomokazu Sugita as Ichirō Hiruma

Tooru Nara/Max Mittelman as Aleksandr Asimov

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Keith Silverstein as Shichisei Hiruma

Unshō Ishizuka/Patrick Seitz as Sylvester Asimov


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The black organism used by scientists were cockroaches.

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

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

And now the humans have become the hunted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season II: Dust Storm Dance (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The second season continues with Arslan and his companions journeys for recruiting more people to go to battle alongside with him.  Action-packed and filled with many characters, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season II: Dust Storm Dance” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Kodansha, Arslan Project Committee MBS. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season II: Dust Storm Dance

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: (Episodes 1-8) 200 Minutes

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

RATED: TV 14

COMPANY: Funimation

Release Date: November 8, 2016


Originally created by Hiromu Arakawa, Yoshiki Tanaka

Directed by Noriyuki Abe

Series Composition by Makoto Uezu

Music by Taro Iwashiro

Character Design by Kazuo Watanabe, Ushio Tazawa

Art Director: Tadashi Kudo

Chief Animation Director: Kazuo Watanabe, shingo Ogiso, Ushio Tazawa

Anime Production: Liden Films, Sanzigen Animation Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Daisuke Namikawa/Christopher Bevins as Narsus

Kenn/Jerry Jewell as Gieve

Maaya Sakamoto/Rachel Robinson as Falangies

Natsuki Hanae/Justin Briner as Elam

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Rico Fajardo as Daryun

Yūsuke Kobayashi/Aaron Dismuke as Arslan

Yuuki Kaji/Vic Mignona as Silvermask

Atsuko Tanaka as Tahamine

Hiroki Yasumoto/Jarrod Greene as Kishuard

Hiroshi Yanaka as Sām

Katsuyuki Konishi/Josh Grelle as Shapur

Kenta Miyake/Chris Ryan as Kubad

Kousuke Toriumi/Ian Sinclair as Rajendra

Manami Numakura/Jad Saxton as Alfreed

Masakazu Morita/Clifford Chapin as Xandes

Shiro Saito/Mark Stoddard as Bodan

Takayuki Sugo/Christopher R. Sabat as Andragoras III

Takehito Koyasu/Eric Vale as Giskarl

Toru Ohkawa/Kent Williams as Kharlan

Toshiharu Sakurai/Jeremy Inman as Innocentius VII

Wataru Hatano/Marcus D. Stimac as Jaswant

Yumi Uchiyama/Ryan Reynolds as Etoile


An incomparable anime epic from the original creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, Hiromu Arakawa, The Heroic Legend of Arslan brings political intrigue, thrilling action, and a colorful cast of characters together for a grand adventure filled with treachery and triumph.

As Arslan gathers forces to fight for his cause, his progress is suddenly halted by the warring Princes of the neighboring country, Sindhura. Both brothers believe they have equal claim to the throne, but only one can succeed their father. Sensing the opportunity to form a powerful alliance, Arslan’s trusted advisor, Narsus forms a plan to end the feud once and for all. But their detour in Sindhura gives Lord Silver Mask and his followers time to strengthen their own influence back in Pars. The mystery surrounding Arslan’s true parentage has loyal Parsians questioning his right to rule. Shocked by the revelation that he may be fighting for a throne that isn’t his, Arslan has to wonder: Is blood truly what makes a king? Or is the love he has for Pars and its people enough to see him through.


What happens when Arslan heads to the port city of Gilan to search for reinforcements and Narsus meets his old friend Shagad.  Is he still the same man with ideals or has he changed?

Will Arslan be able to recruit more soldiers to join him?  And what happens when Narsus may need to confront his old friend on the battlefield?

What is “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” about?

Back in 1986, author Yoshiki Tanaka would create a fantasy novel series titled “Arslan Senki” (a.k.a. “The Heroic Legend of Arslan”).

With a total of 15 novels having been published, the series would then receive a four-part OVA adaptation in the 1990’s, followed by a manga series adaptation (1991-1996), two animated film adaptations and a new manga adaptation in 2013 featuring illustrations by Hiromu Arakawa for “Bessatsu Shonen Magazine”.

In 2015, a TV series anime adaptation based on this 2013 manga aired on television and while a second season consisting of eight episodes aired in Japan in the summer of 2016. And now the second season will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The series is directed by Noriyuki Abe (“Bleach”, “Black Butler” series, “GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka”), series composition by Makoto Uezu (“Akame ga KILL!”, “Assassination Classroom”, “Yumeria”), music by Taro Iwashiro (who composed the music for the live action versions of “Azumi”, “Prince of Tennis”, “Rurouni Kenshin”), character designs by Kazuo Watanabe (“Kamen no Maid Guy”, “Oku-sama wa Joshi Kosei”, “Kamen no Maid Guy”) and Ushio Tazawa (“Senyu”) and art direction by Tadashi Kudo (“Gestalt”, “Katanagatari”, “Dokkoida?”).

The series revolves around the kind-hearted Arslan. The Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Pars, who was not originally raised in royalty and has always cared for people. And as he starts to see the world in a bad state, he wants to make a difference.

So, he takes part in the first battle against Lusitania but when King Adragoras III, Arslan’s father is killed by one of his own generals, his loyal servant Daryun rescues him from trouble and they retreat along with the Parsian army.

Wanting to make a different, Arslan and Daryun try to recruit well-known soldiers such as the retired tactician Narsus, his page Elam, the priestess Farangis, the womanizer Gieve and others to their cause.

Meanwhile a mysterious man wearing a silver mask wants nothing more but to see Arslan and his people destroyed.

Arslan manages to see the world and see how many areas use slavery and Arslan is very much into doing all he can to end slavery.  But in doing so, other countries are not so thrilled about and will fight against Arslan and his followers to make sure slavery continues.

While Arslan manages to gain more followers to fight for his cause.  But still his numbers of soldiers are not strong enough.  Can Arslan recruit more people to support him and end slavery?


VIDEO:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Very good animation during the more action intense sequences.

The anime series is colorful but features a slight softness, but that is expected with anime TV series. But overall, wonderful animation especially during the action sequences by Sanzigen Animation Studios and Liden Films.

I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. The series for the most part features crystal clear dialogue and music and there is good use of the surround channels during sequences with a lot of people, army battles and for action sequences.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season II: Dust Storm Dance” features the following special features:

  • Chapter VII Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Christopher Bevins (voice of Narsus), Aaron Dismuke (voice of young Arslan), Aaron Roberts (voice of Shagad) and Rico Fajardo (voice of Daryun).
  • Corporate Warrior Arslan – (3:11) Six short and hilarious parodies of Arslan in the corporate world.
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song

EXTRAS:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season II: Dust Storm Dance” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.


For those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series that deals with warring countries in political stryfe will find “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” to be a series worth their time.

My first brush with “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” were the old Central Park Media OVA releases back in the ’90s and to be truthful, because the English dubs were inconsistent and releases took way too long.

So, I found “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” animated TV series to be more entertaining because there is a lot of focus on character development, a lot of emphasis in the growth of the character of Arslan, not just as a fighter but also his vision of the world.

Also, another major plus is the character development on the people that surround Arslan and watching their adventures, as they are able to recruit allies and some who don’t hesitate in stabbing them in the back. But also showing us the various antagonists throughout the series and how the situations from episode to episode become more complex but also entertaining.

It has a feel of an epic series and while I only have watched the first 13 episodes, from what I have watched thus far, I’m really enjoying this series!

Are there any caveats? I think for those who don’t like series with too many characters or series that are quite long, may find “The Heroic Legend of Arlsan”. These episodes are continuing and there are two seasons but not as long as series such as “One Piece”, “Naruto” or “Dragon Ball”.

As “The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season II: Dust Storm Dance” is only eight episodes, it’s eight episodes that showcases many characters, so if you want to know more about them, watching the first season is essential.

In fact, while Arslan is a key figure, much fo the second series focuses on other characters, especially Narsus who sees an old friend Shagad but finds out his idealistic friend has changed for the worse.

Meanwhile, Arslan is forced to leave Peshawar by King Andragoras and can not return until he has gathered an army of 50,000 soldiers.  And so Arslan and his friends along with the advisors leave Andragoras to follow Prince Arslan in his journey to build his army and end slavery.

Also, we see more confrntations between Arslan and Silvermask. And we also get to see more Daryun take part in battle with Xandes and Hilmes.

But these first eight episodes are great but it would be unfortunate if this second seasn is not completed.

As for the Blu-ray, picture quality is good. The series is colorful and I really didn’t see any issues with artifacts or banding. As for the lossless soundtrack, the English dub is very well-acted and the Japanese soundtrack as well. But the English dub gets a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD treatment, while the Japanese soundtrack only gets 2.0 (which is typical of anime TV series). And as for special features, you get one audio commentary and a Corporate Arslan short parody episodes.

Overall, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is a series that will entertain those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series, with political intrigue, warring countries and many characters. I enjoyed it more than the oldschool OVA’s and felt the storyline had a good balance of humor but also plots focused on character development. While the second volume continues with Arslan and his companions journeys for recruiting more people to go to battle alongside with him.

The second season is worth watching, but it’s important to emphasize that due to the sheer number of characters featured, it’s best to watch the series to grasp an understaning of who these characters are and why they are helping Arslan.

If you are into deeper, action-driven anime about warring states and groups on the battlefield, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is recommended!

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

June 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions

ORIGINAL TV AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: 12 Episodes (335 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 2, 2017


Originally created by Ao Jumonji

Directed by Ryosuke Nakamura

Script by Ryosuke Nakamura

Music by R.O.N.

Original Character Design by Eiri Shirai

Character Design by Mieko Hosoi

Art Director: Hidetoshi Kaneko

Chief Animation Director: Mieko Hosoi

Animation Production by A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Ricco Fajardo as Haruhiro

Chika Anzai/Jad Saxton as Mary

Daisuke Namikawa/Todd Haberkorn as Kikkawa

Fukushi Ochiai/Jarrod Greene as Moguzo

Haruka Terui/Sarah Wiedenheft as Shihoru

Hiroki Yasumoto/Mike McFarland as Brittany

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Orion Pitts as Ranta

Mamiko Noto/Jamie Marchi as Barbara

Mikako Komatsu/Jeannie Tirado as Yume

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Justin Briner as Manato

Tomokazu Seki/Jason Liebrecht as Renji



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended!

The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The second volume continues with Arslan and his companions journeys for recruiting more people to go to battle alongside with him, the volume is important to setup for the second season of the series. If you are into deeper, action-driven anime about warring states and groups on the battlefield, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Kodansha, Arslan Project Committee MBS. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 2

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 14-25) 325 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

Release Date: November 8, 2016


Originally created by Hiromu Arakawa, Yoshiki Tanaka

Directed by Noriyuki Abe

Series Composition by Makoto Uezu

Music by Taro Iwashiro

Character Design by Kazuo Watanabe, Ushio Tazawa

Art Director: Tadashi Kudo

Chief Animation Director: Kazuo Watanabe, shingo Ogiso, Ushio Tazawa

Anime Production: Liden Films, Sanzigen Animation Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Daisuke Namikawa/Christopher Bevins as Narsus

Kenn/Jerry Jewell as Gieve

Maaya Sakamoto/Rachel Robinson as Falangies

Natsuki Hanae/Justin Briner as Elam

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Rico Fajardo as Daryun

Yūsuke Kobayashi/Aaron Dismuke as Arslan

Yuuki Kaji/Vic Mignona as Silvermask

Atsuko Tanaka as Tahamine

Hiroki Yasumoto/Jarrod Greene as Kishuard

Hiroshi Yanaka as Sām

Katsuyuki Konishi/Josh Grelle as Shapur

Kenta Miyake/Chris Ryan as Kubad

Kousuke Toriumi/Ian Sinclair as Rajendra

Manami Numakura/Jad Saxton as Alfreed

Masakazu Morita/Clifford Chapin as Xandes

Shiro Saito/Mark Stoddard as Bodan

Takayuki Sugo/Christopher R. Sabat as Andragoras III

Takehito Koyasu/Eric Vale as Giskarl

Toru Ohkawa/Kent Williams as Kharlan

Toshiharu Sakurai/Jeremy Inman as Innocentius VII

Wataru Hatano/Marcus D. Stimac as Jaswant

Yumi Uchiyama/Ryan Reynolds as Etoile


An incomparable anime epic from the original creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, Hiromu Arakawa, The Heroic Legend of Arslan brings political intrigue, thrilling action, and a colorful cast of characters together for a grand adventure filled with treachery and triumph.

As Arslan gathers forces to fight for his cause, his progress is suddenly halted by the warring Princes of the neighboring country, Sindhura. Both brothers believe they have equal claim to the throne, but only one can succeed their father. Sensing the opportunity to form a powerful alliance, Arslan’s trusted advisor, Narsus forms a plan to end the feud once and for all. But their detour in Sindhura gives Lord Silver Mask and his followers time to strengthen their own influence back in Pars. The mystery surrounding Arslan’s true parentage has loyal Parsians questioning his right to rule. Shocked by the revelation that he may be fighting for a throne that isn’t his, Arslan has to wonder: Is blood truly what makes a king?  Or is the love he has for Pars and its people enough to see him through.


As Arslan and his companions continue their journey and to find people to fight alongside with them, they meet Prince Rajendra who is competing with his older brother Prince Gadevi who is also from the Kingdom of Sindhura and both are fighting for power.

As Arslan plans to team up with Prince Rajendra, they are provided a Sindhuran guide name Jaswant.  But Prince Gadevi is planning his attack against Rajendra.  Who will become victorious?

Also, Xandes must take on Daryun for the Battle of the “Keep of Saint Emmanuel”.

What is “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” about?

Back in 1986, author Yoshiki Tanaka would create a fantasy novel series titled “Arslan Senki” (a.k.a. “The Heroic Legend of Arslan”).

With a total of 15 novels having been published, the series would then receive a four-part OVA adaptation in the 1990’s, followed by a manga series adaptation (1991-1996), two animated film adaptations and a new manga adaptation in 2013 featuring illustrations by Hiromu Arakawa for “Bessatsu Shonen Magazine”.

In 2015, a TV series anime adaptation based on this 2013 manga aired on television and while a second season began airing in Japan, in the United States, the anime series with an English dub will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The series is directed by Noriyuki Abe (“Bleach”, “Black Butler” series, “GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka”), series composition by Makoto Uezu (“Akame ga KILL!”, “Assassination Classroom”, “Yumeria”), music by Taro Iwashiro (who composed the music for the live action versions of “Azumi”, “Prince of Tennis”, “Rurouni Kenshin”), character designs by Kazuo Watanabe (“Kamen no Maid Guy”, “Oku-sama wa Joshi Kosei”, “Kamen no Maid Guy”) and Ushio Tazawa (“Senyu”) and art direction by Tadashi Kudo (“Gestalt”, “Katanagatari”, “Dokkoida?”).

The series revolves around the kind-hearted Arslan. The Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Pars, who was not originally raised in royalty and has always cared for people. And as he starts to see the world in a bad state, he wants to make a difference.

So, he takes part in the first battle against Lusitania but when King Adragoras III, Arslan’s father is killed by one of his own generals, his loyal servant Daryun rescues him from trouble and they retreat along with the Parsian army.

Wanting to make a different, Arslan and Daryun try to recruit well-known soldiers such as the retired tactician Narsus, his page Elam, the priestess Farangis, the womanizer Gieve and others to their cause.

Meanwhile a mysterious man wearing a silver mask wants nothing more but to see Arslan and his people destroyed.


VIDEO:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing. Very good animation during the more action intense sequences.

The anime series is colorful but features a slight softness, but that is expected with anime TV series. But overall, wonderful animation especially during the action sequences by Sanzigen Animation Studios and Liden Films.

I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. The series for the most part features crystal clear dialogue and music and there is good use of the surround channels during sequences with a lot of people, army battles and for action sequences.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 2 features the following special features:

  • Chapter XVI Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Christopher Bevins (voice of Narsus), Ian Sinclair (voice of Prince Rajendra), J. Michael Tatum (voice of Prince Gadevi) and Marcus Stimek (voice of Jaswant).
  • Chapter XXIV Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Christopher Bevins (voice of Narsus) and voice talents Vic Mignona (voice of Hilmes) and Aaron Dismuke (voice of Prince Arslan).
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailer – Funimation trailer for “The Heroic Legend of Arslan”

EXTRAS:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.


For those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series that deals with warring countries in political stryfe will find “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” to be a series worth their time.

My first brush with “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” were the old Central Park Media OVA releases back in the ’90s and to be truthful, because the English dubs were inconsistent and releases took way too long.

So, I found “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” animated TV series to be more entertaining because there is a lot of focus on character development, a lot of emphasis in the growth of the character of Arslan, not just as a fighter but also his vision of the world.

Also, another major plus is the character development on the people that surround Arslan and watching their adventures, as they are able to recruit allies and some who don’t hesitate in stabbing them in the back. But also showing us the various antagonists throughout the series and how the situations from episode to episode become more complex but also entertaining.

It has a feel of an epic series and while I only have watched the first 13 episodes, from what I have watched thus far, I’m really enjoying this series!

Are there any caveats? I think for those who don’t like series with too many characters or series that are quite long, may find “The Heroic Legend of Arlsan”. These episodes are continuing and there are two seasons but not as long as series such as “One Piece”, “Naruto” or “Dragon Ball”.

As “The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 2” features the ongoing journey of Arslan and his companions, this latest volume features how Arslan meets Prince Rajendra and together, they join forces to take on Prince Gadevi, Rajendra’s older brother.

Also, we see more confrntations between Arslan and Silvermask.  And we also get to see more Daryun take part in battle with Xandes and Hilmes.

As for the Blu-ray, picture quality is good. The series is colorful and I really didn’t see any issues with artifacts or banding. As for the lossless soundtrack, the English dub is very well-acted and the Japanese soundtrack as well. But the English dub gets a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD treatment, while the Japanese soundtrack only gets 2.0 (which is typical of anime TV series). And as for special features, you get two audio commentaries and more.

Overall, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is a series that will entertain those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series, with political intrigue, warring countries and many characters. I enjoyed it more than the oldschool OVA’s and felt the storyline had a good balance of humor but also plots focused on character development. While the second volume continues with Arslan and his companions journeys for recruiting more people to go to battle alongside with him, the volume is important to setup for the second season of the series.

If you are into deeper, action-driven anime about warring states and groups on the battlefield, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is recommended!

The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is a series that will entertain those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series, with political intrigue, warring countries and many characters. I enjoyed it more than the oldschool OVA’s and felt the storyline had a good balance of humor but also plots focused on character development. So far, I am enjoying this series a lot and I can’t wait for volume 2! “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Kodansha, Arslan Project Committee MBS. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 1

ANIME SERIES AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 1-13) 325 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Funimation

Release Date: August 23, 2016


Originally created by Hiromu Arakawa, Yoshiki Tanaka

Directed by Noriyuki Abe

Series Composition by Makoto Uezu

Music by Taro Iwashiro

Character Design by Kazuo Watanabe, Ushio Tazawa

Art Director: Tadashi Kudo

Chief Animation Director: Kazuo Watanabe, shingo Ogiso, Ushio Tazawa

Anime Production: Liden Films, Sanzigen Animation Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Daisuke Namikawa/Christopher Bevins as Narsus

Kenn/Jerry Jewell as Gieve

Maaya Sakamoto/Rachel Robinson as Falangies

Natsuki Hanae/Justin Briner as Elam

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Rico Fajardo as Daryun

Yūsuke Kobayashi/Aaron Dismuke as Arslan

Yuuki Kaji/Vic Mignona as Silvermask

Atsuko Tanaka as Tahamine

Hiroki Yasumoto/Jarrod Greene as Kishuard

Hiroshi Yanaka as Sām

Katsuyuki Konishi/Josh Grelle as Shapur

Kenta Miyake/Chris Ryan as Kubad

Kousuke Toriumi/Ian Sinclair as Rajendra

Manami Numakura/Jad Saxton as Alfreed

Masakazu Morita/Clifford Chapin as Xandes

Shiro Saito/Mark Stoddard as Bodan

Takayuki Sugo/Christopher R. Sabat as Andragoras III

Takehito Koyasu/Eric Vale as Giskarl

Toru Ohkawa/Kent Williams as Kharlan

Toshiharu Sakurai/Jeremy Inman as Innocentius VII

Wataru Hatano/Marcus D. Stimac as Jaswant

Yumi Uchiyama/Ryan Reynolds as Etoile


An incomparable anime epic from the original creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, Hiromu Arakawa, The Heroic Legend of Arslan brings political intrigue, thrilling action, and a colorful cast of characters together for a grand adventure filled with treachery and triumph.

Pars Era, the year 320—war is on the horizon. As the soldiers of Pars prepare for battle, a traitor within their ranks turns the tides in favor of the enemy kingdom, Lusitania. Arslan, the young Prince of Pars, survives the massacre to discover that his father has gone missing and his life is in grave danger. Unsure who to trust, Arslan escapes the battlefield, evading capture until he’s found by his loyal friend Daryun, the formidable Black Knight of Pars. With nothing but Arslan’s title and Daryun’s skill, the pair set off on a journey to return the Prince to his rightful place on the throne of Pars.


Back in 1986, author Yoshiki Tanaka would create a fantasy novel series titled “Arslan Senki” (a.k.a. “The Heroic Legend of Arslan”).

With a total of 15 novels having been published, the series would then receive a four-part OVA adaptation in the 1990’s, followed by a manga series adaptation (1991-1996), two animated film adaptations and a new manga adaptation in 2013 featuring illustrations by Hiromu Arakawa for “Bessatsu Shonen Magazine”.

In 2015, a TV series anime adaptation based on this 2013 manga aired on television and while a second season began airing in Japan, in the United States, the anime series with an English dub will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The series is directed by Noriyuki Abe (“Bleach”, “Black Butler” series, “GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka”), series composition by Makoto Uezu (“Akame ga KILL!”, “Assassination Classroom”, “Yumeria”), music by Taro Iwashiro (who composed the music for the live action versions of “Azumi”, “Prince of Tennis”, “Rurouni Kenshin”), character designs by Kazuo Watanabe (“Kamen no Maid Guy”, “Oku-sama wa Joshi Kosei”, “Kamen no Maid Guy”) and Ushio Tazawa (“Senyu”) and art direction by Tadashi Kudo (“Gestalt”, “Katanagatari”, “Dokkoida?”).

The series revolves around the kind-hearted Arslan.  The Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Pars, who was not originally raised in royalty and has always cared for people.  And as he starts to see the world in a bad state, he wants to make a difference.

So, he takes part in the first battle against Lusitania but when King Adragoras III, Arslan’s father is killed by one of his own generals, his loyal servant Daryun rescues him from trouble and they retreat along with the Parsian army.

Wanting to make a different, Arslan and Daryun try to recruit well-known soldiers such as the retired tactician Narsus, his page Elam, the priestess Farangis, the womanizer Gieve and others to their cause.

Meanwhile a mysterious man wearing a silver mask wants nothing more but to see Arslan and his people destroyed.


VIDEO:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, a lot of characters featured and these characters have great detail and shadowing.  Very good animation during the more action intense sequences.

The anime series is colorful but features a slight softness, but that is expected with anime TV series. But overall, wonderful animation especially during the action sequences by Sanzigen Animation Studios and Liden Films.

I found no compression artifacts or any problematic issues with this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  The series for the most part features crystal clear dialogue and music and there is good use of the surround channels during sequences with a lot of people, army battles and for action sequences.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season 1, Part 1 features the following special features:

  • Chapter II Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Christopher Bevins (voice of Narsus), Jeremy Inman (Assistant Director), Rico Fajardo (voice of Daryun) and Aaron Dismuke (voice of Arslan).
  • Chapter XIII Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Christopher Bevins (voice of Narsus) and voice talents Rachel Robinson (voice of Farangis), Jerry Jewell (voice of Gieve), Aaron Dismuke (voice of Prince Arslan).
  • Promotional Video – (1:31) Japanese PV for “Arslan Senki”
  • Commercial Collection #1 and #2
  • Textless Opening and Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailer – Funimation trailer for “The Heroic Legend of Arslan”

EXTRAS:

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series plus a slipcover.


For those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series that deals with warring countries in political stryfe will find “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” to be a series worth their time.

My first brush with “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” were the old Central Park Media OVA releases back in the ’90s and to be truthful, because the English dubs were inconsistent and releases took way too long.

So, I found “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” animated TV series to be more entertaining because there is a lot of focus on character development, a lot of emphasis in the growth of the character of Arslan, not just as a fighter but also his vision of the world.

Also, another major plus is the character development on the people that surround Arslan and watching their adventures, as they are able to recruit allies and some who don’t hesitate in stabbing them in the back.  But also showing us the various antagonists throughout the series and how the situations from episode to episode become more complex but also entertaining.

It has a feel of an epic series and while I only have watched the first 13 episodes, from what I have watched thus far, I’m really enjoying this series!

Are there any caveats?  I think for those who don’t like series with too many characters or series that are quite long, may find “The Heroic Legend of Arlsan”.  These episodes are continuing and there are two seasons but not as long as series such as “One Piece”, “Naruto” or “Dragon Ball”.

As for the Blu-ray, picture quality is good.  The series is colorful and I really didn’t see any issues with artifacts or banding.  As for the lossless soundtrack, the English dub is very well-acted and the Japanese soundtrack as well.  But the English dub gets a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD treatment, while the Japanese soundtrack only gets 2.0 (which is typical of anime TV series). And as for special features, you get two audio commentaries and more.

Overall, “The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is a series that will entertain those who enjoy adventure-driven anime series, with political intrigue, warring countries and many characters.  I enjoyed it more than the oldschool OVA’s and felt the storyline had a good balance of humor but also plots focused on character development.  So far, I am enjoying this series a lot and I can’t wait for volume 2!

“The Heroic Legend of Arslan” is recommended!

The Empire of Corpses (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

empireofcorpses

M”The Empire of Corpses” is an an animated film that is complex, smartly written, featuring wonderful animation and art backgrounds but while entertaining, the film may prove to be too complex for some viewers and thus may require multiple viewings in order to grasp the storyline. But if you are looking for a beautiful and smartly written animated film, “The Empire of Corpses” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Empire of Corpses

DURATION: 120 Minutes

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: July 5, 2016


Directed by Ryoutarou Makihara

Screenplay by Hiroshi Seko, Koji Yamamoto, Midori Gotou

Original Creator: Project Itoh, Toh Enjoe

Original Character Design: redjuice

Character Designs by Takaaki Chiba

Chief Animation Director: Hirotaka Kato, Takaaki Chiba

Mechanical Design by Gorou Murata, Hitoshi Fukuchi, Junjya IShigaki, Shinobu Tsuneki

Art Direction by Yusuke Takeda

Music by Yoshihiro Ike

Anime Production: Wit Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayumu Murase/Todd Haberkorn as Friday/Noble_Savage_007

Kana Hanazawa/Morgan Garrett as Hadaly Lilith

Taiten Kusunoki/J. Michael Tatum as Frederick Barnaby

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Jason Liebrecht as John H. Watson

Akio Ohtsuka/Sean Hennigan as M

Daiki Yamashita/Micah Solusod as Nikolai Krasotkin

Shinichiro Miki/Mike McFarland as Alexei Karamazov

Houko Kuwashima/Caitlin Glass as Moneypenny


From the studio that produced Attack on Titan comes The Empire of Corpses, a captivating historical action thriller based on a Phillip K. Dick Award winning novel by Project Itoh. In an alternate version of 19th century London, the world has been revolutionized by “corpse reanimation technology” creating armies of undead who serve the living as laborers across the globe.

In an attempt to revive his dearly departed friend, young medical student John Watson becomes obsessed with replicating the work of Dr. Victor Frankenstein – the legendary corpse engineer whose research produced the only re-animated corpse to possess a soul. But when his illegal experiments put him at odds with the British government, Watson is drafted into a worldwide race to find the lost research notes of Victor Frankenstein before the secrets of the human soul fall into the wrong hands.


From anime production studio Wit Studio and director Ryoutarou Makihara (“Hal”, “Umi Monogatari”) comes “The Empire of Corpses” (Shisha no Teikoku).

An animated film adaptation of Project Itoh (creator of “Harmony and “Genocidal Organ”) and Toh Enjoe’s novel, the film was released in Japan in 2015 and had a limited theatrical release in the US courtesy of FUNimation.

And now, the animated film is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.

The film features a screenplay by Hiroshi Seko (“Ajin”, “Mob PSycho 100”, “Seraph of the End”), Koji Yamamoto (“Harmony”) and Midori Gotou (“Attack on Titan: Junior high”, “Hozuki no Reitetsu”, “Loups=Garous – The Motion Picture”, music by Yoshihiro Ike (“Gundam Evolve”, “Rage of Bahamut”, “Cobra the Animation”, “Blood: The Last Vampire”), character designs by Takaaki Chiba (“Sengoku Basara”, “Attack on Titan”) and art direction by Yusuke Takeda (“Armitage III”, “009-1”, “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex” and “Eden of the East”).

The film is set in an alternative future of 18th Century England during a time where English scientist Victor Frankenstein has created “The One” (Frankenstein) which revolves reanimating a corpse with a soul in order to think, feel and speak.

But after his creation was destroyed, another method to replace a missing soul was developed and is known as “Necroware”, which can be programmed and upgraded but unlike “The One”, it has no ability to think, feel or speak.  It follows commands.

The world has brought many corpses alive in order to use them as servants which has boosted the economy as they can be used as workers but also by the military, who can use corpse technology for military use.

The film introduces us to John H. Watson, a corpse engineer who has illegally created his own Necroware and has resurrected his deceased friend, who he names it Friday.

Watson is visited by two mysterious individuals and one of them, M, is a member of the British Secret Service and has information that Watson was experimenting with illegal Necroware.  So, he tells John that he can either go to prison or become an agent of the British Empire.  John Watson decides to join the British Empire.

Their first mission is to go to India and follow U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant but they are immediately attacked by corpse assassins who have a grenade embedded inside them and when they pull a pin from their neck, they can explode.

Fortunately for both Watson and Friday, they are rescued by Captain Frederick Burnaby and Watson receives his mission from M that he must find Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov, a Russian corpse engineer who stole “The Memorandum”, the research material belonging to Victor Frankenstein on how to reanimate a corpse with a soul.

But as the three who are joined by Ulysses S. Grant’s secretary Hadaly Lilith and their guide Nikolai Krasotkin, are chased and are targeted by corpse assassins, these assassins have the ability to move differently than a regular corpse.  They are quick and also surprise Watson by showing the ability to possibly talk.

But what happens when they come across Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov and learn more about “The Memorandum” and why is John Watson so interested in it?


VIDEO:

“The Empire of Corpses” is presented in 1080p High Definiton (16:9 anamorphic widescreen). The animation features wonderful character design and gorgeous art backgrounds.

I was struck by how detailed the background art was. How beautiful these painted backgrounds looked and how it complimented the characters.   Overall, picture quality was fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Empire of Corpses” is presented in English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1. As for the lossless audio, both Japanese and English soundtrack feature crystal clear dialogue and music. Action sequences (such as the fights with the zombie corpses, explosions galore, people screaming and the sounds of the live corpses) utilized the surround channels very well and the voice acting for both soundtracks are fantastic.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Empire of Corpses” contains the following special features:

  • Funimation Short Empire of Corpses – (7:38) Featuring director/writer J. Michael Tatum (voice of Alexei Karamazov) and Mike McFarland (voice of Frederick Burnaby), Morgan Garrett (voice of Hadaly Lilith) and Jason Liebrecht (voice of Dr. John Watson) discussing working on “The Empire of Corpses”.
  • Promo Videos – Featuring two Japanese promo videos
  • Original Trailer – The original theatrical trailer

EXTRAS:

“The Empire of Corpses” comes with a slipcover and both the Blu-ray + DVD discs of the film. The Blu-ray also comes with an UltraViolet code for those wanting to watch the film on their PC/Mac, tablet or cell phone via Digital HD.


What happens when you take an alternative version of England, throw in zombie corpses that are revived and used by society to better the economy.  No more having to worry about how long one can work, these corpses can work 24/7 and follow their master’s request.

These corpses have feel no pain, can’t speak nor do they have a soul to share any emotion towards anyone.

But one corpse was given a soul and that was the creation made by Victor Frankenstein but that creation ended up being destroyed.  So, now we have John Watson trying to follow the footsteps of Frankenstein by digging up and turning his best friend into a living corpse and naming him Friday.

Unfortunately for Watson, he is caught and is given a choice…work for the British government or go to prison.  And of course, Watson chooses to become an agent for the government and try to find a Russian scientist who has obtained documents of the work of Victor Frankenstein.

But what Watson, Friday and the others are not aware of, someone has created a new type of corpse. Faster, humanlike movement and they appear to be wanting to speak.

And as Watson and others try to look for these documents known as “The Memorandum”, their research starts to uncover who is the real culprit pulling the strings of these frightening occurrences.

“The Empire of Corpses” is a complex animated film with so many twists and turns that one probably will find themselves watching multiple times, to see if they have missed anything important.

The film manages to capture the essence of zombies, combined with Frankenstein, showcasing an alternate universe of a world dependent on corpses and what happens when these controlled corpses are being utilized as weapons and possibly used for nefarious situations.

The Blu-ray release features wonderful picture quality as character designs are well-done, the art backgrounds are highly detailed and done magnificently well.  As for special features, you do get a short featurette, promotional videos and a trailer.  And you also get a digital HD code.

Overall, “The Empire of Corpses” is an an animated film that is complex, smartly written, featuring wonderful animation and art backgrounds but while entertaining, the film may prove to be too complex for some viewers and thus may require multiple viewings in order to grasp the storyline.

But if you are looking for a beautiful and smartly written animated film, “The Empire of Corpses” is recommended!

 

One Week Friends – Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

oneweekfriends-a

Charming and heartwarming, “One Week Friends” is a high school drama that won’t take too much of your time, not too deep but a short, entertaining anime series worth watching.

Image courtesy of © 2015 Toho Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: One Week Friends – Complete Collection

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition/16×9, Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14 LD

Release Date: July 7, 2015


Originally Created by Matcha Hazuki

Directed by Tarou Iwasaki

Series Composition by Shotaro Suga

Music by Irone Toda

Art Director: Akira Ito

Anime Character Design by Eri Yamazaki

Production by Brain’s Base


Featuring the following voice talent:

Sora Amamiya as Kaori Fujimiya

Yoshitaka Yamaya as Yūki Hase

Asuka Kakumoto as Maiko Serizawa

Junji Majima as Jun Inoue

Mai Nakahara as Shiho Fujimiya

Rui Tanabe as Ai Nishimura

Rumi Ookubo as Saki Yamagishi

Shintarō Asanuma as Hajime Kujō

Yoshimasa Hosoya as Shōgo Kiryū


Every lifetime is composed of millions of memories… but what happens if those memories don’t all connect? When Yuki Hase notices that Kaori Fujimiya seems to be alone and friendless at his school, he immediately wants to reach out to her. Much to his surprise, though, his overtures are turned down, and he’s completely stunned when he finds out why: it seems that ever since she was in a tragic accident, Kaori has been losing part of her memory every Monday, including all her recollection of everyone who’s become her friend.

It’s not that she doesn’t want friends, but that she can’t remember having any. That’s not enough of an obstacle for Yuki, however, and he becomes determined to make friends with Kaori every week. Because while most memories fade, there are some that, if you believe strongly enough and never give up, might just be able to last forever.


In 2012, manga artist Matcha Hazuki created the manga series “Isshukan Friends” (One Week Friends) which was serialized in Square Enix’s “Gangan Joker” Magazine (January 2012-2015).

An anime adaptation produced by Brain’s Base aired on television in the spring of 2014 and the anime series was released on Blu-ray courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

With a live film adaptation of the film slated for February 2017, for those who enjoy anime dramas will surely enjoy this 12-episode series.

The series revolves around a high school student named Yuki Hase, who sits right next to Kaori Fujimiya, a person who is often seen sitting alone.

As the two become friends, Yuki eventually starts to fall for Kaori but learns the truth that on every Monday, she loses all memory of her friends and experiences due to a tragic accident.

While it becomes a difficult obstacle for Yuki, he is determined in trying to become closer to Yuki, despite her fading memories and be with her every step of the way.

But what caused this condition with Yuki and how will he be able to get Yuki to include him in her life?


VIDEO:

“One Week Friends – Complete Collection” features beautiful animation by Brain’s Base. Character designs are well-done and well-shaded, while backgrounds and structures are well-detailed. It’s important to note that as a TV series, one can expect quite a bit of softness but forthe most part, the look of the anime series looks very good on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“One Week Friends – Complete Collection” is presented in Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. Dialogue is crystal clear and subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“One Week Friends – Complete Collection” comes with ten segments from Kaori’s Journal and an entry from Hase’s Journal, Japanese promo spots, clean opening and closing animations.


As I was watching “One Week Friends”, I was worried about the banality of the series as each episode would be about Kaori losing her memories every Monday (which is a real condition known as “anterograde amnesia”, according to Wikipedia, “patients have recollections of events prior to the injury, but cannot recall day-to-day information or new facts presented to them after the injury occurred”.) and Yuki doing all he can to see if he can help improve her memory and then we get the typical happy ending that she begins to remember.

In some ways, I thought that the series would become too predictable.

Fortunately, “One Week Friends” became an endearing and charming anime series about high school love but a boy’s determination to be with the girl he likes, while Kaori tries to live life every week with just knowing details from the journal she has written and with each entry, about her trust and happiness of being around Yuki.

The series also has a few side stories, such as Yuki’s classmate and good friend Shogo Kiryu.  Shogo is quite stoic but a classmate named Saki Yamagishi, who likes Shogo, is a bit clumsy and often becomes emotional because she is unsure how to convey her feelings towards him.

Another storyline involves Hajime Kujo, a former classmate of Yuki’s who transfers to the Yuki and Kaori’s school.  He was the boy which Kaori liked and was supposed to meet before she was involved in an accident that led to her loss of memories.  And of course, Yuki becomes a little jealous of Kujo.

While the anime series was completed before creator Hazuki Matcha finished writing the manga series, the anime series is still charming and anime fans who enjoy romantic comedies or romantic dramas will find “One Week Friends” to be a series worth watching.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is beautiful, while slightly soft than eye popping vibrant.  Lossless audio is stereo and clear.  It’s important to note that this anime series is in straight Japanese and there are no English subtitles.  Special features include Kaori’s journal entries and also a journal entry from Yuki.  You also get the usual clean opening and closing animations and Japanese promo spots.

Overall, charming and heartwarming, “One Week Friends” is a high school drama that won’t take too much of your time, not too deep but a short, entertaining anime series worth watching.

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

September 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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“HAL” is a short animated film that will captivate you by its charm, its characters but what makes you enjoy it even more is its surprising twist.  A gorgeous animated film on Blu-ray, “HAL” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: HAL

YEAR: 2013

DURATION: 60 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Aspect Ratio), English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV-14

Release Date: September 2, 2014

Directed by Ryoutarou Makihara

Screenplay by Izumi Kizara

Storyboards by Ryoutarou Makihara

Music by Michiru Oshima

Character Design: Katsuhiko Kitada

Art Director: Yusuke Takeda

Director of Photography: Koji Tanaka

Anime Production: Wit Studio

Featuring the following voice talent:

Yōko Hikasa/Bryn Apprill as Kurumi

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Chris Burnett as Haru

Mamoru Miyano/Todd Haberkorn as Ryuu

Shinpachi Tsuji/Bill Flynn as Aranami

Tamio Ohki/Grant James as Tokio

Ako Mayama/Pam Doughtery as Tsukiko

Hikari Yono/Linda Leonard as Rumiko

Hiroki Gotou as Maru

IKKI/Mike McFarland as Nepali

Kanami Satou as Megane

Ryō Kuratomi as Ryuu’s Friend

Shoko Tsuda/Lauri Steele as Mami

Yuko Tachibana/Juli Erickson as Erika

Kurumi’s heart was broken by the sudden death of her boyfriend in a tragic airplane accident. Forced to carry on without her beloved Hal, she fell into a reclusive and joyless existence. Kurumi had given up on the world, but a brilliant scientist devised a plan to win her back. By melding futuristic technology with the binary equivalent of human emotion, they created an ultra-lifelike robotic surrogate to take Hal’s place – and lure Kurumi from her shroud of solitude.

Resistant at first, this shattered beauty slowly yielded to her feelings of longing – and took comfort in the company of a robot. Though their unique bond grew stronger with each passing day, Kurumi and Hal would soon discover that nothing about their artificial love story was quite as it seemed.

From director Ryotaro Makihara (“Guilty Crown”, “Tatami Galaxy”) and writer Izumi Kizara comes the animated film “HAL”.

With a Japanese and United States theatrical screening back in the summer of 2013, FUNimation has picked up the distribution rights to the animated film.

While the DVD release of “HAL” is to be announced, journalists received a screener of the animated film.

“HAL” takes place in the future where robot technology has come to the point where robots can emulate humans and for one older man, he has requested for a robot named Kuroichi to become the robot “HAL” in hopes he can save his girlfriend/companion Kurumi.

Kurumi has not been herself since a major plane accident in which Hal died. She no longer has her smile, she no longer has shed tears and she is hurting to the point that she has isolated herself from everyone.

With Kuroichi now becoming the new HAL, he tries to learn about how the previous HAL had lived and do all he can to make her happy. And with each layer that HAL peels away from the wall that Kurumi has around her, will HAL be able to reach her and help mend her heart?

VIDEO:

“HAL” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  Because this is an animated film, the production values are much higher and it shows with its beautiful backgrounds, sharp and colorful environments and great shading with the characters.  There is a bit of softness and a little banding but for the most part, the picture quality of this animated film is great!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“HAL” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1.    The film is dialogue-driven but there is great use of the ambiance of the environments, may it be near the water or festival, the film utilizes the surround channels effectively for ambiance.  Both soundtracks are well-acted and overall audio is very good!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“HAL” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with ADR Director Mike McFarland, Chris Burnett (voice of Hal), Bryn Apprill (voice of Jurume) and Bill Flynn (voice of Aranami).
  • Making Of: Production Process – (11:10) A Japanese featurette about the storyboards made for “HAL”.
  • Making Of: Animatics and Scratch Tracks – (6:17) A Japanese featurette on the animatics for “HAL”.
  • Textless Closing Song – (3:23)
  • Original Trailer – (1:13) Theatrical trailer for “HAL”.
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “HAL”.

An alternate future when humans and robots co-exist.

And a story about one helping out one in need.

“HAL” may be a short animated film at an hour long, but what an emotional, enjoyable film with a surprising twist.

I enjoy sci-fi animated series and for “HAL”, I thought it was your typical story of a robot or android trying to help a grieving girl get over tragedy.  It seemed like a simplistic film about a boy trying to help a girl during her darkest time in her life and thought it was your formulaic story that was far too easy to predict.

Was I wrong!

And I’m glad I was.  The film is one of those rare stories that you see in an anime where they surprise you with a twist that you never really expect.  And without going into details, I recommend this animated film because it’s non-banal, it’s gorgeous and the acting on both Japanese and English were well-done.

Yes, it’s short and a longer storyline would have made the film flow much better.  But considering a lot of animated films in Japan are short (especially those that are derived from a popular TV series), I’m glad that film is affordable and American fans looking for a sci-fi film that is not overly deep or violent, will find “HAL” possibly to their liking.

But it’s an accessible animated film that doesn’t require you to know any long back story, it’s a straightup one-hour animated film that you can easily watch, enjoy and be surprised at the end of the film.

The Blu-ray features great picture quality and lossless audio was very good thanks to the use of the surround channels.  And you also get a few special features including an audio commentary and making of featurettes.

Overall, “HAL” is a short animated film that will captivate you by its charm, its characters but what makes you enjoy it even more is its surprising twist.  A gorgeous animated film on Blu-ray, “HAL” is recommended!

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