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Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Rasengan Collection (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

October 31, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a “Naruto” fan, this DVD is worth it, as it carries four of the feature films in one collection. But if you want the best picture and lossless audio quality, I recommend purchasing the Blu-ray releases. But for many people, to pay a low price for four films will no doubt get “Naruto Shippuden” fans to become interested in purchasing this collection. Recommended if you don’t own these four films on Blu-ray!

Image courtesy of © 2002 Masashi Kishimoto/2008 Shippuden. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Naruto Shippuden The Movie – Rasengan Collection

RUN TIME: 360 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 16×9, 1:85:1, English and Japanese soundtrack, English subtitles

COMPANY: Shonen Jump/Viz Media

RATED: 14+

Release Date: October 3, 2017


The Will of Fire

Originally created by Masashi Kishimoto

Directed by Masahiko Murata

Screenplay by Junki Takegami

Music by -yaiba-, Yasuharu Takanashi

Character Design by Tetsuya Nishio

Anime Production by Studio Pierrot

Bonds

Originally created by Masashi Kishimoto

Director: Hajime Kamegaki

Screenplay: Junki Takegami

Music by -yaiba-, Yasuharu Takanashi/Theme Song by Home Made Kazoku

Character Design by Tetsuya Nishio

Art: Hitoshi Nagasaki, Yuji Ikeda

Chief Animation Director: Mamoru Sasaki

Anime Production: Studio Pierrot

The Lost Tower

Originally created by Masashi Kishimoto

Director: Masahiko Murata

Screenplay: Junki Takegami

Music by -yaiba-, Yasuharu Takanashi

Theme Song by Kana Nishino

Character Design by Tetsuya Nishio, Hirofumi Suzuki

Anime Production: Studio Pierrot


The Will of Fire – Featuring the following voice talent:

Junko Takeuchi/Maile Flanagan as Naruto Uzumaki

Chie Nakamura/Kate Higgins as Sakura Haruno

Noriaki Sugiyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Sasuke Uchiha

Akira Ishida/Liam O’Brien as Sabaku no Gaara (Gaara of the Desert)

Hideo Ishikawa/Crispin Freeman as Itachi Uchiha

Houchu Ohtsuka/David Lodge as Jiraiya

Kazuhiko Inoue/Dave Wittenberg as Hatake Kakashi

Kentarou Itou/Robbie Rist as Chouji Akimichi

Kouichi Toochika/Steve Staley as Neji Hyuuga

Kousuke Toriumi/Kyle Hebert as Kiba Inuzuka

Masako Katsuki/Debi Mae West as Tsunade/Fifth Hokage

Nana Mizuki/Stephanie Sheh as Hinata Hyuuga

Nobutoshi Canna/Henry Dittman as Kabuto Yakushi

Rikiya Koyama/Troy Baker as Yamato

Romi Paku/Tara Platt as Temari

Ryoka Yuzuki/Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Ino Yamanaka

Satoshi Hino/Ben Diskin as Sai

Shinji Kawada/Derek Stephen Prince as Shino Aburame

Yoichi Masukawa/Brian Donovan as Rock Lee


Naruto faces a prediction of death as he confronts an evil spirit in Naruto Shippuden The Movie; ninja from the long-forgotten Land of Sky resurface to menace the Hidden Leaf in Naruto Shippuden The Movie: Bonds; another war between Shinobi looms in Naruto Shippuden The Movie: The Will of Fire; and Naruto is thrown back in time in Naruto Shippuden The Movie: The Lost Tower.


Just in time for the holiday season for the “Naruto Shippuden” fan comes the “Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Rasengan Collection” collecting four feature films on DVD!

Included in this set are “The Movie”, “Bonds”, “The Will of Fire” and “The Lost Tower”.

The Movie

Back in 2007, “Naruto Shippuden the Movie” was released.

The film begins with a prediction that Naruto will die fighting a monster which will impale him and a funeral will be held for him.

The film then shows what happens a few days previous when a man named Yomi has attacked a shrine to steal the spirit of Moryo (a demon that wants to conquer the world and create his “Thousand Year Kingdom”.  But a priestess named Shion will do what she can to prevent the demon from conquering the world but when Yomi raises a stone army, Sakura, Rock Lee and Neji must guard Shion and deliver her to the shrine where Moryo’s body is kept.

The Will of Fire

To commemorate the 10th Anniversary of “Naruto” back in 2009, the third “Naruto: Shippuden” film titled “Gekijoban Naruto Shippuden Hi no Ishi wo Tsugumono” a.k.a. “Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Will of Fire”) was released in theaters (the sixth “Naruto” film overall).

As the “Naruto” manga series has begun the “Fourth Great Ninja War” arc and the anime series now gaining momentum in regards to the Akatsuki arc, “Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Will of Fire” has been released in the U.S. courtesy of Viz Media on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Viz Media.

“Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Will of Fire” begins with Kakashi giving Naruto a bell for him to fix. The bell is a reminder to both Naruto and Sakura that a person who betrays his friends is the worst ninja out there. And that memory of him and Sakura training with Sasuke enhances his resolve to find Sasuke because despite him being an enemy, he was their friend.

The film revolves around the potential outbreak of the Fourth Great Ninja War courtesy of a ninja known as Hiruko, a former friend of the legendary Sannin Orochimaru, Jiraiya and Tsunade.

When ninjas with Kekkei Genkai abilties begin to disappear from various villages with the exception of Konoha, villages start to suspect that Konoha may be involved in the disappearances of the missing ninjas. And as troops start to threaten an invasion of Konoha, the Feudal Lord of the Land of Fire orders Tsunade to capture the real culprit or else the Land of Fire will break the peace and attack the village.

As for Hiruko, he is a missing ninja who left Konoha and developed the Chimera technique which allows him to absorb the chakra and kekkei Genkai of other ninja. Having a few followers protecting him in Mount Shami, Hiruko is intent of obtaining the Kekkei Genkai of the Land of Fire to gain invincibility and to cause the Fourth Great Ninja War in order to conquer the world. And to do that, she intends to use Kakashi, as she put a puppet curse on him over a decade ago and plans to use his Sharingan.

Before leaving to face Hiruko and risk his life, Kakashi asks Shikamaru for a favor and that is to tell Naruto not to follow him. In fact, worried that Naruto would do something rash, Naruto is placed in a jail cell as Kakashi goes out to find Hiruko. He also asks Tsunade to put a special seal on him if Hiruko attempts to absorb him. Kakashi disappears under Hiruko’s influence of the puppet jutsu.

Meanwhile, Tsunade brands Kakashi a missing nin and orders everyone to stay away from Kakashi.

When Sakura overhears this, she goes to visit Naruto and Naruto begs for her to release him from the cell. He reminds her of the bond that they had with Sasuke and Kakashi and that friends would never betray their friends and to protect one another and to this day, he intends to keep that promise he gave Sakura that he would rescue Sasuke. Hearing this, Sakura releases Naruto and both head out to find their teacher, Kakashi.

Upon hearing this news, Tsunade sends out Team 8, Team 10 and Team Guy to retrieve them and immediately some of the team members get into an argument when Shikamaru tells them that they may need to use lethal force against Naruto, while Rock Lee defends Naruto about protecting their group and his friends and he believes in Naruto. But for Shikamaru, he intends to carry out the promise left to him by his teacher, the late Asuma Sarutobi who told him that he must protect the children of Konoha village. And if Naruto threatens that, he will need to kill him.

As Sai is now part of the team and joins Naruto and Saura on their mission to find Kakashi, waiting for them are Hiruko’s followers, Ichi, Ni and San. But also, hot on their trail are Team 8, Team 10 and Team Guy who are trying to stop them as well.

Will Naruto be able to save his teacher?

The Lost Tower

The fourth Naruto film “Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Lost Tower” features Naruto being whisked into the past trying to save a queen and her village from a powerful foe, but this time Naruto gets some help by someone he may be close to.

“Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Lost Tower” is the seventh “Naruto” film and the fourth “Naruto Shippuden” film that was released in Japanese theaters in July 2010.

Naruto begins with Yamato, Naruto Uzumaki, Sakura Haruno and Sai are sent to the ruins of Loran to capture Mukade, a ninja that has great control of puppets. As the group pursues him, they see Mukade approaching some seal and in the process he opens the seal unleashing a powerful beam of light which sucks Naruto and Yamato inside, while Sakura and Sai manage to escape, wondering what happened to them.

Back in time 20-years ago, we see Minato Namikaze (who would later become the fourth Hokage but is also the father of Naruto) in Konoha and Jiraiya trying to show his friend that he had mastered the rasengan. With the Hokage, Hiruzen Sarutobi having heard news of Anrokuzan’s evil plan, he sends out Minato, along with Shibi Aburame (father of Shino) and Choza Akimichi (father of Choji) plus a young teenage Kakashi Hatake, all on a mission to stop Anrokuzan.

Naruto awakes and sees a mysterious girl singing, he is then approached by three men with masks who reveal themselves to be Konoha ninjas and they tell him that he must leave the city as they have a mission to follow. Naruto also has a mission to follow and that is to stop Mukade but first, he must find his teammates.

As he arrives to the town center, where a festival is takng place, he realizes the young girl that he saw singing was the Queen of Loran, Sara. As she greets the people, someone pushes her and the balcony that she was standing on begins to break apart. Fortunately, Naruto is able to rescue Sara, who accidentally mistakens him as a bad guy.

But he tells her that he is responsible for saving her and when asking her how she fell, she felt that someone pushed her. When he asks if someone is after her, she tells them no.

Meanwhile, Minato, Shibi and Choza arrive and find out that Naruto is from the future. Naruto jokes that Minato looks like the fourth Hokage but Minato tells him to not speak about anything as it could disrupt the present time. But believes that if they can defeat Mukade, he can go back to his time period. He gives Naruto his Flying Thunder God Kunai which allows him to transport to Naruto’s place if he uses it.

But for now, they believe the man they are after, Anrokuzan is the same as Mukade and that Anrokuzan is the minister of Loran. Saara who hears this feels they are wrong as Anrokuzan would never do anything to hurt her and annoyed by their claims, she leaves. Minato tells Naruto that as they go after Anrokuzan, his duty is to protect Saara at all costs.

As Naruto goes after Saara, Saara is struck from behind and taken to a dark room where she sees threatening figures. When Naruto finds her, he is about to attack but the figures reveal themselves to be women and children who are looking for their brothers or husbands who have been taken away after they followed an order by the Queen to be enlisted to work for the city. Saara claims that she gave no such order and nothing bad can happen in the city because people are all cheering.

But when Naruto sees that the people cheering are actually puppets, Saara sees a puppet version of herself saying hi to the crowd on the balcony. She realizes something bad is going on and decides that she will help the people find the missing men of her city and get to the bottom of what is going on.

But what they don’t know is that with the seal open in Loran, there is a chakra source that feeds on to Anrokuzan/Mukade that gives him unlimited power, making him invincible. Can Naruto protect the Queen and can Minato and others stop Anrokuzan/Mukade?

Bonds

Since 1999, “Naruto” created by Masashi Kishimoto (“Karakuri”) has been one of the most popular anime and manga series in Japan and has easily become a favorite best selling anime/manga series among fans all over the world.

For the anime series, since 2002, “Naruto” lasted until 2007 with a total of 220 episodes. The series would follow the adventures of a boy named Naruto Uzamaki, who may not be the brightest ninja from the Konoha Village but he makes it up with heart and also tremendous power as the killer beast known as the nine-tailed fox has been sealed within him.

Earlier in the series, the anime series focused on Naruto and his team members Sasuke Uchida and Sakura Haruno as they would go on adventures and learn to become a team and also honing their ninja abilities. The series would then begin to introduce other young ninjas from the village who Naruto would be paired up with and the young ninjas would take on rival clans to helping people in need. But somehow as the series continued, Sasuke Uchida would then go off on his own personal mission to stop his brother Itaki Uchida, who murdered the whole Uchida clan and his family, only leaving Sasuke alive.

Within those six years, we have seen Naruto and his friends grow as friends and also in their abilities. For Naruto, all he has wanted is to become the next Hokage (the leader of the village) when he grows older and to help his friends accomplish missions. He knows that to be a good leader, he will need to get stronger so he can protect the village once he grows older. Of course, there is so much involved in the “Naruto” anime series and what makes its special is its humor, its action but also how well the series integrates so many characters but yet features a good number of character driven episodes that makes the viewer appreciate many of the characters in the series.

“Naruto”, the first series ended with the young ninja leaving to train with Jiraiya for two-and-a-half years. And now the storyline has picked up years later in “Naruto Shippuden” as Sasuke is now the enemy but Naruto and Sakura continue to hold out hope that they can save their old friend and partner.

“Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Bonds” is the fifth “Naruto” film and the second “Naruto Shippuden” film that was released in Japanese theaters in August 2008. And many fans have come to see the film as a special “Naruto” film because it features Sasuke and also Naruto and Sasuke working together once again.

The film begins with a mysterious Sky Ninja Clan which were defeated by the various ninja villages during the second Ninja War and now they want revenge. We see many of the Sky Ninja flying towards Konoha and immediately attacking the city, causing destruction and death everywhere.

As Shikamaru and friends try to defend the city, Naruto tries to fight in the battle but is stopped by an older man who tells Naruto that he needs his help taking care of the wounded. When Naruto brings the wounded to the emergency room, Sakura is shocked to see how well they were taken care of and Naruto tells them it was a doctor named Shinno who saved them.

A famous doctor, we see a young boy named Amaru looking for him. The boy collapses and when he wakes up, Shinno is with Naruto. Amaru asks for Shinno’s help as their village have been targeted by the Sky Ninja, so Tsunade assigns Naruto, Sakura and Hinata to accompany Dr. Shinno and Amaru to their village.

Meanwhile, Shikimaru along with Kakashi and Sai plan their retaliation against the Sky Ninja who are regathering for their next round of destruction. But far away, a sick Orochimaru and Kabuto are greeted by Sasuke and we learn that Dr. Shinno is responsible for teaching Orochimaru the regeneration technique long ago and that because he may have learned a lot since then, he sends Sasuke to bring Dr. Shinno to him.

As Naruto and group make their way to Amaru’s village, Naruto gets to learn that Amaru is a dedicated apprentice but also learns that Amaru is not a boy but is in fact a girl and that she has a crush on her sensei.

When the group arrive to Amaru’s village, they see it burning. As Amaru rushes to check on the people of her village, all are gone. But she hits a tripwire which sends daggers towards her, before she is hit, Dr. Shinno risks his life to save her and ends up getting killed in the process.

As Hinata goes to look for survivors using her jutsu, Sakura goes back home to request for reinforcements. But as Amaru is dealing with the death of Dr. Shinno, a beast known as the Zero Tail attacks Naruto and Sakura.

Can Naruto defeat the Zero Tail and who is the person responsible for having the Sky Ninja attack Konoha? Also, what happens when Naruto and Sasuke confront each other once again?

 


VIDEO & AUDIO:

Before I begin, it’s important to remind people that a Blu-ray release is available for each of these four films, so if you want the best picture and audio quality, the Blu-ray is the way to go.

As for the DVD, the film tends to have this look that is appropriate for television, but for a summer movie in Japan, you expect better, detailed artistic backgrounds and the good news is that is what you get with this film. Presented with an aspect ratio of 1:85:1, the film looks very good. A lot of detail in the trees, the ground and surrounding environments but also the amount of shading and detail on the characters. As “Naruto” films become more recent, there is an obvious increase in detail in overall look of the films look very good!

As for the audio, the audio is presented in Dolby Digital English and Japanese. Similar to a series like “Dragon Ball Z”, with “Naruto”, I have always enjoyed the voice acting of the English dub series. It’s well done and the voices fit the characters very well. Especially Maile Flanagan’s Naruto Uzumaki. Personally, I didn’t think there would be a voice actor that could capture Junko Takeuchi’s Naruto vocals and sure enough, Flanagan does a great job. But I have watched the series in Japanese and English and for the most part, voice acting for both soundtracks are well-done.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Bonds” comes with the following special features:

  • Movie Trailers – Featuring various “Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Bonds” theatrical trailers.
  • Special Opening – Featuring a compilation of clips from the film that was actually used as the opening theme for episodes 70-73 of “Naruto Shippuden” in Japan.
  • Production Art – Featuring the film’s concept art that can be viewed by using your remote or keyboard’s left or right directional button

“Naruto Shippuden The Movie: The Will of Fire” comes with the Japanese theatrical trailer.

“Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Lost Tower” comes with the following special features:

  • Naruto and the Three Wishes – (14:46) An animated short that was shown after “Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Lost Tower” in Japan, the short takes place when Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura were training and discover a genie lamp willing to give three wishes.  But when the other groups hear about this, everyone wants the lamp to make their own wish.
  • Japanese Trailers – Japanese theatrical trailers for “Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Lost Tower”.
  • Production Art – Featuring the film’s concept art that can be viewed by using your remote or keyboard’s left or right directional button.

 

The Movie

A film that showcases a prediction of what if Naruto died in battle fighting a demon.  Can a priestess named Shion and Naruto and friends do all they can to prevent the prediction from happening?

An entertaining film but of the Shippuden films, this film is the weakest in terms of storyline.

The Will of Fire

When it comes to “Naruto” related films, for the most part, a lot of the films are not canon and really have no affect on the main storyline of the manga or anime series.

But what I enjoyed about “Naruto Shippuden The Movie: The Will of Fire” is that it brings up three important plot lines that Naruto fans who are watching the anime series have just seen. Important plot lines that do play a big part in the future of “Naruto Shippuden”.

Those three plot lines revolves around Naruto’s ongoing promise to Sakura that he would bring Sasuke back. The second revolves around Shikamaru’s promise to Asuma about protecting the children of the village and the third which revolves around Kakashi’s past of how he obtained the Sharingan and from who.

The first two are ongoing promises that are mean to be kept, while the third plays a much bigger part in the “Naruto Shippuden” series which is now being featured in Japan (note: America is a few years behind in storyline via anime series, and a few manga volumes behind from Japan).

But “The Will of Fire” is important to show the bond between the Konoha ninjas and as always with Naruto, he is never the type of person that would let anyone be hurt. He is a protector and his goal to be Hokage means protecting everyone from harm’s way.

And when both his goal and Shikamaru’s goal clashes, it’s quite interesting to see how their fellow teammates respond when they must stop Naruto, as some believe in what Naruto is doing and others knowing they have a mission to do and the mission is priority.

There is also another cool addition to this film and that is another fight between Naruto and Gaara which I was not expecting. It’s one thing for Naruto, Sakura and Sai to go after Kakashi and get into a duel with Hiruko’s protectors and also his own fellow ninja from Konoha, but to see Gaara involved and possibly meant to stop Naruto as well, that was cool to see another skirmish between the two, despite their admiration towards each other.

Suffice to say, this is an action-packed film and definitely one of the better summer “Naruto” films created because it has a stronger connection to the series when it comes to the characters and what they are fighting for. While the previous film “Bonds” was great to see Naruto and Sasuke fight against each other and briefly work together, “The Will of Fire” is much more exciting due to the amount of characters and battles involved.

Overall, “Naruto” fans will surely enjoy this movie. Naruto vs. Gaara, Naruto vs. his teammates in the hopes of saving Kakashi. Exciting, action-packed and definitely one the best “Naruto” films yet!

The Lost Tower

In the “Naruto Shippuden” anime and manga series, the Naruto storyline unveiling his family was one of the biggest surprises but for those following the series, we have gotten short glimpse of the Fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze.

And with “Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Lost Tower”, the fourth “Naruto Shippuden” film tries to show us more of Minato and his abilities but also giving fans a chance to see Minato and Naruto together but also to see familiar faces of characters (who are younger) who would be important during Naruto’s timeline.

“The Lost Tower” is one of the better “Naruto” animated films as the story is well-structured but as most animated summer films tend to be non-canon, at least the writers use the storyline to show a connection between Naruto and Minato but most importantly featuring an antagonist that is so powerful that even the Konoha ninja elite have a problem fighting him.

The story contains what you love about a Naruto film. His ability to have an impact on a person through his positive attitude but his character as a person who will protect the people that he cares about. And this film makes things extra special when you see both Minato and Naruto together in a film.

In Japan, the film aired with a special short which is included on this Blu-ray release. A fun storyline that involves Naruto finding a lamp with a genie that gives three wishes, what happens when everyone wants to make their own wish and try to get the bottle away from Naruto. As one can expect, hilarious moments and just a fun animated short that fans will no doubt be happy to see.

Bonds

When it comes to anime films, especially one based on a major anime series, most of the time, these films are not canon. They are typically summer films that are action-driven films that fans of the series tend to expect each year but whether or not they are good, it’s all subjective.

Of course, with the films, you get the bigger production and the films are much more beautiful too watch compared to the TV series, but one thing that “Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Bonds” does right is bringing back Sasuke, in another confrontation with Naruto which is pretty exciting as we know that Sasuke is an enemy to the Leaf Village.

Also, the film has a twist as the villain may surprise many people.

But the efficacy of this film is that it’s a well-written, action-driven storyline where Konoha Village is attacked and literally almost destroyed by the Sky Ninja. And aside from having Naruto and Sasuke together again, the coolest part of the film is seeing the awesome strategist Shikamaru once again leading the battle against the Sky Ninja and possibly my favorite is seeing Sai in battle but also one of our favorite Konoha ninja’s making his return in battle for this film.

And that’s not it, you also get to see Naruto change into the Nine Tail Fox as he goes against the Zero Tail Fox. We rarely get to see Naruto showcase his awesome power, but we get to see it in this film.

And whether or not this film is canon to the overall series, I’m not sure if it is or not but I’m guessing by the way things are playing out, the answer is possibly a yes.

So, there are a lot of positives going for this film! Full of action and drama!

Overall, if you are a “Naruto” fan, this DVD is worth it, as it carries four of the feature films in one collection.  But if you want the best picture and lossless audio quality, I recommend purchasing the Blu-ray releases.  But for many people, to pay a low price for four films will no doubt get “Naruto Shippuden” fans to become interested in purchasing this collection.  Recommended if you don’t own these four films on Blu-ray!

Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Gurren Lagann” can be described in one word and that is “Fantastic!” and it’s great that fans can enjoy the complete TV series and both animated films with this 10th Anniversary collection.  The set may not have the Aniplex swag or the special features of its previous Blu-ray or DVD sets but for those wanting to upgrade their sets to HD or those curious about “Gurren Lagann”, then the “Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © GAINAX, KAZUKI NAKASHIMA/GURREN LAGANN-MOVIE COMMITTEE. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box

DURATION: Episodes 1-27 + 2 Movies

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: August 8, 2017


Created by GAINAX

Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi

Assistant Director: Masahiko Ohtsuka

Series Directors: Kazuki Nakashima

Character Designs: Atsushi Nishigori

Mecha Designs: You Yoshinari

Design Works: Shigeto Koyama

Art Director: Yuka Hirama (BIHOU)

Color Design: Harumi Takahoshi

Director of Photography: Toyonori Yamada

Editing: Junichi Uematsu

Sound Director: Tohru Nakano

Music: Taku Iwasaki

Produced by TV Tokyo, DENTSU, Aniplex


Featuring the following voice talent:

Katsuyuki Konishi/Kyle Herbert (as Kamina)

Marina Inoue/Michelle Ruff (as Yoko Littner)

Tetsuya Kakihara/Yuri Lowenthal (as Simon)

Yukari Fukui/Bridget Hoffman, Hynden Walch (as Nia)

Daiki Nakamura/Doug Stone (as Dayakka)

Kana Asumi (as Kiyal)

Kana Ueda/Stephanie Sheh (as Kinon)

Kisho Taniyama (as Kittan)

Masaya Onosaka/Steven Blum (as Leeron)

Mitsuki Saiga/Johnny Yong Bosch (as Rossiu)

Nobuyuki Hiyama/Sam Ergal (as Viral)

Rina Satou/Karen Strassman (as Kiyoh)

Shizuka Itou/Julie Ann Taylor (as Boota and Darry)


Gurren Lagann returns in a complete TV series and 2 movies in Blu-ray box set. One of the most cherished animation titles lives in your memory forever!

This is the story of a man who has yet to realize what destiny holds in store for him….

In the distant future, mankind has lived restlessly underground for hundreds of years, subject to earthquakes and cave-ins. Living in one such village are two young men: one named Simon who is shy and naïve, and the other named Kamina who believes in the existence of a “surface” world above their heads. The destiny of these two starts moving drastically when the ceiling of their village falls in, and a gigantic “Gunmen” and a beautiful girl named Yoko, wielding a superconductive rifle, come from the surface. Together, Kamina, Simon and Yoko ride the mecha “Lagann” that Simon digs out of the ground, and fly up to the surface!


It’s considered one of the best mecha anime series ever created.  And now “Gurren Lagann” is celebrating it’s tenth anniversary and what best to celebrate the anime series than by re-releasing the series but also the two animated films on one complete Blu-ray set available courtesy of Aniplex USA!

So, what is “Gurren Lagann” all about?

GAINAX brings us a mecha anime series and having created so many and with so many created for so many decades, you often wonder if innovative, imaginative storylines can still be developed. Well, with “GURREN LAGANN”, the creators of this anime series manages to create something unique, fun, explosive and just enjoyable.

The popular anime titled “Tengen Toppai Gurren Lagann” aired on TV Tokyo back in April 2007 and completed it’s 27-episodes by Sept. 2007 and centers around two characters Simon and Kamina. Both live underground with a bunch of orphans and due to earthquakes, they developed a system of people using manual drilling holes in order to move around.

But one day, the life of a young driller named Simon discovers a small mini drill underground. Simon is a shy young guy. Not too confident in himself and hates how his parents were killed during an earthquake. So, he works hard in order for everyone to live but also to collect whichever treasure he can find. While continuing his digging, he discovers a small drill and not long after, he discovers a huge robotic face.

As for Kamina, he’s the cool leader of a gang. He once saw the atmosphere with his father a long time ago and dreams of making it up to the surface but no one underground believes him. He comes up with a plan to get to the surface with the help of Simon’s drill. T

he plan backfires and Kamina is put into a jail. Meanwhile, a big monster robot-like figure comes out of the sky and lands in the group’s village underground. A girl sporting a bikini top and tight short shorts with a large rifle starts fighting with the monster robot. Her name is Yoko and all of a sudden both Kamina and Simon try to assist her.

As the monster grows vicious, Simon introduces Kamina and Yoko to what he found underground. It happens to be a small robot that Simon takes control of and eventually the three fight the robotic monster and end up defeating it. Also, end up making it above the surface where they discover sunlight, blue skies, mountains and more…monster robots. It is learned that these things are called “Gunmen” and are piloted by Beastmen who have a hatred towards humans.

The three must survive and outwit and defeat the Gunmen and with Kamina’s leadership and willing to take anything head on with his machismo ego, he calls Simon’s robot Lagann. Kamina eventually comandeers a Gunmen robot and calls it Gurren. As a duo, the group is called Gurren Lagann.

  1. Episode 1 – Bust through the Heavens with your Drill! – The main episodes that introduces us to Simon, Kamina and Yoko. The three join forces to take on the monster gunmen.
  2. Episode 2 – I Said I’m Gonna Pilot That Thing!! – With Simon having his own robot and more Gunmen showing up to fight, Kamina decides to get a gunmen mecha all for himself which he names “Gurren”. But they get some support from the people of Yoko’s village and the village’s top mechanic, Leeron (a savvy and intelligent mechanic but who happens to be gay and not afraid to flirt with Kamina and Simon). But with Kamina and Simon now having their own mecha’s, they name their team “Gurren Lagann”.
  3. Episode 3 – Who Do You Think You Are, Having Two Faces? – With the defeat of the Beastmen and their Gunmen, Simon, Kamina and Yoko go to hunt for some food but while Kamina retrieves some food, he runs into a Beastman named Viral. A savage warrior who becomes the major rival for Kamina.
  4. Episode 4 – Having Lots of Faces Doesn’t Make You Great! – After the battle with Viral, Simon, Kamina, Yoko and Leeron decide to destroy the Beastmen’s base. By eliminating it, the group might have that peace that they wanted. But while looking for food, the group run into another group known as the Black Siblings…friend or foe?
  5. Episode 5 – I Don’t Get It, Not One Bit! – As the group continues on their travels, they end up in another underground village and brought their by a teen named Rosiu. But in this village, they have their own strict religion and strict rules in which they can only keep their population at 50 people or less. Well, things change when a couple has a set of triplets, thus going over the 50-person mark. So, each person must draw a stick and whoever has a colored stick must leave the village and create a new life up in the surface.
  6. Episode 6 – There are Some Things I Just Have to See! – There are two versions of episode 6.  The unedited version and the OA version which is part of the special features.  For the unedited version, the group really smell bad and it seems they met some luck as they are invited to the hot springs with food galore!  The group run into their friends, the three women of the Black Siblings and as the group relaxes in the hot springs, both Kamina and Simon can’t stand hearing the women talk about their breasts.  Being the horny guys that they are, both men do what they can do get a peek of the ladies nude.  But awaiting them is some trouble as well courtesy of the Beastmen.
  7. Episode 7  – You’re Gonna Do It! – With the defeat of the Beastmen, Viral makes his return but this time, one of the four leaders who pilots a giant Gunmen fortress.  While Gurren Lagan tries to fight them, they are joined by some old friends who have followed Kamina’s lead and stolen some gunmen for themselves.
  8. Episode 8 – Later, Buddy – With Simon’s quick thinking in the last episode, the group manages to get the Gunmen fortress to be trapped.  But Kamina wants to take control of the fortress in order to protect everyone and this time have a super combination to create Dai Gurren Lagann.  So, one major battle in order to take the Beastmen leader’s mega fortress.   But while Simon starts to think about Yoko and tell her his feelings for her, he sees both Kamina and Yoko kissing.  So, as they go into battle, Kamina depends on Simon to have Lagann penetrate the fortress but because his emotions all out of whack due to seeing the kiss, it’s going to cost someone’s life.
  9. Episode 9 – What, Exactly, Is a Human? – With the events of the last episode, everyone is in mourning.  Meanwhile, a new character named Nia is introduced.  Who is she and why is she so curious about humans?
  10. Episode 10 – Who Is This Bro? – The group comes head to head against Adiane, the second of the Spiral Kings Four Divine Generals.  But retreats when she sees Nia.  It appears Nia is the daughter of the Spiral King.  Nia appears to be very naive about humans, their emotions, etc.  She doesn’t understand why Simon would be depressed over someone who’s dead.
  11. Episode 11 – Simon, Hands-off – The team meets Guame, the third of Spiral Kings Four Divine Generals.  He uses Beastmen disguised as women to fool the crew and ends up taking over their ship and putting the crew underground in prison.  Only Simon and his drilling can save the day and for Nia, she learns why she was discarded by her father.
  12. Episode 12 – Yoko, Will You Do Me a Favor? – Team Dai-Gurren’s fortress needs to be refitted to travel in the water.  So, the crew goes through a little R&R and becomes too friendly with Nia and favoring her over Kyoko.  Kyoko is not sure he can trust her and sure enough, the crew goes into battle against Adiane.
  13. Episode 13 – Eat Up, Everyone – Nia really wants to fit in, so she found a job for herself, to become a cook.  Meanwhile, Cytomander, the fourth of Spiral King’s Divine Four Generals makes his attack on the crew and with Rossiu sick, Kyoko must fill in and be Simon’s co-pilot for Gurren Lagann.
  14. Episode 14 -Well, Met Everyone – The crew arrives near the Beastman Empire but must take on the last two of Spiral King’s Four Divine Generals – Cytomander and Guame to the death.
  15. Episode 15 – I Will Head Towards Tomorrow – Team Dai-Gurren now has one final battle left and that’s against the Spiral King.  It’s all or nothing!
  16. Episode 16 – Compilation Episode – This episode serves as a bridge for between the first arc and the second arc of the series.  It’s literally a special episode condensing major scenes from the first 15 episodes to one episode.  Mainly focusing on Kamina, Simon, Kyoko and Nia.
  17. Episode 17 – You Don’t Know Anything – With Team Dai-Gurren successful against the Spiral King, the series flash forwards seven years later.  The planet has flourished with cities and vehicles, Simon, Rossiue and everyone else has grown up.  People own homes and have their own jobs.  Simon is in his early 20’s and is the Supreme Commander and is bored doing paper work.  Rossiu is the Chief who does all of the work but unlike Simon, holds an iron fist on how the city should be ran and for some members of Team Dai-Gurren are just head employees who answer phones.   They wonder what Lord Genome meant by his final words before he died of a new emanating threat and sure enough, that threat has materialized on the planet.  Meanwhile, something has happened to Nia.
  18. Episode 18 – Tell Me the Secrets of the World – A new evil has appeared on the planet and says that because Earth has reached 1,000,000 people and has used Spiral technology to further their growth, they will now be exterminated.  Simon goes to battle against one of the enemies and succeeds in defeating it but since the enemy is composed of energy, that energy becomes like bombs and when Simon defeated the enemy and it exploded, in essence many people have died, buildings and structures destroyed and people want blood…Simon’s blood.    Nia’s true purpose is revealed and Rossiu keeps a secret.
  19. Episode 19 – We Will Survive, By Any Means Necessary – The public is very upset against the government because of the destruction and deaths from the Gurren Lagann attack against the Anti-Spiral and Second-in-Command Rossiu knows the only way they will appease the public is with the arrest and the execution of Simon.  But with another attack on the city by an Anti-Spiral, Rossiu has to release Simon temporarily from custody to fight the enemy.
  20. Episode 20 – How Far Will God Test Us? –  Simon is put into the same prison with his cell next to Viral.  Meanwhile Kittan who is incensed that his sister is siding with Rossiu in the execution and imprisonment of Simon.
  21. Episode 21 – You Are Someone Who Ought To Survive – The story shifts to Yoko as a school teacher who is stern but caring for the kids.  When she finds out what is happening with Simon, she decides that she must return back to Kamina City immediately.
  22. Episode 22 – This is My Final Duty  – Rossiu must make the most difficult choice by trying to rescue as many people he can in a secret spaceship and escape the planet but knowing that many will have to perish from the moon crashing down on the planet.  But on planet, Simon and Viral team up with Gurren Lagann and Arc Gurren as both join forces to form Arc-Gurren-Lagann and stop the Human Extermination System that the Anti-Spirals have implemented.
  23. Episode 23 Let’s Go, This is the Final Battle – Team Dai Gurren prepares for the war against the anti-spirals.  Meanwhile, Rossiu who is amazed with how Simon is able to save everyone, decides that his life is not worth living.  Can Simon get to Rossiu in time?
  24. Episode 24 – I Will Never Forget This Minute, This Second – With the help of Lordgenome, while Rossiu takes command on the planet, Simon and Viral lead several members from Team Dai Gurren to transport right into the Anti-Spirals home world.  Simon had made a promise that he would save Nia and is determined to do so.  Meanwhile, the Team suffers a loss of a few team members.
  25. Episode 25 – I Accept Your Last Wish – Team Dai-Gurren is caught in the ocean of despair set by the Anti-Spirals.  Meanwhile, another major team member of Team Dai Gurren sacrifices his life to save his friends.
  26. Episode 26 – Let’s Go Buddy – Simon,Viral and Team Dai Gurren combine into Super Galaxy Gurren-Lagann in order rescue Nia.  Meanwhile, the Anti-Spiral uses their own memories against them.  But a familiar face from the past is there to help Simon, Kyoko and Team Dai Gurren.
  27. Episode 27 – The Lights In the Sky Are Stars – One of the Team Dai Gurren members decides to take a stand against the Anti-Spiral and sacrifices themself in order for Simon to gain the enemies drill.  Simon, Nia, Viral and Team Dai Gurren put everything they have on the line to become the galaxy sized Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann in the final battle against the enemy.

As for the films…

In 2008, GAINAX immediately went to work on two animated films that would capture both storyline arcs in “Gurren Lagann The Movie ~Childhood’s End” and “Gurren Lagann the Movie – The Lights in the Sky are Stars”.

“Gurren Lagann the Movie -Childhood’s End-” is a compilation of series of events that took place in the first 16 episodes of the popular 2007 animated TV series “Gurren Lagann”, while “Gurren Lagann the Movie – The Lights in the Sky Are Stars-” features the final eleven episodes from the TV series.

The series centers around two characters Simon and Kamina. Both live underground with a bunch of orphans and due to earthquakes, they developed a system of people using manual drilling holes in order to move around. But one day, the life of a young driller named Simon discovers a small mini drill underground. Simon is a shy young guy. Not too confident in himself and hates how his parents were killed during an earthquake. So, he works hard in order for everyone to live but also to collect whichever treasure he can find. While continuing his digging, he discovers a small drill and not long after, he discovers a huge robotic face.

As for Kamina, he’s the cool leader of a gang. He once saw the atmosphere with his father a long time ago and dreams of making it up to the surface but no one underground believes him. He comes up with a plan to get to the surface with the help of Simon’s drill. The plan backfires and Kamina is put into a jail. Meanwhile, a big monster robot-like figure comes out of the sky and lands in the group’s village underground. A girl sporting a bikini top and tight short shorts with a large rifle starts fighting with the monster robot. Her name is Yoko and all of a sudden both Kamina and Simon try to assist her.

As the monster grows vicious, Simon introduces Kamina and Yoko to what he found underground. It happens to be a small robot that Simon takes control of and eventually the three fight the robotic monster and end up defeating it. Also, end up making it above the surface where they discover sunlight, blue skies, mountains and more…monster robots. It is learned that these things are called “Gunmen” and are piloted by Beastmen who have a hatred towards humans. The three must survive and outwit and defeat the Gunmen and with Kamina’s leadership and willing to take anything head on with his machismo ego, he calls Simon’s robot Lagann. Kamina eventually commandeers a Gunmen robot and calls it Gurren. As a duo, the group find a way to combine their own two mechs and thus Kamina and Simon form Gurren Lagann, which is also the name of the team that will fight for humanity against the Spiral King and their minions.

Throughout the film, we see how both Kamina, Simon along with Yoko leave the underground city and take on various gunmen and together with savvy, intelligent and flamboyant mechanic Leeron, along with other humans they meet along the way, one by one, Team Gurren Lagann take on the Spiral King’s Four Divine Generals: Viral, Adiane, Guame and Cytomander. And along the way, they meet with a mysterious girl named Nia and leading up to the final battle against the Spiral King.


VIDEO:

“Gurren Lagann” the series finally gets its release on Blu-ray! The character designs by Atsushi Nishigori are fresh and very different. I truly dig the character designs and the whole anime is quite colorful and looks stylish and pretty cool.

With the series remastered in HD, the clarity of the series is much more evident, colors are much more vibrant and overall animation is much more sharper. “Gurren Lagann” looks fantastic in HD!

“Gurren Lagann the Movie -Childhood’s End-” and “Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars-” are presented in 1080p High Definition (1920 x 1080p).

The character designs by Atsushi Nishigori are fresh and very different when comparing it to other anime series/films. I truly dig the character designs and the whole anime is quite colorful and looks stylish and pretty cool. The artist backgrounds to the animation, explosions, character designs, mecha designs and the planning that went in to this series was quite amazing and it looks great in the film. You will noticed even more detailed artistic backgrounds and animation with the additional new footage added to the film.

Vibrant, colorful and awesome looking! Of course, with that being said, it would definitely be a plus if this film was released on Blu-ray, but since it’s on DVD, you will see edge enhancement at times. But for the most part, “Gurren Lagann” was one of the rare anime series that was unique in presentation and Gainax definitely put a lot of time and effort into the creation of this TV series and it’s so awesome to finally watch this series in HD on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “Gurren Lagann” is presented in both English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo.

I’ve watched both episodes in Japanese and English and as much as I enjoyed the Japanese voice track, when I watch an action-packed mecha, it’s great to finally listen to the audio in lossless Linear PCM Stereo. With that being said, I am very pleased with the English vocal dub. You have quality voice talent with Kyle Herbert as Kamina (does the voice of Son Goku in “Dragon Ball Z”), Michelle Ruff as Yoko (does the voice of Rukia for “Bleach”) and Yuri Lowenthal (does the voice for many video games and anime such as Sasuke Uchiha for “Naruto”) involved. So, whether you listen to the soundtrack in Japanese or English, both are well-done!

As for audio for “Gurren Lagann the Movie -Childhood’s End-” and “Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars- ”, both are presented Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo.

Audio is well done as we can hear the dialogue and special effects and music quite clearly through the center and front channels but also hear the various sound effects coming from the surround channels as well.  Overall, a pretty awesome mix and audio is crystal clear in lossless HD.

While the English dub is featured in the TV series DVD release by Bandai Entertainment, there is no English dub featured for both films from Aniplex.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless opening and ending – For those who love the cool music of opening theme “Sorairo Days” by Shoko Nakagawa and ending theme “Underground” by High Voltage.
  • OA Version of episode 6 –  With this episode being quite a bit sexual as Kamina and Simon try to get a peek at the women without their clothes on in the hot tubs, this version that aired on the Sci Fi Channel features more of a flashback episode and edited with less focus on the horniness of Kamina and Simon and more about them working together as a team.

EXTRAS:

“Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box” comes with a slipcase featuring illustration by You Yoshinari (Mechanical Design).


I can’t help but think how awesome this series was to watch! From the stylish presentation, the wacky humor, the adult-like humor and perverseness and the imaginative mecha Gunmen robots and attack modes, the battles and the fun characters and the music, there is just too much to like about “Gurren Lagann”. I absolute found the series to be quite fantastic!

The character of Kamina is just so wild and crazy with how he is just so carefree and just doesn’t plan for battle, he just does what he believes in and what he thinks is right and decides at the spur of the moment. He has a way with his words, no matter how crazy it may sound but it makes his character so cool!

As for Simon, he is simply the underdog. He is a major component to the team because he pilots Lagann but at the same time, his fear and his emotions get the best of him.

Yoko, her character is sexy and cool. Sometimes you wonder if GAINAX or the character designer Atsushi Nishigori created such a sexy character for the purpose of being sexy or for the fact that many cosplayers will try to emulate the character and not wear much clothes. Nevertheless, her character is cool as her body features somehow provide the fan service and also gets Simon distracted.

And of course, you have a group of other characters that are starting to come their own and as we become supportive human characters, you take special notice of their mecha (Gunmen). They have a sort of character themselves because they are an extension of the people that pilot them but the amount of power demonstrated by them and what is unknown about the gunmen they pilot is just amazing.

And of course, this anime series is action-packed. In fact, there is a good balance of humor and action and each episode keeps your eyes glued to your television set and when it’s all done, it leaves you craving for more.

As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality is vibrant and sharpness of the overall animation is much more evident in this HD version versus compared to the Bandai Visual releases from several years ago. Painted backgrounds feature much more detail and the overall animation looks magnificent in HD! Also, the lossless soundtrack is in Japanese/English Linear PCM Stereo, thus the soundtrack sounding much more crisp and clear.

“Gurren Lagann” can be described in one word and that is “Fantastic!”

As for the films, you’re essentially getting parts of the the series including new animation included on each of the two films to form an abridged storyline.

This is quite common in Japan to see a popular TV series and OVA series created into an animated film and the fans look at it as an extra and additional extension to the TV series, others look at it as a less time consuming way to learn about the story of a popular series in two hours versus watching 8 hours of a series.

When it comes to films like this, I’m not a big fan of them because you are losing out important details of the storyline. This first “Gurren Lagann” film is only 112 minutes and the first 16-episodes is 320 minutes of content while the second film features the final eleven episodes and trying to condense around 230 minutes or so of footage into 126 minutes. Naturally, you are missing out on other plots, especially character development driven storylines but the creators did do a good job in focusing on the essentials for the film. Personally, I recommend watching the entire TV series because this is one series that is too good to just watch the film and not knowing the true storyline of how things developed in the series.

But by no means are the films bad. They are well-done, well-edited and for the most part, a lot of thought went into how to present the complete series into two films. And while this is common in Japan for popular series, at least GAINAX went through the effort of adding new animation to the two films.

What I do like about these films and these two releases are how they are geared to the hardcore fans of the TV series. And one thing that I have wanted to see is a Blu-ray release because this series is so gorgeous, it deserved to be featured in HD on Blu-ray with a lossless soundtrack.

But if there is one major caveat if you compare the 2014 Blu-ray set vs. the Aniplex DVD set released in 2010, all of the special features and extras that came with the DVD set are not included. So, for collector’s purposes, it’s unfortunate that only the older 2010 DVD release came with the postcards and “Parallel Works” special features.

So, I approach this release in two different ways. As a fan of the series, I recommend watching and owning the original series because that is how this series was meant to be seen. I will say that on its own, it’s still a pretty good film but because they skip over many scenes, it’s quite noticeable to the fan of the series. Otherwise, if you have never seen the series, I’m sure this film would definitely be entertaining but at the same time, hopefully it inspires the viewer to go out and watch the complete series.

But the big question many people may want to ask if the set is worth owning.  And for those who own the previous Blu-ray releases, is there anything new with this set?

Well, if you own the previous Aniplex Blu-ray releases, then the answer is no.  This set is mainly for those who want to upgrade their DVD sets to HD or for hardcore fans who want to own everything “Gurrenn Lagann”.

But for those who owned the “Gurren Lagann TV Series Limited Edition” set from 2013, the special features such as the Yoko goes to GAINAX, the GAINAX Interview, Sangizen 3D Test Footage, Shokotan Interview are NOT included on this Blu-ray set.  Nor are the deluxe illustration booklets or the postcards, poster or stickers included with this set as well.

And if you own the older 2009 Limited Edition DVD releases that came with a manga and the TV series CD soundtrack, this Blu-ray set does not come with either.

But to be fair, you get better picture and audio quality, you get both films included on this set.  So, for those who want the better picture and audio quality will surely want to own the Blu-ray releases.  But for hardcore fans, if you own the previously released limited edition DVD sets, I would hold on to them for the special features and extra swag.

Overall, “Gurren Lagann” can be described in one word and that is “Fantastic!” and it’s great that fans can enjoy the complete TV series and both animated films with this 10th Anniversary collection.  The set may not have the Aniplex swag or the special features of its previous Blu-ray or DVD sets but for those wanting to upgrade their sets to HD or those curious about “Gurren Lagann”, then the “Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box” is recommended!

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Boruto – Naruto the Movie (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a big fan of the “Naruto” manga/anime series, I highly recommend “Boruto – Naruto the Movie”. Action-packed, full of drama and excitement. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2002 Masashi Kishimoto/2007 Shippuden, BMP 2015. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Boruto – Naruto the Movie

ORIGINAL THEATRICAL DATE: 2015

DURATION: 90 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, DTS-HD Master Audio: English and Japanese 5.1,  2.0 Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: March 28, 2017


Originally Created by Masashi Kishimoto

Director: Hiroyuki Yamashita

Screenplay: Masashi Kishimoto

Character Design by Hirofumi Suzuki, Masashi Kishimoto, Tetsuya Nishio

Music by -yaiba-, Yasuharu Takanashi

Art by Akemi Konno, Kazuyuki Hashimoto, Kentaro Akiyama, Masanobu Nomura, Mutsuo Koseki, Naruyo Kiriyama, Satoshi Matsuoka

Art Design by Hiroto Tanaka, Masaaki Endou

Chief Animation Director: Tetsuya Nishio

Anime Production: Pierrot


Featuring the following voice talent:

Junko Takeuchi/Maile Flanagan as Naruto Uzumaki

Yuko Sanpei/Amana C. Miller as Boruto Uzumaki

Akira Ishida/Liam O’Brien as Gaara

Chie Nakamura/Kate Higgins as Sakura Uchiha

Daisuke Namikawa/Xander Mobus as Momoshiki

Hana Takeda/Laura Bailey as Kurotsuchi

Hidenori Takahashi/Max Mittelman as Konohamaru Sarutobi

Hiroki Yasumoto/Wally Wingert as Kinshiki Otsusuki

Kokoro Kikuchi/Cherami Leigh as Sarada Uchiha

Kouki Miyata/Brian Beacock as Chōjūrō

Nana Mizuki/Stephanie Sheh as Hinata Uzumaki

Noriaki Sugiyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Sasuke Uchiha

Ryota Takeuchi/Catero Colbert as Darui

Ryūichi Kijima/Robbie Daymond as Mitsuki

Satoshi Hino/Ben Diskin as Sai

Showtaro Morikubo/Tom Gibis as Shikamaru Nara

Yoichi Masukawa/Brian Donovan as Rock Lee

Atsushi Abe/Spike Spencer as Inojin Yamanaka

Hisao Egawa/Catero Colbert as Killer Bee

Kengo Kawanishi/Bryce Papenbrook as Yurui

Kensho Ono/Todd Haberkorn as Shikadai Nara

Saori Hayami/Melissa Fahn as Himawari Uzumaki

Yukari Tamura/Danielle Judovits as Tenten


Boruto: Naruto the Movie takes place in the Hidden Leaf Village with Naruto as the Seventh Hokage. The Hidden Leaf Village is planning to host the Chunin Exams to train new shinobi from the village and from their allied villages. Among the entrants are Sasuke’s daughter, Sarada, Mitsuki, an exceptionally talented yet mysterious shinobi… And Boruto, Naruto’s talented but impetuous son.

Meanwhile, Sasuke who’s been on a mission in another dimension appears before Naruto to warn of a strange impending danger. Shrouded with an evil aura, Momoshiki and Kinshiki appear and attempt to assassinate Naruto. Petrified, Boruto is shielded by Naruto, only to disappear in front of Boruto’s own eyes.


The popular manga series “Naruto” has been going strong since its debut in Shueisha back in 1999 via “Weekly Shonen Jump” magazine.   With 72 volumes published, the manga series ended in November 2014.  Meanwhile, the anime series, the first titled “Naruto” began in 2002-2007 and lasted for 220 episodes.  And would continue with “Naruto: Shippuden” which lasted from 2007-2017 with a total of 500 episodes created.

The original manga by Masashi Kishimoto is about a young ninja named Naruto Uzamaki, a ninja of the Konoha leaf village who grew up facing prejudiced within his fellow ninjas because the evil nine-tailed fox was sealed inside him. But throughout the series, we have seen how Naruto is a kind-hearted boy who has worked hard in protecting his friends and staying true to his word with the goal of someday becoming the next Hokage of the village.

In 2014, Kishimoto wrapped up the “Naruto” manga and in the final chapter (featured in volume 72), Naruto would eventually become the Hokage of the Leaf Village and he and his wife Hinata would have two children, Boruto and Himawari.

Meanwhile, Sasuke and Sakura would have a daughter named Sarada, Shikamaru Nara and Temari would have a son named Shikadai, Sai and Ino would have a son named Inojin and Choji Akimichi and Karui would have a daughter named Chocho.

Everyone has grown up and Naruto is busy as the new Hokage at the village, this causes resentment from Naruto’s son Boruto who feels that his father was never there for him or the family.

This leads us to the film “Boruto – Naruto the Movie” which featured anime production from Studio Pierrot, direction by Hiroyuki Yamashita, a screenplay by Masashi Kishimoto, music by -yaiba- and Yasuharu Takanashi and character design by Hirofumi Suzuki, Masashi Kishimoto and Tetsuya Nishio and art design by Hiroto Tanaka and Masaaki Endou.

The film begins with Boruto telling his story and him and his team partners, Sarada and Mitsuki being trained by Master Konohamaru and trying to capture a bear (or panda).   After their mission, the four go to see Naruto, the Seventh Hokage.

And as Boruto gets into a little argument with his father (for not being part of his life due to his duties as Hokage), he reminds his father about his sister and Naruto’s daughter, Himawari’s birthday and how he needs to be there.

Meanwhile a scientist comes in and introduces the group to a new invention.  Now, a jutsu can be contained in a mini-seal and put into a bracelet which gives anyone, ninja or not, the power to use a jutsu.  No chakra is even needed to use the new technology and the scientists want it used for the upcoming Chunin exam but Naruto is against it and believes a ninja should use their own skills.

Meanwhile, Boruto meets with the scientist and takes the special bracelet.

With the next Chunin exams coming up, Sarada and Mitsuki want to take the exam but Boruto, he has no desire.  He doesn’t want to be like his father and that means not wanting to be Hokage.  But for Sarada, she wants to be Hokage and tries to get Boruto to take part in the Chunin exam to let his father know he could do it.

Meanwhile, Sasuke Uchiha returns to the village and Boruto, not wanting to be anything like his father, goes to Sasuke to take him in as a pupil.  But Sasuke will only agree if Boruto can learn the Sharingan jutsu.

As the groups get ready for their Chunin Exam to see who will become a ninja, round three will be in front of a public audience.  During a battle Boruto uses the bracelet to best his opponent, but for Naruto, he is disappointed that his son resorted to such a tactic and disqualifies his son from the Chunin exam and also taking away his ninja bandana as punishment.

This leads to an argument and Boruto complains that his father is never there for him.  Meanwhile, a new evil force attacks everyone at the Chunin Exam.


VIDEO:

“Boruto – Naruto the Movie” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the film looks vibrant.  Colors look fantastic in HD and with this being a film ,there is a good amount of backgrounds and detail in the background artwork.  Picture quality is fantastic!

I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Boruto – Naruto the Movie” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0. Both soundtracks are fantastic and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the center, front and surround channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Boruto – Naruto the Movie” comes with the following special features:

  • Special Naruto OVA – (10:23) It’s Naruto’s big day as his inauguration as Hokage is about to take place.  But time’s getting late because Boruto and Himawari are arguing.  But what happens when Boruto upsets his little sister?
  • Clean End Credits
  • Storyboards – Featuring a gallery of the storyboards for the film
  • Art Gallery – Featuring an art gallery from the film.
  • Trailer – Featuring the Japanese trailers.

Watching “Boruto – Naruto the Movie”, I can’t help but be entertained by the fact that the film focuses on the children of the characters that many of us grew up reading.

“Naruto” having lasted so long as a manga and anime series was a big part of the lives of many people who watched “Naruto” grow from a child, to a teenager and a young adult.  Seeing how his heart and his passion would inspire so many but also seeing him determined to defeat those who threatened the village or his friends.

With Naruto, he is a student that felt he had to prove himself through hardwork and determination.

So, it’s fascinating to see how Boruto is much different than his father.  Naruto, who had always said he would become Hokage is now the new Hokage of the Leaf Village but this new role means being busy with work and unfortunately, that means no time spent with the family.

Hinata is literally taking care of both children and you can see how Boruto is upset at his father for neglecting them, but he harbors a bit of anger for his father not being there for him.

What’s even more interesting is that Boruto is not too aware of his father’s past and how he grew up, so he is not aware of the challenges or difficulties his father grew up with.

And because of his feelings towards his father, he asks his dad’s rival, Sasuke Uchiha to become his master.

But during this peaceful time, a lot has changed as well.  Scientists have developed bracelets with technology that allow anyone to harness jutsu used by ninjas and to make things worse, a new evil has decided to attack the Leaf Village during the Chunin exams (like what happened to Naruto and friends when he was much younger).

And I’ll leave it that.

This is a new beginning, a new chapter as Boruto will continue the storyline of the ninjas at the Leaf Village and while I’m not sure if “Boruto” will last for another 15 years but for this film to jumpstart the new generation and Naruto’s son, Boruto, now the focal point, needless to say, this series will be interesting, considering that he’s not like his father at all.

And if you think Boruto Uzumaki has special skills learned from his father, wait until one gets to see the included OVA which shows us how powerful Himawari Uzumaki can get.

As for the Blu-ray release, the film is vibrant and with it being a film, has more detail when it comes to art backgrounds.  Lossless soundtrack is also well-done and the voice acting for both Japanese and English dub are magnificent.

Overall, if you are a big fan of the “Naruto” manga/anime series, I highly recommend “Boruto – Naruto the Movie”.  Action-packed, full of drama and excitement.

Recommended

 

The Wild Life (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are looking for an animated film for the entire family featuring a Robinson Crusoe storyline and many talking animals, you may want to consider this animated film.  It’s not exactly the most child-friendly film but it’s an entertaining animated film worth considering for older children.

Images courtesy of © 2016 Summit Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Wild Life

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 91 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, (2:40:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Summit Entertainment

RATED: PG (Mild Action, Peril and some Rude Humor)

RELEASE DATE: November 19, 2016


Directed by Vincent Kesteloot, Ben Stassen

Written by Domonic Paris

Produced by Gina Gallo, Mimi Maynard, Domonic Paris, Ben Stassen, Caroline Van Iseghem

Executive Producer: Olivier Courson, Eric Dillens

Music by Ramin Djawadi

Casting by Gina Gallo, Mimi Maynard, Domonic Paris

Art Direction by Vincent Kesteloot, Anthony Leveque


Starring:

Carlos Alazraqui as Long John Silver

Yuri Lowenthal as Robinson Crusoe

Laila Berzins as Rosie

Joey Camen as Scrubby

Jeff Doucette as Mal/Pango

Sandy Fox as Epi

Kyle Hebert as Tom Cat

Marieve Herington as Kiki

Jay Jones as Friday

Colin Metzger as Carmello

Joe Ochman as Rufus

Michael Sorich as Cecil

Doug Stone as Aynsley

David Howard Thornton as Tuesday

Kirk Thornton as Bosun

Debi Tinsley as May


Things are larger than life on a tropical isle where wild animals rule, until a marooned human arrives in the midst of a furious storm and their lives are forever changed.


Way back in 1719, Daniel Dafoe wrote a novel titled “Robinson Crusoe”about a castaway who spent thirty years on a remote tropical island near Trinidad and trying to survive in hopes of being rescued.

As the tale of Robinson Crusoe has received various adaptations, in 2016, a Belgian-French CG animated film titled “Robinson Crusoe” (and renamed “The Wild Life” in North America) was released in theaters in Europe.

And now “The Wild Life” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Summit Entertainment.

The film begins with a red and green macaw named Mak and his friends living in an island in the South Pacific.  Mak is getting bored and dreams of life over the horizon and wants to explore the world.

Also, a pirate named Long John Silver and his crew of pirates rides the seas…

We are then introduced to Robinson Crusoe and his dog Aynsley who book a passage on a ship to explore the islands but when a tropical storm hits, Crusoe, Aynsley and wild and bad cats named Mel and May are locked in the ship’s hull and survive the storm.

When they awake, everyone is gone and Crusoe and Aynsley try to survive on the island.

As Mak and the animals fear the human and his dog, Mel and May try to attack Mak and kill him but he is rescued by Aynsley and Crusoe takes him in and names the Macaw, Tuesday.

But when Mel and May tell the other animals that Crusoe and Aynsley killed Mak, the animals go on a rampage and try to help the wild cats defeat Crusoe but finding out that they have been lied to by Mel and May.  Unfortunately, Mel and May cause an explosion on the remaining ship and in the process, Aynsley is killed.

Now Tuesday and the animals who now want to help the human Crusoe try to create shelter and help him survive on the island but will the evil cats, Mel and May prevent the animals from succeeding?


VIDEO:

“The Wild Life” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality for the most part is very good. CG animation is very well-done compared to previous European CG films that I have watched.

There is excellent detail throughout the film. For example, for Mak/Tuesday, you can see the wearing right on its beak and the amount of shading and detail, especially for his feathers.  Another example, is during a rainstorm and seeing the puddles of rain on the ship’s deck.  Fantastic!

Textures are also well detailed along with skin details for human characters.

Granted, many will want to compare with Pixar Animation films which cost many millions of dollars but it’s best not to compare and just enjoy of how good this film looks in CG and the evolving quality of Euro CG animated films.  “The Wild Life” looks great on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Wild Life” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and features crystal clear dialogue and great use of the surround channels and LFE for the film’s many actions sequences.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Wild Life” comes with the following special features:

  • A Wild World: Making the Wild Life – (9:16) The casting and the challenges of animating the film.
  • Meet the Characters – (10:09)  The voice actors discuss their characters.
  • Tips for Your Trip – (3:58) Robinson Crusoe gives tips of what to do if you are stranded in an island.
  • The Wild Life Musical Adventure – (3:13) A featurette showcasing various scenes from the film and the musical score.

EXTRAS:

“The Wild Life” comes with a slipcover, an UltraViolet code and a DVD version of the film.


Perhaps one of the best things that were decided when the Belgian-French film “Robinson Crusoe” was released in North America is changing the film’s title.

As Robinson Crusoe is a classic novel title, the animated film is less about Robinson Crusoe but a CG animated film that revolves more about the birds and animals living in an uninhabited island which Robinson Crusoe happens to be stranded on.

The film revolves around a parrot named Mak/Tuesday who dreams of going beyond the island and discovering life elsewhere, as he has grown bored of the island.

Meeting the stranded Robinson Crusoe and his dog Aynsley, Tuesday looks to Crusoe in hopes of taking him away from the island, not knowing that Crusoe is actually stranded.

But as the animals on the island fear Crusoe and his dog, you have two wild and mangy (and yes, evil) cats who serve as the film’s antagonists.  These cats remind me of the Gremlins (from the classic 1984 film) and somehow, these two cats are persistent and truly evil that their actions leads to one of the deaths of the film’s characters.  No doubt, earning the film it’s PG rating.  But similar to the Gremlins, these cats spawn and create more evil, mangy looking cats to join them in causing problems for Crusoe and animals.

But as the animals band together to help Crusoe, the film starts to focus more on the animals starting to enjoy Crusoe’s presence, but not all.

Meanwhile, throw in Long John Silver’s presence into the film and you have an interesting adventure for Robinson Crusoe and his bird, Tuesday.

Overall, “The Wild Life” is an entertaining CG animated film.  While it’s story is a tame version of what appears on the original Robinson Crusoe novel and focuses on Crusoe and the few animals that live with him, while in essence, this is an animated film, there are moments of peril and you have one character death.  So, parental guidance is definitely suggested.

Also, I have to say that for a European animated film, this is probably one of the better animated films I have seen in the last five years, when it comes to animation quality and detail.

But the film’s problem lies within its storytelling especially at the end. Despite the film’s adventures, the film ends far too soon and abruptly and tries to end its storyline with a brief narration, with still CG sequencs of what happens to the characters.

But I enjoyed the film for what it’s worth.  If you are looking for an animated film for the entire family featuring a Robinson Crusoe storyline and many talking animals, you may want to consider this animated film.  It’s not exactly the most child-friendly film but it’s an entertaining animated film worth considering for older children.

Bayonetta: Bloody Fate (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

bayonetta-a

“Bayonetta: Bloody Fate” compliments the original video game with its story, action, lewd humor plus its fantastic animation from Gonzo. But the animated film also serves as an introduction to the world of “Bayonetta” for those who are playing the “Bayonetta 2” video game on the Wii-U, having not played the original game. If you are a fan of the “Bayonetta” video games, then definitely give the animated film a try!

Image courtesy of © FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Bayonetta: Bloody Fate

DURATION: 90 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Anime News Network

RATED: M

Release Date: October 21, 2014


Director: Fuminori Kizaki

Screenplay by Mitsutaka Hirota

Storyboard by Fuminor Kizaki

Original Character Design by Mari Shimazaki

Character Design by Ai Yokoyama

Mechanical Design by Katanao Akai, Takashi Watabe

Produced by Gonzo


Featuring the following voice talent:

Atsuko Tanaka/Helena Taylor as Bayonetta

Daisuke Namikawa/Yuri Lowenthal as Luka

Mie Sonozaki/Grey DeLisle as Jeanne

Miyuki Sawashiro as Cereza

Norio Wakamoto/Grant Albrecht as Balder

Tesshô Genda/David Fennoy as Rodin

Wataru Takagi/John Kassir as Enzo


Twenty years after her awakening, Bayonetta is still searching for clues that could help unravel the mysteries of her dark past. Aided in her quest by the clandestine weapon smith Rodin – and his deadly creations: Scarborough Fair – Bayonetta continues to leave a trail of angel corpses in her wake. Her search for answers leads to encounters with a mysterious – and eerily familiar – little girl, a vengeance-obsessed journalist, and a deadly white-haired beauty that seems to know more about Bayonetta than the witch herself.


“Bayonetta” is one of the well-known third-person beat’em up games in America.  Developed by Platinum Games and Sega, the game is best known for its sexy protagonist, a witch named Bayonetta, who uses firearms and special attacks to fight against the angelic enemies.

With two games released in the U.S., an animated film based on the video game was produced by Gonzo and released in Japan back in 2013.  And the film was released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

Featuring the same voice cast from the video game, the animated film follows the events and the characters of the video game with slight changes.

The film starts with a narration about how the Umbra witches which serve the demons and the Lumen sages of Europe serve the angels and both worked together to ensure the balance of time.

But when a lumen sage and a umbra witch violated the decree and had a child together, the woman was imprisoned and the man was banished.

With the birth of the child, many feared what would happen.

With both clans producing an eye, to govern the power of creation, the forbidden child that was taken care of by the Umbra Witches possessed the power of the left eye.  When the eyes are brought together, Jubileas would be resurrected and would be incarnate once more.

The conflict over the left eye would lead a war between angels and demons.  In the end, it led to their destruction and the truth of their existence slipped into obscurity.  The child would grow up to be a witch but was kept in a secret place.

500 years later, the witch known as Bayonetta who slays angels has awakened with no memory of her previous life.

Meanwhile, a photojournalist named Luka tries to enter the church to expose the truth about Bayonetta and hopes to avenge his father who was killed by Bayonetta.

While Bayonetta fights a horde of angels, Luka who can not see them is unsure what is happening and tries to take pictures of her as she fights against Fortitudo, one of the four Cardinal virtues and defeats him.

As news shows the head of the Ragna believers making his first debut in public.  The head, Balder is a modern day sage and while Bayonetta, Rodan (a bartender and weapons master) and Enzo watch the news, Balder looks at the camera and says something which startles Bayonetta.

As Bayonetta continues to look into her missing memories, she feels that maybe Balder is the person that may bring back her memories.

Bayonetta heads to the valley and comes into contact with a little girl named Cereza runs toward her and calls her “mommy”.  She is surprised that the little girl can see the angels but suddenly they are attacked by angels.

As Bayonetta seeks out answers to restoring her memory, who is this young girl and why does she think Bayonetta is her mother?


VIDEO:

“Bayonetta: Bloody Fate” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  Gonzo did a wonderful job with the animation as the film compliments the videogame with beautiful character animation, special effects and backgrounds.  There are a few banding issues but for the most part, this animated film looks fantastic in HD with its vibrant colors and detailed character designs.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Bayonetta: Bloody Fate” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  The film features a wonderful, immersive lossless soundtrack thanks to the constant action throughout the film.  There is good use of the surround channels and explosions feature LFE and crystal clear dialogue.  Both lossless soundtracks are fantastic and the voice acting is wonderful!  Fans of the video game will no doubt enjoy the film for its use of the original voice actors from the video game.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Bayonetta: Bloody Fate” comes with the following special features:

  • Actor Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with ADR Director Jonathan Klein and voice actress Helena Taylor.
  • Storyboards – Navigate with your remote to see the storyboards from the animated film.
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer

For anyone who has enjoyed the “Bayonetta” video game, “Bayonetta: Bloody Fate” serves as a solid animated film based on a video game but also provides a storyline that may will want to watch if they delve into “Bayonetta 2” on the Wii-U without having played or beaten the first video game.

The storyline is rather intriguing because it features a role reversal as the witches/demons are seen as the good group, while the angels are seen as the evil group in the film and video games.

Of course, part of the most important factor of the “Bayonetta” video game is the main character’s sex appeal as she is constantly wearing a tight leather outfit and shooting her enemies and slashing at them without fear.

While the storyline has its slight differences from the video game, the storyline is pretty much on target about Bayonetta trying to learn more about herself and discovering things that may help her jog her memory.

Characters from the video game such as Luka and Bayonetta’s rival Jeanne, the antagonist Balder, the bar owner and weapon specialist Rodan and informant Enzo make their appearance in the animated film.  And like the video game, the profanity also carries over to the animated film.

As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality features fantastic animation and background artwork from Gonzo.  The colors from the film feature darker colors to vibrant colors which look great in HD.  There are some scenes with banding but for the most part, the animated film looks awesome!  As for the lossless audio soundtrack, it’s another plus with this animated film because it features constant action, the animated film sports an immersive soundtrack that utilizes the surround channels and LFE.  You also get a fascinating audio commentary with English dub voice actress Helena Taylor and ADR Director Jonathan Klein, storyboards and a theatrical trailer.

Overall, “Bayonetta: Bloody Fate” compliments the original video game with its story, action, lewd humor plus its fantastic animation from Gonzo. But the animated film also serves as an introduction to the world of “Bayonetta” for those who are playing the “Bayonetta 2” video game on the Wii-U, having not played the original game.

If you are a fan of the “Bayonetta” video games, then definitely give the animated film a try!

The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

swanp-arft-a

Fun, entertaining and action-packed, for parents with daughters or those who grew up with the original films will find “The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale” to be an animated family film worth watching.

Images courtesy of © 2013 Swan V LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale

FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 78 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Aspect Ratio), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (For Mild Peril)

Release Date: February 11, 2014

Directed by Richard Rich

Screenplay by Brian Nissen

Storyb y Richard Rich and Brian Nissen

Produced by Richard Rich, Seldo O. Young, Jared E. Brown

Executive Producer: Seldon O. Young

Music by J. Bateman

Songs by Jenny Frogley and J. Bateman

Featuring the voices of:

Yuri Lowenthal as Prince Derek

Elle Deets as Princess Odette

Jennifer Miller as Uberta

Joseph Medrano as Lord Rogers/Scully

David Lodge as The Forbidden Arts

Clayton James as Jean Bob

Gardner Jaas as Puffin

Doug Stone as Speed

Joey Lotsko as Mangler

Jeff Michaels as Cutter

Kirk Thornton as Jojo

Brian Nissen as Brodie/Ferdinand the Chef

Cahterine Lavin as Bridget

Carly G. Fogelson as Alise

The memorable characters of THE SWAN PRINCESS series are back for an all-new adventure! Shortly after the Royal Family adopts a young girl named Alise, she is taken away into the forest. Princess Odette, Derek and their woodland friends, Jean-Bob the Frog and Speed the Turtle, must work together to find a way to bring her home to the castle. With friendship, teamwork, original songs and plenty of laughs, THE SWAN PRINCESS: A ROYAL FAMILY TALE is a must-see for the whole family!

Back in 1994, the animated film “The Swan Princess” was born.  The original film was directed by former Disney animated director Richard Rich (“The Fox and the Hound”, “The Black Cauldron”) and since then, two more animated films were created and released direct-to-video with “The Swan Princess II: Escape from Castle Mountain” (1997) and “Swan Princess: The Mystery of the Enchanted Treasure” (1998) and in 2012, “The Swan Princess: Christmas” was released.

For those not familiar with the original storyline,  the storyline introduced us to King William and his daughter Odette, and widowed Queen Uberta and her son Prince Derek, and introducing them at a young age and as they become adults, they fall in love with each other.  But jealous of Prince Derek of having to rule the kingdom, the evil sorcerer Rothbart wants to make sure that in order to rule the kingdom, he must get rid of Derek and Odette.  Rothbart has put a transformational spell on Odette, changing her to a swan during the day and human at night.  The only way the spell can be broken is if the two believe in everlasting romantic love.  In the first film, Derek kills Rothbart and life for he and Odette is living happily everafter.

In Feb. 2014, “The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale”, the latest “Swan Princess” feature will be released on Blu-ray and DVD.

“The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale” features both Prince Derek and Princess Odette trying to have children.  Derek’s parents are quite verbal of how they want a grandchild and the two hope they will have a child.

But what the Royal Family is unaware is that The Forbidden Arts has arrived and is destined to destroy the Age of Goodness and the Swan Princess  with the help of a squirrel tribe which has been falsely told that the Swan Princess is destined to destroy all squirrels.

But as the squirrels try to kill the Swan Princess, they fail.  Thus leading the Forbidden Arts to go on a rampage and destroy the home of an innocent family.

As Derek and Odette see the blast, the two hurry to the area in which they find a young girl trying to rescue her father.  Derek manages to rescue the man but the man is mortally wounded and asks for Derek to watch over his daughter Alise and promise him.  Derek promises the man and the man passes away.

This leads to Derek, Odette and the servants at the castle to make Alise feel at home and both Derek and Odette fall in love with Alise and want to adopt her into their family and be her parents.

But in a calculated attack, the squirrels kidnap Alise and Derek’s parents.

And now Derek and Odette set off to rescue them.

VIDEO:

“The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1).  It’s important to note that this animated film is direct-to-video and it’s not made with the highest of budgets compared to a Pixar, Disney or Dreamworks animated film.  But the film is well-animated in the sense that it doesn’t look low-budget and the characters especially the animals look cute and will attract the attention of children.

But while scenery does look very good and is detailed, character animations may seem like older animation and not as detailed.  Which is not bad, but it’s important for people to not expect the kind of animation that they are use to seeing in the more expensive, higher budget animated films.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Swan Princess” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.  Dialogue and music is crystal clear.  There is a lot of music throughout this film and noticed that there is use of the surround channels for the more action-driven scenes.  Also, the voice acting by Yuri Lowenthall and Elle Deets is well-done!  Especially the talent who provided their singing voices throughout the film.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale” comes with two sing-along songs.

EXTRAS:

“The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale” comes with a Blu-ray, DVD and UltraViolet code for digital streaming of the film.  The slipcover also has a pink rubber princess tiara for young children.

swanp-arft-b

“The Swan Princess: Christmas” is an entertaining animated film for the entire family.

 

Many young parents grew up watching “The Swan Princess” when they were younger and now, they can enjoy this latest animated film as Derek and Odette start their own family.

As always with the theme of “The Swan Princess”, there is always something dark and brooding that wants to kill both Prince Derek and Princess Odette (the Swan Princess) and in this latest animated film, the Forbidden Arts has returned to try once again to end the “Age of Goodness” and to put an end to the Swan Princess.

While the first animated film did have tragedy, this one has a young girl being kidnapped by squirrels and and who have been duped that Princess Odette is out to end their entire species.  So, they want to stop that from happening.

 

But the film is not too violent and for children (boys and girls), they will be entertained by it.  I felt this film was created to include the younger children, unlike past films which were more for older children.

 

The release is also the first Blu-ray release for “The Swan Princess” and while the animated films were never known for the greatest animation, this one is for the children and they will no doubt love the film and probably won’t care if it’s not big-budget animation ala Pixar or Dreamworks.

 

Overall, “The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale” is the continuing story of Prince Derek and Princess Odette and for many people who grew up watching the original animated films back in the ’90s and are now adults and parents, will find the progression in the relationship of Derek and Odette similar to their own, as the two go on to start their own family.

 

Fun, entertaining and action-packed, for parents with daughters or those who grew up with the original films will find “The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale” to be an animated family film worth watching.

Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 9, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

tigerandbunny-movie

“Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” on Blu-ray is awesome!  Not only do you get an awesome film but you get the 2+ hour Japanese world premiere event plus many other special features include with the Blu-ray release!  If you were a fan of the anime TV series or the manga, then I highly recommend “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning”!

Image courtesy of © SUNRISE/T&B Movie Partners. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning

YEAR: 2012

DURATION: 92 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: October 1, 2013

Directed by Yoshitomo Yonetani

Series Composition by Masafumi Nishida

Music by Yoshihiro Ike

Original Creator: Hajime Yatate

Original Character Design by Masakazu Katsura

Hero Design: Masakazu Katsura

Anime Production: Sunrise

Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiroaki Hirata/Wally Wingert as Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger

Masakazu Morita/Yuri Lowenthal as Barnaby Brooks Jr.

Go Inoue/Patrick Seitz as Keith Goodman/Sky High

Hiroshi Iwasaki/Dave Wittenberg as Doc Saito

Katsuhisa Houki/Beau Billingslea as Ben Jackson

Keiji Fujiwara/Steven Blum as Jake Martinez

Kenjiro Tsuda/John Eric Bentley as Nathan Seymour/Fire Emblem

Koji Yusa/Liam O’Brien as Yuri Petrov/Lunatic

Mariya Ise/Laura Bailey as Pao-Lin Huang/Dragon Kid

Michiko Neya/Stephanie Sheh as Kriem

Minako Kotobuki/Kari Wahlgren as Karina Lyle/Blue Rose

Nobuaki Fukuda/Jamieson Price as Albert Maverick

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Michael Sinterniklaas as Ivan Karelin/Origami Cyclone

Rina Hidaka/Een Riegel as Kaede Kaburagi

Taiten Kusunoki/Travis Willingham as Antonio Lopez/Rock Bison

Wataru Yokojima/Daran Norris as Alexander Lloyds

Yuko Kaida/Tara Platt as Agnes Joubert

In the metropolis of Stern Bild, there are heroes who wear the logos of sponsors and protect the city from danger. Their exploits are broadcast on the popular HERO TV. Wild Tiger (Kotetsu T. Kaburagi) is a veteran superhero past his peak who is ordered by his company to team up with the rookie hero Barnaby Brooks Jr. Can these two mismatched superheroes overcome their differences to protect the city?

In 2011, the anime studio Sunrise, best known for its anime series for “Mobile Suit Gundam”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “Dirty Pair”, “City Hunter” to name a few, went on to work on anime series that would captivate older viewers but also something unique and different for anime fans.

And the 25- episode TV series “Tiger & Bunny” was created.  The series aired in Japan on April 2011 and also was seen in the U.S. via Hulu, the Anime News Network “Neon Alley”.

But in 2012, due to the popularity of the series, a film titled “Gekijo-ban Tiger & Bunny – The Beginning-” was released in theaters in September 2012 and also a simulcast screening in the USA.

And now “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Viz Media.

What is “Tiger & Bunny” about?

“Tiger & Bunny” takes place in NC1978 in the city of Sternbild City. 45 years prior, humans with supernatural abilities known as “NEXT” began appearing in the planet. And now, these people with special abilities and are superheroes sponsored by major corporations such as Pepsi, Softbank, Calbee, etc. and are featured on the popular reality TV show titled “Hero TV”.

Each season, these heroes try to achieve points by capturing/defeating criminals and the best ranked superhero will be crowned as “King of Heroes”. While each are competing with each other, often they work as a superhero team.

The primary characters are of “Tiger & Bunny” are:

  • Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger – One of the main protagonist, he is one of the oldest superheros and unlike others, tends not to listen to orders as he is the “Crusher of Justice” and could care less about the ratings. Because he causes too much damage and likes to do things alone, he was forced to take on a new partner, Barnaby Brooks Jr. Kotetsu is also a single father who never gets to see his daughter because of his superhero obligations, so she lives with his mother. His daughter is unaware that he is a superhero. Tiger’s power is the ability to increase his physical abilities for five minutes using his “Hundred Power”. His sponsors are Bandai and Softbank.
  • Barnaby Brooks Jr./Bunny – A rookie that is called “Bunny” by Kotetsu. He is more about strategy and is not as rash as Kotetsu. He has a reason why he became a superhero and that is to find the one who killed his parents. His sponsors are Amazon Japan and Bandai. He also has similar powers to Kotetsu and becoming “King of Heroes” is important to him.
  • Karina Lyle/Blue Rose – A popular girl in high school who wants to be a singer. She has freezing power abilities and is sponsored by Pepsi Nex and Suntory. She represents Titan Industry.
  • Keith Goodman/Sky High – A popular hero and is the current “King of Heroes”. He is upbeat and has the power to control air current. He is sponsored by Tamashii Nations and Ustream and represents Poseidon Line.
  • Nathan Seymour/Fire Emblem – An effeminate hero with flame abilities, Nathan wants to be part of the girls. He is sponsored by FMV and Animate and represents Helios Energy.
  • Huang Pao-Lin/Dragon Kid – A tomboy Chinese girl who has the power to generate electrical discharge. She lived in China with her parents but they wanted her to go to Sternbild City to become a hero. She is sonosred by Calbee and DMM.com and is represented by Odysseys Communication.
  • Antonio Lopez/Rock Bison – Kotetsu’s best friend since high school, his power is invulnerability. He is in last place of the Hero’s standings and is sponsored by Gyu-Kaku and represents Kronos Foods.
  • Ivan Karelin/Origami Cyclone – A young hero who is typically seen standing behind-the-scenes and not fighting, Ivan has the power to shapeshift and copy the appearance and voice of another. His sponsors are .ANIME and he represents Helperidese Finance.

What is “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” about?

The film establishes the beginning of Kotetsu and Barnaby’s partnership.  Why they became partners but most importantly how Kotetsu lost his first costume, his original sponsorship but most importantly filling in certain details that were not in the TV series.

While animated films are not typically canon, for “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning”, the film goes into those small details that fans can truly appreciate and it takes place during the time after the second episode in the TV series.

The movie is set not long after “Sky High” has won the title of “King of Heroes”.  But also the importance of being a hero is for Kotetsu, who made a promise to his deceased wife that he will always stay being a hero. So, despite being away from his daughter, who is unaware that her father is the superhero “Wild  Tiger”, she thinks that her father chooses work over being with her, when in truth, Kotetsu is trying to be a protector of the people.

And during the new season of the reality show Hero TV, after a pursuit of a suspect, sometimes being a hero, makes Kotetsu make the decisions without planning them and it often gets him in trouble, especially since his max power limit is only five minutes long.  While nearly falling to his death, he is rescued by Barnaby and immediately, we learn that Kotetsu’s old sponsor could no longer continue and that the new sponsor for Wild Tiger is the same sponsor for Barnaby.

While Kotetsu and Barnaby don’t get along at first, it’s even difficult to get the others to warm up to Barnaby as they consider him a rival on Hero TV.

And as Kotetsu tries to get used to his new partnership, all heroes must work together to stop a thief named  Robin Baxter, who has stolen a statue that represents the importance of heroes.  But what makes it difficult to stop Robin is his NEXT power to instantly switch and trade places with anyone he sees.

Can these heroes work together?

VIDEO:

“Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). “Tiger & Bunny” looks absolutely vibrant on Blu-ray. From the detail of the futuristic structures, the costume design for the characters in superhero form, the mechanical design of vehicles and costumes and just the many location shots utilized for this anime series alone, these days, you don’t see too many anime studios going all out for a TV series, but in this case, Sunrise went all out with “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning”.

Awesome character designs, background art is fantastic but just the character and mechanical designs featuring animation and CG is well-done. The character designs catches your attention with the colors and shading but the mechanical design and the superhero character designs look awesome. Even the art backgrounds as the futuristic city is well-painted, full of detail and adds to the overall look of the series.

“Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” looks magnificent in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” is presented in lossless English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio  5.1 and 2.0. Both are similar when it comes to special effects. Dialogue is crisp and clear but voice acting is well-done on both the Japanese and English soundtrack. But this time, you can hear the music and certain sound effects being utilized on the surround channels.  But the lossless soundtrack is fantastic and it’s great to see the film receive the 5.1 treatment.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” comes with the following special features:

  • World Premiere Event – (2:15:24) The live concert performance featuring the voice talent and performers in a concert/stage-like presentation for the world premiere of “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning”.
  • US Premiere Event – (3:59) Interviews with those who attended the screening of “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” at New People in San Francisco and those who took part in the cosplay competition.
  • Anime Expo 2012 Highlight Reel – (1:10) “Tiger & Bunny” presence at AX 2013.
  • Ustream Special Digest – (38:59) Featuring interviews with the Japanese voice talent, crew and also the US crew when it came to the simulcast and the world premiere event and more.
  • Production Art – View the production art of “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning”.
  • Special Pilot Trailer– (2:10) The special pilot trailer in Japanese.
  • Pilot Trailer – (:38) The original Japanese trailer for the pilot.
  • Preview – (2:30) Original Japanese preview for “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning”.
  • Promotional Video  – (3:42) Original Japanese promotional video.
  • Commercial Collection – (1:51) Original Japanese commercials for “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning”.
  • Theater commercials – (1:32) A hilarious commercial in Japan featuring real people wearing the suits for Wild Tiger, Barnaby and Sky High, discussing how to prepare for their viewing experience at a theater.
  • Weekly Hero Countdown – (12:35) A weekly hero countdown of who is on top in “Hero TV” (Japanese).
  • Clean Opening and Clean Ending

I have raved about “Tiger & Bunny” since watching the original TV anime series and while the series is completed, I’m not surprised that people want to see more of the characters.

I tend to look at how America has the Avengers or the Justice League of America, but when it comes to superheroes, aside from sentai, this is probably the superhero team of Japan, of course with the corporate sponsorship and reality TV show twist.

But one thing the animated series and also the manga series have in common is that the story focused strongly on Kotetsu and Barnaby and the progression of these two unlikely partners and friends, growing to be like brothers and watching each other’s back.

Of course, there is only so much story that can be focused on the relationship between these partners and so this is where the film comes in.  Showing more emotional details that the TV series never zeroed in on.

From Kotetsu’s promise to his dead wife, to the losing of his uniform and his original sponsorship and more details of getting his new uniform.  And we get to see more of Blue Rose especially, singing to an audience and no doubt the product placement from Pepsi as the name is brought up several times when she shows up on screen.

But if anything, I think for fans of the series, especially for Tiger and Bunny, the additional details are quite important.  But whether or not the film is canon with the TV series, who knows. But I feel it should be!  The film really does a great job of establishing the partnership between these unlikely individuals but most importantly, for those who have no time to watch the series, now they can enjoy the film and maybe be converted to becoming “Tiger & Bunny” fans!

While the TV series of course, goes into the characters flaws, the film does show a little of Kotetsu not being there for his daughter, but how his daughter became a big Barnaby fan.  For Barnaby, it doesn’t go into too much detail about his parents death but shows how he is driven to find out who killed them.

And as for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is vibrant and colorful. Sunrise is known for creating magnificent looking anime series but “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” features wonderful character and mechanical designs and a great balance between animation and CG.  The film looks colorful and vibrant on Blu-ray and the better lossless soundtrack at 5.1 makes a big difference!

But that’s not it.  Viz Media has also included something that surprised even me and that’s the Japanese “World Premiere Event” which is over 2 hours long.  The event features performances and a lot of cool extras for fans to enjoy.  You really don’t see this anymore on US releases but when they are included, not only are anime fans getting what they pay for but you’re getting a whole lot more with the Blu-ray release of “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning”.  Plus there are video from the Ustream event and the New People screening in San Francisco.  So, it’s a pretty jam packed Blu-ray release!

Overall, “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning” on Blu-ray is awesome!  Not only do you get an awesome film but you get the 2+ hour Japanese world premiere event plus many other special features include with the Blu-ray release!  If you were a fan of the anime TV series or the manga, then I highly recommend “Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning”!

Tiger & Bunny: Blu-ray Set 2 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Review)

June 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

tigerandbunny-set2

“Tiger & Bunny” was an awesome anime series when it first began and for its second half, it managed to become better and better with each episode!  I absolutely love this series and for anyone wanting a divergence from the banal anime series that they come across, and want something with a superhero angle but with humor, action and drama. “Tiger & Bunny: Blu-ray Set 2” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © SUNRISE/T&B Partners. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Tiger & Bunny: Blu-ray Set 2

YEAR: 2011

DURATION: Episodes 14-25 (280 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 19, 2013

Directed by Keiichi Satou

Series Composition by Masafumi Nishida

Music by Yoshihiro Ike

Original Character Design by Masakazu Katsura

Character Design by Kenji Hayama, Masaki Yamada

Art Direction by Kinichi Okubo

Mechanical Design by Kenji Andou

3D Director: Yoshikazu Kon

Anime Production: Sunrise

Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiroaki Hirata/Wally Wingert as Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger

Masakazu Morita/Yuri Lowenthal as Barnaby Brooks Jr.

Go Inoue/Patrick Seitz as Keith Goodman/Sky High

Hiroshi Iwasaki/Dave Wittenberg as Doc Saito

Katsuhisa Houki/Beau Billingslea as Ben Jackson

Keiji Fujiwara/Steven Blum as Jake Martinez

Kenjiro Tsuda/John Eric Bentley as Nathan Seymour/Fire Emblem

Koji Yusa/Liam O’Brien as Yuri Petrov/Lunatic

Mariya Ise/Laura Bailey as Pao-Lin Huang/Dragon Kid

Michiko Neya/Stephanie Sheh as Kriem

Minako Kotobuki/Kari Wahlgren as Karina Lyle/Blue Rose

Nobuaki Fukuda/Jamieson Price as Albert Maverick

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Michael Sinterniklaas as Ivan Karelin/Origami Cyclone

Rina Hidaka/Een Riegel as Kaede Kaburagi

Taiten Kusunoki/Travis Willingham as Antonio Lopez/Rock Bison

Wataru Yokojima/Daran Norris as Alexander Lloyds

Yuko Kaida/Tara Platt as Agnes Joubert

Hailed as the heroes who saved Stern Bild, Kotetsu and Barnaby face a volley of media attention that includes their learning how to dance! Then, Kotetsu deals with his conflicted feelings about continuing as Wild Tiger and visits his hometown to spend time with his family. He tries to discuss his feelings with Barnaby, but when a possible new lead comes up, Kotetsu gives his full attention to helping Barnaby find the murderer of his parents.

In the first half of “Tiger & Bunny”, Kotetsu and Barnaby were able to overcome the power Jake Martinez, the person that is responsible for the murder of Barnaby’s parents.

And now that both partners have been in sync, they have climbed on top of the ratings.  But suddenly, Kotetsu notices that his power has increased, but the minutes of having power has shortened.

He finds out from a good friend and a former boss, that Captain Legend, the hero that Kotetsu has idolized, also had that same problem and lost his power completely.  And this may be a sign that Kotetsu’s power may disappear within weeks.

With his powers in decline, Kotetsu heads home and realizes how his daughter has had a tough life being left alone with her grandmother since her mother died.  And not knowing that her father is a hero, she thinks her father just doesn’t want to be around her.

So, Kotetsu is contemplating spending more time and a family and retiring as a hero.  But just as he is about to tell Barnaby his plans, Barnaby finds out from one of Jake Martinez’ followers that Jake was not responsible for the murder of Barnaby’s parents.

This leads to Barnaby starting to have another mental breakdown and as for Kotetsu and his declining powers, can he quit now that his partner really needs him?

Find out in the second half of the popular anime series “Tiger & Bunny”!

What is “Tiger & Bunny”?

In 2011, the anime studio Sunrise, best known for its anime series for “Mobile Suit Gundam”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “Dirty Pair”, “City Hunter” to name a few, went on to work on anime series that would captivate older viewers but also something unique and different for anime fans.

And the 25- episode TV series “Tiger & Bunny” was created.

Directed by Keiichi Satou (“Saint Seiya the Movie”, “Karas”, “Asura”), a screenplay by Masafumi Nishida, music by Yoshihiro Ike (“Asura”, “Cobra: The Animation”, “Dead Leaves”), character designs by Kenji Hayama (“Baccano!”, “The Big O”, “Casshern Sins”, “Getter Robo: Armageddon”) and Masaki Yamada (“Ergo Proxy”, “Appleseed”, “Great Dangaioh”), background art by Kinichi Okubo (“Ex-Driver”, “Honey and Clover”, “Angel Beats!”), mechanical design by Kenji Andou (“Origini ~Spirits of the Past~”, “Votoms Finder”), Yoshikazu Kon (“Gurren Lagann”, “Shangri-La”, “Mobil Suit Gundam 00”).

The series aired in Japan on April 2011 and also was seen in the U.S. via Hulu and the Anime News Network. And most recently on Viz Media’s “Neon Alley”.

In Japan, a one-shot manga by Masakazu Katsura (“Video Girl Ai”, “DNA2”, “Zetman”) was published in “Weekly Shonen Jump” and in Sept. 2012, an animated film was released and a second film currently in production and planned for a fall 2013 release. Also, the anime series has led to a PSP video game released in Sept. 2012 and a second game released in March 2013 courtesy of Viz Media.

“Tiger & Bunny” takes place in NC1978 in the city of Sternbild City. 45 years prior, humans with supernatural abilities known as “NEXT” began appearing in the planet. And now, these people with special abilities and are superheroes sponsored by major corporations such as Pepsi, Softbank, Calbee, etc. and are featured on the popular reality TV show titled “Hero TV”.

Each season, these heroes try to achieve points by capturing/defeating criminals and the best ranked superhero will be crowned as “King of Heroes”. While each are competing with each other, often they work as a superhero team.

The series focuses on the partnership between two total opposites, the older hero Kotetsu (Wild Tiger) and the young star, Barnaby.  While both are popular on Hero TV, Kotetsu is a single father who feels it is his obligation to be a hero and protect the public, while his partner Barnaby is tormented by his parent’s murder and wanting justice.

The primary characters are of “Tiger & Bunny” are:

  • Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger – One of the main protagonist, he is one of the oldest superheros and unlike others, tends not to listen to orders as he is the “Crusher of Justice” and could care less about the ratings. Because he causes too much damage and likes to do things alone, he was forced to take on a new partner, Barnaby Brooks Jr. Kotetsu is also a single father who never gets to see his daughter because of his superhero obligations, so she lives with his mother. His daughter is unaware that he is a superhero. Tiger’s power is the ability to increase his physical abilities for five minutes using his “Hundred Power”. His sponsors are Bandai and Softbank.
  • Barnaby Brooks Jr./Bunny – A rookie that is called “Bunny” by Kotetsu. He is more about strategy and is not as rash as Kotetsu. He has a reason why he became a superhero and that is to find the one who killed his parents. His sponsors are Amazon Japan and Bandai. He also has similar powers to Kotetsu and becoming “King of Heroes” is important to him.
  • Karina Lyle/Blue Rose – A popular girl in high school who wants to be a singer. She has freezing power abilities and is sponsored by Pepsi Nex and Suntory. She represents Titan Industry.
  • Keith Goodman/Sky High – A popular hero and is the current “King of Heroes”. He is upbeat and has the power to control air current. He is sponsored by Tamashii Nations and Ustream and represents Poseidon Line.
  • Nathan Seymour/Fire Emblem – An effeminate hero with flame abilities, Nathan wants to be part of the girls. He is sponsored by FMV and Animate and represents Helios Energy.
  • Huang Pao-Lin/Dragon Kid – A tomboy Chinese girl who has the power to generate electrical discharge. She lived in China with her parents but they wanted her to go to Sternbild City to become a hero. She is sonosred by Calbee and DMM.com and is represented by Odysseys Communication.
  • Antonio Lopez/Rock Bison – Kotetsu’s best friend since high school, his power is invulnerability. He is in last place of the Hero’s standings and is sponsored by Gyu-Kaku and represents Kronos Foods.
  • Ivan Karelin/Origami Cyclone – A young hero who is typically seen standing behind-the-scenes and not fighting, Ivan has the power to shapeshift and copy the appearance and voice of another. His sponsors are .ANIME and he represents Helperidese Finance.

VIDEO:

“Tiger & Bunny” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). “Tiger & Bunny” is probably one of the best, recent anime TV series that I have seen in awhile. From the detail of the futuristic structures, the costume design for the characters in superhero form, the mechanical design of vehicles and costumes and just the many location shots utilized for this anime series alone, these days, you don’t see too many anime studios going all out for a TV series, but in this case, Sunrise went all out with “Tiger & Bunny”.

Awesome character designs, background art is fantastic but just the character and mechanical designs featuring animation and CG is well-done. The character designs catches your attention with the colors and shading but the mechanical design and the superhero character designs look awesome. Even the art backgrounds as the futuristic city is well-painted, full of detail and adds to the overall look of the series.

“Tiger & Bunny” looks magnificent in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Tiger & Bunny” is presented in lossless English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. Both are similar when it comes to special effects. Dialogue is crisp and clear but voice acting is well-done on both the Japanese and English soundtrack. While it would have been nice to have a 5.1 lossless track, especially since this series has plenty of action, the series does sound crisp and clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tiger & Bunny: Blu-ray Set 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Tamura & Katsura Exclusive Interview – (13:44) Interview with Kazuhiko Tamura (Sunrise) and original character designer, Masakazu Katsura and how he came up with the design for each hero.
  • Production Art – Using your remote (or keyboard), you can look at the production art of “Tiger & Bunny”.
  • Illustration Gallery – Using your remote (or keyboard), you can look at the illustration gallery of “Tiger & Bunny”.
  • Japanese Trailers – (3:57) The Japanese trailers for “Tiger & Bunny”.
  • Clean Opening and Clean Ending

Fantastic!  It’s the one word that I can describe the “Tiger & Bunny” series!

Earlier this year, a friend who attended Tokyo Anime Fair and Anime Contents Expo 2013, gave me a chance to see all the Tiger & Bunny cosplayers and some going so far to make the actual suits for Tiger and Bunny.   Even today, it’s hard for me to imagine that Masakazu Katsura, a mangaka and designer who I followed since “Video Girl Ai” and “DNA 2”, was behind the character designs of these heroes.

An anime series that manages to capture humor, action, drama with wonderful character designs, mechanical designs and art backgrounds, one can say that “Tiger & Bunny” is an animated series that is a total package.

From the first half of the anime series which goes into introducing us to each characters, the second half focuses on Kotetsu and Barnaby as partners but the trouble both face when Kotetsu begins to lose his powers (permanently) and Barnaby finds out that the person they battled and defeated, was not the person who killed his parents.

Suffice to say, both men are at their highest point as heroes but their lowest point as individuals.  For Kotetsu, quitting his job as a hero and focusing on spending more time with his daughter is important, but also his honor as a hero to protect and also be their for his partner is equally important.

As a person who enjoys anime, we have seen the team dynamic in many forms.

From the sentai teams of yesteryear, may it be “Gatchaman”, “Voltron” to super teams such as the Z-Warriors of “Dragon Ball Z”, the ninjas of “Naruto” or the high school friends as seen on “Bleach” and “Yu Yu Hakusho”.

But one thing that we often see in America through comic books, animated series and live action films are the superhero teams. May it be Marvel’s X-Men, The Avengers or Fantastic Four or DC’s Justice League of America, The Teen Titans or Legion of Super-Heroes and it has always been in the back of my mind, what if there was a caped superhero for an anime series?

We have seen a singular costumed heroes from anime series such as “Moldiver” and shows like the Kamen Rider or even Ranger series but what Sunrise was able to create with “Tiger & Bunny” is exciting, unique and different from anything ever featured in Japan.

Humans with special abilities known as NEXT who take on the bad guys, but in a twist, are featured on television and challenge other heroes of who can catch the most criminals and get the most points to increase their ranking, as each compete for the title “King of Heroes”.

The characters are nothing like American superheroes in the fact that these are individuals that are flawed.  The main protagonist Kotetsu is an older superhero who knows he is not a great father. He speaks to her on intercom but is never there to see her face-to-face and his daughter pretty much gave up on seeing him. He knows he causes trouble for the station because he causes quite a bit of damage and now, to help put him on the right path, he is given a partner with Barnaby.

And while Barnaby has a cool demeanor, a strategist who thinks first before attacking, he also has a tragic past that drives him to become a superhero and that is to find the killer responsible for killing his parents.

The two are joined by heroes that are interesting. Blue Rose is popular because of her sexy outfit and cute demeanor when fighting criminals but deep inside, she is torn between pursuing her dream to become a singer or being a hero. Dragon Kid is a tomboy and doesn’t like to wear cute things, but as she gets older, she is starting to discover her feminine side. Meanwhile, Fire Emblem is an effeminate hero who wants to be accepted by the girls, but yet is considered as a guy. Rock Bison is more interested in partying with Kotetsu and getting drunk than capturing criminals and now he is in danger of losing his job because he is in last place. And Origami Cyclone, a shy guy who has the power to shapeshift but feels it’s a worthless power and is more of a cheerleader than a person who does the fighting to capture the criminals.

Suffice to say, each of these characters are unlikely heroes but yet as a team, they are starting to work well with each other. But it takes time, and also, as much as they are a team when facing difficult criminals, they are also rivals trying to get the most points and representing their sponsors with pride.

“Tiger & Bunny” really is an anime series that is unlike anything I have seen before in my decades of watching anime.  And with this second half, the story becomes much more captivating, much better than the first half and I am definitely impressed with this series overall!

And as for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is vibrant and colorful. Sunrise is known for creating magnificent looking anime series but “Tiger & Bunny” features wonderful character and mechanical designs and a great balance between animation and CG. I was really impressed with how cool this series looks. And you get both Japanese and English soundtracks in lossless 2.0 and a few special features are included.

Overall, “Tiger & Bunny” was an awesome anime series when it first began and for its second half, it managed to become better and better with each episode!  I absolutely love this series and for anyone wanting a divergence from the banal anime series that they come across, and want something with a superhero angle but with humor, action and drama.

“Tiger & Bunny: Blu-ray Set 2” is highly recommended!

Gurren Lagann DVD TV Series Box Set – Limited Edition (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

May 19, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

I can’t help but think how awesome this series was to watch!  From the stylish presentation, the wacky humor, the adult-like humor and pervertedness and the imaginative mecha Gunmen robots and attack modes, the battles and the fun characters and the music, there is just too much to like about “Gurren Lagann”.   “Gurren Lagann DVD TV Series Box Set – Limited Edition” is definitely is definitely deserving of five stars and receives our highest recommendation!

Image courtesy of © GAINAX, Kazuki Nakashima/Aniplex, KDE-J, TV Tokyo, DENTSU. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Gurren Lagann DVD TV Series Box Set Limited Edition (天元突破グレンラガン Tengen Toppa Guren Ragan)

DURATION: Episodes 1-27

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 LB, Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: May 14, 2013

Created by GAINAX

Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi

Assistant Director: Masahiko Ohtsuka

Series Directors: Kazuki Nakashima

Character Designs: Atsushi Nishigori

Mecha Designs: You Yoshinari

Design Works: Shigeto Koyama

 Art Director: Yuka Hirama (BIHOU)

 Color Design: Harumi Takahoshi

 Director of Photography: Toyonori Yamada

 Editing: Junichi Uematsu

 Sound Director: Tohru Nakano

 Music: Taku Iwasaki

Produced by TV Tokyo, DENTSU, Aniplex

Featuring the following voice talent:

 Katsuyuki Konishi/Kyle Herbert (as Kamina)

 Marina Inoue/Michelle Ruff (as Yoko Littner)

 Tetsuya Kakihara/Yuri Lowenthal (as Simon)

 Yukari Fukui/Bridget Hoffman, Hynden Walch (as Nia)

 Daiki Nakamura/Doug Stone (as Dayakka)

 Kana Asumi (as Kiyal)

 Kana Ueda/Stephanie Sheh (as Kinon)

 Kisho Taniyama (as Kittan)

 Masaya Onosaka/Steven Blum (as Leeron)

 Mitsuki Saiga/Johnny Yong Bosch (as Rossiu)

 Nobuyuki Hiyama/Sam Ergal (as Viral)

 Rina Satou/Karen Strassman (as Kiyoh)

 Shizuka Itou/Julie Ann Taylor (as Boota and Darry)

This is the story of a man who has yet to realize what destiny holds in store for him…

 

In the distant future, mankind has lived quietly and restlessly underground for hundreds of years, subject to earthquakes and cave-ins. Living in one such village are two young men: one named Simon who is shy and naive, and the other named Kamina who believes in the existence of a “surface” world above their heads. The destiny of these two starts moving drastically when the ceiling of their village falls in, and a gigantic “Gunmen” and a beautiful girl named Yoko, wielding a superconductive rifle, come from the surface. Together, Kamina, Simon, and Yoko ride the mecha “Lagann” that Simon digs out of the ground, and fly up to the surface!

Fantastic!

It’s the single word that describes how I feel about the brand new “Gurren Lagann DVD TV Series Box Set Limited Edition″ released by Aniplex, Inc.

In 2007, GAINAX, Aniplex and Konami would bring a new mecha anime series to television.  Known as “Tengen Toppa Gurenn Lagann” in Japan, the 27-episode series would air on TV Tokyo with a huge following and received positive reviews.

Featuring anime production by GAINAX, “Gurren Lagann” was directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi  (“Dead Leaves”, “Eureka 7: Astral Ocean”, “Anime Tencho”), featuring series composition by Kazuki Nakashima (“Kill la Kill”, “Nodam Cantabile: Finale”), music by Taku Iwasaki (“009-1”, “Black Butler”, “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure”, “Getbackers”), character design by Atsushi Nishigori (“The Idolm@ster Movie”, “Magi – The Labrynth of Magic”) and background art by Yuka Hirama (“Fractale”, “Gad Guard”, “Tales of Phantasia”, “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”).

While a limited edition of the series was released on DVD by Bandai Entertainment back in the 2009 in three parts, many people missed out on the opportunity to get the sets.  With Bandai Entertainment’s presence for releasing anime in the U.S. on physical media having ended in 2012, in May 2013, Aniplex Inc. acquired the rights to release the series via a complete set known as “Gurren Lagann DVD TV Series Box Set – Limited Edition” featuring all 27 episodes, two soundtrack CD’s and as usual from Aniplex, Inc., a large number of anime swag that fans have come to love about the company.

What is “Gurrenn Lagann” about?

The series centered around two characters Simon and Kamina.  Both live underground with a bunch of orphans and due to earthquakes, they developed a system of people using manual drilling holes in order to move around.  But one day, the life of a young driller named Simon discovers a small mini drill underground. Simon is a shy young guy.  Not too confident in himself and hates how his parents were killed during an earthquake.  So, he works hard in order for everyone to live but also to collect whichever treasure he can find.   While continuing his digging, he discovers a small drill and not long after, he discovers a huge robotic face.

As for Kamina, he’s the cool leader of a gang.  He once saw the atmosphere with his father a long time ago and dreams of making it up to the surface but no one underground believes him.  He comes up with a plan to get to the surface with the help of Simon’s drill.  The plan backfires and Kamina is put into a jail.  Meanwhile, a big monster robot-like figure comes out of the sky and lands in the group’s village underground.  A girl sporting a bikini top and tight short shorts with a large rifle starts fighting with the monster robot.   Her name is Yoko and all of a sudden both Kamina and Simon try to assist her.

As the monster grows vicious, Simon introduces Kamina and Yoko to what he found underground.  It happens to be a small robot that Simon takes control of and eventually the three fight the robotic monster and end up defeating it. Also, end up making it above the surface where they discover sunlight, blue skies, mountains and more…monster robots.  It is learned that these things are called “Gunmen” and are piloted by Beastmen who have a hatred towards humans.  The three must survive and outwit and defeat the Gunmen and with Kamina’s leadership and willing to take anything head on with his machismo ego, he calls Simon’s robot Lagann.  Kamina eventually commandeers a Gunmen robot and calls it Gurren.  As a duo, the group is called Gurren Lagann.

With episode after episode, the three would gain more people to ally alongside with them and take on the Beast men.  These animal like beings who worked for Lord Genome and would try to kill the humans with these huge mecha robots known as Gunmen.

Kamina, Simon and others in the alliance known as Team Dai-Gurren have been successful in taking control of Gunmen and make their way towards the Beastman Empire in order to take on the Spiral King.  But the King orders  Thymilph, the first of the four divine Generals of the the Spiral King was the first to go onto battle and thus the battle ensued with Team Dai-Gurren winning but losing someone special to them.

As the first half deals with Kamina, Simon and Yoko growing as friends and as a team, the second half of “Gurren Lagann” fast forwards seven years later after the battle with the Beast Men and the Beastman Empire.

Years later, Simon has become the new leader of Kamina City while Rossiu Addai became second-in-command.  The other members of Team Dai Gurren have become officers or employees of Kamina City while Yoko Littner became a school teacher.

But the seven year peace in the planet did not last as the anti-spirals wreaked havoc on the city.  But will humanity be ready to fight again for their survival?

“Gurren Lagann” features a total of 27 episodes.  A summary of each episode (MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS):

  1. Episode 1 – Bust through the Heavens with your Drill! The main episodes that introduces us to Simon, Kamina and Yoko.   The three join forces to take on the monster gunmen.
  2. Episode 2 – I Said I’m Gonna Pilot That Thing!! – With Simon having his own robot and more Gunmen showing up to fight, Kamina decides to get a gunmen mecha all for himself which he names “Gurren”.  But they get some support from the people of Yoko’s village and the village’s top mechanic, Leeron (a savvy and intelligent mechanic but who happens to be gay and not afraid to flirt with Kamina and Simon).  But with Kamina and Simon now having their own mecha’s, they name their team “Gurren Lagann”.
  3. Episode 3 – Who Do You Think You Are, Having Two Faces? – With the defeat of the Beastmen and their Gunmen, Simon, Kamina and Yoko go to hunt for some food but while Kamina retrieves some food, he runs into a Beastman named Viral.  A savage warrior who becomes the major rival for Kamina.  But Viral pilots a Gunmen with a second head that shoots out a devastating attack.  Kamina feels that Gurren Lagann can combine and by unifying, they can become unstoppable.
  4. Episode 4 – Having Lots of Faces Doesn’t Make You Great!  – After the battle with Viral,  Simon, Kamina, Yoko and Leeron decide to destroy the Beastmen’s base.  By eliminating it, the group might have that peace that they wanted.  But while looking for food, the group run into another group known as the Black Siblings…friend or foe?  We are introduced to Kittan Bachika, the leader of the Black Siblings who is accompanied by his three younger sisters as they try to eliminate Beastmen.
  5. Episode 5 – I Don’t Get It, Not One Bit! – As the group continues on their travels, they end up in another underground village and brought their by a teen named Rosiu.  But in this village, they have their own strict religion and strict rules in which they can only keep their population  at 50 people or less.    Well, things change when a couple has a set of triplets, thus going over the 50-person mark.  Gurren Lagann receives a new member to the team.
  6. Episode 6 – There are Some Things I Just Have to See! – There are two versions of episode 6.  The unedited version and the TV version which is part of the special features.  For the unedited version, the group really smell bad and it seems they met some luck as they are invited to the hot springs with food galore!  The group run into their friends, the three women of the Black Siblings and as the group relaxes in the hot springs, both Kamina and Simon can’t stand hearing the women talk about their breasts.  Being the horny guys that they are, both men do what they can do get a peek of the ladies nude.  But awaiting them is some trouble as well courtesy of the Beastmen.
  7. Episode 7  – You’re Gonna Do It! – With the defeat of the Beastmen, Viral makes his return but this time, one of the four leaders who pilots a giant Gunmen fortress.  While Gurren Lagan tries to fight them, they are joined by some old friends who have followed Kamina’s lead and stolen some gunmen for themselves.
  8. Episode 8 – Later, Buddy – With Simon’s quick thinking in the last episode, the group manages to get the Gunmen fortress to be trapped.  But Kamina wants to take control of the fortress in order to protect everyone and this time have a super combination to create Dai Gurren Lagann.  So, one major battle in order to take the Beastmen leader’s mega fortress.   But while Simon starts to think about Yoko and tell her his feelings for her, he sees both Kamina and Yoko kissing.  So, as they go into battle, Kamina depends on Simon to have Lagann penetrate the fortress but because his emotions all out of whack due to seeing the kiss, it’s going to cost someone’s life.
  9. Episode 9 – What, Exactly, Is a Human? – With the events of the last episode, everyone is in mourning.  Meanwhile, a new character named Nia is introduced.  Who is she and why is she so curious about humans?
  10. Episode 10 – Who Is This Bro? The group comes head to head against Adiane, the second of the Spiral Kings Four Divine Generals.  But retreats when she sees Nia.  It appears Nia is the daughter of the Spiral King.  Nia appears to be very naive about humans, their emotions, etc.  She doesn’t understand why Simon would be depressed over someone who’s dead.
  11. Episode 11 – Simon, Hands-off – The team meets Guame, the third of Spiral Kings Four Divine Generals.  He uses Beastmen disguised as women to fool the crew and ends up taking over their ship and putting the crew underground in prison.  Only Simon and his drilling can save the day and for Nia, she learns why she was discarded by her father.
  12. Episode 12 – Yoko, Will You Do Me a Favor? – Team Dai-Gurren’s fortress needs to be refitted to travel in the water.  So, the crew goes through a little R&R and becomes too friendly with Nia and favoring her over Kyoko.  Kyoko is not sure he can trust her and sure enough, the crew goes into battle against Adiane.
  13. Episode 13 – Eat Up, Everyone – Nia really wants to fit in, so she found a job for herself, to become a cook.  Meanwhile, Cytomander, the fourth of Spiral King’s Divine Four Generals makes his attack on the crew and with Rossiu sick, Kyoko must fill in and be Simon’s co-pilot for Gurren Lagann.
  14. Episode 14 -Well, Met Everyone – The crew arrives near the Beastman Empire but must take on the last two of Spiral King’s Four Divine Generals – Cytomander and Guame to the death.
  15. Episode 15 – I Will Head Towards Tomorrow – Team Dai-Gurren now has one final battle left and that’s against the Spiral King.  It’s all or nothing!
  16. Episode 16 – Compilation Episode – This episode serves as a bridge for between the first arc and the second arc of the series.  It’s literally a special episode condensing major scenes from the first 15 episodes to one episode.  Mainly focusing on Kamina, Simon, Kyoko and Nia.
  17. Episode 17 – You Don’t Know Anything – With Team Dai-Gurren successful against the Spiral King, the series flash forwards seven years later.  The planet has flourished with cities and vehicles, Simon, Rossiu and everyone else has grown up.  People own homes and have their own jobs.  Simon is in his early 20′s and is the Supreme Commander and is bored doing paper work.  Rossiu is the Chief who does all of the work but unlike Simon, holds an iron fist on how the city should be ran and for some members of Team Dai-Gurren are just head employees who answer phones.   They wonder what Lord Genome meant by his final words before he died of a new emanating threat and sure enough, that threat has materialized on the planet.  Meanwhile, something has happened to Nia.
  18. Episode 18 – Tell Me the Secrets of the World – A new evil has appeared on the planet and says that because Earth has reached 1,000,000 people and has used Spiral technology to further their growth, they will now be exterminated.  Simon goes to battle against one of the enemies and succeeds in defeating it but since the enemy is composed of energy, that energy becomes like bombs and when Simon defeated the enemy and it exploded, in essence many people have died, buildings and structures destroyed and people want blood…Simon’s blood.    Nia’s true purpose is revealed and Rossiu keeps a secret.
  19. Episode 19 – We Will Survive, By Any Means Necessary The public is very upset against the government because of the destruction and deaths from the Gurren Lagann attack against the Anti-Spiral and Second-in-Command Rossiu knows the only way they will appease the public is with the arrest and the execution of Simon.  But with another attack on the city by an Anti-Spiral, Rossiu has to release Simon temporarily from custody to fight the enemy.
  20. Episode 20 – How Far Will God Test Us? –  Simon is put into the same prison with his cell next to Viral.  Meanwhile Kittan who is incensed that his sister is siding with Rossiu in the execution and imprisonment of Simon.
  21. Episode 21 – You Are Someone Who Ought To Survive – The story shifts to Yoko as a school teacher who is stern but caring for the kids.  When she finds out what is happening with Simon, she decides that she must return back to Kamina City immediately.
  22. Episode 22 – This is My Final Duty  – Rossiu must make the most difficult choice by trying to rescue as many people he can in a secret spaceship and escape the planet but knowing that many will have to perish from the moon crashing down on the planet.  But on planet, Simon and Viral team up with Gurren Lagann and Arc Gurren as both join forces to form Arc-Gurren-Lagann and stop the Human Extermination System that the Anti-Spirals have implemented.
  23. Episode 23 – Let’s Go, This is the Final Battle – Team Dai Gurren prepares for the war against the anti-spirals.  Meanwhile, Rossiu who is amazed with how Simon is able to save everyone decides that his life is not worth living.  Can Simon get to Rossiu in time?
  24. Episode 24 – I Will Never Forget This Minute, This Second – With the help of Lordgenome, while Rossiu takes command on the planet, Simon and Viral lead several members from Team Dai Gurren to transport right into the Anti-Spirals home world.  Simon had made a promise that he would save Nia and is determined to do so.  Meanwhile, the Team suffers a loss of a few team members.
  25. Episode 25 – I Accept Your Last Wish – Team Dai-Gurren is caught in the ocean of despair set by the Anti-Spirals.  Meanwhile, another major team member of Team Dai Gurren sacrifices his life to save his friends.
  26. Episode 26 – Let’s Go Buddy – Simon,Viral and Team Dai Gurren combine into Super Galaxy Gurren-Lagann in order rescue Nia.  Meanwhile, the Anti-Spiral uses their own memories against them.  But a familiar face from the past is there to help Simon, Kyoko and Team Dai Gurren.
  27. Episode 27 – The Lights In the Sky Are Stars – One of the Team Dai Gurren members decides to take a stand against the Anti-Spiral and sacrifices themself in order for Simon to gain the enemies drill.  Simon, Nia, Viral and Team Dai Gurren put everything they have on the line to become the galaxy sized Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann in the final battle against the enemy.

VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Each episode is  featured in 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen.  The character designs by Atsushi Nishigori are fresh and very different.  I absolutely enjoy the character and mechanical designs and the whole anime is quite vibrant and looks stylish and pretty cool.  And it yet makes me wonder why this series has not been released on Blu-ray?

As for the audio, the Digital 5.1 effects utilized in the English dub is actually very well done.  I liked the effective use of splitting the audio of action scenes through the various speaker channels and overall, the audio track for the 5.1 English dub is well done.

The Japanese audio is featured only in 2.0 Stereo but the dialogue and action scenes also come clear through the front channels, the main difference is that the war seems to come alive on the English dub.  As one can expect with the 5.1 soundtrack, very good use of surround channels and LFE, so the dub gets a nod for being immersive and having a better dynamic range.

Both soundtracks feature exceptional acting.  The Japanese voice acting were wonderful when it came to the emotional performance by Tetsuya Kakihara, Katsuyuki Konishi and Marina Inoue.  But “Gurren Lagann” also features a fantastic performance from the English dub cast.  Yuri Lowenthal was perfect as Simon, Kyle Hebert and Michelle Ruff were also marvelous in their acting role as Kamina and Yoko.  It’s important to note that this is the same English dub that was featured on the Bandai Entertainment DVD release in 2009.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Gurren Lagann DVD TV Series Box Set Limited Edition” comes with the following special features:

  • Preview of episode #6 (TV) – (:16) English episode #6 preview with a little fan service.
  • Episode 6 (TV Version)
  • Yoko Goes to Gainax -Study Animation at GAINAX- – (24:48) Marina Inoue, Japanese voice actress for Yoko goes to GAINAX and sees how people create “Gurren Lagann”.  The featurette features Marina  learning the difference between “Key Animation” and “In-Between Animation” and “Composition”.  She actually takes part in doing in-between work for the first time and also, learning some of the jobs the staff did for “Gurren Lagann”.  A very fun featurette!
  • GAINAX Interview – (10:21) A very cool featurette with producer Takeda from GAINAX, GAINAX President Yamaga and assistant director Otsuka on the concept of “Gurren Lagann” and what their goal was in creating this anime series.
  • Sangizen 3D Test Footage –  (15:16) The Sangizen 3D Test Footage is a 15-minute featurette with various preliminary 3D features of the Anti-Spirals destroying city structures, to the combination of the mecha and various fight scenes.  Many were created but only selected footage were used in the final cut.
  • Shokotan Interview – (7:36) The interview with Shoko Nakagawa (aka “Shokotan”) who sings the main theme song was done in the US after her appearance at Anime Expo in Los Angeles in 2008.  Shoko talks about being an otaku and also said that she wanted to become a mangaka while growing up.  Also, her happiness to perform in the US and to meet the fans and much more.
  • Textless Opening and Ending themes – For those who love the cool music of opening theme “Sorairo Days” by Shoko Nakagawa and ending theme “Underground” by High Voltage.
  • Japanese Trailer
  • U.S. Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Gurren Lagann DVD TV Series Box Set Limited Edition” comes with the following special features:

  • Gurren Lagann Slipcase (Rigid Box illustrated by You Yoshinari/Mechanical Design)
  • 2-Tray clear Amaray cases with reversible wraps of original Japanese DVD cover design
  • 36-Page Deluxe Illustration Booklet
  • 2-Sided Poster (Yoko & Kamina)
  • 2-Stickers of Kamina’s Famous Remarks
  • 12 Postcards of Japanese DVD Cover Art & Original Illustration by You Yoshinari (Mechanical Design)

  • Gurren Lagann Original Soundtrack CD’s 1 & 2

DISC 1 (Duration:1:09:45)

1. 仕方ねえ!1分20秒だけ媚びてやる
2. モグラはモグラのままなのか?
3. ラップは漢の魂だ!己を信じて天を指差す怒涛の男・カミナ様のテーマを耳の穴かっぽじってよ~く聴きやがれ!!
4. ブタモグラは螺旋の夢を見るか?
5. ボインVSボイン
6. 燃えてばかりでいいのかい?
7. お前の×××で天を衝け!! ~初めて見た地上ver.~
8. 骸骨になっちまったカミナの親父に寄せる哀歌
9. 狼が来た!!
10. Nikopol
11. 月と星とア・タ・シ
12. 萌えろ三姉妹
13. ああああッ!骸骨がぁ!! 骸骨がぁ!!!
14. お前ら全員燃えてしまえっ!!!
15. お前の×××よ、そそり立て!
16. He is so ×××
17. ラブリーボイン
18. Peeping Tom
19. 髭とハーレム
20. 親父の塊
21. お前なんか信じられっか!
22. 今は準備が必要なんだよ!!
23. 合体なんてクソくらえ!(合体挿入曲第一番 ハ短調アレグロ K2564)
24. 「萌え」っていったい何ですか?
25. お前の×××で…
26. 愛・掴みますI

Disc 2 (Duration: 1:10:37)

1. 愛・掴みますII
2. ラップは漢の魂だ!無理を通して道理を蹴っ飛ばす!俺たち大グレン団のテーマを耳の穴かっぽじってよ~く聴きやがれ!!(Short Start Edit)
3. 旅ってなぁ疲れるもんなんだよ
4. 「萌え」っていったい…?
5. 暗闇の中で何を考えてやがるッ!!
6. BafBaf! そんなに燃えるのが…好きかい?
7. 超合体(合体挿入曲第二番K3845プログレ)
8. 回って回って回って回っ!?
9. 回って回って回って回ってててて…
10. 熱砂の荒野を抜けて大グレン団が行くのだ
11. 愛・掴みますIII
12. 愛・掴みますIV
13. 月日は百代の過客なり
14. アダイ村のデコ助
15. メガネで決めよう
16. どうだ!俺のトランペットは凄いだろ!!
17. ラップは漢の魂……だった…よな…
18. リゾートライフのイロハ
19. ポイズンプリズン
20. 誰かが誰かを恨んでる
21. The Blue monday e”r”ectrical parade
22. “Libera me”from hell
23. Love Conservative
24. お前の×××で天を…
25. お前の×××で天を衝け!!
26.  商品の概要に戻る

For the “Gurren Lagann DVD TV Series Box Set – Limited Edition”, included is the two-CD album “Tengen Toppa Guren Ragan Original Soundtrack” that was released in 2008.  This is different from the Bandai Entertainment vol. 3 DVD release which came with the “Tengen Toppa Guren Ragan BEST SOUND” album which came with the vocal tracks.  The primary difference is that this original soundtrack album comes 51 tracks with the primarily instrumental music featured throughout the series.  The music is composed by Taku Iwasaki and also features music by tarantura and quadtbep.

For anyone wondering if there are any vocal tracks, there are four.  On Disc 1, there is “Kamina’s Theme” (ラップは漢の魂だ! 己を信じて天を指差す怒涛の男・カミナ様のテーマを耳の穴かっぽじってよ~く聴きやがれ!!) which comes with the rap that people hear throughout the series ala “Bro! Bro! Fight the Power!”.   Also, quadtbep’s guitar churning rock tracks “Nikopol” and “合体なんてクソくらえ! (合体挿入曲第一番 ハ短調アレグロ K2564)” are included.

Also, included on Disc 2 is “Libera me” from hell featuring Tarantura and Taku Iwasaki, so you get the hip hop “Bro, Bro Fight the Power!” song but with beats from Tarantura and piano by Taku Iwasaki along with an operatic element.  But if you want the Shoko Nakagawa, HIGH VOLTAGE or Afuroman tracks, those tracks are included on the BEST SOUND album.

But the soundtrack, if you enjoy instrumentals is fantastic.  Tracks incorporating jazz elements, ambient, gentle harp and wind instrument tracks, synth pop, synth choir to heavy hitting rock tracks.  The soundtrack is a wonderful addition to the “Gurren Lagann DVD TV Series Box Set – Limited Edition”.

I can’t help but think how awesome this series was to watch!  From the stylish presentation, the wacky humor, the adult-like humor and pervertedness and the imaginative mecha Gunmen robots and attack modes, the battles and the fun characters and the music, there is just too much to like about “Gurren Lagann”.  I absolute found the series to be exciting, a lot of fun, yes a bit perverted but ultimately…fantastic!

The character of Kamina is just so wild and crazy with how he is just so carefree and just doesn’t plan for battle, he just does what he believes in and what he thinks is right and decides at the spur of the moment.  He has a way with his words, no matter how crazy it may sound but it makes his character so cool!

As for Simon, he is simply the underdog.  He is a major component to the team because he pilots Lagann but at the same time, his fear and his emotions get the best of him.  But like most underdogs in anime series, it’s the confidence and support that gets them going and Simon turns out to be a fascinating character to watch overtime.

Yoko, her character is sexy and cool.  Sometimes you wonder if GAINAX or the character designer Atsushi Nishigori created such a sexy character for the purpose of being sexy or for the fact that many cosplayers will try to emulate the character and not wear much clothes.  Nevertheless, her character is cool as her body features somehow provide the fan service and also gets Simon distracted.

But Team Gurren Lagann are simply fun to watch and to see them engage in battle with the Beast Men but also see other members join the team and see how Team Gurran Lagann grows over time during this war between humanity and the Beastman Empire.

But the series is rather fascinating as the first half deals with humanity wanting to be free and to fight to live on the land, while the second half deals with humanity now thriving seven years later but with humanity in trouble once again.  The way things are for both halves are completely different and it’s like watching two seasons but both are just captivating, addictive and mecha fans and I think also anime fans in general, can get into this series!

While many early episodes feature a bit of fan service, things become less perverted from episode 10 and on.  Granted, the series becomes a bit more dark, emotional and dramatic especially due to Simon’s worsening depression.  So, while there are episodes such as episode 6 that tend to focus on adult humor and fan service, the series gets better overtime in terms of plot and character development.

I’m sure there are people who purchased the Bandai Entertainment DVD sets, that are wondering if there are any significant difference with the Aniplex, Inc. DVD releases.  There are some slight differences.  The episodes remain the same, the post cards that Bandai Entertainment released were fewer than what is included on Aniplex, Inc.’s set, also the Aniplex versions do not have any writing, logos or numbers as the Bandai Entertainment postcards had.

But another primary difference is that the Bandai Entertainment version included the first vol. 1 of the manga (since Bandai Entertainment released manga at the time in the U.S.) and that the CD soundtrack featured was the “Gurren Lagann BEST SOUND” soundtrack (which had the vocal tracks by Shoko Nakagawa, HIGH VOLTAGE and Afuromania).  For the Aniplex Inc. version, you get the “Gurren Lagann Original Soundtracks” (Both CD’s which are primarily the instrumental music tracks).  The Aniplex Inc. version also comes with the 36-page booklet and 2-sided poster and stickers that the Bandai Entertainment set did not have.

So, for those wondering if you should upgrade your Bandai Entertainment DVD to the new Aniplex, Inc. DVD, the answer is no. It’s the same content DVD-wise, just different swag offered by both companies.  With that being said, the question is if the “Gurren Lagann” Blu-ray set will be released in America.  There is an import Blu-ray release that will be available in June 2013 that does have English subtitles, also comes with the “Gurren Lagann” movies and the drama CD’s with a ton of features, but the price for this “Gurren Lagann”Blu-ray Complete Box Set” is $550.

Let’s just hope Aniplex, Inc. considers releasing a Blu-ray release for “Gurren Lagann” as this series just looks too good and sounds too awesome that it’s deserving of a Blu-ray release.

But as far as the DVD goes, picture quality is still very good, soundtrack especially the English dubtrack receives the 5.1 treatment and is a bit immersive as it does utilize the surround channels and LFE.  Both voice acting soundtracks are magnificent, with the Japanese hitting the nail on the more emotional scenes, but when it comes to action, the English soundtrack has the better dynamic range and use of the surround channels.  And the English dub is also well-done!

Overall, the experience of watching “Gurren Lagann” was wonderful!  From the stylish presentation, the wacky humor, perverseness and the imaginative mecha Gunmen robots and attack modes, the battles and the fun characters and the music, there is just too much to like about “Gurren Lagann”.

Just how the pacing of the anime series goes from people wanting to get out of the underground and seeking freedom, to the characters fighting to survive and eventually growing up but having to face their own insecurities and also consequence and then furthering their adventures as we see the characters start off young and right to end where they are older adults.  And of course, this anime series is action-packed but most of all well-acted (both in Japanese and English), awesome animation, great character development and well-written storyline.

“Gurren Lagann” can be described in one word and that is “Fantastic!” but to experience the complete series from beginning to the end, what an experience!  “Gurren Lagann DVD TV Series Box Set – Limited Edition” is definitely deserving of five stars and receives our highest recommendation!

Tiger & Bunny: Blu-ray Set 1 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Review)

February 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The first half of “Tiger & Bunny” has turned out to be a quite awesome.  A unique and original anime series that will entertain anime fans and one of the coolest looking group of superheroes ever featured in an anime series.  A fantastic anime series that I highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © SUNRISE/T&B Partners. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Tiger & Bunny: Blu-ray Set 1

YEAR: 2011

DURATION: 13 Episodes (310 Minutes))

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 19, 2013

Directed by Keiichi Satou

Series Composition by Masafumi Nishida

Music by Yoshihiro Ike

Original Character Design by Masakazu Katsura

Character Design by Kenji Hayama, Masaki Yamada

Art Direction by Kinichi Okubo

Mechanical Design by Kenji Andou

3D Director: Yoshikazu Kon

Anime Production: Sunrise

Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiroaki Hirata/Wally Wingert as Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger

Masakazu Morita/Yuri Lowenthal as Barnaby Brooks Jr.

Go Inoue/Patrick Seitz as Keith Goodman/Sky High

Hiroshi Iwasaki/Dave Wittenberg as Doc Saito

Katsuhisa Houki/Beau Billingslea as Ben Jackson

Keiji Fujiwara/Steven Blum as Jake Martinez

Kenjiro Tsuda/John Eric Bentley as Nathan Seymour/Fire Emblem

Koji Yusa/Liam O’Brien as Yuri Petrov/Lunatic

Mariya Ise/Laura Bailey as Pao-Lin Huang/Dragon Kid

Michiko Neya/Stephanie Sheh as Kriem

Minako Kotobuki/Kari Wahlgren as Karina Lyle/Blue Rose

Nobuaki Fukuda/Jamieson Price as Albert Maverick

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Michael Sinterniklaas as Ivan Karelin/Origami Cyclone

Rina Hidaka/Een Riegel as Kaede Kaburagi

Taiten Kusunoki/Travis Willingham as Antonio Lopez/Rock Bison

Wataru Yokojima/Daran Norris as Alexander Lloyds

Yuko Kaida/Tara Platt as Agnes Joubert

Stern Bild City is a thriving metropolis where superheroes called NEXTs protect the streets, sponsors pull the strings, and a hugely popular show called Hero TV captures all of it. Veteran hero Kotetsu Kaburagi (AKA Wild Tiger) and hotheaded new hero Barnaby Brooks, Jr. (nicknamed Bunny by his friends) are forced to team up not only to protect Stern Bild City, but to earn as many points on Hero TV as possible. Joined by a diverse cast of heroes, all with different powers and answering to their own corporate sponsors, Tiger and Bunny must find a way to work together, uncover the secret of the Ouroboros, and earn enough points to become this year’s King of Heroes.

In 2011, the anime studio Sunrise, best known for its anime series for “Mobile Suit Gundam”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “Dirty Pair”, “City Hunter” to name a few, went on to work on anime series that would captivate older viewers but also something unique and different for anime fans.

And the 25- episode TV series “Tiger & Bunny” was created.

Directed by Keiichi Satou (“Saint Seiya the Movie”, “Karas”, “Asura”), a screenplay by Masafumi Nishida, music by Yoshihiro Ike (“Asura”, “Cobra: The Animation”, “Dead Leaves”), character designs by Kenji Hayama (“Baccano!”, “The Big O”, “Casshern Sins”, “Getter Robo: Armageddon”) and Masaki Yamada (“Ergo Proxy”, “Appleseed”, “Great Dangaioh”), background art by Kinichi Okubo (“Ex-Driver”, “Honey and Clover”, “Angel Beats!”), mechanical design by Kenji Andou (“Origini ~Spirits of the Past~”, “Votoms Finder”), Yoshikazu Kon (“Gurren Lagann”, “Shangri-La”, “Mobil Suit Gundam 00”).

The series aired in Japan on April 2011 and also was seen in the U.S. via Hulu and the Anime News Network.  And most recently on Viz Media’s “Neon Alley”.

In Japan, a one-shot manga by Masakazu Katsura (“Video Girl Ai”, “DNA2”, “Zetman”) was published in “Weekly Shonen Jump” and in Sept. 2012, an animated film was released and a second film currently in production and planned for a fall 2013 release.  Also, the anime series has led to a PSP video game  released in Sept. 2012 and a second game planned for a March 2013 released.

And in the U.S., the first volume featuring the first 13 episodes of “Tiger & Bunny” will be released on Blu-ray in Feb. 2013 courtesy of Viz Media.

“Tiger & Bunny” takes place in NC1978 in the city of Sternbild City.  45 years prior, humans with supernatural abilities known as “NEXT” began appearing in the planet.  And now, these people with special abilities and are superheroes sponsored by major corporations such as Pepsi, Softbank, Calbee, etc. and are featured on the popular reality TV show titled “Hero TV”.

Each season, these heroes try to achieve points by capturing/defeating criminals and the best ranked superhero will be crowned as “King of Heroes”.  While each are competing with each other, often they work as a superhero team.

The primary characters are of “Tiger & Bunny” are:

  • Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger – One of the main protagonist, he is one of the oldest superheros and unlike others, tends not to listen to orders as he is the “Crusher of Justice” and could care less about the ratings.  Because he causes too much damage and likes to do things alone, he was forced to take on a new partner, Barnaby Brooks Jr.  Kotetsu is also a single father who never gets to see his daughter because of his superhero obligations, so she lives with his mother.  His daughter is unaware that he is a superhero.  Tiger’s power is the ability to increase his physical abilities for five minutes using his “Hundred Power”.    His sponsors are Bandai and Softbank.
  • Barnaby Brooks Jr./Bunny – A rookie that is called “Bunny” by Kotetsu.  He is more about strategy and is not as rash as Kotetsu.  He has a reason why he became a superhero and that is to find the one who killed his parents.  His sponsors are Amazon Japan and Bandai.  He also has similar powers to Kotetsu and becoming “King of Heroes” is important to him.
  • Karina Lyle/Blue Rose – A popular girl in high school who wants to be a singer.  She has freezing power abilities and is sponsored by Pepsi Nex and Suntory.  She represents Titan Industry.
  • Keith Goodman/Sky High – A popular hero and is the current “King of Heroes”.  He is upbeat and has the power to control air current.  He is sponsored by Tamashii Nations and Ustream and represents Poseidon Line.
  • Nathan Seymour/Fire Emblem – An effeminate hero with flame abilities, Nathan wants to be part of the girls.  He is sponsored by FMV and Animate and represents Helios Energy.
  • Huang Pao-Lin/Dragon Kid – A tomboy Chinese girl who has the power to generate electrical discharge.  She lived in China with her parents but they wanted her to go to Sternbild City to become a hero.  She is sonosred by Calbee and DMM.com and is represented by Odysseys Communication.
  • Antonio Lopez/Rock Bison  – Kotetsu’s best friend since high school, his power is invulnerability.  He is in last place of the Hero’s standings and is sponsored by Gyu-Kaku and represents Kronos Foods.
  • Ivan Karelin/Origami Cyclone – A young hero who is typically seen standing behind-the-scenes and not fighting, Ivan has the power to shapeshift and copy  the appearance and voice of another.  His sponsors are .ANIME and he represents Helperidese Finance.

As the heroes fight and take on various criminals, they must also deal with a vigilante NEXT named Lunatic and doesn’t believe in incarceration but killing criminals.  Meanwhile, as the team try to work together and continue to build their hero’s points and ranking, The Ouroboros criminal organization is planning to have the sadistic Jake Martinez released from prison.  Jake is responsible for killing Barnaby’s parents and has been sentenced to 250 years in prison.  But one of the reasons why he is a criminal that the govt. wants to keep behind bars is because of his mysterious power.

 

Here is a brief synopsis of “Tiger and Bunny: Blu-ray set 1”:

  • EPISODE 1 –  Introduction to the NEXT who are competing in this season’s “Hero TV” network and a new hero named Barnaby joins in the action!
  • EPISODE 2 – A giant stone statue is trying to cause mayhem in the city, meanwhile Tiger and Barnaby try to be partners.
  • EPISODE 3 – Hero TV is doing a documentary on Barnaby and Kotetsu is a bit jealous.
  • EPISODE 4 – Blue Rose struggles with being a hero or pursuing her dream of becoming a singer.
  • EPISODE 5 – Barnaby is upset with Tiger (Kotetsu) for causing so much collateral damage, meanwhile Kotetsu misreads Bunny’s frustrations and tries to organize a surprise birthday party for him.
  • EPISODE 6 – Someone with the power of the blue flame is killing criminals.
  • EPISODE 7 – Barnaby tells Kotetsu and Nathan about the Ouroboros syndicate and how he wants revenge for the death of his parents.
  • EPISODE 8 – Tiger, Barnaby and Origami Cyclone take part in a PR campaign, but unaware that the vigilante named Lunatic is nearby.
  • EPISODE 9 – The heroes must take care of the Mayor’s baby but they leave the baby with Dragon Kid, who gets kidnapped along with the baby.  Now the NEXT heroes must find them.
  • EPISODE 10 – Kotetsu is put on paid vacation and plans to visit his daughter but the Ouroboros Syndicate plan their attempt to have Jake Martinez released from prison.  Meanwhile, Barnaby finds out that Jake Martinez is responsible for his parent’s death.
  • EPISODE 11 – The NEXT hero’s takes on Jake Martinez.
  • EPISODE 12 – Tiger vs. Jake Martinez
  • EPISODE 13 – With many of the NEXT heroes injured in battle, Barnaby takes on Jake Martinez.

VIDEO:

“Tiger & Bunny” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio).  “Tiger & Bunny” is probably one of the best, recent anime TV series that I have seen in awhile. From the detail of the futuristic structures, the costume design for the characters in superhero form, the mechanical design of vehicles and costumes and just the many location shots utilized for this anime series alone, these days, you don’t see too many anime studios going all out for a TV series, but in this case, Sunrise went all out with “Tiger & Bunny”.

Awesome character designs, background art is fantastic but just the character and mechanical designs featuring animation and CG is well-done.  The character designs catches your attention with the colors and shading but the mechanical design and the superhero character designs look awesome.  Even the art backgrounds as the futuristic city is well-painted, full of detail and adds to the overall look of the series.

“Tiger & Bunny” looks magnificent in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Tiger & Bunny” is presented in lossless English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.  Both are similar when it comes to special effects.  Dialogue is crisp and clear but voice acting is well-done on both the Japanese and English soundtrack.  While it would have been nice to have a 5.1 lossless track, especially since this series has plenty of action, the series does sound crisp and clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tiger & Bunny: Blu-ray Set 1” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of Tiger & Bunny– (24:01) The challenges from the Japanese crew at Sunrise in creating a new anime series that would appeal to manga fans, longtime anime fans and trying to come up with a series that is fresh and new.  In Japanese with English subtitles.
  • Production Art – Using your remote (or keyboard), you can look at the production art of “Tiger & Bunny”.
  • Special Logo Art – Using your remote (or keyboard), you can look at the special logo art of “Tiger & Bunny”.
  • Japanese Trailers – (4:12) The Japanese trailers for “Tiger & Bunny”.
  • Clean Opening and Clean Ending

As a person who enjoys anime, we have seen the team dynamic in many forms.

From the sentai teams of yesteryear, may it be “Gatchaman”, “Voltron” to super teams such as the Z-Warriors of “Dragon Ball Z”, the ninjas of “Naruto” or the high school friends as seen on “Bleach” and “Yu Yu Hakusho”.

But one thing that we often see in America through comic books, animated series and live action films are the superhero teams. May it be Marvel’s X-Men, The Avengers or Fantastic Four or DC’s Justice League of America, The Teen Titans or Legion of Super-Heroes and it has always been in the back of my mind, what if there was a caped superhero for an anime series?

We have seen a singular costumed heroes from anime series such as “Moldiver” and shows like the Kamen Rider or even Ranger series but what Sunrise was able to create with “Tiger & Bunny” is exciting, unique and different from anything ever featured in Japan.

Humans with special abilities known as NEXT who take on the bad guys, but in a twist, are featured on television and challenge other heroes of who can catch the most criminals and get the most points to increase their ranking, as each compete for the title “King of Heroes”.

The characters are nothing like American superheroes in the fact that these are individuals that are flawed.

The main protagonist Kotetsu is an older superhero who knows he is not a great father.  He speaks to her on intercom but is never there to see her face-to-face and his daughter pretty much gave up on seeing him.  He knows he causes trouble for the station because he causes quite a bit of damage and now, to help put him on the right path, he is given a partner with Barnaby.

And while Barnaby has a cool demeanor, a strategist who thinks first before attacking, he also has a tragic past that drives him to become a superhero and that is to find the killer responsible for killing his parents.

The two are joined by heroes that are interesting.   Blue Rose is popular because of her sexy outfit and cute demeanor when fighting criminals but deep inside, she is torn between pursuing her dream to become a singer or being a hero.  Dragon Kid is a tomboy and doesn’t like to wear cute things, but as she gets older, she is starting to discover her feminine side.  Meanwhile, Fire Emblem is an effeminate hero who wants to be accepted by the girls, but yet is considered as a guy.   Rock Bison is more interested in partying with Kotetsu and getting drunk than capturing criminals and now he is in danger of losing his job because he is in last place.  And Origami Cyclone, a shy guy who has the power to shapeshift but feels it’s a worthless power and is more of a cheerleader than a person who does the fighting to capture the criminals.

Suffice to say, each of these characters are unlikely heroes but yet as a team, they are starting to work well with each other.  But it takes time, and also, as much as they are a team when facing difficult criminals, they are also rivals trying to get the most points and representing their sponsors with pride.

“Tiger & Bunny” really is an anime series that is unlike anything I have seen before in my decades of watching anime.

And as for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is vibrant and colorful.  Sunrise is known for creating magnificent looking anime series but “Tiger & Bunny” features wonderful character and mechanical designs and a great balance between animation and CG.  I was really impressed with how cool this series looks.  And you get both Japanese and English soundtracks in lossless 2.0 and a few special features are included.

Overall, the first half of “Tiger & Bunny” has turned out to be a quite awesome.  A unique and original anime series that will entertain anime fans and one of the coolest looking group of superheroes ever featured in an anime series.  A fantastic anime series that I highly recommended!

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