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Review: Death Note: The Omega Edition

Mar 16 // Christian Chiok
[embed]34843:5475:0[/embed] Death Note: The Omega Edition (Blu-ray [reviewed])Studio: MadhouseLicensed By: Viz MediaReleased: March 1, 2016 (NA)MSRP: $69.99 What makes The Omega Edition special over the standard edition is that it includes both of the Relight films, as well as the one-shot manga chapter that inspired the anime series. Between these and the inclusion of Spanish, Portuguese, and French dub options.  I had never seen Death Note in Spanish, having moved to the U.S. by the time it was airing, and after giving it a go here I was surprised by how good it was.  Personally, I didn’t try out the Portuguese and French dubs as I don’t speak or understand those languages, and I felt unable to appreciate them properly. Unfortunately, the Relight films were only available in Japanese, English and French. Naturally, I watched them in Japanese. The Omega Edition also includes interviews with the creators, behind-the-scenes footage of the English and Japanese voice cast, production art and much more. Many of these extras are lifted from Death Note's 2009 DVD release, and are of poor quality compared to the extras new to the Blu-ray edition. Regardless, it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying it if you’re curious of what went behind the creation of the series. Ever since Blu-ray made its debut decade ago, a lot movies and series prior its era has been getting remastered into this new format.  While the Death Note series released months later, it really wasn’t aired in HD.  With the series getting its first Blu-ray treatment, at least in North America, the visuals were heavily improved, and almost look as if it were a new series entirely. In 2016, I think most of us have seen Death Note, and if not, most likely you weren’t interested. I mean, it’s been a decade since its original Japanese release. However, if for some reason you,still haven’t seen the series, definitely give it a go. It has a thrilling story full of action-packed scenes, suspense, great characters, and an amazing soundtrack. Depending on your stance though, you may or may not find the ending disappointing, but it was for the best. It would have been interesting to see an alternate ending, though. If aren’t familiar with the Relight films, they are basically recaps of the original series with some extra footage. The first Relight film covers the first episode all the way through Episode 25, while the second film covers the second part of the series, which are Episodes 26 through 37.  Naturally as recaps, they had to cut a lot of stuff to fit into a 2 hours’ time frame, however I believe that they still cover most of the juicy stuff that you need to know about the series. I don’t think I would recommend watching these if you never seen the original series, but they definitely serve as refreshers if you don’t want to go through the original series again.  As an anime collector and a fan of the series, Death Note: The Omega Edition is a valuable addition to the collections of otaku who can fit it into their budget, while the standard edition still packs the crisp, remastered HD visuals that blow most available streaming options out of the water. [This review is based on a copy of the product provided by the distributor] Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: Cyber Connect 2Publisher: Bandai NamcoReleased: February 4, 2016 (JP), February 5, 2016 (EU), February 9, 2016 (NA/SA)MSRP: $59.99
Death Note photo
Good show, great extras
Until recently I didn't have much interest in buying anime box sets. They were just too expensive, and I had few aside from ToraDora! and Dragon Ball Z.  Death Note: The Omega Edition is also pretty expensive, but makes a convincing pitch, thanks to some unique extras  and its comprehensive gathering of a great anime series. 

Death Note photo
Death Note

Japanator Unboxes: Death Note: The Omega Edition Blu-ray Set

A Classic Series Now Available on BluRay
Mar 14
// Christian Chiok
I remember when I first watched Death Note in 2006. The idea of getting rid of people by killing them with a simple notebook was terrifying yet intriguing. Not only that, but the thought that the Death Note was under the powe...
Berserk photo

Berserk fans rejoice as a new anime series is announced

Dec 21
// Anthony Redgrave
The Internet is blowing up today at the news of Berserk finally getting another anime adaptation. The dark fantasy tale of a man enacting revenge of a land now plagued with demons and monsters only produced one arc ...
Over Your Dead Body photo
Over Your Dead Body

Check out Takashi Miike's next horror film extravaganza

That's happy-looking doll there
Oct 31
// Josh Tolentino
I'm not exactly huge on horror films, but I know more than a few people are, and they seem stoked for Over Your Dead Body, the next J-horror entry from legendary Japanese director Takashi Miike. And just in time for Hallowee...

Review: Ranma 1/2 Set 6

Aug 24 // Jayson Napolitano
Ranma 1/2 DVD Set 6Publisher: Viz MediaRelease Date: June 2, 2015MSRP: $44.82 DVD / $54.97 limited-edition Blu-Ray (reviewed) Thank goodness for a new opening and ending theme that chimes in a few episodes into this set. I found that "Earth Orchestra" was starting to drag, as it was easily the longest-running opening theme from the entire series. This set opens with the rockin' "Don't Cry Anymore" with some fantastic hand-drawn scribbles overlaid on an often-spunky sequence, which was refreshing as we work our way towards the final stretch of the series. We're looking at Set 6 of a planned seven, so things are starting to work towards a conclusion. The melancholy closer, "Positive," is also a nice change of pace.I start by mentioning the opening and closing music because, six sets in, people should know what they're getting themselves into. In case you're considering starting with Set 6 for whatever reason, though, Ranma 1/2 is considered to be one of the best anime series the '90s had to offer, combining comedy, lovable characters, and a gender-bending gimmick that has our hero, Ranma Saotome, turning into a woman when splashed with cold water. Various characters are in love with the male and female Ranma, many of whom are also cursed and turn into various sorts of animals when exposed to cold water. Ranma is the heir to the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts, and lives with his father at the Tendo residence, where he is betrothed to the tomboyish Akane Tendo, the object of many of the male characters' affection, hence creating several overlapping love triangles.The series has progressed without any overarching plot or structure, but what I love about this season is that we're really starting to see the affection growing between Ranma and Akane. Whereas in past seasons we've seen the two mostly showing hints of jealousy, but overall seeming not overly thrilled with one another, the jealousy and outright care they demonstrate towards one another is much more apparent. I'd argue that the jump between Set 5 and 6 may even be a little jarring, but with only one more season to go, the growing love between the two characters has been long overdue. Set 6 has a number of memorable episodes that should keep Ranma fans happy as they surpass the 130 episode count. In this season we're introduced to an elderly man who runs a long-abandoned student store hidden within Furinkan High School who is constantly spouting false tales about how Furinkan High School played into historical events like wars in ancient feudal Japan and even World War II. He appears in two episodes and is a great addition. We also get more of the high school loner and voodoo practitioner, Hikaru Gosunkugi, who is still trying to steal Akane away from Ranma, first by imitating Ranma and attacking women around campus to ruin his reputation, and later by placing enchanted paper dolls of Ranma and Akane that are intended to grant his wishes but often have unintended effects.Some of my favorite episodes include one in which Genma Saotome, Ranma's father, is upset that Ranma has stolen his sweets, and decides to disinherit Ranma in favor of his rival, Ryouga Hibiki, leading up to an epic showdown between the two. Another sees monsters from ancient scrolls unleashed, included a scribbled panda bear that is in love with Ranma, and is ridiculously funny. Another two of my favorites feature the perverted grandfather, Happosai, back at his underwear-loving antics in one episode where he's terrorizing a nearby town while hiding in a pot, and another that seems him physically stuck to Ranma's chest when a student-teacher submission pill goes wrong, to comical effect. Lastly, the power-hungry student Tatewaki Kuno becomes even more obnoxious when he becomes substitute principle of Furinkan High.As far as Ranma and Akane's relationship, both two-part episodes featured in this set center around this, with the first featuring Ranma and his companions rescuing Akane from the clutches of a demon in a typical damsel in distress storyline, and the second featuring a promise that Ranma has made to Ukyo, another female character, and how he must get out of that promise to remain with Akane. There's a Christmas episode that sees the two sharing gifts, and another where Akane is injured and Ranma struggles to show his affection.  I really enjoyed many of the episodes from Set 6, and know series fans will too. Towards the end of the set, we get into what acts as the final season of the show (recall that the set order has been reconfigured with this re-release), and we get a peek at new opening and closing themes along with a series-first change in commercial bumpers, which is interesting to see.We reviewed the Blu-ray version, which houses a commemorative post card and episode recap book. There's also some extra footage on the final disc that includes interviews with Viz Media staff about the Ranma series and a blooper reel which are both nice additions.With one set to go, my enjoyment of Ranma 1/2 is still going strong. I'm looking forward to Set 7, but already keeping an ear out to see if Viz Media will consider re-issuing the OVA and three animated films, as I know I'm going to want more when this series is through.In the meantime, if you haven't watched Ranma 1/2, I highly recommend it, and Set 6 is particular is a high point for the series. Feel free to share your favorite Ranma memories below!Images © Rumiko Takahashi / Shogakukan  [This review is based on a retail copy provided by the publisher]
Ranma 1/2 Review photo
Don't you know? It's love!
Yes, there's still more Ranma 1/2 to be had. Viz Media has graciously re-issued the series on DVD and Blu-ray, which is a real treat because past DVD re-issues were fetching ridiculous prices at conventions and online.Set 6 f...

Gundam photo

AX '15: Right Stuf to release Zeta Gundam, Victory Gundam, and more

Believe in the Sign of Zeta
Jul 05
// Salvador GRodiles
Good news, everyone; during Anime Expo '15, the gang at Right Stuf have revealed the next phase of their Gundam distribution deal with Sunrise. This time around, the company plans to release Victory Gundam, Gundam X,&nbs...
Monogatari photo

Nise and Nekomonogatari Kuro Blu-ray set announced

Ararararagi. Oops, kamimashita!
Jun 27
// Anthony Redgrave
A limited box set containing the Nisemonogatari and Nekomonogatari Black Blu-rays has been announced. New cover art by character designer Akio Watanabe was released recently featuring Araragi and his vampire counter...

Review: Ranma 1/2 Set 5

Jun 11 // Jayson Napolitano
Ranma 1/2 DVD Set 5 Publisher: Viz MediaRelease Date: March 3, 2015MSRP: $44.82 DVD / $54.97 limited-edition Blu-Ray (reviewed) I'll open by saying that 100 episodes in, Ranma fatigue does tend to set in. Fortunately for fans, however, Set 5 contains some of the most entertaining and hilarious episodes yet. That's a good thing, because at just over the half-way mark in the series, there really needs to be something compelling to keep fans wanting more, and this season rarely lets up. There isn't much that I can say is new in this season. You get the same cast of lovable characters, starring the heir to the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts, Ranma Saotome, and his fiance, Akane Tendo. The two are promised to each other by their parents, and thankfully in this season, we start to see that the two are actually starting to fall for one another. The art style holds up well, and the music ranges from appropriately quirky to downright moving. Perhaps taking some of our past reviews to heart, the episodes in this set have been cut to feature only one opening theme, "Earth Orchestra" (which first appeared at the end of Set 4) and the same closing theme, "Hinageshi." In case you've forgotten, the premise of the show is that Ranma is under an ancient Chinese curse that causes him to change from a man into a woman when splashed with cold water, and back again with hot water. Various other characters are afflicted with similar curses, and the majority of the supporting cast are in love with Ranma in either his man or woman form or Akane, leading to some crazy love... hexagons? Maybe even octagons. They're joined by a great cast of characters, including Akane's protective father, Soun Tendo, Ranma's free-loading father, Genma Saotome, Akane's sisters, and Soun and Genma's master, the creepy undergarment-stealing Happosai. So on with some of the standout episodes of the set, which includes a brand new array of bizarre martial arts styles. There's Marial Arts Tea Ceremony, wherein Ranma is kidnapped and promised to the charming heir and must fight her way to freedom, the Good Ol' Days Style of Martial Arts, a nostalgic bunch who challenge Akane and use nursery rhythms and old toys in their matches, Martial Arts Shogi, where Genma Saotome's cheating catches up with him and gets him and the cast stuck in a life-sized Shogi match, Martial Arts Dining, which is a hilarious insult to French people and Westerners in general with its outrageous eating competition, and Martial Arts Calligraphy, where Ranma is refused a challenge due to his terrible handwriting. Crazy martial arts styles aside, there are a lot of fantastic episodes. In one, the family wins a raffle for a free stay at a hot springs resort, only to find something lurking in its waters. In another, Ranma comes to use one of Happosai's enchanted bandaids that causes him to fall in love with all the show's female characters, and in the aforementioned Martial Arts Dining episodes (the only multi-episode arc featured in this set), the focus on food and the ridiculousness of the eating style the Westerners use is absolutely hilarious. Ryouga has a Western-style adventure protecting the ranch of an old man and his daughter, whom Ryouga falls in love with, Nabiki takes a joke too far and feigns affection for Ranma in a bid to steal him from Akane, and a new student, the exceedingly clumsy and akward Gosunkugi places hexes and curses on Ranma in an attempt to steal Akane away. My favorite episode of all, however, is "Case of the Missing Takoyaki," which is a who's-done-it tale where each character tells their portion of the story leading up to a hilarious conclusion. The last thing I'll note is that we reviewed the limited-edition Blu-ray version, which contains "extras." This time this comes in the form of interviews with cosplayers and anime industry professionals about their experiences collecting Ranma 1/2 paraphernalia, which is interesting, especially when multiple people bring up the SNES Ranma 1/2 game and one interviewee discusses the early days of the Internet. There are also trailers for other Viz Media products and the opening and ending themes as well. In all, this set is as over the top as ever, and that's why I think fans of Ranma 1/2 will be re-energized and ready to delve into the final two sets after watching it. I was as tired as anyone going into the 100th episode, but the latter half of this set is so good that I can't wait for more. Fortunately we won't have to wait long, as Set 6 has just been released, so watch for our review soon. Images © Rumiko Takahashi / Shogakukan  9.0 – Exceptional. One of the best things its genre has ever produced. Its example will be copied or taken into account by almost anything that follows it.
Ranma 1/2 Review photo
Just what Doctor Tofu ordered!
And onward we go! Ranma 1/2 Set 5 breaches the 100-episode mark, and as I've noted in past reviews, if you've made it this far, you've likely passed the point of no return. Watching such a lenghthy series is a serious investment, and fortunately while Ranma 1/2 doesn't really have much overarching plot to advance, it somehow continues to be wildly entertaining. Let's dig in, shall we?

Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger photo
Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger

It's Judgement Time: Dekaranger to return as a V-Cinema

Chu Chu Chu Deka Deka!
May 15
// Salvador GRodiles
Oh my. Right when it felt that Hurricanger was going to be the only Sentai show to get the 10 Years After treatment, a new beacon of hope has surfaced for toku fans. Seeing that it's been ten years since Tokusou Sentai Dekar...
Code Geass: Akito photo
Code Geass: Akito

There is, in fact, a 3rd episode of Code Geass: Akito the Exiled

He really was exiled
Mar 29
// Josh Tolentino
Wow, and here I thought Code Geass had just about departed from living memory, when Bandai releases a trailer to remind us that no, we're not done yet. Or rather, that we'll finally be done soon, since the trailer revea...
Lupin photo

Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro comes to Blu-Ray

Feb 24
// Hiroko Yamamura
One of the finest anime every made is finally making its way to Blu-Ray! Discotek Media announced that the Hayao Miyazaki classic will finally makes its US Blu-Ray debut on April 28th! So freaking excite! News of the release was announced last year, but we finally get a date!
Discotek Media photo
Discotek Media

Licensing GET: Discotek grabs Jigen film, Yowapeda, and more

Discotek Media is on a roll
Dec 22
// Salvador GRodiles
The New Year is about to begin in less than two weeks, and Discotek Media is on a winning licensing streak. Why you say? Well. It turns out that the company is releasing Lupin the Third: Daisuke Jigen's Gravestone on DVD and ...
Urusei Yatsura photo
Urusei Yatsura

Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer heads to Blu-Ray in Japan

The classic gets a new coat of paint
Nov 10
// Hiroko Yamamura
Fans of the classic annoying aliens can rejoice early next year with the release of the 1984 classic, Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer. The Mamoru Oshii classic was a game changer in the world of anime feature films, and ...
Kamen Rider Gaim photo
Kamen Rider Gaim

Zawame City's map gets redesigned in Gaim's home release

R.I.P., Gotham City-like map
Oct 16
// Salvador GRodiles
Do you remember the time when Kamen Rider Gaim featured a map of Zawame City that resembled Gotham City? Well, that moment is now gone, since the Blu-ray/DVD version of the show's 33rd episode contained a different map from t...
Gurren Lagann photo
Gurren Lagann

Aniplex finally brings Gurren Lagann to Blu-Ray in the United States

How many copies of this do I need to buy?
Sep 15
// Hiroko Yamamura
If you ended up buying the imported version of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann last year, I'm sorry. It looks like Aniplex USA has heard our wishes, and is finally bringing the beloved anime series Stateside, with a muli-part rele...
El Hazard photo
El Hazard

Snag El Hazard - The Magnificent World Blu-ray box set on July 30

Ahhh, delicious classic animation
Apr 19
// Brittany Vincent
I've been interested in El Hazard - The Magnificent World for some time, given its classic animation style and fantasy elements. I've just never been sure of which El Hazard I needed to start with or if I would like it, and I...
Berserk photo

Third Berserk Golden Arc trilogy film available on Blu-ray and DVD

There should have been a fourth movie
Apr 17
// Brittany Vincent
If you didn't already know this about me, I'm a huge Berserk fan. I've even got Guts' brand tattooed on my left shoulder. If I could, I'd have my own behelit. Alas, the best I can hope for is getting to watch the third and fi...

Review: Maria Holic

Mar 10 // LB Bryant
Maria Holic Complete Collection Blu-rayStudio: ShaftLicensed By: Sentai FilmworksRelease Date: 3/4/14MSRP:  $69.98 The first time I encountered this series was back when it first premiered and-- before I started it this time around-- I really did look back on the series fondly. From what I remembered, it was a fun series filled with laughs. Upon re-visiting it however I quickly realized that while entertaining, Maria Holic is mostly made up of three or four jokes which are endlessly repeated until they are buried deep into the ground.  It's certainly not all bad. The background music and theme songs are both beautiful and catchy. Give the theme songs a listen a couple of times and you'll find yourself whistling them to yourself for the rest of the day. They are infectious earworms like that for sure. The background music is equally wonderful and really manages to catch the mood of each scene without fail.  The animation and character designs are also quite well done. This was before the patented Shaft head tilt really started to take hold, so don't worry too much about that if you're tired of seeing that occur within Shaft series (which I know some of you are). Maria, Kanako and the supporting cast are all uniquely designed with no two characters looking really anything alike which is always nice to see.  The problem with this series lies in its sense of humor which, as I said before, is limited. For the most part, the jokes center on Maria insulting Kanako and Kanako having perverted, nosebleed- inducing fantasies about her classmates (which is one of the reasons why Maria and her maid are always insulting her). These jokes are worn out by the time the series hits the halfway mark and its really quite frustrating and sad. Had these jokes not been used so much, viewers could get so much more mileage from this series. Yet, the constant mach-speed speech of Kanako, perverted fantasy sequences and insults from Maria just do not hold up well. After awhile they even start to become nothing more than background noise as you watch and try to hold out for the scene to shift to something that isn't one of these tired jokes.  At the very least you can praise the dub cast for being strong and having fun with their roles. Monica Rial in particular is wonderful as Maria and really does a great job of capturing the duality of the role. In terms of extras, Sentai Filmworks did not skimp on this series. Included within the two discs are clean animations, promotional videos, commercials, a special bonus feature and an interview, none of which should be skipped if you want the full Maria Holic experience.  While this isn't a fantastic series and the jokes do get old after awhile, its still good enough to warrant a recommendation. It's a dark, fun comedy that didn't get nearly enough love when it was first released but still deserves a nice warm hug from fans. Don't be afraid to pick this one up if you're looking for some dark fun.  Score: 7.0 - Good. Films or shows that get this score are good, but not great. These could have been destined for greatness, but were held back by their flaws. While some may not enjoy them, fans of the genre will definitely love them.
Review: Maria Holic photo
A one trick pony
Released by Sentai Filmworks, Maria Holic is a Shaft series from way back in 2008. The series takes place at the all girls Ame no Kisaki academy where Kanoko has just transferred in hopes of finding her one true love. Yes, sh...

Gundam BF photo
Gundam BF

Get a golden Bearguy III with second Gundam BF Blu-ray

A shiny bear is the best bear
Feb 28
// Pedro Cortes
As you may have read, I'm quite fond of Gundam Build Fighters. The show is pure fun and knows how to craft some amazing battles from a fairly silly premise. That said, it's a glorified gunpla commercial. Well, you can argue t...
K Blu-ray photo
K Blu-ray

Viz to put out K as an A-grade Blu-ray combo pack

Pretty boys and pretty pack-ins
Feb 21
// Josh Tolentino
Much as I've embraced our digital media future, I still have a soft spot in my heart for sweet physical extras. After all, I did once buy a copy of Sakura Taisen that I didn't have a machine for just to get a hilarious-l...

Review: Kamisama Kiss

Feb 21 // Karen Mead
Kamisama Kiss DVD/Blu-Ray Complete Series (Hyb) TMS Entertainment Publisher: FUNimation Release Date: February 11, 2014 MSRP: $54.98 Kamisama Kiss is a very skillfully done supernatural romance done in the shoujo style, and really, that could be the whole review right there. If you like the combination of shoujo aesthetics and supernatural characters, you will eat this show up with a spoon like it's chocolate pudding. Mmm. Sweet, sweet pudding. What's more difficult to say is whether or not this show has much appeal outside of shoujo fans who already know what they like. While the plot moves at a good clip (no lazy filler episodes here) and the story remains engaging throughout, it's still a very shoujo-y tale filled with breathy songs, impossibly leggy characters, and plenty of luminescent blushing. Furthermore, while it's not a true reverse-harem show, the fact that main gal Nanami has several attractive, supernaturally-gifted guys vying for her attention might give some viewers cause to roll their eyes. That said, I think the strength of the main character may be enough to win over some viewers who are new to the charms of shoujo. Poor Nanami gets kicked out of her house due to her absentee father's debts, and finds herself homeless at the start of the series. Through a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger, she becomes a supernatural creature called a "Land God" and inherits a shrine to live in. Unfortunately, the previous Land God's familiar-- a silver-haired fox demon, Tomoe-- isn't impressed with the idea of having a down-on-her-luck teen as his new God. What's a newbie divinity to do? What's refreshing about Nanami is that she's very active, taking control of her own story rather than just letting things happen to her. True, becoming a Land God in the first place is something she kind of stumbles into, but that takes place in the first five minutes of the show; after that, she's all about making choices and moving forward. She makes mistakes from time to time, but her errors always feel age-appropriate rather than the result of stupidity. She's a fairly realistic heroine whose bullheaded determination is a great source of strength, yet it's often her biggest problem as well; it's hard not to root for her. Naturally, handsome fox-spirit Tomoe is more cool and detached, and while his warming up to Nanami over the course of the series was something I fully expected, the way it's done isn't strictly predictable. In true "defrosting Ice King" fashion I expected Tomoe to talk down to Nanami and treat her basically like dirt until the final episode, at which point he would reveal that he's actually in love with her. I guess that's still kind of what happens, but in practice it's a little more nuanced and interesting than I anticipated, with more give and take. There isn't a ton of action, but Tomoe is a very hands-on kind of familiar and takes insults to his mistress very seriously, so don't be surprised to see some supernatural brawls go down. The magic is all mined from Japanese folklore, so be prepared for plenty of talisman-throwing as well. As a romance primarily, fight scenes were never going to be a big draw here, but I felt the series found a good balance between action and talking-head scenes; a liberal dose of humor helps keep things interesting as well. As is my habit, I watched the series subtitled, where a lot of the usual suspects abound if you're used to watching your shows in Japanese. However, I checked out an episode or two of the dub to assess its quality, and I don't think you can really go wrong with either option here; the dub is well-cast and it seems like some care was taken with the translation. I found Tia Ballard's Nanami to be a bit too loud, but then again, if I were in Nanami's position I might find myself yelling a lot too. This set is pretty light on extras, featuring only a few commentaries from the English ADR director Jerry Jewell and members of the cast. I could complain about the lack of bonus stuff, but this is the bare bones release; fans who want the whole Kamisama Kiss experience, complete with postcards and hair pins and what have you, should pick up the Kamisama Kiss Goddess Edition box set, MSRP $129.98. But these 13 episodes are strong enough on their own to warrant the reasonable asking price here without the need to guild the lily. I've attempted to elaborate on it, but what I said at the beginning of this review still stands: this is a really good shoujo supernatural romance. If you like that, jump on this. If you're not the biggest shoujo fan, but you like your heroine's feisty and your shows filler-free, Kamisama Kiss may be worth checking out anyway. It passed "The Wilson Test"-- by which I mean, my husband actually started watching it (and laughing along with the jokes) even though I didn't ask him to, and let me tell you: not every shoujo series passes that test. Score: 8.0 – Great. A great example of its genre that everyone should see, regardless of their interest.
Kamisama Kiss photo
Doing the God thing
When I dream of becoming God, these fantasies usually don't involve a white-haired pretty boy with fox ears who follows me around and does my bidding; clearly, I've been doing it wrong. Now that Kamisama Kiss has taught me th...

Review: Fate/Zero Blu-ray Box Set 2

Feb 11 // LB Bryant
In the second half of Fate/Zero, there are a multitude of things to praise. From the pacing to the animation to the music to the fight scenes there are just so many things that you can enjoy about it. Let's start with the animation: this is a good-looking series. The character designs are very aesthetically pleasing to look at and it will be easy for everyone to pick out their own favorites as you go along. The animation is also very fluid and the fight scenes (when there are fight scenes that is, but that's a point for later on) are just riveting to watch because of how good they look.  None of these scenes would be anywhere near as good however if it weren't for the beautiful soundtrack composed by Yuki Kajiura. As usual, Kajiura uses her skill to blend and traverse multiple genres of music seemingly effortlessly to match the scene. Sometimes somber, sometimes uplifting and sometimes plain beautiful, there are very rarely any moments when the music is not a wonderful match for what is happening on screen. Looking back over my notes, I see only one occasion when I actively noticed the music hindering or distracting from what was happening and that wasn't until towards the end of the series.  As much as I want to praise everything about this set though, I have to admit that there is one place where Fate/Zero doesn't hold up well and that's in the action. For those of you who watched the first half of the series hoping that the action would pick up and more people would actually, you know, start fighting like they're in a war, you're going to be sorely disappointed.  While it's never quite as bad as the first half where people would literally walk in circles while rattling off endless monologues, the second half does have more than its fair share of endless talking scenes as characters maneuver their way into contention through whatever means necessary. This means many episodes will pass before anyone even draws a sword. That isn't to imply that the series is boring (well, generally not). Far from it. However, don't expect to see these servants do any kind of serious battling until near the climax of the series.  Alright, you've heard all about the series but what about all the shiny extras? What makes this set so special and worth putting hard earned money down for?  Aniplex of America really packed this set with extras to make it worth your money. Included with this set are bonus discs which feature the second soundtrack and interviews with the English cast. Also included with the set is a deluxe illustration book which features some gorgeous character artwork, the standard collection of promotional videos, commercials and trailers and the discs are all housed in a special artbox which features artwork from the original character designer Takeshi Takeuchi. Whew! Overall Aniplex of America did well with this release. The series itself is absolutely worth watching and the extras are plentiful. If you're a fan of the Fate universe and want to see how the heroes of Fate/Stay Night got to their starting points, this is your entry ticket. This is a recommended addition to your collection.  8.0- Great. A great example of its genre that everyone should see, regardless of their interests.  
Review: Fate/Zero photo
So much talking!
When Fate/Zero Set 2 starts off, we're thrown right in the middle of a major battle. Caster has created a huge monster and it's up to Saber, Lancer, Rider and Archer to defeat it before it can cause major damage to the genera...

Mai Mai miracle photo
Mai Mai miracle

Mai Mai Miracle gets funded in a day, dub possible

Stretch goals detailed
Feb 06
// Jeff Chuang
All the Anime's Kickstarter for Sunao Katabuchi's Mai Mai Miracle is funded! The Kickstarter was approved some time yesterday morning Eastern time and it has reached funding early morning today. The 2009 Madhouse film from di...
Braving Inwards. photo
Braving Inwards.

Come meet the Kyoryugers of 100 years in the future

What is this sophisticated child-generating technology?
Jan 27
// Chris Walden
We do still have a few weeks of dinosaur-related sentai action, but if the conclusion to the story and a few movies don't seem like enough content for you, why not get excited for the upcoming special? Set 100 years after th...
Nyaruko-san photo

NISA licenses Nyaruko-san as she crawls home with love

Moe Lovecraft lore lands in Lovecraft's home country
Jan 15
// Jeff Chuang
NISA deploys its anime licensing tentacles once again and snatches 2010 TV anime adaptation of similarly named light novel, The Crawling Chaos: Nyaruko-san. Now titled Nyaruko-san: Crawling with Love, the NISA title will come...

Review: Zetman

Jan 05 // Salvador GRodiles
Zetman: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] Studio: TMS Entertainment Licensed by: VIZ Media Release Date: 11/5/2013 MSRP: $54.97 Adapted from a manga by Masakazu Katsura, Zetman tells the story of Jin, a homeless kid who's lived his whole life with his grandfather. Despite Jin's current living conditions, the boy's determination to help others knows no bounds-- as long as you're willing to pay him, of course. Not only that, but he’s buddies with Kouga, who happens to be the son of the man in charge of the powerful Amagi Corporation. Early on, a monster kills Jin's grandfather, and the young child is left with nowhere else to go. Luckily, Jin's good deeds are rewarded when a woman that he rescued decides to take him in. After Jin gets placed into a new home, we fast-forward to a point in time where both friends get ready to face the Players: a group of monsters that have hidden themselves within society for quite some time. Once Jin’s dormant powers awaken, the two protagonists end up walking the path to justice. However, Jin and Kouga start to realize that their world isn’t black and white. While Zetman’s story focuses on Jin and Kouga's battle against the Players, there's more going on here. The show depicts struggles between the rich and poor, illustrated in part by the views of Amagi Corporation’s president. On top of that, the people providing Jin's supplies plan to use him as a tool for their own benefit. Aside from Jin’s situation, Kouga faces the pressures that come with being part of a rich family. In fact, Kouga is forced into many messed-up scenarios where he has to think on the fly; otherwise, he’ll have to live with the lingering guilt of letting innocent people die. To an extent, you could say that Zetman is made up of different shades of gray, since the human characters can be as twisted as the monsters themselves. Despite these strong points, the series suffers from a few pacing issues. Due to the staff’s decision to adapt Zetman's story into a 13-episode series, most of the plot feels rushed. Characters end up changing their views without any proper development, and it's hard to care about the people outside of the main duo. Thankfully, Jin and Kouga manage to keep the show interesting, since there's never a dull moment when they're around. Art-wise, Zetman’s staff does a decent job in converting Katsura’s illustrations into animation, since the designs capture the artist's realistic style. While the composition isn’t on the same level as Sunrise’s Tiger & Bunny series, another series that features Katsura’s artwork, I felt that Zetman’s look went well with the anime's themes. Aside from the human characters, Jin’s Zetman form, Kouga’s Alphas suit, and the Players give off a nice superhero/tokusatsu series vibe. In fact, Zetman and Alphas’ designs remind me of Devilman’s titular hero and Kamen Rider Ixa from Kamen Rider Kiva. Meanwhile, the Players look like they came from a Showa-era toku show or a classic superhero comic, with their old-school style. From what I’ve watched of Zetman’s English dub, the voice acting was average at best. While NYAV Post has a great track record with shows like Giant Robo the Animation, The Venture Brothers and GaoGaiGar, their issue might’ve been with the voice actors that they chose for the series. Personally, I found the original Japanese track to be the superior choice of audio this time around. Since Daisuke Namikawa (Waver from Fate/Zero) and Mamoru Miyano (Light Yagami from Death Note) were voicing Jin and Kouga, I couldn't help but go with Zetman’s original recording. Interestingly, Zetman comes with an interview with original creator Masakazu Katsura from NYCC. Sadly, the feature is short, since Katsura only answered a small amount of questions. However, Katsura reveals that the anime’s staff chose to adapt different chapters from the manga that they believed would fit well with the anime's original story; unfortunately, the way they structured the series resulted in Zetman’s strange pacing. At the end of the day, Zetman isn't breaking any new ground within the superhero genre; however, Jin and Kouga's conflict made way for an intriguing story that prompts the viewer to question both characters' reasons for fighting crime. As long as you can tolerate the show's weird pacing, you'll be in for a fun ride. Otherwise, Katsura's original manga might be a better starting point for newcomers, since the story flows better in that format. 7.0 – Good. Films or shows that get this score good, but not great. These could have been destined for greatness, but were held back by their flaws. While some may not enjoy them, fans of the genre will definitely love them. 
Zetman photo
Justice isn't always about sunshine and rainbows
Even though I’m the guy at Japanator that watches toku shows, my experience with superhero stories in general is below average. While I’ve kept up with many of the cartoons and films that are based off of DC and M...

Review: Good Luck Girl

Jan 02 // Brittany Vincent
Good Luck Girl [BD+DVD] Studio: SunriseLicensed by FUNimationRelease Date: 11/19/13MSRP: $69.98 Good Luck Girl follows Ichiko Sakura, a high school student with far too much good fortune. She's beautiful, popular, rich, and intelligent. She's also a bit of a jerk. She sits on her high horse, looking down on the helpless, ugly, and penniless peons. But she's quick to put on a facade if she believes she must to get ahead. Ichiko is ruthless, and she cares not what others think of her. That all changes when Momiji enters her life -- through a toilet, no less. Momiji is the god of poverty, and she's been tasked with taking a little bit of that good luck Ichiko has in droves and spreading it out to those around her. Little by little, Momiji draws the good luck out of Ichiko using a hilariously huge needle. If she doesn't Ichiko will continue sapping it from others as their quality of life continues to decline while hers improves. Even her butler feels the effects of her sucking the luck out of the air around her, nearly succumbing to a heart attack before Momiji can balance out the good fortune Ichiko's been hoarding. It probably sounds pretty dark, right? Sometimes it can be. It's surprisingly adept at handling sensitive situations when it comes to Ichiko and her selfish ways, but overall this is a comedy that draws from the dynamic between Ichiko and Momiji. Momiji's a quick-witted loose cannon who, weirdly enough, also likes to cosplay. Think of her as a less sex-crazed version of Panty traipsing around in Lupin the 3rd outfits. There's no plan that's too out there for her to sneakily usurp Ichiko's good fortune from her, and that's where some of the funniest situations arise. Ichiko and Momiji bicker like an old married couple, though over the course of thirteen episodes they grow to bond over a strained friendship, as one slowly begins to understand the other. While there are male supporting characters (and some particularly weird ones) to speak of, the plot progresses at a nice pace while managing to focus solely on Ichiko and her personal growth. Despite disgusting monsters posing as maids and perverted monks making for some inane moments here and there, there are heartfelt and profound times as well, and that's what kept me interested beyond the laugh-a-minute script I was impressed with. It's a surprisingly poignant mixture of slapstick comedy and outlandish situations that you might actually learn a thing or two from. There can be good in the heart of the rudest person, and perhaps they can't help their rough edges. These types of themes give me the impression that Good Luck Girl could have been produced in a simpler time, before moe blossomed into the industry-enveloping shadow it is today. Even the animation hearkens back to an earlier time, and that makes it a sort of anime comfort food for me. Good Luck Girl is a dark horse you probably haven't heard of (or will hear of in the months to come) but it's an excellent series with plenty to offer: hilarious references, thoughtful character backgrounds, and an excellent script, in both the English and Japanese versions. It may be a little slow to reach a "resolution," but the journey is worth taking, especially if you like a more traditional approach to character studies with wacky dynamics like those of Ichiko and Momiji's. And you just can't say no to characters who cosplay. It's an iron-clad rule for gals. 8.0 – Great. A great example of its genre that everyone should see, regardless of their interest.
Good Luck Girl photo
Way too much luck to go around
When I first started watching Good Luck Girl, I had just finished up the sex comedy B Gata H Kei (Yamada's First Time), which was surprisingly hilarious given its lack of actual sex. I'm a big supporter of anime comedies, esp...

Ranma 1/2 photo
Ranma 1/2

Viz announces date for first Ranma 1/2 Blu-ray

Get ready to YAPAPA on March 25th
Dec 21
// Pedro Cortes
Ranma 1/2 was the second anime that I watched as a teen, after Dragon Ball Z. To say it holds a happy little niche in my heart would be an understatement. I got a full year of enjoyment out of that show and I've always wanted...
Macross Frontier photo
Macross Frontier

Macross Frontier movies get a new box-set

English Frontier!
Dec 18
// Hiroko Yamamura
If you have been a longtime listener of Japanator AM of used to watch the Live Show, you probably know how much I hate the Macross Frontier films. Sure, the first movie, Macross Frontier The Movie: The False Songstress wasn'...

Review: Sword Art Online BD Box Set I-IV

Nov 27 // Elliot Gay
Sword Art Online BD Box Set I-IV [BD] Studio: A-1 PicturesLicensed by Aniplex USARelease Date: Vol. I 08/13/13, Vol. II 9/17/13, Vol. III 10/15/13, Vol. IV 11/19/13MSRP: $112.98 [Rightstuf Vol. I, Vol. II, Vol. III, Vol. IV] I wrote many words about Sword Art Online last year when it was still airing on Japanese TV. Truth be told, I came into it with high expectations and a whole lot of hype. I had always been a fan of .hack, and the prospect of something similar but with a bigger budget had me itching to catch every new episode. Somewhere along the way though, things changed. When the first half of Sword Art Online, the Aincrad Arc (episodes 1-14), came to a wrap, I was pretty much done with the series. It needs to be said that despite my issues with them, I still found the first 14 episodes to be an entertaining experience. Almost a year later, that opinion remains largely unchanged. The Fairy Dance Arc (episodes 15-25) is still an irredeemable mess. For those of you who want a more in-depth write up of my feelings toward Sword Art Online as a whole, I suggest you check out my Final Impressions piece from early this year. The short of it is that I don't think Sword Art Online is a good series. I think it's a poor one riddled with large problems across the board. I firmly believe it squanders a cool concept and wastes any momentum it might have had coming out of the Aincrad Arc. That being said, if you're looking to drop cash on the Limited Edition BD box sets, chances are better than not that you already love the show, otherwise you'd be better served just sticking to the legal streams. With that out of the way, let's get down to business. Are these pricey BD sets worth the price Aniplex is asking for them? I'm a huge proponent of quality packaging when it comes to anime. In this new landscape of free and paid streaming options, publishers need to give consumers a reason to put down their money to own anime. While digital bonus features are certainly a chunk of that, I believe that attractive packaging is just as important if not more. To that end, Aniplex USA's Sword Art Online BD boxes are a success. The boxes feature exclusive art by light novel artist abec, and when you put each one together, they form one large illustration. The backs of the boxs also have neat little engravings of the swords used in the series. These might seem like minor touches, but when you're paying a premium for it, this kind of stuff counts. As somebody who often purchases nice collector's sets, Aniplex's SAO BDs fit right in on the shelf. Each box contains two disc cases, though only one of them holds the actual episodes. The other case is reserved for the bonus disc content. Volume 1 contains the first OST (33 tracks) for the series, volume 2 has a DVD featuring staff interviews, volume 3 has the second half of the OST (27 tracks), and volume 4 contains interviews with the English speaking staff. While I had my issues with Yuki Kajiura's work on Sword Art Online, the full soundtrack is still a great addition to the package, especially for fans of the show.  As far as I'm concerned however, the real stars of this box set are the audio commentaries included for certain select episodes. The participating members on each commentary typically change a bit each time, but the general set up consists of a handful of voice actors and the staff. There's something fascinating about hearing a group of people chat about the episode/series itself as it rolls along in the background. I've always loved audio commentaries and felt it was a shame that seemingly so few anime series seem to get them, so the inclusion here is a real plus. The voice actors exude about as much charm as one would expect, making them fun to listen to even as somebody who didn't enjoy the show that much. I imagine for some folks it might be a bit hard distinguishing who's saying what while reading the subtitles, but there are a lot of great stories to be heard if you're into the actors. The rest of the bonus content comes in the form of physical trinkets. Each box includes a set of illustration cards featuring the various characters (mostly female) in alluring poses. There's also a total of four 16-page booklets primarily made up of exclusive anime images. I was somewhat disappointed to find that the booklets are rather small, especially compared to  the ones in Aniplex's Fate/Zero sets, but nonetheless it's a nice inclusion. For those of you who play the card game Weiss Schwarz, each BD box has a limited edition SAO card. Due to my incredibly limited knowledge of the game, I can't really speak to whether they're any good.  Sword Art Online is presented in 16:9 widescreen format in 1080p and was quite the looker on my entertainment setup. If there's one thing A-1 did exceptionally well in many of SAO's episodes, it's the background illustrations. The colors pop, and the richly detailed (as well as the not so richly detailed) areas hold up remarkably well on a big HD screen. Sadly, this doesn't work out so well when SAO falls back on large, poorly animated CG beasts. The Skull Reaper in particular looks just as bad as it did when the series was airing on TV, and no BD transfer can fix that.  It's not a secret that I don't like Sword Art Online. The show is plagued with issues that ultimately drag it down to the point of no return. It's a show that is full of missed opportunities, much of which rests with the original source material. These BD box sets are not for me. No, these BD boxes are very much so designed for the hardcore fans of Sword Art Online. To that end, the question then becomes "are they worth the high asking price, especially when there are four of them?" I don't think the answer is as simple as a yes or a no, but I do think that there is a lot here for fans to enjoy. If you found yourself excitedly watching Sword Art Online every week and felt sad when it finished, these BD boxes will be right up your alley. Everyone else? Stick to the cheaper (albeit less extravagant) DVD sets. This one is for the fans. Liz is still the best character though. 6.0 -- (The anime itself is subpar, however the quality of this release is fantastic and elevates the package.)
Sword Art Online photo
Diving back into Aincrad one last time
Not even original light novel scribe Reki Kawahara could have predicted how big his Sword Art Online franchise would eventually become. Since the first novel was published in April of 2009, Kawahara's creation has seen 12 seq...

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