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Anime

Right Stuf reveals Turn A Gundam and Please Teacher's release date


Two announcements are better than one
Mar 12
// Salvador GRodiles
I may be a little behind on this thing, but I thought that this set of announcements were worth mentioning around here. For the first order of business, Right Stuf and Sunrise have announced that Turn A Gundam Part 1 com...
Junjou Romantica photo
Junjou Romantica

Junjou Romantica getting a DVD Litebox re-release


Love lives!
Jun 12
// Kristina Pino
Shungiku Nakamura's Junjou Romantica remains a relevant title for overseas fans these days, it seems, because Nozomi Entertainment announced they'll be re-releasing the entire first season this September in one 3-disc package...

Review: Princess Nine

May 13 // Karen Mead
Princess Nine DVD Complete Series Publisher: Nozomi/Lucky Penny Release Date: April 1, 2014 MSRP: $39.99 Ryo Hayakawa is the daughter of a great baseball pitcher, although she doesn't know it. She's just minding her own business, playing in a casual sandlot baseball team whenever she's not needed at her mother's tiny restaurant, only to suddenly be offered a scholarship to a prestigious high school out of the blue. Keiko Himuro, the wealthy and dignified president of Kisaragi Girls High School, is deadset on forming an all-girls baseball team, and she wants Ryo in her lineup -- but is it just for her pitching arm, or is there another reason? And will the team see the light of day when not only the school administration, but even Himuro's own daughter, are against it? Princess Nine starts off its 26-episode run with lot of intriguing questions, and in that respect, it doesn't disappoint. I was very impressed with the writing in this series; while it did follow the predictable route of a sports anime in many respects, there were enough deviations from the norm to keep things feeling fresh and exciting. What's interesting is that instead of being a typical shonen sports anime, this is truly a shoujo sports anime; baseball often takes a back seat to relationships. Part of the reason why the story feels fresh is because it deviates from the game to explore the characters for surprising amounts of time, but for that very reason, baseball lovers might be disappointed with the relatively small amount of actual baseball played. While some characters are cut from familiar molds, including Ryo, others have surprises in store. I found Keiko Himuro to be a fascinating character; a rare adult female who has a character arc that has nothing to do with her children. Coach Kido, while basically being Tom Hanks' character from A League of Their Own (which Princess Nine bears many superficial resemblances to), ends up being a lot of fun. Every girl who joins the team adds something new to the table, and even background characters like the regulars who frequent Ryo's mother's restaurant end up having memorable roles to play. While not every character has loads of depth, quite a few of them do, and finding out what makes them all tick is a big part of the appeal of the show. Production-wise, this show is a mixed bag in a very particular way I don't think I've ever seen before. While the art is typical, low-budget '90s anime TV series fare, it seems as though incredible care was taken with the music and the sound design in general. The score, by Masamichi Amano, was performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, and the pedigree shows. While the music adds an almost palpable sense of gravitas to the show's more dramatic scenes, I found there was often a disconnect between the art and the music; you would have this amazing, truly epic orchestral score in the background, only the art looks like it could have been taken from any low-budget show circa 1998. That's not to say the animation is poor; it's at the very least adequate, and occasionally even dynamic and exciting during the baseball scenes. It's just that it's usually very typical, workmanlike art and animation (complete with shortcuts like repeated stock footage use) that seems at odds with the high-quality score. Other than this disconnect (which is only a problem insofar as the music is actually so much better than expected), I only have one problem with the show, but unfortunately, it's a doozy. As befitting a shoujo show, there's a dramatic love triangle between the earnest Ryo, snobby genius Izumi Himuro (Keiko's aforementioned daughter), and Hiroki Takasugi, a batting prodigy for the Kisaragi Boys High team. Early on, I didn't mind the love triangle and found that it added an interesting tension to Izumi and Ryo's rivalry. However, by the end, the love triangle completely overwhelms the show and it all degenerates into melodrama; romance tropes that seem beneath the level of the writing on the rest of the show start to rear their trite heads, and baseball gets sidelined in pursuit of the answer to the all-important "Who does Hiroki like?" question. But that's not all; the fact that the love triangle becomes more prominent may be a negative for many viewers, but that's not what made me want to destroy the discs. No, the real problem is that the way the love triangle is depicted seems to undermine the entire message of the show. While Ryo and Izumi's performance on the field becomes increasingly compromised due to their feelings for Hiroki, there's no indication that Hiroki's own athletic performance is ever affected by the romantic turmoil in his life. This double standard ironically serves to reinforce exactly the kind of sexist stereotypes that the rest of the show seemingly exists to challenge. Maybe it was unintentional, but the implication seems to be that while girls may be talented at sports, they can't keep their pretty little heads in the game once romance is involved, while guys have control over their feelings. Given the overwhelmingly progressive nature of the rest of the show, I found this development infuriating. Your mileage may vary; after all, Princess Nine has been out for over a decade and has a pretty stellar reputation, so obviously, not all viewers have the same problem with how the love triangle developed that I do. After all, Ryo and Izumi are depicted as unquestionably two of the best athletes around, of any gender; how strong do they have to be for the show not to be sexist? Still, the fact remains that the way the whole thing played out left a sour taste in my mouth, and I have to be honest about that. If you put aside possible issues with the story, this release from Lucky Penny is pretty flawless. Not only do you get the entire series for under $40, but for once, the set is full of extras. May of them, like the History of Baseball in Japan feature and the voice actress stats, are just some extra text, but the features devoted to the performance of the music by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra are fascinating. Keep in mind, you need to have subtitles turned on to see the subtitles on the special features; if you're watching the dub, the features will play unsubbed. Speaking of the dub, I thought it was adequate without being memorable. Hilary Haag turns in a strong performance as Ryo, as do some of her teammates, but I thought Vic Mignogna's Hiroki lacked the suave quality of Takehito Koyasu's performance and left the character devoid of his original charm. Some of the other performances, like Jennifer K. Earhart as team manager Nene, are kind of grating and made me want to switch back to the Japanese track. In short, if you're a dub-only watcher a few strong performances make watching Princess Nine in English a worthwhile endeavor, but all else being equal I recommend the original language track. So, where does that leave me? I love Princess Nine; I also kind of hate Princess Nine. But I only hate it because I got so invested in the story, which means it's a good show, right? But it can't be that good, otherwise I wouldn't have wanted to use the discs for skeet shooting practice after it ended, right? I have no idea; I'll probably still be puzzling this one out for a while. In the meantime you may want to pick up this series if you'd like to see the interesting combination of a hardball story with a decidedly softball aesthetic; it has an awful lot going for it, and the price is certainly right. And maybe when you're done you can join my new club, where we burn effigies of Hiroki Takasugi and talk about the Princess Nine that might have been if only the dumb love interest had never existed. 7.0 -- A show with many fantastic qualities that drowns in its own melodrama by the end, and seemingly undermines its own premise at times. Nevertheless, when it's good it's very, very good, and the score is peerless.
Princess Nine photo
Dirt, fastballs and romance
At the beginning, I loved Princess Nine. It may be a cliche to say "I laughed, I cried!", but the fact is, I really did laugh and cry. The show seemed to be capable of doing something nigh-impossible: present a story unabashe...


Review: Space Adventure Cobra Part One

Apr 03 // Pedro Cortes
Space Adventure Cobra Part 1 [DVD]Studio: TMS EntertainmentLicensed by: Nozomi/Lucky PennyRelease Date: March 4, 2014MSRP: $49.99 Johnson is your run-of-the-mill schlub. He goes to work, clocks in, does his time, clocks out and goes home. He'll occasionally go out for a drink, but he's otherwise as boring as can be. In need of some excitement and lacking in funds, Johnson hits up the TM Corporation to get some sweet dreams implanted in his head; it's certainly a lot cheaper than a trip abroad. In his dreams, Johnson is a legendary dead space pirate named Cobra who travels the stars in search of adventure and /or pretty ladies. While it wasn't exactly what he wanted, Johnson leaves satisfied, but finds that he can't let go of his dreams of Cobra. After suffering a near-fatal attack, Johnson realizes that he's actually Cobra in reality. Having gotten some heavy heat on his tail, the pirate altered his face and buried his memories to stay safe. With the news out that he's alive, Cobra abandons his old identity, grabs his sexy gynoid Lady Armaroid, finds his space ship and leaps back into the stars for more adventure. I dug Cobra's initial premise, as it's straight out of Total Recall/We Can Remember It for You Wholesale. The concept of repressed memories that come back to bite you is an old idea, but one that I'm fond of. When you have the collected force of an entire Pirate Guild after you, drastic measures are necessary. Besides what you see here, little else is explained about Cobra's past, and that's fine by me. It's enough of a premise to get me interested in what new adventures and trouble a lead guy like Cobra can get into. Speaking of Cobra, it's hard not to like the guy. Suave, capable, clever, he's a laid-back and fun-loving guy that just wants to have a good time. He likes pretty ladies and money. Imagine a bumbling Golgo-13 with a sense of humor and less murder and you're on the right track. He's a good foil against the strange members of the Pirate Guild that are hounding his every step. The standout villain is a cyborg named Crystal Bowie, named for his see-through exterior and for the original mangaka's affection for the English rock star. The guy's got enough menace to make up for most of the other weak-sauce pirates that try and take out Cobra on an episode-by-episode basis. Cobra's designs definitely show their age. Everything from Cobra's look to the ladies he comes across to the ships that he encounters in space all look like they're from the early '80s. People who are used to newer sci-fi designs may balk, but I find it rather charming and it only adds to the show's personality. Actually, for a show that's over 30 years old, this release looks and sounds really good. I'm not sure if Nozomi used remastered audio and video, but the quality of the animation is quite sharp on a 1080p screen. There's no dub with this release, but that's no surprise for a show this old. I'm fine with the Japanese language track, as is.  The only negative things I can think of are that Cobra doesn't really develop. He's rather static and doesn't change, but I think that's also inherent to the character. He's supposed to be one of the baddest pirates around, so there isn't any room for him to grow here; he's just trying to get the rust out of his joints. Some may find the copious amount of scantily clad '80s chicks a bit much, but it didn't bother me. I actually really like the female designs, as they're rather attractive in that Weird Science/Kelly LeBrock kind of way. Especially Lady Armaroid: I'm quite fond of her sleek, robotic curves. I'd recommend the first part of Space Adventure Cobra to fans of classic science fiction and '80s anime. While those that are used to the sterile look of a lot of modern anime will likely cringe in spots, I feel that the hand-drawn nature of the show adds to its personality. And believe me, this show has plenty of personality between its goofy protagonist, the dastardly Crystal Bowie and the galactic treasure hunt that makes up a lot of this first part. There isn't a ton of depth, but the show doesn't pretend to be anything but a fun, sci-fi romp around the galaxy. 7.5 – 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.
Space Adventure Cobra photo
Total recall has never been this good
'80s anime had a fondness for cribbing from classic sci-fi. You can see the influences of authors like Issac Asimov and Philip K. Dick and movies like Terminator and Alien in multiple shows from the era. Hell, the influence o...

Princess Nine photo
Princess Nine

Princess Nine to return to DVD in April 2014


A League of their own...wait, actually it's the same league
Dec 24
// Karen Mead
Princess Nine is one of those rare anime series where I've never, ever heard a bad word about it. I haven't seen it, but I remember people waxing poetic around 2001 (back when the now-defunct ADV Films originally released the...
Space Adventure Cobra photo
Space Adventure Cobra

Space Adventure Cobra gets release date


Nozomi Entertainment are bringing us the goods
Nov 13
// Pedro Cortes
Nozomi Entertainment, the folks who brought us shows like Boogiepop Phantom, Revolutionary Girl Utena and Martian Successor Nadesico, let us know that the first part of the classic action show Space Adventure Cobra will be co...
Right Stuf's new goodies  photo
Right Stuf's new goodies

AX 2013: Right Stuf grabs Princess Nine and more


A former ADV series is back on the field!
Jul 06
// Salvador GRodiles
Oh good, it seems that a Princess Knight riot didn't occur during Right Stuff's Friday panel. Seeing how all of Right Stuf's divisions have announced something, we can assume that no one got injured during the presentation at...
Nozomi panel at AX 2013  photo
Nozomi panel at AX 2013

YES! Nozomi is having an acquisition panel at Anime Expo


I think I'm going to be punished for the reasoning behind my excitement.
Jul 01
// Salvador GRodiles
I will admit that I'm am over reacting on my view towards Nozomi's latest announcement, but I'm actually more curious about the scene that's going to appear at the panel. On the good side of things, they're going to talk abou...
Aria Season 1 litebox set photo
Aria Season 1 litebox set

Hop on the gondolas of Mars with Aria's new litebox set


Aria the Animation gets re-releases in a more affordable form.
Jun 12
// Salvador GRodiles
Ah Aria -- not to be confused with Aria: The Scarlet Ammo. Another anime series that I've heard good things about, but haven't gotten the chance to watch. The only thing that I know about the series is that it covers the...
Princess Knight update photo
Princess Knight update

Minor rejoice? Nozomi's Princess Knight sets get revised


Still no sign of a dual audio update.
May 07
// Salvador GRodiles
Thanks to Nozomi's desire to have their customers watch Princess Knight in the best quality that a DVD can bring, the series will be released in a remastered format. In exchange for Nozomi's new actions, the first set will be...
Princess Knight set info photo
Princess Knight set info

Oh no: Nozomi's Princess Knight set won't have dual audio


Don't worry, Nozomi has a good reason for it.
Apr 09
// Salvador GRodiles
Before you break into a fit of rage, Nozomi had no choice in the matter of not including the original Japanese track for the Princess Knight anime that's based off of a manga by Osamu Tetsuka. Part of that reason has to do wi...
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Irresponsible Rose Lions joins Nozomi's upcoming releases


Two re-releases and a new release are coming your way.
Mar 13
// Salvador GRodiles
Yikes, I didn't think that Nozomi was going to do this to us. Don't they know the dangers that they are inflicting upon society? Do they realize that Rose Lions are the most irresponsible creatures in the entire universe? Oh ...
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Right Stuf licenses Space Adventure Cobra


Jan 15
// Brad Rice
It's a good day for classic licenses. Right Stuf just announced they're bringing out the 1982 series Space Adventure Cobra, set to hit shelves in late 2013 on DVD and digital distribution channels. The series follows the adve...

Review: Martian Successor Nadesico DVD Collection

Nov 15 // Pedro Cortes
Martian Successor Nadesico Complete Collection LE [DVD]Studio: XebecLicensed by: Right Stuf/NozomiMSRP: $59.99  Set in the future, Martian Successor Nadesico revolves around a war between humanity and the mysterious Jovian Lizards. The Lizards posses superior technology, slowly forcing humanity further back toward Earth and away from their interplanetary colonies. One of those colonies is on Mars, where main character Akito Tenkawa has lived since birth. However, Akito is alone, as his parents were killed years prior to the start of the show. All by himself, he's focused on becoming a chef, due to the poor quality of the food on Mars. Since his parent's death, he's become a pacifist and wants nothing to do with the conflict between Earth and the Jovians. However, due to his connections with the new captain of the spaceship Nadesico, he gets dragged on board and quickly becomes one of the only able pilots. Based off that quick synopsis, I wouldn't be surprised if you presumed that Akito would be a sullen, angry, withdrawn child that bitches and complains more than getting the job down. While he does have his moments, that's actually pretty far off the mark for Akito. For the most part, Akito is a pretty upbeat guy. The moments where he backslides into a petulant child make sense, as they involve the death of particular characters, the revelation of his past and the identity of his true foe. He's a character that wouldn't appear in a show like this now in the era after Eva. The rest of the plot also does a good job of giving you something different. While you'll be able to figure out a couple of things, I know that you won't be expecting several twists and turns. There's an early character death that you will not see coming. It's easily the most unexpected removal I've seen and boy does it have some consequences. There's also the big twist that occurs a bit after the half way point, but I'll keep mum on that. What I will say is that a recent show attempted something similar. However, that show did little to nothing with said twist while Nadesico's characters are sufficiently rattled by their discovery.  One of the things that sets Nadesico apart is the relationship between Akito, Yurika and Megumi, one of the 'bridge bunnies.' Right from the start, you can tell that Akito and the Nadesico's captain, Yurika Misumaru, have a connection. They were brought up together on Mars and it's clear that Yurika has the hots for Akito. If you expect Yurika to chase Akito around for the entirety of the show, you'd be right, but it isn't as simple as that. After a particularly devastating event for Akito, he ends up dating Megumi, putting him in quite an awkward love triangle early on. It was quite surprising, as most lead pilots like Akito stick to the normal will they/won't they antics with their primary love interest while the other members of the harem opine about their love lost. To have him make an early move (and recognize his mistake later on) is something you rarely see period. Besides Akito and Yurika, the Nadesico houses some of the stranger characters you've seen in a space ship. You have your typical emotionless, genius loli in the form of Ruri Hoshino, but she has some of the better dramatic moments later on when she goes and investigates her past. There are also the Nergal employees Goat Hoary and Mr. Prospector, who oversee the crew and make sure that they act in Nergal's best interests. While they both do their jobs to the best of their ability, they show an adaptability later on that you wouldn't expect from proper employees. Unfortunately, I going into any further detail about other characters would start getting into spoiler territory, and a lot of the twists are pretty neat. I particularly dug Inez's past, which does a good job in wrapping up Akito's story. In terms of visuals, I felt that Nadesico holds up despite its age. While it definitely has its crappy moments, characters tend to stay on model and the combat looks good. The robots are well-designed and the space ships look great. The early Jovian units look bug-like and creepy, which fits well early on. The later designs get a bit ridiculous, but it makes sense in terms of the plot. The soundtrack is also pretty solid, lacking any tracks that made my ears bleed. What did make my ears bleed was the dub for the show. Considering when this dub was made, ADV decided to up the frantic factor by having their cast go all shrill. It's irritating and I couldn't get through more than a couple of episodes of it. The sub, on the other hand, has some great performances, particularly by Tomokazu Seki, aka G Gundam's Domon Kashuu. He's always a joy to listen to, as he's got hot-blood down to a science.  Following the 26 episode TV show is the film The Prince of Darkness, a sequel set several years after the shows end. I would love to say that the film as just as fantastic as the show, but that would be ignoring a ton of problems. First and most importantly, there's an entire chunk of the story missing. Don't blame the RightStuf, it isn't their fault. What happened was that vital information involving the goings on of the crew and the antagonists of the film was revealed in a Sega Saturn game, The Blank of Three Years. Not only that, but there's an epilogue game that came out on the Dreamcast that continues right after the film.  That right there should be enough to sink the film, but there are a couple more issues. The movie is only about 80 minutes long and Prince of Darkness suffers for it. Things start off with a bang, but quickly slow up when it's time to (illogically) bring the crew of the Nadesico back together, followed by a rushed finale. What makes things worse is that there was a Dreamcast game released afterwards which follows up on the ending to the film. Despite all that, the story can still be followed, even if you feel like you're missing about a third of what's going on. The biggest problem is the running time. If the movie were 20 minutes longer, they could've fit in the missing sections and everybody would be up to speed. The only saving grace that Prince of Darkness has is its visuals. This is one pretty movie. You'd be hard pressed to find a prettier hand-drawn movie. The final piece of the package is the one episode Gekigangar 3 OVA. A famous super robot anime within the Nadesico universe, Gekigangar plays a heavy part in the show. Framed as a movie watched by the Nadesico characters, the OVA 'recaps' what goes on prior to the movie followed by a newly animated battle. It's explosive, hot-blooded fun. If you dug the clips you saw throughout the show, you'll no doubt love this. On top of being remastered, I believe this is the first time it's available in the US. I'm sure old fans of Nadesico would like to have this in their collection. OK, so let's do a quick recap. First, the Nadesico TV show is great on all fronts. It has an interesting plot with lots of twists and turns, it keeps viewers on their toes and it holds up 15 years after its initial release. Second, the Prince of Darkness movie is not very good. The pacing problems and missing information make it difficult to keep up with. However, the gorgeous animation will keep you entertained through at least one viewing. Finally, the Gekigangar 3 OVA is a great cap to the package, what with its reverence to classic robot shows of the '80s. All three of these items are available in one package that's full of extras that include documentaries, interviews, promotional videos and clean openings and endings. This would be worth it with just the show alone. Add everything together and you have a fantastic package that you need to have in your collection.   8.5 - Great. A great example of its genre that everyone should see, regardless of their interest.  
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Three products, one great package
There are some shows that come out and completely alter their genre. Classics like Super Dimension Fortress Macross and Love Hina have altered their respective landscapes to the point where future television shows and media h...

Japanator Doesn't Recommend: Dirty Pair Flash Collection

Aug 06 // Brittany Vincent
Dirty Pair Flash DVD Collection Studio: Sunrise Licensed by Nozomi EntertainmentRelease Date: July 17, 2012MSRP: $39.99AmazonFast forward to 1994, and the Lovely Angels have gotten a facelift. Kei and Yuri are much younger, brasher versions of themselves, complete with bratty attitudes and a lot more skin. Enter Dirty Pair Flash, the alternate retelling of Dirty Pair set forward in the future -- 2248, to be exact. Nozomi Entertainment has collected all 16 OVA episodes of the redux into the Dirty Pair Flash DVD Collection, and while I'm appreciative to have a brand new way to purchase the episodes other than the out-of-print Dirty Pair Flash: Perfect Collection, I'm not so keen on these mouthy Angels. Kei and Yuri are now seventeen-year-old troublemakers who hardly seem fit to work as 3WA agents. Granted, that's where most of the comedy is supposed to stem from -- their obvious incompetence and incompatibility, but Flash seems to take this a step too far with the massive character overhaul. These two could easily act as the Cutie Mark Crusaders of the original Dirty Pair -- the lesser, younger sisters of the main cast everyone loves. And the differences are clear right out of the gate: Kei's still a fiery redhead, though she's sporting a spiky cut with bleached bangs. It's not a good look for her. Yuri's signature flowing hair remains, but it's taken on a lighter lavender color. Kei's an even bigger tomboy than ever, and Yuri has been reduced to an airhead with few concerns other than how much money her future husband can offer her. It's a little off-putting, and I found myself reaching for the original series more than a few times throughout all the silliness. But it's a little unfair to complain only about alterations made only to the characters -- after all, the Dirty Pair were never perfect to begin with, and even the original Kei and Yuri had their own faults. Unfortunately, the action on-screen doesn't atone for these missteps. The stage is set with some typical anime hijinks where Yuri is relayed a data card meant for 3WA that finds her being accused of murdering an "innocent man" by onlookers and running all over Furool with police hot on her trail. Chaos ensues. Later, I found myself giggling a bit where the girls traipse through a haunted dorm, but most of the episodes fall flat in their execution. And it all goes back to how the "Angels" behave and interact with each other: most of the time, you get the impression they really have no regard for each other, as if they're only working together because they're being forced, not because there's any kind of underlying partnerly love for each other there. I felt this quite strongly with the original Kei and Yuri, and that element was sorely missing here. Beyond the actual content, which was occasionally funny here and there, but nowhere near the standards set nearly thirty years ago, I did enjoy the crisp '90s animation. I've got a soft spot for the sharp, angular character designs and the candy colors used in most situations. I sat through the competent sub after the first episode when the dub soundtrack began to grate on my nerves. Despite the excellent Sue Ulu's role as Kei (you might remember her as Ritsuko Akagi of Evangelion fame) I found Yuri's voice actor nasally and obnoxious, only seeming to cement Yuri's new role as a selfish, vain crybaby who only seems to be interested in marrying some rich guy rather than working with Kei. And don't even get me started on the master computer -- what were they trying to do there? Dirty Pair Flash at a glance seems to be an intriguing update to a classic series, but in the end it demonstrates that tinkering with an established formula doesn't always work. There are a few laughs to be had here and there, but these angels aren't as lovely as with their predecessors. If you're looking to get into Dirty Pair, start with the '80s episodes and work your way into the manga and novels -- there's a lot meatier work there to digest. 4.0 – Subpar. Though not offensively bad, this one is just plainly poor. It’ll find dogged defenders, but just can’t appeal to anyone outside that deluded circle. 
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Dirty Pair is an indomitable '80s franchise that's known throughout the world as one of the most famous girls with guns series around. Its multiple forms of media follow the misadventures of the "Lovely Angels" Kei and Yur...

Japanator Recommends: Boogiepop Phantom

Jul 28 // Pedro Cortes
Boogiepop Phantom Complete TV Series (DVD)Studio: Madhouse StudiosLicensed by Nozomi EntertainmentRelease Date: June 5, 2012MSRP: $29.99Right Stuf  The story thread of Boogiepop Phantom can be a bit difficult to follow, so stick with me. The show takes place in a Japanese town that is still reeling from a string of unsolved murders that occurred five years prior. A month before the story begins, a giant beam of light shot into the night sky, starting another set of strange occurrences. People are exhibiting strange abilities, random folk are disappearing, that sort of thing. Among this, the urban legend of Boogiepop, walking the streets starts to spread among the girls of Shinyo Academy. It's like Death incarnate. That's the basic thread of the show. Instead of following a single storyline, Boogiepop Phantom changes it's main character each episode. What you have then is a series of non-linear narratives that, by the end of the show, gives you the whole story on what the hell is going in this town. You'll have characters frequently cross paths across different episodes, filling in blanks that made no sense before. Considering how frequently these characters meet bad ends, it's a clever method of story-telling that shows you how dark things have gotten in this city. One of the few problems I had was the frequent disorientation and, in my case, frustration, with how the story is presented. Boogiepop likes to jump around in its time line, which sometimes left me confused on when a particular scene was occurring. Even when I do know what's going on, I feel like I can almost grasp the whole story, but I'm missing that last nugget of information. In that way, Boogiepop feels like a David Lynch production. It's purposefully disjointed and information is just out of your grasp, but you're OK with it. However, there's still some parts that didn't make sense to me. Since Boogiepop is based off of a light novel series, I'm pretty sure that the entire story wasn't represented in the series. I'm still not completely sure what lead up to the pillar of light that is referenced so often. Enough information was given so that the overall story makes sense, but there's definitely the feeling that something has been left out. I'm not quite sure if I like Boogiepop's visuals or not. A majority of the show has a desaturated, sepia-tinged color palette. This is an interesting and unique style, but it doesn't always lend itself to looking very good. In fact, I'd hazard to say that Boogiepop as a whole has not aged well. Its stiff and limited animation makes it look older than it actually is and the limited colors don't help. Then again, most of the show has a vignette effect tossed in, so it's possible that all of that was part of establishing that great mood I mentioned earlier. Just don't expect it to wow you with its animation quality. Right Stuf's re-release features has both Japanese and English vocal tracks, with the dub featuring both stereo and 5.1 sound options. What's interesting is that I found both versions to be lacking in quality acting. Neither vocal track is particularly good, but I found the dub to be the better of the two, if only for its kitsch value. It doesn't take away from the show as a whole, but there are some comically over- and under-acted scenes. Hey, it's just like a David Lynch flick! The soundtrack is also appropriately moody, with some great Silent Hill-esque sound distortion used to great effect.  Overall, I complete recommend Boogiepop Phantom. It's creepy at all the right times and it's told in a fairly unique way. Despite the lackluster vocal performances in both languages, the mood it establishes with its story, visuals and its soundtrack more than makes up for its deficiencies. Do note that it isn't a particularly nice looking show, but it definitely does not look like anything else. If you want a something to creep you out and unnerve you, pick up Right Stuf's re-release.   Score: 7.0 - 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.  
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I didn't start off as a fan of horror. When I was a kid, I was terrified of the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises. I hated monsters of just about any kind and stuck to safe and happy things. While my stan...

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AX '12: Nozomi licenses Aoi Hana, Ristorante Paradisio


Jul 02
// Brad Rice
While Sentai Filmworks drowned us in licensed titles, Nozomi and the folks at Right Stuf have announced some really high quality licenses: Hyakko, Aoi Hana, and Ristorante Paradisio. I, a full-grown man with a growing be...
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Nozomi's resurrected Nadesico gets a release date


May 16
// Salvador GRodiles
I was happy to see that Nozomi got a hold of the entirety of Martian Successor Nadesico last year at Anime Expo, since it happens to be one of my favorite animes in the mecha comedy department. When I mean entirety, they are ...

Japanator Doesn't Recommend: Gasaraki

Mar 04 // Salvador GRodiles
Gasaraki Complete Series Collection (DVD)Studio: SunriseLicensed by: Nozomi/Right Stuf Release Date: February 7, 2012 MSRP: 49.99 [Buy]  Gasaraki's premise is actually a huge mess of things. Instead of establishing a setting and a main cast, the show throws you into a segment that feels like a news coverage about a random war that is going on in the Middle East. During the fighting, we are given a couple scenes with a few people having a discussion about some sort of huge plan (Doesn't really matter because the series failed to give the viewers a reason to care.). There are also various other things going on, but in reality none of it feels very relevant.  In other words, Gasaraki fails to establish its story during the early episodes of the series. Instead, you have to wait until episode six to get an idea of which characters you are going to follow throughout this mess of an anime series. You can also tell that this show is one of those series that came out during the era when everyone was trying to be like Evangelion. In this case, it is more of an insult to this series. First of all, the abstract things flashing in the viewer's face early one feels very inconsistent and out of place, and none of the characters are fleshed out to where you want to have a reason to follow their journey. Which is probably because the series assumes that their viewers are under the influence of drugs and alcohol (Alcohol will only slightly reduce the pain.). How can one care about committing to a series if one doesn't even know what to expect out of the plot? Where is the motive, and where are the interesting characters? This people is how not make a series, since you have to establish something early on to draw in the viewers. Based on what I picked up, there are two factions facing each other. One similar to SEELE, and another one that is kind of like NERV. Both sides have these mechs that inject some sort of special liquid into the pilot when they fight, and there are a handful of ulterior motives going on between both groups. The two main characters of the series are some sort of special humans that are a key factor in both factions' major scheme. Either way, none of us care because of the poor execution that lies within the show's writing.  So Gasaraki has a poorly crafted storyline, does it have at least a good art and animation direction going with it? When the show looks kind of decent, the style shows off that the animators had a bit of influence from Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's style. However, there are times when the show features many off model designs in which the characters eyes shrink in size, or the shape of the faces seem very strange. You can expect these inconsistencies to alternate between each episode. While the mech designs are what you can expect out of real type designs, none of them stand out in this series. In a way, they come off as poorly made creations from the Armored Core series of video games. Wait, that is going a bit too far, since Armored Core still has some good designs, regardless of the combinations that you put together. Perhaps it is a bit blander than Lagrange's mech designs. Or you could say, imagine if the mech designers of Lagrange did designs for Armored Core, which is probably one of the best ways to describe the show's robots. Since the dub was done by ADV Films back in the days, most of the lines seem to come off a bit unnatural at times. By unnatural, I am talking about the voices not having enough emphasis into the lines, along with voices that sound a bit exaggerated (Basically, most of the issues that plagued most dubs back then.). If you think that the story was ruined for me because of the dub, then you are in for a surprise. Even in the original language, Gasaraki still feels like a force that aches at your body from within as you are trying to sit through every single episode. In terms of translations, the subs were fine. However, there were some moments where you encounter a few grammatical errors. For example, there were some parts where certain punctuation marks and words were misused during the certain lines. As I said earlier, these errors happen rarely, but they do stand out when they appear.  To top it all off, the series has one of the worst opening and ending themes that I have heard in a long time. One of them is cluttered with horrendous Engrish, and the other starts off with an ear aching high pitch verse. If you manage to survive the entire health threatening ordeal, there are also some extras in the form of concept art along with a feature about the making of the series.  What better way to have an abomination of a series by having a package design that inflicts frustration upon the viewer as they try to reach out for the right DVD to pop in. First of all, you don't have DVD slots that overlap on top of each other in a package. This makes it a bit of a hassle when you want to pop in a certain DVD, since you have to pull out two at once. A true design either has an individual thin case for each DVD, or they have individual DVD page holders within the case. If companies continue to have an issue with the packaging, then they should hire someone to test the convenience of taking out each disk and popping it into a player. I am not sure what audience was taken into consideration when Gasaraki was made. Something tells me that it was just a cop out to please those fans who have not grown up from their experience with Evangelion (I am referring to the obsessive fans that see it as the next coming of Christ.). If there was one good thing about the series, it would be the previews for the animes that Nozomi was advertising in the DVDs. It is very hard to classify this show as an anime series. In reality, I would label it as a subliminal torture device that attacks the viewer's inner organs. On the bright side, at least Sunrise has never resorted to doing another series that evokes the same level of suffering.  For the sake of all things good and pure, please avoid this series at all cost. If you plan to ever check it out, you might experience some minor pains in the chest area along with the urge to throw up during each scene. If anything, this show is more effective as a weapon against your foes, instead of a form of entertainment. 2.0 – Painful. 2s are so bad that they barely even count as movies. It's rare that you ever find a movie this bad in your entire life. You can't forgive it, and you'll never forget it.
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I have come across a great deal of animes that have left a bad taste in my mouth during my early adventures into the medium. Never in my life have I come across a series that felt like a torturous ordeal. This my friend, is t...

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Boogiepop Phantom gets a complete DVD set


Feb 23
// Bob Muir
Boogiepop Phantom was one of those series that I always meant to watch, but never got around to for various reasons. Now, I have another chance, as the 12-episode anime is getting rereleased in a 4-disc DVD set by Right Stuf'...
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Streaming GET: Watch Emma: A Victorian Romance on Youtube


Aug 11
// Josh Tolentino
It's time to be thrilled, fellow viewers, because Rightstuf and Nozomi have decided to stream Emma: A Victorian Romance to you, for free, on that You-est of tubes, Youtube. Why, you ask? It's simple, really. They're putt...

Japanator Kind of Recommends: Gravitation

Apr 26 // Kristina Pino
Title: Gravitation DVD Box SetStudio DEENLicense: Right StufRelease: January, 2011 MSRP: $59.99 I'll start with discussing the basic premise to jog your memories. It's an old show, I know. Gravitation follows the story of Shuichi Shindo, who is an aspiring artist and the singer of a band called Bad Luck. Then the fateful day comes when he meets Yuki Eiri, a romance novelist who passes him by and tells him he's got zero talent and should quit trying to be in a hit band. In the course of the first couple of episodes, Shuichi becomes quite fixated with Yuki, who turns out to be a very troubled and complicated individual with a dark past. Simple, right? That's what I thought when I was about to re-watch Gravitation for the first time. I'm going to be honest, though. I spent most of my time watching cringing and trying not to look away. There are very few movies, shows or books that make me feel so incredibly embarrassed for the main character that I don't even want to see what's coming next, even though I know it's coming and that things turn out just fine. That being said, I still enjoyed the trip. There is a reason why I so enjoyed this anime back in the day, so why shouldn't I enjoy it now? It brought back fond memories, and reminded me that I really enjoyed the manga much more than the anime adaptation that followed. Maybe it's because you don't have to physically hear Shuichi's voice, which I've always thought was way too whiny (annoying!), or all his crying and whining throughout 80% of his time on screen. I also don't recall Yuki being such a broken character. I thought it was cute that Yuki had a troubled past and trust issues, but looking back now he seriously had way too many problems. I'm surprised he didn't just croak in the middle of the story. I haven't gotten to what the box set comes with, though! With your slims, you'll get all 13 episodes throughout three DVDs and an OVA called "Lyrics of Love" which is an hour long. The bonus materials include clean openings and closings, character profiles, galleries and other notes. Of note is "Eiri Yuki Unmasked!," which covers his family and important events of his life, summaries about other characters and how they are important to Yuki's past. The other two DVDs cover "Bad Luck" and related characters, and "Nittle Grasper" with related characters, bringing together all the profiles for every person you meet in Gravitation. In the previous paragraph I mentioned "other notes". That is, side notes included in the bonus material that highlight certain aspects of the direction or events and explain them in terms of Japanese culture. There's a scene where Yuki and his ex-fiancee have tea together, and the notes in that volume have a page talking about Japanese tea ceremony, to name an example. I appreciate this in the bonus section rather than superimposed on the screen in sub titles the moment you're watching it, so you can just look for it later if you want to. If I remember correctly, the manga did this as well. One of the things I always really enjoyed about this anime is the soundtrack. I thought (and still think) it was so cool that an anime was based around a kid in a band, and they made cheesy, upbeat songs for the soundtrack. They made songs for Nittle Grasper, the rival band as well. This is a touch that a lot of shows don't bother to go for, and I definitely appreciate it here. As far as animation quality goes, it didn't change. For this re-release, just the sound was remastered. Is that a bad thing? Yes and no. The bad news is, it doesn't look all that great on the HDTV that I watched the new DVDs in, so I couldn't watch it full screen and even then the graphics got a little choppy. The good news is, it's the very same way I remember it. From episode to episode, the animation stays the same. The only times that the drawings actually go from "regular" to "spectacular", were very specific moments when the "camera" was on one of our main boys (which is to be expected, really). This isn't a drawback at all, and I didn't need it to look amazing. Also, less stock footage (that didn't bother me before but I notice now) would have been nice. Another note about the animation is that the OVA that comes in the box set is supposed to take place after the 13 episode series, but looks nothing like it. Shuichi, for example, has pink hair and blue eyes in the series, but has a darker red hair and green eyes (which I like much better, mind you) in the OVA. Other things have changed, such as Nittle Graspers' members hair and eye colors as well. The voice acting was all the same, but visually it was a completely different experience. To give you an idea, it's more on par with the style Fake was animated. It also re-animated some scenes we saw in the series in a different way than it was originally portrayed, which was a little confusing. Now the vocals! Something I caught onto now is that Mr. K, who is basically my favorite character of the anime series, talks with a hilarious foreign accent since he's American. Whenever the Japanese characters have conversation in English, it's usually quite slow, but it doesn't sound horrendous. Also, the translations highlighted with Japanese sub titles when there's English dialogue do not match what is being said, verbally, but only in context. Dub-wise, and I left this for last because I'm usually pretty apprehensive about giving dubs a chance, I wasn't really disappointed. It sounded like those videos on YouTube where people dub over cats and other animals. A couple of the characters sounded good, like K (Bad Luck's Manager) and Sakano (Bad Luck's Producer), but the rest had voices that didn't seem to match the person. As was the case with the anime, I liked Shuichi's voice acting the least, though. He's not a little kid or anything, but the voice actors make him seem much younger than he is. I think it brought the show down a little, making the age difference between Shuichi and Yuki seem so much bigger than it should be. I don't know their age difference, but Shuichi is out of school and old enough to drink, so he shouldn't sound like a high school aged kid. For the most part, this experience has ripped those nostalgia glasses off my face and let me appreciate Gravitation in a different way. That being said, I wouldn't recommend this anime to someone who isn't familiar with the story. The OVA is much better directed, but compared with most of the other BL available, Gravitation stands out in a completely different way. The couple is a totally different class than what you might be used to if you're watching or reading stuff like A Foreign Love Affair, Junjou Romantica, even Fake or Yellow. It was a pleasure re-watching, but it's so different from other stories, which are starting to become more of the same, that you'll either love it or hate it, I think.  Score: 7.5 -- Good (It's pretty good, but more than likely only fans of Boys Love will like or appreciate the series. Furthermore, it's likely that original 'Gravitation' fans will enjoy this more than others. Fans of older, hand-drawn animation and 90's style series will definitely enjoy it a bit more.)
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I remember writing up a yaoi article back when we did Ero Week here on Japanator. If you read it, you may remember I shared that my very first BL was Gravitation. Back when I was exposed to it, the manga was still on-going an...

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Right Stuf to release remastered Utena box set in June


Mar 15
// Tim Sheehy
Yesterday, Right Stuf and Nozomi Entertainment announced the upcoming release of their limited edition Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Student Council Saga DVD box set. The set is the first of three that'll featu...
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Junjou Romantica's second season DVD set is coming soon!


Jan 27
// Kristina Pino
Last year, the first season box set for Junjou Romantica was released and Colette gave it a great review. I, as well as many other fans have been waiting for this second set to finally get some dates. I am pleased to announce...
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Right Stuf bringing us El Hazard at the end of September


May 19
// Brad Rice
Rarely do you see older anime brought to the forefront anymore. The folks over at Right Stuf seem to be one of the few bringing us actively older titles that have faded from the public consciousness by now. Their latest annou...
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HELL YES! Nozomi Entertainment, the anime licensing and production branch of Right Stuf, has just made a huge announcement. They have licensed the greatest anime series of all time: Dirty Pair. That's the ORIGINAL Dirty Pair ...

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Nozomi starts countdown for new license reveal!


Mar 15
// Brad Rice
Well, the folks at Right Stuf/Nozomi are up to something. They've put up a Coming Soon page over on their website, counting down to a license that'll be revealed on Wednesday at 5pm EDT. Between now and then, though...

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