Blu-ray

Monogatari photo
Monogatari

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

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


Yuss!
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
Berserk

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
Nyaruko-san

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...

Review: One Piece Movie 10: Strong World

Nov 14 // Pedro Cortes
One Piece Movie 10: Strong World [BD/DVD]Studio: Toei AnimationLicensed by FUNimationRelease Date: Nov. 19, 2013MSRP: $34.98 [Amazon | RightStuf] Set after the Thriller Bark arc, the Straw Hats are forced to make their way back to East Blue in response to violent attacks and villages disappearing. Right before the turn their sails, Luffy and crew meet Gold Lion Shiki, an old pirate with the ability to affect the gravity of objects. First offering his assistance in moving the Straw Hats toward East Blue, he kidnaps Nami for her superior navigating skills and scatters the group across several floating islands. With Nami in his hands and everybody scattered, Luffy has to get everybody back together to fight Shiki, who has quite a history with some pretty powerful people. Left to the whims of weekly shonen show budgets, One Piece's animation quality usually varies between decent to butt, depending on how deep into an arc they are. Usually, action scenes get the most attention while dialogue-heavy sections look comparatively rough. That’s not a problem here-- Strong World looks great. Characters rarely, if ever, go wildly off-model. The action is more complex than it usually is, featuring extensively animated movement that you usually wouldn’t see. The colors pop, thanks to the power of HD animation. It’s clear that Strong World had a beastly budget and it shows. The story is also better than your normal movie fare. Oda’s involvement means that everything just about makes sense in this movie. One of the few things that sticks out is the existence of Shiki, who really should have come up by now in the series proper. I mean, he is a contemporary of Gol. D Roger, who escaped Marine prison by chopping off his legs and floating away. That’s a story that would’ve at least been mentioned in passing, don't you think? Despite that, Shiki himself fits into Oda’s strange universe just fine. The floating islands remind me of sections of Skypeia, but in a good way. Having different ecosystems on each island keeps the visuals varied and each character on their toes. The Japanese voice cast is excellent, as always. These guys and gals have been delivering solid performances with these characters for years. It's a given that even the worst of the One Piece movies is salvaged by hearing Mayumi Tanaka’s Luffy, Kazuya Nakai’s Zoro, etc. What I was more curious about was the English dub. Having only seen a few episodes in English, I knew that the crew that FUNimation pulled together for One Piece was pretty damn good. In fact, it’s one of the best dubs out there, period. With Strong World, these guys did a fantastic dub that’s on par with the superb Japanese cast. Of particular note is Ian Sinclair as Brook, who absolutely nails the musical skeleton’s vocal patterns, cadence and accent. I couldn’t ask for a better performance for a character I like so much. I hope that they bring him back when the US releases get to Thriller Bark. My only criticism is that there are very few extras in the package. Besides an introduction to Brook filmed with Sinclair and several staff members, you’ve got the US trailer for Strong World and the usual assortment of trailers for other FUNimation products; it's a pretty bare-bones package. Considering that we’re getting Strong World as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack for a decent price though, I’m not complaining too much. Fans of One Piece absolutely need to get this movie. While it doesn’t affect canon in any way, it’s a fantastic film that can fit into the universe. It looks great, the fights are awesome, both language tracks feature superlative performances, it’s the One Piece movie that could only be done under the gaze of Oda. Strong World is far and away the best of the One Piece movies and is one of the best films in any shonen franchise. Get this movie.   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.
One Piece photo
Solid Gold
Most long-running shonen franchises have theatrical releases to supplement their ongoing stories. Dragon Ball has 18 flicks between the original and Dragon Ball Z, Naruto has nine movies, Bleach has four and so on. Being...

Review: Akira 25th Anniversary Edition

Nov 11 // Pedro Cortes
Akira 25th Anniversary Edition [DVD/BD]Studio: TMS EntertainmentLicensed by FunimationRelease Date: 11/12/13MSRP: $34.98 [Amazon | Rightstuf] Set 30 years after the end of World War III, Akira takes place in Neo Tokyo, a hovel of a city that’s a husk of its former glory. The government is corrupt, the police are violent, biker-toughs roam the streets; all the usual signs of the post-apocalypse. While trying to fight off a rival biker gang, Kaneda and Tetsuo get caught up in terrorist activities and a government conspiracy to create powerful espers. The ensuing insanity leads to a whole lot of death, destruction and two former friends repeatedly screaming out each others names. The final orgy of destruction takes place at the stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which should be amusing to anybody that attends the real-life games in seven years. Just, you know, be sure to check under the stadium. It’s a fairly simple story if you take it at face value. Knowing that there’s a much longer manga might complicate things a bit, but when you consider it’s a “put-upon guy gets super powers and goes nuts” story at heart, it’s easy to follow. All the back story involving Akira is pretty ancillary compared to Tetsuo and Kaneda’s beef. All the talk of psionic humans and crazy cults sits behind two boys scrapping over who can ride (an admittedly awesome looking) bike. Let’s be frank, nobody is really watching Akira for the story. It’s good enough and the setting is interesting, but it takes a back seat to the spectacle of its presentation. Booming music and glorious animation are why you're watching this classic. It’s amazing that after 25 years and an excellent restoration, Akira still looks fresh. The detail in the city as it’s falling apart, the blood dripping off the bodies of Tetsuo’s victims, the buildings and lights streaming by racing bikes-- this film is a masterpiece of cinema. There are few movies even now than look as good and as full of life as this flick. This is a movie that you use to test out new TVs and sound systems. On technical prowess alone, Akira is worth owning. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s take a look at what’s in this package. Funimation has put in three language tracks: the remastered Japanese version from 2009, the remastered Pioneer/Animaze English version from 2001 and the original 1988 Streamline English version. For the sake of posterity, I put on the 1988 English dub and it provided me tons of entertainment. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t very good. I’d say it’s borderline awful. However, it has glorious amounts of 80’s cheese in it and I love that stuff. Having seen the 2001 English dub before, it’s a lot better than the trashy Streamline dub, but it lacks its crappy charm. Quite frankly, this is a film that every anime fan should own: it’s a legendary movie that has stood the test of time. It’s one of my favorite animated flicks, with a dystopian future reminiscent of the stories envisioned by geniuses like Phillip K. Dick, William Gibson and Ridley Scott. Fans of science fiction will love this movie, fans of animation will drool at the excellent remastered footage and fans of weird stuff have a mutated psi-baby in an Olympic stadium. If that doesn't sell you on Akira, nothing will. 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.
Akira photo
KA-NEIGH-DAHHHHHHHH!
If you ask most people who grew up in the late 80s/early 90s what anime was, they’d probably say Akira. This film impacted not only the geeks and nerds, but had the sort of cross-over appeal that most shows don’t ...

Review: High School DxD Season 1

Nov 08 // Jeff Chuang
High School DxD Season 1 (Blu-ray/DVD) Studio: TNKLicensed by: FUNimationRelease Date: August 20, 2013MSRP: 64.98 Well, not so fast; how can we, for a review of High School DxD, skip over the fanservice? I think if you enjoy sexy dynamite bodies, lacking a better term, you will like this honest and straightforward boobs anime. The Japanese promo material on the second disc, available as bonus content, says as much--it's a boobie anime. If you like them knockers, this thing has it. I would even go so far as to complement on Rias Gremory's design in general--both dressed and undressed, she has a really well-done character design. It happens when the character's silhouette works so well that the shape of her hair draws your attention to her fierce, but perfect face (and on down). It's good that she's a well-designed character, since High School DxD features Rias an awful lot--both in terms of marketing material and also how the anime puts her in some pretty cool still shots. Alongside her are Akeno, the Japanese, Yamato Nadeshiko-type; Asia, the innocent sister; and Koneko, the smooth-and-flat representative of the bunch. There are others, but not as important (well, save for fellow club member/demon brother-in-arm Yuuto). While I can't hurl as many complements to the rest of the gang purely on a visual level, I think the group rounds out the fanservice elements sufficiently. For me, the lead male character often makes or breaks any kind of a harem setting. In High School DxD, I think Issei gets a pass. He's earnest and hard to dislike. The guy is humble enough and knows to play it like a shy boy when it's appropriate, on occasion borrowing the best attributes from classic playboy heroes like Kintaro Oe. For better or worse, however, High School DxD sets him in a “must get stronger” sort of story where Issei has to step up and pull his weight for the team. It's frankly kind of dull, but the simple vehicle doesn't get in the way of the fanservice, and is inoffensive for the most part. There is a consistent team theme going on throughout the story. The way High School DxD sets up the primary relationships in the first season has to do with how Rias grows her demon family. Like vampires, I guess, the demons in High School DxD can resurrect dead humans and turn them into “reborn” demons. Demons can also give birth to other “pureblood” demons. The demons fight against angels, fallen angels (who may team up with other agents, such as human demon hunters and combat priests), and among themselves, in a three-way balance of power. While season one of High School DxD doesn't get into the setting too much, one thing we do learn is that humans are randomly bestowed with "sacred gears," and all these faction fight over humans with good ones. As you've probably already guessed, our protagonist happens to have an extremely powerful sacred gear. The story focuses on how Rias establishes her family, and also Rias's own role in the society of demons, including the whole Rating Game business where fellow demons compete for societal status in a game of human (demon?) chess. By bringing in Asia and Issei into her family, Rias establishes herself not only in a way that is meaningful to her position, but also in a way that meets her emotional needs. In turn, Rias's guidance and vulnerability complement Issei and Asia's needs too. As the only romantic triangle in the first season, this is a subtly interesting angle to present. And maybe it's for the best. Unlike most harem anime, there are little reasons for High School DxD to spend time with awkward social situations between a dense protagonist and a hot haremette in order to exploit that fanservice element as a slapstick joke. Akeno and Rias simply jget naked on their own, sometimes for no good reason, and all the anime has to do is to show it. This leaves Issei focused on getting stronger (and tearing clothes off Asia). The show is probably at its weakest when Issei, along with his male classmates, sexually harasses the girls at school. We get the point that Issei's mind is full of naughty girl parts, let's move on. Actually, there is another thing that bugged me--the whole nipples-visible-through-the-clothes visual effect. It's just not my thing, especially when it happens to Rias and Akeno while they are wearing their normal school uniforms. It's also kind of random; on occasion you will see their nipples through their outfits, sometimes not. Maybe it's supposed to indicate that they don't wear bras? In any case, I feel like it cheapens the show (as if it wasn't cheap enough), and more importantly, it distracts you from enjoying the alluring character designs. As for production values, High School DxD is competent. The home video release is uncensored, as it should be. The animation quality is okay, although there has to be some praises heaped upon the ending animation. “Study x Study” is a catchy StylipS song, but, those pole dancing moves are definitely animated with more frames then usual, right? They look pretty nice. The Blu-ray/DVD combo pack comes with a good amount of on-disc bonuses. For one, the English dub cast provides commentary tracks for episodes 1 and 7. The aforementioned promo materials are available (subbed only) as well as the original Japanese bonus featurettes, in case you want to see more boobs (or tentacle udon noodles). FUNimation's own ads as well as the original Japanese ads are present, and also the credit-free OP/ED videos. For your information, this review is based on the Blu-ray disc contents, although the screencaps are from DVDs. The voice acting on High School DxD is kind of a mixed bag. The Japanese dub did a decent job of portraying Rias as a cool beauty, and so did the English dub, although the latter came across a little too matter-of-factly. The English Issei is terrific, though. The rest of the gallery sounds about what you would expect from a typical FUNimation dub, although there are a few first-timers in this cast. It's probably worth noting that the Japanese versions of Akeno and Asia sound about as exaggerated as their English counterparts. If you look a little deeper at High School DxD, you might actually find some interesting themes. The one I latched on is how Asia's feeling for Issei serves as a foil for Rias's feeling for Issei; they are drastically different yet surprisingly similar. It's exactly this kind of thing that you miss out if you write off High School DxD as a pure boobs show. Make no mistake, it still is a pure boobs show; but the boobs aren't the only thing the series has to offer. The point I realized that something else might be happening with this series was during an early moment, when Issei got into a debate about Dragon Ball Z: FUNimation's famous bumper is "You Should Be Watching." I wondered at first: should anyone actually be watching High School DXD, with its nipple protrusions? Is this really a good way to spend your time and money? And in true otaku anime fashion, the answer is “yes, but.” If you're willing to look past the surface for some deeper themes, you may be surprised to actually find some here. However, for a lot of viewers, the fanservice is all they will see, and that's okay as long as that's what you want. If nothing else, you could just watch the ED on loop for a while. 6.0 – Okay. 6's are flawed, but still enjoyable. These titles (say "titles" ten times fast) may not have attempted to do anything special or interesting, but they are nonetheless enjoyable. These typically make great rental fodder or bargain grab.
High School DxD photo
Devil's chess with fanservice
Sometimes, companies like FUNimation license certain titles that meet a certain kind of demand. And there’s no beating around the bush for these shows: sex sells. Although these fanservice-heavy anime rarely feature act...

Bubblegum Crisis photo
Bubblegum Crisis

AnimEigo aiming to Kickstart Bubblegum Crisis Blu-Ray


YES!!!
Oct 29
// Pedro Cortes
Fans of 80's anime and powersuits are sure to be familiar with Bubblegum Crisis, the show about a group of mercs called the Knight Sabers fighting robotic threats. A few years ago, the original eight-episode OVA got a gorgeou...
Blue Exorcist The Movie photo
Blue Exorcist The Movie

Aniplex to release Blue Exorcist The Movie on Blu-ray


Everything you wanted
Sep 28
// Kristina Pino
Aniplex have just announced that Blue Exorcist The Movie is not only coming to home video, but you'll be able to enjoy it in glorious Blu-ray format if you choose to buy the limited box set edition. It includes the film in bo...
Tiger & Bunny  photo
Tiger & Bunny

Viz reveals their plans for Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning


Kotetsu and Barnaby are almost ready to suit up again.
Sep 24
// Salvador GRodiles
September is almost over, and Viz is ready to give us the rundown on the upcoming release of the first Tiger & Bunny movie! Obviously, the Blu-ray version will be the one to go for, as it comes with the most extras. I mea...
Ranma 1/2 photo
Ranma 1/2

VIZ's anything goes martial arts technique: Re-releases


Ranma 1/2 coming back strong next year
Sep 18
// Josh Totman
This is the kind of news that this old-timer likes to hear. The long awaited return of Ranma ½ is on its way back out into the wild. VIZ Media sent us some of the details on what’s going to be happening to the se...
Attack on Titan photo
Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan TV vs Blu-ray comparisons


Plenty of changes on the way
Sep 12
// Tim Sheehy
We're still waiting for actual side-by-side video, but this clip features a collection of screenshots comparing the original TV version of Attack on Titan to its Blu-ray release in Japan. You may have come across a few of th...

Impressions: Elfen Lied Blu-ray/DVD comparison

Sep 03 // Pedro Cortes
Elfen Lied Complete Collection + OVA (DVD & BD[reviewed])Studio: ArmsLicensed by: $49.99Release Date: 9/3/2013MSRP:  [Amazon | RightStuf]  First, here's what you're going to get. While the art is quite nice, the rest of the packaging is quite plain. It's just a normal two-disk bluray case. Compared to the ADV's thinpak release… …it looks quite plain. I personally would've loved for a nice-looking box or a slipcase at the very least to go along with the box. That said, it's only the outside. What really matters is what's on those disks. If you're expecting a dramatic jump in visual fidelity, well, you might want to reign back those expectations a bit. If you look at the following comparison shots, there isn't a whole lot different between the releases. In these shots of the colorful opening, you'll notice that the image is cleaned up and the colors are a little bit sharper. The lines are little sharper as well, but the jump isn't wild. It's more of a refinement instead of a complete remaster. Thing is, it isn't advertised as such, so as long as you know that going into your purchase, it shouldn't bother you too much. I mean, when you considering that Elfen Lied is nearly 10 years old and (I believe) it wasn't too popular in Japan, it's a surprise it even got a BD release. There's also very little work that's been done since it was brought over from Japan. The credits are untranslated, with a quick translation tacked on to the end of each episode. That doesn't bug me, but I know it may bother others. The real difference comes with audio. Both the English and Japanese audio tracks are in 5.1 surround sound and boy does it make a difference. The older DVD release sounds compressed and muddy. This BD sounds noticeably better, especially with that soundtrack. Lillium never sounded this good! However, the big selling point for older fans is that we finally get a legit release of the OVA. People have asked over and over again when we'd get it and this release finally gives it you. The result? Well, it's a bit hit or miss. Set between episode ten and 11, it's mostly a silly romp involving Nana trying to fit in with Kouta's makeshift family. However, there are some important bits of the Lucy's past that are filled in, so it's definitely worth watching. Is worth the price of an entirely new set? Well, that depends on you. If you haven't bought Elfen Lied before or are a big fan, then absolutely. If you aren't a big fan and already have one of the previous sets, then probably not. That said, I think this is pretty solid release. Barring anything in the future with nicer packaging and/or extras, this is the last version of Elfen Lied I'll be picking up. It looks better than the other versions, sounds better and it has that OVA that I've been wanting since I heard of its existence. It's also pretty cheap, so I'd say grab it if you got some extra scratch. Note, this score is indicative of the BD release, not the show in general. For my feelings on the show proper, check out my review from a few months back.  
Elfen Lied photo
Yay, prettier blood!
What's this? Another Elfen Lied review? Not quite. Like some other popular ADV shows, Elfen Lied was released several times. Not including digital releases, I believe this is the fifth time you can buy a new version of t...

Little Witch Academia  photo
Little Witch Academia

Grab your wands! Little Witch Academia's pre-order begins


Don't let the price fool you.
Aug 12
// Salvador GRodiles
It looks like the real magic has begun, because Little Witch Academia has finally prepared its spell that will allow viewers to pre-order the OVA on Blu-ray! While the limited edition Blu-ray is being priced at ¥ 6,0...
Cowboy Bebop photo
Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop is headed to Blu-Ray


High Def Ein!
Aug 12
// Hiroko Yamamura
You asked for it, you got it! It seems like FUNimation has been listening to the fans cry out for the Blu-Ray release of Cowboy Beebop, and is set to deliver the goods in 2014. Also on the plate is the another release of the...
Ranma photo
Ranma

Otakon 13': Viz announces Ranma on BD and streaming


Splash me with some hot water
Aug 12
// Josh Totman
Thank you Viz! Thank you very much! I have the bad confession that I didn't buy the Ranma 1/2 TV series DVD box sets when they were available. Probably because I was still in a small bit of rage over how much I spent on the V...
LWA BD release photo
LWA BD release

Little Witch Academia BD preorders start August 13th


Positively delicious
Aug 08
// Elliot Gay
I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but if you haven't seen Studio TRIGGER's excellent Little Witch Academia short film, you're doing anime wrong.  Anyhow, TRIGGER has announced that international preorders for t...
Fate/Zero BD/DVD photo
Fate/Zero BD/DVD

Huzzah! Fate/Zero gets a NA BD/DVD release with the dub


Maybe this time you won't pay a bajillion dollars!
Jul 08
// Elliot Gay
I'm in love with Ufotable's Fate/Zero anime adaptation.  On a technical level, it's a beautiful looking show with fantastic direction, a great soundtrack, and amazing cinematography. In fact, I loved it so much that I bo...

Review: Natsume's Book of Friends Season 3

Jul 03 // Jeff Chuang
Natsume's Book of Friends Season 3 Premium Edition Blu-ray/DVDStudio: Brains BaseLicensed by: NIS AmericaRelease Date: October 9, 2012MSRP: $69.99 It's not unusual for the third series of a franchise to take a dip in terms of the intensity and interest. Thankfully for season 3 of Natsume's Book of Friends, the story actually gets better while looking as good as it always does. A big part of season 3's charms belongs to the added cast of human friends around Takashi. From his adoptive guardians to his classmates, we now see the lives of the people around him and how Takashi's youkai-related adventures affect them in a direct way. Some of the youkai that showed up in seasons one and two also returns in season three, giving those of us who stuck with it additional emotional value. The plot also kicks up a notch as Takashi walks further down the road of the modern exorcist. Not only Takashi's celebrity friend slash exorcist Natori is similarly gifted, but he becomes Takashi's connection to a secret society of excorists who use and manipulate the spiritual for their own gains. Thanks to that, season 3 of Natsume's Book of Friends is more exciting, now with real antagonists in the form of selfish and misguided human drama, mixing things up with the usual everyday pieces. Even the everyday pieces improved in season three, I think, because now Takashi doesn't have to carry the spotlight the entire time. Sharing it with the poor sap for two seasons is enough; his new friends break up the monotony for both Takashi and Nyanko-sensei. Tanuma and Taki both get a lot of lines towards the second half of season 3. At least now Taki can join in on the never-ending running joke about Nyanko-sensei's appearance. The NISA's release itself is as you would expect from NISA's premium line. The solid box and artbook continues in the same theme as the seasons 1 and 2 box. The artbook looks similar to the Book of Friends, while containing similarly, a list of monsters along with other key data from the show.  The two thinpaks contain a DVD and a Blu-ray Disc each. For this review only the Blu-ray version is tested, and the first nine episodes are on the first disc. The bonus material and the rest of the series resides on the second. With simple menus, this force-subtitled, Japanese dub-only release does the job; colors looked good and things sounded as you would expect. It's not fancy but this show isn't exactly the most flashy thing. The on-disc bonuses are similar to the first box--just the TV commercials and clean OP/ED sequences. In general, production value for season three of Natsume's Book of Friends meet or exceed seasons one and two. Directionally, however, season three is simply more of the same--and there is no reason why they should change a formula that has worked so well. For more details, please refer to our review of NISA's premium edition release of seasons one and two. The music and visuals remain pleasing and effective, if a bit out of the way from the viewer's attention other than the occasional striking impact shot. What's most notable in season three, besides the amplified drama, is the voice acting. Natsume's Book of Friends already begins with a very solid veteran voice acting cast, but with season three the work is spread around, giving both the old voices more life and room to expand on what was working, and allowing the new voices to simply highlight on what was missing from the first two seasons. At the same time, though, while Natsume's Book of Friends season three avoids some of the really sappy trapping from seasons one and two, Takashi Natsume still feels like a wet rag in terms of his worthiness in advancing the plot. There may be more fujoshi pandering in season three, also--it can be hard to tell given how this show always had that tendency. What I do know is that season three simply has more variety than seasons one and two, despite featuring fewer slices of monster stories. However after three iterations, I'd say the variety is necessary to keep things interesting and fresh. 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.
Natsume Review photo
Meet Natsume's new friends
The third season of Natsume Yuujinchou is where the story shifts into the next gear. In similar fashion, NISA's Natsume's Book of Friends Season 3 Premium Edition ups the ante by becoming a Blu-ray/DVD combo release. This NIS...

Di Gi Charat & Gatchaman  photo
Di Gi Charat & Gatchaman

License Reminder! Sentai gets Di Gi Charat and Gatchaman


Will Sentai's release of Gatchaman do good?
Jun 25
// Salvador GRodiles
Actually, Sentai has already talked about their plans for both shows already at their panel during Anime Boston 2013. However, they decided to make their announcement more official by reminding us in a more professional ...

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