Nabari no Ou, The Complete Series Part Two – DVD Review

Review by: Brenda Gregson

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $59.98 US
Running Time: 325 minutes
Genre: Action
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now

The last duel of two ninja teenagers in love.

As a fan of ninjas and anime about ninjas, Nabari no Ou came as a pleasant and refreshingly nice change of pace mainly because its two main characters aren’t the conventional ninjas we’re use to seeing. The first part of the series set up the events well enough and picked up the pace quite nicely towards the end but Part Two of The Complete Series of Nabari no Ou loses some of its steam but still manages to be a decent boy-loves-ninja-boy story.

In Part One of the series, we meet Miharu Rokujo who isn’t exactly the type of hero we’re use to seeing as he’s not a fighter and he’s romantically interested in another boy who just so happens to be a dangerous Kira user in the Nabari world of the ninja who goes by the name Yoite. Having joined the rival clan known as the Kairoshu, Miharu’s plan is to fulfill the wish of the dying Yoite despite the fact that his friends from the Banta clan are trying hard to make sense of Miharu’s decision to abandon them.

The last time we left them, Miharu and a few Kairoshu representatives like the samurai Reiko and the gun toting Yukimi are joined by the three Banta clan ninjas (Tobari-sensei, Shimizu and Koichi) in staying at a school that is used as the Koga clan headquarters. Unfortunately, the Koga aren’t exactly hospitable hosts and attack the other ninjas as Miharu and Yoite find themselves going up against the dangerous members of the Koga like the tiny Shijima who single-handedly defeats Yoite.

Seeing Yoite badly injured, however, Miharu unleashes the power of the Shinrabansho that is locked within him. At the same time, Tobari-sensei comes to realize that the attack against them was not ordered by the dying leader of the Kanto clan but rather someone else more familiar. Even with the identity of the Kanto traitor, Tobari-sensei cannot take a life and as a result we learn a most unusual secret about Koichi. I won’t get into how this part of the story is resolved but this is by far one of the more exciting parts of the series.

Unfortunately, after that the story takes a detour that is directionless and, strangely enough, at the same time kind of endearing. Miharu spends the rest of the series attempting to find a way to use the full power of the Shinrabansho. With Yoite growing weaker every moment, it becomes clear to Miharu that he doesn’t have too long to live and this is unacceptable to the boy. Their moments together don’t stray into yaoi territory but it is clear that they like each another in ways that the others just don’t understand.

As Miharu chases leads on the Shinrabansho with Yoite in tow, this act makes the Kairoshu leader consider the pair traitors. He sends gifted shinobi after them but when they retrieve the two ninjas, Miharu and Yoite find allies in Reiko who turns against the Shinrabansho to protect Yoite as well as Gau who Yoite helps. Meanwhile, Tobari-sensei and his crew try to reach Miharu before he awakens the true power locked within him. At last, the truth is revealed as Tobari’s past comes to light.

There’s a huge showdown in the final four episodes and there is certainly some bloody battles as well but the finale leaves much to be desired. We’re talking a slow finish that doesn’t really close the chapter on the other characters. This is definitely not an ending that is memorable or even emotional as we say goodbye to a character.

Part Two of The Complete Series of Nabari no Ou fails to stay on track as the finale lacks direction and an ending that is satisfactory but it’s still an entertaining series that’s fit for anyone looking for a different kind of ninja story. The final 13 episodes certainly does not lack action and the endearing relationship of its two male protagonists add a new dimension to the ninjas-at-war theme but this series as a whole could have been so much better.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B-
With Miharu still living among the Kairoshu, he is still focused on making Yoite’s wish come true by somehow using the powerful Shinrabansho. On the other side, Tobari-sensei and the others try to find a way to keep Miharu from using it in a final showdown that will pit ninja against ninja. Unfortunately, the ending is a major letdown.

VIDEO QUALITY: B+
The series still looks good on DVD and the character design might not be original but it works beautifully. The action sequences in this series are actually very exciting.

AUDIO QUALITY: B+
The voice acting in the series for both the original Japanese and the English dub works well but you have to give props to Brina Palencia for making Miharu sound so convincing. The score is exciting and so is the opening theme song but the new closing theme, “ARUGAMAMA” by Anami and Maki, is absolutely beautiful.

EXTRAS: C
Like Part One we get trailers and the option to watch the opening and closing animation sans credits but there’s an audio commentary track for Episode 25 featuring Brina Palencia and Joel McDonald who chat about everything from meeting fans at expos to Brina talking about doing the voice for male characters.

OVERALL: B-
While not as fun as the first part, Part Two of Nabari no Ou is actually endearing and still loaded with enough ninja action to still make this a very different and refreshingly entertaining series that could have been so much better in the end. That said, a show about two male characters who like each another might not be everyone’s cup of tea but given the chance it will still show you a somewhat decent time.

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

What A Wonderful World!, Vol. 2 – Manga Review

Review by: Faith McAdams

Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Inio Asano
Genre: Graphic Novel (VIZ Signature)
MSRP: $12.99 US
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Release Date: Now Available

The world as we know it and the people that fill it.

In the first volume of What a Wonderful World!, Inio Asano paints a picture of the world seen through the yes of several different characters that perceive their surroundings differently. The world really is strange yet beautiful and in Volume 2 of this series we finds out just how strange and beautiful it is as lives once again interconnect in this very human story.

Chaining these events together like in the first volume, Volume 2 finds the series looking into different characters as well as a few introduced in the first volume. It is in this volume that we meet a gifted yet bored boy who – at his young age – already finds himself in cram school because he elite father wants the boy to be just like him. The problem is that the boy doesn’t want to be like his physician father and spends cram school drawing pictures while a girl just like him makes origami. Sometimes a kid just wants to be a kid.

Meanwhile, the nurse at the hospital where the boy’s father works lives with her brother and a sister who – without saying a word – simply disappears every year when the rain begins to fall. The young woman drifts towards an old boyfriend at a club and spends a few nights with him until the rain stops completely. There’s a reason she does this, of course, and it becomes obvious rather quickly.

In another part of the city, an unpopular grade school girl finds herself despising another girl who just so happens to be quite popular despite flashing a fake smile and reeking of desperation. There’s a connection between these two girls that makes the unpopular one long for the days when they were not only equals but something else altogether. The popular one does make a revelation to two adults in the next story and these two adults are journalists working for a smutty magazine. One of them has a wife and daughter and finds himself growing distant and cold towards them. When his editor leaves the next issue to him, he takes on the responsibility until he is assaulted by a group of thugs. It is then that he realizes a powerful lesson has been taught.

In the next story, a man with a knife confronts the owner of a neighborhood noodle stand but it’s not the type of confrontation one might think. You see, the man with the knife is actually the owner of a ramen stand that other characters in the series stop for a bowl. The two men share a something that pushed these them apart so many long years ago. Meanwhile, an older woman dating a younger man has often turned to booze but one date changes her mind about drinking.

Moving on, the series turns its attention on the lone man who is often seen sweeping the sidewalk outside the convenience store where he works. The young man thinks about the girlfriend he no longer sees until one day he runs into her at the station and follows her like a little puppy to the point that the woman finds it too creepy. After that, his life seems to take a downward spiral.

Lastly, we find the story shifting back to Horita from the first volume who had once had the dream of being a rock star and is now unemployed. His girlfriend is not only on his case but she hits him and this is what sends him outside where he not only meets his fate but also a Shinigami (or Death God). I won’t spoil what happens but this story is actually deep and rather touching as one of the Shinigami makes a point about humanity and the world in general.

In the second and final volume of What a Wonderful World!, another sequence of events makes us stop and reflect on the world and how different people see it. This series could have been a lot better considering the talent behind it but overall What a Wonderful World! is the kind of work that is still the type of two-volume manga series that deserves the attention of those who have been looking for manga that comes close to brilliance.

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A
In the final collection of tracks, a young girl escapes her house as she does every year when it rains and in another story a boy doesn’t want to be like his father who so badly wants his only son to be elite like him. In yet another, a girl longs for the day when her fellow classmate was not as popular as she is now and in another story we find a reoccurring character meet his fate … sort of.

ART: A
Once again, Inio Asano’s art is visually emotive and richly detailed in ways that even the smallest facial expression or gesture says a lot.

OVERALL: A
While not quite groundbreaking, Volume 2 of What a Wonderful World! remains just as profound and intriguing as the first part of this two-volume series. The vignettes in this volume are slightly more meaningful in a series of stories that deal with life, love and death. A Must Buy if you liked the first volume.

Review copy provided by VIZ Media

What A Wonderful World!, Vol. 1 – Manga Review

Review by: Faith McAdams

Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Inio Asano
Genre: Graphic Novel (VIZ Signature)
MSRP: $12.99 US
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Release Date: Now Available

The world might not be perfect but it is still wonderful.

Inio Asano is no stranger to stories about life and how each character perceives it in their own unique way. Life can be absurd, unfair, seemingly devoid of joy but it can also be wonderful enough that people realize that it is too important to waste. In Volume 1 of What a Wonderful World!, we see life through the eyes of different characters as their lives interest with other characters in this nearly brilliant manga.

What a Wonderful World! Tells several connected stories or, as the manga calls them, tracks that don’t become one big story but rather these short stories intermingle just enough to be part of the same universe. Then again, some stories are related in a much bigger way such as the story of a young female rocker who feels like she’s the mother to all the boys in her band instead of just part of the group. Even the fellow musician named Horita who she likes being with doesn’t treat her like one of the group … until she comes back to her apartment or what is left of it.

Meanwhile, Horita isn’t exactly living out his rock star dreams seeing as he joined the workforce and seeing as this story takes place after his conversation with his female rocker friend we can see that it is finally eating away at him that his friends have become popular enough that the band is featured in billboards around the city. As Horita contemplates what to do with his life now, his girlfriend, a teacher, talks one of her students into finding out what happened to the quiet boy in class. It seems that on top of being seen as a gifted student, this boy is also a bully who preyed on the quiet boy. What the bully discovers about himself makes him come to a sudden and interesting realization.

In another story, there’s another student being bullied and this time it’s a young girl who finds herself beyond caring about what happens to her. A crow begins to talk to the girl, telling her that the only option might be a very drastic one but instead the girl opts for another option that changes her life. As fate would have it, though, we follow another girl who is taken captive by an armed man in a teddy bear outfit. As her captor finds out, this girl has major problems of her own

A manga-ka visits his daughter in another vignette as his assistant breaks up with his girlfriend who is moving on without him but just can’t stop thinking about him and as she tells her young sister that she’s Ok with moving on. Little sister wants to move on too but the interesting part of her story is her young friend who has failed the college entrance exam … yet again.

The ronin, as they’re called, make up of the young man and his friend who dreams of being a photographer. One day, the pair meet a young man who they call Syrup because of his need to chug down cough syrup. Their new friend Syrup has a dream too that, obviously, is quite impossible until one day Syrup dances in the middle of traffic and – for a brief moment – makes his dream come true.

Asano excels in touching on human nature and the more absurd the situation the more interesting it is watching the characters try (or, in same cases, not try) to make sense of it. Somehow, What a Wonderful World! lacks the charm that Solanin displays. Still, this series isn’t without its humorous moments or moments that make you feel the character’s angst, fears, wonder or confusion.

Volume 1 of What a Wonderful World! is a lesson in life and the people to make up the world around them. One doesn’t even have to be Japanese to understand the way these characters feel because feelings are universal. While the series doesn’t capture the brilliance of Asano’s past offerings, it tells a very human story that is worth reading.

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A-
In an interesting series of intertwining vignettes we find a young student realizing the importance of life while in another a young failure and learn a powerful lesson in having a dream in life. Meanwhile, a kidnapper learns the truth about a High school girl and a class bully makes a discovery about himself.

ART: A
Asano’s visual style is just as compelling as his words and the expressions say far more than a single dialogue balloon. It’s wonderfully original artwork, indeed.

OVERALL: A-
Inio Asano is one of the best things to happen to manga since Naoki Urasawa or even Fumi Yoshinaga and Volume 1 of What a Wonderful World! is proof of that. While it’s not as brilliant as Asano’s other work, this graphic novel is still something of a work of art that really shouldn’t be missed.

Review copy provided by VIZ Media

Kanon, The Complete Series – DVD Review

Review by: Brenda Gregson

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $49.98 US
Running Time: 576 minutes
Genre: Drama
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now

To know the truth one must look back to the past.

Having reviewed and actually liked The Complete Series of Air, I found myself prepared for a similar series that is heavy on the drama and cuteness. Kanon is not only similar in tone and feeling but the female cast is also downright endearing but what does separate this one from series like Air is the fact that there are interesting twists that make The Complete Series of Kanon a four-disc DVD collection with a lot of heart.

Kanon tells the tale of Yuichi Aizawa who returns to the snowy city he has often visited often to stay with his aunt and his cousin Nayuki. Unfortunately for him, after not returning for seven years, he finds that he can’t remember what happened during his last visit. He hardly even remembers his attractive cousin but one day a cute girl named Ayu literally runs right into him and Yuichi finds himself drawn to this loopy girl with a winged backpack for some reason.

Seeing as he is staying in the cold city until he finishes High school, Yuichi begins hanging out with Ayu and it is through her that he meets a girl named Shiori who seems to be waiting for something out in the courtyard of the High school. As he tries to piece together his lost memories, Yuichi runs into a girl who doesn’t even remember her name … the only thing she knows is that she hates Yuichi for some reason. Nayuki and her mother take the girl in and it is Yuichi who gives her the name Mokoto but there’s something about her and the name he gave the girl.

On top of that, there’s a quiet girl in school named Mai who Yuichi finds out is a demon hunter who haunts the school late at night with a sword as she battles invisible foes. Drawn by this girl as well, Yuichi joins her on her demon hunt. Meanwhile, Mokoto – who annoys Yuichi at first – slowly begins to lose her humanity as Yuichi makes a most startling discovery about this girl. While there are many a touching moment in Kanon, the Mokoto storyline happens to be sincerely heartbreaking.

After the sad conclusion that has Mokoto no longer living with them, Yuichi decides to spend his time with Mai and even takes up a weapon to aid her in her demon hunting. As her date to the school ball, a demon attacks and Mai comes to the conclusion that perhaps the demons aren’t after her but somebody else. As more pieces of the puzzle begin to come together, the truth behind Mai and the demons is discovered. Yuichi even finds out who Shiori is and who she’s connected to in their school.

Soon, the young man learns the unusual truth about what happened seven years ago in this very place and who Ayu is as he comes to terms with the very thing that made him forget. I won’t say more because doing so would spoil the many surprises found in this series. Sure, some of the twists you see coming but others are actually surprising.

The one thing about Kanon that separates itself from other similar series is that it does get exhaustingly overdramatic but it seldom gets boring or, on occasion, can actually be quite amusing. Yuichi might not be the most loveable of main characters but the ladies in the series more than make up for it and even Aya’s cute “Uguu!” can be endearing no matter how many times she says it.

Kanon, The Complete Series, exhibits a deeply human emotional drama even though it can go overboard on that front but there’s a tale here that can be quite unforgettable. That said, it might also not be everyone’s cup of tea but given the chance this one could easily haunt your dreams in ways that anime series like Air tried to do. If this is your kind of anime, you won’t be disappointed.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B
After seven long years, a boy named Yuichi comes to stay with his aunt and cousin Nayuki with no memory of his last visit. When he runs into a cute girl with a backpack with wings on it and two other girls, the mystery behind his lost memories begins to unravel in an amazing way.

VIDEO QUALITY: B+
This is moe at its best but on top of that the snowy backdrop is absolutely gorgeous as are some of the effects found throughout the series.

AUDIO QUALITY: B
The original Japanese voices are fantastic and this is really the best way to enjoy the series although there’s something adorable about the English dub voices for the girls in the series. The score can get a bit overdramatic but the closing and opening theme songs by Ayana are wonderful.

EXTRAS: D
Uguu, there are no real extras to be found here except for some trailers.

OVERALL: B
At times, Kanon is emotionally exhausting but there’s a meaningful story that makes the Complete Series set something fans of this particular genre will find captivating and occasionally heartbreaking. A few uncharacteristic plot twists aside, the series you can’t accuse this series of not being interesting and there are even times when you will be swept away by the story so those who find this type of series right up their alley will find something to like about Kanon.

Stolen Hearts, Vol. 1 – Manga Review

Review by: Sophie Stevens

Publisher: CMX Manga
Author: Miku Sakamoto
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shoujo)
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now

Opposites really do attract.

People really do judge a book by its cover and more so when it concerns other people. Take Miharu Koguma, for instance. He’s a tall, lanky and somewhat scary individual who – with but a single glance – can send even the toughest thug looking for the exit yet despite the scary frame is a something else entirely as we find out in Volume 1 of Stolen Hearts.

It started out as a normal day for the short yet lovely High school student Shinobu Okuma who – while passing Miharu Koguma’s desk in class – manages to spill milk right inside a shopping bag that belongs to Koguma. Petrified with fear, Shinobu is only able to stutter her apology. Like everyone in her class, Shinobu is scared of the tall student and even more so since he seems to glare at her every day. Instead of wringing her neck, Koguma produces a lovely kimono from out of the same bag and tells her that the kimono she spilled milk on is expensive and that she must make amends to rectify her blunder.

So showing up at the shopping district where a chain of stores can be found, Shinobu shows up at a store called Koguma that just so happens to sell a number of beautiful kimonos for young women and men. The store is run by Koguma’s business-minded grandmother who has Shinobu model various kimonos to help promote the store. Helping her pass out flyers is Koguma who very slowly begins to reveal something Shinobu didn’t expect. You see, Koguma is actually very kind, considerate and very handsome.

It doesn’t take long for Shinobu to come to like the big man whose name literally translates to “bear cub” and she even comes to enjoy working alongside him. Even when she realizes that the kimono wasn’t as priceless as she thought, she still sticks around working for the shop. After all, she’s having a blast trying on different kimonos and cute ensembles. The store even starts seeing some customers thanks to Shinobu.

When a group of thugs grab Shinobu and take her to an abandoned warehouse, Koguma comes to her rescue and decides to have her stay far away. Of course, Shinobu doesn’t because she comes to realize that she’s fallen for the big guy. Not caring what people think – especially since they think they’re quite mismatched – or that she might find herself in situations like being used as bait to lure Koguma – she wants to be with him and the two become a couple.

What begins next is Shinobu’s plan to make all their classmates and her friends to see Koguma the way sees him. She finds perfect opportunities such as the day that Koguma’s grandmother plans on renting kimonos for a day to spark interest in them. Thinking this is a great opportunity for classmates to see her boyfriend in a better light it fails but instead it reassures her that Koguma actually worries about her. In another moment, she wants to go on her first official date but the day of the festival she and Koguma have to work.

The real moment, however, comes when the school festival is underway and their class decides to go with a café with all the ladies dressed in kimonos from Koguma‘s shop. Unfortunately, a mix up has Koguma’s grandmother with men’s kimonos but it’s Shinobu who has an idea of having all the boys in the class perform waiter duty. While Koguma starts scaring off customers, Shinobu offers pointers that work to the point that he finally shows the side of him that Shinobu sees.

As I said, people really do judge a book by its cover and the students that see Shinobu and Koguma together think that she’s a captive being sold to slavery and – at one hilarious point – confuse them for father and daughter. Stolen Hearts is actually quite funny and the love story is actually quite charming in an innocent way that makes the story sweet and cute without overdoing it. Besides that, both Shinobu and Koguma really are great characters that make them a couple that you can’t help but like right away.

Stolen Hearts is already an irresistible and considerably amusing story and this is but the first volume of this series. Few shoujo manga manage to make you laugh and immediately fall in love with the characters on the first volume alone but this one pulls it off famously and, I might add, with a sweet innocence that makes this an endearing romance-comedy manga well worth checking out. It’s certainly good enough that we can’t wait for Volume 2.

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A-
Diminutive and adorable Shinobu Okuma spills milk into the bag of the scariest boy in class named Miharu Koguma containing an expensive kimono. As a result, the girl is intimidated into working as a model in a kimono store run by Koguma’s grandmother and comes to learn that the big brute is actually quite adorable himself. As a result, love blossoms and did I mention there are some lovely kimonos?

ART: B+
The art isn’t completely original but it does manage to be good enough to make each character stand out. Koguma’s embarrassed expressions really are downright cute.

OVERALL: A-
Volume 1 of Stolen Hearts is a delightfully cute shoujo series that is genuinely funny at times and completely charming throughout. The concept is simple yet Miku Sakamoto makes it work on so many levels that makes the story and characters appealing enough that you’ll have a blast reading this one. If the series continues to be just as appealing we’re fairly certain this one will turn out to become another favorite.

Case Closed Movie 3: The Last Wizard of the Century – DVD Review

Review by: Clive Owen

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $19.98 US
Running Time: 100 minutes
Genre: Mystery
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now

This is Conan at his best and Richard Moore at his smartest.

The Case Closed anime and manga series has long been a remarkable series that managed to do justice to the mystery genre as well as introduce a genuinely unique gimmick that just doesn’t seem to get old. Sure we like out sleuths to be intelligent and brilliant men but how many fictional detectives do you know that have been shrunk down to kid size and sporting some nifty gadgets by a loveable mad scientist? FUNimation brings us the rest of the Case Closed movies with Case Closed Movie: The Last Wizard of the Century being Conan Edogawa’s finest moment so far.

This being the third movie in the Case Closed series, The Last Wizard of the Century features the reoccurring character and one of Conan’s most elusive rivals, the Phantom Thief Kid. Having pulled a job and escaped the clutches of the police, the Kid sends a note to authorities that he plans to steal the Russian Imperial “Easter Egg” that is to be showcased in the Osaka Castle. Naturally, law enforcement officials take this claim seriously and even put Richard Moore on the task force to catch the Phantom Thief Kid before he makes good on his promise.

Of course, if Richard is going than so is his daughter Rachel and – of course – Conan who is already trying to decipher the Kid’s note that mentions “the last wizard of the century.” Heading to Osaka where Rachel’s friend Serena is waiting to introduce them to experts on Russian heirlooms and artifacts, Conan finds out that even his rival Harley Hartwell is here to lend a hand in capturing the Kid. It seems that more than just one mysterious thief is looking to get his hands on the heirlooms. With Russian representatives that want the Egg returned to Mother Russia as well as a young woman named Natasha who claims that her great grandfather made the Faberge Egg for the Russian Czar and his family.

While Conan is keeping his eyes on the people near the Egg, the Phantom Thief Kid makes his attempt to steal the heirlooms be creating diversions. Not quite fooling Conan or Harley, the pair race to catch the kid only for Harley to be badly injured in the chase and the Kid being shot by a mysterious sniper. With no body to be found, though, Conan just doesn’t know what fate befell the Phantom Thief Kid but he does feel that the Kid is out of the picture … for now.

With the worry of the Egg being stolen behind them, a new mystery is waiting to be unlocked and that is the Egg is but the first part of a clue leading to a second Egg. Unlocking its mystery and the possibility that Natasha might know where the second Egg might be thanks to a key she carries with him and the fact that the first Egg has a visual clue that Conan discovers as they all head out to find the next Egg.

Joining them is also the Junior Detective League with Doctor Agasa along for the ride but it doesn’t take long before the sniper – which Conan finds out has quite a reputation and the codename Scorpion – is on their trail too as the assassin takes out a few members of their party. Soon, the movie becomes a traditional Case Close Who Done It? as the suspects and body count start to climb. Oh, and Richard actually makes some really intelligent deductions this time around … which is very unusual for the man.

Unlike the first two movies, The Last Wizard of the Century simply feels like a long version of a really good Case Closed episode. While the addition of the Junior Detectives doesn’t really add to the story, it’s great to see all the familiar characters come together in the final moments of the episode as the mystery behind the Eggs are finally revealed. Sure, the mystery behind the identity of the Scorpion isn’t too hard to solve but – in the end – the finale is actually a lot more enjoyable than expected. At least, it’s a lot more effective than the ending found in the first two movies.

Case Closed Movie: The Last Wizard of the Century is a more than decent feature film and one that Case Closed fans will actually find refreshingly enjoyable. It’s rare for a movie based on a popular anime series to be just as good as the series itself (the Yu Yu Hakusho movies pulls it off beautifully) but this one does manage to be as fun as the series.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B+
The Phantom Thief Kid is at it again and this time he sets his eyes on some priceless Faberge eggs that belonged to the Czar but it become clear to super sleuth Conan Edogawa that the Kid isn’t the only one looking to get their hands on the heirlooms. On top of that, a deadly sniper is hunting down anyone who gets in the way of snatching the prize.

VIDEO QUALITY: B+
The movie looks great on DVD and manages to capture the look and feel of a Case Closed episode so nothing really over-the-top spectacular about the effects in this film.

AUDIO QUALITY: B+
Like the series, the voice acting is handled well enough whether we’re talking about the original Japanese voices or the English dub that does a great job with the dialogue. Oh, and the closing theme song, “One,” just plain rocks.

EXTRAS: D
There are no real extras to speak of except for a few trailers and that’s about it. Still it’s great to see this movie on DVD.

OVERALL: B+
While the mystery is far from complex, The Last Wizard of the Century is one of the more exciting and easily enjoyable of the Case Closed movies so far. It’s great to see all the elements and characters that make the Case Closed series such a fan favorite come together well enough to make this movie proof that one truth still prevails even as a feature film.

FUNimation Entertainment Announces English Dub Cast of Dragon Ball Z Kai

Flower Mound, Texas – February 14, 2010 — FUNimation® Entertainment has announced the English cast of the latest chapter of the genre-establishing Dragon Ball franchise, “Dragon Ball Z Kai.”

In “Dragon Ball Z Kai” the Dragon Ball Z story is retold to more closely follow creator Akira Toriyama’s original tale about a brave young warrior named Goku.

A project personally overseen by Toriyama, “Dragon Ball Z Kai” has been re-edited and re-made using the latest in digital technology.

The new series also features renewed soundtracks and a re-recording of the series by key members of the original voice cast.

New cast members:

Gohan – Colleen Clinkenbeard
Bulma – Monica Rial
Narrator – Doc Morgan
Chiaotzu and Puar – Brina Palencia

FUNimation Entertainment will begin releasing the series on DVD and Blu-ray starting with Part One on May 18, 2010.

For more information about Dragon Ball Z Kai, please visit the official web site at www.dragonballzkai.com.