Fairy Tail, Volume 10 – Manga Review

Review by: Kiki Van De Kamp

Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Author: Hiro Mashima
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $10.99 US
Rating: T (13+)
Release Date: Available Now

For Erza, this is what happens when the past collides with the future.

Having been a dedicated Rave Master fan, Fairy Tail should have been a manga series I should have jumped on from the very beginning but somehow I missed my chance. That, folks, was one of my biggest mistakes because picking up Volume 10 of Fairy Tail, I could see that I was missing out on a series that isn’t afraid to have fun but also tell a meaningful story that makes this series a worthy read.

Picking up after the events of Volume 9 when Natsu, Happy and Gray make a most interesting discovery about one of their own who is actually bound to Lucy as a Celestial Spirit, the handsome playboy that is Loke is more than happy to serve Lucy. He even hands her passes to an exclusive and expensive beach resort so all of them can enjoy some vacation time after such a difficult mission that included Erza Scarlet.

It’s great to see the Lucy’s team having some fun for a change and they have a blast on the beach. In the evening, they all decide to meet in the resort’s casino where Gray encounters Juvia from the now disbanded wizard group called Phantom. Since she has a major crush on the wild wizard, she tells him she now wants to join Fairy Tail … most likely just to be close to him.

Unfortunately, a most odd-looking fellow who looks like a gangster thug made of LEGO shoves a gun down Natsu’s throat while another thug appears at the blackjack table as a replacement dealer and reveals himself to Erza. Meanwhile, Gray and Juvia are attacked by a much bigger foe and just before Lucy could make her move she is tied up by a cat-like girl. Just about the only person who recognizes these four attackers is Erza who the man named Sho calls “Big Sis.”

With the other Fairy Tail members out of the way, Erza is taken captive by this group and is whisked away. Lucy discovers that the rope that is tied around her is magical but help comes in the form of the resort’s visitors that – during the attack – have been imprisoned in playing cards. One of them is able to cut through Lucy’s ropes and she gathers her friends together to begin a pursuit to save their comrade as well as Happy who was kidnapped and given to the cat-girl named Millianna as a gift.

As it turns out, all four know Erza from her carefully guarded past and all four consider her a traitor for having not only betraying their leader named Jellal but also leaving them. It seems this Jellal has finally built the massive tower known as the Tower of Heaven just as he promised and now Erza is to become the sacrificial lamb in a ritual connected to the tower that is capable of making an impossible feat possible. Of course, in order for it to work, a person must die and Erza is the one chosen for this task.

While Lucy and the others reach the Tower of Heaven, Erza’s past is revealed to us as Erza opens up in a way that is so unlike this fierce warrior-wizard. You see, Erza grew up a slave to a religious group that forced men, women and children to build the Tower of Heaven for the purpose of resurrecting a dead deity. Unfortunately, beatings were an everyday occurrence even for child slaves like Erza and her young friends that include Sho, Millianna and a boy named Jellal.

One day, an escape attempt by the children resulted in Erza getting punished and when Jellal rescued her only to get captured in the process, this event awoke a rebellion led by Erza. Sadly, something happened in Jellal’s cell that changed everything and when freedom was one the confrontation between Erza and Jellal didn’t end well. In the end, Jellal ended up taking up the mission to finish the Tower of Heaven and seeing Erza’s refusal to help as an act of betrayal.

Now, Erza is faced to find Jellal and put an end to his plan that is seen a dangerous by a council that sees the Tower of Heaven a threat to all the world. In the wrong hands, it becomes a weapon of mass destruction. Oh yeah, you can bet things are going to get interesting and heartbreakingly awful for Erza.

It’s good to see a dramatic storyline in this series and Mashima-sensei doesn’t get too carried away that he loses the humor he injects in every volume. Thankfully, there are bonus manga stories as well such as one story that has Lucy thinking that maybe Natsu is romantically interested in her. It’s downright hilarious.

In its tenth volume, Fairy Tail spins a deeply touching tale that makes this a story arc that isn’t just about madcap action and the usual wizardry antics. Then again, the series has progressively become a fun, exciting and well written and Volume 10 is a good example of how Mashima-sensei is more than capable of balancing drama with his brand of humor. The next volumes promise to be very interesting as Erza faces the demons in her past. Considered us hooked on this manga series now.

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A
After obtaining free passes to a beachside resort, Lucy and her fellow Fairy Tail cohorts that include Erza Scarlet. Unfortunately, their fun in the sun and a nice night at the casino becomes a bitter walk down memory lane for Erza who becomes the target of powerful magic-users who know her tragic past well. Taken captive, Lucy, Natsu, Gray and Juvia stage a rescue as their friend’s past is revealed.

ART: A+
Hiro Mashima’s art has strayed a little from One Piece manga-ka Eiichiro Oda’s influence and developed a style of his own and that’s a very good thing since he‘s really talented. You just have to love his character design and the action in the manga looks really good.

OVERALL: A
Volume 10 of Fairy Tail shows that the series just keeps getting better with each volume and with more emphasis on character development it is hard to ignore how entertaining this series is becoming to the point of rivaling Rave Master. We definitely cannot wait for Volume 11.

Review copy provided by Del Rey Manga

Initial D, Third Stage Movie – DVD Review

Review by: Eduardo Zacarias

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $29.98 US
Running Time: 100 minutes
Genre: Drama/Sports
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now

Akina’s legendary Eight-Six is back and it will not take any prisoners.

Despite a heavy tuner car and illegal street racing scene in Japan, the anime world hasn’t too many racing series that really touch on the love of racing quite like the Initial D series. It’s not just a love for fast cars and the drama between racers that makes this series so cool but it’s the love for racing and the mutual admiration of true driving skill that makes such a fan favorite that this Third Stage is more of a feature-length film rather than just another season of the series.

Takumi Fujiwara is still very much infatuated with all things racing and his father’s famous Eight-Six car that has had some engine work done during the summer when he was winning races in the series’ second season. He’s gone up against a number of incredible drivers, such as the skilled Ryosuke Takahashi, but he’s worried that the new engine might cramp his racing style somehow. While he’s in the last months of High school before graduation, Takumi is working at the local gas station with his friends when a most surprising customers drops in for some service as well as a proposal for Takumi.

You see, the customer is none other than Ryosuke himself and – having been beat by Takumi – he knows the younger driver’s skills. Ryosuke admires Takumi enough that he asks him to take part in an expeditionary racing team with all the top drivers from the Akina area. He’s confident in Takumi’s skills and the offer is actually quite touching but Takumi isn’t too confident in his skills or the changes made to the Eight-Six. So he does what we expect from him … Takumi decides to test his skills before accepting a place in Ryosuke’s team.

Takumi drives to the curving slopes of Team Emperor’s turf to challenge the team’s leader named Kyoichi Sudou who finds Takumi’s presence in his territory quite insulting. A challenge is made and Takumi doesn’t even put much thought in how he plans to beat Kyoichi who is a master of slow-speed turns and in this particular area there are a lot of turns that have the potential of slowing the Eight-Six down. What Kyoichi doesn’t realize until it’s too late is that the changes to the Eight-Six’s engines were for the better because the car runs faster than even Takumi could anticipate.

The race is impressive as they often are in an Initial D episode and the outcome is actually not surprising although what is surprising is Kyoichi’s attitude at the end as he comes to accept Takumi as a serious racer with more than enough potential to become a legend even outside the Akina. In the meantime, Ryosuke’s younger brother wants in on the team thinking he might be able to outclass Takumi somehow.

Back in the gas station, though, a young man named Kai Kogashiwa shows up looking for Takumi. He wants to challenge the young man and his Eight-Six and the reason is simple: Kai’s father was the chief rival of Takumi’s father back when the Eight-Six belonged to dad (who now owns a tofu place). Interestingly enough, Takumi’s dad and Kai’s dad give their sons advice on how to defeat the other. The two meet in Kyoichi’s territory again for a major showdown between the two skilled drivers.

The showdown itself is a major highlight of the film as the road, the weather conditions and even the fact that there are too many dry leaves on the road become potential hazards. It’s a test not only of the cars but of the drivers who are both matched in skill. It’s also one of the more exciting races we’ve seen in an Initial D series.

The movie just doesn’t concentrate on Takumi trying to prove himself worthy of being on Ryosuke’s team but it also touches on his relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Natsuki. It seems that Takumi is still resentful of the events of the summer when Natsuki decided to go off with a guy with a Benz. She, however, still has strong feelings for him and does her best to try and reconcile with the stubborn boy who doesn’t even want to talk to her at first.

However, an event changes all this when Natsuki bumps into that creep Miki that Takumi punched in the series. He forces himself on Natsuki by literally kidnapping her in his fancy new car and Takumi finds out and chases the fool. I wish I can say that the drama spiced things up a little like the TV series does but it doesn’t. Still, Natsuki’s attempt to win Takumi back shows some true emotion thanks to some great voice acting in the English dub side.

In the end, Initial D: Third Stage is a good animated movie that isn’t as great as the series but does a wonderful job of setting up the next season. Still, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the racing action is hot and the final race with the son of his father’s rival is nail-bitingly intense. Initial D fans will certainly enjoy this one while new viewers will certainly be inspired to check out the first two seasons of the series. One thing is for certain, we are really looking forward to the Fourth Stage of Initial D now.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B-
Takumi is still very much interested in racing and the opportunity comes up again when an old racing rival shows up at the gas station where he works to offer him a spot on a racing team he’s putting together. Still, Takumi feels its better to test himself before joining and challenges the top racing rivals in their own turf. Meanwhile, his ex-girlfriend, Natsuki, is trying to reenter his life.

VIDEO QUALITY: B
The movie looks really good on DVD and, while the animation might not be everyone’s cup of tea, you can’t ignore how hot the cars look even in CG. The races are definitely the visual highlight of the movie as it is in the series.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
Thanks to some wonderfully written dialogue for the English dub, the voice acting really shines with some great acting from Brina Palencia and Joel McDonald. The soundtrack and score are still a bit outdated but it always reminded me of the old “Ridge Racer” games so it isn’t that bad.

EXTRAS: D
There are no real extras to speaking of unless you count the few trailers included on the DVD.

OVERALL: B-
While it’s somewhat lacking in a few areas, Initial D: Third Stage is a solid feature-length movie that has more than enough high-speed racing action and drama to satisfy Initial D fans. There are also some memorable scenes and a decent setup to the upcoming fourth season of this still exciting anime racing series. Fans should definitely pick this one up right away.

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

High School Debut, Vol. 13 – Manga Review

Review by: Faith McAdams

Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Kazune Kawahara
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shojo Beat Manga)
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now

The sweet and emotional goodbye.

High School Debut has always been a different kind of shoujo manga in that it’s romance was never too overly dramatic nor were the two love interests a clichéd pair that just went through the motions. What started out as an athletic girl who was clueless when it came to love and a love coach who has a lot to learn about being a boyfriend turned out into a series of comedic chapters of two young students learning how to love. It’s funny how it took 13 volumes of this series for both of them to realize how much they needed each another.

In this final volume, Haruna is still trying to wrap her head around the possibility that Yoh might very well be going to school in Tokyo and that they will have to endure the hardships of a long-distance relationship. Having finally found happiness with Yoh, the idea of being separated from him is painful. In the last volume, Haruna asked Yoh not to go and Yoh did not protest. While this act was so romantic, Haruna begins the think that holding her boyfriend back from a bright future is not acceptable.

So, mustering all her courage, our girl tells Yoh he should go to Tokyo and follow his career choice even though his absence in her life would be horrible. As it turns out, Yoh was indeed accepted to attend school in Tokyo and as Haruna cheers him on it is Yoh who begins to think that maybe he shouldn’t go and leave Haruna alone. In fact, he begins to worry about Haruna and imagines the worst, which is so unlike Yoh that its hilarious. In the meantime, however, an incident in the school’s gym makes Haruna realize what career path she wishes to follow after graduation.

Still, despite a tender moment between the young couple after a party Haruna for Yoh, Haruna convinces Yoh to go for it and the young man – more at ease – gives in and decides to go. In a surprising moment, Yoh asks his friends to watch over Haruna. In the meantime, though, the group decides to spend time together and go on a skiing trip and, for Christmas, Yoh and his sister Asami invites everyone to spend it at their place. It is here that Haruna finally meets Yoh’s mother, a woman who is clearly just as obsessed with Yoh as Asa. Their conversation is really one of the highlights, especially since it literally exhausts Yoh.

However, the best part comes when Haruna is chosen to give a speech for the third year graduating class. She has a hard time trying to come up with the right words and – in the end – gives one of the most touching speeches that impresses Yoh. It is in their moment together after graduation that Haruna delivers her other speech to Yoh and I have to say the look on Yoh’s face is priceless. It becomes clear that nothing – not even a long-distance relationship – could ever break the bond the two of them had formed. It’s these final moments that we get to see Yoh open up in ways that would have been uncomfortable in the past.

In the end, Volume 13 of High School Debut is everything you could ask for in a shoujo manga and, without getting overly sentimental or overdo it was the drama, the series takes its final bow sweetly and with a good sense of humor. We’ve seen Haruna and Yoh’s relationship in its highs and lows but in this last volume we realize that some people really were meant to be together from the very start.

“Don’t forget me.” Haruna says in almost a pleading manner in the final chapter of this volume.

Believe me, we will not forget you.

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A+
As Yoh’s acceptance to the university in Tokyo is confirmed, Haruna is trying her very best to be supportive and letting him go. Yoh, on the other hand, doesn’t feel comfortable leaving her behind and sends some time with her and their friends before graduation. Meanwhile, Haruna gets to meet Yoh’s mother who is just as competitive as Asa. As the chapter closes, Haruna writes a graduation speech that reveals a side of her that brings out Yoh’s true feeling for her.

ART: B+
Kazune Kawahara has said that her art has had a lot of problems and I agree but it is – by no means – good enough that it does justice to the story. Her style is also original and that’s what really matters in the end.

OVERALL: A+
Volume 13 of High School Debut is a fitting ending to a series that has so made a true fan of even the boys in this office and with good reason. As Haruna and Yoh say farewell to school and each another, their time spend in the final chapters is still sweet, funny and actually very meaningful.

COMPLETE SERIES GRADE: A+
A very few romantic-comedy shoujo series have that certain spark and genuine hilarity that High School Debut possesses and with a protagonist who you can’t help but cheer on and a collection of wonderfully well drawn characters, the series never disappointed. Kazune Kawahara is working on a new series but we will certainly miss High School Debut and remember it fondly.

Review copy provided by VIZ Media

Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid, The Complete Series – DVD Review

Review by: Faith McAdams

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $59.98 US
Running Time: 320 minutes
Genre: Action
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now

The beginning of a new battle and a battle between a boy and his mech.

Full Metal Panic is one of those rare anime series that blends political intrigue involving an alternate look at the Cold War and its aftermath as well as futuristic mech action and the story of a boy trying to blend into a normal High school setting and failing hilariously. So it didn’t come as a surprise that fans of this series get another season in the form of Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid and while the series focuses more on action, this series is still one hell of a fun ride.

The Second Raid still finds Sousuke Sagara a major part of the mercenary organization known as Mithril as the pilot of the experimental Arm Slave unit called the Arbalest and he is still protecting a “Whispered” named Kaname Chidori as a student at Jindai Tokyo Municipal High School. Unfortunately, the world is still in turmoil with ceasefire agreements breaking under the pressure of some hidden threat that seems to want nothing more than to see countries affected by the seemingly unending Cold War to ignite in violence again.

In the opening episode, we find Mithril trying to bring some semblance of peace to Taboli City that is in chaos thanks to an evil military Colonel who is slaughtering the innocent. In an effort to take down the enemy, however, a Mithril-friendly chopper is shot down by an unexpected use of hardware a bit too advanced for the local insurgents and it is Sousuke who takes the enemy down and the advanced missile system. It’s a hard situation but with Kurtz Weber and Melissa Mao along with him they get out of it in one piece but with questions as to who is supplying advanced weapons to the enemy.

Meanwhile, Sousuke goes back to his other duty of watching over Chidori who is still annoyed by the young man’s constant tardiness and the fact that that he comically sees conspiracies and assassination attempts in everything including his own teacher’s car … which he takes apart piece by piece. It’s clear that Sousuke feels guilty about what happened in the first half of the series when the enemy got a hold of her. As a Whispered (one who could unlock the secrets of new technology), she is a prime target for organizations who know the value of a Whispered. Incidentally, it seems that Chidori is being watched and Sousuke doesn’t like it one bit

While he’s not attending classes and failing every test he takes or trying to flush out the one who is spying on Chidori, Sousuke is skipping class and going on missions. He joins Mithril on a mission in Nanking City that is being attacked by the crazy and despicable Mister Gates who is using the twins, Yu Fang and Yu Lan, to do most of his dirty work in his organization called the Amalgam. Once again, their Venom units baffle Mithril’s high command and intelligence department. Where do they get this kind of technology and what is Amalgam‘s ultimate goal?

The battle in Nanking is brutal thanks to Mr. Gates plan and Melissa Mao goes up against Yu Lan in one impressive fight and the team fights its way out of another difficult situation when Gates makes his move and defeats Sousuke. It doesn’t take the team long to figure out that they were betrayed and – in one of the coolest episodes – Melissa catches up to the traitor in Italy in a daring getaway with Sousuke behind the wheel trying to evade the enemy and talk to Chidori on the phone at the same time. We also meet a new commanding officer who reveals a truth about Sousuke and the Arbalest

Things get even more interesting when Sousuke finds out that Captain Teletha Testarossa has relieved him of his duty as Chidori’s bodyguard and, as a result, sets off a chain reaction of events. For Chidori, Sousuke’s sudden absence makes her paranoid to the point that she makes a drastic decision to lure out Sousuke’s replacement but lures out one of the twin assassins instead. Meanwhile, Sousuke doesn’t handle his orders to leave Chidori well and even confronts the Captain (who still has a monster crush on him). Beside that, Sousuke even does the unthinkable in the middle of an important mission in Hong Kong … he walks out on his comrades.

The Second Raid certainly has more action sequences and even more blood than the last season as we can see in a violent moment when one of the twins slits a throat. The final episodes lead to a climatic battle with Mister Gates and Sousuke encounters an old foe he thought was dead. It’s also great that FUNimation included the OVA episode with Captain Testarossa trying to piece together the events that lead her to an embarrassing moment with Sousuke.

Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid is a more action-packed season but it never really loses the elements we love about the series including its great sense of humor and wonderful cast of characters. While I do love the amazing battle scenes, I do miss Sousuke and Chidori’s school antics that take a backseat to the fight against Amalgam as well as Sousuke’s trouble with the Arbalest. If you’re already a fan then I can’t recommend this one enough but if you aren’t you are missing out on one hell of an action anime series.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A
Time has passed since the events of the first half of this series and Sousuke Sagara is still juggling has role as a Sergeant for Mithril and his secret role as High school student/bodyguard for Kaname Chidori. When a mysterious rival organization called Amalgam activates their plan to set the world aflame with violence, it is up to Mithril to put a stop to their plan.

VIDEO QUALITY: A
The series looks amazing on DVD and this is a good thing seeing as the animation is simply gorgeous, although this time around there’s more gore and more fan service than in past episodes. Still, the action sequences are visual treats and so are the exotic backdrops.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The original Japanese voice cast for this series has always been top notch and even more so in The Second Raid, although I have to give some well deserved praise to the English dub cast for some great performances. There’s also a catchy opening tune, “Southern Wind,” and a sweet closing theme, “I Wanna See You Again” both sung by Mikuni Shimokawa.

EXTRAS: A+
There’s an entire third disc loaded with juicy extras that come in the form of a short-but-awesome Episode 00 plus the cute and funny bonus OVA episode that follows Captain Teletha Testarossa after a night of hard drinking. There’s even an interesting 7-part featurette with the staff that includes director Yasuhiro Takemoto on location in Hong Kong. There are also textless songs and some trailers as well.

OVERALL: A
With a bigger emphasis on action this time around, The Second Raid is still a thrilling and comical series that makes this one of the best mech shows out there and trust me when I say that you will be a fan of it by the first episode. If you haven’t checked out this series before than you are really missing out on a great anime series with a lot to offer.

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

Air Gear, Volume 14 – Manga Review

Review by: Clive Owen

Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Author: Oh! Great
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $10.99 US
Rating: OT (16+)
Release Date: Available Now

This is the prologue to the real Air Treck battles and things will never be the same again.

It seems so long ago that I began writing for Animanga Nation when it was still a print publication and, coincidentally, my first review was for Volume 1 of Air Gear. The series, just like its hero, has come a long way since that first volume and now in its fourteenth volume it has not only become more interesting but all the things we loved about this series are still very much attached. However, as we can see from Volume 15, Ikki and his friends are in dangerous territory as they continue to climb the ladder to Air Treck elite glory.

Having been injured during his last Air Treck battle, Itsuki “Ikki” Minami finds himself recovering in the hospital while his enemies – including a mysterious Storm Rider assassin called Skinface Gabishi – is looking for him only to encounter Kazu (who Ikki named temporary leader) and Emily (who still has a humongous crush on Kazu) and attack them. Thankfully, their new ally, Aeon Clock, steps in to battle Gabishi in a brutal battle that starts looking bad for Aeon until – surprisingly enough – Emily steps into the fray.

The battle doesn’t end well for the enemy as more allies come to the rescue and it is Emily who gets credit for doing something to aid her friends. This, of course, doesn’t sit well with Kazu who feels useless and begins questioning his role as temporary leader as well as being involved with Air Trecks. Having Emily, a girl who is more like a cheerleader, save the day is almost insulting to him.

Meanwhile, Ikki spends his time recovering from his injuries with Kururu from Tool Tou To who hopes to become Ikki’s Link Tuner. Ikki actually comes to like the pretty girl who looks to be finding the young man charming and nice to be around. She has seen Ikki through some bad times and seeing the kind side makes her all the more determined to help him in anyway she can.

Ikki also gets a visit from the wheelchair-bound Sora (whose past is nicely recounted in Volume 6) who not only continues to impress the boy with some interesting tricks but also comes to teach Ikki another skill that might seems like a pervert’s dream come true but is useful in ways that Ikki comes to realize. Ikki also comes to discover that somebody important from Tool Tou To actually runs the hospital but the real surprise is a quick visit from Simca … the Migratory Bird from Genesis.

Simca has comes to ask Ikki a very important favor, one of which might very well change the future of Ikki’s team Kogarasumaru. Unfortunately, when Simca decides to take a walk down the street, she is viciously attacked by a very familiar and unexpected person. The attack is so brutal that Simca is taken directly to the same hospital as Ikki … who finds out that the girl he has always liked might never fly again. If only he knew who attacked Simca – now that would be interesting.

In the meantime, Kogarasumaru begins their Air Treck battles without Ikki but with a new member who shows that she is a bigger powerhouse than one would expect. That’s right, Emily joins the team and despite the fact that she’s new to Air Trecks, she becomes a formidable opponent and a better team player than Kazu who is starting to not care about the team. Even his teammates are making decisions without him despite the fact that Kazu is the team’s Captain.

The enemy, though, isn’t taking Kogarasumaru’s victories lightly and target other powerhouses. The fate that befalls Kokuen (the magician leader of Coca Fire) before the next battle is disturbing and that leaves Benkei from Team Genesis (who has come to help Kogarasumaru) to use Emily in the battle instead. Unfortunately, their main opponent looks to be deadlier than the foes they have gone up against in the past.

Volume 14 of Air Gear leads the series to darker territory as Ikki’s team reach new heights and go up against more powerful foes without him. As the enemy grows more violent as Team Kogarsumaru comes closer to their goal, the real Air Treck battles begin and things will change as the end is near. Even in its fourteenth volume, the series is still fun, funny and interesting and that’s why we continue to love this manga.

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A-
With Ikki still badly injured and in the hospital, the wheels are set in motion as the real enemies of Kogarasumaru and those that sided with them are preparing to go against them. Among the first targets is Simca who has come to Ikki to make a startling request. Meanwhile, Kazu – the team’s temporary Captain – has doubts about his abilities as a Storm Rider.

ART: A+
As it was in the first volume, the series continues to sport some of the most impressively gorgeous artwork detailed enough to make almost every panel look amazing. Yes, there’s still plenty of fan service but the real treat here are the hilarious visual gags scattered throughout as well. Oh! Great is much better than just great.

OVERALL: A-
As we can see from Volume 14 of Air Gear, things are certainly starting to get darker and more interesting as Team Kogarasumaru pushes on towards their destiny without their leader. It’s good to see that the series hasn’t lost its great sense of humor or occasional crudeness that makes this series a considerably amusing and genuinely likeable series still worth following.

Review copy provided by Del Rey Manga

RIGHT STUF’S NOZOMI ENTERTAINMENT Announces the Super GALS! Complete DVD Collection

 

Entire 52-episode series collected in one collection for the first time, available October 5, 2010

GRIMES, Iowa, June 22, 2010 – Anime producer and distributor Right Stuf, Inc. and its Nozomi Entertainment division are pleased to announce the Super GALS! Complete DVD Collection will be available on October 5, 2010.

This new release collects both seasons of Super GALS! together, for the first time ever, in one DVD set.

Season 1 (Episodes 1-26) will feature English and Japanese audio options, English subtitles and on-screen translations.

Season 2 (Episodes 27-52) will feature Japanese dialogue, English subtitles and on-screen translations.

The Super GALS! Complete DVD Collection will be housed in a single keepcase and will also include on-disc liner notes, The Super GALS! Explain It All 1-6, the series’ clean opening and closing, and more.

Based on the manga by Mihona Fujii, Super GALS! features production by Studio Pierrot (Naruto, Fushigi Yûgi, Saiyuki, Yumeiro Pâtissière) and direction by Tsuneo Kobayashi (Emma: A Victorian Romance, The Twelve Kingdoms).

Visit supergals.rightstuf.com for more information about Super GALS!, to view the series trailer, and to pre-order the DVD set.

About Super GALS!

Sporting designer clothes, make-up, and nails, Ran Kotobuki is the very picture of a trendy, young Shibuya girl, but don’t let that fool you. This girl comes from a family of cops, and she’s ready to lay you out flat if you even think about causing trouble in her town! At least, she will… when she’s not distracted with karaoke, shopping, and dodging her homework. Join Ran and her friends as they defend the streets of Shibuya and attempt to shop their way into the history books as the most famous Gals ever! All 52 episodes, every ironclad rule, and all the Shibuya slang packed into a single, complete set!

Super GALS! Complete DVD Collection (Seasons 1 & 2)

Pre-Book: 9/7/2010
Street Date: 10/5/2010
Runtime: Approximately 1300 minutes, Dolby Digital Stereo, Color
Genre: Comedy
Suggested Rating: 13+

Format: DVD (Season 1: English, Japanese, English Subtitles, English On-Screen Translations; Season 2: Japanese, English Subtitles, English On-Screen Translations)

Catalog #: RSDVD1033
ISBN: 1-57032-775-0
UPC: 7-42617-1033-2-2
SRP: $59.99
Discs/Set: 10
Case Qty: 14 / case

DVD Features:

Season 1 (Eps. 1-26): Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio for English and Japanese dialogue, English subtitles and on-screen translations. Season 2 (Eps. 27-52): Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio for Japanese dialogue, English subtitles and on-screen translations. PLUS: Clean opening, clean closing, The Super GALS! Explain It All 1-6, Super GALS! trailer, GALS! Slang, liner notes, character bios and Nozomi trailers.

Super GALS! © 2001 MIHONA FUJII / SHUEISHA • TV TOKYO • GALS! PROJECT.

** Product specifications and content may be subject to change.

ABOUT RIGHT STUF, INC.

Currently celebrating its 23rd year in business, Right Stuf, Inc. was one of the first players in the U.S. Japanese Animation (“anime”) industry, as both an anime producer/distributor and a retailer. Right Stuf works to promote knowledge of its own products, as well as the anime and manga industry, in general, through its online storefront at RightStuf.com and a variety of media including podcasts and special publications.

Nozomi Entertainment, Right Stuf’s production division, is dedicated to the highest quality releases. True to the Japanese word that inspired its name, Nozomi’s focus is on “what fans want.” By focusing on a limited number of anime properties each year, the Nozomi production team ensures each release receives the care and attention to detail it deserves.

From anime classics like Astro Boy, Kimba and Gigantor to modern comedies, dramas and favorites such as The Irresponsible Captain Tylor, His and Her Circumstances, Gravitation, Ninja Nonsense, The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye, Emma: A Victorian Romance, Maria Watches Over Us, ARIA, Gakuen Alice, Rental Magica and Junjo Romantica, Right Stuf and Nozomi Entertainment produce quality programming for fans of all ages and interests. For more information, visit www.rightstuf.com and http://www.nozomient.com.com.

Boogiepop Phantom, DVD Collection – DVD Review

Review by: Brenda Gregson

Publisher: Nozomi Entertainment/Right Stuf
MSRP: $39.99 US
Running Time: 470 minutes
Genre: Supernatural
Rating: 15+
Release Date: Available Now

If you thought High school was complicated, wait until you see Shinyo Academy.

I have to admit that I have a fondness for anime and stories like that seen in Boogiepop Phantom that strays off the beaten path to offer a series of intersecting stories with a dark psychological and supernatural twist. Thankfully, Right Stuf and Nozomi Entertainment has brought us the complete TV series collection as well as include the live-action movie, “Boogiepop and Others” in one five-disc collection. If you like a twisted yet wonderfully crafted story, this is one collection you really don’t want to miss.

Based on the popular Japanese novel, “Boogiepop Doesn’t Smile,” the 12-episode TV series features short film-like stories that takes place in Shinyo Academy, which is a normal-looking High school until a strange occurrence takes place. You see, a blinding ray of light hit’s the school like an eerie lightning bolt and it is after this unnatural phenomenon that things start getting strange. All the students at Shinyo and Hijiridan High begin to talk about it since it messed with electronic devices throughout the city.

Oh, but this phenomenon did more than just temporarily disrupted all electronics because people begin acting strange and students from Shinyo begin to disappear. A girl named Moto Tonomura sees this unusual change and more so when she gets approached by a boy named Jonouchi who can see “something crawling on her heart.” On top of that, she sees the ghost of one of her classmates named Saotome who wishes to devour her until Moto is saved by a female Shinigami clad in black. This is Boogiepop, a Death God that – up until now – has been nothing but an urban legend.

In the next story, we find ourselves following Jonouchi before his life intersected with Moto. He is a senior at the same High school who, before the strange light, found out he had a tumor on his arm. After the light, the tumor disappeared but Jonouchi discovered that he could see people’s fears and regrets that have taken the form of spiders only he could see and remove. After removing a spider from one student (in an incredibly creepy groper’s way), he finds himself devouring the spiders until he becomes addicted to their sweet flavor. Is he really a savior – as he sees himself – or is he a threat as Boogiepop sees him?

However, before Boogiepop could do her thing, a mystery girl appears and saves Jonouchi. She is Nagi Kirima, a student at Shinyo who spends her nights playing hero and attempting to thwart Boogiepop’s plans as well as destroying the “man-eaters.” Somehow, she is linked to these occurrences in some way and shows up to save her classmates and other students such as a girl who is intent on spreading the word of love thanks to the help of her ghostly dead friend. Meanwhile, there’s a strange cop who might not be what he seems.

In yet another story, a gloomy young man into computer dating sims falls for a young fellow employee and uses a strange liquid drug called Sin-mon to turn said girl into his dream girl just like in the game. We also meet a young girl and his brother who gains power that corrupts the boy who was once sweet and kind towards her. Then there’s a Pied Piper-like boy who has the ability to show grownups and other older folk a look at what they were like as children.

There’s bloody deaths and conspiracies aplenty in this story as we follow Nagi Kirima by way of a young journalist wondering what is going on in this city. On top of that, there are meaningful moments that are actually quite beautiful such as the story of the woman who reads through the diary of her dead daughter or the secret behind the girl who appears often throughout the series who releases butterflies made of light.

Boogiepop and Others

Thankfully, Right Stuf also packaged the live-action movie, “Boogiepop and Others” as well. It’s a fascinating prequel film that is like watching the anime TV series come to life. The story follows various students of Shinyo Academy and fills in the gaps that TV series did not elaborate on such as what happened to Saotome and how Nagi Kirima already knew Boogiepop. Filled with memorable scenes (including a riveting finale at the school), mysterious deaths (and a disturbing eyeball licking scene) and great performances from the cast, the movie is an absolute blast to watch.

Boogiepop Phantom is a complex series that isn’t easy to watch but if you give it a chance it will steal your soul and keep it captive until the very end. It’s a series that creepy, puzzling but totally absorbing to the point that you will find yourself loving every minute of it. If you’re looking for something a bit different and compelling, you cannot go wrong with this complete DVD set.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A
An unusual light shines down on Shinyo Academy and suddenly there are students mysteriously disappearing and there are deaths as well that are rumored to be due to an urban legend come to life. Is the Shinigami called Boogiepop involved or is there a greater evil at work? In the live-action prequel, we witness the events before the strange light appears as each students’ story comes together in a confrontation between good and evil.

VIDEO QUALITY: A-
Naturally, a series where the creepy occurrences happen at night doesn’t make for a very clear viewing experience but at least the DVD transfer does a good job displaying a clear picture. Even the movie looks amazing on DVD.

AUDIO QUALITY: A-
There’s a solid voice acting cast for both the original Japanese voices and the English dub so you can’t go wrong watching the TV series with either one although my personal preference is with the Japanese voices. There’s a great original score for both the series and movie. The opening song, “Evening Shower” is wonderfully catchy.

EXTRAS: A+
All five DVDs come with plenty of extras that include loads of promo material, clean opening and closing animation and audio commentary track for every episode of the TV series featuring producer Jack Thompson as well as voice talent like Crispin Freeman and Angora Deb. The live-action movie disc comes with separate Making Of Boogiepop featurette as well as a promotional feature with the filmmaker and Sayaka Yoshino (Toka Miyashita) in Yubari. There are also trailers aplenty, including original trailers for the series as well as the movie.

OVERALL: A
An intricate and deliciously creepy tale, Boogiepop Phantom is nothing short of brilliant and it will definitely make a fan out of you by the end of the series. The episodes themselves are fragments of a much bigger and profound story and believe me when I say it will hook you into its strangeness. Even the live-action movie included is amazing so you should really not miss this one.

Review copy provided by Nozomi Entertainment/Right Stuf