Dragon Ball Z Kai, Part Four – Blu-ray Review

Review by: Eduardo Zacarias

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: Blu-ray: $59.98 US; DVD: $49.98 US
Running Time: 325 minutes|
Genre: Action
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now

One of the longest battles begins and it’s one hell of a battle you will not forget anytime soon.

Some fights are just inevitable events that really need to happen whether it is Mohammad Ali going toe-to-toe with Joe Frazier, Luke Skywalker locking lightsabers with Darth Vader or yes, Dragon Ball Z fans, Goku versus Frieza. In Part Four of Dragon Ball Z Kai, we get exactly that as the series directs its attention to this battle between two powerful forces as the fate of an entire planet plus the lives of Planet Namek’s survivors hangs on the balance.

With Frieza’s minions taken out of the picture and a Piccolo resurrected from the dead thanks to some quick thinking by Gohan and Krillin, the attention is now on Frieza who shows them all his true power. Part Four picks up after the monster’s transformation as Frieza displays a new level of power that makes him faster and stronger. In fact, Frieza quickly makes short work of Piccolo and thus forces Gohan to step into the battlefield.

In the middle of the battle, Vegeta – who has surprisingly joined forces with the others – comes up with a plan to turn up his power but finds no cooperation from the Namekian boy named Dende. Because of this, Frieza is not only able defeats Vegeta but he also slaughters the Saiyan and then aims his powerful blast at Piccolo and Krillin who are too horrified to act. The end result isn’t very pretty.

Thankfully, Goku is finally fully healed thanks to the revitalizing tank he put himself in after his first few battles in Planet Namek. With renewed strength, he heads straight towards Frieza only to be in time to watch another tragedy unfold right before his eyes. Sure, Goku is more powerful now that he’s healed but that’s nothing compared to what happens when he witnesses the fall of one of his closest friends. On top of that, Frieza seems to recognize Goku’s face and tells him that it’s the face of the Saiyan he killed a long time ago and this person has a connection to Goku.

The anger of such a sight transforms Goku into a Super Saiyan but not of the giant ape variety. His transformation is impressive and pushes his power to the maximum as he momentarily frightens even a being such as Frieza. However, the fight slowly starts to turn in Frieza’s favor. It’s clear that this monster is indeed one of the most dangerous villains in the galaxy. He’s also one of the more heartless as he destroys the environment around him as well as attacks the planet’s core.

With the planet now in danger, Gohan finds himself dealing with his own problems that are mainly centered on Bulma who encounter what she thought was an intelligent frog but was actually one of Frieza’s henchmen in a frog form (if you saw Part Three you’ll know who I’m talking about). Once that problem is remedied, however, the unstable planet is making it difficult to keep the ship from being torn apart. Despite his father’s orders to take the battle’s only survivor as well as Bulma out of the planet, Gohan decides to join his dad in combat.

Meanwhile, King Kai and the others watch in horror as Frieza appears to be winning the fight. Good news reaches King Kai and all of Goku’s fallen comrades that comes in the form of Kami and Mister Popo who have managed to locate and obtain all the Dragon Balls. They come up with a risky plan that might just work if Shen Long agrees to it but when it does work it is Goku who refuses to leave the dying planet to continue fighting Frieza. Goku is determined to make Frieza pay for all the damage he has done and the people he had killed to obtain the Dragon Balls. His crimes are unforgivable and Goku means to make him pay even if it means he might die in the process.

You might think that devoting an entire volume to one fight might seem like a bad idea and that might have been the case if this weren’t Dragon Ball Z or re-written to eliminate the filler. What we have here is one of those battles of cinematic proportions that will have you on the edge of your seat. In other words, this is one intense volume.

That said, then, Part Four of Dragon Ball Z Kai packs an overwhelmingly powerful punch that will make you feel it all throughout these 13-episodes. Just as exciting as the first three releases, it is clear that Kai is not only an action-packed tour de force but also one of the best ways to introduce the Dragon Ball Z series to a new generation of viewers. Believe me when I say that you will be hooked on this series with this fourth release.

BLU-RAY REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A
Finally revealing his true power and a more hideous form, Frieza takes on Gohan, Krillin and even Piccolo only to take them all down including Vegeta. However, a newly revitalized and fully healed Goku arrives in time to finally face-off against the villain who reveals the shocking truth about Goku’s father. With Planet Namek on the line as well as the lives of the survivors, Goku’s battle with Frieza is nothing short of colossal.

VIDEO QUALITY: A+
The series has always looked good even back in the day but on Blu-ray you can’t help but drool over the vibrant and crystal clear picture that will make any Dragon Ball Z fan glad they went HD. This is a series that deserves to be watched on Blu-ray.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
I still love watching this series in its original Japanese language track but then again you have to hand it to the English dub voice cast that manage to give us some great performances. The score in these 13-episodes is actually exciting and makes the big Goku-Frieza fight even more intense.

EXTRAS: D
Sadly, there are no interviews or even an audio commentary track in this fourth edition so all you will find are the textless opening and closing theme songs as well as a few trailers as well on the second disc.

OVERALL: A
Calling the battle between Goku and Frieza epic would not be the best way to describe this fight of the century and there are a very few series that could pull off an entire set devoted to said fight but Part Four of Dragon Ball Z Kai pulls it off with flying colors. Count this as yet another reason your wallet will get thinner.

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

Dirty Pair, Part Two – DVD Review

Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: RightStuf!/Nozomi Entertainment
MSRP: $49.99 US
Running Time: 325 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/Action
Rating: 13+
Release Date: Available Now

Explosions and buildings reduced to rubble? The Lovely Angels are definitely back.

Our own Clive Owen was right when he thanked the inventors of DVD players because it is thanks to this that we get to see those classics anime series that were hard to find on our side of the pond or hasn’t been seen in a long time. Part One of Dirty Pair introduced us to this retro classic and Part Two is more of the same but you won’t care because these girls are just way too much fun to watch.

While not wanting to give anything away, the final episode of this series finds the Lovely Angel named Kei facing off against a brutish villain who tells the fiery redhead that she should be at home cooking and making babies instead of fighting for justice. Kei, naturally, takes offense and responds by giving the bad guy a beating. Sure, Kei and Yuri fight for justice as trouble consultants for the World Welfare Works Association (or the 3WA) dressed in skimpy outfits but in their own way, they show that girls can get the job done and still look sexy doing it.

As I said in the beginning, nothing much has changed from Part One so we find Yuri and Kei solving a variety of episodic cases. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, of course, seeing as some of our favorite classic series are like this (the Case Closed anime series, for instance) and Dirty Pair manages to cram in worthwhile stories filled with solid action and some good humor that goes beyond watching two girls blow things up on accident and on purpose.

Part Two begins with a mercenary hired to wipe out the memory banks of a presidential candidate’s files so you can bet that our favorite duo is on the case. Incidentally, the mercenary is a master of disguise and manages to slip into Pandora’s Vault along with Kei where the two are caught in its security system with no way out. In another episode, Yuri and Kei are enjoying a little vacation time when they encounter an old cowboy trying to escape a group of men in suits. The old man tells the girls that he knows the location of the treasure of La Kahanga and he would give them a cut of the treasure if they help him find it. The girls, of course, accept but find the job is more difficult than they imagined.

In another episode, the girls are hired to protect and escort the chairman of Yorozuya Enterprises … a job they take because they hear that the chairman is cute. As it turns out, the chairman is a cute girl and what should have been an easy mission becomes a difficult task mainly because the girl – Lady Sakurako – is just looking to have fun in the city. Then there’s a great story revolving around an investigation that has the Lovely Angels look into the death of 3WA’s own crime consultant who is killed by none other than the famous assassin, Sundric. The case for the assassin gets even deadlier when the commercial space transport is sabotaged and is redirected towards a black hole.

One of my favorite episodes has the girls being hired by a lonely and handsome rich man who hires the girls to find the ones responsible for destroying a statue he created to stand in as a girlfriend. Well, not surprisingly enough, it was the Lovely Angels who accidentally jettisoned an escape pod that destroyed said statue but it is the girls that try to make the young master understand it is possible for him to fall in love with a real girl instead.

There’s also mysteries to solve such as the case where Yuri and Kei look into a serial killer who is murdering women and the prime suspect is a door-to-door salesman. In another mystery case, the girls try to solve the mystery of Flight 807 whose passengers mysteriously vanish mid-flight. Sure, the girls don’t often stop to think about their next move but when they do stop to think they manage to put the clues together to solve the mysteries.

You can’t accuse the girls of being boring either as they take on some cases that involve plenty of gunplay and – of course – explosions. One episode has them aiding an assassin they were sent to capture by the name of Blues who is targeting the man who killed his mother. Then the girls are caught up in a counterfeiting case and then join a handsome con man who is conning a drug kingpin. The more action-packed moments, however, come at the final episode where the girls fight to save Chief Gooley – their boss – from a corrupt security chief. This second part ends on a high note and also hints that the series continues by way of the OVAs plus the movie, “Project Eden,” that I hope RightStuf!/Nozomi Entertainment will release as well at some point.

Still loads of fun to watch from start to finish, Part Two of Dirty Pair will still remind you that classics like this should not be ignored. The series as a whole is loads of fun to watch and never really takes itself seriously so if it’s a good time you’re looking for then look no further because these two girls know how to show their audience the meaning of a good time.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A
Yuri and Kei continue working for the 3WA as trouble consultants as they see to a variety of cases that include looking into the murder of a crime consultant, rescue a presidential candidate from a mercenary as well as watch over a heiress. The girls even look into a complex case of an airbus’ missing passengers as well as involve themselves in conning a drug kingpin as well as flushing out a serial killer.

VIDEO QUALITY: A
The animation is still on the outdated side but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy the visuals either way or even like this vision of the future. RightStuf!/Nozomi had done a great job making the episodes look good on DVD as well, which is a big plus.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The 1980s score and opening and closing theme songs are strangely catchy but the highlight in the sound is Kyoko Tongu and Saeko Shimazu who do a great job voicing Kei and Yuri.

EXTRAS: B+
Each disc comes with Line Art Galleries featuring all the characters and background settings as well as a few trailers from other RightStuf!/Nozomi releases. However, the best extra comes in the form of a 20-page booklet with 1993 interview and a 2010 Q&A with creator Haruko Takachiho that is actually interesting to read.

OVERALL: A
Part Two of Dirty Pair might not have changed the familiar formula of the first half of this series but, then again, that’s not a bad thing at all since it’s a blast watching these two cute destructive girls doing what they do best … causing mayhem while getting the job done. Dirty Pair is a true anime classic in every way and no collection is complete without both installments.

Review copy provided by RightStuf!/Nozomi Entertainment

Black Butler, Season One Part 2 – DVD Review

Review by: Ai Kano
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $59.98 US
Running Time: 300 minutes
Genre: Supernatural
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now

London Bridge will be doing more than just falling.

Ok, getting past my fan girl crush on one hell of a hot butler named Sebastian Michaelis, I found myself really enjoying Black Butler for its lush setting, its deliciously gothic storytelling style and fascinating characters that make up this excellent anime series. A lot happened in the first half of Season One of Black Butler but Part 2 completes the big picture in a way that will draw you deeper into its world and make you love every second of it.

In the first part, we not only met the young master of the Phantomhive estate but also his butler that gets the job done no matter what unusual order his master gives him. Facing a number of creepy and oftentimes supernatural elements, both Ciel Phantomhive and Sebastian even went up against a powerful force in the shape of a beautiful woman named Angela who called Ciel “unclean.” Now, in Part 2, Angela is back as she targets Ciel once again.

However, before that, Ciel goes about his watchdog duties for Queen and country and investigates an unusual case of men hung upside down. With a population of immigrants from India living in London, they are Scotland Yard’s prime suspects considering the fact many Indians have hostility toward the English. What Ciel and Sebastian find, however, is Prince Soma Asman Kadar and his extremely loyal manservant named Agni. While the Prince has nothing to do with the case, Ciel finds out that he is in London looking for one of his favorite female servants that he thinks was brought to London by force.

While he is reluctant to help the Prince, Ciel does look into this matter for him while find out that Agni is not only just as skilled as Sebastian but there’s also something about him that might hold the key to the mystery behind the Prince’s beloved servant. However, another element is involved and targets the Queen herself during a curry-themed festival where Sebastian competes against other chefs as well as Agni.

From here the series takes a number of surprisingly dark twists and turns as Ciel looks into the murders of Edward V and his young brother when Ciel and Sebastian meets their ghosts that haunt Ludlow Castle. They then look into a murder that has Ciel fall into the trap designed by a returning character who unexpectedly betrays Ciel and gets him arrested by Scotland Yard. However, their friend Inspector Adderline helps Ciel and the case ends rather tragically for one of the characters involved.

Even more interesting, though, is a case that leads Ciel straight into the hands of Angela. Looking into a series of supernatural-themed books in a the hands of a religious cult, our young Master, Sebastian and even Grelle (who is still lively and charismatic as ever) find themselves infiltrating the cult’s abbey. What they find out is that Angela is something completely unexpected as she sets out to facilitate a plot that involves the Queen’s plans that could spark a war. It isn’t until they get to Paris that Ciel and his friends make a horrific discovery about the Queen and events that could lead to the destruction of London.

Thankfully, Part 2 isn’t completely somber and dark because its sense of humor is still intact … sometimes in the same goofy manner as the first part (Sebastian wearing a deer’s head disguise) and other times with genuinely hysterical moments (the Undertaker playing the role of Hamlet’s mother in the bonus episode). We get a rather interesting look into what the Phantomhive manor’s servants (Mey-Rin, Baldroy and Finny) did before they come to work for the young Master as well and Sebastian gets information from a cute female cultist the sexy way. All these things add up to a great second half to the series. I mean, even the bonus episode where Ceil is forced to take part in a production of Hamlet for charity is a blast to watch.

Part 2 of Season One of Black Butler is a darker and more curious second act that only serves to confirm what we already know … that Black Butler really is an incredibly fun and ridiculously enjoyable anime series. If you really liked Part 1 of this series than you will really love Part 2 even more to the point that you will find yourself a fan way before the final episode of this first season.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A
After the events that occurred in Part 1, Ciel and Sebastian find themselves targeted by Angela who turns out to be something quite unexpected. While dealing with Indian royalty, a pair of famous ghosts and betrayal by a familiar face, the real threat might destroy all of London.

VIDEO QUALITY: A
The animation is simply gorgeous with the backgrounds, characters and visual effects making for many an eye-catching scene. With Sebastian still being one of the main visual attractions for obvious reasons, this series certainly would look quite striking on Blu-ray.

AUDIO QUALITY: B+
Once again, J. Michael Tatum steals the show with his brilliant performance as Sebastian and Brina Palencia actually does come to become an acceptable Ciel. Even the original Japanese voices are stellar and the score is amazing. The new closing theme song, “Lacrimosa” by Kalafina is hauntingly beautiful.

EXTRAS: A-
Like the first part, Part 2 includes two audio commentary tracks with the first one, Episode 16, bringing ADR Engineer Kevin Leasure and Josh Grelle (the voice of King Edward V) together for a chat about how much they love the series. Then the Episode 21 commentary track features Monica Rial (Mey-Rin), Ian Sinclair (Bladroy) and Jason Leibrecht (Finny) handling the commentary in-character, which makes this so much fun.

Even better, though, is a bonus episode that has most of the characters show up to perform Hamlet for charity. Then there’s the clean opening and closing theme songs as well as a few trailers.

OVERALL: A
A slightly darker and definitely more intriguing second half to Season One, Part 2 of Black Butler completes the season with just the right amount of humor and dark supernatural elements that only one hell of a good show can provide. If Part 1 wasn’t reason enough to pick this one up than Part 2 will certainly do the trick.

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

SENTAI FILMWORKS ANNOUNCES ANGEL BEATS LICENSE

HOUSTON, March 24, 2011—Sentai Filmworks today announced its acquisition of Japan’s white-hot anime series, ANGEL BEATS. A multi-media mega-franchise with two manga, a series of illustrated short stories and two internet radio shows, each new volume of ANGEL BEATS has consistently ranked in the top three nationwide bestselling Blu-Ray releases in Japan. Now the series is coming to the U.S. on both DVD and Blu-Ray. Both releases will include an all new English dub, with the first episodes of the dub set to premiere at Anime Boston.

Synopsis: It sucks being dead. Sucks even more to be trapped in a surreal afterlife where you’re caught between the living and the dead—where a mysterious, violent Angel is trying to pull you over to…somewhere. What do you do? Well, if you’re this group of rough-and-tumble teens, you grab every weapon you can get your hands on and give Heaven hell! High-caliber action and locked-and-loaded comedy meet on a rock and roll battleground in Angel Beats!

About Sentai Filmworks:

Sentai Filmworks is one of the fastest-growing anime companies in North America, including hit series like Clannad, Gintama, Eyeshield 21 and hit movies like Appleseed. Sentai Filmworks programs can be found on home video distributed by Ingram Entertainment, Baker & Taylor, Section23Films, The Right Stuff and other good and fine distributors. Digital product offerings may be found at iTunes, Netflix, Amazon, Zune Marketplace, Anime Network, Playstation Network and YouTube.

Genshiken DX, TV Series One & OVA Collection – DVD Review

 

Review by: Kiki Van de Kamp

Publisher: Media Blasters (Anime Works)
MSRP: $34.99 US
Running Time: 375 minutes
Genre: Drama/Comedy
Rating: 13 and Older
Release Date: Available Now

This is definitely a club well worth joining.

If you ever picked up a manga and know every single series that particular manga-ka has released, you just might be an otaku. If you know exactly when your favorite anime hits its awesome plot twist or know your favorite scene line-for-line, yep, you definitely are an otaku. That’s perfectly fine because so are we so it is refreshing to find an anime series that presents the otaku lifestyle to life in an affectionate and comical manner as we can see from Genshiken DX, Series One & OVA.

Covering the first season of the series, Genshiken DX is something of a unique series that is also connected to another series called Kujibiki Unbalance but not in the way you might expect (I’ll get into that in a bit). Genshiken takes place in Suioh University somewhere in Tokyo where a young freshman named Sasahara is looking to join a club true to his love for manga and anime among other related things. Not quite happy with the Manga Club or the Anime Club, he comes across a peculiar club called The Study of Modern Visual Culture … or, as it is better known, Genshiken. As it turns out, the members of this club know their thing and share his love for everything from the anime, Kujibiki Unbalance, to male-oriented doujinshi.

While the series begins with Sasahara, the series focuses its attention on two other new members of Genshiken that actually make this series even more true to life. You see, Kosaka is a true otaku in every sense of the word despite being really attractive and his old childhood friend who is interested in him, a sexy girl by the name of Saki, hates all things the otaku like. Very early in the series, Kosaka and Saki become a couple and it is through them that we witness a relationship between one who doesn’t want to put aside his favorite otaku activities and the other who wants him to forget all that stuff to share more time together.

Part of the fun of watching the series is watching Saki’s frustration with dating a cute guy that much rather play his favorite video game than sleep with her or head out to Akihabara than have lunch with her. Saki takes out her anger on the club’s members who she comically hurts. However, despite her hatred for all things otaku, Saki slowly becomes use to being in the club room and comes to accept many of the things she didn’t like in the first place. She even heads to their annual Comic Fest where she watches the boys go into full shopping mode.

Through Sasahara’s eyes we also see that the true otaku is a socially awkward and lonely soul whose love for manga, anime and hentai games alienate him from everyone doesn’t like these things. That is why he comes to enjoy his time with the club members and comes to become a more social and active person. The first season also introduces us to the cosplay-loving cute named Kanako Ohno who tries hard to convince Saki to cosplay with her. Of course, Saki refuses each time.

Then again, it is Saki who becomes the club’s biggest supporter and defender. When the club is threatened to be cancelled by the Student Council President, it is Saki who comes to the rescue. She also manages to be a destructive force that nearly destroys the club but she always makes up for it whether its going to Comic Fest to buy items for the boys or – to her embarrassment – pose for pictures in Kujibiki Unbalance cosplay.

In the final episodes, we are introduces to a number of returning characters such as Sasahara’s materialistic kid sister who falls in love with Kosaka … to Saki’s annoyance. Then there’s Ogiue, a new girl that joins who says she hates otaku but seems to be secretly enamored with everything from games to boy’s love manga titles.

The series never takes itself too seriously but it also never just goes for the slapstick comedy relief either, which makes the series remarkably fun to watch. The laughs come from the awkwardness of the otaku cast that also includes Ohno and Ogiue. As a fellow otaku, it’s also great to see a series that touches on the real and the familiar. Even the club members are all enthralled by a real anime series like Kujibiki Unbalance, which plays in the background. Thankfully, this collection includes the episodes featured in Genshiken and I’ll be happy to include then in this review.

KUJIBIKI UNBALANCE

Included in the collection are three episodes of Kujibiki Unbalance and one of them is the first episode that introduces us to Chihiro Enomoto who attends his first day at Rikkyouin High. We are offered a glimpse of his past that include a beautiful girl with flowing blonde hair who cries and tells him that if she would stop being such a crybaby would he consider marrying her?

However, years have past and he is now in high school when he sees a girl with flowing blonde hair being introduced as the Student Council President. Chihiro, as well as the other students, are then placed in teams and his happens to be specializing in cooking. His fellow teammates are all cute girls, one of which is team leader and an admirer of wild mushrooms.

The reason they are all placed on teams is to compete against other teams in various challenges that will test them. In the second episode on the set, Episode 21, we are given a recap of all the challenges Chihiro and his teammates have gone through and the events are downright brutal but in a fun way. This leads to Episode 25, that introduces a danger as the team is ready for their final challenge.

If you haven’t seen this series, I suggest you give it a try if but to complete your Genshiken viewing experience.

The Series One & OVA Collection of Genshiken DX will easily pull you into its appealing story and subject matter in ways that seem more real than other anime series like it. It’s an entertaining look at the otaku life as it celebrates it in a way that make each episode stand out. Trust me when I say that it will have you enjoying every second of it and have you look forward to the second season.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A+
Suioh University’s semester is underway and a young man named Sasahara is looking to join a club true to his love for manga and anime when he comes across a club that might be exactly what he was looking for in the first place. Joined by a fellow freshman and the non-otaku that likes him, Genshiken becomes home to true otaku and their problems.

VIDEO QUALITY: B+
Thankfully, Media Blasters/Anime Works does a great job making sure the episodes look great on DVD so this is definitely the best way to enjoy the series. The animation in Genshiken is gorgeous while the animation in Kujibiki Unbalance is simply just Ok.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The voice acting is solid for both the original Japanese voices as well as the English dub and that’s a very good thing since the dialogue is ripe with various gaming, manga and anime references scattered throughout. The score is also handled beautifully and the opening and closing theme songs work well for this series.

EXTRAS: A+
Packed with a number of extras that include trailers, promotional clips and – of course – the 3-episode OVA Collection disc, this package also includes a performance by Under 17 when they played the Kujibiki Unbalance theme song at the 2004 Tokyo Character Show as well as footage from the same show with Akemi Kanda (who voices Tokino Akiyama) and Saeko Chiba (who voices Ritsuko Kubel Kettenkrad).

On the second disc, there are interviews with some of the cast and the director, Takashi Ikehata. Also includes are Kujibiki Unbalance episodes such as the first episodes, Episode 21 and Episode 25 as well. It’s everything a Genshiken fan can ask for in a collection.

OVERALL: A+
An endearing and utterly fascinating long look at the otaku culture and what it is to be one, the Genshiken DX TV Series One is a collection that deserves a look even if you aren’t a big anime fan. The reason is simple: it is a series that offers the most genuine and enjoyable insight into the otaku mind that you might just find yourself becoming one yourself. On top of that, the story, characters and sense of humor make this a real Must Have.

Review copy provided by Media Blasters (Anime Works)

Detroit Metal City, Volume 7 – Manga Review

 

Review by: Clive Owen

Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Kiminori Wakasugi
Genre: Graphic Novel (VIZ Signature)
MSRP: $12.99 US
Rating: M (Mature)
Release Date: Available Now

The rise and fall of a Gaylord Kitahara.

To a Metal God, there is nothing worst than losing your Metal Supremacy and Negishi lost it the day he encountered Gaylord Kitahara and played against him outdoors only to be outshined in just about every way to the older man whose past was revealed in a one-sided metal romance. Now, the stage is set for a new star that threatens to upstage the DMC band in Volume 7 of Detroit Metal City.

Not only did Negishi lose his metal streak to Kitahara but he also had to surrender Jack Ill Dark’s guitar so Negishi definitely lost a lot that day. Depressed and not able to face his own band mates, Negishi takes his female friend Aikawa’s advice to room with a group of budding student artists in their studio pad. What he finds there is pleasantly surprising … a group of four artists who not only share his passion for art but also a place where each person encourages the other. This is the perfect outlet to find inspiration and rekindle the love for art.

Unfortunately, not everyone in the Artist’s Studio enjoys Negishi’s sugary sweet brand of pop. In fact, they think its way too awful to the point that Negishi overhears them talking about how embarrassing it is to listen to his horrendous music and even more so when he puts on his angel costume. This crushes the poor guy to the point that – very slowly – the anger secretly boils in his blood. It isn’t until new artists arrive that Negishi finally unleashes his anger. You see, the new artists happen to be metal guitarists and help Negishi find his inner Krauser.

It’s right on time too because Gaylord Kitahara begins his plan to unseat Krauser II by doing all the things the second Krauser would do like mount the Tokyo Tower but also taking to the stage in battle in a battle against DMC. With Negishi not around, the rest of DMC turn to another person to fill the role of Krauser II in the battle. What they find is a mock DMC band with performers that hold a grudge against each member of the band including their boss … who – as we know from Volume 6 – has known the boss well.

When Negishi does return with new moves of his own and even upstages Krauser I and beats him at his own game. Defeated, Krauser 1 is unmasked on stage and leads Gaylord Kitahara to make a most spectacular if not embarrassing confession on stage. Needless to say, the confession doesn’t go as well as he hoped it would in the end. Later, Negishi feels bad about what happened to Kitahara as well as the people of the Art Studio … who release a film project that – thanks to Negishi and the metal musicians – turn out to look like a Japanese horror flick.

Meanwhile, Negishi tries to cheer himself up by trying for a new look so he goes to a hair saloon for a refreshingly new haircut only to find himself growing angry when each attempt looks way too absurd. Then his brother pays him a visit only for Negishi to find out that his bro has a cool haircut and even a girlfriend who he plans to spend the night with in his apartment. Not wanting his brother to beat him in the romance department, he shows up as Krauser to stop their night of passion.

In another chapter, the metal skat band that lost to DMC, otherwise known as Deathism, is getting a music producer. The leader of the band is worried that this producer wouldn’t get their music or their feces-inspired act. As it turns out, though, this producer has a taste for, um, feces … literally. Then, in another chapter, Aikawa asks Negishi if he could fill in for a sot on a local soccer team called Amore Amour only to find himself going up against a team made up of DMC fans he has seen at the shows. Will his allegiance be with Aikawa’s team or Krauser’s fans? Finally, a day at the pool with his band mates ends up with a visit from Krauser.

Volume 7 of Detroit Metal City completes the Krauser 1 storyline as the two Krauser’s compete for the right to call DMC their own. Sure, the other chapters are fun but they lack the intensity and hilarious aftermath of the main story. This is still one hell of a funny comedy manga series around.

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: B+
Having lost his metal edge to an older guitarist whose past includes falling for Negishi’s wild boss, Krauser I finally appears in an attempt to steal DMC from Krauser II. Meanwhile, Negishi finds himself living in an artist studio looking to regain his artistic focus only to find himself going down a dark path that could very well lead him back to being Krauser. In other chapters, a simple haircut goes bad as does a soccer game and a scat metal band meets a producer with a nasty habit.

ART: A
The artwork in Detroit Metal City has been consistently unique and interesting throughout but the best part about the art is the comical expressions whenever somebody does something really absurd in this series, which is – thankfully – often.

OVERALL: B+
The gauntlet has been thrown down and the metal mayhem between two Krausers has begun but, in Volume 7 of Detroit Metal City, there could only be one winner and what goes down is nothing short of hilarious. There are other wild antics in this one but the Krauser I story arc remains to be the real main attraction of this volume.

Review copy provided by VIZ Media

Manga News Flash: Sailor Moon Returns

Kodansha USA Publishing announces relaunch of Sailor Moon manga series.

Friday, March 18, 2011 – According to the Associate Press, it is confirmed that Kodansha USA Publishing will be bringing back the Sailor Moon manga series (created by Naoko Takeuchi) since it went out of print six years ago. Sailor Moon will be released in a new deluxe editions in September under the Kodansha Comics imprint as “Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon.”

On top of that, the new release will also be accompanied by a two-volume prequel series untitled “Codename: Sailor V,” which will be the first time this print will be seen in the U.S. This two-volume collection features a teenaged Minako Aino fighting as Sailor V against the Dark Agency before discovering Sailor Moon.

Sailor Moon and its iconic characters helped cement the Japanese comic art from with American readers in the late 1990s and is still a major influence to the magical girl genre.