LOUPS=GAROUS DVD AND BLU-RAY EDITION ON SALE TODAY

    

HOUSTON, November 29th, 2011 – Section23 Films is pleased to announce today’s release of this year’s most riveting animated thriller LOUPS=GAROUS: The Motion Picture. Available today on both DVD and Blu-Ray.

Title: LOUPS=GAROUS
Running Time: 98 min.
Age Rating: TV 14 (V)
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
CAT: SF-LG001
UPC: 814131017413
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Street Date: 11/29/2011
Format: DVD
SRP: $29.98

Title: LOUPS=GAROUS BLU-RAY EDITION
Running Time: 98 min.
Age Rating: TV 14 (V)
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
CAT: SFB-LG001
UPC: 814131017512
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Street Date: 11/29/2011
Format: BD
SRP: $39.98

SYNOPSIS: After a virus claims millions, most live in the safety of a closed-off world, relegating themselves to an on-line existence. But when a young girl decides to brave life outside the virtual world, she finds a group of friends—and a killer. Someone is hunting and violently murdering children. Who? And why? And is she the next target? Get plugged in to this year’s most riveting animated thriller, the cyber-shocker Loups=Garous!

About Section23 Films:
Section23 Films provides home video marketing and distribution services for a variety of companies, including Sentai Filmworks, Switchblade Pictures, Maiden Japan and AEsir Holdings. With its special focus on genre entertainment, Section23 Films distributes some of the very best anime, martial arts, and horror titles on the market today.

Coicent/Five Numbers! – DVD Review

Review by: Brenda Gregson

Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
MSRP: $39.98 US
Running Time: 60 minutes
Genre: Sci-fi
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now


So the days of awesome double features aren’t dead after all.

Just like our own Clive Owen’s grandfather, my own Grandpa Gregson cheerfully reminisces on the good old days when comic books cost a nickel, soda fountains included real cherry Coke and movie theaters included double features. Oh, grandpa, those good old days of the double feature isn’t completely dead as Sentai Filmworks brings us two short anime features, Coicent and Five Numbers! that are well worth the purchase price for quality alone.

When I say short I mean both features have a running time of 60 minutes combined but both offer stories that are deep, involving and beautifully handled. They both have a futuristic science fiction theme, one of which will bring to mind an episode of the Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. Either way, they do the sci-fi genre justice.

COICENT

It’s Heijo Capital City’s 1,300 year anniversary as the futuristic city that was reconstructed and relocated celebrates in such an outrageously festive manner that it seems like beautiful dream. Aboard a transport is a group of excited students who are ready to join the festivities and – as the hologram announces – enjoy a live performance from a beautiful shrine maiden named Himiko. Even the loveable goof that is Shinichi is overjoyed to see Himiko perform. Unfortunately, Shinichi isn’t having a blast because a mischievous white deer steals his backpacks and somehow ends up having Shinichi ride it like a horse.

However, not far from the confetti-flinging parade and throng of visitors, is a lab where the pint-sized president of a nameless corporation is enraged by the fact that her experiment has awakened and is trying to escape. As it turns out, this “experiment” happens to look a lot like the festival’s shrine maiden, Himiko, who escapes out an open window and is about to fall to her death when Shinichi – riding the white deer – accidentally rescues the girl.

To Shinichi’s eyes, the girl looks like any other cute school girl and she has quite lengthy name so Shinichi just calls her Toto. Together the pair spend an exciting day together as both youth discover the joys of being young and on a date. Although he knows nothing about this mysterious girl, Shinichi can feel that she’s something special.

Of course, the corporation’s president wants Toto back and will do anything to bring her back but the girl is definitely not interested being the president’s experiment. Then Toto shows them all the power she has within her as Shinichi must make a choice whether to let Toto handle her problem or listen to his heart.

Coicent is one of those stories I wish was a lot longer than just 30 minutes seeing as the characters are memorable and the story conveys enough feeling that the relationship between Shinichi and Toto has heartfelt meaning to it. It’s also beautifully animated and has a great voice cast whether it’s the original Japanese language track or the English dub.

FIVE NUMBERS!

Without much of a warning, a five individual sleeping chambers open and the people inside awaken to the cold and emptiness of the space station. With the exception of an old man, the four others run through the empty station wondering what happened to the people who maintain it. We quickly find out that the young man, the sexy woman, a young otaku girl and a middle-aged man have a secret that makes us realize that the station itself was meant to be their prison.

Just what each person did I will not reveal but as the story unravels, it is the fifth person – the old man and his cat – that the story takes a most interesting turn as he reveals who they all are and why they’re on the station. As the four try to find a way to get off the station, we are revealed an even more chilling twist that ties everything together.

Five Numbers! doesn’t fail to surprise, especially when it comes to the twist at the end. Director Hiroaki Ando, best know for “Freedom,” knows how to tell a complex tale but it’s the running time that holds this back from being a brilliant tale. Still, there’s enough here to leave a lasting impression on the viewer and that’s certainly not an easy feat considering the story clocks in around 30 minutes.

Together, the double feature of Coicent and Five Numbers makes this a perfect package that sci-fi fans will find touching and downright intriguing. Coicent is a short but sweet slice of anime goodness while Five Numbers takes a darker and more elaborate turn that will not fail to surprise or keep up the suspense. In other words, both stories are genuinely compelling to watch so missing out on this one would be a big mistake.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A+
In the anniversary of the reconstruction of a futuristic city, a boy unintentionally rescues a mysterious girl who is being chased down by an unusual group of people who want her contained. While exploring the city with the boy, she discovers a world she never knew. Then, in another story, four people wake up in a space station that was meant to be their cell. Then the fifth person wakes up and they realize the truth about their stay in the station.

VIDEO QUALITY: A
Using 3D animation, both short features have their own unique look but it is Coicent that looks absolutely gorgeous compared to the darker Five Numbers! Both of them look really good on DVD and, most likely, even more stunning on Blu-ray.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
Reiji Kitazato’s score for Coicent and Yasutaka Nakata’s score for Five Numbers! is as good as any animated feature out there and each feature has memorable closing theme songs such as “Startline” by Minako Kotobuki. MEG fans will love her Italian opening theme song for Five Numbers! called “Volevo un Gato Nero.”

As for the voice acting, the Japanese voice cast for both features is stellar but you just have to love the English dub cast as well. Vic Mignogna and Luci Christian bring life to Shinichi and Toto while John Gremillion steals the show in Coicent. Meanwhile, Tiffany Grant, Hillary Haag, Greg Ayres and John Gremillion are great in Five Numbers!

EXTRAS: B
The single DVD comes with both features but it also comes with a few extras that include Sentai Filmworks titles as well as the Japanese trailers for each feature. Coicent’s extras include the clean opening and closing theme songs while Five Numbers has two interviews (one with Japanese seiyuu Miyu Irino and the other with the feature’s scriptwriter Dai Sato). Both interviews are really worth watching even more so if you’re a fan of “Freedom.”

OVERALL: A+
While both features are on the short side, that doesn’t mean they’re lacking in quality or offer stories that are deep or fascinating enough to make it worth the purchase price. Whether it’s the endearing Coicent or the mind-bending classic that is Five Numbers!, both stories make for one entertaining package worth the price of admission.

Review copy provided by Sentai Filmworks

Fairy Tail, Part 1 – Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack Review

Review by: Eduardo Zacarias

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $54.98 US (Blu-ray + DVD)
Running Time: 300 minutes
Genre: Action
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: November 22, 2011
There’s better magic here than in a Vegas magic show.

As a fans of Rave Master, the name Hiro Mashima is a familiar one to all of us here in the office so when FUNimation announced that they will be bringing the anime version of Fairy Tail you can bet we were excited so finally get to own the series. As it turns out, Part 1 of Fairy Tail has proven to be well worth the wait as the series about an interesting guild of wizards is not only loads of fun to watch but also makes this Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack a real Must Have.

Covering the first 12 episodes, Part 1 introduces us to the peaceful kingdom of Fiore where those who have embraced magic become part of one of many guilds scattered throughout the land. Among these guilds is a well-known one by the name of Fairy Tail that has a number of famous wizards including their own sexy pinup girl named Mirajane.

So it’s no surprise that an attractive Celestial Wizard named Lucy wants to join Fairy Tail and, as fate would have it, a trip to the port town of Hargeon turns into an opportunity to join the guild when she hears that the great wizard, Salamander is in town. To make things even more interesting, a young man name Natsu and his talking blue cat (who can sprout wings) named Happy run into Lucy who has fallen under Salamander’s spell. The three quickly realize that something is not right about this wizard as all three go up against the wizard and his cohorts. Lucy shows off her Celestial Wizard skill of summoning celestial spirits with her Gate Key while Natsu reveals he has a fire-wielding ability.

As a result their battle against a wizard, Natsu and Happy invite Lucy to join their guild, which happens to be Fairy Tail. Once in the guild’s headquarters, Lucy sees that the Fairy Tail wizards are a rowdy and unusual bunch that includes Gray Fullbuster (who easily loses most of his clothes) and the lovely Mirajane among a number of quirky wizards. In fact, Lucy arrives in time to see a massive brawl that Natsu starts and she even gets to meet the guild’s pint-sized master, Makarov.

Lucy quickly finds that she can’t quite get rid of Natsu and Happy who not only gives her no privacy in her cozy new pad but also ask her to accompany them on a number of jobs. She takes on her first job for a client who wants them to sneak into the wealthy Duke Everlue’s estate to destroy a book his father wrote for the man called “Daybreak.” Getting into the rich man’s mansion is the easy part but Duke Everlue does not make it easy for the three. Inside the mansion, however, Lucy discovers a secret about the book that changes the job completely.

In another job, Lucy and her new companions try to rescue a fellow Fairy Tail wizard who has gone missing during a job. Once again, we get a chance to see more of Lucy’s celestial spirits that range from an axe-wielding cow to a grandfather clock that serves as her personal transport and protection. She even has her own hairstylist man-crab who uses his shears to give the enemy a bad haircut.

We also meet another member of the Fairy Tail guild named Erza who everyone in the guild hall respects and fears since she’s powerful enough to take down giant monsters as well as whip Natsu in a fight. She and Gray join the trio on a mission to take a dangerous magical instrument of death from the hands of a rogue wizard from another guild and his companions. We discover that Erza is a force to be reckoned with and why Gray and Natsu never really get along but together they make one of the strongest teams in any guild as they take on the band of wizards that have set out to use the item known Lullaby to commit mass murder.

After completing that task, this new team find themselves journeying back home only to discover a small village with some crazy mushrooms. Together they even take on an S-class mission that has them investigating Galuna Island – an island said to be cursed by some unknown entity. As a team they come to discover the truth about the island and an entity that is a part of Gray’s tragic past.

Fairy Tail manages to be action-packed, humorous and just the right amount of quirky that brings to mind series like “One Piece.” On top of that, the characters are very likeable right off the bat whether you enjoy Lucy’s interactions with her celestial spirits or Gray who unconsciously strips down to his boxers and is surprised by it when people point it out. The fact that they’re wizards makes the battles also stand out as well. My only complaint is that the series occasionally rushes through scenes fans of the manga have come to love. Personally, I felt the ending of the “Daybreak” story arc didn’t have the emotional impact that the manga displayed.

That said, Part 1 of Fairy Tail is a wildly entertaining series that has the adventurous spirit of a really good shonen series complete with solid action sequences and amusing characters. While the series lacks the emotional punch seen in the manga, it still handles the action and comedy flawlessly to the point that you will not help falling under its spell. This is definitely a series I gladly recommend to action fans looking for a refreshingly fun series.


BLU-RAY REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B+
Lucy has always dreamed of being a wizard and even more so a wizard for the famed guild called Fairy Tail when, one day, she meets Natsu and his talking cat companion named Happy. Since joining Fairy Tail, Lucy finds herself accompanying the two on various missions that includes a search for a missing wizard as well as a mission to stop rogue members of another guild from carrying out mass murder.

VIDEO QUALITY: A-
The series looks good on DVD but you really do need to see this on Blu-ray and more so thanks to the animation that is true to Hiro Mashima’s “One Piece”-inspired artwork. It’s hard not to enjoy a series with original-looking characters, cool action scenes and fantastic scenery.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The original Japanese voice actors do a great job with the characters and for those who prefer the English dub will find the cast of Cherami Leigh, Todd Haberkorn and Tia Ballard among others to be just as good if not slightly better. Then there’s the music and the fun opening and closing theme songs that are handled superbly.

EXTRAS: B+
You’ll find FUNimation trailers as well the textless opening and closing theme songs on the second disc but you will find yourself drawn to the audio commentary tracks for Episode 1 and Episode 9 that includes ADR Director Tyler Walker plus the main cast (Episode 9’s commentary including Colleen Clinkenbeard who voices Erza).

OVERALL: B+
A genuinely amusing and immensely enjoyable series that is just as fun to watch as the more familiar shonen fare, Part 1 of Fairy Tail deserves to be in anyone’s collection and more so if you like over-the-top anime action at its best. Even the characters are a fun-loving likeable bunch so if you love the manga you will really love this series.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

Animanga Nation’s 2011 Anime Buyer’s Guide

The holiday shopping season is finally here and once again a lot of us are scrambling to find that loved one, close friend or co-worker a gift that we think they will enjoy. Sometimes we need a helping hand to point us to the right gift for the right person because, let’s face it, your niece Brenda would have really loved an Emma: A Victorian Romance box set than a Snuggie for Christmas last year.

So we present to you our first holiday Anime Buyer’s Guide to help you pick a gift for that anime lover in your family or circle of friends. Considering the fact that 2011 has been a good year for anime fans, there are a number of standout releases that should suit all tastes whether you’re a fan of romance, action or sci-fi. Here are some titles that have made enough of an impression that they are on our own holiday gift list for the anime fans in our lives.

FUNIMATION

Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files, The Complete Season One and Season Two (Blu-ray)

 

Recommendation: An instant classic even back in the day, FUNimation brings this series back for the high-definition crowd and does not disappoint in the very least. You can find Season One and Season Two with the third season being released later this month so this is definitely one for any stocking. Here’s the review for Season One and Season Two.

Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files, The Complete Season One Review
Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files, The Complete Season Two Review

Fruits Basket, The Complete Series (Collector’s Edition)

Recommendation: Ask any anime fan and they’ll tell you that among the romance/comedies, Fruits Basket is on the top of their favorites and if you watch it you will see why. The series has been released before but this year brought us a Collector’s Edition set that is perfect for the holidays or for any time for that matter. Check out the review.

Fruits Basket, The Complete Series (Collector’s Edition) Review

Spice and Wolf, Season One (Blu-ray)

Recommendation: Season Two of this series is definitely one to buy but FUNimation has made our year by releasing the first season on Blu-ray. Now Holo and Lawrence’s first encounter is even more stunning in HD and one we cannot recommend enough.

Spice and Wolf, Season One Review

Chobits, The Complete Series (Anime Classics – Blu-ray)

Recommendation: The new Anime Classics line is the perfect way to get to know new anime classics and Chobits is definitely a classic that deserves the Blu-ray treatment. This CLAMP love story isn’t just for fans of romance but for anyone who is interested in anime.

Chobits, The Complete Series (Anime Classics) Review

Eden of the East: The King of Eden, Movie 1, Blu-ray/DVD Combo

Recommendation: Eden of the East has easily become one of our favorite and more intriguing series so you better believe that when we heard that the story continues in the form of two movies we were excited. The King of Eden is the first movie and, by far, the best so this is certainly one any Eden of the East fan should not be without. Here’s the review.

Eden of the East: The King of Eden Movie 1, Blu-ray/DVD Combo Review

RIGHTSTUF!/NOZOMI ENTERTAINMENT

Utena, Revolutionary Girl DVD Set 1 and Set 2

 

Recommendation: Utena is a true classic in every sense and both box sets – sold individually, of course – make for the perfect gift for that special somebody who loves a series with the right dose of girl power. A third box set is slated to be released and trust us when we say you will want all three sets. Here’s the review.

Utena, Revolutionary Girl DVD Set 1: Student Council Saga Review
Utena, Revolutionary Girl DVD Set 2: The Black Rose Saga Review

Sound of the Sky (Sora No Wato), Complete Set

Recommendation: A beautiful and meaningful series about an all-female military unit in a world that has been ravaged by war, Sound of the Sky is simply amazing and should not be missed. It’s also the perfect gift for any anime fan out there. Check out the review.

Sound of the Sky (Sora no Wato), Complete Set Review

Junjo Romantica, Season One and Two

 

Recommendation: We know there are yaoi fans out there that already know about this series and were thankful that RightStuf!/Nozomi Entertainment released two DVD sets this year. If your loved one loves yaoi and never then you cannot go wrong buying this as a gift. Here is the review for Season One and Season Two.

Junjo Romantica, Season One Review
Junjo Romantica, Season Two Review

Antique Bakery, Complete Collection

Recommendation: We wouldn’t call Antique Bakery yaoi (although it does have yaoi elements) but rather a complex and totally fascinating tale about a group of hot guys who make their unique bakery one of the hottest spots in town. This is one that should not be missed so here’s the review.

Antique Bakery, Complete Collection Review

SENTAI FILMWORKS

Clannad, Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

Recommendation: No anime collection is complete without a classic and for those who love a good romance then you should look no further than the first season of this beloved series. Humorous, touching and heartfelt, you will not help but fall in love with this one. This one is for the romance fan in your gift list. If you don’t believe us, here’s the review.

Clannad, Complete First Season Review

Angel Beats!, Complete Collection (Blu-ray)

Recommendation: Imagine waking up in a high school where a handful of students have targeted a young girl who they all consider a sort of angel of death. It’s the mystery behind the school and the gun-toting action that make this an interesting series with a lot to offer. This one is for the fan who is looking for a different kind of high school series. Just check out the review.

Angel Beats!, Complete Collection (Blu-ray) Review

Night Raid 1931, Complete Collection

Recommendation: A group of super powered operatives are on a dangerous but necessary mission right before the world goes to war for the second time and believe me when I say that you will be totally captivated by it. This is perfect for anyone looking for a slightly darker and action-packed good time. Here’s the review.

Night Raid 1931, Complete Collection Review

High School of the Dead, Complete Collection (Blu-ray)

Recommendation: If you like big boobs, panty-flashing every few seconds and zombie-slaughter then you will find High School of the Dead to be that campy-yet-awesome series you will be ashamed of loving. Your action-horror loving loved one will definitely appreciate this one on Blu-ray, believe us. The review for this zombie-killing series can be found here.

High School of the Dead, Complete Collection (Blu-ray) Review

NIS AMERICA

Arakawa Under The Bridge, Season One DVD/Blu-ray Premium Edition

Recommendation: A surreal and crazy-in-an-awesome-way anime series with enough humor and quirky characters. Arakawa is for that special someone who likes their comedies with an unusual sense of humor. Plus, the package includes both the Blu-ray and DVD version. On top of that, the Premium Editions NIS America puts make the perfect gifts. This one is for that quirky family member or friend. Check out our review here.

Arakawa Under The Bridge, Season One Premium Edition Review

Katanagatari, Volume 1 and Volume 2

   

Recommendation: Katanagatari is one of those near perfect and beautifully animated series that displays plenty of heart and soul. You’ll come for the original animation and stay for the sweeping story of a girl and a human “sword.” Both volumes are sold separately as a Blu-ray/DVD combo plus the hardcover books. This is for any anime fan on your list. Here is the review for Volume 1 and Volume 2.

Katanagatari, Volume 1 Premium Edition Review
Katanagatari, Volume 2 Premium Edition Review

Wagnaria!!, Complete Series Premium Edition

Recommendation: Like Arakawa Under The Bridge, Wagnaria!! is filled with colorful characters and a great sense of humor that makes this series such a rare treat to watch. This one is for that hard-working friend who likes a good laugh. Check out our review here.

Wagnaria!!, Complete Series Premium Edition Review

ANIPLEX OF AMERICA

Oreimo, Limited Edition Box Set

Recommendation: Oreimo is like a love letter to the otaku culture as well as giving us a look at how other see otaku. Either way, this is one seriously entertaining and masterfully executed series with a lot to offer any anime fan who considers themselves otaku. Just take a look at the review.

Oreimo, Limited Edition Box Set Review

Blue Exorcist, Volume 1

Recommendation: Without a doubt, Blue Exorcist is one of those likable shonen series with a delightful supernatural twist we have seen before in other series. Thankfully, Blue Exorcist does it in its own style that makes this work thus making this a perfect gift for those who like a good supernatural-action tale. Here’s the review.

Blue Exorcist, Volume 1 Review

MEDIA BLASTERS/ANIME WORKS

Genshiken DX, TV Series One & OVA Collection

Recommendation: While this particular DVD collection was released a long while back, we got a chance to review it this year and we have quickly become Genshiken fans. The reason for that is simple: this is an engrossing and highly enjoyable series about the love for anime, manga, games, cosplay and everything else otaku. This is for the otaku in your life without a doubt. You can find the review right here.

Genshiken DX, TV Series One & OVA Collection Review

SEASONS GREETINGS

All of us here at Animanga Nation would like to wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving and a safe holiday shopping season to all of you. We are certainly grateful to all of you, our dear readers, as well as all the companies that drive his site forward now and into the future.

Katanagatari, Volume 2 Premium Edition – DVD/Blu-ray Review

Review by: Kiki Van de Kamp

Publisher: NIS America
MSRP: $69.99 US
Running Time: 308 minutes
Genre: Action/Romance
Rating: Teen
Release Date: Available Now

All good journeys must come to an end.

NIS America has certainly proved this year that it is more than capable of bringing anime fans quality animation and the proof is in offerings like Volume 1 of Katanagatari. The first volume of the series really made quite an impression but it is Volume 2 of the series that makes this a near perfect series that will have you on the edge of your seat as the curtains fall on this enchanting tale.

When a Strategemist with a lengthy title met the inheritor of a sword-less fighting style, it was clear that the pair were destined to go on a dangerous journey together. Their quest to collect the swords crafted by the legendary blacksmith, Shikizaki Kiki, will take them far and across distant lands. Of course, it’s not an easy task but the boy named Shichika is a talented fighter who actually enjoys being Togame’s “sword.”

So far they had managed to collect a few of the swords already as Shichika proved that he is a very capable fighter and Togame a very bright Strategemist. In the end of Volume 1, however, Shichika has met his match because his opponent is none other than his own sister, Nanami, who possesses one of the swords she obtained herself by way of slaughtering its protector. Sure Shichika loves his sister but his loyalty to Togame is surprisingly more important to him than family blood ties so he is willing to kill Nanami for the sword.

The fight does not go the way Shichika thought but Nanami is willing to give him another chance to slay her and take the sword. In a rematch that is nothing short of riveting, Shichika manages to not only obtain the sword but also get an invitation from Princess Denial by way of her trusted vassal, Souda Emon-Zaemon. As it turns out, Princess Denial and Togame have something of a history that is actually something akin to love-hate with emphasis on the second as far as Togame is concerned. Their little meeting has left Togame wonder just what is the Princess’ real agenda. Also, we finally find who was responsible for Togame’s misuse of the word “Cheerio!”

The pair continue on their quest to collect the remaining swords and find themselves realizing that the next sword is actually a mechanized doll called the Biyori Go programmed to patrol a nearby lake and kill any human that gets near it. The doll just so happens to be a deadly weapon that isn’t easy to defeat so Shichika relies on Togame to come up with a strategy that will defeat it. The result is a nail-biting sequence that is but one of many highlights of Volume 2.

Moving on, they encounter the next possessor of one of Shikizaki Kiki’s swords who happens to be an honorable swordswoman named Kiguchi Zanaki and master of the Shin’o Isso Ryu. She absolutely refuses to duel with Shichika unless he masters a wooden sword and offers to train the young man. As a result, Togame becomes increasingly jealous of the girl and her imagination goes to work overtime by imagining a tryst between the two. We know that Togame has feelings for Shichika but we didn’t know to what extent until now.

Meanwhile, the Maniwa Ninjun is still on their trail as the mysterious Emon-Zaemon manages to track them down individually and lock blades with them in battles to the death. Emon-Zaemon, we find out, is without mercy and a talented killer but the leader of the remaining ninja unit manages to get his hands on one of the Kiki swords that suddenly possesses him and turns the ninja into a killing machine.

Continuing on their journey, Togame has dreams of a grim past that is actually connected to Shichika’s father that explains everything. In the meantime, they meet Higaki Rinne a powerful sage that is 300 years old but appears as a little girl and happens to possess the next sword. Once collected, Shichika and Togame face off against the leader of the Maniwa who is possessed by the spirit of somebody unexpected.

We also learn a secret about the swords and the man who made them as – at journey’s end – a tragedy occurs that changes everything. Suddenly, Shichika becomes an avenging force as he confronts Princess Denial and, of course, Emon-Zaemon. I won’t reveal what happens since doing so will ruin one of the best surprises this series has thrown at us but the finale is both exciting and heartbreaking.

Volume 2 of Katanagatari is a fitting ending to a series that has all the makings of an instant classic as the story reaches a surprising, heartbreaking and exciting final chapter. Togame and Shichika’s journey was one that proved to be interesting and immensely appealing to follow from start to finish and even more so in this final volume. This is definitely a Must Have for anyone who enjoys a series with plenty of wit, action, romance and original animation.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A
The Strategemist Togame and her “living sword” Shichika continue their journey to collect the famous blacksmith’s swords. Of course, they encounter a number of obstacles to get these swords as they find the Maniwa ninja still after them and we finally meet Princess Denial and her deadly vassal named Emon-Zaemon.

VIDEO QUALITY: A+
The DVD version looks really good but if you have a Blu-ray player then I highly recommend you watch it the way it was meant to be seen since the animation is colorful and original. Everything from the backgrounds to the characters looks good.

AUDIO QUALITY: A-
Taku Iwasaki’s masterful score is just one of the highlights of the audio experience this series has provided from the start as well as the lovely closing theme songs like “Seeking A Lost Child.” Then there’s the voice acting with Yukari Tamura, Mai Nakahara and Yoshimasa Hosoya standing out among the already impressive cast.

EXTRAS: A
The Premium Edition set includes both the DVD and Blu-ray discs but the extras come in the form of the clean opening and closing animation on the discs. Of course, the real treat comes in the form of the xx-page hardcover book with artwork, poems, and episode guide as well as character design galleries. It’s great stuff that makes for a complete package with a lot to offer.

OVERALL: A
A near perfect ending to a near perfect anime series, Volume 2 of Katanagari is every bit as mesmerizing, enjoyable and meaningful as the first volume but this final chapter manages to be slightly better thanks to its heartbreaking and action-packed finale. As a whole, this series has not failed to surprise and keep us glued to our seats so if you bought the first volume then you do not want to miss Volume 2.

Review copy provided by NIS America

SECTION23 FILMS ANNOUNCES FEBRUARY SLATE

                

BROKEN BLADE Available on February 21st

HOUSTON, November 11, 2011 – Home video distributor Section23 Films today announced its February slate of releases; including BROKEN BLADE, The heavy metal mecha action series will be released on both DVD & Blu-Ray by Section23 client, Sentai Filmworks.

Product details follow, in order of release

Coming February 2012

Title: XAM’D: LOST MEMORIES COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 650 min.
Street Date: 2/7/2012
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $79.98

SYNOPSIS: Combining hard-hitting mecha action and fantastic supernatural elements, XAM’D is a thrilling new benchmark in anime. Set on a peaceful island during a violent terrorist attack, a young boy is suddenly transformed into a metal-cased mercenary. But with this great power comes even greater danger. Aiyuki must discover how to master this remarkable new power-or risk having this mysterious fusion of rock, metal and magic destroy him! Now available for the first time in a complete set, all of XAM’D’s breakthrough action can be yours in one awesome collection!

Title: XAM’D: LOST MEMORIES COMPLETE COLLECTION BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 650 min.
Street Date: 2/7/2012
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $89.98

SYNOPSIS: Combining hard-hitting mecha action and fantastic supernatural elements, XAM’D is a thrilling new benchmark in anime. Set on a peaceful island during a violent terrorist attack, a young boy is suddenly transformed into a metal-cased mercenary. But with this great power comes even greater danger. Aiyuki must discover how to master this remarkable new power-or risk having this mysterious fusion of rock, metal and magic destroy him! Now available for the first time in a complete set, all of XAM’D’s breakthrough action can be yours in one awesome collection!

Title: HELL GIRL: THREE VESSELS COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 650 min.
Street Date: 2/14/2012
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98

SYNOPSIS: Just when it seemed that Ai Enma was finally at peace, Yuzuki Mikage appears: the perfect host for Ai’s damned spirit to possess! Now, as the darkest secrets of the Hell Girl threaten to consume her, Yuzuki’s attempts to maintain her own humanity become ever more desperate as the world around her slowly shatters into a terrifying series of riddles. Why has she been drawn into the world of the Hell Correspondence? What is her relationship to Ai? And has her ultimate destiny already been predetermined? As the powers of the Hell Girl continue to grow inside her, Yuzuki’s very existence is now at stake. Who and what is she, really? The shocking secrets of her past will be unlocked, the tragedies of Ai’s will be revealed, and the torch of the Hell Girl may be passed in the shocking conclusion of the Hell Girl saga – HELL GIRL – THREE VESSELS – THE COMPLETE COLLECTION.

Title: BROKEN BLADE COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 2/21/2012
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98

SYNOPSIS: In Cruzon, children are born with the ability to control quartz. This power allows them to levitate simple objects-or control enormous and complex mobile battle suits called Golems. But when an ancient Golem is discovered during the height of a brutal war, a young king and his beautiful queen turn to Rygart Arrow. Though an “un-sorcerer”, Rygart can miraculously pilot this ancient and powerful weapon. But in war, school friends can turn into bitter enemies and allies have suspicious motives. Strap yourself in, power up, and prepare for the heavy metal mecha action of BROKEN BLADE!

Title: BROKEN BLADE COMPLETE COLLECTION BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 2/21/2012
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98

SYNOPSIS: In Cruzon, children are born with the ability to control quartz. This power allows them to levitate simple objects-or control enormous and complex mobile battle suits called Golems. But when an ancient Golem is discovered during the height of a brutal war, a young king and his beautiful queen turn to Rygart Arrow. Though an “un-sorcerer”, Rygart can miraculously pilot this ancient and powerful weapon. But in war, school friends can turn into bitter enemies and allies have suspicious motives. Strap yourself in, power up, and prepare for the heavy metal mecha action of BROKEN BLADE!

Title: A-CHANNEL COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 2/28/2012
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS Toru and Run have been best friends forever, so when Toru learns that she’s managed to get into the same high school as Run, she runs to tell her… only to find Run in a compromising position with yet another girl, Yuko. Needless to say, that makes things a bit awkward at school, with Toru fending off those who might be interested in Run while Yuko and their other girlfriend, Nagi, has to deal with Run’s own penchant for drama. But it’s not all angst all the time, and as the school year progresses the four girls and their many classmates find time to laugh, play and figure out how to handle the unexpected problems life likes to throw at the them. Like bugs in the house, accidentally giving each other horrible haircuts, freezing up at karaoke or forgetting to put your underwear on in the morning. When it comes to learning about the real world, there’s always something ‘educational’ to be found in A-CHANNEL: The Complete Collection.

About Section23 Films:
Section23 Films provides home video marketing and distribution services for a variety of companies, including Sentai Filmworks, Switchblade Pictures, Maiden Japan and AEsir Holdings. With its special focus on genre entertainment, Section23 Films distributes some of the very best anime, martial arts, and horror titles on the market today.

Clannad, Complete First Season – Blu-ray Review

Review by: Brenda Gregson

Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
MSRP: $89.98 US
Running Time: 600 minutes
Genre: Romance
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now

Like all anime classics, this one definitely deserves to be on Blu-ray.

I have to admit that I’m not a fan of those “broken girls” tear-jerkers of the Air and Kanon variety mainly because each one did manage to make me cry uncontrollably to the point that I couldn‘t even listen to the opening theme song without weeping. However, I couldn’t help but feel that they still don’t hold a candle to a certain series that had everything you can ask for in the genre. I’m talking about the Complete First Season of Clannad – an anime classic in every sense that will not fail to blow your mind on Blu-ray.

Clannad certainly qualifies to be labeled one of the “broken girls” tear-jerker romance series but there’s a reason this series in particular has developed quite a loyal fan base and that is that Clannad is the kind of series that balances all the right elements (comedy, drama, the surreal, the cute and romance) perfectly. Sure, there are times when the series lays on the drama a bit too thick but it more than makes up for it in other departments I’ll get into a bit later.

Covering all the 24 episodes that make up the first season of the series, Clannad introduces us to a delinquent named Tomoya Okazaki who has no love for his town and even less love for his school until – one day – he comes across a cute shy girl who grabs his attention. He comes to discover that she is Nagisa Furukawa, a girl who has lost a year of school due to illness and now knows nobody there. Suddenly, school has become an interesting place as Tomoya become involved in Nagisa’s life.

In fact, Tomoya even comes to help Nagisa fulfill one of her wishes, which just so happens to become a member of the Drama Club. The trouble is that the club was disbanded so the only thing the shy girl could do is resurrect the club in order to put on a play she has always dreamed of bringing to life on stage. So begins the pair’s mission to bring back the Drama Club as both start by trying to get new members to join the club in order to get it approved and reinstated into the list of clubs on campus. In order to do that, Tomoya must get Nagisa to open up and make friends.

Of course, this is not going to be easy either but Tomoya and Nagisa find that the school has a number of interesting people in it from Tomoya’s delinquent best friend, Youhei Sunahara, to tough girl Tomoyo Sakagami. They find that each cute female student has their strengths but also their weaknesses that Tomoya and Nagisa help them overcome. Then there’s the cute Fuko, a cute young girl whose biggest wish is that all the students in the school attend her older sister’s wedding. There’s a surprising twist in Fuko’s story that leads up to one of those tear-jerking moments I mentioned. Believe me; you’ll need a box of Kleenex nearby when this part of the story ends.

In another part of the story, we meet the cute Kotomi who dreams of playing the violin for everyone and she does … only horribly to the point of nearly shattering eardrums. Then there are the sisters, Kyou and Ryou who come to befriend Nagisa and Tomoya until they join the club. Unknowing to Tomoya, one of the sisters is actually in love with him. We even get to meet Youhei’s little sister, Mei, shows up to check up on her big brother.

As the pair go about bringing back the Drama Club and helping their classmates, both begin to change in unexpected ways but their pasts keep coming back to haunt them as well. Nagisa, for example, becomes more sociable but because she has always had a weak constitution, she becomes ill again. Meanwhile, Tomoya may have become a more responsible person but his future is still uncertain and his relationship with his father is still strained.

Yet love is what makes us stronger too and the affection both characters have for each another makes for some interesting situations such as when Tomoya comes to live with Nagisa’s family the includes a mom who makes awful pastries and a rough-yet-doting father. Half the fun is watching Tomoya and Nagisa try to come to terms with their growing feeling for one another.

Clannad’s biggest strength is in mixing up the drama, romance and comedy without coming off forced or cheesy. Yes, there are moments that will make you tear up but there are also moments that will make you laugh. The series occasionally gets too overly dramatic but it always falls back on its strengths and its colorful cast of characters. Even the OVA episode, an alternate universe twist where Tomoya is dating Tomoyo, is awesome.

In case you’re wondering, the Blu-ray set might not bring any new and updated extras to the three-discs but it’s hard to complain when the 24-episodes look sharp, colorful and gorgeous in high-definition. Here I thought the DVD version was good, this is the best way to experience a series with beautiful animation.

The Complete First Season of Clannad on Blu-ray is, by far, the one any anime collector should own. An utterly charming, heartbreaking and hauntingly beautiful series, Clannad is one of those instant anime classics that is simply too good to pass up and more so if you enjoy this genre. I really cannot recommend this one enough and more so now since it’s on Blu-ray.

BLU-RAY REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A+
Like most romance stories, a boy meets a girl but there’s more to it than that as the boy named Tomoya and the girl named Nagisa comes to be a part of the lives of an interesting array of characters. As Tomoya finds himself helping Nagisa bring back the Drama Club, the pair finds that their lives are changing for the better as they find life in this town isn’t so bad.

VIDEO QUALITY: A+
If there ever was an anime series that deserved to be seen in high-definition it is this series since the animation is colorful and beautifully detailed throughout. While the girls in the series are pure moe, you can’t help but fall in love with the setting and the cuteness of many of the scenes. This series just rocks on Blu-ray.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The music in the series is memorable and just as sweet as some of the characters but what really stands out are the performances. The original Japanese voice cast is simply impressive but, then again, the performances that Luci Christian and David Matranga pull off in this series are nothing short of brilliant.

EXTRAS: C+
Sure, there are some Sentai Filmworks trailers to be found as well as the clean opening and closing animation but the real treat here is the fact that the series is finally given the Blu-ray treatment.

OVERALL: A+
One of the more endearingly beautifully executed and entertaining romantic anime series out there, the Complete First Season Blu-ray release of Clannad is one that fans and any anime enthusiast should have in their collection. Simply put, Clannad is just one of those rare gems that still manage to outshine anime similar to it in just about every way. Consider this one a real Must Have.

Review copy provided by Sentai Filmworks