Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, Volume 2 Premium Edition – Blu-ray/DVD Review

Review by: Kiki Van De Kamp

Publisher: NIS America
MSRP: $69.99 US
Running Time: 273 minutes
Genre: Romance/Comedy
Rating: E (Everyone)
Release Date: Available Now

Love has its positive and negative sides but we can all get by with a little help from your friends.

It’s hard to make friends when you look like you came straight out of a terrifying Japanese horror movie when you try to smile and it doesn’t help that the entire school has spread a rumor that you can curse anybody just by looking at them. This was Sawako Kuronuma life until a boy named Shota Kazehaya decided to talk to her and open up a new world for her as she discovers a number of “firsts” including friendship. Now, in Volume 2 of Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, Sawako is about to experience something else that will have her at odds with another girl.

In the last volume of the series, a number of awful rumors have spread across the school like wildfire and most of it was directed at Sawako and her two new closest friends, Ayane Yano and Chizuru Yoshida. Of course, since Ayane and Chizuru both found out how Sawako truly feels about the pair, the two girls decide to look into the matter themselves as their investigation leads them to only one prime suspect we knew all along … Ume Kurumizawa. Unfortunately, Sawako thinks the beautiful and seemingly sweet girl is her friend.

Having hatched a plan to make Sawako look bad in the eyes of Kazehaya who she is so obviously in love with since junior high, Ume leads Kazehaya to where Sawako and his closes friend, Ryu Sanda, are talking intimately. Kazehaya is completely unaware that Sawako is talking to Ryu about new feeling stirring within her concerning Kazehaya while Ryu confesses his true feelings towards Chizuru. Unexpectedly, Kazehaya grabs Sawako and leads her away so they can talk in private … an act that infuriates Ume. Oh yeah, her plan has practically blown up in her face!

It is in this private moment together that Sawako comes to realize that those mixed up feelings she was telling Ryu about are something else even more special. Since Sawako never really experience what it is like to fall in love with a boy, she didn’t know what to make of it until now as she explains to Kazehaya that she and Ryu are just friends. Meanwhile, a very angry Ume is humiliated when the hilarious physical education teacher, Mr. Arai, comes to the conclusion that Ume is in love with him. Now everyone in school believes the girl has a crush on the teacher they all call Pin.

All things come into the open when Chizuru and Ayane confront Ume about her plans and the girl finally reveals the truth behind her plan. Defeated and humiliated, Ume finds herself confessing to Sawako who just can’t believe the girl was capable of such a horrible and selfish plan. It is through her tears that Ume explains why she had fallen in love with Kazehaya and – in a strange way – they both share the same reason why they are so attracted to him. Oh yeah, Sawako not only loses a friend but gains a rival.

As Sawako continues to relish her friendship with Chizuru and Ayane, she finds herself getting closer to Kazehaya and looking forward to seeing him whenever she can, which – thanks to her two close friends who realize the truth about Sawako’s feelings – is becoming more frequent. As they hang out together one evening, a moment between Sawako and Kazehaya almost becomes a clumsy first attempt at both revealing their feelings.

While it’s still a blast to see how the relationship between Kazehaya and Sawako unfolds, Volume 2 focuses on another interesting relationship that practically steals the show. You see, in the first volume we find out that Chizuru has always considered Ryu to be something like a brother since they grew up together. Somewhere along the line, Ryu has developed feelings for the tomboyish girl but has not gotten around telling her for one major reason. You see, Chizuru is in love with Ryu’s older brother, Toru.

As it turns out, Toru shows up when Chizuru, Sawako and Ayane show up at Ryu’s place. The girl is excited to see him but the joy of seeing the boy she loves turns to disappointment when Toru drops a major bomb. Chizuru should be devastated by the news but – as Ayane and Sawako could see – the girl acts as if nothing happened. Hilariously, Ayane and Sawako want to comfort the girl who seems to be in a state of denial but just don’t know how to go about it. Instead, both girls cry and call themselves useless each time they see Chizuru.

However, both girls get good advice from Kazehaya that tells them sometimes the best thing to do is to just be there for a friend and nothing else. As it turns out, Toru shows up again as a flood of memories come crashing down on both of them and Ryu as we look into the relationship between the three. This is, quite possibly, one of the best parts of the series as it does not fail to convey genuine emotion and despite the heartbreak this part of the story even contains plenty of the humor we have come to expect from the series.

Finally, the series shifts back to Sawako and Kazehaya after the Chizuru story comes to a close as Christmas is here and Kazehaya suggest that they should hold a Christmas party for all the single students in their classroom, which is the majority of them. Sawako wants to go but she can’t quite bring herself to ask her parents since her father is excited about having a little family Christmas. However, Kazehaya wants to see her but will that alone be enough for Sawako to tell her parents she wants to spend the holiday with her friends and Kazehaya?

This second volume continues to be just as endearing as the first chapter in the series and that’s actually a very good thing. Once again, it is the characters that are part of what makes the series such a joy to watch and the humor that is never zany or over-the-top crazy. Yes, this is a shoujo series but it never shoves the romance elements in our faces but, rather, gradually has us realize how the characters feel about each another.

As a result, Volume 2 of Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You deserves a place among your collection, romance-comedy fans, and for many reasons too. It certainly won’t change the way we look at this genre but there’s much to say about a series that puts characters and story first and adds plenty of humor to its sweet romantic theme. If the first volume didn’t convince you this is a great series then this one will certainly do the trick.

BLU-RAY/DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A-
Ume’s plans to make Sawako look bad in the eyes of Kazehaya blow up in her face as Ayane and Chizuru’s investigation into the matter turns up the truth behind the beautiful girl. Meanwhile, Sawako comes to a realization about her feelings for Kazehaya as her friend, Chizuru, becomes heartbroken when Ryu’s brother, Toru, drops a major bomb when he comes t visit. Also, with Christmas coming up, will Sawako get a chance to celebrate it with her new friends?

VIDEO QUALITY: A+
Still a very visually pleasing series that looks absolutely gorgeous on Blu-ray just as it does on DVD; the series captures the endearing artwork of the manga and that is a very good thing. If you have the means, this series deserves to be seen on an HD setup.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The voice acting in the series is still topnotch with Mamiko Noto, Miyuki Sawashiro and Yuko Sanpei being the voice actors that stand out among the great voice cast. The music is still perfect for a shoujo series and the opening and closing theme songs are not only sweet they’re downright catchy.

EXTRAS: A
The Premium Edition, of course, comes in a lovely two-sided collectible packaging and both the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the series. There are a few extras on the discs themselves such as a few NIS America trailers but the best extra continues to be the hardcover book containing character artwork, scenery collection and episode synopsis.

OVERALL: A-
Volume 2 of Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You never once loses its charming and genuinely fun sense of humor and continues to be a series that never tries to be anything different. Instead, relies on its great story and delightful cast of characters that never come off as one-dimensional. Trust me when I say that this series is one fans of the genre will not be disappointed by in the very least.

Review copy provided by NIS America

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Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos – Blu-ray/DVD Review

Review by: Brenda Gregson

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $34.98 US (Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack)
Running Time: 110 minutes
Genre: Action
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now

The Elric brothers are back but this time they’re caught in the middle of a new bloody conflict.

When it first came out in movie theaters in Japan, I – alongside a number of Fullmetal Alchemist fans – was worried what Fullmetal Alchemist: Conqueror of Shamballa would mean for the story we have all come to love. Sure, the ending of the original series was left open but in this reviewer’s eye, it was a perfect ending to a perfect series. Thankfully, the movie was actually quite a success with a good story to boot. Several years later, we find ourselves not only introduced to the Brotherhood series but also another movie.

Fullmetal Alchemist fans, we found a lot to love about the Brotherhood version of the story of two brothers looking to right a wrong they committed out of desperation and love and you will find a lot to love about Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos, a full-length animated film that reunites us with the Elric brothers once again.

The story introduces us to the country of Creta that is set ablaze as its citizens are being shot dead by the military of a new regime. In the middle of all this chaos and death is the Crichton family who hurries to meet a military attachment waiting to whisk them away from their homeland as their daughter, Julia, watches her people die and curse her family for abandoning them. You see, Julia’s parents are talented alchemists doing important research that even Julia’s older brother, Ashleigh, sees as important. Unfortunately, one night, Julia and Ashleigh walk in on the horrific murder of their parent and suddenly life changes for Julia.

Several years later, back in Amestris territory somewhere near Central, Edward and Alphonse Elric are about to enjoy the festivities of the Harvest Festival when an explosion rocks the city. As a State Alchemist, Ed is compelled to look into the matter with his armored brother only to encounter a young man dressed like a prisoner. This is clearly a jailbreak but, as Ed quickly finds out, the young man also happens to be a talented alchemist as well and uses alchemy to escape.

Since they are considered witnesses, Colonel Roy Mustang and Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye have the Elric brothers investigate this unusual case. You see, the young man – named Melvin Voyager – who served four of his five-year prison sentence and about to be paroled when he decided to stage this prison break. His reasons might be connected to a newspaper clipping involving a girl named Julia Crichton who was arrested illegally entering Amestris territory via Table City.

So Ed and Al decide to hop on a train and head to Table City without even telling Colonel Mustang or even Winry Rockbell who shows up to look for Ed and Al. Meanwhile, on the train, Amestris soldiers spring a trap against Cretan spies onboard including a Chimera who goes up against Ed on the rooftop of the moving train. On top of that, a terrorist group calling themselves the Black Bats since they glide across the sky with black glider-like wings attacks the train and even Melvin manages to jump into the scene and use alchemy to rip open the prison walls to free Julia Crichton.

It is Alphonse who manages to save Julia when things hairy but when they both fall down to the valley below it is Melvin who saves them both. He also reveals to Julia that he is really Ashleigh Crichton … her brother who she thought was killed that night with their parents. Taking Al prisoner, the people living in the squalor are people that Julia knows well and is protecting. She also has a connection with the Black Bats, especially their leader who is a woman named Miranda. It is down in the valley that Alphonse comes to learn that these are the people of Milos who once inhabited Creta before the land was overtaken by the Amestris military. Now, Julia and a group of rebels are looking to overthrow their oppressors and reclaim their country.

Meanwhile, Ed ignores Major Peter Soyuz who controls the area with his Amestris troops along with the mysterious masked military commander. Ed makes it down to the valley where he finds who these people live and why they fight but with the Chimera attacking it is clear that they are after somebody. Once reunited with Al, however, the Elric brothers realize that Julia and her people are searching for the only weapon that could help them save their land.

This weapon comes in the form of a mythological sacred stone of Milos otherwise known as the Sacred Star or the Stone of Immortality. To Ed and Al, this stone sounds suspiciously like the Philosopher’s Stone and even more so when Julia mentions the Doorway of Truth that both boys are very familiar with and know well. Convinced that Julia and her people are pursuing a dangerous power that could result in the deaths of thousands, the Elric brothers decide to tag along in a final push to locate the Sacred Stone.

The result is an exciting and massive battle as hidden truths are uncovered and some shocking twists are revealed in the best way possible as things not only heat up but also gets downright bloody. In fact, The Sacred Star of Milos is quite violent, which makes the action scenes truly intense and this film certainly has its share of action and battles.

Then there’s the animation that looks absolutely gorgeous enough that you really do need to see this on Blu-ray. Everything from Table City to the action scenes look impressive enough that you feel like you are watching a major film rather than just an episode from the original series or Brotherhood. Add the great voice acting in the series such as Romi Park as Ed Elric in the original Japanese or the excellent English dub cast that reprise their roles (Maxey Whitehead now handles the voice Alphonse) and you have a great Fullmetal Alchemist experience.

My biggest complaint is more of a fan girl gripe with the fact that characters like Mustang, Hawkeye, Winry and even a super short cameo appearance of Alex Armstrong are brief to the point that they don’t play much of a role at all. Even though Mustang, Hawkeye and Winry head to Table City to aid the Elric brothers, their role is so minimal that they might as well not have showed up at all. Of course, this doesn’t distract from the movie’s overall appeal. It’s a great story and it is written well enough, realizing it is more of a side story rather than part of the main story scene in both TV series.

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos is a completely engrossing action-filled animated feature film that offers an adventure that makes us glad to see Edward and Alphonse Elric once again. While longtime fans of the series will be disappointed by the fact that familiar favorites don’t play a big role in this movie, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the story is intense and exciting enough to keep us glued to our seats. Fullmetal Alchemist fans, you do not want to miss this second and very engaging movie.

BLU-RAY/DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B+
Years after the murder of her parents, Julia Crichton resurfaces and is arrested attempting to illegally enter Amestris territory and this action compels a prison inmate named Melvin to escape jail. Hot in the escapee’s trail, Ed and Alphonse Elric head to Table City where they not only meet Julia but also find out that she is a big part in a plot to overthrow the government that has enslaved her people. In the middle of all of this, however, the Elric brothers realize that Julia and Melvin are searching for a mythical sacred stone that sounds very familiar to them.

VIDEO QUALITY: A+
Like the first FullMetal Alchemist movie, The Sacred Star of Milos is a visually stunning movie that does not fail to impress. Then again, what do you expect from talented folks at BONES? This is also a violent and bloody film that makes this a somewhat different FullMetal Alchemist story.

AUDIO QUALITY: A+
The original voice cast from the Brotherhood series is back and both the original Japanese and the English dub performances are simply outstanding whether it’s Maxey Whitehead as Alphonse or Alexis Tipton as Julia and the original score by Tarou Iwashiro is just as beautiful as the animation. Add the theme song “Good Luck My Way” by L’Arc-en-Ciel and the opening song, “Chasing Hearts” by miwa and you have a movie with plenty of ear candy as well.

EXTRAS: A
This release of the movie includes both the DVD and Blu-ray versions and a few extras that come in the form of five theatrical trailers, web promos, TV spots, a few FUNimation trailers an audio commentary track that has ADR Director Mike McFarland speaking with members of the cast that include Maxey Whitehead, Colleen Clinkenbeard, Caitlyn Glass, Travis Willingham and Matt Mercer.

Also includes is a Fullmetal Alchemist: Making of Sacred Star of Milos feature that has Romi Park (the Japanese voice of Ed) and Rie Ouguiya (voice of Alphonse) take us through the making of the film from the production side to the animators and finally the voice acting recording. It’s a very interesting feature, especially since it is detailed enough that anyone interested in animation will find a lot to digest.

OVERALL: B+
An intense and action-packed animated film, The Sacred Star of Milos is a different kind of Fullmetal Alchemist story and one that certainly deserves a place among your collection especially if you’re a fan of the series. Sadly, fan favorite characters are reduced to walk-on roles but with an exciting and well-told tale featuring the Elric brothers it is hard to complain and more so when the film is filled with more than enough memorable moments worth savoring.

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

Infinite Stratos, Complete Collection – DVD Review

Review by: Clive Owen

Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
MSRP: $59.98 US
Running Time: 325 minutes
Genre: Action/Comedy
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now

Some guys are just born lucky, I guess.

For some young men it would be a dream come true to attend a school where you’re the only boy and even more so if all the girls are all interested in you but, then again, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing as we can see from the complicated and stressful life of one Ichika Orimura. This is just part of the entertaining albeit familiar story that makes up the Complete Collection of Infinite Stratos.

Told in 12 episodes plus an OVA episode, the series introduces us to a future where Japan created a new armored exoskeleton designed for modern warfare but the catch is that – somehow – the technology could only be operated by women. Yet somehow, for reasons the series doesn’t really explain, a boy named Ichika Orimura is able to use this technology knows as Infinite Stratos (or simply IS). Not only has he become world famous because of it but he was encouraged to take an entrance exam to attend the famous Infinite Stratos Academy.

To his great fortune and misfortunate, IS Academy is filled with young girls his age who immediately know who he is thanks to all the attention he received from the media. On top of that, Ichika also finds out that his attractive childhood friend, Houki Shinonono, who he hasn’t seen for several years, is in the same classroom as him. Yes, all the attention he gets from all the girls is nice and even the busty homeroom teacher’s assistant is cute but it’s hard to enjoy a moment’s peace when your no-nonsense big sister is the homeroom teacher. Unlike her brother, Chifuyu Orimura, is a serious person who also happens to be something of a celebrity seeing as she dominated the IS world tournament.

Then there’s Cecilia Alcott, England’s representative in the academy and a top contender when it comes to piloting an IS who suddenly sets her sights on Ichika in a negative way. Challenging the boy to an IS duel for the right to be Class President, it becomes clear that Ichika might not understand the fundamentals of what and IS is capable of but he has a natural talent for piloting one. Aside from that, his own personal IS – called the Byakushiki – is a powerful piece of hardware that shows its true setting during the duel with Cecilia.

As a result of taking down Cecilia, however, Ichika gains yet another girl who takes an interest in him much to Houki’s annoyance since she’s clearly never stopped thinking about him. Then a new transfer student from China arrives, she is Rin Fan who also happens to be a childhood friend since their junior high days. Rin also happens to be in love with Ichika and that fact is obvious from the minute she greets him. However, Rin is rather upset that a totally oblivious Ichika didn’t get the meaning behind a promise he made her a long time ago. As a result, they battle it out using there is when an unidentified rogue IS appears and both Rin and Ichika must work together to stop it.

With the threat out of the way, we are introduced to yet another transfer student who creates quite a buzz because this new student is introduced as a French boy named Charles Dunois who – like Cecilia – comes from an aristocratic family. Ichika is happy that he’s not the only male student in the academy but there’s something funny about the attractive young Charles but the arrival of a German transfer student by the name of Laura Bodewig who hates Ichika for reasons that involve Chifuyu. Houki – realizing that she now has way too many rivals for Ichika’s affections, declares that if she wins the upcoming tournament that she alone has the right to date him.

The series doesn’t really play up the tournament in a rather unexpected way and the fact that all the girls are paired up with Houki and Laura forced to team up and face off against Ichika and his partner Charles. I won’t go into details on what happens during the tournament but afterwards Charles’ secret is exposed and even though we know said secret it’s revelation is still wildly entertaining.

Oh but the ladies in Ichika’s life have a tendency to start off as aggressive towards him and end up his admirers and Laura is no different as she comically announces that Ichika is her “bride” and pursues the young man. We’ve seen this all before in other harem themed anime series and there’s nothing really new here as well. Add a trip to the beach and we have ourselves an excuse to see all the girls in hot bikinis while trying hard to catch Ichika’s attention.

My biggest complaint are the battle scenes using the IS and that’s mainly because the armored exoskeletons are rendered in rather poorly animated CG. They look so clunky in action that it reminds me of those pre-PlayStation role-playing games of yesteryear. Otherwise, the rest of the animation works and for a series with attractive girls – a few of them busty beauties – the fan service is kept at a minimum although there are a few nude scenes.

Despite all the familiar trappings that make up this genre and the visually unimpressive CG, Infinite Stratos still manages to be genuinely funny and likeable to the point that you will certainly appreciate its humor, fun characters and decent storytelling. The series has an excellent voice cast, particularly when it comes to the English dub cast that does a great job with all the accents (especially when it comes to Charles and Laura) and Monica Rial who does a brilliant job conveying Houki’s frustration with Ichika and her inability to confess her feeling for him.

Also included is the OVA episode that acts as the perfect epilogue to the final episode and although it doesn’t really add to the story it is fun to see Ichika and the girls together again. Even better, however, we finally get to see Ichika and Houki alone at last. Well, sort of but it makes for a great ending scene. On top of that, this Complete Collection set includes a number of awesome extras as well.

The Complete Collection of Infinite Stratos will not revolutionize the genre nor does it take the harem theme to newer heights but what it does do is tell a very charming and downright likeable story that very easily grabs a hold of you long enough to show you a very good time. Yes, we’ve seen this kind of series before but Infinite Stratos manages to win you over with its comedy and a completely oblivious male lead who doesn’t know what to make of his situation. Consider this one a guaranteed good time worth checking out.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B
For years the only gender able to pilot the revolutionary exoskeleton-like armor knows as the IS were women but somehow a boy named Ichika Orimura has become the only male able to pilot one. Now enrolled in the Infinite Stratos Academy filled with an all-girl faculty and student body, Ichika finds himself not only attempting to survive the training but also all the girls who have taken a very keen interest in him such as his childhood friends, two aristocrats and a hard-as-nails German student.

VIDEO QUALITY: B-
The animation is actually decent enough and the series is actually surprisingly light on the fan service, although there are a few panty shots, a bathing scene and the obligatory beach bikini episode. Unfortunately, the action, especially when the IS are involved, makes use of CG that makes the armored battles look awkward rather than cool.

AUDIO QUALITY: A+
The voice acting in the series is actually handled brilliantly by both casts whether it’s the great performances from the original Japanese cast or the over-the-top work that the impressive English dub cast pulls off. I love Yoko Hikase but Monica Rial injects even more emotion into Houki’s personality. Then there’s Josh Grelle, Luci Christian, Tiffany Grant and Shannon Emerick who are just as amazing. Then there’s the music in the series that is excellent and you have to love both the opening theme song and the two closing theme songs (sung by Yoko Hikase).

EXTRAS: A+
The DVD Complete Collection set comes packed with plenty of extras that include a bonus CD with various members of the Japanese cast performing songs like the opening theme song “SUPER STREAM” as well as some great originals. The two main DVDs also include audio commentary tracks for Episode 4, 7 and 12. The first commentary has Yoko Hikase (voice of Houki) chatting with Asami Shimoda (voice of Rin Fan) while the commentary for Episode 7 has Hikase and Kana Hanazawa (voice of Charles) engaging in a fun chat about the characters. Finally, the Episode 12 commentary has Hikase and the talented Yukana (voice of Cecilia) talking about the final episode.

Also included are the clean opening and closing animation as well as a few Sentai Filmworks trailers but the collection also includes an OVA episode that has the girls visiting Ichika in his home. There’s also a bonus DVD with extras like the Infinite Stratos Behind the Scenes feature that has Kana Hanazawa give us a tour of the studio plus interview Director Yashuhito Kikuchi. Finally, the “Radio IS” feature is video of Hikase and Shimoda doing their temporary internet radio show for the series as they chat with Yukana.

OVERALL: B
An engaging and genuinely funny series from start to finish, Infinite Stratos doesn’t even try to be a different kind of harem series with cool armored suits but, in the end, it still manages to be a fun series that doesn’t take itself too seriously. As a result, Infinite Stratos ends up being a series with nothing new to offer but still has enough good things going for it anyway.

Review copy provided by Sentai Filmworks

Blue Exorcist, Volume 3 – DVD Review

Review by: Felicia Day

Publisher: Aniplex of America
MSRP: $37.48 US
Running Time: 150 minutes
Genre: Action/Supernatural
Rating: 13+
Release Date: Available Now

What would you do if your friend was the son of Satan?

It is not easy being Rin Okumura and even more so if you happen to discover his unusual secret that not only haunts the boy but also inspires him to take on one of the most challenging and dangerous quests … to kill his father who just so happens to be Satan himself. Oh but what would happen if those closest to him finds out this very secret? How will the take the news and how will Rin deal with its aftermath? Welcome to Volume 3 of Blue Exorcist as things are about to get very interesting in the Academy.

It was an eventful semester for Rin, to say the least, but he managed to survive it with his fellow classmates who join him as newly ranked ExWires. Summer has come and so has the break period as many students head home. Rin finds out that he’s not the only one not going home – mainly because his “home” happens to be a convent – as he finds some classmates also staying in academy grounds. Rin’s twin brother, Yukio, sees this as a perfect opportunity for those who stayed to go on a field trip to the forest. Well, it’s not so much a field trip as it is another training camp event.

Rin, Shiemi, Bon, Shima, Izumo and Konehomaru join Yukio and the new busty addition to the academy faculty, Shura Kirigakure, as they are given a task they must complete within three days. The task is to find a lantern somewhere in the forest, light it and keep it lit as they make their way back to base camp. It sounds simple enough but the forest is overrun by demons and the lanterns are not what they all think they are so this will not be a simple stroll in the woods. Before they head out, Shura tells Rin not to carelessly unleash his blue flames no matter how convenient it is to use the Koma Sword.

There’s a close call when Rin does flash his sword to save Shiemi from demon moths and Rin finds himself joining his friends in completing the task. For the first time, the boy finds himself enjoying teamwork especially with a group who sees him as a friend. Even Bon, who gave Rin a hard time in the beginning of the semester, sees him as a good friend. As a result of this teamwork, they carry out the task successfully. On top of that, Rin learns from Bon that he shouldn’t take things on alone because he has them.

Unfortunately, Mephisto Pheles’ impulsive brother, Amaimon is still determined to bring out the demon in Rin and interrupts the festive moment by attacking. Using Shiemi to antagonize Rin, the boy sees no other choice than to unleash his blue flames and thus exposing the secret he has hiding from his classmates. It’s a terrifying sight to see Rin in this way but Bon and the others decide to help Rin anyway. However, it is clear that they are no match for the demon and they could see that Rin has finally given Amaimon what he really wanted and that is a challenge worthy of the power the demon possesses.

Unfortunately, Rin loses control during the fight and although Amaimon is whisked away from the battlefield, another problem arises in the form of Arthur Auguste Angel, a Senior Exorcist First Class that came straight from the Vatican to take Rin and Mephisto into custody and be taken before a disciplinary hearing. With Mephisto on trail for brining a spawn from Satan into the grounds of the True Cross Academy, it is clear that Rin’s life is in danger. Surely, they will not allow a son of Satan to be free.

Meanwhile, Rin’s classmates are determined to save their classmate despite the fact that Yukio has revealed everything about his brother. They go on a mission to repair the Koma Sword that has been cracked during the battle with Amaimon and the only one who can repair it is a cute swordsmith that Bon knows since he was the one that recognized the Koma Sword by its other name … the Kurikara.

Luckily, Bon and the others in time to help Rin when Amaimon, still upset by his battle with Rin, comes for Round 2 and thus putting everyone’s life in danger. Oh, this fight has a different outcome but not before Mephisto makes a deal with the Grigori concerning Rin. They accept his proposal, which will certainly mean that nothing will be the same for Rin again.

In the aftermath of the battle and trial, Rin finds that his classmates don’t quite see him in the same light as they did before the trip. In fact, Konekomaru seems to be afraid of Rin for reasons connected to the boy’s past and that horrifying day Satan attacked prominent temples. As Rin undergoes new training from Yukio and Shura that caters to his particular power, a demon attacks him but where is Konekomaru during all of this? This attack also poses a very important question: how was it able to get through the powerful barrier that protects the academy?

Rin manages to see the demon behind the attack but the second question is one that Shura investigates and comes up with a most interesting clue. Meanwhile, Rin makes a discovery about his friends and what he means to them now that they know his secret. Still, despite all of the problems, the group has time to celebrate the birthday of one of their own … who comically comes to some wrong conclusions about why her friends are so secretive around her.

Once again, the series certainly knows how to play up the action and drama without sacrificing the humor that makes us like all the characters even more.

Volume 3 of Blue Exorcist continues to keep you fastened to your seat in a thrill ride that continues to be well worth the price of admission. A big secret is revealed in this third chapter as Rin finds himself dealing with its aftermath and attempting to survive the upcoming semester as new threats arise. Blue Exorcist fans, this series hasn’t disappointed so far and things are looking all the more enticingly entertaining so strap yourself in again and hang on because this ride is just getting really good.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A-
Surviving his first semester in the academy, Rin and his fellow ExWire classmates find themselves attending a field trip into the forest where they are tested once again. However, Amaimon shows up and forces Rin to reveal his biggest secret about himself. As a result, Mephisto and Rin and put on trial and things around the academy will get very interesting.

VIDEO QUALITY: A-
The animation in the series is lively and colorful and the fighting scenes in this volume are loads of fun to watch so expect a visually exciting six episodes in this particular volume. This series would have rocked on Blu-ray but it still looks great on DVD.

AUDIO QUALITY: B+
The new opening theme song, “In My World” by ROOKiEZ PUNK’D is awesome and although I miss the last closing theme song, “Wired Life” is a nice tune. In these episodes the cast continues to shine and this time Nobuhiko Okamoto (as Rin) is especially outstanding.

EXTRAS: B
You’ll find the usual assortment of extras in this release including some Aniplex trailers, Web Previews for the series as well as the textless opening and closing theme songs. The best extras come in the form of the VRA-Ex bonus shorts with one involving Shima and his fear of insects and another about Izumo and her secret love for cats like Kuro.

OVERALL: A-
The secret about Rin is out and this makes Volume 3 of Blue Exorcist an exciting few episodes that will change everything for the son of Satan and his closest friends. Rin deals with a lot of problems in this third installment and, thankfully, the series shows no signs of slowing down to the point that you cannot help but be swept up by the story. We cannot wait for Volume 4 now.

Review copy provided by Aniplex of America

Princess Jellyfish, The Complete Series – Blu-ray/DVD Review

Review by: Sophie Stevens

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $69.98 US (Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack)
Running Time: 275 minutes
Genre: Comedy/Romance
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now

Sometimes it takes a guy in a dress to show us that everyone can be beautiful.

Life has a funny way of telling a person that sometimes it takes a single life-changing event to make you realize what really is important to you and that this important thing is worth fighting for no matter the cost. This is the lesson I learned from The Complete Series of Princess Jellyfish … an anime series unlike any I have seen and I have seen a lot as an anime reviewer, believe me. So like an art critic that stumbles upon a true masterpiece or a food critic who tastes a culinary marvel, I found myself singing the praises of this series that will not fail to make you realize again why we love anime.

If this sounds like I’m over exaggerating, please bear with me because I will tell you why Princess Jellyfish has made quite an impression on this occasionally overcritical reviewer. You see, the series introduces us to a girl named Tsukimi Kurashita whose fondest memory was going to the Enoshima Aquarium with her mother as they tour the jellyfish exhibits. Her mother’s words are encouraging as she tells her little girl that all girls will eventually grow up to become beautiful princesses and that on the day Tsukimi decides to get married she will make a wedding dresses that resembles a jellyfish.

Several years later, Tsukimi doesn’t exactly consider herself a princess or beautiful as she lives in Tokyo trying to make it as an illustrator. She finds herself living comfortably in a communal home with a group of likeminded young women her age who would fall under the otaku or NEET category without any trouble. These young women see themselves as a Sisterhood living in something akin to a nunnery (including a sign that says NO BOYS ALLOWED) as they bask in their hobbies. There’s Mayaya who is obsessed with all things concerning The Three Kingdoms and Banban who wears her hair in an afro and loves trains. Then there’s the soft-spoken Jiji who has a fondness for old men and Chieko who loves kimonos and her collection of creepy dolls.

One day, Tsukimi encounters a store that happens to shelter a rescue jellyfish that she herself is trying to save from the shop employee who clearly doesn’t know anything about caring for them. Of course, it’s hard to talk to a boy without turning to stone (a reoccurring gag in series) but a beautiful young girl in stylish clothes appears and lends a hand. Interestingly enough, Tsukimi ends up not only inviting the girl into her room but Tsukimi also finds out a startling fact about the beauty … she is really a he in drag!

Meet Kuranosuke, the softly handsome young son of a Japanese politician who wears women’s clothing for reasons that the series slowly reveals. Tsukimi finds herself suddenly getting over her shyness around men because Kuranosuke continues to insist on visiting her dressed as a girl. Sure, she looks like a member of the Stylish (the Sisterhood’s term for women obsessed with stylish brand name clothing) but Kuranosuke’s presence in the house has an almost uplifting effect on the rest of the sisters.

One day, visiting his mansion, Tsukimi is suddenly given a major makeover that brings out the girl’s beauty that was always there and while she runs off embarrassed by the sight of her new look she catches the eye of Kuranosuke’s older brother, Shu. It is clear that Shu is smitten by the girl and when his brother has him take her clothes to the communal home known as Amamizu-kan, he encounters Tsukimi changed back to her old self and he doesn’t even recognize her. Shu isn’t the only one who is smitten, we find out, but if he doesn’t even recognize Tsukimi as the same beauty that was in his brother’s room things will certainly get complicated.

As it turns out, Amamizu-kan is one of many buildings on that block that is targeted by a redevelopment project that will turn the communal home into a ritzy hotel. Heading the project is a sultry young woman named Shoko Inari who uses her incredible body and attractive looks to get poor saps into signing on for the project. Of course, Tsukimi and her sisters do not want to leave the comfort of their home and so they even allow themselves to be dolled up by Kuranosuke who inspires the girls to attend the redevelopment project meeting to protest. Unfortunately, the Sisterhood suffers from a number of social phobias that have them too shocked to speak up.

Meanwhile, the sexy Shoko sets her sights on Shu and seduces him to the point of getting some good blackmail pictures of them together. This confuses Shu who has his own personality quirk connected to women and a traumatic event in his past that his friend and chauffer, Hanamori, knows well. It is Hanamori who sends a friend to find out more about this Shoko Inari as well as look into Tsukimi who he knows has captivated his friend.

Still determined to help them save Amamizu-kan, Kuranosuke convinced the ladies to try to save their home in different way. In order to do it that way, however, they need funds and they set out to do it in a way that will put all the sisters to work and unleash Tsukimi’s creativity … and love of jellyfish.

Princess Jellyfish isn’t just a love story, although there’s certainly great chemistry between Tsukimi, Kuranosuke and Shu. There’s a great moment between the three when they all go to the aquarium that proves it. The series, however, pushes the comedy and does so in a way that isn’t just quirky fun and each character’s personality just adds to the hilarity. This is all certainly due to the great writing, especially for the English dub, as well as the great performances by voice actors. Monica Rial as Mayaya, for instance, is simply over-the-top hilarious.

Oh yeah, this series definitely deserves a second season for sure.

The Complete Series of Princess Jellyfish takes you to a place that will remind you how amazing anime can be and why you love it in the first place. Anime this brilliant doesn’t come along very often but when it does you appreciate it and seeing as everything from the story, characters and animation is flawlessly handled you will most certainly find yourself absolutely addicted to it from the very beginning. I don’t think there should be a second season but rather there has to be one. It’s just that amazing.

BLU-RAY/DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A+
Growing up with a fondness for jellyfish and the belief that all girls will grow up to be beautiful princesses, Tsukimi feels she is anything but beautiful as she lives in a communal building with a collection of otaku outcasts just like her. Then Tsukimi meets a beautiful girl who actually turns out to be a boy in drag who suddenly changes Tsukimi’s life and those of her friends change in order to save their home from being demolished.

VIDEO QUALITY: A+
Princess Jellyfish is also a visually impressive anime series with gorgeous animation that certainly will not fail to keep your eyes glued to the screen. There are certainly a number of visual references, sight gags and a brilliant opening animation sequence complete with plenty of nods to movies such as Star Wars, Mary Poppins and The Graduate. You have to see this on Blu-ray but the DVD looks just as good.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The voice acting in the series, whether it’s the original Japanese voice cast or the English dub, is fantastic no matter what language you decide to watch this series. For my money, the entire English dub cast is spectacular with standout performances from Maxey Whitehead and Monica Rial. The opening theme song, “Kododake no Hanashi” by CHATMONCHY is awesome and the closing theme song from harbormaster is not bad at all.

EXTRAS: A+
This Limited Edition set comes complete with both the DVD and Blu-ray but also extras such as the clean opening and closing animation, the U.S. Trailer for the series and two Japanese Promotional Videos for the release as well as a few FUNimation trailers. Also included are two audio commentary tracks for Episode 1 and Episode 11 both with Voice Director Christopher Bevins. In the first commentary, Bevins is accompanied by Maxey Whitehead (Tsukimi) and Josh Grelle (Kuranosuke) who love the series and it shows and the second commentary has Bevins chatting with Cynthia Cranz (Chieko), Monica Rial (Mayaya), Leah Clark (Jiji) and Mariella Oriz (Banban) who make the commentary lively fun.

Then there are the fun extras such as the 4-part Princess Jellyfish Heroes extra scenes with the Sisterhood and the six-part Go, Sisterhood Explorers featurette as the ladies explore a jungle. Then there’s the Tsukimi and Jiji Jellyfish Tour featuring Japanese voice actors Kana Honiara (voice Tsukimi) and Mamiko Noto (voice of Jiji) visiting the Enoshima Aquarium that appears in the show as they look at the various jellies. Finally there’s The Princess Jellyfish Field Guide, which is helpful little guide on jellyfish, the Sisterhood and other humans.

OVERALL: A+
Princess Jellyfish with be one of your favorite anime series guaranteed and for a very good reason. It is, put simply, a flawlessly executed series that hits all the right notes to the point that you will not be able to take your eyes off it and still want more in the end. Yes, we could recommend a number of great anime series this year alone but Princess Jellyfish is – without a doubt – something uniquely special. Here’s hoping a second season will be in our future.

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

House of Five Leaves, Complete Series Premium Edition – DVD Review

Review by: Faith McAdams

Publisher: NIS America
MSRP: $59.99 US
Running Time: 274 minutes
Genre: Drama
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now

Sometimes the past can cut deeper than the sharpest blade.

As not only a fan of Japanese animation and comics, I also have a profound interest in Japanese history so I certainly love a good series that takes place in a time when samurais roam the streets of an impressive city then called Edo. Of course, this means I have seen my share of anime and read more than enough manga titles that take place in this fascinating period so imagine my complete delight when I heard that NIS America was bringing the anime version of Natsume Ono’s critically-acclaimed manga. Oh yeah, the Premium Edition of the Complete Series of House of Five Leaves is everything a fan of the series could ask for and one that shouldn’t be missed.

The 12-episode series begins with introducing us to a child named Seinoshin who might be the adopted heir to the Saeguso family but he feels no love from his mother because he has an unusually shaped burn scar. Just about the only friend the boy has is the family retainer who comes to learn a shocking bit of news concerning the boy’s mother.

Meanwhile, a young ronin named Masanosuke Akitsu has come to Edo looking for a job that suits his talents seeing as he was fired by his employer who considers the young samurai as “undependable” for some very obvious personality reasons. With no jobs available, Akitsu decides to accept a job offer from a handsome young man with white hair who needs a good bodyguard to accompany him. As it turns out, this man named Yaichi needs a bodyguard to oversee a ransom delivery. You see, Yaichi is leader of a band of kidnappers for a group of criminals calling themselves the Five Leaves.

Now Akitsu wrestles with his conscious to join Yaichi and his band or take on different employment that doesn’t quite suit his excellent sword skills. He comes to meet the rest of Yaichi’s band including Ume, who runs a tavern with his daughter, and the beautiful Otake who has a gentle kindness that Akitsu finds overwhelmingly charming. Then there’s Matsu who helps investigate and set up each kidnapping. While they are criminals, they are far from criminal scum that Akitsu has met in his life.

Akitsu not only finds employment with Yaichi and the Five Leaves but also a friendship that means for to him than money. However, he becomes curious to learn more about the mysterious Yaichi who doesn’t exactly reveal much about himself to the inquisitive young samurai. What he does find out is that Yaichi lives in a brothel in the seedier side of town and he keeps his past a secret even to the Elder, a most respected ex-criminal known as Soji the Saint, who Akitsu befriends after getting what the Elder calls “Edo disease.”

We also learn a bit more about Akitsu, mainly his social problems that become a big problem when Akitsu is challenged by a young ronin looking for trouble. However, we discover that he is the kind of guy who sends money to his family and takes his young sister, Saohi, around town when she visits him. He’s also the kind of guy who sees a job through and defends a friend with his life even if it means getting injured, which is what happened when a gangster comes to pay the Elder a visit.

Then Akitsu meets and befriends an older man who Yaichi doesn’t trust. Little does he know, however, that this man named Yagi will make Yaichi come face-to-face with his own past and the mysteries involving him and the boy named Seinoshin. Oh yeah, better believe things get very interesting as the plot thickens and the truth is finally revealed.

House of Five Leaves has its warm and humorous moments and each of the characters are actually intriguing despite the fact that the series reveals very little about them. Still, what we do learn about Ume, Matsu and Otake make them all the more likeable in the long run. It’s also great to see that the series managed to capture the visual presence that Natsume Ono brought to her manga. Her art is rather crude at times but that’s what makes it different and different can be a very good thing.

Add a beautiful soundtrack and some great voice acting from an impressive cast that includes Daisuke Namikawa and you have a series that not only looks good but is also easy on the ears. However, the best part is that Director knew how to tell this grand story well enough that if you’ve read the manga you will see how close it is to the source material.

The Complete Series of House of Five Leaves is an unforgettable and deeply engaging anime series that is unique from other Edo period stories we have seen before as it not brings Edo to life but also tells us a brilliant story. Like the manga that inspired it, the series is filled with appealing characters, fantastic animation and a wonderfully written story that makes this one a real Must Have for any anime enthusiast or a fan of Natsume Ono’s manga.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A+
In Edo period Japan, a young ronin named Akitsu who is looking for work as a bodyguard finds employment with the handsome and mysterious Yaichi who is leader of a band of kidnappers called the Five Leaves. Despite what they do, however, Akitsu finds friendship with the members of the Five Leaves and a mystery that surround Yaichi whose past returns to haunt him.

VIDEO QUALITY: A
The animation is faithful to Natsume Ono’s unique and original artwork and that’s a very good thing seeing as it makes for a visually interesting anime series. Although it’s not available on Blu-ray, the series still manages to shine on DVD either way.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The original score in the series is a feast for the ears and you will absolutely love the opening theme song, “Sign of Love” by immi that has become a favorite in the halls of this office. On top of that, the voice acting is simply stellar with Daisuke Namikawa, Takahiro Sakurai and Fuyuko Ohuro standing out among an excellent cast. There’s no English dub just in case you were wondering.

EXTRAS: A+
The Premium Edition set not only includes the awesome double-sided box with great artwork but also a 36-page hardcover book that contains great artwork, storyboards, episode synopsis, character profiles and glossary of terms that is worth a glance. The second disc comes with some extras such as a few trailers and the clean opening and closing animation.

OVERALL: A+
An deep and utterly engaging anime series from intriguing start to satisfying finish, the Complete Series of House of Five Leaves deserves to be in your collection especially if you have been looking for a series that brilliantly captures the feel of a good manga series. This series definitely deserves to be in your growing anime collection.

Review copy provided by NIS America

SECTION23 FILMS ANNOUNCES JULY SLATE

       

CLANNAD: AFTER STORY BLU-RAY Available on July 24th

HOUSTON, April 11, 2012 – Home video distributor Section23 Films today announced its July slate of releases; including CLANNAD: AFTER STORY. The Complete Collection will be released on BLU-RAY by Section23 client, Sentai Filmworks

Product details follow, in order of release.

Coming July 2012

Title: HIDAMARI SKETCH SPECIALS|
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 50 min.
Street Date: 7/3/2012
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $14.98

SYNOPSIS: Even though studying at a prestigious art school like Yamabuki is hard work, the girls who live at the Hidamari Apartments always manage to squeeze in time for a little fun and exploration. And when they actually get a day off? Watch out world! Yuno, Sae, Hiro, Miyako and new students Nori and Nazuna return to create another masterpiece of life as art, with all new adventures that include swimming, pajama parties, trips to the art museum and even an all-you-can-eat diner courtesy of the landlady! Of course, there’s always a little housework that has to be squeezed in, but with a pinch of resourcefulness and a dash of creativity, even the most onerous of chores can be turned into something magical. Get ready for another illustrious collection of life, laughter and togetherness as Yuno and her friends always put a little love in their art in HIDAMARI SKETCH X SP!

Title: NEEDLESS COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 600 min.
Street Date: 7/3/2012
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $79.98

SYNOPSIS: The year is 2130 and the world has been decimated by a devastating third world war, making the planet a dangerous, apocalyptic hellhole. There is, however, one hope-Adam Blade, a fake priest with big fists and a nasty disposition. Still, he’s the closest thing this world’s got to a superhero. But like any superhero, he has a weakness. Though in Adam’s case, it isn’t Kryptonite; it’s cuties in sexy little outfits, usually of the schoolgirl variety. Big bloody battles and a liberal dose of fan-service have made Needless one of the craziest, most action-packed anime series in years. And now every episode of Needless is right here-so you can get what you want and what you need in one complete series!

Title: NEEDLESS COMPLETE COLLECTION BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 600 min.
Street Date: 7/3/2012
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $89.98

SYNOPSIS: The year is 2130 and the world has been decimated by a devastating third world war, making the planet a dangerous, apocalyptic hellhole. There is, however, one hope-Adam Blade, a fake priest with big fists and a nasty disposition. Still, he’s the closest thing this world’s got to a superhero. But like any superhero, he has a weakness. Though in Adam’s case, it isn’t Kryptonite; it’s cuties in sexy little outfits, usually of the schoolgirl variety. Big bloody battles and a liberal dose of fan-service have made Needless one of the craziest, most action-packed anime series in years. And now every episode of Needless is right here-so you can get what you want and what you need in one complete series!

Title: MAHOROMATIC ULTIMATE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 725 min.
Street Date: 7/10/2012
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98

SYNOPSIS: Mahoro has just 398 days left to live. A military android created by VESPER to combat the alien menace of the Saint, her operational lifecycle is winding down when, with just over a year to go, she is given the choice to retire from active service and do anything she wishes in her last days. Her unexpected choice, however, is to serve as maid and bodyguard to a very surprised teenage boy! But Suguru Misato isn’t just any teenager. He’s the son of Mahoro’s former commander and is already in the crosshairs of the aliens! However, Mahoro isn’t any ordinary combat android either. Using captured Saint technology, her creators may have given her something no android has ever had before: a soul. From the legendary Studio Gainax (NEON GENESIS EVANGELION) comes an amazing saga of life, love and combat! And the complete epic tale, including two new, never before released episodes, is collected here for the first time in MAHOROMATIC – THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION!

Title: MAHOROMATIC: I’M HOME!
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 50 min.
Street Date: 7/10/2012
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $29.98

SYNOPSIS: As Mahoro’s life timer rapidly approaches her two hundred and fiftieth day, a more joyous chronological observance occurs to distract her: the 120th anniversary of the founding of the town of Hiryushi. And as part of the celebration, Suguru, Miyuki, Hamaji and several other friends have come up with the perfect tribute: a Maid Café! Unfortunately, their Maid Café may end up completely Maid-less, as Mahoro and Minawa are attacked by Management forces under the command of Feldrance! For all those who’ve longed for just a little more Mahoro, prepare to return to the world of the hit series once more in this very special side story- MAHOROMATIC – I’m Home!

Title: BOOK OF BANTORRA COLLECTION 2
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 350 min.
Street Date: 7/17/2012
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98

SYNOPSIS: As the Shindeki Church marches forward with their plans of conquest, Hamyuts Maseta and the Armed Librarians continue to struggle against them. However, the path to victory is a long and dangerous one, not easily navigated. Along the way, friends will be lost, new allies gained and blood will assuredly be shed. With the whole world seemingly turned against them and the Library facing its darkest hour, does Hamyuts still have a trick or two up her sleeve? Find out in the exciting final chapters of The Book of Bantorra Collection 2!

Title: PSYCHIC SQUAD COLLECTION 2
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 7/17/2012
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: Growing up is hard enough for most girls, but for Class 7 espers Kaoru, Shiho and Aoi, who have to do it while also protecting the world as part of B.A.B.E.L., it’s even rougher. It’s bad enough that they’re feared by most of the population just for being what they are, but when they also have to act as police against other older and more experienced espers AND still go to school, they’re getting an early education into how unfair the real world can be. And just to make matters worse, now there’s an esper vigilante to deal with and a new mysterious organization called P.A.N.D.R.A. on the rise. Can the girls’ highly put-upon supervisor and guardian Minamoto keep his charges from losing control in every possible sense? The action continues as three little girls with Class 7 sized growing pains threaten to bring down the house in the second mind-blowing collection of PSYCHIC SQUAD!

Title: CLANNAD: AFTER STORY COMPLETE COLLECTION BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 625 min.
Street Date: 7/24/2012
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $89.98

SYNOPSIS: A few months have passed since Tomoya declared his love to Nagisa. Now their relationship is entering a new phase, and neither is quite sure where it will take them. As their friends move on to lives of their own, Tomoya and Nagisa get ready to start a family of their own. But Nagisa’s health has always been precarious, and an event that should bring nothing but joy delivers tragedy instead. Now Tomoya must learn to accept the bitter with the sweet and to understand that the most important thing is to hold onto love, no matter what. Don’t miss the heartbreak and triumph of the masterful conclusion to one of the most beloved anime series ever in CLANNAD: AFTER STORY!

Title: THE KUNOICHI

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 65 min.
Street Date: 7/24/2012
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $19.98

SYNOPSIS: As the long, brutal and bloody war between the Iga and Koga ninja wages on, it is the women of the rival clans who pay the heaviest price. The kunoichi must fight alongside their fathers and brothers, they must bury their sons and their husbands, and when captured themselves, are denied an honorable death and instead reduced to sex slaves for the purpose of slaking the savage and twisted desires of their former foes. But when Iga warriors Shimotsuki and Hyotsu kidnap four Koga women, they soon learn that killing the beautiful ninja girl Kisaragi would have been a far wiser course of action. For a kunoichi is never unarmed, even when naked, and Kisaragi is deadlier than most. Rising martial arts superstar and Japanese Karate champion Rina Takeda explodes into action as prey becomes the hunter in THE KUNOICHI!.

Title: HATSUKOI LIMITED COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 7/31/2012
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: Romance is a funny thing: you hear about it, read about and dream about it, but it always seems to elude you… until it actually happens, in a way you never imagined it, and knocks you off your feet! At least, that’s how it SEEMS to feel to young Ayumi and her friends, all just entering the eighth grade, as, one by one, they discover that love is infectious and you can catch it from anyone! Now Ayumi’s torn between two brothers, Koyoi has an altogether different kind of brother issue and budding theatrical impresario Sumire seems ready to do anything to land her leading man. Then there’s tom-boy Rika, aspiring artist Nao, Kei, who’s very ‘mature’ for her age and older girl Misaki who really IS more mature. Oh, and the guys? They’re just as clueless and entangled in the complex web of relationships that’s called growing up! That most infections of all ailments, the ‘love bug,’ is about to bowl over the student body of an entire school in HATUSUKOI LIMITED!

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.