Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker – Blu-ray/DVD Review

Review by: Kiki Van de Kamp

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $34.98 US (Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack), $24.98 US (DVD)
Running Time: 90 minutes
Genre: Action/Fantasy
Rating: TV MA
Release Date: May 29, 2012

No controller needed to enjoy this Dragon Age.

Some things just go together perfectly like chocolate and peanut butter or actor Jason Statham and me (note to Jason Statham: if you’re reading this, I am so available) and the same can be said about gaming and anime. We have seen our share of anime inspired by gaming franchises before with some we fondly remember to others we hope to wipe from our memories but thanks to the collaboration between the amazing gaming geniuses at Bioware and the talented folks at FUNimation, Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker has turned out to be a memorable and entertaining jaunt in the Dragon Age world.

If you’re not familiar the role-playing game series from Bioware and EA that’s Ok because Dawn of the Seeker doesn’t feature familiar characters from the original game or its sequel but rather it takes place in the same universe as the Dragon Age series. It is a world with magic and monsters that range from orcs to dragons. We are introduced to the age of the evil Blood Mages and the Templar knights that fight them and – more specifically – a branch of the Templar known as the Seekers.

This is the Dragon Age where the faithful follow the ways of the Chantry of Andraste led by her holiness, the Divine. However, the Blood Mages have turned their attention on the Divine and her followers and this, of course, concerns the Templar knights as well as the Seekers who will stop at nothing to fight for the good of the Chantry. That is why, in the opening scene, a group of Seekers interrupts a ritual being performed by Blood Mages who are using a little girl named Avexis who happens to be an Elf and a captured dragon they have in chains.

Among the Seekers is the beautiful Cassandra Pentaghast who slaughters every Blood Mage that crosses her path and even slays the dragon In fact, she tears into them with her sword in a way that goes beyond hatred. As the Seekers manage to save the Elf child, the Blood Mage behind the ritual, who is a bandaged freak by the name of Frenic, escapes. With the child safely secured, the Seekers bring her before the Divine and her trusted clerics in order to figure out what the girl belonged to peaceful order of mages known as the Circle of Magi.

However, in the middle of the night, Cassandra manages to catch her beloved mentor – Byron – escaping the Chantry’s main temple with Avexis. While this is a very suspicious act, Cassandra trusts her elder who tells her that he does not trust the Templars with Avexis or the Knight Commander who seems to have a grudge with the Seekers. As they go to meet Byron’s trusted contact in the woods, they are attacked by Blood Mages led by Frenic who gets the upper hand on Byron. By the end of this little skirmish, Cassandra finds herself being accused of conspiring with the Blood Mages by the Knight Commander who is eager to pin the blame on her.

Fortunately for her, a handsome young mage named Galyan appears and helps Cassandra escape. While she clearly has a hatred for all types of mages, Galyan tells the Seeker that he was Byron’s contact within the Circle of Magi. With no other choice but to trust him, Cassandra accepts Galyan’s help and the pair set off on a quest to get Avexis back. Of course, this isn’t going to be easy and the fact that Cassandra has her own demons she must makes the pair’s journey an even more difficult one.

Predictably enough, Cassandra comes to realize that Galyan is not only a talented mage who helps her take on a group of orcs that Frenic sends to attack them but he’s also a likable fellow who is not like any mage she has ever known. In fact, at one point, she even comes to trust him enough that she reveals a big part of her past with him that explains why she hates mages.

Meanwhile, the Knight Commander and his men chase after the two as little by little the truth about the ritual as well as those behind it come to light. As thousands of pilgrims head for the Orlaisian Empire to pray for peace with the Divine, Cassandra and Galyan race to stop the enemy’s real agenda that will lead them to a final battle against evil and monsters of unimaginable power.

Heads will fly and blood will flow in this movie, certainly earning its TV MA rating and the action in the movie looks good. In fact, there are moments that the computer-generated animation looks breath-taking, especially when it comes to dragons and other monsters. The backgrounds range from stunning to simply adequate, although there are times when the character models look a bit awkward. Frenic, for example, is suppose to come off as menacing and freakish but instead looks almost comical.

The story also doesn’t start off with a bang despite the fact that there’s a major battler between the Seekers and the Blood Mages. In fact, the story begins rather predictably but quickly becomes exciting and fun enough that you will find yourself enjoying the action and its exhilarating finale. Although, personally, I wish the movie spent some more time fleshing out Cassandra and Galyan or allowing us to enjoy their growing relationship a little more, the two characters are fun to watch.

Then there’s the voice acting in the series that is actually has some great performances from the Japanese voice cast and the English dub actors. Yes, Chiaki Kuriyama is believable as Cassandra but Colleen Clinkenbeard injects even more emotion to the role and the always-stellar J. Michael Tatum is a lot more charming as Galyan. Add the talents of Brina Palencia, John Swasey, Christopher R. Sabat and Chuck Huber to name just a few voice actors and you have a movie with a solid cast.

Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker is a genuine blast and the perfect companion piece for loyal fans of the Dragon Age games. As a fan of fantasy stories, Dawn of the Seeker doesn’t have a strong beginning or a unique plot but – like the games – it knows how to show you a really good time and, in the end, will not disappoint in the very least. Even if you don’t know anything about the Dragon Age games, this animated film is a good introduction to a good fantasy universe.

BLU-RAY/DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B+
In an age of monsters and magic, a group of knights loyal to the Chantry of Andraste interrupts a ritual involving the evil Blood Mages. However, when the Elf child they rescued is reclaimed by the sinister Frenic, a Seeker named Cassandra and a good mage named Galyan join forces to rescue the child and stop a dangerous conspiracy that threats the Chantry’s spiritual leader, the Divine.

VIDEO QUALITY: A-
The computer-generated animation is actually handled well throughout the film with the visual effects and the dragons stealing the show in the best way especially in the finale. It’s too bad there are some weak visuals as well, especially when it comes to characters like Frenic that look a tad generic but there’s plenty of bloody action in this series for those who like it. Also, the Blu-ray version is the way you should watch this movie.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The music in the film will bring to mind the Dragon Age games and that is a very good thing and the sound effects are awesome. Add the great English dub voice cast that includes Colleen Clinkenbeard and J. Michael Tatum just to name a few as well as a stellar Japanese voice cast. There are also two rocking closing songs.

EXTRAS: B
The movie comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film but the real extras come in the form of a quick tour of the Bioware Studio offices with Mike Laidlaw, Creative Director of Bioware, which is actually something of a rare treat especially for gamers. There’s also some movie production art as well as a “behind-the-scenes”-like featurette called Dawn of the Seeker Backstage Pass that is worth watching. On top of that there are a few FUNimation trailers, including one for the much-anticipated Mass Effect anime.

You’ll also be able to download a digital Dragon Age comic with the redeem code found inside the packaging.

OVERALL: B+
What starts off as a by-the-numbers adventure quickly turns into a wildly entertaining and rewarding feature film that makes Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker a real blast to watch whether you’re a fan of the games or not. If you’ve been waiting for a good fantasy tale with dragons, swords and plenty of magic then you should definitely pick this one up.

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings 2, Complete Season 2 – Blu-ray/DVD Review

Review by: Clive Owen

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $64.98 US (Blu-ray + DVD Combo)
Running Time: 325 minutes
Genre: Action
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now

Welcome back to the Sengoku Period where there’s never a dull moment or a shortage of battles.

Usually, I’m the first one to dismiss any anime series based on a video game because, let’s face it, they often don’t come out as good as the source material that inspired it. However, there are rare instances where a really good anime series manages to make a good impression on fans of the game inspired by it the Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings series is one of them as we saw from the first season. Now, the Samurai Kings are back in the Complete Season 2 collection of Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings 2.

In the first season, which takes place during the Warring States period of Japan, the campaign to stop Oda Nobunaga – better known to them as the Devil King – has led to a shocking finale that has finally put an end to a true tyrant. Peace hasn’t exactly come to the land; however, as rivaling warlords continue to lead their forces in an effort to take control of a country that needs strong leadership. Once again, we find rival/friends Sanada Yukimura and the famed “One-Eyed Dragon” Date Masamune clashing on the battlefield in the opening of Season 2.

Regardless of the outcome of Date and Sanada’s impressive battle, it is the arrival of a new player and his massive army that has both sides putting an end to their fighting. Meet Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a man of sizeable ambition who has quite an army of loyal soldiers and an even more loyal lieutenant named Takenaka Hanbei. Much like the Devil King, he wants to rule Japan by force because he sees it as a weak country and those who oppose him will be swept away by the might of his military force and his incredible strength. I mean, the man is a giant!

Once again, Sanada and Date find themselves putting their rivalry on hold while they tackle a foe that threatens both their homes and pull their armies back to reassess their new situation. Sanada still loyally fights for the burly Lord Takeda who is better known as the Tiger of Kai while Date finds himself aligned with Lord Kenshin who wants to live peacefully alongside his loyal and very busy ninja named Kasuga who still melts when her lord acknowledges her.

As it turns out, Lord Hideyoshi has begun his secret war as he takes over key areas in Japan and has even secured a few allies such as Lord Mori as well as – surprisingly enough – Maeda Toshiie. In fact, his pacifist nephew, Keiji (who still travels with his pet monkey), pays Toshiie a visit to ask him why he would side with a warmonger like Hideyoshi. It’s clear that Keiji is disappointed with Toshiie to the point that he feels that if he encounters his uncle on the battlefield that it will be up to him to put a stop to him.

Meanwhile, it becomes clear to Lord Takeda that they should protect the lands that Hideyoshi will be tearing through and sends Sanada to represent him as well as put a stop to Lord Mori‘s campaign. The young man is eager to prove himself as he heads out with his army only to make an interesting discovery in Oda Nobunaga’s castle. He finally comes across the man who could help them put a stop to Lord Mori and that is Shimazu Yoshihiro who happens to be recovering from his injuries with the help of a young fighter with a fondness for “Yo Mama” jokes.

Not too far away, Date led a charge against Hideyoshi only to find himself outmatched. On top of that, Hideyoshi’s lieutenant, Hanbei, kidnaps Date’s right-hand man, Kojuro Katakura. It seems that Hanbei’s interest in Kojuro is personal and actually quite touching in a way. Without his “right eye,” as he calls Kojuro, Date finds an ally in the most unlikely person who lost a major battle against Lord Mori’s floating fortress, the Morning Star.

As Date’s group and Sanada’s group comes together to fight against Hideyoshi, the most interesting aspect of the series is Hideyoshi himself and most particularly his past. It seems he has a connection with Keiji who goes to Hideyoshi in hopes of convincing him to give up his campaign. An incident in both their pasts is the driving force behind Hideyoshi’s need for power. In the middle of all of this is another feudal lord named Matsunaga who has his own agenda.

There are more than enough action-packed moments that rival even those of the first season but what makes Season 2 truly stand out is its villain. The story fleshes Hideyoshi enough that he isn’t your typical villain that is evil for evil’s sake but rather he has a past that has pushed him into being a bloodthirsty warlord. The season still manages to keep its light-hearted moments with Sanada and his lordship cheering each another. In fact, the bonus OVA episode is dedicated to Sanada, which is a plus in my book since the clueless young man is still a likeable guy.

Round two in a fighting game can often be the most intense and the same can be said about Season 2 of Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings 2 as the series continues to keep its fans entertained. The villain isn’t a cardboard cutout but rather a well-rounded character that makes his campaign an intense fight against returning characters who will stop at nothing to keep the peace. This is definitely worth watching and even more so if you’ve seen the first season.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B+
After the defeat of the Devil King himself, Japan finds itself on the verge of another war as the great warlord, Toyotomi Hideyoshi begins his secret campaign to dominate the country and rule it with an iron fist. However, the other lords will do anything to preserve a society free of tyrannical rule as its heroes like Date Masamune and Sanada Yukimura lead their armies to put a stop to Hideyoshi war.

VIDEO QUALITY: A-
A visually striking series with incredibly flashy fights, Sengoku Basara looks like an awesome video game come to life and even the characters are delightfully unique. This series is better enjoyed on Blu-ray so if you have the means you definitely should be watching this in HD.

AUDIO QUALITY: A-
The music is appropriate for this series and it makes the fight scenes really rock while the opening and closing theme songs aren’t bad at all. Then there’s the voice acting with strong performances from the Japanese voice cast and an English dub with an impressive lineup of voice talents like Johnny Yong Bosch, Travis Willingham, Stephanie Sheh and Eric Vale just to name a few.

EXTRAS: A-
You’ll find a decent number of extras here that go beyond a few FUNimation trailers and a collection of clean and opening animation. You’ll find two audio commentary tracks for Episode 6 and Episode 12. The Episode 6 commentary has Christopher Bevins (lead writer and voice of Akagawa) and Patrick Sietz (voice of Chosokabe) and Episode 12 has Eric Vale (voice of Keiji), Rob McCollum (voice of Date) and Chris Cason (voice of Hanbei).

Then there are two other extras worth watching such as well such as the OVA episode that has Sanada excited about participating in a manly contest alongside his rival/friend Date and some of their friends … in disguise. There’s also the 7-episode “Sengoku Basara II Katakura-kun” where chibi versions of Kojuro and a few other characters play out key scenes from Season 2 in a hilarious way.

OVERALL: B+
Season 2 of Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings 2 is a knock-your-socks-off second helping of manly warfare that only this series can supply. There’s certainly a lot to absorb in this new chapter as a different kind of threat has friends and foes banding together to fight for their country. This is another exciting action-filled series you should definitely check out.

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

RightStuf!/Nozomi Entertainment announces MARTIAN SUCCESSOR NADESICO Complete Collection L.E.

DVD set available on Sept. 4, 2012 to include 26-episode TV series & first-ever release of GEKIGANGAR 3, both with remastered video; plus PRINCE OF DARKNESS motion picture.

GRIMES, Iowa, May 16, 2012 – Anime producer and distributor Right Stuf, Inc. and its Nozomi Entertainment division are pleased to announce the MARTIAN SUCCESSOR NADESICO Complete Collection Limited Edition DVD set will be available on September 4, 2012.

This new DVD box set will feature the entire 26-episode television series and its sequel motion picture (Prince of Darkness), as well as its Gekigangar 3 OVA spin-off. This will be the first time Gekigangar 3 will be available to North American audiences.

It will also include remastered video from the Japanese DVD release for the Nadesico TV series and Gekigangar 3 OVA and the previously released English-language dub (TV series and film), plus Japanese audio, English-language subtitles and on-screen translations, and on-disc extras. The limited-edition set’s seven discs will be housed in a Thinpak-style, full-color chipboard art box.

Martian Successor Nadesico

is a science-fiction comedy directed by Tatsuo Sato (Bodacious Space Pirates, Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars, Stellvia), with character designs by Keiji Gotoh (Sengoku Collection, Uta~Kata) and animation production by XEBEC (The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye, Fafner, Lagrange – The Flower of Rin-ne). Martian Successor Nadesico: Prince of Darkness won the fan-voted Animage Grand Prix award in 1998.

Visit

nadesico.rightstuf.com to find out more about Martian Successor Nadesico and to pre-order the Complete Collection Limited Edition DVD box set.

About MARTIAN SUCCESSOR NADESICO

The Earth, its moon and its Martian colonies are under alien attack, but the war against the “Jovian lizards” has, so far, been nothing short of a series of disasters.

Disgusted by the incompetence of Earth’s military, the independent arms manufacturer Nergal builds its own space battleship and plans to launch a desperate offensive to save humanity. But due to a shortage of trained soldiers, they’ve assembled the most unorthodox crew to ever launch into orbit! With a pacifist cook-turned-unwilling mecha pilot and a ditsy admiral’s daughter in command, can this unprecedented gathering of geeks, misfits and anime fans prevail against the Jovian menace?

Includes the complete, 26-episode TV series and Gekigangar 3 OVA (with remastered video), plus the Prince of Darkness motion picture!

MARTIAN SUCCESSOR NADESICO Complete Collection L.E.

(TV+OVA+Movie)
Format: DVD (Thinpak-Style Art Box)
Pre-Book: 8/7/2012
Street Date: 9/4/2012
Runtime: 740 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi / Comedy
Suggested Rating: 13+
Audio:
– TV Series: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo);

– OVA: Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo);

– Movie: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1)

Subtitles: English subtitles and English on-screen translations
Video: TV Series + OVA: 4:3, Color, Remastered; Movie: 16:9 Letterboxed, Color
Catalog #: RSDVD1268
ISBN: 1-57032-713-0
UPC: 7-42617-1268-2-6
SRP: $59.99
Discs/Set: 7
Case Quantity: 9
Features:

Interviews with actors and staff; “Welcome to Belle Equipe” featurette (45-minute documentary on the TV series, its music, and its staff); “Nadesico Sorekara” special (25-minute special with footage from the Nadesico Roadshow, as well as voice actor interviews and promo clips for the film); clean opening and ending for the TV series; TV spots; movie spots; movie trailers; music video for the movie, featuring Yumi Matsuzawa; and Nozomi Entertainment trailers.


MARTIAN SUCCESSOR NADESICO TV (Kidou Senkan Nadeshiko)
MARTIAN SUCCESSOR NADESICO: Prince of Darkness Movie (Kidou Senkan Nadeshiko: Prince of Darkness)
MARTIAN SUCCESSOR NADESICO Gekigangar 3 OVA (Gekigangar 3 – Nekketsu Dai Kessen!!)
© XEBEC / Project NADESICO • TV TOKYO © 1998 XEBEC / NADESICO PRODUCTION COMMITTEE

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

ABOUT RIGHT STUF, INC.
Currently celebrating its 25th year in business, Right Stuf, Inc. was one of the first players in the U.S. Japanese Animation (“anime”) industry, as both an anime producer/distributor and a retailer. Right Stuf works to promote knowledge of its own products, as well as the anime and manga industry, in general, through its online storefront at RightStuf.com and a variety of media including podcasts and special publications.

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

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

For more information, visit

www.rightstuf.com and www.nozomient.com.

SECTION23 FILMS ANNOUNCES AUGUST SLATE

     

THIS BOY CAN FIGHT ALIENS Available on August 14th

HOUSTON, May 16, 2012 – Home video distributor Section23 Films today announced its August slate of releases; including THIS BOY CAN FIGHT ALIENS. Written and created by director Soubi Yamamoto, the newest and most innovating creator in the anime field, and produced by CoMix Wave Inc., THIS BOY CAN FIGHT ALIENS will be released on DVD & BLU-RAY by Section23 client, Sentai Filmworks.

Product details follow, in order of release

Coming August 2012

Title: THE WORLD GOD ONLY KNOWS SEASON 2
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 8/7/2012
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98

SYNOPSIS: Every otaku’s favorite dating sims champion is back! And Keima still has his adorable lost soul-hunting, demon cutie with him! Together, they continue their pursuit of finding escaped lost souls who are hiding within beautiful, young school girls. But how to release these trapped spirits? Why they have to get the girls to fall in love of course! And this time when lost souls turn up in everyone from the school’s sexy bully to the school’s hottest new student teacher, Keima finds even his romantic powers are going to have to be working over time. And when a giant loose soul turns the entire school into a group of love-starved zombies, Keima and Elsie have to recruit a new demon to help! It’s two times the adventure, two times the excitement, and two times the romance in The World God Only Knows Season Two!

Title: THE WORLD GOD ONLY KNOWS SEASON 2 BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 8/7/2012
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98

SYNOPSIS: Every otaku’s favorite dating sims champion is back! And Keima still has his adorable lost soul-hunting, demon cutie with him! Together, they continue their pursuit of finding escaped lost souls who are hiding within beautiful, young school girls. But how to release these trapped spirits? Why they have to get the girls to fall in love of course! And this time when lost souls turn up in everyone from the school’s sexy bully to the school’s hottest new student teacher, Keima finds even his romantic powers are going to have to be working over time. And when a giant loose soul turns the entire school into a group of love-starved zombies, Keima and Elsie have to recruit a new demon to help! It’s two times the adventure, two times the excitement, and two times the romance in The World God Only Knows Season Two!

Title: PARASITE DOLLS COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: AEsir Holdings
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 95 min.
Street Date: 8/7/2012
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $19.98

SYNOPSIS: In a near future world where the dividing line between the people and the plastic is becoming increasingly blurred, it’s the job of the Branch to keep the streets of Genom City safe from the dangers of a technology that no one yet knows the limits of. If it even has any. Between the evolving sentience of an entirely new manufactured species, the chaos that inevitably ensues when backyard cyber-hackers attempt to do their own field mods and the willingness of powerful hi-tech corporations to cut a few corners, the men and women of the Branch have already got their work cut out for them. And that’s before they factor in the danger of internal corruption, given that one of their own members boasts a metal endoskeleton. Join the ultimate robo-cops as they patrol the dark side of the day after tomorrow in PARASITE DOLLS!

Title THIS BOY CAN FIGHT ALIENS
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 28 min.
Street Date: 8/14/2012
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $14.98

SYNOPSIS: When aliens suddenly invade the world, Earth seems to be fighting a losing battle until Arikawa, one of the defense command staff, accidentally discovers a young man lying on a hill. Tests soon prove the impossible: this one teenager, Kakashi, has the power to defeat the attackers! Unfortunately, Kakashi has also lost his memory, and with it the knowledge of how to actually use his power. Moving Kakashi in with himself and his own commander, Shiro, Arikawa accidentally starts a strange triangle of emotions and relationships. A triangle that threatens the fate of the planet as Kakashi begins to question his own motivations! From up and coming director Soubi Yamamoto, and CoMix Wave, who spearheaded Japan’s new wave of independent anime production with the works of Makoto Shinkai, comes a film that turns The War of The Worlds inside out: THIS BOY CAN FIGHT ALIENS!

Title: THIS BOY CAN FIGHT ALIENS BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 28 min.
Street Date: 8/14/2012
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $24.98

SYNOPSIS: When aliens suddenly invade the world, Earth seems to be fighting a losing battle until Arikawa, one of the defense command staff, accidentally discovers a young man lying on a hill. Tests soon prove the impossible: this one teenager, Kakashi, has the power to defeat the attackers! Unfortunately, Kakashi has also lost his memory, and with it the knowledge of how to actually use his power. Moving Kakashi in with himself and his own commander, Shiro, Arikawa accidentally starts a strange triangle of emotions and relationships. A triangle that threatens the fate of the planet as Kakashi begins to question his own motivations! From up and coming director Soubi Yamamoto, and CoMix Wave, who spearheaded Japan’s new wave of independent anime production with the works of Makoto Shinkai, comes a film that turns The War of The Worlds inside out: THIS BOY CAN FIGHT ALIENS!

Title: NO. 6
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 275 min.
Street Date: 8/21/2012
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98

SYNOPSIS: In a near future world after the last great war, most of mankind now lives in a handful of city states. There, for the privileged elite, life should be perfect. But for young Shion, the only thing perfect has been the nightmare his life has become since letting a strange boy called Rat spend the night in his apartment. Banished to the outskirts of the city and stripped of all privileges for helping the mysterious stranger who has since disappeared, Shion now finds himself in even worse danger as his inquiry into a new series of mysterious deaths results in his being arrested on suspicion of murder! But even as Shion is being sent to the city’s Correctional Institute, the long missing Rat reappears to rescue him! Now, on the run, the two young men have only one chance at survival: uncover the mysterious secrets that lie at the sinister heart of No. 6!

Title: NO. 6 BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 275 min.
Street Date: 8/21/2012
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98

SYNOPSIS: In a near future world after the last great war, most of mankind now lives in a handful of city states. There, for the privileged elite, life should be perfect. But for young Shion, the only thing perfect has been the nightmare his life has become since letting a strange boy called Rat spend the night in his apartment. Banished to the outskirts of the city and stripped of all privileges for helping the mysterious stranger who has since disappeared, Shion now finds himself in even worse danger as his inquiry into a new series of mysterious deaths results in his being arrested on suspicion of murder! But even as Shion is being sent to the city’s Correctional Institute, the long missing Rat reappears to rescue him! Now, on the run, the two young men have only one chance at survival: uncover the mysterious secrets that lie at the sinister heart of No. 6!

Title: K-ON! SEASON 2 COLLECTION 2
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 350 min.
Street Date: 8/28/2012
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98

SYNOPSIS: Sometimes music and words come together so perfectly that the combination is far more powerful than either would be alone. In much the same way, the five members of the Sakuragaoka Girl’s High School’s Light Music Club have become far more than just a group of girls with similar interests. More, even, than just a group of friends. Through the medium of music they’ve found a common course in life, and whatever the future may bring, they know they can get through it if they stand together. Which makes the coming end of the school year and the graduation of the four older members something that’s dreaded as much as it’s looked forward to. But in the meantime there’s so much going on, it’s as life has decided to throw everything it can at them. Going to music festivals won’t be hard to swing, but running a marathon? That will be a stretch! Yearbook photos? The horror! And a school play with Mio and Ritsu cast as Romeo and Juliet? Ooo, VERY awkward. And then, of course, there’s one big final performance for the band! The tempo is rising and emotions run wild as the final encore approaches in K-ON! Season 2 Collection 2!!

 

Title: K-ON! SEASON 2 COLLECTION 2 BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 350 min.
Street Date: 8/28/2012
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98

SYNOPSIS: Sometimes music and words come together so perfectly that the combination is far more powerful than either would be alone. In much the same way, the five members of the Sakuragaoka Girl’s High School’s Light Music Club have become far more than just a group of girls with similar interests. More, even, than just a group of friends. Through the medium of music they’ve found a common course in life, and whatever the future may bring, they know they can get through it if they stand together. Which makes the coming end of the school year and the graduation of the four older members something that’s dreaded as much as it’s looked forward to. But in the meantime there’s so much going on, it’s as life has decided to throw everything it can at them. Going to music festivals won’t be hard to swing, but running a marathon? That will be a stretch! Yearbook photos? The horror! And a school play with Mio and Ritsu cast as Romeo and Juliet? Ooo, VERY awkward. And then, of course, there’s one big final performance for the band! The tempo is rising and emotions run wild as the final encore approaches in K-ON! Season 2 Collection 2!!

Title: KOIHIME ULTIMATE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 975 min.
Street Date: 8/28/2012
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $89.98

SYNOPSIS: You’ve heard of Mulan, you may have heard of Wu Zetian, but even before those legendary lady warriors, the soil of Ancient China had proved fertile ground for the cultivation of an elite force of ferociously female fighters! The saga begins as a girl named Aisha takes on the name Kan’u and sets forth on a journey that inspires others to shatter the shackles of their own tradition and take up the way of the sword. And once you and the girls have accomplished one heroic quest, how do you top it except by taking up another? And then another! (Some epochs it just seems like a woman’s work is never done!) All three epic adventures in the spectacular Koihime Muso series, including the OVAs, are collected together at last as the ancient epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms takes on an unexpected new look and some very feminine curves in KOIHIME MUSO – THE ULTIMATE 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.

Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker Theatrical Event

Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker, an animated motion picture based on the popular Bioware/EA role-playing game series, will find its way onto the big screen in an exclusive one-night event on May 24 in four for those living in New York, NY; San Francisco, CA; Los Angeles, CA or Edmonton, Canada. Here’s the info on where you can purchase tickets for this event. Oh, and the first 100 will recieve a free t-shirt.

Los Angeles, CA –  http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/243236

San Francisco, CA  – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/242653

New York, NY  –  http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/242644

Edmonton, Canada  – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/242610

Xam‘d: Lost Memories, Complete Collection – Blu-ray Review

Review by: Eduardo Zacarias

Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
MSRP: $89.98 US
Running Time: 325 minutes
Genre: Action/Sci-fi
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now

What would you do to regain the precious memories that are important to you?

Xam’d: Lost Memories is the type of anime series that is not easy to watch yet it’s the kind of series that you can’t help but be so wrapped up in its complex story that you stick around to see how it all ends because you know it will not fail to surprise. Finally released on Blu-ray, the Complete Collection set of Xam’d: Lost Memories is a new classic that you will not forget anytime soon and that, my friends, makes this well worth the purchase price.

Spanning 26-episodes, the series introduces us to a futuristic world with floating mail ships like the Zanbani, a Native-American-like race of people and a government experimenting with specialized armor and a mysterious organic bio-weapon. In the middle of all of this is a high school student named Akiyuki Takehara who lives in beautiful Sentan Island with his mother who just so happens to be – at the moment – separated from Akiyuki’s physician father, Doctor Ryuzo Takehara. His two best friends are Furuichi who has his eye on their mutual friend Haru who is not only beautiful but also amazing at martial arts.

One morning, after helping a white-haired girl get on their bus to school, this mysterious girl ignites a very unusual explosive that unleashes an organic spore that infects Akiyuki. In fact, thanks to two jewel-like protrusions on his arm and forehead called a hiruko, he transforms into an armored being called a Xam’d. On top of the explosion on the bus, the terrorist attack also includes the unleashing of monstrous humanform weapons that are controlled by those able to manipulate hiruko.

Luckily, Akiyuki is saved by a beautiful young girl named Nakiami the Cloud Rider whose Tessik race is all too familiar with the hiruko and the Xam’d. She is able to get Akiyuki back to his human form and she whisks him away aboard the Zanbani … a mail carrier ship captained by a busty and scantily clad beauty named Ishu Benikawa. With no other choice but to live with the colorful crew of the floating mail ship, Akiyuki finds himself working as a mail carrier as well as learning more about being a Xam’d from a Tessik elder named Madam Tenshin living aboard the ship.

Meanwhile, Akiyuki’s friends, Haru and Furuichi, join the military in hopes of helping Akiyuki in some manner and end up training to operate advanced mobile armor. It is here that we meet Commander Kakisu who is in charge of a secret project involving the Xam’d thanks to a Tessik scientist named Doctor Kanba. Haru finds herself doing her best as a military cadet as Furuichi quickly climbs the military ladder to the point that he becomes obsessed with succeeding in the military. There’s a big reason for this but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Back on the Zanbani, Akiyuki discovers another Xam’d by the name of Raigyo who was also saved by Nakiami. It is through Raigyo that Akiyuki learns that he can learn to live with this new power although there’s the threat that he might be consumed by a condition that could kill him by turning him to stone. Akiyuki also wants to see his friends and his parents who – while having been on the verge of a divorce before the terrorist attack – are seeing more of each another in an effort to comfort each another for the absence of their son.

At one point, Akiyuki is reunited with his friends who are on a mission under the orders of Commander Kakisu. Unfortunately, it’s not a happy reunion between Akiyuki and Furuichi who not only sees his best friend as an enemy but also a rival. In fact, there’s a dramatic confrontation later in the series as Furuichi makes a big revelation that we do not see coming.

The first half of the series has Akiyuki working aboard the mail carrier ship and the other half has Akiyuki and Nakiami traveling together to Nakiami’s home village where we discover that somebody close to her had become village chief. However, they are separated as Akiyuki travels with Haru to the fabled Quickening Chamber and Nakiami travels with a Tessik boy named Yango to meet Lady Sannova who is heading for the Chamber as well and head for a final battle involving the mysterious Emperor Hiruken.

Xam’d: Lost Memories is filled with twists that we don’t see coming, which is what makes for scenes that stand out. A main character ripping his head clean off and another character being sold into slavery and falling into the hands of a kindly old woman connected to another character is but a few examples of what makes this series so enticing. On top of that, there are moments that are profoundly beautiful like a brief and heartbreaking “reunion” between Akiyuki and his mother who is desperate to see her son again. I don’t even mind that the series is clearly inspired by two classic anime series (think Eureka Seven meets Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor and you get the picture).

Oh, and the animation is simply breath taking to the point that you will be thanking Sentai Filmworks for bringing it to us on Blu-ray.

On the other hand, there are scenes that will have you scratching your head wondering what just happened and why, such as the time Nakiami is “violated” by a black entity on board the Zanbani. Why does a floating eye who speaks like the Emperor follow Akiyuki around when he lost his memory in another scene? These are moments without explanation. The series also has moments where nothing really happens that moves the plot forward, although some of these moments do give us a chance to flesh out the secondary characters like the crew of the Zanbani. Then there’s the ending that was something of a major disappointment in my eyes.

Still, the Complete Collection of Xam’d: Lost Memories is nothing short of unforgettable and oftentimes even profoundly beautiful despite its various flaws that are too hard to ignore. Yes, there are complex and almost nonsensical moments in this series that will wear a viewer down bet there are also moments both compelling and deep enough to really appreciate. Either way, I cannot recommend this series enough especially for those who enjoy an anime series that does not fail to show you something unexpected or keep you watching to the very end.

BLU-RAY REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B+
On his way to school with his best friends Haru and Furuichi, a white-haired child ignites an explosive that unleashes an organic spore that changes Akiyuki’s life has he transforms into an armored being called Xam’d. Rescued by a girl named Nakiami, Akiyuki comes to live and work on a mail ship as his friends join a military force that will put them on a collision course with their destiny and Akiyuki discovers the mystery behind his new power.

VIDEO QUALITY: A+
Definitely a series that deserves the Blu-ray treatment, Xam’d is a visual treat with animation that brings to mind Studio Ghibli’s best productions. Everything from the backgrounds, visual effects and character design comes together beautifully. Then again, it’s exactly what we would come to expect from Studio BONES?

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The original Japanese language track is the best way to watch this series but the English dub performances have their shining moments thanks to talented voice actors like Monica Rial (refreshing as Haru), Blake Sheppard (decent as Akiyuki) and Shelley Calene-Black (wonderful as Ishu). The score by Michiru Oshima is as beautiful as the animation and the opening and closing theme songs (all in English) aren’t bad at all.

EXTRAS: C+
I know it’s not an extra but just the fact that this a Blu-ray edition is an awesome extra in itself but other than that all you will find are a few Sentai Filmworks trailers and as well as the clean opening and closing animations that include the original On-Air versions of both.

OVERALL: B+
An impressive, gorgeous and occasionally profound anime series, Xam’d: Lost Memories often gets lost in its own complex narrative but still manages to be an experience anime fans should not miss. Sure, there are scenes that don’t often make sense but these are overshadowed by the things that make it stand out like the gorgeous animation, great character development and scenes with enough emotion depth that they make this series worth watching from beginning to end. Xam’d should be considered a flawed yet impressive anime classic.

Review copy provided by Sentai Filmworks

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

Review by: Faith McAdams

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $34.98 US (Blu-ray), $29.98 US (DVD)
Running Time: 275 minutes
Genre: Action
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now

There are battles and then there are Super Saiyan battles.

While there’s a place in my anime-loving heart for the original Dragon Ball Z series, it is Dragon Ball Z Kai that continues to be the version I have fallen in love with and the one that I recommend to my friends who have yet to experience this epic masterpiece. I mean, how can you not fall for a series that never fails to keep you glued to your seat with each story arc? As we can see from Part Seven of Dragon Ball Z Kai, what started out as a fight against a formidable foe becomes a struggle for survival in a battle that will have Earth’s fate in the hands of Goku and his friends.

As we saw in Part Six, the powerful being known as Cell has finally caught up with Android 17 and absorbed its power and now all he needs to transform into his ultimate form is to absorb Android 18 who is hiding out with a badly injured Android 16. However, Cell runs into Vegeta who has come out of the Hyperbolic Time Chamber and has become a Super Saiyan … or as he prefers to be labeled, Super Vegeta. As it turns out, Vegeta truly is more powerful than before and manages to give Cell quite a thrashing. However, Vegeta – tempted by Cell’s claim that he can provide a better challenge once he absorbs Android 18 – let’s the monster go much to future Trunks’ horror.

Meanwhile, Krillin is the first to find Android 18 and with the means to destroy her he has the advantage. Surprisingly enough, however, Krillin just can’t bring himself to destroy her for obvious reasons. Instead, he decides to try to help her but he finds himself powerless to do so when Cell manages to locate them. The aftermath is shocking as Cell is finally able to achieve his perfect form and it is actually frightening. In his new form, Cell is the one who does the thrashing in his second round with Super Vegeta and this leaves Trunks who happens to be hiding a power that exceeds that of his own father.

While Trunks holds his own against Cell, he’s clearly not able to defeat the powerful being who sees not real challenge in the boy. Instead, Cell proposes something of a challenge that comes in the form of an ultimate fighting tournament that he calls The Cell Games. The rules are simple: all fighters are welcome to take him on but if they all just so happen to lose it means the end of Earth by Cell’s own hands. They are given just ten days to prepare as Cell promises not to kill anyone else as he waits for the day of the tournament.

In the meantime, Goku and his son, Gohan, continue their training in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. Gohan is clearly frustrated that he isn’t able to achieve his Super Saiyan form and fears that he is holding his father back from his own training. Goku, on the other hand, has nothing but patience and encouragement for the boy. Suddenly, Gohan finds the right motivation that has him and his father emerge from the Chamber in a surprising new manner that has everyone impressed by their new power level.

However, brining Goku up to speed as to what had happened with the Cell situation, Goku can sense Cell’s power level and admits that he might not be able to defeat the monster. Even more shocking is the fact that he doesn’t plan on more training and decides to take it easy instead. He even takes Gohan on a quiet fishing trip. Why isn’t Goku worried about Cell? Why does he insist on treating this threat so casually when Cell threaded to destroy the entire planet?

As for Cell, he introduces himself to the world when he hijacks a live newscast broadcasting to announce the date and location of his fighting tournament. The reaction around the globe is that of sheer terror to the point that the President sends out the Royal Army to face Cell who breaks his promise by slaughtering hundreds of soldiers during the face-off.

This act of violence is too much for Goku to ignore and not only confronts Cell but also comes up with a plan to bring back all those people that Cell had killed since his arrival. This, of course, requires the Dragon Balls and the only ones who can bring them back to Earth are the Namekians who send a familiar face to summon the Dragon Balls. Meanwhile, Vegeta is joined by his son, Krillin and Piccolo who plan on fighting in the tournament. They undergo their own training in the Chamber and come out of it in time as The Cell Games begin.

On the first day, Goku and his friends arrive but Cell’s first opponent happens to be a world champion fighter by the name of Mister Satan who really believes he is powerful enough to save Earth by defeating a very amused Cell. Ah, Mister Satan, just seeing him in his flashy cape and outfit is hilarious enough but seeing him try to impress Cell is comedy gold.

Then Goku steps into the ring, which is surprising seeing as you would think they saved the best for last. It is here that Goku showcases the power he has gained during his training with Gohan and the battle between these two powerhouses is nothing short of monumental. The question is: will this power be enough to defeat Cell who is clearly suppressing even more power?

There’s certainly a lot to digest in this seventh part and the story arc has reached its more intense moment with the promise of even more thrilling moments as another fighting tournament begins. Sure, there are calm moments in-between but it hardly distracts from the epic moments between Cell and Goku’s friends.

Part Seven of Dragon Ball Z Kai takes a nail-biting story arc and makes it even more intense as the battle against Cell takes a rather interesting turn. As Earth’s heroes once again gather for a fighting tournament with a lot at stake, our heroes find themselves preparing for yet another major fight that keeps this story arc deliciously enticing. If you are new to the Dragon Ball Z series then Kai is still one of the more thrilling versions of this classic series and one that certainly needs to be seen by anyone who calls themselves a fan of anime.

BLU-RAY REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A
Vegeta, in his new Super Saiyan form, takes on Cell but his Saiyan pride allows the creature to find Android 18 to finally complete his ultimate form. Now, Cell has become even more powerful to the point that he is no match for the likes of Vegeta and Trunks. Proposing a fighting tournament that would have the fate of Earth on the line, a more powerful Goku and Gohan join their friends in preparing for the fight of their lives.

VIDEO QUALITY: A+
Despite the fact that this is a classic anime series, it looks better than ever on Blu-ray and it shows in every since frame of this release. Yes, Dragon Ball Z Kai shines on DVD but it will not fail to take your breath away in HD.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The voice acting in the series is still handled perfectly for the English dub but the Japanese voices are still a personal preference. Meanwhile, it’s still great to hear the original music and the opening and closing theme songs are still catchy tunes.

EXTRAS: D
Again there are no real extras to be found here except for the clean opening and closing animation and a few FUNimation trailers. Still, you can’t complain when you’re holding a Blu-ray version of a Dragon Ball Z series in your hands.

OVERALL: A
Once again, Dragon Ball Z Kai manages to deliver yet another reason to love this series even more as Part Seven takes a long yet exciting story arc to even more exhilarating heights. Sure, there are calm moments before the major storm that is The Cell Games but that’s hardly a complain considering the events that transpire here are addictively watch-worthy. We definitely will not miss Part Eight.

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment