Anime DVD Review: Bleach DVD Set Eight

Bleach DVD Set Eight is a three disc set that contains 12 episodes. Each disc in this set includes four episodes and bonus features. The episodes on these discs can be watched either with English dialogue or with Japanese dialogue and English subtitles.

It turns out that the first two episodes in this set are “filler” episodes. The first of the filler eps sees Rin Tsubokura being sent to Karakura Town to conduct research, and is accompanied by Hanataro Yamada. When they reach the real world, Yumichika Ayasegawa is assigned to serve as their guide. When Rin tries to find sweets to purchase, they encounter the ghost of a cake maker who wants the Soul Reapers’ help to bake a cake for his mother with his instructions since she never got to taste one of his cakes before he died.

The second filler has Matsumoto and Kon witness a girl named Miyuki fall into a river with her big stuffed animal. To save her from drowning, Matsumoto forces the mod soul out of Kon’s regular body and into Shintaro, the girl’s stuffed animal. “Shintaro” rescues Miyuki, and she takes him home. He learns a little bit about her life and about her dog Shintaro that died. The two end up being attacked by a two-headed Hollow.

The remaining 10 episodes in the set return to canon material from the original manga. An arrancar named Patros and his two subordinates steal the Orb of Distortion and believe they have killed Ulquiorra in the process. Patros no longer wants to take orders from Aizen and wants to use the orb to take control of Los Noches. Patros goes to Urahara’s shop because he believes Urahara knows how to use the orb, and Renji fights Patros’ subordinates. After defeating th subordinates, Renji receives help from Lirin, Corodo and Noba to defeat Patros.

It turns out that Ulquirra’s “death” and the theft of the orb are a ploy by Aizen. After getting the orb back, Aizen creates an arrancar named Wonderweiss Margera.

As Ichigo continues his visored training, a group of arrancar arrive in the real world and attack. When Ichigo senses what’s going on and leaves his training, he encounters Grimmjow and uses his bankai. Unfortunately, he is unable to maintain his hollow mask long enough to defeat Grimmjow, and is ultimately rescued by Rukia.

Orihime, who has been in Soul Society training, is ambushed by Ulquirra as she tries to return to the real world. He demands that she come with him or he will kill all of her friends. After she agrees, he gives her 12 hours to say goodbye to one person and a bracelet that makes her invisible. She visits Ichigo, who is recovering from his injuries; she makes a confession of love and tries to kiss him, but is unable to. When it’s discovered that Orihime has disappeared, Genryusai forbids them to go find her.

Ichigo enlists Urahara’s help in order to go to Hueco Mundo, and Ichigo is accompanied by Chad and Uryu. They end up fighting with a couple of arrancar. At the end of the set, they find themselves in a desert and trying to reach Los Noches.

While I was happy to see that there were only two filler stories on this set, I really thought that the first one came across as rather lame. The second filler was a little better, and it didn’t feel nearly as lame as the first one.

The next canon arc from the manga places quite an emphasis on the arrancar and on Hueco Mundo. The story really starts taking off again after the filler episodes, so a lot happens in those 10 episodes.

It was awesome to see Orihime admit her feelings to Ichigo, even if he was asleep at the time. And so far, I’m feeling really bad for Orihime during this arc. Aizen forces her to restore Grimmjow’s arm to prove her power, and she has also been forsaken by the Soul Society. At least Ichigo hasn’t given up on her!

From what little bit I’ve seen of Hueco Mundo at this point, all I can say is that it’s an… interesting place, for lack of a better term.

When it comes to the DVD set itself, the first disc includes five bonus features. “Production Art” includes 16 pages of line art. “Clean Ending” has a textless version of the ending that appears on all but two episodes in this set.

“Omake” has the four “Radio-Kon Golden” bits that appear at the end of each episode. It should be noted that this bonus feature defaults to English, even if you have the language option set to Japanese; however, you can switch the language back to Japanese with your DVD or Blu-ray player remote.

“Sneak Peek” includes two Bleach trailers and one Naruto Shippuden trailer. “Manga Preview” is four screens promoting Bleach manga and other Shonen Jump manga titles.

The second disc also contains five bonus features. Everything is pretty much the same as on the first disc, except that the “Production Art” has 11 pages, and the omake are the four “Radio-Kon Golden” bits that appear on this disc. The same can be said for disc three, except that “Production Art” only has five pages, while “Omake” includes the four “Radio-Kon Golden” bits that appear on that disc.

If you’re a Bleach fan, then you need to get a hold of this set in order to have the episodes that start the new story arc in you anime home video library.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Bleach DVD Set Eight that my husband purchased for me as a gift.

Anime Film Review: Tiger & Bunny The Movie: The Beginning

Tiger & Bunny The Movie: The Beginning is the first Tiger & Bunny film, and the first half of it retells the first two episodes of the television anime series. The film was released to Japanese theaters on September 22, 2012. FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American distribution rights for the film, and the company released it as a two-disc DVD and Blu-ray set on October 1, 2013. This review will be focusing on the two-disc DVD release, since that is what I watched.

Tiger & Bunny is set in the year NC 1978 and takes place in Sternbild City, which is a futuristic version of Manhattan. 45 years prior to the start of the series, superpowered individuals known as “NEXT” started appearing through a mysterious mutation. Some of them became superheroes, and each of the city’s famous superheroes work for a sponsor company; their uniforms contain advertising for their sponsor company. Their heroic activities are broadcast on the popular television show Hero TV, where they accumulate points for each heroic feat they accomplish. The best ranked hero of the season is crowned “King of Heroes.”

At the beginning of the film, there are seven heroes on Hero TV: Wild Tiger, Blue Rose, Sky High, Fire Emblem, Dragon Kid, Rock Bison, and Origami Cyclone. During the crime at the beginning of the film, an unknown superhero appears on the scene and is able to capture the criminal; this new hero is introduced as Barnaby Brooks, Jr. and it turns out he has the exact same power as Wild Tiger.

When Wild Tiger’s sponsor company is taken over by Apollon Media, he is told he has to become partners with Barnaby. Unfortunately, their personalities don’t really work well together, which makes the partnership tough at first. And it doesn’t help that Wild Tiger gives Barnaby the nickname of “Bunny” because of his armor’s earpieces and Barnaby’s use of long jumps and kicks.

The film has a rather similar opening to what was seen in the first episode of the television anime series, except that there is footage added that shows why Kotetsu (aka Wild Tiger) was late to the crime in progress. Another one of the smaller differences I noticed is the fact the film says that Origami Cyclone and Barnaby went to the same hero academy, which is a fact that never came out during the television anime series.

The second half of the film shows a story that was never seen during the television anime series. This section starts with Kotetsu arranging a get together for Barnaby with the other heroes so he can start getting along with the others. Unfortunately, it fails due to the other heroes considering themselves rivals in Hero TV.

The heroes are then called into chase after a thief named Robin Baxter, who has stolen a statue that represents the importance of heroes. The heroes chase Robin into an amusement park, but he’s next to impossible to catch due to his NEXT ability. It ultimately becomes up to Barnaby, with some assistance from Wild Tiger, to bring the criminal to justice.

Personally, I thought that Tiger & Bunny The Movie: The Beginning was a rather well-done film. While I may have already been familiar with the story in the first half from seeing the first two episodes of the television anime series, the second half brings something new to the table that I’d never seen before. Overall, I thought that the new story that was introduced in the second half of the film could easily fit into the timeline of the television anime series without causing any real continuity issues.

This film could be a great way to introduce Tiger & Bunny to someone who is not already familiar with the franchise. It provides the same basic setup as the first two episodes, and the 90 minute runtime is a smaller time commitment than the 26 episode television anime series. The film is also enjoyable for fans of the anime series, since it provides some new things that weren’t presented in the television anime.

When it comes to the DVD release itself, it was released as a two-disc set. The first disc has the film and some of the set’s bonus features. The second disc is comprised entirely on bonus features, which run for about 175 minutes.

The main disc contains a total of nine bonus features. The first six features are trailers and promotional videos for the film. They include the special pilot trailer, the pilot trailer, the preview, a promotional video, a commercial collection, and the theater commercials. The first six are all animated trailers and promotional videos, while the theater commercials feature people dressed up as three of the superheroes with voice-overs done by the voice actors. Unfortunately, all of these trailers, promotional videos, and commercials have Japanese audio without English subtitles.

The “Weekly Hero Countdown” runs for 12-and-a-half minutes, and it includes footage from a weekly countdown of the top five heroes as determined by fans voting. Unfortunately, each segment opened the same way, so it did feel a little repetitive after a while. A clean opening and a clean ending are also included.

The second disc includes a total of four bonus features. The first is the World Premiere event, which runs for two hours and 15 minutes on the disc; however, from what’s said at the event, the actual event itself ran for four hours. This was an event to promote the premiere of the film, which was broadcast live in Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. The voice actors for all of the heroes were involved, as well as people in costume for three of the heroes. Throughout the event, there are skits, singing, and interviews with the cast. This was kind of neat to watch, since you’d never see a premiere event for a film like this is America. It looked like the cast and the audience had a lot of fun!

Next is a UStream Special Digest, which runs for 39 minutes. First, there’s a Tiger & Bunny new Year’s special, which includes footage from Viz Media talking about the simulcast of the series, as well as some information on the release of the film. The other segment sees the two host characters going to the pre-sale ticket commemoration in Hong Kong. There are interviews with the voice actors for Kotetsu and Barnaby, a live event at C3 in Hong Kong, as well as the characters visiting the Sunrise studio and getting a sneak peek of a storyboard for the film. This was a decent enough feature, although I really didn’t care too much for the hosts.

There’s also 20 pages of production art, as well as trailers for properties that Viz Media was promoting at the time this DVD set was released.

If you’re a fan of Tiger & Bunny, I would recommend watching this film and then adding it to your anime home video collection. If you have the capability to watch Blu-rays, then I would highly recommend getting the Blu-ray pressing of the film.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Tiger & Bunny The Movie: The Beginning that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Anime DVD Review: Sakura Diaries Volume 2: Love & Kisses

Sakura Diaries Volume 2: Love & Kisses is a single disc release of the final six episodes of the Sakura Diaries OVA series. This DVD was released by ADV Films in 2005.

The storyline in Sakura Diaries really advances over the course of these episodes. Touma finally gets a clue about Urara’s feelings for him, and the awkward situations that this knowledge brings about. Touma also learns about being deceived by two different parties, and the effect that learning about this deception has on him. In the last couple of episodes, Touma must face certain realities and truly figure out what he wants to do with this life and how he will accomplish those goals. My main disappointment with this portion of Sakura Diaries is the fact that I was rather dissatisfied with how the series ultimately ended.

I’m sorry for being rather vague with the description, but going into too much more detail runs the risk of providing “spoilers” to readers who may not have had the opportunity to watch Sakura Diaries before reading this review.

Like the first disc, there is still “fanservice” included in these episodes, and it’s just an integral to the story as it was for the episodes on Volume 1. Again, while the rating on the box says TV-14, I would personally recommend Sakura Diaries to anime viewers who are 16 or 17 years of age and older.

As for the DVD itself, the bonus features are rather similar to what appeared on Volume 1. This disc has another copy of the opening credits without text, another copy of the closing credits without text, as well as another copy of the “Bonus Unused Closing Theme.”

The “Liner Notes” extra is a text feature that provides information on and explains some of the Japanese references that appear in the episodes on this disc. There is also a voice actor commentary included for episode 11. In my opinion, the “Liner Notes” and voice actor commentary are the best bonus features included on this disc. There is also a section with previews for six properties that ADV Films was promoting at the time this DVD was released, as well as the DVD Credits.

If you’re a fan of Sakura Diaries and haven’t included it in your home video library yet, buying either the two single DVD volumes of the series or the Complete Series release would be your best bet for acquiring this property.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Sakura Diaries Volume 2: Love & Kisses that my husband and I purchased.

Anime DVD Review: Sakura Diaries Volume 1: Secrets & Lies

Sakura Diaries Volume 1: Secrets & Lies is a single disc release of the first six episodes of the Sakura Diaries OVA series. This DVD was released by ADV Films in 2005.

A young man named Touma Inaba is a high school graduate trying to get into college. In the first episode, he has come to Tokyo to take the entrance exams for three schools. While in his hotel room, a high school girl claiming to be a call girl comes to the room. After an awkward encounter, Touma throws the girl out of his room. The “call girl” is actually his cousin, Urara Kasuga; he had only met her once several years earlier, so he didn’t recognize her. Urara fell in love with him all those years ago, and is still in love with him.

After failing his first two entrance exams, Touma takes the test for Keio University. While he’s there, he meets a beautiful woman named Mieko Yotsuba, who is also trying to get into Keio University. Mieko passes, but Touma does not; however, Touma lies and tells Mieko that he passed because he has fallen for Mieko. Touma decides to stay in Tokyo and live with his uncle and his daughter; he discovers that the “call girl” Urara is actually his cousin. Touma attends cram school, and at the same time trying to deceive Mieko into thinking that he actually attends Keio University.

Touma is rather clueless when it comes to love, and is blind to Urara’s feelings for him because he’s attracted to Mieko. The early episodes on this disc tend to put a little more emphasis on the comedic side of the story; however, by the final episodes on the disc, the narrative tone has changed to more of a “darker” and serious tone.

While there is “fanservice” in Sakura Diaries, it complements the story and fits in with the narration; it’s not included simply for titillation purposes. There is also some female nudity included in the visuals. While the DVD box says that Sakura Diaries is rated TV-14, I would personally recommend this series for anime viewers who are 16 or 17 years of age and older.

As for the DVD itself, there is a preview included for the second volume that ADV Films released for Sakura Diaries, in addition to the bonus features. The bonus features include a version of the opening credits sequence without text, as well as a version of the closing credits sequence without text. A “Bonus Unused Closing Theme” shows a version of the closing credit sequence that was never used for Sakura Diaries.

The “Liner Notes” section is a text feature that provides information on and explains some of the Japanese references that appear in the episodes on this disc. This is a pretty decent feature, and it helps the viewer to better understand the importance of the references that appear in the story. There is also a section with previews for six properties that ADV Films was promoting at the time this DVD was released, as well as the DVD Credits.

For the most part, the extras included on this DVD are pretty standard extras on anime releases. In my opinion, the “Liner Notes” extra was probably the best bonus feature to be included on this disc.

If you’re a fan of Sakura Diaries and haven’t included it in your home video library yet, buying either the two single DVD volumes of the series or the Complete Series release would be your best bet for acquiring this property.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Sakura Diaries Volume 1: Secrets & Lies that my husband and I purchased.

Anime DVD Review: Rave Master Volume 3 – The Sound of Thunder

Rave Master Volume 3 – The Sound of Thunder is a single disc DVD release that contains four episodes of the anime series, Rave Master. This disc is the third and final DVD that Tokyopop released for Rave Master. When it comes to the episodes on the disc, there are no chapter marks included. If you try to skip ahead, you’ll be taken straight to the beginning of the next episode of the disc. However, I do have to give Tokyopop some credit for including the episode previews at the end of each episode. But the company definitely put this disc together as a “bare bones” set, and seemed to only put a very minimal effort into the content of the disc.

At the beginning of this set, Haru, Elie and Plue prepare to head north, and they learn they are to be escorted by Griffon Kato. On their way to Experiment City, they visit a nearby hot spring. Elie twists Plue’s nose to see if she can discover anything unusual, and Plue ends up deflated. Griffon tells Elie to go to a nearby strawberry valley to retrieve a special strawberry to help cure Plue.

Next, they stop at Ska Village during a thunderstorm, and they learn the thunderstorm has been occurring for five years nonstop. When they learn someone named Go is controlling the thunder, Haru tries to find him in order to fight him. At the same time, Elie leaves to recover her memory. When Elie arrives at Thunder Mansion, Go mistakes her for the Rave Master, and he tries showing off his strength and good looks; Elie doesn’t seem to be impressed. Haru arrives at the mansion and accidentally knocks Go unconscious. A woman named Rosa appears, and she and Elie engage in battle. Go regains consciousness and accidentally punches Rosa. Go then prepares to battle Haru, and the remainder of the story arc focuses on Haru and Elie fighting with Go.

Just like with the first two discs, I can see that there is some potential in what would have been the original Japanese version of this series. While there aren’t quite as many of the corny jokes in the episodes included on this disc, some of them still do appear and they ultimately help to weaken what would otherwise be a relatively strong and interesting story.

There were also obvious edits made to the dialogue to cover up various situations that would be deemed “inappropriate” for the young viewers this dub was being produced for when Rave Master aired on Cartoon Network.

The DVDs that Tokyopop released for Rave Master are now out of print, although used copies can still be found and purchased. In March of 2010, Tokyopop had made the entire series available “on demand” as DVD-Rs through CreateSpace; however, it appears this only lasted for a short time, because six months later, the CreateSpace listing was gone.

So, Rave Master fans who want to legally own any episodes of the series on DVD have to track down the three DVDs released by Tokyopop that contain the first 12 episodes.

While I wouldn’t normally recommend such a “bare bones” and incomplete release to my readers, this is a case where I have to, since this is the only way that any episodes of Rave Master can be obtained legally.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Rave Master Volume 3 – The Sound of Thunder that I was given as a gift.

Anime DVD Review: Rave Master Volume 2 – Release the Beasts

Rave Master Volume 2 – Release the Beasts is a single disc DVD release that contains four episodes of the anime series, Rave Master. When it comes to the episodes on the disc, there are no chapter marks included. If you try to skip ahead, you’ll be taken straight to the beginning of the next episode of the disc. However, I do have to give Tokyopop some credit for including the episode previews at the end of each episode. But the company definitely put this disc together as a “bare bones” set, and seemed to only put a very minimal effort into the content of the disc.

The episodes in volume two sees Musica finding Elie being held hostage, and this leads to Musica and Lance having a battle. Unfortunately, since Lance is wielding a sword of beast illusions, he is able to defeat Musica. Haru arrives in time to save Elie from death, but he has to deal with Lance’s attacks. Plue tries to intervene, but to no avail. Garein shows up to retrain Lance, and gets some assistance from Plue. Haru figures out how to defeat Lance and in the end is able to destroy Lance’s sword.

After getting through that story arc, there is one more story featuring Musica and the Silver Rhythm Gang breaking into a city bank to try to find a silver object known as the Silver Ray. Hebi, the second-in-command of the gang finds Plue in his bag and this sets off an alarm. Hebi and Plue are taken into custody, and Musica turns himself in. They manage to escape, but the police search for them. A truth is revealed about Garein, who informs the group about a Rave Stone that’s located in the north.

Just like with the first Rave Master disc, I can see that there is some potential in what would have been the original Japanese version of this series. There are still quite a few corny jokes and bad lines that appear in the dialogue for the English dub; to me, these corny jokes and bad lines make the series less enjoyable than it might have been otherwise.

There were also obvious attempts through dialogue and reused footage to cover up the fact that a couple of characters actually die during the episodes included on this set; this would have been done so the series could air on Cartoon Network and not potentially offend viewers.

The DVDs that Tokyopop released for Rave Master are now out of print, although used copies can still be found and purchased. In March of 2010, Tokyopop had made the entire series available “on demand” as DVD-Rs through CreateSpace; however, it appears this only lasted for a short time, because six months later, the CreateSpace listing was gone.

So, Rave Master fans who want to legally own any episodes of the series on DVD have to track down the three DVDs released by Tokyopop that contain the first 12 episodes.

While I wouldn’t normally recommend such a “bare bones” and incomplete release to my readers, this is a case where I have to, since this is the only way that any episodes of Rave Master can be obtained legally.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Rave Master Volume 2 – Release the Beasts that I was given as a gift.

Anime DVD Review: Rave Master Volume 1 – The Quest Begins

Rave Master Volume 1 – The Quest Begins is a single disc DVD release that contains the first four episodes of the anime series, Rave Master. When it comes to the episodes on the disc, there are no chapter marks included. If you try to skip ahead, you’ll be taken straight to the beginning of the next episode of the disc.  However, I do have to give Tokyopop some credit for including the episode previews at the end of each episode. But the company definitely put this disc together as a “bare bones” set, and seemed to only put a very minimal effort into the content of the disc.

At the beginning of the first episode, we learn that 50 years before the story starts, the world was being corrupted by Dark Bring, evil stones that bestowed incredible powers to those who own them. The Dark Bring were used by the Raregroove Kingdom. The Symphonia Kingdom fought against them with their Holy Bring, which later became known as RAVE. Shiba, the first RAVE master, had attempted to destroy Sinclaire, the “mother” of the Dark Bring with his sword, the Ten Commandments. The aftermath of this attack caused an explosion that has become known as “Overdrive”; this explosion destroyed 1/10th of the known world.

Plue, a special guardian “dog” shielded Shiba from the blast, and Shiba was able to hold on to the RAVE required to power his sword; however, Plue and the remaining pieces of RAVE scattered around the world. Plue is a RAVE bearer, and has the ability to sense other RAVE stones. Plue’s nose also has the ability to destroy Dark Bring, and Plue can utilize the RAVE of Combat which powers himself and the RAVE master up.

50 years later, a 16-year-old named Haru Glory is fishing at GarageIsland, and accidentally fishes up Plue. Shiba arrives on the island and desires to reclaim Plue. A mysterious organization known as Demon Card, which possesses Dark Bring and aim to rule the world, arrive on the island. Haru battles with a member of Demon Card, and Shiba discovers that Haru is the second RAVE master. Shiba ends up entrusting his RAVE, Plue, and the Ten Commandments with Haru. Haru leaves home to try to bring peace back to the world.

While Haru is on his travels, Plue gets away from him. A girl named Elie, who appears to be 16, has no memories; she finds Plue, and tries to protect him from members of Dragon Card who want to put Plue into the dog races. Elie tries to fight them off with her Tonfa guns, but a member of Demon Card makes off with Plue. Elie goes to the races and bets on Plue, and she meets Haru when he comes to rescue Plue. After Elie sees Haru defeating an enemy, she decides to travel with him; Haru offers to help her recover her memories if she helps him destroy the Shadow Stones.

The episodes in this set also introduce Hedara Musica, the leader of a band of thieves named Silver-Rhythm. He has a silver skull around his neck that allows him to manipulate silver to a weapon of his choice.

Demon Card is the main nemesis of Rave Master. This organization was founded by Gale Raregroove and Gale Glory. The organization is known as Demon Card because Glory spelled the sign wrong; he had meant to write “Demon Guard.” After the membership grew too large for the two founders to support, Raregroove started accepting such unsavory jobs as assassinations. Glory didn’t agree with these jobs, so he left Demon Card.

Glory heard they were using Dark Bring, and informed the empire about this, and shared where the organization was located. Even though the first incarnation of Demon Card was wiped out by the empire, Raregroove survived to start a second incarnation of the organization.

When I’m watching this series, I can see that there is some potential in what would have been the original Japanese version. Unfortunately, when the series was brought over and dubbed into English, the writer decided to try to throw in a lot of corny jokes; a lot of the times, the jokes came across as either being forced or feeling rather inappropriate for the scenes they were being used for.

There were also obvious edits made to the dialogue to cover up various situations that would be deemed “inappropriate” for the young viewers this dub was being produced for when Rave Master aired on Cartoon Network. Unfortunately, I have not seen any evidence that the original Japanese version of Rave Master is available for sale anywhere in the United States.

The DVDs that Tokyopop released for Rave Master are now out of print, although used copies can still be found and purchased. In March of 2010, Tokyopop had made the entire series available “on demand” as DVD-Rs through CreateSpace; however, it appears this only lasted for a short time, because six months later, the CreateSpace listing was gone.

So, Rave Master fans who want to legally own any episodes of the series on DVD have to track down the three DVDs released by Tokyopop that contain the first 12 episodes.  While I wouldn’t normally recommend such a “bare bones” and incomplete release to my readers, this is a case where I have to, since this is the only way that any episodes of Rave Master can be obtained legally.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Rave Master Volume 1 – The Quest Begins that I was given as a gift.

Anime Film Review: Mobile Suit Gundam Trilogy

When the first Mobile Suit Gundam series aired in Japan between 1979 and 1980, it wasn’t popular and it was almost cancelled; fortunately, Sunrise was able to produce 43 episodes and tell a complete story. In 1981, the series was re-edited into three theatrical films; the first two films were released in 1981, and the third film was released in 1982.

The Mobile Suit Gundam Trilogy DVD contains all three of the films: Mobile Suit Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam II: Soldiers of Sorrow, and Mobile Suit Gundam III: Encounters in Space. There are a total of three DVDs in the set, with each movie being on its own DVD. Unfortunately, there are no bonus features included on any of the discs. When it comes to the audio, the only option is Japanese with English subtitles.

One thing that I thought was done right in these re-edited films was the fact that the Newtype concept was emphasized much earlier on in the story. In the original television anime series, the Newtype concept wasn’t introduced until rather late in the series’ run and then it was rather “in your face” for the remaining episodes.

Another thing that I think these films got right was downplaying the three kids that are on board the White Base. In the original series, they were seen very regularly and were meant to be some “comic relief,” but they came across more annoying than comedic. In the first film, we see that they’re there, but they aren’t a major part of the action. The kids do show up more in the second and third films, but they don’t come across nearly as annoying as they did in the television anime series.

However, since I already had familiarity with the television anime series before watching these films, there were times when the flow of the films felt a little choppy in places. This was probably the most evident in the first film. For example, in the original television anime series, we saw the civilians on board the ship officially become part of the military. However, in the first film, they’re seen in civilian clothes, and then suddenly start appearing in military uniforms, with no explanation that they had officially joined the military.

Overall, though, I think this trilogy of movies serves as a good starting point to introduce viewers to the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise so they can see where the story begins. Between the movie trilogy and the original television anime series, the films require a much shorter time investment than the 43-episode series.

If you’re trying to acquire Mobile Suit Gundam for your home video collection, then this is an item you need to try to track down in order to have these three films. Unfortunately, Bandai USA has ceased distribution in North America, so this DVD release has become much harder to find. If you want to acquire this item for your home video collection, I would recommend searching around various sites that are selling this DVD and trying to find the best deal that you can.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of the Mobile Suit Gundam Trilogy DVD that my husband purchased for me as a gift.

Anime DVD Review: Naruto Shippuden Box Set 16

Naruto Shippuden Box Set 16 is a two-disc set that contains episodes 193 through 205 of Naruto Shippuden. The first disc contains seven episodes, and the second disc includes six episodes and the set’s special features.

The first four episodes in this set are still “filler” material. In the first filler episode, Naruto finds a photo of a man who he met as a spirit early on in his genin years. He flashes back to how he met the spirit of the man named Kisuke, and becomes involved in a situation that includes Kisuke and a spy that has infiltrated the Hidden Leaf Village. The major issue I had with this filler episode is the fact that it contradicts an episode that takes place earlier in Naruto Shippuden, where Naruto is shown being afraid of ghosts. Since this story took place before that particular episode of the series that I’m referencing, shouldn’t Naruto not have a fear of ghosts anymore due to meeting Kisuke?

The next filler is flashback of Team 7 going on a mission to retrieve a stolen treasure. Sakura is captured by the thieves, and Naruto and Sasuke end up stuck together due to one of the thieves’ web-like jutsu, and they have to find a way to defeat the thieves without the ability to perform seals with their hands. Not only was this a rather pathetic story for a filler episode, but the animation was terrible during the “flashback” portion; while the animation isn’t as bad was the Naruto and Pain fight, it still looks rather horrendous, especially because it doesn’t match the quality of the animation that appeared in the beginning that led into the flashback story. The characters looked so off-model in this that I nearly wanted to weep.

The next filler episode sees Shikamaru reminiscing about his team working with Team 7 to save a hostage that had been taken by bandits. Sadly, this was a rather forgettable filler episode, so I really don’t have much to say about it.

The final filler episode where Sasuke once saved a girl named Naho not knowing that she’s related to the Feudal Lord. When the Leaf Village is asked to provide bodyguards for her, Sakura and Naruto are assigned to the job because Sasuke has been sent on another mission with Kakashi. Naho throws a bratty temper tantrum and insists that she wants Sasuke. Naruto tries to disguise himself as Sasuke to appease her, and they end up fighting a group that’s wanting to kidnap Naho. Of the four filler stories, this one was probably the best, even if Naho was acting like a spoiled brat for most of the story.

And then the set finally returns to canon material. With Tsunade still in a coma after Pain’s invasion of the village, Danzo is appointed as acting Hokage. One of the first things he does is to issue an order to have Sasuke eliminated. In addition, he also tells Sai to keep a watch on Naruto; however, as a precaution, Danzo also assigns a couple of other Foundation members to keep watch on Naruto as well, just in case Sai doesn’t follow through.

Omoi, Karui, and their leader arrive at the Hidden Leaf and see the damage that the village has taken. Omoi and Karui overhear Naruto, Sakura, and Sai talking about Sasuke, and they demand answers. Naruto agrees to talk to them privately and share what he knows about the Akatsuki. When they’re alone, they only want to know about Sasuke, and Naruto refuses to sell him out. Instead, he offers to let them beat him up. Karui takes him up on the offer and punches him over and over until Sai intervenes.

The five kage are invited to a summit being hosted by the Land of Iron a neutral nation that’s protected by samurai rather than ninja. Naruto decides that he wants to plead his case to the Raikage to spare Sasuke’s life, and after some hesitation, he is given assistance by both Kakashi and Yamato. Unfortunately, when they encounter the Raikage as he heads to the summit, but he refuses to listen to Naruto.

Sasuke, meanwhile, has decided to assassinate Danzo. When he catches wind of the five kage summit and the fact that Danzo will be attending, Sasuke and his group sneak into the summit, with the help of one of Zetsu’s clones. Unfortunately, Zetsu’s clone sells them out and they come under attack by the samurai.

The actual summit itself is rather contentious, especially with the Raikage constantly thundering on and doing rash things like smashing tables. During the meeting, it’s decided to establish a Shinobi Alliance, and that Danzo should lead it. It’s discovered that Danzo is using a jutsu to try to control Mifune, the mediator. At this point, the other kage distrust Danzo. After the Raikage tries to fight Sasuke, as well as Gaara trying to intervene, Madara makes an appearance at the summit and explains why he wants all nine of the tailed beasts. When the kage refuse to hand over Killer Bee and Naruto to him, Madara declares that the Fourth Great Ninja War.

In addition to all of that, Sai ends up telling Sakura that Naruto is in love with her, at the same time that it’s been announced that Sasuke is a wanted criminal; this causes a lot of emotional stress for Sakura. Also, during an encounter with Madara, Naruto and the audience learn some history about the ninjas.

Once you make it past the four filler episodes, a lot takes place in the canon material to set the stage for next major plot point, which is the start of the Fourth Great Ninja War. I really enjoyed the Five Kage Summit, because it allowed the audience to finally lead all of the leaders of the five great nations. We also learn an interesting secret about Danzo during the summit.

Speaking of Danzo, I have to say that I didn’t like the guy before he became the acting Hokage. However, after seeing these episodes, I like him even less than I had before this point.

And the ninja history that Madara provides seems to be setting the stage where Sasuke and Naruto will be destined to battle with each other before the end of the series.

This DVD set ends at just the perfect place to make a viewer want to continue. The last things the viewer sees is Madara declaring war, and the four kage who are still at the summit declaring that they must form Shinobi Alliance in order to fight in the upcoming war. As a viewer, I’m now anxious to see how the news of the war will impact the various characters in the series.

When it comes to the DVD set itself, I want to first mention that I was glad to see that the menus have music and footage on them again. The silent menus of the past couple of box sets drove me nuts.

When it comes to the bonus features, there are five total. The first is “Storyboards,” which contains three pages from Episode 200 and three pages from Episode 203. The “Art Gallery” contains nine images, one for each for the tailed-beasts in the series.

“Clean Opening/Ending” includes three versions of each: a version without any text, a version with English subtitles, and a version with Romaji subtitles. I thought this was kind of a neat thing, because they hadn’t gone to this much effort on the clean opening and ending previously. The English credits are also available.

“More From Viz Media” is a menu to links of primarily Naruto and Bleach items that Viz was promoting at the time this DVD set was released, as well as a promo for the Neon Alley service. You can choose to either play all of the trailers or select which trailer you want to watch from the menu.

This box set is definitely worth it to Naruto fans that want to see how the actual storyline continues once you make it past the fillers that make up the first four episodes in the set. There’s quite a bit of action in the canon material, as well as important character development moments for characters such as Sakura and Sai. This set should really be in the anime collection of anyone who considers themselves a fan of the Naruto franchise.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Naruto Shippuden Box Set 16 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Anime DVD Review: Mobile Suit Gundam Complete Collection 2

The Mobile Suit Gundam Complete Collection 2 DVD box set includes four DVDs with the final 21 episodes of the first Mobile Suit Gundam series. The episodes in this set have Japanese dialogue with English subtitles and English dialogue.

Unlike the episodes in the first set, this story is already well underway and keeps the momentum going until the end. There’s a bit of character development for Mirai in these episodes, and a new character named Sleggar is introduced. Also, the character of Kai has an experience which basically forces him to start taking his duties on the White Base a lot more seriously.

The concept of Newtypes is also introduced in the episodes in this set; however, once the Newtype concept introduced, the writers essentially cram this concept into every episode in the series after its introduction. Since the series wasn’t popular when it was initially released in 1979 and the show was cut short, this probably forced that to happen. I imagine that the Newtype concept was supposed to have been spread out over a longer period of time, but since the series was being cut short due to its ratings, Tomino had to cram in what he could in what episodes were left.

I also noticed near the end of the series that events tended to be told by the narrator instead of actually being shown on screen. Again, I believe this would be due to the series being cut short. Ultimately, the story in Mobile Suit Gundam isn’t bad at all, but it definitely feels rushed near the end. This series is definitely worth seeing if you’re a Gundam fan who has never seen where the series began. It also should be seen by fans of the mecha anime genre in order to gain exposure to some of the early anime from that genre.

When it comes to the DVDs included in this box, each disc contains the following extras: English Credits, trailers for properties that Bandai was promoting at the time this DVD set was released, and DVD credits.

If you’re a die-hard Gundam fan, then this release should be in your anime collection if it isn’t already. If you’re not already familiar with the Gundam franchise or with this particular Gundam series but have an interest in mecha anime, then it would be worth it to find a way to view both Mobile Suit Gundam Complete Collection 1 and Mobile Suit Gundam Complete Collection 2 in order to see this series. Not only would it be a good way to get a feel for the Gundam universe, but it would also expose you to a piece of anime history.

Unfortunately, Bandai USA has gone out of business and this box set has gone out of print. If you’re interested in acquiring this box set, I would recommend shopping around at various online and brick and mortar retailers that sell used DVDs in order to find the best price you can for it.

I wrote this review after checking a copy of Mobile Suit Gundam Complete Collection 2 through the King County Library System.