Anime DVD Review: One Piece Season Three Fourth Voyage

One Piece Season Three Fourth Voyage is a two-disc set that contains episodes 183-195 of the One Piece anime series. The first has seven episodes, while the second disc has six episodes, a commentary on Episode 193, and the set’s bonus features. You can watch the episodes with either the English dub or the original Japanese audio with English subtitles. It should also be noted that in addition to watching episodes or using the “Play All” option, there is also a marathon feature, which allows you to watch all the episodes on a disc back-to-back without interruption. In the marathon feature, the opening credits only plays once, there are no next episode previews, and the ending credits are not included.

The set not only continues the Skypiea arc, it also concludes in this set as well. The majority of this set focuses on Eneru’s plan to destroy both Sky Island and Upper Yard. Of course, Luffy wants to stop Eneru from succeeding, and this ends up climaxing into a major fight between the two of them.

But in the middle of the battle, we get a treat as three episodes are devoted to what happened between Noland and Calgara in the past, and how Calgara and his people disappeared when the part of the island they occupied rose into the sky. I thought it was effective to include this; while we had heard a brief telling of Noland’s story earlier in the arc, it was helpful for me as a viewer to see this story with more detail. This section is brought into the story as a flashback from Wyper, so it didn’t feel like it was breaking up the arc as much as it could have.

Overall, I have to say I like how this story reached its climax, and I loved with Luffy did to bring the battle to a close. Unfortunately, we later see that Eneru is still around, so there’s the potential for him to somehow return later on in the series. And Robin makes an interesting discovery that ties in with her dream of finding and deciphering Rio Poneglyph.

The ending of the arc was rather satisfying, and I think this was probably the best way to conclude it. The set ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, though, since the Going Merry is just discovered when it returns to our world by landing in the middle of a Marine base. I’m looking forward to watching the next set in order to find out how they’re going to get themselves out of this predicament.

While I liked the Skypiea arc, it ended up running throughout the episodes that made up the first four DVD sets for the third season, which comes out of 48 episodes. There were one or two fights that I thought could have been tightened up somewhat; however, with One Piece being a shonen series, the various fights that took place in the arc would be done in a way take a while to help lengthen the story out. I should at least be happy that there weren’t any filler episodes thrown into the middle of arc and disrupting the story! So in that respect, perhaps having a 48 episode arc isn’t as bad as it could have been.

As for the DVD set itself, there are two selections for bonus features on the second disc: “Textless Songs” and “Trailers.” The “Textless Songs” feature includes “BON VOYAGE” (the opening song that appears in this set) and “Moon and Sun” (the ending song that appears on the set). There are also trailers for other properties that FUNimation was promoting at the time this DVD set was released.

If you’re a One Piece fan and are trying to collect the episodes on DVD, you can purchase this set for episodes 183-195. More recent DVD collections are packaging 24-25 episodes per set, and those releases would also be worth considering if you want to add One Piece to your home video library.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of One Piece Season Three Fourth Voyage that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Anime DVD Review: Bleach DVD Set 12

Bleach DVD Set 12 is a three disc set that contains 14 episodes. The first disc in the set includes four episodes and bonus features, which the other two discs include five episodes and bonus features. The episodes on these discs can be watched either with English dialogue or with Japanese dialogue and English subtitles.

The first 10 episodes in this set focus on the “filler” arc that focuses on Shusuke Amagi and Rurichiyo Kasumioji. In these episodes, Rurichiyo reveals that she knew that Kumoi has been trying to assassinate her. She escapes into Soul Society with the intention of participating in her marriage to Shu in order to keep Kumoi in line. But when Ichigo, Rukia, Kenryu and Enryu crash the ceremony, they discover the Rurichiyo at the wedding is an imposter. But before they can prove anything, the four of them become wanted by Soul Society and are being pursued by Soi Fong. Ichigo and Rukia befriend Shu, and he convinces them to take him as a hostage in order to escape and search for the real Rurichiyo.

Meanwhile, Kira voices his suspicions about Kibune to Amagai; Amagai is skeptical, but he tells Kira to continue observing Kibune. This leads to Kira finding an imprisoned Rurichiyo and being attacked by both assassins and Kibune himself. But in the end, Kibune is consumed by the power of his bakoto. But before this arc comes to an end, there’s a surprising twist that involves Amagai and leads into an epic battle between him and Ichigo. Although I have to say that near the end of the battle, I was feeling as if Amagai was becoming way overpowered simply to extend the story out a little longer.

Phew! I’m glad that this arc finally ended. I have to admit that I didn’t care for it for the most part, especially since I never really came to care about Rurichiyo as a character. For the majority of the arc I found her to be rather annoying. But on the upside, I was glad to see the Amagai’s running gag of not being able to drink alcohol disappeared in this set; I never found the gag to be funny and it overstayed its welcome on Bleach DVD Set 11. But when all is said and done, this will probably end up being a more forgettable filler arc than the Bount filler arc had been.

The final four episodes in the set return to the canon storyline. When the first episode of the canon arc started, I was dismayed to discover that there was no explanation for how we returned to this spot from the filler. However, I discovered that the omake at the end of episode 189 focused on the fact that the series was returning to the canon storyline; unfortunately, since the omake now only appear as a bonus feature, this really hurt the transition between episodes 189 and 190.

Episode 190 was almost exclusively a recap episode in order to remind the audience what had happened to lead up to the point where the canon arc ended before jumping into the filler. The beginning of episode 191 also has some recap, but this episode starts to move the story forward. Between episodes 191 and 193, there’s a focus on the battle with Szayel Aporro as well as on the battle between Ichigo and Nnoitra. During Ichigo’s battle, Nel ends up revealing a secret: that she’s the former Third Espada and that she can return to an adult form.

Well, these episodes finally turn Nel into an important character; prior to this point, she was simply annoying. However, I don’t think there’s anything that can help Pesche, and Dondochakka improve as characters. I honestly believe that Kubo created them to serve as comic relief for this particular story arc, but I don’t find either character to be funny. Instead, they’re simply annoying and I wish they’d go away.

The twist with Nel was interesting, and it gives Ichigo an ally that can help him fight against the Espada. Outside of this development, though, not a whole lot truly happened to move this story arc along in the final four episodes that were included in this set.

After making it through 22 episodes of a filler arc, I’m happy and relieved to see this set finally return to the canon storyline from the Bleach manga. About the only good thing about thing about the filler arc is the fact that I didn’t have to put up with Pesche and Dondochakka for a little while.

When it comes to the DVD set itself, the omake continue to be cut off from the end of the episodes and only appear as part of the “Omake” special feature that appears on each disc. I still hope this will be rectified in one of the future DVD box sets for Bleach.

The main menu on each disc in this set is also silent again. The Naruto Shippuden box sets made a similar change to their menus, but this change ended up not lasting very long. I hope this holds true for these Bleach DVD box sets. Seeing action taking place on the menu without any audio can be rather disconcerting to me as a viewer.

Each disc has Production Art, which is line art of the characters and locations that appear in these episodes. The first disc has 11 pages of art, the second disc has 12 pages, and the third disc has 11 pages. Each disc also has a “Clean Ending” option in the bonus features.

Each disc also has omake, as well as “sneak peeks.” There are three trailers in the “sneak peeks” on each disc, and the same three appear on each one.

If you’re a Bleach fan, then you need to get a hold of this set in order to have all of the episodes of the series in your anime home video collection.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Bleach DVD Set 12 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Anime DVD Review: Bleach DVD Set 11

Bleach DVD Set 11 is a three disc set that contains 12 episodes. All three discs in the set include four episodes and bonus features. The episodes on these discs can be watched either with English dialogue or with Japanese dialogue and English subtitles.

This set begins a “filler arc” for the series. Unfortunately, the point where they placed this filler breaks up the Arrancar arc, and this arc doesn’t seem to fit into where it was placed. This arc makes it seem like that Ichigo and the others have left Hueco Mundo, but from what I’ve seen online, it appears that when this arc is over, they’re all back in Hueco Mundo again. Since this filler arc continues into Set 12, I’m curious to find out how they explain that Ichigo and the others have returned and appear to be at the spots where they were at the end of Set 10.

This arc introduces Shusuke Amagai, who is appointed by the Thirteen Court Guard Squads as the new captain for the third division. Amagai appoints Makoto Kibune as his third seat; when I first saw Kibune, I had this feeling that he wasn’t trustworthy. An episode later in the set proved my suspicions to be right.

When Amagai and Kibune first arrive at the third division, they’re not well-received by most of the division’s members. Izuru Kira, the lieutenant for third division, asks Matsumoto for some advice, and she suggests holding a welcoming party. At the party, it’s revealed that Amagai has a low tolerance for alcohol and collapses after one sip. Unfortunately, Amagai’s low tolerance for alcohol becomes a running gag throughout the episodes in this set; it’s a running gag that got old for me really fast.

In the episodes in this set that focus on Amagai and Kibune, Kira comes to learn what Kibune is really like and comes to dislike him. Unfortunately, Kira can’t say anything to Amagai about it, and Kira takes it upon himself to keep an eye on Kibune.

Meanwhile a young princess of Soul Society nobility named Rurichiyo Kasumioji, along with her Soul Reaper assistants Kenryu and Enryu, come to Karakura Town. When Rurichiyo wanders the town alone, there’s an abnormal amount of Hollow sightings; these sightings get the attention of Ichigo and Rukia. Ichigo is able to take down the Hollows with his bankai, which impresses Kenryu and Enryu. The next day, the princess and her assistants move into a house adjacent to Ichigo’s, and they become students at his school.

Ichigo soon learns that Rurichiyo is the target of an assassination plot being spearheaded by Gyokaku Kumoi, one of the caretakers serving her clan; this is his way of trying to take over the clan. Rukia pressures Ichigo to protect Rurichiyo. It gets to the point where Kumoi sends a group of assassins to kill not only Rurichiyo, but to go after Ichigo and his friends as well.

Near the end of the set, there’s an episode where Ichigo is battling with one of the assassins, and Ichigo ends up in a different dimension. Here, Ichigo relives the guilt he felt because he couldn’t protect his mother. Getting to see little Ichigo and some of the things he did as a kid were adorable in this episode. The assassin tries to have an image of Ichigo’s mother kill him, but Ichigo manages to break out of that dimension by making peace with his mother. This was definitely an emotional episode, and for me, this was probably the best episode in this set.

Unfortunately, I have to say that overall, I’m not really enjoying this filler arc. The princess and her Soul Reaper assistants aren’t doing anything for me. Amagami’s running gag is annoying rather than amusing, and I overall haven’t really cared about either story that’s been part of this arc. I should mention that by the end of the set, the audience learns that there’s a common link tying these two stories together: Kibune. I’m not going to say how Kibune ties in with the princess’ story at this point, though. I suspect his connection will be elaborated on in Set 12.

When it comes to the DVD set itself, the omake continue to be cut off from the end of the episodes and only appear as part of the “Omake” special feature that appears on each disc. I still hope this will be rectified in one of the future DVD box sets for Bleach.

I should also mention that the main menu on each disc is absolutely silent. VIZ Media did the same thing with some of the Naruto Shippuden box sets; fortunately, the silent menus didn’t last very long. Hopefully this will also hold true for the Bleach DVD box sets.

Each disc has Production Art, which is line art of the characters and locations that appear in these episodes. The first disc has 9 pages of art, the second disc has 7 pages, and the third disc has 10 pages. Each disc also has a “Clean Ending” option in the bonus features.

Each disc also has omake, the exact same “sneak peeks” appear on all three discs, and the “More From Viz” feature on each disc has the same six pages of advertisements for VIZ Media’s manga releases.

If you’re a Bleach fan, then you need to get a hold of this set in order to have all of the episodes of the series in your anime home video collection.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Bleach DVD Set 11 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Anime Film Review: Bleach the Movie 2: The DiamondDust Rebellion

Bleach the Movie 2: The DiamondDust Rebellion is the second film for the Bleach anime franchise. The film was directed by Noriyuki Abe, and it was released to Japanese theaters on December 22, 2007. VIZ Media holds the North American distribution rights for the film, and the company released it as a two-disc set on September 8, 2009.

The film has a strong focus on Toshiro Hitsugaya, the captain of the 10th Division. His division is sent to escort an artifact that’s known as the Ouin; unfortunately, it’s stolen during its transport from Soul Society by a masked an unidentified Soul Reaper who is escorted my two mysterious Arrancar. During the attack, Hitsugaya gets into a confrontation with the masked Soul Reaper and appears to recognize him. During the battle, Hitsugaya abandons his post to pursue the masked Soul Reaper. The Soul Society accuses Hitsugaya of treason and orders his immediate capture; in addition, his squad is put under house arrest.

While Ichigo is out on patrol as a Soul Reaper, he accidentally finds Soi Fon conducting an investigation of the transport site; she tells Ichigo what’s going on before she leaves. After Soi Fon’s departure, Uryu meets up with Ichigo, and the two of them find Toshiro. When Hitsugaya awakens in Ichigo’s house, he abandons his Captain’s Robe. Ichigo finds Hitsugaya as he’s trying to sneak out, but the two are interrupted by the arrival of the two Arrancar. Hitsugaya makes his escape while Ichigo battles the Arrancar.

Hitsugaya discovers that the masked Soul Reaper has a connection to his past, and the connection they share leads up to the climax of the film. And the ultimate theme of this film has to do with what can happen when you have a problem that you’re unable to share with anyone; this theme comes through in what Hitsugaya does and in his connection with the masked Soul Reaper.

Before I comment on the movie itself, I wanted to talk about the title. After watching the film, my husband and I both wondered where the title, “The DiamondDust Rebellion” came from. My husband’s best guess is that “DiamondDust” refers to snow; however, he admitted that he had to do some mental gymnastics to come up with even that.

Now on to the film itself. Just like many other films based on Shonen Jump properties, the movie introduces characters and concepts that aren’t in the manga. Because these characters and concepts aren’t canon in the manga, the film has to end with “resetting the counter to zero” (i.e. having to have an ending that writes out the new characters and nullify any effects that the new concepts brought to the film).

Even though the masked Soul Reaper, Sojiro Kusaka, is a new character, his appearance brings about some character development for Hitsugaya. From what I’ve read, Tite Kubo created a one-shot manga about Hitsugaya’s backstory that was published prior to the film’s release in order to promote the film; unfortunately, it turns out the character of Sojiro didn’t appear in the one-shot. So Hitsugaya’s backstory ends up being canon while Sojiro’s existence does not. Personally, I liked having Hitsugaya being the focus of the film because he’s one of my favorite Soul Reapers.

I thought the story in The DiamondDust Rebellion was rather solid. Also, the animation looked rather impressive; while it may not have been quite as good as the animation that appeared in Bleach the Movie: Memories of Nobody, the animation in this film still looks better than the animation that appears in the television series.

The DVD release of the film includes a booklet, which appears to be a reproduction of the booklet that would have been handed out at Japanese theaters to moviegoers; however, this booklet had been translated into English. This booklet includes a summary of the film, stills from the movie, interviews and statements from some of the Japanese voice actors, Tite Kubo, and the screenwriter. The lyrics for the ending theme, a bio of the band that performs it, and brief statements from the band members are included. At the back of the booklet are credits and information on some of the terms, characters, and worldviews that appear in the film. This is a very well-done booklet, and it’s very informative. This is definitely worth getting this DVD release for, especially if you’re a fan of Bleach.

When it comes to VIZ Media’s DVD release, the first disc contains the actual film, and menu option labeled as, “Previews.” The “Previews” menu has options for “Trailers” and “Manga.” “Trailers” includes four minutes worth of trailers, while “Manga” four pages of advertisements for manga released by VIZ Media.

All of the actual bonus features are included on the second DVD in the set. The first is the “Making Bleach the Movie 2” featurette, which is comprised of five different sections; altogether, the five sections have a total runtime of roughly 37-and-a-half minutes. For this featurette, you can either watch it in one continuous piece, or choose which section of it you want to watch. All five sections have Japanese audio with English subtitles.

“At Studio Pierrot With the Director and Character Designer,” which has an interview with Noriyuki Abe and Masashi Kudoh; they talk a lot about the character of Sojiro Kusaka, and why they chose Hitsugaya to be the focus of the film.

“The T2 Studio – Photography and FX” interviews a couple of guys who talks about the animation and some of the themes and effects that were used in the film. “At Studio Wyeth With Background Artists” has two people talking about their feelings regarding the film and its themes before they talk about the actual backgrounds.

“Composing the Score with Shirou Sagisu” has Sagisu talking about the theme of the music in the film, writing and recording the music, the type of music used in the film, and he even touches on Ichigo’s music themes in Bleach. “Interview with Sambomaster” has the members of the band talk about being chosen to have a song of theirs chosen for a Shonen Jump film, they talk about growing up and reading Jump comics, as well as what they like in the film.

Overall, this featurette was pretty good for what it is. In fact, I would have to say that it was probably a little better than the two featurettes that appeared on the DVD release for Bleach the Movie: Memories of Nobody.

There’s a “Production Art Gallery” that includes 36 pages of line art of the characters and locations. The last extra is “Original Japanese Promos,” which runs for five minutes and includes five promos. The first, third, fourth, and fifth promos have Japanese audio and no subtitles. The second promo, which has a lot of exclusive animation in it, has Japanese audio and includes English subtitles. I was so grateful that VIZ included the English subtitles on this particular promo, because I wouldn’t have understood what was being said or what exactly was going on. Of the five promos, I would have to say that the second one was definitely the best one.

If you’re a fan of Bleach, I think you’ll enjoy Bleach The Movie 2: The DiamondDust Rebellion and will want to add it to your anime collection if you don’t own it already. This release is especially worth it for Bleach fans to get a hold of the booklet that’s included.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Bleach the Movie 2: The DiamondDust Rebellion that my husband and I purchased.

Anime Blu-ray Review: Ranma 1/2 Set 3

VIZ Media continues their new releases for the Ranma 1/2 television anime series with the release of the third DVD box set and the third limited edition Blu-ray set on September 16, 2014. The Blu-ray set includes remastered high definition video straight from the Japanese Blu-ray masters, and both sets restore the order of the episodes into the intended Japanese airing order. This review will focus on the Blu-ray release, since that is the version that I watched.

This set includes 23 episodes of the series, and it also includes a slifhr change in episode order when compared to VIZ’s original DVD releases. In this release, “Ukyo’s Skirt! The Girly-Girl Gambit” appears after “Showdown! Can Ranma Make a Comeback?” instead of after “Fight! The Anything-Goes Obstacle Race.”

Like with the first set, this set uses the original Japanese title cards instead of the title cards that were created for the English dub. As I watched this set, though, I was surprised to see an ending theme and animation sequence that my husband and I didn’t recognized that appeared around the second half of the set. My husband checked a couple of the episodes from our copies of VIZ’s DVD release, and discovered that the previous ending theme was used in place of this one we didn’t recognize, and when VIZ hit the episodes that appeared in the fourth DVD set, another ending theme appeared instead of the one we didn’t recognize that should have appeared. So I’m now starting to wonder what other kind of things VIZ changed or left off when the company originally released Ranma 1/2 on DVD. But this previously unknown to me ending theme was actually pretty good, so I’m glad to see that VIZ is presenting the series as it would be have been presented in Japan.

The Blu-ray remastering looks just as good on Set 3 as it did on the first two sets. Also, I’m happy to report that I personally only saw a couple of minor mistakes in the subtitles that appeared on this set. I get the impression that VIZ Media is trying to put a little more care into the subtitles after all of the issues that appeared on Set 1.

There are a total of five extras that appear on Set 3. The first extra is “We Love Ranma Part 3 – The Appeal of Ranma 1/2.” It runs for about eight-and-a-half minutes, and includes interviews with voice actors, cosplayers, a superfan, anime industry professionals, and a fashion designer; the interviews are intercut with English dub clips from the show. This is exact same style they used for the “We Love Ranma” segment on Set 2, which allows for this to be a bonus feature that can be put together rather quickly. It’s OK for what it is, but I’m generally not a big fan of featurettes that are done in this manner.

“New Episode Previews” is a continuous piece that includes all of the next episode previews that would have aired with the episodes that appear in this set. Honestly, I don’t see much of a purpose of including this as a bonus feature, since the next episode previews are also included in the episodes themselves.

There are also “Clean Openings” and “Clean Endings,” and they include both of the openings and closings that appeared in this set. These are truly clean openings and endings, because there’s no text all; both the credit text and subtitles have been removed.

The Blu-ray edition of this set also comes with a 32-page booklet. The booklet opens with a “What Happened Thus Far” writeup that summarizes what happened in the episodes that appeared on the first two sets. The majority of the booklet provides brief episode summaries and a screen shot for each summary, as well as production credits for the original release of the series and the credits for those involved with this Blu-ray release. The booklet has glossy pages; while this may look nice, it makes the pages a little slippery for holding when you’re reading through it. It’s still a nice booklet, though, and I’m glad to see that it was included. The set also came with an art card with a picture of Ryoga that was used as the cover picture for the Ranma 1/2 Hard Battle DVD box set.

Like the first two sets, the box that the Blu-ray case and booklet come in is very sturdy and looks nice. The back of the box that gives a description of the product is actually something you take off of the box after you unwrap it.

I would highly recommend this set to fans of the Ranma 1/2 franchise. This is the best way to get the franchise in high definition on Blu-ray without having to pay an arm and leg to try to import the Japanese Blu-rays; also, like I said earlier, the remastered video on the Blu-rays looks fantastic.

Buying these Blu-ray sets will also show VIZ Media that there is a demand for the product and should help ensure that all seven volumes will be released in North America. I also hope that these Blu-ray releases will perform well enough for VIZ Media that it could eventually lead to the movies and OAVs being released on Blu-ray as well.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Ranma 1/2 Set 3 that my husband and I purchased.

Anime DVD Review: One Piece Season Three Third Voyage

One Piece Season Three Third Voyage is a two-disc set that contains episodes 170-182 of the One Piece anime series. The first disc has seven episodes and a commentary on Episode 171, while the second disc has six episodes and the set’s bonus features. You can watch the episodes with either the English dub or the original Japanese audio with English subtitles. It should also be noted that in addition to watching episodes or using the “Play All” option, there is also a marathon feature, which allows you to watch all the episodes on a disc back-to-back without interruption. In the marathon feature, the opening credits only plays once, there are no next episode previews, and the ending credits are not included.


This set continues the Skypiea arc, and the arc is still going at the end of the set. During these episodes, Zoro takes on the Shandian warrior Braham, Luffy fights Wyper and falls during the fight, Eneru takes out Usopp and Sanji, Chopper takes on Gedatsu and then later is attacked by Priest Ohm, Gan Fall and Nami take on Kotori and Hotori, and Robin takes on Yama and then discovers the legendary city of Shandora,

Eventually, Zoro, Gan Fall, Wyper, Nami, and Aisa make it to the upper ruins where Priest Ohm and a giant python are. Nami, Gan Fall, and Aisa are swallowed by the python, and this is where they find Luffy. Zoro ends up being the one to take down Priest Ohm. And everyone except Luffy and Aisa make it out of the python.

Conis and Pagaya encounter Eneru, who reveals the truth of his goal to them. Then, Eneru goes to the upper ruins, where he takes down most of the people who are assembled there. To protect herself, Nami pretends to follow Eneru. Luffy finally makes it out of the python, and Luffy and Eneru begin fighting right at the end of this set.

After I finished watching this set, I found myself thinking that while a lot seems to happen over the course of these episodes, the story itself really doesn’t seem to progress much. Since I haven’t read this far in the One Piece manga yet, I don’t know if the anime took the manga material and simply stretched it out to make it last longer. But from the way the final episode of this set ends, I expect that this story arc will likely end before the end of the next DVD set.

And it appears some of the main characters are critically injured and one could potentially be dead. I’ve read much later chapters in the more recent issues of Weekly Shonen Jump, so I know that most of these characters will be returning. But there’s one who I haven’t seen in these recent chapters, and this is the character who seems to be the worst off here. I really hope that this character hasn’t been killed off! If they have, I’ll be really sad.

It looks like Conis is going to try to warn the other people of Skypiea about Eneru’s plan, but I’m afraid that her warning will fall on deaf ears, since she and her father are both seen as “bad guys” for helping Luffy and the others earlier in the arc.

As for the DVD set itself, there are two selections for bonus features on the second disc: “Textless Songs” and “Trailers.” The “Textless Songs” feature includes “BON VOYAGE” (the opening song that appears in this set) and “A to Z” and “Moon to Sun” (the two ending songs that appear on the set). There are also trailers for other properties that FUNimation was promoting at the time this DVD set was released.

If you’re a One Piece fan and are trying to collect the episodes on DVD, you can purchase this set for episodes 170-182. More recent DVD collections are packaging 24-25 episodes per set, and those releases would also be worth considering if you want to add One Piece to your home video library.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of One Piece Season Three Third Voyage that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Anime DVD Review: Tweeny Witches Volume Three

Tweeny Witches Volume Three is a two-disc set that includes six episodes of the Tweeny Witches television anime series. Technically, each “episode” included on this set is made up of two 8-9 minute episodes, so there’s actually 12 episodes here. Both discs include three “episodes.”

A human girl named Arusu who is a fan of witches and magic, mysteriously enters the world of witches. She meets two witch apprentices named Eva and Sheila, and discovers that they are capturing sprites. Arusu doesn’t like this, and she sets them free; this gets her branded as a troublemaker. Sheila is put in charge of Arusu, and Sheila and Eva are given the job of trying to reclaim the sprites. It’s quickly revealed that Arusu has the ability to do magic; in fact, a book she had with her in the human world that came with her into the world of witches turns out to be an important book from the witches’ world.

This set opens with Arusu trying to get away when the warlocks invade the Witches Realm, and how the True Book of Spells reacts to the anger she feels about magic being used to hurt people. In this set, there’s a strong emphasis on both the True Book of Spells and the concept of the magic of light. I was able to figure out early on in this set that somehow, Arusu would discover how to use the magic of light in order to save the day.

Atelia summons Sheila, Eva, Arusu, and Lennon. Several revelations happen at this point: Lennon is human, his mother is Atelia, and his father is Arusu’s father. Of course, I’d figured out that Lennon had to be Arusu’s half-brother back in Volume Two, so that didn’t catch me by surprise. And due to a scene with Atelia that takes place shortly before Lennon’s parentage is revealed, it was obvious that Atelia had to be his mother. Tweeny Witches has had a habit of being heavy-handed and obvious, which really destroys any surprise value that these revelations should have had.

At first, Lennon is angry with Atelia because he thinks she abandoned him and his father. But after the Magical Realm is threatened with destruction later in the set, he decides he needs to spend as much time with Atelia as he can in order to get to know her. Unfortunately, Lennon’s change of heart comes across as being forced because of how soon it seems to happen. But at the point we’re at, there’s not many more 8-9 minute length episodes left to tell the story.

Arusu’s father, who’s being held captive with Sigma in the Warlock World, tells Sigma about how Lennon and Arusu are both his children. At least this scene between them wasn’t as choppy as some of the scenes of the two of them together earlier in the set had been. “Choppy” and “rushed” are words that best describe the writing that’s used in these last 12 episodes.

The story ultimately climaxes with a group of witches overthrowing Atelia and allying with the Warlocks after Arusu ends up giving them the True Book of Spells. This alliance gives someone that no one in the series expects the ability to use dark magic to try to bring about the destruction of the Magical Realm. The leader of the Warlocks seems to be under the impression that destroying the Magical Realm will allow him to create a new world that he can rule over. It’s up to Arusu to figure out how to use the magic of light to save the Magical Realm.

As I said earlier, the storytelling in these episodes ends up being choppy and rushed, to the point that there are jumps in time where we suddenly see characters in what appears to be the middle of a scene. Because of this storytelling, it could be a little hard to follow what was going on at times. It also didn’t help that the series seemed to change tone and storytelling direction at least twice during its run. Honestly, I have to say that the episodes that appeared on Volume 1 were the best of the entire series; after that, the storytelling and animation just started falling apart. And when the series came to an end, I found it to be an unsatisfying ending. It was like, “I watched the entire series for this?”

When it comes to the animation, there were sections where very little details were includes for characters, and the cheating methods that were used in Volume 2 re-appear here (such as having characters talk while their back is turned, for example). There were even a couple of times where the animators were trying to create an interesting effect; but instead of enhancing the story, these attempts at effects drew too much attention to themselves and took me out of the story. And I have to say that Sigma probably got some of the worst animation in these episodes. Some of the animation on him looked so rushed that the animators made his outfit much more puffy than it was supposed to be. I could imagine Sigma looking in the mirror and asking, “Does this make my butt look fat?” I also had the thought that the overly-puffy outfit also made Sigma look like an Oompa-Loompa from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

In the end, I have to say that Tweeny Witches has an interesting concept, but the execution of that concept just wasn’t very good when all was said and done. I never thought it was a great show when I first started watching it, but it was at least interesting in those early episodes. And while I’m glad I can say I finally saw this whole series, it’s one I won’t be rushing to watch ever again, that’s for sure.

As for the DVD set itself, Media Blasters used one menu design and used it for both discs; the only difference is the disc number changes. Both menus claim to have trailers and bonus features; however, if you choose “Bonus Features” on the first disc, all you get is a splash screen that tells you the bonus features are on the second disc. And if you try to access the trailers on the main menu of the second disc, you get a splash screen telling you the trailers are on the first disc.

The first bonus feature is an almost 13-minute long interview with Yoshihara Ashino, the director of Tweeny Witches; the interview is in Japanese with English subtitles. He talks about how he got involved in the project, as well as the evolution of the project. This interview also includes a little bit of the first ever actors’ recording in Japan.

The other bonus feature is an 11-and-a-half minute interview with Daisuke Nakayama, the person who helped develop the characters and the story concept. Again, it has Japanese audio with English subtitles. He talks a little bit about the original personalities of some of the characters and how things changed after he came on board. We also get to see him going over designs with Yoshihara Ashino.

Some interesting things could be gleaned from these interviews. Ashino had made a reference to “the first 40 episodes,” which makes it sound like this project was initially meant to be longer, but was cut short for one reason or another. If there’s any truth to that thought, it would probably help explain why the storytelling became so choppy and rushed later on in the series. If the amount of episodes they were given was cut down, they had to find in ways to cram in information and plot points that were meant to appear much later. Also, Nakayama admits that the secondary characters were developed before the main characters; in fact, the main characters still weren’t entirely finalized when the main voice actresses came in to record their parts. After seeing these interviews, I couldn’t help but think that Tweeny Witches should be used as an example for how not to create an animated television series.

In the end, I can only truly recommend this DVD release to viewers who are already familiar with Tweeny Witches, enjoy watching the series, and want to add it to their anime library.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Tweeny Witches Volume Three that I checked out through the King County Library System.