VIZ Media Announces the Release of One Piece Manga Box Set 2

VIZ Media delivers a special treat to fans with the latest Box Set installment for the world’s most popular manga series – One Piece.

The One Piece Manga Box Set 2 will be released on November 4, 2014 and is rated “T” for Teens. The set contains Volumes 24-46, which comprise the series’ third and fourth story arcs – Skypiea and Water Seven – and will carry an MSRP of $185.99 U.S. / CAN. The Box Set also features a full-color poster and special ONE PIECE mini-comic.

As a child, One Piece main character Monkey D. Luffy dreamed of becoming King of the Pirates. But his life changed when he accidentally ate the Gum-Gum Fruit, an enchanted Devil Fruit that gave him the ability to stretch like rubber. The only drawback? He’ll never be able to swim again – a serious handicap for an aspiring sea dog! Years later, Luffy sets off on his quest to find the “One Piece,” said to be the greatest treasure in the world…

“This new release from VIZ Media continues the venerable ONE PIECE saga in lavish box set form and is a pirate’s treasure for any manga fan,” says Alexis Kirsch, Editor. “Catch all the action as the Straw Hats search the exotic sky island of Skypiea for hidden gold and then journey to Water 7, a wondrous water metropolis constructed upon the ruins of a sunken city. Jump aboard for fantastic adventures with manga’s favorite band of pirates!”

ONE PIECE © 1997 by Eiichiro Oda/SHUEISHA Inc.

VIZ Media Launches New Paranormal Shojo Manga Series Kiss of the Rose Princess

VIZ Media announces a thrilling new paranormal shojo manga adventure with the launch of Aya Shouoto’s Kiss of the Rose Princess on November 4, 2014.

The new series will be available for the first time digitally as well as in print under the Shojo Beat imprint. Kiss of the Rose Princess is rated “T” for Teens and will carry a print MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

A digital version of Kiss of the Rose Princess Volume 1 also will debut on November 4, 2014 for $6.99 (USD/CAN) from VIZManga.com and through the VIZ MANGA App for the Apple iPad®, iPhone® and iPod® touch, Android-powered smart phones, as well as through the Nook, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks and Google Play stores. Future editions of the 9-volume series will be released in-print and digitally on a bi-monthly basis.

Anise Yamamoto has been told that if she ever removes the rose choker given to her by her father, a terrible punishment will befall her. Unfortunately she loses that choker when a bat-like being falls from the sky and hits her. Anise is granted four cards representing four knights whom she can summon with a kiss. But now that she has these gorgeous men at her beck and call, what exactly is her quest?!

“Aya Shouoto uses her stunning artwork in KISS OF THE ROSE PRINCESS to bring us a tale of a modern princess and her four handsome knights in this reverse-harem series,” says Nancy Thistlethwaite, Editor. “Our reluctant but fearless heroine must pledge herself to save the world from the Demon Lord, but what will happen if she falls in love with one of her knights? Don’t miss the start of this exciting new series in November!”

KISS OF ROSE PRINCESS Volume 1 ©Aya SHOUOTO 2009

Anime DVD Review: Bleach DVD Set 13

Bleach DVD Set 13 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.

The first 10 episodes included in this set continue the story in Hueco Mundo. This includes character development for both Neliel and Nnoitra, as well as looking like the end is coming for Ichigo, Chad, Rukia, Uryu, and Renji. However, some Soul Society captains arrive to take on the Espada and help Ichigo and the others. Unfortunately, the arrival of the captains doesn’t mean these fights end easily; in fact, the battles the captains have against the Arrancar escalate and take several episodes to resolve. But before they can enjoy their victories, Aizen recaptures Orihime and launches an attack with the intent to destroy Karakura Town. In the final episode of this arc, Ichigo reaches Ulquiorra with the intent to take him on.

As I was watching these 10 episodes, especially after the Soul Society captains joined in the fights, I felt as if these battles ran longer than they really needed to. To me, it felt like these fights were being extended in order to stretch this part of the story out longer. My favorite part of these 10 episodes was getting to see the backstory and character development for both Neliel and Nnoitra, because this helped me acquire more respect for Nel and like her more as a character. While Pesche and Dondochakka also appear in this backstory, there wasn’t enough there to improve my view of them as characters. There’s one point where these two characters are sent flying, and I nearly cheered; I hope they’re gone for good.

I was dismayed to discover that the final two episodes are a short filler arc that sees the return of Rurichiyo, a character introduced in the filler arc that appears on Bleach DVD Set 11 and most of Bleach DVD Set 12. This was ultimately a stupid story about Rurichiyo getting mad with one of her retainers because he won’t let her play kemari because of the duties she has to do; she runs off to Karakura Town to find Ichigo and the others. When Rurichiyo’s retainer finds her, it leads to a kemari match being played between some of the characters of the series. But the game is interrupted by the arrival of a Hollow.

Ugh. Right when the canon arc was about to start into another major battle featuring Ichigo, the series cuts away to a filler story that just can’t fit in where it was put. Not only that, it features characters from the previous filler arc that I really didn’t care about. As a viewer, I was annoyed that this had happened again and that these characters made a return to the series. And it didn’t help that the filler story this time was just plain stupid. After making it through the intense fights earlier in the set and seeing the setup for upcoming major plot points, it was frustrating to have the storyline interrupted in this manner. It was probably a case where the anime was catching up too much with the manga source material, but couldn’t they have come up with a better filler than this? I really hope we don’t have to see Rurichiyo again during the series.

When it comes to the DVD 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. Each disc includes nine pages of art. Each disc also has a “Clean Ending” option in the bonus features; the first two discs have the first ending that appear on this set, while the third disc has the second ending.

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 13 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

VIZ Media Premieres Omnibus Print Edition of All You Need Is Kill Manga

VIZ Media announces the print launch of famed manga artist Takeshi Obata’s latest manga with the release of All You Need Is Kill as an oversized omnibus edition on November 4, 2014.

All You Need Is Kill collects both volumes into this complete edition and features color inserts, is rated “T+” for Older Teens and will be available under the Shonen Jump Advanced imprint with a print MSRP of $14.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN.

Digital editions for the pair of individual volumes are also available for $6.99 each across all platforms serviced by VIZManga.com and the VIZ Manga App, and are similarly available on the storefronts for the Kindle, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, ComiXology, and Nook. The free VIZ Manga App continues to be the top application for reading digital manga and features a massive library of the most popular series in the world. With the dynamic platform, fans can explore and enjoy a massive catalog of classic manga series that spans more than 2,200 volumes across more than 200 different series.

Takeshi Obata’s All You Need Is Kill originally premiered in VIZ Media’s Weekly Shonen Jump digital manga anthology earlier this year and is the stunning manga realization of the popular Japanese sci-fi novel, written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. In this rousing action story, when the alien Mimics invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor called a Jacket and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to be reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. On his 158th iteration, he gets a message from a mysterious ally – the female soldier known as the Full Metal Bitch. Is she the key to Keiji’s escape or his final death?

The bestselling All You Need Is Kill novel also inspired the live-action summer blockbuster – Edge of Tomorrow – which starred Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton.

“Coming just after Takeshi Obata’s first-ever U.S. appearance at the recent New York Comic Con, we are very excited to announce the print debut of his action-packed manga treatment of ALL YOU NEED IS KILL,” says Mike Montesa, Editor. “Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s award winning novel comes to life with tense and engrossing characters and plenty of visceral battle scenes, all wonderfully depicted with Obata’s signature highly detailed style. The alien Mimics are bent on destroying humanity but they are about to meet their match in this exceptional new release from VIZ Media!”

ALL YOU NEED IS KILL © 2014 by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Ryosuke Takeuchi, yoshitoshi ABe, Takeshi Obata/SHUEISHA Inc.

VIZ Media Announces the Release of Pokemon Season 1: Indigo League – The Complete Collection DVD Set

VIZ Media announces the release, for the first time ever, of the entire Pokemon Indigo League animation in one comprehensive DVD set.

Pokemon Season 1: Indigo League – The Complete Collection contains all 78 episodes (more than 27 hours) of this legendary Pokemon season on 9 DVDs and will be released on October 28, 2014. Pokemon Season 1: Indigo League – The Complete Collection will carry an MSRP of $54.98 U.S. / $63.99 CAN.

Take a trip back to the very beginning, when the adventures were just getting started! In Pokemon Indigo League, Ash Ketchum celebrates his tenth birthday and he’s ready to do what many 10-year-olds in the Kanto region set out to do – become a Pokémon Trainer! Things don’t go exactly the way he planned when he ends up with a Pikachu instead of a different partner Pokémon, and winning Gym Badges turns out to be much tougher than he thought. Luckily, he’s got Gym Leaders Brock and Misty at his side, along with a bevy of new Pokémon friends, including Bulbasaur, Squirtle, and Charmander.

Pokémon is one of the largest entertainment franchises in the world, selling more than 260 million video games, shipping more than 21.5 billion Pokémon TCG cards, and featuring a library of more than 700 animation episodes and 16 full-length animated films.

VIZ Media’s Studio Ghibli Library Imprint Releases Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke: The First Story

VIZ Media delivers a treat to readers and fans of famed director and pioneering creative visionary, Hayao Miyazaki, with the release today of Princess Mononoke: The First Story.

The oversized (11¾ x 11¾ inch) hardcover release is published under the Studio Ghibli Library imprint and carries an MSRP of $34.99 U.S. / $39.99 CAN. The beautifully illustrated storybook features Hayao Miyazaki’s original watercolor artwork, which complements his thoughtfully written fable about man’s need to maintain ecological balance with nature that became the origin for the 1997 feature film. An afterward written by Miyazaki lends further context and insights to the Mononoke story and its deep and lasting impact upon the director.

This is the original Princess Mononoke story, created by Hayao Miyazaki in 1980 while he was first conceptualizing the landmark animated film that would be released to universal acclaim seventeen years later. As an initial version of the tale, it offers a new and significantly different perspective from the final version presented in the film. After a long, exhausting war, a samurai lost in a forest encounters a giant wildcat – a mononoke. The beast saves his life, but at the price of his daughter’s hand in marriage…

“Princess Mononoke was a historic release for Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli and propelled the animation auteur to an entirely new level of international fame,” says Masumi Washington, Senior Editorial Director. “But few know of THE FIRST STORY, the imaginative fable that was the genesis for his groundbreaking film. This premium storybook fittingly presents it for the very first time in English and prominently displays his expressive watercolor characters and landscapes. We look forward to readers discovering Princess Mononoke in a whole new way in this unique release!”

VIZ Media also invites fans to also explore the imaginatively conceived world of Princess Mononoke in The Art of Princess Mononoke (MSRP: $34.99 U.S. / $39.99 CAN). The substantial hardcover edition from the Studio Ghibli Library imprint features an all new translation and contains a trove of insightful interviews, original concept sketches, character art and finished animation cels, and a look at the computer graphics technology used in the film’s production.

“MONONOKE HIME” (1980 nen Shoki Settei Ban) By Hayao Miyazaki ©1993 Nibariki

Manga Review: “Pokemon Black and White” Volume 18

Pokemon Black and White Volume 18 is a manga based on the Pokemon Black and Pokemon White video games. The manga was written by Hidenori Kusaka, and the art was done by Satoshi Yamamoto. VIZ Media released this manga in North America through its Perfect Square imprint in 2014. Pokemon Black and White is rated “A,” which means that it is suitable for readers of all ages.

Pokemon Black and White focuses on two Pokemon trainers: a boy named Black and a girl named White. Black dreams of winning the Pokemon League, and White’s dream is working with Pokemon in showbiz; but after her Tepig Gigi decides to stay with N, the leader of Team Plasma, White trains in order to participate in Pokemon Battles.

Volume 18 focuses on the Pokemon League Championships. First, there’s a match between Black and Iris; not only do we get to see the match between these two, we also see a flashback of Iris’ that provides some background and character development for her. After seeing this backstory, it made me realize that I like the Iris that appears in the videogame and manga much more than the Iris that’s portrayed in the Pokemon anime. I feel her character is much stronger and better developed here when compared to her anime counterpart.

White is also important in this volume as she tries to investigate Hood Man. While White is doing this, we see Inspector Looker watching her investigation. Looker’s appearance in the Unova region had been hinted at during the end of the Pokemon Adventures Diamond and Pearl Platinum manga series, so it’s nice to see that VIZ’s Pokemon Black and White releases that have come out since the final volume of Pokemon Adventures Diamond and Pearl Platinum have included Looker in them. I don’t know if this was simply a coincidence, or if VIZ Media had tried to time the releases to work out that way. Either way, I have to say that this was well played.

Up to now, it had also been hinted that something was different about Black’s friend, Cheren. After Cheren wins his match and becomes Black’s competitor for the finals, the truth about Cheren and his recent behavior are revealed. I hadn’t predicted the reason for Cheren’s change, but I should have known that it would somehow tie in with Team Plasma. Near the end of the volume, something surprising happens during Black and Cheren’s battle; it’s also hinted that something major is about to happen.

Unfortunately, since this volume focused exclusively on the Pokemon League Championships, we didn’t get to see anything in regards to what happened to Cilan, Cress, and Chili with their battle against three members of Team Plasma. However, since I did mention in my review for Volume 17 that I was most interested in seeing how the story around the Pokemon League Championships would evolve, I wasn’t disappointed in how this volume focused on that aspect.

Fans of the series who have enjoyed reading it up to this point will probably also enjoy reading Pokemon Black and White Volume 18.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Pokemon Black and White Volume 18 that I checked out through the King County Library System.