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Columns



One Piece and DBZ on Blu




January 2012 Edition
by Neil Lumbard, John Sinnott, and Wen-Tsai


One Piece Collection DVD Set's... here we come!

It's been a bit too long since the last column! We've been going through tons of anime titles here at DVDTalk and it's been a pleasure to be able to check out some great releases over the past month. Perhaps the most exciting new releases we have seen recently are the new re-releases of the classic anime Dragon Ball Z on the Blu-ray format. Or how about the awesome One Piece collection sets containing two Voyage DVD releases in one? Then we really got into the new Fairy Tail releases... the episodes are just so much fun and we can't seem to get enough of 'em! We even saw the conclusion of two favorites: Yu Yu Hakusho Season 4 arrived on Blu-ray and Revolutionary Girl Utena received it's final artbox set of goodness on DVD.

The anime industry is in a peculiar place at the moment. Everyone at DVD Talk has noticed this growing trend. Studios that manufacture and release DVD and Blu-ray anime sets are suffering and it's largely due to a decrease in demand. Anime is becoming more of a niche segment of the population and this leads to a lack of sales amongst less serious and devoted fans. Bandai Entertainment announced that while they will retain the rights until they expire to their current catalog of series that no more DVD or Blu-ray's will become available from them in the future (with the exception being titles already scheduled for February -- like the second half of the original Gundam. Phew!), and this is certainly not news that anyone is happy about. No Turn A Gundam. And what happens to the possibility of favorites like Cowboy Bebop or Outlaw Star becoming available on Blu-ray to stateside fans? We'll have to wait it out and see. Other companies have seen cutbacks of employees in dramatic numbers and one of the biggest anime companies in America is now suing several other anime studios over financial issues that will ultimately affect the audience -- in both good and bad ways. Having said all of that, this is partially a long-winded way of us trying to remind the diehards out there that the anime DVD purchases you make do have a considerable impact on the industry stateside. We want to see our favorite series continue to be imported and released. We always hope for Blu-ray upgrades of favorites and fancy packaging for the coolest new show around. It's part of being an anime fan and collector, so do yourself a favorite and consider how much joy is derived from the anime distributed by the likes of Funimation and RightStuf and support the hard-work of these companies with your continued purchases. The loyal following is the best kind of following to have and right now the continued support of those who treasure the anime art form the most is not only needed, but it's well appreciated. I mean, come on... dude! There's so many great releases coming out each week. It makes us so happy to be able to cover these awesome titles for everyone so that people can continue to find out about the best anime series out there and enjoy them as much as we have.
This is all coming from one anime fan to another.



Now on another note... involving importing titles outside of North America. We realize it's ironic! But one of our writer/reviewers, Neil Lumbard, noticed that Australia has complete season sets of the entire Pokemon anime series (English dubbed only though). This seems like an excellent way to view the entire show. It's had a bad track-record here in the States with many random-episode releases and only a few sets. None of these DVD's have really presented the show in the way it deserves to be seen. You can order them from JB Hi-Fi and for anyone looking for the first few films in anamorphic widescreen as well (again, with English language audio) you can import the recently released Japanese DVD re-releases at a "bargain" price (Not really, but it still might be worthwhile considering the films are technically OOP on DVD in the US). Those can be found through YesAsia. Thus concludes our random free promotion for import Pokemon DVD releases. Keep in mind that you need a Region Free DVD player that is capable of playing these Region 4 discs.



Disney has continued to not announce more Studio Ghibli titles on Blu-ray. Whisper of the Heart is now available in High Definition in the United Kingdom. You will need a Region Free Blu-ray player capable of playing Region B Blu-ray discs.
 
For the readers looking for the Anime Bargains section, please check out the monthly Official- ANIME Bargains! - Thread at the DVDTalk.com forums.





Looking for affordable anime following the post-Christmas season? We sorta figured you might still have some titles to purchase, like the ones that you included on a wish-list but might still be needing to pick up because it just didn't work out gift-wise for some strange reason. The S.A.V.E. (Super Amazing Value Edition) product line from FUNimation Entertainment is one possibility. The product line launched back in 2010, and offers a wide range of anime DVD and Blu-ray releases from MSRP of $9.98 to $34.98.

Bamboo Blade | Part 1 Review - Are you looking for a sports anime that's a bit different? Bamboo Blade may fit the bill. It's a fun, slice of life kendo anime that may even interest the non-sport anime fans.

● Heroic Age (DVD / Blu-ray) | BD review - One of the better space opera anime by XEBEC in recent years involving mecha. One of the unique aspects of the series is its blend of mythological concepts.

Mushi-Shi | Vol.1 Review - A wonderfully animated series that's different than most anime released in the U.S. in the last couple years. And if you add supernatural beings (mushi) to the setting and some folklore based ideas, you get a very unique series.

Romeo x Juliet | Part 1 Review - An anime series loosely based on William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. It's more than just love and tragedy. Are you ready to look at Romeo and Juliet with a different perspective?

Shuffle! | Original Boxset Review - A worthwhile series to look at for the harem genre fans. Even with parts that feel clichéd, the series can still be cute and fun to watch with some serious dramatic moments mixed in.



WTK's January News Tidbits

Presented by Wen-Tsai King

Aniplex of America recently announced their latest direct Japanese import release plans for Fate/Zero, the prequel to Fate/stay Night (previously licensed by Geneon Entertainment USA). The first of two Blu-ray boxsets is scheduled for a 3/7/2012 release (retailed at $498.98). Some of the extras include bonus CDs and production material booklet.

In late November, online retailer RightStuf.com announced that anime classic: Neon Genesis Evangelion (TV) is going out of print (originally licensed by ADV Films). It's uncertain when the TV series will be license rescued by another North American distributor. Two version of the ADV boxsets are still available at RightStuf.com: platinum collection (thinpak) and holiday edition. It's time to pick up this series if it't not in your anime library already. Bandai's lisence of Wolf's Rain has also expired and unfortunately the series has gone out of print. Pick it up if you can find it while you still might be able to.




The Latest DVDTalk Anime Reviews
(Note: Click on a link for a full review to read.)

One Piece: Collection 1

"One Piece was one of my favorite surprises of 2011. The show has had many "Voyage" box set releases over the years but I had yet to check it out. I had read several volumes worth of the manga so it surprised me to realize it took me this long to see the anime at last. It surpassed my relatively high expectations. This is one of the best and most entertaining anime series I have ever seen, and I have watched tons of anime series. If you are an anime fan that is just starting to get into One Piece, haven't seen it, or haven't begun collecting the prior DVD releases these new Collection set's offer a substantial value. Funimation's One Piece Collection's belong in the library of any and every anime fan." - Neil Lumbard

Revolutionary Girl Utena: Set 3

Definitely not your ordinary anime show, Revolutionary Girl Utena is a strange yet compelling program and one that's definitely worth checking out.  The newly restored video makes this an easy one to give a highly recommended rating to, but only for those who are looking for something a bit bizarre and off the beaten path. - John Sinnott

Fairy Tail: Part 2 (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

The second collection of Fairy Tail episodes is even more entertaining than I expected. The first episodes of the show were so enjoyable but lacking in character development. While I still have a feeling that there is a lot more to learn about these characters it was surprising then that several episodes helped develop Gray's character. The show is extremely funny, cool, and entirely worthwhile. This is absolutely recommended. - Neil Lumbard

One Piece: Collection 2

"The Second Collection of One Piece episodes is even more satisfying and adventurous than the first collection was. Considering the fact that the first set turned me into a massive fan of the series that is no small accomplishment and viewers should expect to feel glued into their seats. Once one episode is done another one should inevitably begin. I wonder how fans in Japan ever managed to wait week to week to see the events unfold. The storyline was that suspenseful and exciting. The characters have become more firmly established, and the path towards the Grand Line begins. Don't hesitate to take the journey with the Straw Hat pirates and purchase this essential anime collection."
- Neil Lumbard

Dragon Ball Z: Level 1.1 (Blu-ray)

As nice of an idea as Dragon Ball Z Kai was (with the 'no filler' technique and all), I personally feel it took away one of the greatest strengths from the series as a whole - The sagas all made use of the (very) slow burn technique, but that's what made many of the big reveals such a big payoff. You invested your time hanging on the edge of your seat, and in the end you were greatly rewarded. Kai offers all the payoff with little build-up or viewing discipline, and in my opinion, greatly reduces the effect of many of the best moments the series has to offer. I waited a long time for a release to cure my 'not ready to buy DBZ yet' woes, and I wasn't going to settle for Kai. Thanks to the first Dragon Ball Z: Level release however, especially considering how pristine it looks after such meticulous restoration, I simply cannot wait to get my hands on the rest. Film damage has practically been eradicated and the original color timing and OAR have been flawlessly preserved. What more could you ask for? Well, I guess it would be nice if FUNimation gave us more than 17 episodes per release, as that doesn't even really give us half a saga/season. It's a minor complaint however, as I feel the quality takes precedence over the quantity. Add in the fact that all of your audio preferences are now contained in a single package, and this is a DBZ release I can finally highly recommend to the masses. - Michael Zupan

One Piece: Collection 3

"After viewing 78 episodes in one month (25 episodes of which are from this set) the fact that I can honestly say I am not getting even the slightest bit sick of watching One Piece seems to help reaffirm just how awesome a series this truly is. I can't wait to dig into the next collection box-set to see even more of the adventures of Luffy, Nami, Zoro, Usopp, Sanji, and the rest. If you have seen One Piece before then you probably feel the same way about the series. It's one of the most enjoyable and engaging anime series! Funimation continues to do an amazing job with these collections (each of which gives dedicated fans exactly what they want). Newcomers are naturally encouraged to begin viewing the show with Collection 1 while everyone else is encouraged to continue with Collection 3. This series is so good it might even be wise to purchase multiple collection releases at once simply to guarantee that you don't run out of amazing adventures to watch. Seriously... take note anime fans. The show's that good."- Neil Lumbard

Dragon Ball Z: Level 1.2 (Blu-ray)

It's a little frustrating that FUNi decided to leave the first season's final five episodes for Level 2.1. It makes no sense to... well, anyone. All in all though, this is still a no brainer for fans of Dragon Ball Z. This is the original series in all of its uncut glory, and FUNimation has given us the plethora of choices we've always craved. Want the US broadcast experience you fell in love with? Check. Want the English audio with the superior Japanese score instead? Can do. How about the original Japense production with English subtitles? Not a problem. Furthermore, this is the best that Dragon Ball Z is ever going to look and sound - The original aspect ratio has been preserved, and the film grain has been left intact to leave detail unhindered. This looks like film (appropriate as the series is on 16mm film), and the 5.1 English track is surprisingly robust. Contextually, the episodes included in this batch of episodes are far more exciting than Level 1.2's predecessor. - Michael Zupan

Dirty Pair: The Original OVA Series

Dirty Pair was way more fun than I was expecting. It's definitely considered a classic anime series with good reason. The characters are a joy and the stylistic aspects of the production excel far beyond any ordinary series. This DVD rerelease by Nozomi Entertainment contains an impressive presentation and it is well worth adding to any anime fan's growing collection. - Neil Lumbard

Yu Yu Hakusho: Season 4 (Blu-ray)

Yu Yu Hakusho's final season contains some of the best episodes in the entire series. While there is a definite feeling of sadness to see such a wonderful series come to an end it was also satisfying to realize that it reached an acceptable conclusion that adequately resolves most of the elements fans would want to see concluded. In the end, it was the characters that made the show such a wonderful journey to take and the destination is a bright light following a long path frequently deterred by despair and only salvaged by hope. The final episodes prove surprisingly philosophical and contemplative while remaining in the action packed style fans have come to know and love. These Blu-ray upgrades continue to be worthwhile in Video and Audio aspects and the inclusion of bonus features is surprising. Fans will undoubtedly want to collect all four season sets of Yu Yu Hakusho on Blu-ray. There has been no finer re-release of a classic anime series in 2011.  An essential set. - Neil Lumbard


What do you think about the column?  Like what you see?  Don't like it?  Have a comment or suggestion?  Drop us an e-mail and let us know!

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