DVD Review – Bleach: Series 9 Part 1 (Episodes 168-178)

Available on DVD now

As we dive back into the world of Bleach, you will recall we last left our heroes in the world of Hueco Mundo as they strive to put a stop to Aizen and his fiendish… wait, that tale isn’t continuing for a while? Instead we’re going to be treated to a new standalone story set in the world of the living (that has nothing to do with the ongoing story from the last volume) surrounding a mysterious trio taking refuge on Earth?

This is what you will be met with as you pop in this DVD set. As mentioned in my review of Series 8 Part 2 (read it HERE) due to production issues when the series first aired – namely that the anime was far too close to the Manga of Bleach being published at the same time in Japan – series 9 began a new original story to break the flow of what we had been watching. But I’m happy to report that from my perspective this is actually a welcomed change and isn’t as bad of an occurrence as some might perceive. Yes it is an original story, which I appreciate can be a major turn off for some people, but the good thing about this collection of episodes is that it does takes us back to some older ground of the Bleach universe. We get to see our heroes in the world of living attending school and joking around with each other, reminding us that at the end of the day they are only high school students. (Something that in all honestly I had forgotten about given the serious overtone of the Hueco Mundo story.) So, although it has created a bump in the road of a story we have already invested a lot of time in, it is nice to have a break once in a while before plowing on with whatever awaits us next (in this instance) in Hueco Mundo.
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DVD Review: Mardock Scramble – The First Compression

Released Date: 16th April 2012
on DVD & Blu-Ray

Science-fiction is a great genre. Not only do you have the Hollywood, ‘cowboys in space’ adventures, but an equal part can be more intellectual, exploring human nature through application to technology and fantastic worlds. Ghost In The Shell, the original incarnation, was a fairly heavy-handed existential debate under the guise of cybernetic crime fighting with some infamous setpieces that arguably set the standard for anything ‘cyber’-related to come, and Innocence, its sequel, was… well, a return to the figurative.

There seems to be a great disparity between the mental thrillers and the actioners. It’s hardly surprising that ‘mecha’ is its own genre in anime, given the prevalence of giant robots in Japanese science fiction. And while these often weave political (Gundam), personal (Eureka Seven) or existential (Evangelion/RahXephon) subplots, they don’t normally take such a turn for the verbose or philosophical that others do, like Ghost In The Shell. Mardock Scramble is definitely meant to follow in its footsteps, and probably Battle Angel Alita’s as well. Here’s how it squared up…

Bakuman set for UK release

It’s been confirmed that the popular series Bakuman will see a UK release thanks to Kaze UK & Viz Media Europe. Manga Entertainment will be handling the UK distribution.

The synopsis by Viz Media: Is becoming a successful manga artist an achievable dream or just one big gamble? Average student Moritaka Mashiro enjoys drawing for fun. When his classmate and aspiring writer Akito Takagi discovers his talent, he begs Moritaka to team up with him as a manga-creating duo. But what exactly does it take to make it in the manga-publishing world? Moritaka is hesitant to seriously consider Akito’s proposal because he knows how difficult reaching the professional level can be. Still, encouragement from persistent Akito and motivation from his crush push Moritaka to test his limits!

This series thus far has seen two seasons of anime, with a third in the works, after generating a big following. From the two creators behind Death Note, Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba, the manga has sold millions of copies in Japan and now Viz Media Europe have picked up the rights for distribution on DVD, Video On Demand & Blu-Ray in many european territories including the UK. This news has lead to speculation at this early stage it might see a Blu-Ray release in the UK. We should stress that this has not been confirmed at this time. Manga UK commented on twitter that a possible Blu-Ray release is “Still TBC I believe.”

With Bakuman, Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba radically changes the subject and theme from his work on the captivating thriller of Death Note in order to suck us into the backstage world of manga creation. The series is a realistic, funny and surprisingly immersive look into the dream industry of many teenagers today. The authors pays close attention to developing the main characters of this TV series – two passionate teenagers who will never stop dreaming about publishing their first manga. 

Release dates are to be confirmed in due course.

DVD Review – Bleach: Series 8 Part 1

When it comes to the world of Shonen Jump there are three franchises that I would regard as being the largest: Naruto, Bleach & One Piece. Sadly the latter is not available in the UK but both Naruto and Bleach have built dedicated followings in the UK with their unique stories, character development and overall contrasting universes that they are set in.

Release Date: 19th March 2012

Given this is a review of the first half of series eight in Manga Entertainment’s DVD releases, you may forgive me if don’t give a detailed back story of the entire franchise. (One would think if you’re reading this then you are familiar with the story.) But for the benefit of those who might be throwing themselves in at the deep end in reading this, allow me to briefly enlighten you on where things stand.

The Bleach universe focuses on the presence of Death Gods (pronounced as Shinigami in Japanese) and how they must protect the world of the living from Hollows – essentially souls that did not properly transfer to the afterlife. By the time we get to season eight it’s a very different outlook from the start of the series. We have the main protagonist Ichigo Kurosaki who has now been accepted by the Soul Reapers – another word for death gods, in this case the police equivalent of them – following the assistance he gave the Soul Society – the headquarters of the death gods – in a previous battle that encompassed and climaxed throughout the majority of the first few seasons. Now attention is turning to rescuing one of their own, Orihime, who has been taken by the devious (former soul reaper after being ousted as a turncoat) Aizen to his home that is conveniently the home of the Hollows, Hueco Mondo.

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DVD Review – Samurai Girls

Imagine if you will, a man standing on a small bridge in a dojo in what can best described as alternative reality of Japan known as Great Japan. A time where the Tokugawa Shogunate, the era of feudal Japan that prohibited contact with the rest of the world among many other things, is still in power when suddenly a bright ball of light appears in the sky. The light descending towards this perplexed man, who we later find out is the main male protagonist of the series, is made even more confused moments later when he discovers a naked unconscious lady inside this ball of light who addresses him as ‘big brother’ (as in biological brother, not a term of affection), & then kisses him. This is the opening scene of Samurai Girls, the latest release by Kaze in the UK. Continue reading

Podcast Episode #12 w/ Andrew Partridge of Kaze/Viz Media Europe

[Recorded on November 8th 2010]

Jeremy Graves and Hugo Jackson are back with another packed edition of The Anime Chronicle Podcast! On this edition of the show, there’s detailed discussion on how things were at the October incarnation of the London Expo! Plus, we bring you an interview with Andrew Partridge (formerly of Beez Entertainment, now) of Kaze/Viz Media Europe conducted at the Expo!

A fun show for all, and it’s available now!

Download – Right Click, Save As HERE
Download through iTunes HERE