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John Thomas Anderson (Southern Ontario, Canada)

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Dears Complete Series [Import]
Dears Complete Series [Import]
Price: CDN$ 50.76
19 used & new from CDN$ 33.57

3.0 out of 5 stars An older harem anime originally from Geneon!, Sept. 22 2015
DearS is another one of those older Geneon properties that has been license rescued and re-issued by Discotek (Eastern Star). And like most older properties it comes in a standard 4x3 full frame format with the original Japanese and Geneon English stereo dubs. The 13 episode collection is in a simple two disc DVD case with 6 episodes on the first disc and 7 episodes on the second. There are no extras.

As for the series itself, it's your typical sci-fi action harem comedy. Though it tends to take itself more seriously than most and I found the comedy a bit lacking. An alien ship crash landed in Tokyo Bay a year before and now the alien DearS are slowly being introduced to Japanese society through homeschool programs. And of course our hero (though he's pretty much a jerk most of the time) finds an extra DearS that doesn't quite fit in! Who immediately calls him Master! Think Chobits or any other harem/maid anime though it's not quite as good.

It's an okay series but I never could really warm up to it. The main character Takeya can just drive you crazy and too many plot points and characters never really got properly developed. It was also pretty obvious that they intended at least another 13 episodes which never materialized. So it just kinda peters out in the end.

Overall it's okay but don't expect a Tenchi Muyo or Ai Yori Aoshi here. I give it about 3 to 3-1/2 stars out of 5.

J. A.

Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust Movie [Blu-ray] [Import]
Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust Movie [Blu-ray] [Import]
Price: CDN$ 37.99
9 used & new from CDN$ 27.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't confuse this with the original Vampire Hunter D movie!, Sept. 15 2015
The first thing you should know is that there are TWO different Vampire Hunter D movies! The original movie made way back in the 80's which I've already done a review on - Vampire Hunter D [Blu-ray] And this newer remake (Bloodlust) done a couple of decades later.

The original movie was real old school with animation to match. That meant old style OVA quality animation, a 4x3 full frame and simple stereo (actually mono) sound. It also meant waaaay over the top exaggerated monsters, tons of gratuitious violence and was quite cheesy at times. I gave it 3 stars out of 5. For more on the original, read my review from the link above.

Anyhoo, about 16 years later, they decided to redo it as a real modern movie which was subsequently released here by Urban Vision in an anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 English only dub. I haven't seen this new Bluray release yet but from what's been reported on the forums, it appears to be an upscaled version of the original DVD release. So don't expect miracles here.

Now for the good points. Bloodlust is just a gorgeous movie to view with deep rich animation and some really far out combinations of gothic horror combined with a sci-fi twist. While I wish they could have gotten a newer master; It's still a beauty to behold. In addition unlike the old movie; the characters are much more fleshed out with real character flaws and motivations. This isn't simply a white hats versus black hats horror bash. But more of an everybody's a grey hat with agendas to match! Even the main villain isn't always what you would expect!

Overall, I'd rate it 4 stars for the animation, 3 stars for the video and 4 stars for the plot. 3-1/2 to 4 stars overall. Recommended if you're into gothic horror and demons. And you don't mind the at times far out plot.

J. A.

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Complete Series
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Complete Series
Price: CDN$ 32.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best animated series returns in a new complete package!, Sept. 13 2015
For those who have never seen it or even heard of it. Avatar is quite simply an American animated series that those of us who are heavily into animation consider quite possibly the best Western animated series ever made! Period! Like the very best of Japanese anime; it's a damn near perfect blend of sci-fi action coupled with perfect comedic timing.

Originally coming out from Nickelodeon between 2005 to 2008. It's a three season series of 61 episodes which were subsequently compiled into three fancy digipak season sets called Book 1: Water, Book 2: Earth and Book 3: Fire. Each season set comprising 4 (5 for Book 1) DVD's plus a bonus extras DVD. 16 DVD's for the entire series.

I haven't been able to discern yet if this new master collection of all three sets will still be in digipak form but since new artwork has been commissioned for the individual books....... I suspect it will probably be a simpler three case collection repackaged together. For the price it looks like a really, really good deal if you haven't already acquired it!

As for the series itself? Suffice to say it's still as good as when I first acquired it. Being based around a mythical world which is basically divided into four nations each specialists in one of the four elements. Earth, Water, Air and Fire and in which many of the citizens called Benders can manipulate that element for their own or their countries use. So Water Benders can pull water or freeze it solid, Earth Benders can fling bolders or pull up walls of earth and Fire benders can shoot fire. While overall there is one and only one Master Bender called the Avatar to keep things in balance.

What makes the series so incredibly good is it's depths of character development and the world itself! There's a ton of characters, backstories and each and every nation has it's own unique flavour and culture. Then throw in the proverbial snake in the garden in the form of a Fire Nation that has gone rogue, adult themes on everything from racism to power that corrupts and this is one series that never gets stale or predictable. You just never know what they're going to do next. With a unique opening and a very powerful ending, it is and was an almost perfect series. And spawned off a sequel series called "Legends of Korra" which is equally as good. These writers know what they're doing.

If you haven't seen this complete series yet and you like high quality animated series; then this is your chance to get one of the very best for less money than other series of half it's quality. If you already have the series sets? Then there's probably no major reason to upgrade as this is still just the same 16 DVD's as the original book sets. Just in a more compact and economical form. Now if it had been upgraded to a Bluray format; it might be another story...........

Highly recommended if you don't already have it. 5 big stars out of 5.

J. A.

Full Metal Panic! - Fumoffu - Classic [Blu-ray + DVD]
Full Metal Panic! - Fumoffu - Classic [Blu-ray + DVD]
DVD ~ not applicable
Price: CDN$ 30.27
11 used & new from CDN$ 28.86

4.0 out of 5 stars A very funny spinoff of the original Full Metal Panic!, Sept. 11 2015
Firstly I should point out that this is not really a sequel (or second season) to the original Full Metal Panic (one of the better sci-fi action series out there)! But instead is a comedy driven spin-off. Like FMP it was originally available from ADV back in the early 2000's and subsequently license rescued and re-released by Funimation in 2010 in both a 2 disc DVD collection and a 2 disc Bluray collection. This newest release on Funi's Anime Classics label being simply the previous DVD and BD collections packaged as a Combo collection at a lower price than either of them singly! If you loved the original FMP or comedies in general; then this is well worth acquiring.

If you're not familiar with the original Full Metal Panic Full Metal Panic! - The Complete Series - Classic [Blu-ray + DVD] ? It is one of the better Mech sci-fi action/comedy series out there being about a high school girl who ends up with a young mercenary soldier as both her bodyguard and eventually boyfriend. Who is as inept at being a teen student as he is superb at being a soldier. The series being an almost perfect blend of both serious action and comedy. So good in fact that they decided to do a spin-off.

As a result, this 12 episode spinoff ditches most of the Mech and battle action and simply concentrates on the day to day actions surrounding our fish out of water and his exasperated protectee. It is extremely funny. While it helps to have seen the original FMP first. (And I'd recommend you do if possible; it's a great series.) You don't really need to have seen the original as Fumoffu can stand on it's own as a simple little comedy series. And as such I'd give it 4 stars out of 5.

J. A.

Full Metal Panic! - The Complete Series - Classic [Blu-ray + DVD]
Full Metal Panic! - The Complete Series - Classic [Blu-ray + DVD]
DVD ~ not applicable
Price: CDN$ 32.85
10 used & new from CDN$ 32.84

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best of the classic Mech Series returns!, Sept. 11 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Full Metal Panic is one of the very best of the older Sci-Fi Giant Mech action/comedy series out there. Originally released by ADV as 7 singles back in the early 2000's and then re-released as a 7 disc thinpak collection in 2004. I considered it at the time as one of the very best Giant Mech series out there and just a hair below Rahxephon and Evangeleon in overall quality! (Which I still do!)

It was then subsequently license rescued and re-released yet again by Funimation back in 2010 as a 4 disc DVD collection and a separate upscaled 3 disc Bluray edition. This newest re-release therefore is basically a 7 disc Combo collection of the two older Funi releases packaged together under their Anime Legends budget label. This new edition actually being cheaper than either of the two separate releases and half the price I originally paid for my ADV DVD thinpak collection! Making it a very good deal indeed for a full 24 episode series!

The plot is quite simple really. MITHRIL a secret Mercenary organization discovers that a schoolgirl by the name of Kaname Chidori may be one of the Whispered. A very rare and special group of individuals who have the ability to think and use tactical and strategic possibilities (here called Black technology) that others can't and terrorist organizations intend to grab her. So they assign their best agent, a young man by the name of Sagara Sosuke to infiltrate her school to protect her! You can pretty much figure out the plot from there!

What makes it so good is it's an almost perfect blend of action and comedy. The Mech and battle action is first rate and the fact Sagara grew up on the battlefield and knows absolutely nothing about normal society and how to interact with other teens his age makes him the absolute perfect fish out of water. You'll be laughing your head off one minute and glued to your seat the next. I consider it one of the very best series from the old ADV stable and definitely worth acquiring.

Please note that being an older series it's in the standard 4x3 format. With the original DVD Japanese Stereo bumped up to a Dolby True HD 2.0 on the Bluray and the English from a DD 5.1 to a Dolby True HD 5.1 track. But since both the HD video and the 5.1 audio are both conversions from the original Japanese SD and Stereo; don't expect a dramatic improvement. I found the Funimation DVD's to be pretty much identical to my older ADV set. While the BluRays did improve on the video a bit and I found the audio a bit richer as well.

As for this newest Combo release; it's in Funimations standard Blu Ray multi-disc case that they're pretty much using for every combo release now. It's a nice compact case with inner flippers and a slip cover. And has a reversible cover with inner artwork that doesn't duplicate the front outer/slip cover artwork. And a back with a simple listing of all the discs and the episodes they contain. I really liked this and immediately flipped it over to the front.

As for the rest; there are four DVDs with six episodes per DVD and three BDs with eight episodes per disc. Seven discs in all. But the Funimation release lacks the older ADV animated production galleries that were on each of ADVs seven original DVDs. So that's a bit of a loss. But on the other hand they do have an interview with the original author and the anime producers. Plus it's Blu Ray and it only takes up about a third of the space of the older ADV set! So if you have the original ADV DVD collection; it's up to you to decide if you feel it's worth upgrading? But if you don't; then this is definitely the one to buy!

Overall, if you like Giant Mech series; this first season set is definitely a keeper. 4-1/2 stars out of 5.

J. A.

Simoun: Endless Melody Collection (Animeworks Classic)
Simoun: Endless Melody Collection (Animeworks Classic)
DVD ~ Mediablasters
Price: CDN$ 22.79
4 used & new from CDN$ 22.79

4.0 out of 5 stars A great little sci-fi space opera!, Sept. 6 2015
Simoun is another one of those little jewels that never got the attention it deserved. There's probably a couple of reasons for this. Firstly because it came from Media Blasters which tends to specialize mostly in smaller and more niche anime productions. And secondly because it never got dubbed. (Amazon's dub listing is incorrect!) But mostly because it got marketed under a Yuri label which really, really is a misnomer. As it's not really about Yuri and fan service at all. But instead is simply a beautifully looking, high quality sci-fi action series that just happens to be on a planet in which all the children are born female and choose their own sex when they grow up! The series could just as easily have been done with mixed sex couples piloting the Simoun and would have been just the same. So don't let the Yuri label throw you off. It's actually just a great little sci-fi space opera.

The animation from Studio Deen is first rate and the designs are very unique. From the enemy flying craft all black and spindly, their ship the Arcus Primo which has a real retro 30's art nouveau feel to it and the Simouns themselves. Which consist of two big spinning helical rotors with twin cockpits which require both crew to be in perfect sync. The action is right from the get go and as the series progresses you just never know what surprise they're going to throw at you next. Like the better anime series out there; it's never a battle of the week style; but continuing surprises and powerful moments as these young girls have to deal with a war and casualties that they never wanted!

It's not perfect of course. Media Blasters couldn't afford to dub it so if you don't like subs that could be a turnoff. And it is deadly serious and slow at times so if you're looking for a fan service heavy series or some lighter moments you won't find it here. And some things like why only females are born or why entering the waters of the Spring chooses one sex is never really fully explained.

But if you can get over that. Then like the best anime out there; it will stay true to the rules of it's universe and give you a very interesting voyage. And though it does have some EVA like moments in the last few episodes; it also has a proper ending and even an epiloque. Though like the ending of any war; not everyone will live happily ever after. Overall though, the series turned out to be a lot better than I expected.

Highly recommended if you like more serious sci-fi action series. And you don't mind a quiet leisurely ending. 4 stars out of 5.

J. A.

Initial D - Stage 4 S.A.V.E.
Initial D - Stage 4 S.A.V.E.
DVD ~ Not Available
Price: CDN$ 29.98
19 used & new from CDN$ 25.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Almost as good as the First Stage!, Sept. 2 2015
This review is from: Initial D - Stage 4 S.A.V.E. (DVD)
The 4th Season Set (which they call Stages) of Initial D goes back to it's First Stage roots being a true 24 episode series and as a result; it improves considerably over the 2nd and 3 stages of the previous set. Which consisted of a 2nd Stage 13 episode set which was a bit angsty at times and which I would rate at about 4 stars. Followed by a 3rd Stage set which had been turned into a movie and suffered accordingly feeling a bit rushed, stuffed and underwhelming and which I rated about 3 stars out of 5. So it's good to see the series return to it's regular roots.

Like the previous 3rd Stage movie, this 4th Stage set is also in a 16x9 widescreen format unlike the 4x3 formats of the previous 1st and 2nd Stages. And like the 16x9 movie; suffers the same problem in that it's NOT an anamorphic widescreen which means that it's window boxed (black bars on all 4 sides) on a normal widescreen TV. (It's not Funimations fault; that's how the Japanese did it.) This was not a problem for me as my LG Bluray player allowed me to zoom in to 126% to fill my screen but of course you may not have that luxury. And zooming in 126% means 26% lower resolution.

Having said that though, everything else is a plus. Like the first Season; it's back to the basics of multi episode fights against increasingly tough opponents and even better they concentrate almost as much on Takumi's Initial D racing partner Keisuke as Takumi himself which is also a nice change of pace. Otherwise it's pretty much same so, same so like the first season.

I still like the first season best of all. It was fresh and it was fun seeing experienced street racers go down to defeat at the hands of this unknown. Now it's more a given and like long road stories; it simply stops with the knowledge that there's lots more to come. So close to the first stage, but no cigar.

Recommended if you loved the First Stage. But if you haven't seen any of Initial D? Start with the First Stage first. Then decide if you wish to continue. So I'll give this 4th Stage 4 to 4-1/2 stars out of 5.

J. A.

Patlabor 2: The Movie [Blu-ray]
Patlabor 2: The Movie [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Jinpachi Nezu
Price: CDN$ 34.39
11 used & new from CDN$ 30.64

5.0 out of 5 stars FINALLY a BLU-RAY of this true classic!, Aug. 21 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Patlabor 2 is a sequel and like it's predecessor Patlabor; is a very high quality and at times hauntingly beautiful animated movie. Not surprising since it comes from Mamoru Oshii, the creator of Ghost in the Shell (One of the best anime movies every made!) So it's very nice to finally see this out on Blu Ray where it belongs. Quite simply, this is an old school movie at it's very, very finest!

Like Ghost in the Shell, both Patlabor movies are visually superb. And like Ghost both have very quiet introspective moments when the movies simply pan along through the city with a richly detailed background. But where the first Patlabor movie concentrated more on the action parts of a Ghost in the Shell; Patlabor 2 tends to concentrate more on the political machinations, infighting and detective work. It does have some very good action scenes especially at the beginning and end; but it's less about the fighting than the previous Patlabor and Ghost movies were. And more about the rising tensions and both the viewers and citizens wondering what in heck is going to happen next? So when somebody says it's boring this is what they really mean. It's not for non-stop action fans, but more for the Sherlock Holmes crowd but with Mech's!

Like the previous Bandai Visual DVD release, on disc extras are limited to just a few trailers. And it lacks the BV booklet. But it does have a full 1080P 16x9 video and the previous English and Japanese DD 5.1 audio tracks are boosted to full 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The surround is very impressive and fully matches the beautiful animation. There is no French track.

Like Patlabor, I give this movie 5 stars out of 5. It's one of the very best of the early old school anime movies. But it's more for those who love gorgeous visuals and haunting music than continuous action fans who will probably find it too slow.

J. A.

X - Complete Series - Classic 2
X - Complete Series - Classic 2
DVD ~ Various
Price: CDN$ 29.98
14 used & new from CDN$ 26.06

4.0 out of 5 stars One of the darker series from the Clamp Universe!, Aug. 12 2015
X is based off of a very long running Manga series from Clamp and like all Clamp series is beautiful to both look at and listen to. So it has all the iconic signatures that those familiar with Clamp properties like xxxHolic, Tsubasa or Magic Knights Rayearth will be familiar with. Dramatic figures perched on roof tops with hair blowing in the wind, dramatic confrontations with soaring musical backgrounds and gorgeous character art that makes these series very popular with a female audience. While underneath winds a deep storyline of tragic backstories, misunderstandings, betrayals and Greek tragedy! In other words, a typical Clamp property but darker than most.

Although the storyline ostensibly revolves around a young man named Kamui and his two childhood friends. In reality it's a much larger and more complicated universe with dozens of characters all with their own motivations, desires and psychologies. Not to mention their own special powers and vulnerabilities. The best way to describe it is if you were to take the entire cast of X-Men and pit them up against the entire cast of The Justice League but with a typical Japanese mythology and fighting style. It results in some beautiful choreographed battles and no idea who or how it's going to end up. That's it's strength.

The plot is really quite simple. Human warriors from opposing sides have to join with either the Seven Dragons of Heaven to save mankind or the Seven Dragons of the Earth to destroy all of mankind. And everybody has their own reasons or thinks they're on the right side! While Kamui gets to decide the final vote. It's the typical death wish that's so common in Japanese anime culture. Where there always seems to be one party who has to destroy everything because humans aren't worth saving or their honour demands it or it they're just plain crazy. But ramped up to the max. It's probably the darkest of all Clamp works so I wouldn't recommend watching it when you're feeling depressed!

It is a beautiful series to watch though, has some very interesting battles and techniques and a very dramatic (if at times overly melodramatic) soaring soundtrack! But it's also very dark and angsty at times, there's no guarantees of any sort of happy ending for most of the characters involved that you may get to like and depending on your tastes and experience with anime the resolution of the series may leave you wanting or not quite understanding what in heck it's all about! So I'd recommend this primarily to those who like them dark and angsty and for those folks, I'd give this 4 to 4-1/2 stars.

J. A.

Appleseed: Alpha (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]
Appleseed: Alpha (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Luci Christian
Price: CDN$ 19.99
2 used & new from CDN$ 12.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A darker and paler copy of the original movies!, Aug. 11 2015
The original Appleseed movie came out from Geneon back around 2004; was license rescued and redubbed by Sentai and remains to this day one of the best looking CGI anime movies ever made! It was then followed about three years later by it's sequel movie, Appleseed Ex Machina which was equally as good. Both of those movies I highly recommended and still do. And then we came to this movie........

I had really hoped that Appleseed Alpha would live up to it's illustrious predecessors but I guess that was too much to expect. Like the Aliens franchise or The Mummy movies; you get a couple of really top notch movies and then the franchises just kinda slide into mediocrity. Which is also the case with Appleseed Alpha though I wouldn't rate it quite that low. It does have very high quality CGI animation and lots of top notch battle scenes. However overall, it just doesn't live up to the high standards of it's predecessors.

Set as a prequel before the two main characters Deunan and Briareos arrive at Olympus. It's a much darker and grittier tale set in a city ruined by war. The animation is top notch and the action never slows down so you really won't get bored. But the plot is muddled and ridiculous, never makes any proper sense and there are inconsistencies that even a hulking huge cyborg could fall through. The main villains never become anything more than CGI cardboard cutouts and it never rises to the point where the characters ever become living and breathing human beings that you would care about. In other words, it's basically a 90 min. standard CGI video game. Lots of shooting and explosions, but nothing more.

As a sci-fi/action CGI movie for kids, teens and videogamers; I'd rate it a solid 4 stars. They'll enjoy it.

But as an intriguing and fascinating look into a future post apocalyptic world in the act of rebuilding. And with a deep plot and characters you can really empathise with like it's two predecessor movies; it's a big disappointment! So for adults who want something more, I can only give it 3 stars. If you haven't seen the two original movies ( Appleseed [Blu-Ray/DVD Combo] ) ( Appleseed Ex Machina [Blu-ray] ), pick them up instead and save this one for the CGI gamers.

J. A.

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