A virus is spreading panic throughout the world. The Medusa Virus – A fatal pandemic that turns those infected into stone. In an attempt to cure the virus a Russian company gather together One-Hundred and Sixty infected people, who are selected to be cryogenically frozen at a specially designed castle in Scotland until a cure is created. Among those chosen is Kasumi, who is travelling with her twin sister Shizuku who wants to make sure her sister survives the virus and not die like their parents. Kasumi is forced to enter the program alone as she says good bye to Shizuku and enters her frozen slumber. Something however interrupts the process. Kasumi awakens to find the castle covered in thorn covered vines and full of demons. Kasumi and six of the remaining infected begin their search for a way out and what follows is a twisted web of lies and unanswered questions that will change their lives forever.
KING OF THORN is a mixture of genres. Horror, Sci-Fi and Fantasy, this Anime has it all. The film has a survival horror feel to it, I felt like I was playing something like Resident Evil. The characters work well and we are given a good mix of personalities. I like the fact this was set in Scotland too, sometimes it is a nice change to get out of Japan or a techno style city. The castle looked beautiful and the creatures (even though they look like something out of an old fashioned RPG game) were well designed in both look and killing style.
This is one of my favorite review disks so far this month, I loved the story, even with the confusing ending, and I thought everything worked in it. The voice acting was more or less perfect but there was a couple of characters I was too sure on.
Defiantly worth buying on Blu-Ray and a great addition to any Manga collection
Release Date: 22nd April 2013
Age Rating: 15
Format: DVD & Blu- Ray
R.R.P: £19.99 (DVD) £24.99 (Blu-Ray)
After watching her team get decimated by a powerful stone skinned demon and young female ninja named Kagero is sent to find out who was behind the attack. Taken by the demon on her search she is rescued by a mysterious lone Ronin named Jubei, a man who is on his own unknown quest. The two are drafted in by a shady Shogun called Dakuan who tells them that the demon was part of a group of ninjas called the Eight Devils of Kimon. Declining his offer to fight the eight devils Jubei is poisoned Dakuan who will only give Jubei the antidote if he will take the offer of the job.
As he journeys of with Kagero by his side, Jubei learns that the man in charge of the eight devils is his nemesis, and a man he thought he killed years previous. Fighting for a cure, and to put an end to the evils of his past, Jubei and Kagero battle the eight devils in the hope that peace will return to nation.
From 1993 NINJA SCROLL is making its first appearance on Blu-Ray and about time too. NINJA SCROLL is one of the better known classic Manga titles alongside GHOST IN THE SHELL, AKIRA and VAMPIRE HUNTER D. I love me a bit of gritty anime, Manga being a part of my growing up, and NINJA SCROLL fits the bill for me. The demons in this one are well designed and well animated and our main two characters Jubei and Kagero draw you into the story. I am glad the ninja we saw in the opening scenes of the film wasn’t Jubei; the English voice acting for that character was AWFUL.
One slight draw back for NINJA SCROLL is it hasn't aged well as a lot of Anime has, this isn't a bad thing exactly as it has that retro Manga feel but I can see the new generation of Anime fans being put off slightly and that is a damn shame.
No matter if you are a new fan to this kind of animation or you have been an Anime fan for as long as I have I urge you to buy this version of the film.
Release date: 26th November 2012
Format: DVD, Blu-Ray & Blu-Ray/DVD Steel Book edition
R.R.P: (Blu-Ray) £24.99 (DVD) £19.99 (Blu-Ray/DVD Steel book) £29.99
Another Studio Ghibli classic for you today, this time in the form of the light hearted film THE CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO. From the director of the beautiful SPIRITED AWAY this film is now on Blu-Ray for the first time since its release in the 1970’s.
THE CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO is the tale of wanted thief Wolf and his partner in crime Jigen who, after pulling of a bank robbery, find the money they have stolen is counterfeit. Determined to track down the people behind the fake money, the duo spot a women being chased by a gang of men. Even after initially saving the woman she is taken by the men, which leads to Wolf and Jigen heading to the castle of Cagliostro to save the woman and for Wolf to face a nemesis from his past.
This isn’t one of the best Ghibli titles out there, and I have said many a time I LOVE anime, however CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO is a nice little adventure animation that you could sit down with the family to watch. There is a princess, a cocky hero and a vile villain, all the things you would find in your typical family fantasy film (all Disney films anyone?). Considering that this was released in the the late 70’s CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO still holds really strong. This is why I love anime, the animation never really changes much over the years like with American animations holding a real authentic Ghibli feel.
This is a great family film and if you have been collecting the previous Ghibli titles on Blu-ray then this is a welcome addition to your collection.
Release date: 12th November 2012
R.R.P: (Blu-Ray) £24.99
Possibly one of the most beautiful, heart-warming Animes ever created comes to Blu-Ray this November. MY NEIGHBOUR TOTRO is actually my favourite Studio Ghibli film of all time, and for good reason. The animation in this film is beautiful with the scenery and the creatures so wonderfully drawn that you are just dragged into its world.
The story is a heart-warming tale, as well as a tearjerker. 10 year old Saksuki and her younger sister Mei moved into a new home, with their father, in the country to be closer to the hospital where their ill mother is staying. Inside their new home Saksuki and Mei discover a magical array of weird and wonderful creatures suck as sot gremlins, a mysterious bus which is also a cat! And the big friendly creature named Totoro. The film shows their growing bond with Totoro while at the same time shows how the girls cope with the grief of their sick mother.
The voice acting is well matched to the characters and I just love the story and friendship between Mei, Saksuki and Totoro. If you love fantasy and animation I would go out of my way to pick this up on Blu-Ray, as someone who has seen this on both it is well worth it. The Blu-Ray edition looks way more stunning then on DVD and it was eye poppingly good on DVD so that is saying something there. This is just such a sweet film which even puts a smile of this, most of the time, horror reviewer’s face. Kids will love this for the cute creatures while the adults will enjoy the well written story.
Release date: 12th November 2012
R.R.P: (Blu-Ray) £24.99
Welcome to the world before heaven and hell. A high school full of kids who have died after a terrible life. Waking up in this school of Limbo Yuzuru Otonashi, a young man who is suffering from memory loss, comes face to face with a guerrilla unit called Battlefront, lead by a head strong Yuri Nakamura who explains to Yuzuru that no one can die in Limbo (they can however be slashed and shoot to be reanimated again and again). Forced into a war with a beautiful girl known as Angel, Yuzuru joins battlefront until he can regain his memories and find his salvation.
I absolutely LOVED this show. ANGEL BEATS is a 13 episode series of fantastic storytelling and breathtaking animation which will leave every anime fan wanting more. I must admit I was waiting for the inevitable sexual undertone that you find in a lot of Anime; however I was pleasantly surprised to find none! Which was a huge plus point for me. None of the episodes seemed to drag, leaving me wanting to see more and more until the end. 13 episodes were enough to be honest; I can’t see how they could have drawn it out any longer.
The voice acting was perfectly placed to the images, another good point for me considering sometimes the voices just don’t work i.e. ARRIETTY. The thing I loved overall was the nicely put together concept of a high school of limbo with students fighting for their own cause. Angel turning out to be just a normal person added even more feeling to the whole show as well.
A great Manga animation that will keep you watching each episode till the very end. A great addition to any anime lover’s collection
Release date: Out Now
Format: DVD & Blu-Ray
R.R.P: (DVD) £29.99 (Blu-Ray) £39.99
TALES FROM EARTHSEA follows the journey of the Arch mage Sparrowhawk who is trying to find the evil which is causing an imbalance in the land of Earthsea. Dragons have appeared again in the land and crops and livestock are dwindling. On his journey Sparrowhawk meets a young boy by the name of Arren, a young prince with darkness inside him, who is on the run after killing his father. On their journey Arren and Sparrowhawk take shelter in the home of Tenar, a farmer and a former priestess, and her adopted daughter Therru, a girl who holds a power of her own.
On Sparrowhawk’s trail, the dark wizard Cob is hell bent of destroying Sparrowhawk on his way to un-locking the door to immortality and the destruction of Earthsea.
One of two Ghibli films set for release in June (HOWLS MOVING CASTLE being the second) I am yet again mesmerized by the beauty of the art work of Studio Ghibli mixed with the fabulous story made famous by author Ursula Le Guinn. Although not one of my favourite Ghibli films TALES FROM EARTHSEA still has the ingredients to hold an audience on the edge of their seats. We are treated to the usual beautiful landscapes you will only sea in a Studio Ghibli as well as great voice acting from Timothy Dalton and William Defoe.
If you are just starting out in your Studio Ghibli experience or if you are looking to collect these classic animes on Blu-Ray then why not start with this one? TALES OF EARTH SEA is one of the best fantasy adaptation animations you will see (well second to HOWLS MOVING CASTLE) and is perfect for all the family.
Extras: Complete Storyboards/ The Birth of the Film Soundtrack Featurette (BRAND NEW) / NTV Special Featurette / Behind the Studio: Origins of Earthsea (BRAND NEW) / Japanese trailers and TV spots/ Studio Ghibli Trailer Reel
Release date: 25th June 2012
Format: Blu-Ray Double Play
R.R.P: (Blu-Ray Double Play) £24.99
Manga goes down the road of Studio Ghibli in the beautiful and stunning WELCOME TO THE SPACE SHOW.
WELCOME TO THE SPACE SHOW is the story of five young school friends who are set to spend a week of their summer break at a summer camp with no hassle of adult supervision. After losing their pet rabbit the youngsters head out into the surrounding area in search of it, but what they find instead is something out of this world. In the middle of a wide field the friends find a crop circle. When they head into the crop circle field they find, hidden in the surrounding grass of the crop circle, what they think is an injured dog. After taking the dog home they quickly find that the dog is actually an alien named Pochi who is on earth to carry out research on the local vegetation and species.
To show his appreciation Pochi takes the group on a sightseeing tour to the moon. But this is not the moon that we all know, this is a vast futuristic land where all manner of creatures from around the galaxy live and play. The simple sightseeing tour doesn’t go as planned however when poachers and a mysterious alien being steal and item from the friends that could destroy the whole galaxy.
As a fan of Studio Ghibli and Manga I actually found myself falling into this film pretty easy. At just over two hours long WELCOME TO THE SPACE SHOW had a good pace and with the beautiful and well designed worlds we are taken into I didn’t feel like it was dragging at all, which is a damn good thing I would say.
The storyline does near the end go a bit over the top, which with anime I can forgive, but aside from that as a whole o was pleasantly surprised with this film. The voice acting was pretty much spot on and I would love to see a standalone story with Pochi at a later date (something I doubt will happen).
I wouldn’t say this was your typical Manga style film however if you just love Anime as much as I do (ALOT) or you love the beautiful art of Studio Ghibli then I would without a doubt pick this one up.
Release date: 2nd July 2012
Format: Blu-ray & DVD
RRP: (Blu-Ray) £24.99 (DVD) £19.99
Framed storyboard sequence, trailer.
When I first started watching BAKA & TEST I sat there looking at my television screen asking myself...”what in the hell am I watching here”, and even after watching all 13 episodes I am not 100% sure what was really going on in the mind of the Animes writers, HOWEVER this isn’t me saying that this series was rubbish not by a long shot. The general cute yet very sexually promiscuous plot line, mixed with a high energy dose of RPG style madness actually made this pretty entertaining.
BAKA & TEST is the set in the Fumizuki Academy where students can battle in Summoner Test Battles against other students based on their academic level. Our lead characters are at the lower levels of the academic table however, so they are forced to prove to the rest of the school that they are not to be messed with. This leads to several battles through the up classes until the finally get to Class A. The stories in between are what makes the show quite funny. We have are main hero Akihisa Yoshii, the class idiot who has the ability to touch items in Avatar form who is madly in love with the heavy chested Mizuki Himeji who only ended up in class F due to illness. We have another girl aiming for Yoshii’s heart in the form of Minami Shimada who has been in love with Yoshii since then first saw each other however her attempts are thwarted by her lesbian admirer who keeps trying to get with her. These three are supported by a cast of misfits including the class rep Yūji Sakamoto, the class pervert Kōta Tsuchiya and the cross dressing Hideyoshi Kinoshita who keeps trying to prove he is a guy.
The show is sexual without showing much breast, but is still wonder if a 12 rating was enough for some of the stuff shown. However I do love my Anime and, even though it took me a few episodes to actually understand what the hell was going on, I actually really enjoyed this.
If you are a fan of Manga or Anime then this is a must to add to you collection.
Release date: 28th May 2012
R.R.P: (DVD) £18.00
Anyway from Horror there is another love for me and that is Japanese Animation. Be it video game like the FINAL FANTASY and SUIKODEN series’, TV shows like POKEMON and GUYVER or fantastic films like SPIRITED AWAY and HOWLS MOVING CASTLE Japanese Animation has been a part of my life since a very early age. However I am always cautious, I was never a huge fan of GHOST IN THE SHELL, a film very well loved amongst Anime fans and a film classed as one of the best Anime films ever made, so when I was offered to review MARDOCK SCRAMBLE I was expecting to feel a little cheated.
I was wrong to expect the worst. MARDOCK SCRAMBLE was sixty five minutes of action packed greatness which goes to show, once again, why Manga is still at the top when it comes to Anime.
MARDOCK SCRAMBLE is the story of 15 year old prostitute Rune Balot, who is killed by her employer, a notorious gambler and killer Shell Septinus who locks her in a burning car leaving her to die. Given the choice between life and death by the use an emergency life preservation ordinance known as Mardock Scramble 09 Rune chooses life and her life-force is transferred into a battle ready cyber suit. With the help of a cybernetically enhanced mouse called Oeufcoque, Balot is trained to use her powers to hunt down the man who tried to kill her.
A well thought out animation MARDOCK SCRAMBLE pressed a hell of a lot of buttons for me. The actions scenes in the final act were brutal and bloody, something expected from this kind of gritty cyberpunk style of film. The gang of body part obsessed hitmen was a very nice touch also, even though the person who thought up a dude with a fetish for collection women’s breast and attaching them to his body, is a little messed up in to head in my opinion. The city is a huge landscape, which gives the film a lot of space for the next two films to expand and, depending on the outcome of the movie; it would be nice to see Balot in a TV series maybe?
I would have liked the film to be a tad longer but I loved how they made the film scenes more gripping then any Hollywood trilogy has ever done. I hope the second part of MARDOCK SCRAMBLE is released very soon and if you are a fan of Japanese animation this is a must for your collection.
Release date: 16th April 2012
Format: Blu-Ray & DVD
Running Time: 65 mins
Amazon Price: (Blu-Ray) £15.00 (DVD) £12.00
Suzuku Tsukishima loves reading. Devouring books she quietly devours the fantasy worlds wrapped inside the pages of each tome but inside each book the she finds the same thing, the name of a man named Seiji. Intrigued Suzuku makes it her mission to find out who this mysterious boy is. One day, while she heads to the local library, Suzuku meets a lone cat on the train. Deciding to follow it she arrives at an old Antique shop and the whereabouts of Seiji who is the owner’s grandson. A romance blossoms between the young students, but when Seiji decides to travel to Italy for 2 months to begin his training to become a world renowned Violin maker, Suzuku feels it is is time for her to fulfill her dream of becoming a writer. Giving herself two months and with the help of a feline statue which Seiji’s grandfather calls ‘The Baron’ Suzuku loses herself in a world of magic and love.
WHISPER OF THE HEART is the latest Studio Ghibli film to be released on Blu-Ray from Studio Canal (Formally Optimum Releasing) and again we are treated to a beautifully animated masterpiece. This isn’t one of the better Ghibli films however it still holds its own at the very top of the Anime tree alongside films such as SPIRITED AWAY and POCCO ROSSO.
Instead of a purely fantasy tale WHISPER OF THE HEART takes more of a love story edge as we watch romance build between Suzuku and Seiji and the way love can help motivate them. As a writer it was interesting to see how Suzuku puts her all into writing her story, and as the writer among you know, it is very close to how we work once we set our heart to a project.
WHISPER OF THE HEART is a beautiful tale that is great for Ghibli lovers looking to get the collection on blu-ray as well as those of you who have never watch a Ghibli film before.
Extras: Storyboards / Background Artwork from "The Baron's Story" / 4 Masterpieces of Naohisa Inoue: From Start to Finish / Behind the Microphone / TV Spots / Original Japanese Theatrical Trailers / Studio Ghibli Collection Trailers
Release date: 9th January 2012
Format: Blu-Ray Double Play
Running Time: 111 min
RRP Price: (Blu-Ray Double Play) £24.99