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Category:    Home > Reviews > Anime > Animation > Drama > Teens > Romance > Gaming > Japan > TV > Comedy > Fantasy > Cats > Action > Cars > Racing > Chihayafuru: Season 2 (2012)/Girlish Number: Complete Collection (2016)/The Life of Budori Gusuko (2012)/Initial D: Legend 2 - Racer (2015 w/DVD)/(all Sentai Filmworks Blu-ray releases)

Chihayafuru: Season 2 (2012)/Girlish Number: Complete Collection (2016)/The Life of Budori Gusuko (2012)/Initial D: Legend 2 - Racer (2015 w/DVD)/(all Sentai Filmworks Blu-ray releases)

Picture: B+/B/A/C+ & C Sound: B+/B+/B/B & C+ Extras: C*/C/C/D Main Program: B+/B+/C+/C+

Now for four more new Anime releases from the top company in the field and U.S. market, Sentai...

Chihayafuru: Season 2

A new semester begins, Chihaya and Taichi vow to improve Karuta skill and enter the High School Karuta Tournament, but first, they must recruit new members in order to keep their club room. As they form a new team, Chihaya, Taichi and Arata continue to improve their game on the master's level so they might play with each other once more.

Karuta is a Japanese card game involving memorization and reflexes, a half a poem is recited and it becomes a race/competition to see which player can find it's matching card. Chihaya is a beauty, but she has totally become a Karuta lover and strives to be the best female player, the Karuta Queen. Along with improving her own skills, she teaches her new team members how to play Karuta, but their new member, Sumire has joined for another reason ...to seduce Taichi. Chihaya and her teammates continues to play in school team matches while Arata competes in single matches.

This is a drama of friends growing up and playing Karuta together. This series is about the love and passion of the game and teaches about teamwork, friendship and sportsmanship. It is filled with eccentric characters which makes the series more interesting as well as the drama between all the characters. Extras include clean opening and closing animations and trailers, but a loaded, fancier, Premium Box Set edition with far more extras is also available.

Episodes include...

Flowers wilt, they fade - Sumire joins the Karuta club, not to play at first, but to seduce Taichi after being dumped by her boyfriend.

The rumor has spread - Only two new members remain, Sumire accidentally reveals her true intentions to everyone, but realizes if she wants to seduce Taichi she'll have to learn Karuta.

Tirelessly running - Arata continues to compete for the master's qualifier. Chihaya and the team competes in the Tokyo regional team games.

Will you go, o fishing boat. Will you tell them of my fate? - Team Mizusawa competes with Team Homei who uses psychological attacks to get inside their opponents head. After remaining calm, Taichi and the team manages to win.

Ah, the forgotten splendor of the age of Emperors - Nishida discovers his sister is rooting for the opposite team. Chihaya tries to improve her accuracy over speed.

The Tatsuta River becomes the finest brocade - Chihaya and the team's game comes to a finish, losing to the other team on a slight technicality, but Chihaya remains positive on it was a learning experience for the rookies.

Old friends, strangers, come and walk across the gates of meeting hall - Chihaya remains depressed about losing the tournament, but Chihaya's mother buys a kimono/hakama to cheer her up.

The moon that rose on Mt Mikasa and shone on the Kasuya - Chihaya and the team plays against a group of hafu (half Japanese, with bi-racial parents) and totally crushes them.

The wide sea - Arata seems to have some romantic relationship with Shinobu, the current Karuta Queen. Arata secretly substitutes for another team when they are short a member but gets caught.

A passing shower - The tournament officials talk on how they are to punish Arata for breaking the rules, considering banishing him, but Shinobu threatens them that she will withdraw if Arata isn't allowed to play.

Ibuki's mugwort blazes, a pyre laps at my poor heart - Komano continues to spy and gather information about other teams. Arata's punishment is a letter of apology and he is banned from cheering on his friends.

Only the Shinto rituals still bear the signs of summer - Chihaya plays against Megumu, the former runner up/rival of the Karuta Queen.

Even in dreams you don't dare, do you fear what they will say? - Megumu who doesn't really care about become the Karuta Queen realizes Chihaya is after the throne.

Everyone keeps wondering, "Is he thinking about love?" - Shinobu challenges Arata to a game, but he refuses. Chihaya loses to Megumu.

To Tago-no-Ura - Kana injures her finger. Chihaya and the team enters the final rounds as Arata continues to watch them.

Garnish the trees for the Emperor's parade - A recap of all the episodes so far.

Wherever it runs - Chihaya injures her own finger, but continues to play on.

"Forever", he said - Chihaya teammates continue to lose. Shinobu still feels that team tournaments are for weaklings and that truly strong Karuta players shouldn't play in teams.

Crossing the Yura River on a boat without rudder - Taichi and Chihaya games comes to an end and Chihaya wins. Chihaya tells Arata that she believes she has become a better player for playing on teams and that he should never say he is not interested in being on a team.

Near the rice paddy - Arata tells that he is only willing to play on a team with Chihaya and Taichi. Chihaya goes see a doctor about her injured finger and is told to take time off from playing Kaurta to let it heal. Chihaya tries to play with her left hand.

It echos through history and these rocks resound once more - Chihaya has a chance to play Shinobu, so she decides to take off her splint and play with her right hand.

I thought I saw you - Shinobu realizes she is playing an injured Chihaya, but Chihaya say they should continue to play their best. Chihaya still loses, but Shinobu feels cheapened of her victory and says they will play again in the future.

Cherry trees blossom on far-away mountains - Arata plays against Shinobu. Chihaya watches over Taichi as he plays.

How clueless you are - Chihaya and Taichi watches as Arata plays against Shinobu. Arata wins.

Mt. Fuji and its lofty peaks, still white from never-ending snow - Chihaya realized she must get surgery on her injured finger and is hospitalized. Kana realizes Arata and Taichi are rivals in love for Chihaya.

Girlish Number: Complete Collection

Chitose is a aspiring novice voice actor, wants to be famous, rich and seen and treated as an idol to the rest of the world, but while she looks adorable and sounds cute, she is the complete opposite, she is shallow, selfish and lazy. Thanks to her big brother who is also her manager, she finally gets a chance to play lead role of a female protagonist in a new series, but then, it is only afterwards she learns that being a voice actor actually requires work. And on top of that, they have an incompetent producer/director who selected them based on looks. Now with a group of other female voice actors they are forced to do anything to improve the shows ratings, including swimsuit photos and live stage shows. Can Chitose and the girls over come their trials become stars?

All her life, Chitose had only got bit parts and one liners, but now she finally has the chance to make it big when they select her for playing a new lead role in a new anime series. But she soon discovers she is not the alone, but she is working with 4 other girls in a harem series. And on top of that, they weren't selected for their voice talent, but their looks. As the show's ratings begin to circle the drain, the girls learn there is more to voice acting than just a pretty face. Can Chitose truly learn what it takes to become a professional voice actor?

This was another anime about making anime, in particular it was about the voice acting business. It seems like series about making anime is always about how hard it is to make anime, to draw, create and find a cast to work together. It isn't easy and the trouble seems to stem from the fact that there are a lot useless people in the business who rely on the few that DO work hard or have talent. In the case of female voice actors, they are treated like rock stars, pop stars and celebrities, but then they are expected to model, dance and sing, to become ideal girls to be a 'perfect girl friend'. Extras include inside show preview, clean opening and closing animation, and trailers.

Episodes include...

Runaway Chitose and a Rotten Industry - Chitose dreams of landing it big in the voice acting business and finally is given a chance to voice a lead role.

Arrogant Chitose and an Unvoiced Scream - Chitose finds out she is not the only lead girl voice actor, but 1 of 5 in a harem anime series.

Wicked Chitose and an Expanding Royal Road - Chitose learns that of all the girls she is the least talented and she needs to practice on her voice acting.

Popular Chitose and Her Delightful Friends - The girls are expected to perform a live stage show when the series falls behind schedule.

Envisable Chitose and Hollow Worth - The first anime episode debuts, Chitose thinks it's a hit, but really there ratings are down.

Beachside Chitose and the No-Go Budget - Chitose and the girls go to the beach to film 'extras' for series.

Onlooker Chitose and the Parents Day - Kazuha's mother comes to visit and Kazuka reveals she has 'issues' with her parents.

Sleepyhead Chitose and a Feisty Travel Mood - Kazuha and Momoka visit Kazuha's parents and learned that she was thrown out of her home for choosing become a voice actor.

Flustered Chitose and the Fresh-Faced Rookie - As they begin recording Season 2, a new rookie voice actor join them.

Two-Faced Chitose and Despairing Kuzu - Chitose starts thinking what does it mean to be a professional and does she have what it takes to keep going.

An Uncertain Chitose and a Determined Gojo - Chitose realizes if she doesn't grow or improve, that she'll never become a great voice actor, but really all she wants and needs is her brother to admire and cheer her on.

Chitose Karasuma and... - Chitose realizes her fears, faults and her childish ways. And she sees how others have to work hard and she must also strive to do her best if she wants to remain a voice actor.

The Life of Budori Gusuko

Budori was an ordinary cat living happily with his father, mother and sister in the big woods, but when cold snap covers the land for years and famine is everywhere, one day Budori's father and mother disappears and they never comes home. Then, Budori little sister is taken away by a mysterious stranger. Budori is then forced to leave home and find another place to live. As Budori grow older he learns about the world and of the land... and what he must do with the rest of his life.

Budori once was a happy boy living in a happy village with his family, but due to famine and tragedy he soon finds himself alone, but Budori never once gives up and ends up moving from place to place, farming, silk farming, to working in the big city. Each place teaches him something and about the land and how the people depend on each year's harvest. In the city, he ends up learning geology and becomes a geologist, learns the effects of the land and why it is suffering so long with cold weather and poor crops year after year. With his knowledge and experience, Budori decides to try and wake a volcano and change the climate.

This movie at first felt like it was going to be a tale of tragedy, like a mix of the movie "Grave of the Fireflies" with "Little House in the Big Woods". But the main character remains optimistic and selfless continues throughout the story to try and help make life better for all, each person he encounters helps him grow and become a better person regardless of constant failures. The only weird character in the story is the mysterious cat that seems to be magical or demon cat/grim reaper, that only comes in desperate times and makes a 'trade' with the characters. Extras include Japanese promos and trailers.

Initial D: Legend 2 - Racer

After winning the race against the RedSuns, Takumi Fujiwara's fame spreads like wild fire. Soon, new and faster racers come challenging him, the Myogi Nightkids. But now that people know there's a new speedster, there are those who are not above cheating. Meanwhile as his former rival, Keisuke is not completely out of the race, he and his brother uses Takumi's races to collect data and challenge him to a rematch.

Takumi Fujiwara is your ordinary high school boy and tofu delivery boy, but underneath his innocent face he is the son of a legendary racer and has blood of a pro-racer. Even among his friends, his father has secretly passed along his driving skills. After winning the race, Takumi soon finds himself with a new passion, wanting to test his skills he accepts his new challengers, as well as protect the pride of this home town and reputation of his friends.

This was a racing anime about fast cars and even faster drivers. The series was remade into a movie and brought back to inspire late night improtu illegal racing and car fanatics. The movie is mostly narrated through the split seconds as the characters list the stats on the cars and how to take advantage of the race track, but however, like any good driver knows, it's not the car but in the end it is about the driver and his skills. Extras include trailers.

Now for technical performance. All four Blu-ray releases offer 1080p 1.78:1 X 1 digital High Definition that impresses as usual for Sentai, though Initial D comes up short and its anamorphically enhanced DVD version is weak. All four Blu-rays also offer lossless Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo mixes with some surrounds that all sound good, plus all but Girlish also offer English DTS-MA dub versions that are not as good and the DVD of Initial D has lesser, lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mixes in both languages that are not that good. Stick with the blu-ray.

- Ricky Chiang


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