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Category:    Home > Reviews > Anime > Animation > Mecha > Adventure > Science Fiction > Superhero > Fantasy > Comedy > Supernatural > Japa > Atom: The Beginning (2017/Season One Complete Collection* Blu-ray)/Batman Ninja (2018/DC Comics/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? * + OST (2015)/Rin-ne: Season Th

Atom: The Beginning (2017/Season One Complete Collection* Blu-ray)/Batman Ninja (2018/DC Comics/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? * + OST (2015)/Rin-ne: Season Three (2017/aka Kyokai no Rin-ne: Collection 3/both Sentai Blu-ray Sets)

Picture: B+/B+ & C+/A/C+ Sound: C+/B+ & C+/B+/B Extras: C/C+/A*/C Main Programs: B+/B-/B+/B+

Here's the latest animation from Japan, including a familiar U.S. name...

After the great catastrophe, robots became a common sight to see in helping to rebuild the city. But they were still just robots that followed and did whatever humans told them to do. Grad students Hiroshi Ochanomizu and Umataro Tenma believe that the next stage of robots should be totally autonomous, cable or making it's own decisions and choices. They create A106, a super powered robot capable of becoming a hero. Along with their friends they help fight to protect the city they live in, in Atom: The Beginning - Season One Complete Collection (2017).

Hiroshi and Umataro are the laughing stock of the robotic science community who believe that robots should have a 'heart', a heart that allows robots to understand humans and can go beyond it's programming. Most of the time Hiroshi and Umataro are working part time jobs to help fund A106's parts. A106 then to proves to the world that their ideas aren't silly and their designs are the future of robots and that he is a unique robot. A106 soon becomes known as heroic robot for rescuing people from dangers and saving lives, but there are those who don't believe robots should free (much less independent), and that robots are a blight on humanity and should be no more than usable, disposable and smashable.

This was an early idea of robot anime, a prequel to the age of Astro Boy series. It is basically 2 genius/crazy scientists (depending on how you look at them) trying to prove themselves to the world, but for geniuses they fail to realize the robot they created has already evolved beyond them and taken the first step to become a sentient robot. Each episode is about overcoming some danger or challenge to help the robot learn more about humanity or to become a greater hero to the public. Extras include clean opening and closing animations and trailers.

Episodes include...

Birth of the Mighty Atom - Hiroshi and Umataro build a robot capable of stopping dangers before they happen. When robot parade goes wrong, A106 stops a giant robot before it explodes in public.

Bewusstsein - Hiroshi and Umataro are up for review to get their Lab's funding. Meanwhile A106 saves Hiroshi's sister Ran from a mysterious robot.

Pursuing the Respective Leads - A106 works with a detective to help find a missing robot dog.

Welcome to Nerima U Festival - Hiroshi and Umatato program A106 to make tasty noodles at the school festival.

Step on it! - Umataro, Hiroshi and A106 get hired by a moving company, but then must stop a runaway truck when a terrorist hacks the truck's AI.

Lab 7's Annihilation! - Motoko and Ran must somehow get Hiroshi and Umataro to make up with each other when they get into a spat with each other.

Ran and Princess Teru - Ran creates her own robot to enter in a robot competition.

Robot Wrestling - Umataru and Hiroshi enter A106 into a battling robot contest.

Six is Unfit to Fight - One of A106's parts breaks, but then help comes from an unexpected source.

Battle Royal - Mars, an advance robot created by the genius beauty Dr. Lolo joins the battle to fight A106, and defeats 3 giant robots without so much as taking a scratch.

A Dialogue - As A106 and Mars fight one another, A106 tries to communicate with Mars to understand why they were made.

Beginning - A106 manages to win but is a total wreak afterwards, as he waits for repairs he looks back over his life as a robot and wonder what is the real him and what is in store for him in the future.

Now for that different title. We've seen Batman in many different incarnations over the years but this one is definitely unlike any that you've seen before. Batman Ninja (2018) is a anime inspired take on the Dark Knight that's actually pretty fun and visually pleasing. Mimicking the anime style as closely as it can in terms of design. The animated feature wastes no time in being upfront that it's a new reimagining of the material and mixes the old with the new.

A bit more over the top than the recent R-rated animated film, Batman: Gotham Gaslight (reviewed elsewhere on this site) which had a more traditionally cell animated look, Batman Ninja is a visually dazzling and fun film and an interesting take on the classic DC characters which include The Joker, Harley Quinn, Gorilla Grodd, various Batman villains, and members of the Bat Family as well. There's some fan service here but the take is inventive enough to pull it off.

The voice cast includes Roger Craig Smith, Tony Hale, Tara Strong, Fred Tatasciore, Koichi Yamadera and Wataru Takagi to name a few. The film is directed by Junpei Mizusaki.

Batman and his comrades end up in a weird time jump thanks to a machine created by Gorilla Grodd and manipulated by The Joker. Stuck in a time that appears to be ancient Japan, Batman ends up joining familiar allies Robin, Catwoman, Alfred and others in a epic face off against The Joker, his army of Samurai, and other fierce (Japanese influenced) interpretations of other Bat Villains like Two Face, Deathstroke, Poison Ivy, Bane, and the Penguin.

Special Features...

East/West Batman Featurette

Batman: Made in Japan Featurette

New York Comic Con Presents Batman Ninja

If you're a hardcore core there is also a Best Buy exclusive steel book of the film out there.

While the story is a little weird and it's very over the top, I found Batman Ninja to be an interesting new spin on the material with inspired animation. If nothing else, it's pretty to look at and easy to get sucked into.

As our bold heroes continue to explore the dungeon, Bell, Hestia, Lilly and company soon fall into a secret hot springs. And it just so happens they need a break from adventuring and monster killing. Never mind that Hermes also just so happens to have bathing suits for all the girls. Is it finally a chance for Hestia to confess her feelings to Bell? But is that all to the hot spring ...or are there more dangers to be aware of? Find out in Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?: Complete Collection (2015).

Bell Cranel is a novice adventurer (recently he's been promoted as the Rookie Adventurer) he finds himself with the Goddess Hestia (a.k.a. the loli big breasted goddess) who also happens to have a major crush on him. As Bell has now become a stronger adventurer they have more friends and people in their party and now they just so happens to find a hot springs in the middle of the dungeon they are exploring, but little do they know it is a trap ...at trap where the water eventually melt their clothes (mainly the girls' swimsuits) and then monsters attack.

This was an extra episode to the series, it is the hot springs/fan service episode. It usually doesn't add anything to the series, but is more a comic one shot episode and about 25 minutes long. (One wonders why they didn't just add it to the end of the series). But on the extras here, it DOES include 2 CD soundtracks, with clean opening and closing animations and trailers. A Premium Edition even has more in a big, fancy box set that adds three DVDs, an Inner print, Figure, props and other goodies serious fans will want to own.

Last but not least is Rin-ne: Season Three (2017). Rinne and Sakura are back. Ever since Sakura was a little girl she has been able to seek ghosts and spirits, but since meeting up with Rinne Rokudo she has been helping him out with his job as a Shinigami. Rinne Rokudo is a Shinigami, a 'god of death' who helps ghost and spirits move on to the afterlife along with his Black Cat spirit Rokumon. Sakura entering his life, things have gotten a lot more interesting for Rinne, now they are surround by other various friends, rivals, enemies and spirits which constantly need a little help from them to find the afterlife.

Rinne is a Shinigami and his job is to help 'purify' spirits so they can move on to the afterlife. Along with Rokumon, his Black Cat spirit familiar they try to solve various problems caused by spirits. He is joined by Sakura who also has spiritual powers with Jumonji the Exorcist (who is Rinne's rival in love for Sakura and his answers to problems are always sacred ashes). Later, they are joined by Ageha a spoiled rich Shinigami. The source of Rinne's problems however comes from his father, a Damashigami who is a no good, lazy con artist. In this season, Rinne and company are joined Renge, a Damshigami pretending to be a Shinigami (and she has a crush on Rinne's employer Kain) and Ane a fortune teller with a crystal ball (from the spirit world) to tell the future. Most of the jokes however revolves on how Rinne works so hard to send the spirits to heaven and find lost item from the spirit world ...and yet he is constantly broke and poor. He has feelings toward Sakura ....but will he ever admit them?

From the creator of Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha comes Rumiko Takahashi's latest series, Rin-ne or Kyoka no Rin-ne. It combines and makes fun of high school drama with supernatural/spiritual adventures with comedy and romance, there are many to Japanese cultural/spiritual/ghost references. As the series progresses some episodes become three 10-minute stories rolled into one. At first the series tries to keep the 'spirit world' a secret from the human world, but in later episodes it is more like why do they bother? Extras include clean opening and closing animations and trailers. We'll skip episode summaries this time as not to offer any spoilers.

Now for playback performance starting with Batman, presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless (48kHz, 24-bit) mix, the animated film looks and sounds up to standards in HD. Unlike previous DC animated features, Warner decided to not go with the 4K UHD on this one possibly because many critics haven't seen too much difference in quality. I for one disagree and was a little bummed this wasn't in 2160p. Still, the animation is high end and the film isn't just some slapped together direct to video thing... you can tell some heart and talent went into making it.

One complaint many will have with Batman is, the original 5.1 Japanese dialogue (available in subtitles here) and mix are here ONLY in lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and NOT with Any lossless 5.1 option. That's a big mistake and hopefully, it would be corrected if/when this gets a 4K edition release.

Also included is a standard definition, anamorphically enhanced DVD with similar (yet compressed) specs and a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, plus we also get digital copy.

All three Sentai releases are in 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition and look as god as they could in the format, but Rin-ne is a bit weaker as was the case with the previous sets.

All three are also in Japanese DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes, while Atom and Dungeon also have lesser English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes with Atom sonically disappointing. However, they all have Pro Logic-like surrounds and the other two titles are well mixed and recorded.

- Ricky Chiang and James Lockhart (Batman)



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