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Category:    Home > Reviews > Anime > Animation > Sports > Drama > Swimming > Anthology > Fantasy > Ballet > Comedy > Alcohol > Adventure > Me > Dive!! (2017)/Human Crossing (2003/Maiden Japan)/Princess Tutu (2002 - 2003)/Takumoni (2018)/Xabungle (2015/Maiden Japan/all Sentai Complete Collection Blu-rays)

Dive!! (2017)/Human Crossing (2003/Maiden Japan)/Princess Tutu (2002 - 2003)/Takumoni (2018)/Xabungle (2015/Maiden Japan/all Sentai Complete Collection Blu-rays)

Picture: A/C+/B+/B+/C- Sound: B/B/B+/B+/C- Extras: C/D/A/C/C Episodes: B+/B+/B+/B+/C+

Now for more Anime series, old and new, on Blu-ray for you to know about...

Tomoki Sakai loves diving and has been doing it since he was a child. He is enrolled in at diving school, the Mizuki Diving Club (a.k.a. MDC), but the board is threatening to close the school, that is until their new coach made a deal with them. Their new female coach, Coach Kayoko Asaki says if they are able to get one of the club members into the next Olympics, the board will keep the MDC open. Now, Tomoki and his teammates must aim for the gold, will they sink or swim ...or will they be forced to close the school?

In Dive!!: Complete Collection (2017), Tomoki is still young and considered a novice, he dives with Yoichi, a senior diver in whom he respects and aspires to be, but their diving school has fallen on tough times, but their new (and hot) fiery female Coach Kayoko has a simple plan to save the school, to get into the Olympics. She immediately rebuilds the team from ground up with new training material. While Yoichi is the hope of the team, she recognizes Tomoki has amazing potential and natural talent. She also recruits outside talent to join the MDC, Shibuki Okitsu a freestyle ocean diver. And while Tomoki dreams of competing on the national level, he has yet to realize the sacrifices he must make to become a world class diver.

This anime is full of boys with cool looks, rock hard abs, glistening wet speedos and tight curves (fanservice for all the girls), however the story is serious about what it takes to become an Olympic level athlete, on how hard they must train, effort, natural ability and the sacrifices they must make in order to be number one ...including friends (and girlfriends) they must leave behind.

Extras include clean opening and closing animation and trailers.

Episodes include...

Dive to Blue - Tomoki and the team meets their fiery new coach who has plans to help them save the MDC.

Concentration Dragon - Tomoki and his teammates get new training schedule, but can they handle the work load?

Enter Shibuki - Coach Asaki recruits Shibuki, an amazing diver ...only if his splash entry wasn't so big.

The Strong Men - During Golden Week MDC has a special practice training camp with rival divers from other schools.

The Days of Gray - Tomoki's friends are jealous of his improvement and resent him and start distancing themselves from him.

Diamond Eyes - Tomoki finds out his young brother has been cheating on him with his girlfriend.

Dear Friends - After their first meet, Yoichi, Tomoki and Shibuki realize if they want to improve they must leave behind their friends who didn't qualify.

So I Envy You! - Yoichi and Tomoki spend a week visiting Shibuki's hometown. Shibuki learns about his grandfather's past.

Next Stage Coming - Behind closed doors Yoichi learns he has been pre-selected for the Olympics, ...but not by merit. He doesn't like that he was selected from favors and popularity.

Meet the Monster - Yoichi gives up his position in the Olympics and wants to earn his place in the Olympics and to have a fair competition with Tomoki and Shibuki.

Final Stage - The trial for the Olympics begins, but unknown to the others Yoichi suffers from a fever.

Concrete Dragon - Both Yoichi and Shibuki manage to do well at the competition, can Tomoki rise up to the challenge?

There are over 120 Million people living in Japan, over 38 million living in Tokyo alone. Everyday people struggle to live through hardships, low income, difficult relationships and inequality and yet... life goes on, people still manage to find a reason and maybe even a bit of happiness in Human Crossing: Complete Collection (2003).

Life is harsh, people get so caught up with jobs and wealth they forget what is important family, friends and happiness. They all make the similar mistakes of mistaking making money means more happiness, more often than not they either repeat the mistakes of the past or become the very thing they were trying to avoid. In the end, they learn life lessons what is truly important isn't always around but to make the best of what they got and learn from their mistakes and to forgive others as they would have like to be forgiven themselves.

Now on Blu-ray, Human Crossing is a melancholy, anthology drama series, a lot of "What is the moral of this tale?" Every episode is a short story and allows the audience to be able to relate to it. Extras include trailers.

Those episodes include...

The Wound - A boxing champion remembers why he got started into boxing and is reminded on how his mother raised him.

The 25th Hour - A young law clerk helps a teenage unwed mother make amends with her child's grandparents ...and maybe figure out his own life too.

A Promise - A hard working father realizes he hasn't been spending time with his own son, and remembers what was important to him when he was a child.

Direction - A young woman is afraid of getting married and starting a family because of the abusive males in her family.

The Cicadas of Winter - An actor that's so focused on his position and making it big, he gets caught up in drinking and scandals and misses out on his infant son's death.

The Beautiful Afterimage - A teacher reflects back on how he hard he had to work to get a scholarship and higher education.

Sidelined - A big city new reporter is forced write for a county paper, but he learns there is more to the news than always getting the 'big' scoop, but there are action because of his reports.

Message in White - A female warden learns there is more to every prisoner and each prisoner has a story of how they got there, not every story is black and white.

The Smile - A family takes in an elderly woman who pretends to be their 'grandmother', but the wife is tired and can't stand this 'pretender' in their family.

The City - A woman remembers the man she fell in love with Paris 18 years ago and how moving from the city has changed him.

Whispers - A young boy gets beat up every day learns from an old man how to hold his head up with pride.

The Instructor's Rain - A prison warden doesn't give up on reforming a female prisoner, no matter how many time she she breaks the rules or how badly he has been treated, because if the teacher doesn't have faith in the student ...how can the student ever have faith in themselves?

The Watershed - A country girl comes to the big city with her big dreams, but her dream is shattered when she is abused by her 'gangster' husband she kills him for sexually abusing and beating her.

Once upon a time, there was a writer named Drosselmeyer who had the power to bring his stories to life, but his final story 'The Prince and the Raven' he died before he was able to finish it. Now, the Raven and Prince has escaped to reality, the Prince had shattered his heart to seal the Raven away. Duck finds herself transformed into a human, Princess Tutu and must help find and collect the shards of the Prince's heart and help finish his story Princess Tutu: Complete Collection (2002 - 2003).

A Duck finds herself to be the magical ballet Princess Tutu and is in love with Mytho, the Prince who lost his heart to seal away the evil Raven, but she is not the only one in love with the Prince, Rue daughter of the Raven is also in love with Mytho and transforms into Princess Kraehe, Princess Tutu's counterpart. Fakir (a descendant of the Drosselmeyer) is overprotective Mytho and he gets jealous of anyone getting close to Mytho. As Duck helps collect the shards of Mytho's heart she believes once the prince is restored their story will come to a happy ending, but the spirit/ghost of Drosselmeyer seems intent on making their story a tragedy. What will happen next?

This is a ballet themed anime featuring all the popular ballet dance and music with various folktales, fairytales, plays and stories. Within each episode, the main character dances to recover a piece of the prince's heart which eventually helps them overcome evil.

Extras are many and include TV specials, outtakes, commentaries, ballet for beginners, clean opening and closing animation, TV specials episodes, Path to Tutu, In the Studio and trailers.

Episodes include...

The Duck and the Prince - Duck dreams of her one day dancing with her 'Prince' but then suddenly discovers she is really a duck ...AND Princess Tutu.

Heart Shard - Duck learns she must help restore the Prince's heart and collects the first shard from an Anteater-girl.

The Princess's Vow - Duck learns of the story of the Prince and the Raven and collects another shard from a lonely cook.

Giselle - Fakir discovers Mytho's heart is returning (to his dismay). Duck and Rue goes looking for Mytho in the land of the dead and gains the shard of sadness.

On the Night of the Fire Festival - Fakir begins to suspect Duck is Princess Tutu. Duck finds and discovers another shard of the Prince's heart.

Dreaming Aurora - A traveling ballet group passes through town playing Sleeping Beauty and Duck finds discovers the lead dancer has another shard.

The Crow Princess - Duck thinks of quitting find shards if it only restores negative feelings. Mytho discovers the shard of curiosity, but is stolen by Rue, Princess Kraehe.

The Warrior's Fountain - Fakir begins to realize he is unable to control Mytho. Duck returns the shard from Rue, but Mytho's finds out she is a duck.

The Black Shoes - Both Fakir and Rue want Mytho's for themselves, but must choice if they want to help or stop Mytho's from finding his heart. Princess Tutu discovers the shard of devotion.

Cinderella - Duck loses her pendant and transforms back into a duck. Duck helps find and return the shard of regret, but then Fakir discovers Duck is Princess Tutu.

La Sylphide - Mythos discovers the shard of love, but not before Rue taints it. Rue then takes Mytho's half completed heart.

Banquet of Darkness - Rue and Mytho disappears, Fakir and Princess Tutu teams up (unwillingly) to find them. Fakir discovers Duck's true form.

Swan Lake - Princess Tutu confronts Princess Kraehe to return Mytho's heart. Duck risks everything and Mytho's heart is restored, but the the ghost of Drosselmeyer hints their trials are far from over.

The Raven - Duck, Fakir, Mytho wonder what their fates are now, but Mytho's tainted heart begins to change him.

Coppelia - The audience learns that the Raven is behind Mytho's tainted heart and Rue learns that Princess Tutu must help complete Mytho's heart for Raven's plan to return.

The Maiden's Prayer - Mytho tries to take the hearts of others, but once again is stopped by Fakir and Princess Tutu.

Crime and Punishment - A fake prince appears, trying to trick everyone that all women loves him and his dancing.

The Wandering Knight - Fakir confronts a knightly ghost and recovers another shard for Mytho.

A Midsummer Night Dream - Duck meets a wandering donkey. A lover letter cause everyone to wonder about who their true love is.

The Forgotten Story - A mysterious girl appears and claims to Fakir's sister and tells them Fakir has the power to write stories that can become real.

The Spinners - Fakir discovers he is the direct descendant of Drosselmeyer and tries to find if he has inherited the same power.

Crown of Stone - Duck must decide where her own heart is. Fakir discovers he must fight against Drosselmeyer's story in order to change their fates.

Marionette - Princess Tutu is trapped in Drosselmeyer's world and Rue discovers the truth about her origins, she was a human baby kidnapped and raised by the Raven.

The Prince and the Raven - Mytho's transforms into a Raven and becomes completely under the Raven's control.

The Dying Swan - Rue sacrifices herself for Mythos and is then consumed by the Raven. Mythos asks Duck to give him the final shard to rescue Rue.

Finale - Mytho battles Raven as Duck watches. Fakir continues to write Duck's story and she dances one final time and gives Mytho the courage and power to defeat Raven and save Rue, and for Fakir to end Drosselmeyer's story.

Michiru has just moved into the big city and is ready to her Tokyo debut. She moves into the Stella House Haruno, a woman's only shared house, with Kae, Nao and Makoto. And the first thing they do is have a party for their new roommate, and they teach her how to be a Tokyo girl she must learn how to drink alcoholic beverages. Along with sparkling feminine chatter, there is a drink for nearly any occasion in Takumoni: Complete Collection (2018).

Michiru was a country girl who just moved to the big city. She moves in with Kae, Nao and Makoto and the tell her in order to fit in as a modern 'Tokyo girl' she must learn to drink. Kae is a wedding planner, Nao works in the clothing industry and Makoto is Nao's perfect younger sister who is in college. Every day after work, they share stories and drinks to help either celebrate, cope or just deal with the daily stresses of life, there nothing that can't seem better after an empty beer mug at the end of the day.

Please drink responsibly and legally, all the characters in the show are of legal age. This is an anime for beer and alcohol lovers. Along with a bit of drama and comedy, it sensationalizes drinking alcoholic beverages along with what types of food, snacks or condiments go well with them. Each episode features a new drink for the characters to explore/explain.

Extras include clean opening and closing animation and trailers.

Episodes include...

Yebisu Beer - Michiru moves to Tokyo and meets her new roommates and they introduce her to the world of alcohol and drinking.

Shochu Highball - Michiru begins her first day at work and then learns how to make and drink mixed drinks.

Suiyoubi no Neko - Michiru attends a gym and Nao shares with her first drinking experience with her.

Hyoketsu - Michiru shares drinks with Makoto and Nao they becomes closer.

Kitty - The girls talk about fashion and how to look more 'adult-like' and Kae teaches them how to drink wine.

Dossai - Michiru misses her hometown and it's sea foods. Nao shares her knowledge that fish is better eaten with Japanese sake.

Kahlua - Michiru runs into Makoto in a local cafe and learns on alcoholic mixed coffee drinks.

Kakubin - Michiru gets a her own project at work and then she learns how to drink whiskey.

Otoko Ume Sour - Michiru want to lose some weight, but the girls introduce her to salty and sour beer that just goes so well with snacks.

Orion Beer - Nao and the girls share Okinawa beer with traditional Okinawa foods.

Daishichi - It's the new year and the girls teach Michiru on how to drink hot sake.

Asahi Super Dry - Makoto wants to use social networking to find new job and to do so she must learn how a woman should 'properly' serve/pour (and drink) beer for others.

Jiron was just an outcast and vows to hunt down the one who killed his family. He joins along with a group of bandits, the Sand Rats and becomes a thief and leader, and the first thing they do is steal the ultimate weapon for his revenge: a Walker Machine, Xabungle. Along with their transforming land-ship The Iron Gear, they find themselves with other outcasts of society and eventually in the battle for the freedom of the planet in Xabungle: Complete Collection (2015).

Jiron seems to be the luckiest man on the planet, he was all alone and yet he is able to become an outlaw hero. He meets the Sand Rats and he charms the leader Rag and becomes the leader of the group. Jiron seems to be able to charm his way with (almost) any female, survive any odds (or simply blow it up). The major force/power on the planet seems to be giant robots or 'Walkers'. Jiron learns that the planet is controlled by the 'Innocent', people who survived in space and returned to the planet after a planetary crisis. The majority of the people are 'Civilians', people who survived the crisis and are the work force human race. Eventually there is an uprising and the Civilians tired of the Innocents rule and rise up to overthrow the masters.

Before Transformers, there was Xabungle. Xabungle seems like a mix of giant robots and the Wild West. A lot of the episodes are pretty much the same of thing, the main characters fighting in giant robots against different group with their giant robots. The group gets bigger until there is a final battle for the fate of the planet.

Extras include clean opening and closing animations, trailers and promos.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Dive and Takimoni are looking fine as expected, with Dive offering the best playback and the rest of the older series are presented in their original black style aspect ratios at 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers (bookened by side black bars). Tutu is the best of these, holding up well, and Crossing is not bad, with ups and downs quality-wise. However, Xabungle looks horrible as if this series seems like someone just transferred it from VHS or DVD to Blu-ray! That it sounds as bad tells us the original film and/or video masters are missing, misplaced, destroyed and/or are trapped in some kind of legal battle where separate companies own the masters and rights. Thus, the set is fir hardcore completists only.

All five releases have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) Japanese 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes that play well and the better ones work well with Pro Logic-like surrounds on home theater playback, plus Human and Tutu have English 2.0 Stereo dubs, but they are not as good as their native counterparts. Tutu and Takumoni sound best to the point you'll wish they were 5.1 mixes.

- Ricky Chiang


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