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Category:    Home > Reviews > Anime > Animation > Adventure > Action > Mecha > Science Fiction > Magical Girl > Japanese TV > Dystopian > Asura Cryin' (2009/Maiden Japan)/Cutie Honey Universe (2018/both Sentai Complete Collection Blu-ray Sets)/Metropolis (2001)/Steamboy (2004/both Umbrella Region Free Import Blu-rays)

Asura Cryin' (2009/Maiden Japan)/Cutie Honey Universe (2018/both Sentai Complete Collection Blu-ray Sets)/Metropolis (2001)/Steamboy (2004/both Umbrella Region Free Import Blu-rays)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Metropolis and Steamboy Region Free Import Blu-rays are now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can play on all Blu-ray players and can be ordered from the link below.

Now for a new set of Anime releases, two of which are theatrical classics....

After a certain accident, Tomoharu finds himself haunted by the ghost of his best friend Misao. They soon find themselves pulled into another world where there are secret societies, giant mechas, magic and demons. Together, the fight to protect the peace from those would destroy it, but soon learn there are much darker forces at play and the truth about Asura Cryin' and Misao. Can they save their world and break the chains of fate?

In Asura Cryin': Complete Collection (2009) we find ourselves after Tomoharu's accident, Tomoharu where he barely survived, but Misao's body was placed into a Asura Machina, a robot that transcends space and time. While it preserved her life, Misao is now part of Asura Machina, she can only appear as projection/ghost to Tomoharu. Tomoharu and Misao find themselves in world of combat with secret societies, other Aura Machinas and 'Demons' (people who have paranormal abilities) all fighting for 'plugins' for the Machinas. They learn the dark secret of Asura Machina is that it consumes the body, soul and existence of the people inside them, the more you use them the faster they will be consumed. Various plugins are discovered in ruins and they unlock/upgrade the secrets/powers to the Asura Machina and that is why people are fighting over them. Tomoharu searches in hope that one of these artifacts will free Misao from the Asura Machina and save their world from destruction.

This was a well-drawn anime with giant mecha, adventure and with your usual high school kids holding the fate of the world in their hands. It was like a mix blend with high school drama, robots, paranormal powers and a harem. The story is your typical anime, boy meets girl and becomes the hero to save the world, but it also has more serious side with parallel worlds and saving the multiverse. Extras include clean opening and closing animations and trailers.

Episodes include:

Asura Machina. The Evil Mechanical God - 3 years after Tomoharu's plane crash and Misao's ghost haunting him, Tomoharu entering high school but he is suddenly attacked by various occult societies seeking something called an 'Extractor' from him.

Future Destruction - Tomoharu learns he and Misao are connected to powerful mecha called Asura Machina and both the Royal Dark Society and the First Student Council wants to recruit him.

A Shadow Born of the Light of Science - In order to save Takasuki a fire user, Tomoharu realizes he must take control of Asura Machina and defeat the First Student Council President.

The Feeling of Losing Your Destruction - Tomoharu and the Dark Society are hired for a part time job to stop a out of control raging demon.

Intersecting Hearts and Bodies - Shuri gets amnesia and is 'Yukari' now, but someone is after her and wants something called a 'Stabilizer'.

The Sacrifice Beyond the Darkness - Shuri recovers her memories but Tomoharu gets a cold and he is unable to help her until he get over his cold.

Dreams Scattered Across the Cruel Sky - People can now see Misao. Tomoharu learns that Shuri and her sister Yukari were also on the same plane crash with him 3 years ago. 

The Princess of Calamity - Something is hunting the all the Demons, Takatsuki and Ania a luck eater move in together with Tomoharu.

A Forbidden Being That Should Not Exist - Tomoharu learns more about the Asura Machina from Ania and learns of a forbidden contract for Asura Machina users and demons called 'Asura Crying' increasing the Asura Machina powers 10 fold.

Connected by the Chains of Time - Ania gets kidnapped and Tomoharu and his friends race to rescue her. Kagakagari plans to sacrifice all the demons in the city in attempt to break the Curse of the Asura Machina to free those inside. Tomoharu destroys Kagakagari's machine before it kills all the demons in the city.

The Ordinary and Extraordinary With Us - Before their Hawaii school trip, Tomoharu and friends have a little talent contest in the memory of Aine.

Until the World Wilts and Dies - While Tomoharu and his friends are vacationing in Hawaii and he finds another plugin for the Asura Machina. Kagakagari fights Tomoharu for it.

Mark of the Accursed Sinner - Kagakagari takes an entire plane hostage in a terrorist attack unless he is given the plugin, but trade goes wrong and Aine is forced to sacrifice herself to save everyone and land the plane safely. Only then Tomoharu learns the dark truth of Asura Machina those inside are not just 'sacrifices' but fuel for the Asura Machina and eventually their soul will be consumed by it.

The Obliterated World and the Ruins of Memories - Tomoharu and his friends discover an ancient ruin under their school while cleaning the school pool.

The Berial Doll Consumed by the Demon - Tomoharu finally meets their reclusive science club president Tokiya and learns of Toru's tragic past with him.

Free but Inconvenient Choices - While Tomoharu and his friends enjoy a day at the beach, Kagakagari and the club presidents explore a ruin on a nearby island.

The Price of Calling the Name of the Living Sacrifice - Kagakagari saves Tomoharu which makes him question why the various club presidents don't tell him the truth about Asura Machina. 

The Lonely Relationship Between Love and Magic - Tomoharu and Takatsuki end up stuck together for 24 hours after a 3 legged race accident. Meanwhile, Takatsuki's family is being targeted by a rival demon clan.

The Truth I Offer to You - Tomoharu and his friends are attacked by a mysterious masked girl and her group, but they are more surprised when they meet another Tomoharu from the a parallel world.

Moment of Destruction Darkness of Annihilation - Ania is kidnapped (again) but Tomoharu and his friends learn they have been betrayed by Tokiya and Toru, that they had plans to destroy their world in order to create 'their' perfect world. Tomoharu attempts to stop Tokiya but ends up being pulled into a blackhole.

A Future Without Memories - Tomoharu awakens and finds himself in the 1st world and where everyone is different, but he is then reunited with the Takatsuki from his world.

Death and Peace, Adjoined - Tomoharu is reunited with a grown up Ania and finds out that she has arrived 5 years before of him and has been waiting for him.

Surviving Life, Dying Life - Tomoharu meets his older brother from the 1st world and learns the world is on the verge of destruction. Tomoharu and Misao takes a risky plan to close the dimensional gate that is destroying their world.

My Feelings for You Destroy the World - After saving the 1st world, Tomoharu, Misao, Takatsuki and Ania return to their world and plans to stop Tokiya from destroying their world.

Despair Felt for the Past. Parting and Predestination - Tokiya has manage to speed up the destruction of their world by forcing the dimensional gates open. Tomoharu and his allies unite to stop Tokiya, but Tokiya then attempts to seduce them by promising to bring back all the people they lost and died.

The Gears of Choice - Tomoharu along with Misao and Takatsuki combine their powers to defeat Tokiya. Tomoharu then uses the Igniter to free Misao and then create a world where no one has paranormal powers and Asura Machina no longer exists, thus will ever suffer the tragedies of Asura Machina again. Tomoharu, Misao and Takatsuki is able to become normal high school students and live their lives in peace together.

Honey Kisaragi on the outside is a beautiful, kind and sweet girl but secretly she is a super android and transforms into Cutie Honey, a Warrior of Love. Honey battles day and night to protect humanity against Sister Jill and her endless army of Panther Claw of super-powered monsters. Along with the PCIS (Panther Claw Criminal Investigation Service) the vow to stop Sister Jill and her evil plans to take over the world in Cutie Honey Universe: Complete Collection (2018).

Honey is a super android built by the late Dr. Kisaragi to combat evil. She is able to transform into Cutie Honey with her 'Airborne Element Fixing Device' built within her, the device is able to change her appearance into any disguises and create any weapons, armor or items she needs. Unfortunately, Honey's very power is the very thing Sister Jill wants. Sister Jill's source of power comes from transforming all her 'victims' into her future Panther Claw army. However, Sister Jill doesn't want to physically defeat Cutie Honey, instead she wants to break her spirit and make Honey submit to herself willing. In Cutie Honey Universe, Sister Jill secretly infiltrates the PCIS and is Honey's partner 'Genet' and Honey and the PCIS doesn't realize it until the final battle.

This is a total remake of the 1970s classic anime of Go Nagi's Cutie Honey with modern animation. It however, keeps to the original Cutie Honey story and theme, that it is a story of a transforming heroine who is what every girl wants to be and every boys wet dream of a beautiful girl who is sweet, innocent, kind and pure in heart (and somehow always ends up scantily clad). Extras include clean opening and closing animations and trailers, but a deluxe edition (pictured with this review) has also been issued with a huge additional number of extras.

Episodes include:

Everything About You is Perfect - Here comes Cutie Honey and her debut fight against the the evil organization Panther Claw.

The True Joy of Having Met You - Honey recalls the first she transformed into Cutie Honey how her father was killed protecting her from Panther Claw.

I Am Made For You - While on a date Honey's best friend Natsuko gets trapped in a department store as a hostage by the Panther Claw.

Pure Beauty - Honey pretends to be an idol to make a trap for Panther Claw. Honey's partner 'Genet' is revealed to be really Sister Jill (to the audience).

Till Death Do Us Part - Honey and the PCIS go undercover to discover the mayor is secretly a Panther Claw and supplying illegal weapons.

May Fortune Befall You - Sister Jill and her Panther Claw army attacks Honey's school Saint Chapel and destroys her school and massacre all her classmates. Honey vows bitter revenge. 

Devotion to You Alone - After barely escaping, Honey reveals to Natsuko her true identity. Sister Jill reveals she has a far crueler fate in store for Cutie Honey, not to defeat her, but to make her come over to the dark side and join her.

Vows of Love - Natsuko is conflicted with Honey's true identity and her role in her life. Natsuko is kidnapped by Panther Claw (again) and confesses her feels about Honey, Panther Claw Tarantula sympathizes with her unrequited feelings and helps her instead.

The Whole World is Just You and Me - Sister Jill wanting Honey to feel ultimate despair kidnaps and kills Natsuko. Panther Claw Tarantula conflicted with her own emotions and loyalties spits into 2, one good and one evil.

Thank You for Your Compassion and Encouragement - Honey gives into despair and starts walking down a dark path and begins a crusade against Sister Jill and the Panther Claw army ...but at the cost of her innocent and soul. Honey is saved by Tarantula (the good one) when she transform into Natsuko and reminds her of why she fights ...for the people who love her.

You Will Be Mine - Along with the help of Panther Claw Tarantula and Dragon, Honey decides to do a direct assault on Sister Jill's fortress. Seigi discovers all of Sister's Jill's victims are not dead but in stasis.

You Will Return with Hope - Sister Jill is about to crush Cutie Honey until all of Honey's allies return and revive disguised as Cutie Honey(s). An army of Cutie Honey(s) battles against the Panther Claw army while Cutie Honey (the real one) recovers and she is able to find the strength to defeat Sister Jill and afterwards return to being a normal schoolgirl.

In the future city Metropolis a new age has begun where everything is maintain by robots and all of it is controlled through the Ziggurat Tower. A private detective and his young nephew Ken-ichi is sent on a case investigating a scientist connected to illegal organ trafficking. Through fate, Ken-ichi meets Tima a young girl robot, but little does Ken-ichi or Tima know that she IS a robot and that Tima is connected to the fate of Metropolis and could destroy the entire world in Rintaro's Metropolis (2001).

Metropolis is the shining city of the future where robots do all the work, but not all the people are happy because they blame the robots for taking away all the jobs. While most of the people live in slums, few live at the top, namely Duke Red leader of the industrial complex and builders of the Metropolis. Secretly, Duke Red has commissioned Tima to be build (in his decease daughter's image) and to become the central control system of the Ziggurat and to take over the world.

Both the mayor and military industrial complex have plans to siege power and take control staging a revolt, but they fail. Rock another humanoid war robot from the previous war serves Duke Red and has a major 'father complex', he learns of Tima's existence and becomes jealous and seeks to destroy Tima before she can ascend her throne. Tima is however is rescued by Ken-ichi and they are forced to go on the run from Rock. Eventually Duke Red learns of Tima's survival and has her brought to the Ziggurat. However, by that time Tima has already bonded with Ken-ichi and would rather be a human girl than the most powerful robot in the world. She is forced into the control chair of the Ziggurat and she goes out of control starting a world wide robot rise-up against humans tearing the city apart.

Ken-ichi manages to separate Tima from the Ziggurat but not without Tima falling off the Ziggurat and to her death, only then does the robot revolution stop and the robots return to their normal functions. Now in the ruined cities, people have no choice but to rely on the robots they once hated to help rebuild their cities. Ken-ichi decides to stay and help rebuild Metropolis and with the help of all the scrap robots they recover all the pieces of Tima and eventually rebuild her.

This was the 2001 anime sci-fi movie of a dystopian society (almost steam punk) with huge geared cities that is run by robots. It asks a lot of social and political questions such as what happens if people become a society that is dependent on robots, are humans really need anymore? And what happens if those robots become sentient one day? Are robots really evil or the human heart that build them or the people who raise them? Extras include making of Metropolis documentary, filmmaker interviews, animation comparisons and trailers.

Ray Steam comes from a long line of steam inventors and dreams his inventions will change the world, his head is always up in the clouds (or steam in his case) and he always working on some new invention. But one day he receives a steam ball in the mail from his grandfather that could revolutionize the world, but in the wrong hands it could start the next world war. Ray soon finds out both his grandfather and father are connected to it's secrets and both the military and industrial complexes wants it ...and will do anything to get it in Katsuhiro Otomo's Steamboy (2004).

Ray, like his father and his grandfather before him, are inventors of steam powered inventions, his grandfather invents a new compact steam powered ball that can replace the gigantic steam boilers needed to power machines and is the next generation's new power source. Ray's father has sided with wealthy American industrialists who wants to use the steam ball to create weapons of mass destruction, steam powered armor, tanks and even a gigantic floating fortress.

While Ray's grandfather has sided with European industrialists claiming the technology should be shared with the world instead of lining the pockets of American warmongers. Ray is conflicted on which side he should stand on and who to give the steam ball to, his father or his grandfather, but he soon realizes both sides were planning to start a war with each other anyway. But it is up to Ray to save London from his father's invention goes out of control and threaten to destroy the city he loves.

This was totally a steam punk focused movie set in a Victorian England in an industrial age where everything was fueled by steam power. However, the moral of the story seems there will always be war and conflict, but science will still progress and shape the future. Extras include interview with Kasuhiro Otomo, multi-screen landscape study, re-voicing Steamboy featurette, voyage of Steamboy, Clean Ending, production gallery and animation onion skins.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on both Sentai releases are really good, up there with their better releases and with only minor detail, color and depth issues versus their very best, while the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Metropolis can show the age of the materials used and can have more than a few rough spots throughout. This one needs a new 4K transfer scan like Akira is getting.

That leaves us with the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Steamboy that used digital work throughout, but despite the age of that work, looks incredible throughout and is my favorite of the four releases visually.

As for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) Japanese 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes on Asura and Honey have Pro Logic-like surrounds and are very well recorded, with Honey also having a lesser English dub option. Both feature films offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes in Japanese and lesser English dubs with Metropolis sounding great and just barely the best offering here, but Steamboy is lacking throughout with a lack of consistent soundfield and choppiness that disappoints. Despite its age, this should not be the case, but it is off.

To order either of the Umbrella region free import Blu-rays, Metropolis or Steamboy, go to this link for either and much more:


- Ricky Chiang


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