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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Anime > Fantasy > Adventure > Superrhero > Fascism > Gangster > Drama > Japanese TV > Ascendance Of A Bookworm (2019 - 2020*)/Cagaster Of An Insect Cage (2020*)/Justice Society: World War II 4K (2021/DC Comics/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Pet (2020/*all Sentai Complete Collect

Ascendance Of A Bookworm (2019 - 2020*)/Cagaster Of An Insect Cage (2020*)/Justice Society: World War II 4K (2021/DC Comics/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Pet (2020/*all Sentai Complete Collection Blu-rays)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B+/B+/B/C Sound: B+/B+/B/C Extras: C/C/A+/C Main Programs: B+/B+/A/B+

Now for another block of mature animation...

Urano Motosu died and was reincarnated into 'Main', a body of a little girl in a medieval age where books, education and magic were limited only for the nobility. Wanting to read books, if she is not able to read any books, she decided she will create books for this world. Little does she know her actions will shake this world and change it's society to the very core. However, Main has no idea how long she will live, as her body frail fails will she be able to achieve her dreams and bring books to the world?

In Ascendance Of A Bookworm (2019 - 2020), after being reincarnated into a medieval world, Main decides create books and help educate the world, but in order to achieve her dreams she must make friends, create a new economy and bring modernization to a medieval world. And before she realizes, others begin noticing 'Main's' ideas are changing the world, whatever she creates turns into a gold mine and her fame soon spreads. However, in a world separated by commoners, merchants, and nobles, there are some who want to use her, others who don't want commoners to become equals to the nobles. As Main changes the world, she learns she as a sickness call the 'devouring' and she will die soon, but what it really was, is a side effect of her being gifted with magic and the Nobles would rather see her dead than let a commoner prove to be an equal of a Noble, but as Main continues to come up with new ideas that enrich the people and kingdom, they cannot afford ignore the prosperity that Main brings to the land.

This was a series about how simple things that we take for granted can change the world and how one little girl can do it all. The first half the series builds up as the main character's ideas begin to revolutionize the economy, the second half introduces magic and the main character begins changing society and challenging the social classes. Extras include clean openings and closings, promos and trailers.

Episodes include:

A World Without Books - Urano dies and is reborn as Main in another world where there are no books and she is a frail young girl. She decides she will invent and create books if there is none.

Life Improvements and Slates - Main invents shampoo and she learns reading and books are limited for only the nobility, but she learns can write with chalk and slate.

The Events of Winter - Main learns about crafting in the winter time and invents a new way to cook and invents 'pancakes'.

Forrest and Clay Tablets - Main improves on her strength and stamina so she is able to go out to the forest and collect raw materials. Main decides to try clay tablets to write on, but they explode when she bakes them.

Baptisms and Strange Fevers - Tuuli's baptism comes and Main comes up with new ideas for designs and clothes. Main tries to make planks of wood to write on, but her mother burns them thinking it was fire wood.

Meeting - Benno tests if Lutz is worthy of becoming an apprentice merchant. Benno immediately sees Main is a golden goose of new ideas and profits.

Seeds of Suspicion - Main and Lutz begin gathering materials and resources for Main's ideas and enters a magic contract with Benno. Lutz begins to suspect Main is more than she appears to be.

Lutz's Main - Main and Lutz successfully create working prototypes for paper. Lutz accepts Main knowing she her secret.

The Guild Master's Granddaughter - Main meets Freida who wants Main's hair ornaments design and Main learns Freida is like her and has the 'Devouring'.

To the Second Winter - Main spends her second winter and helps improve on her original ideas and begins to learn controlling her growing mana.

Life-or-Death Choices and Family Meetings - Freida shares one of her magic items with Main and saves her life and tells her illness isn't really an illness but her growing abilities in magic, and the 'nobility' want to limit and control those who have mana.

Baptisms and Divine Paradises - Main gets her baptism and discovers the Church has magic items and a library. The Church discovers Main has mana (and money) want her 'abilities'.

The Choice to Be an Apprentice Priestess - Main decides she want to be an apprentice priestess to gain access to the library, but she learns the Church is made up of 'orphans', orphans are considered outcasts and bastards of society.

Conclusions - The High Priest threatens Main and her parents when he discovers they are commoners, but Main's power awakens and exposes the High Priest's corruption and he cannot force her do as he wishes.

Side Story 1: Eustachius's Incognito Operation Downtown - The Head Priest sends spies to uncover Main's background, but the townspeople protect her from them.

Side Story 2: Visiting Missus Corinna - Main's mother and sister meets Corinna and sells their wares and design ideas.

Apprentice Priestess - As Main learns how to be a priestess, but she must first learn to protect her money and investments from the Church whom requires forced 'donations'. Benno and the Head Priest negotiates the terms of Main's contract.

Blue Robes and Uncommon Sense - The Church gives Main retainers, Gil, Delia and Fran, but really, they are spies and troublemakers from the High Priest.

Needs - Main feeds and clothes Gil and Delia and takes them in when the High Priest tosses them out and she wins them over to her side.

Orphanage Reforms - Main learns the Church has been starving orphans to death and sold as slaves and decides to make changes and she becomes the new Director of the Orphanage.

Cleanups and Star Festivals - Main takes in the orphans and turns it into another one of her workshops and teaches those who work get to eat. She educates them and improves their lives.

The Path Ahead of Lutz - Lutz's parents object to Lutz's choice as a merchant and Lutz leaves home. Benno decides to adopt Lutz so he can inherit from him.

New Retainers - Main learns her mother is pregnant and she is to become a big sister. Main gets two new retainers Rosina who teacher her music and Wilma who helps her draw for pictures books. The Head Priest trains Main so that she can enter high society and the nobility.

Wilma and Holy Scriptures for Kids - Wilma - Main creates her first picture book for children.

Harvest Festivals and Staying Home - The nobles ban Main from joining any rituals, instead she is to clean up and reorganize the library and she creates the Dewey Decimal system.

Knight Orders and Requests - The Head Priest and Main are requested to join the knights on a mission.

Trombe and Battles - As the knights battle the Trombe, Main was assaulted by one of the knights guarding her, but in the end the Head Priest and Main was overcome the Trombe and proves Main was more than just commoner.

Dreamlike World - Main continues to surprise the nobility and her mana completely rejuvenates the land. The Head Priest looks into Main's mind and discovers Main's secret and concludes Main's mind holds unlimited potential for the kingdom's future.

Two thirds of the human race was wiped out by giant mutant insects call Cagasters infecting and turning humans into monsters, 30 year later humanity survives in wall off cities. They won the war, but insects continue to survive, anyone infected must be killed by the 'exterminators', people who specialize in killing the Cagasters. Kidou is an exterminator, one of the best, all his life he has been train to kill without emotion or regret... but his life is turned upside down when he saves a mysterious girl named Ilie with a mysterious past and power ... is she the key to saving mankind ...or it's destruction?

In Cagaster Of An Insect Cage (2020), Kidou is the best of the best when it comes to killing the Cagasters, he has trained all his life to learn all its weaknesses and is hired to protect the city and the people of E-05. Exterminators are feared, loathed and respected, Kidou may seem like an unfeeling killing machine, but when he rescues Ilie he discovers he has feelings and maybe more human than he has been given credit for. Ilie turns out to be a human/insect hybrid and a 'queen' and the very thing Exterminators are trained to kill (and of course she falls for Kidou). However, the military want to use Ilie's power and turn her into a weapon to 'control' the insects, and they don't care how many people they kill as long as they are the ones in control. Can Kidou kill Ilie... or will he find some way to save her?

This is your typical dystopia anime series, where the hero seeks a way to save humanity from those that threaten it. Through struggles human either shows the best or worst of humanity, and the hero must decide on what he must protect and what it means to be human. Extras include clean opening and closing animations and trailers.

Episodes here are:

Little Bo Peep - Kidou saves a girl named Ilie and promises to find and take her to her mother.

Anchovy and Black Lizard - Ilie gets used to living in the city E-05. Kidou beings investigating a series of slasher murders that seem to target exterminators.

From the Abyss - Ilie chases down a group of pickpockets that stole her wallet. Kidou fights a half human/insect creature named Acht.

As a Heartless Sword - As the festival approaches, Kidou and the military lay a trap for the insects ...or is it the insects laying a trap for the humans? Kidou loses a close friend and is forced to kill him.

From the Far East - Kidou remembers how he was first saved as a child and how he became an exterminator.

Awakening - The military of E-07 are after Ilie and threatens to destroy the city to catch her. Ilie discovers she has a strange power over the insects, the ability to control and command them. Ilie surrenders to save the lives of the people of E-05.

Illiaster - Ilie's past is revealed, that she was an experiment for a half human half insect lifeform, but she is a 'Queen' to the insects and so was her mother.

Princess in the Insect Cage - The citizens of E-05 fights to take back their city and Kidou infiltrates E-07 to rescue Ilie.

Insects' Feast - The military loses control of insects of E-07 and the insects start attacking everyone.

Up - Kidou, Ilie and the military race to the queen to try and re-control the system controlling the insects.

To You... - Kidou fights the military and faces Acht buying time for Ilie to get to her mother, but in order to stop the system it Ilie discovers she can't destroy the system without killing her mother.

Finally, For You - As the crimes of military of E-07 are brought to light, Kidou and Ilie must decide where Ilie's future is ...can she live with humans or should she live with the insects?

Next, Justice Society: World War II 4K (2021) may be the latest animated DC Universe release, but it is also the start of a new segment of that universe.

Warner Bros. and DC Comics are gifted with an incredibly rich history of material to draw from when creating their animated feature releases. Taking on the challenge of a World War II era Justice Society story was immense. Anyone who's read Roy Thomas' amazing run on All-Star Squadron from the 1980s or Geoff Johns' run on JSA from the 2000s knows how many characters the creators of this feature length animated insta-classic had to choose from. Producers Butch Lukic and Jim Krieg came up with a dynamite lineup of Wonder Woman, Flash, Hawkman, Black Canary, and Hourman. For those unfamiliar with DC Comics' somewhat convoluted history and mythos, just remember that the DC Universe has multiple Earths across many parallel dimensions. This storytelling device allows for DC's long publishing history. The same heroes who battled in World War II on Earth 2 didn't begin their careers until our current era on Earth 1.

Of course there are many other Earths featuring altogether different heroes and villains, but these two are the primary ones. This eighty-four minute animated film features mainly heroes from Earth 2 with one notable exception--the Flash! Yes, the Scarlet Speedster of Earth 1 is catapulted across dimensions and back in time to Earth 2 during the height of WWII. The Justice Society is taking the fight to the Nazis in Europe as a mysterious force compels Aquaman and his Atlantean hordes to side with the Axis powers. Dropped into their midst, the Justice Society, led by Wonder Woman (brilliantly voiced by Stana Katic), quickly realizes this new Flash is no enemy. The Earth 1 Flash (Matt Bomer) initially just wants to find a way home and sort out his complicated personal life, but he quickly finds himself drawn into the conflict of a world at war.

Every other member of the Society has some hook to draw you in and make you care about them. Hourman's (Matt Mercer) powers only work one out of every twenty-four hours, after that, he's a relatively normal man. Hawkman (Omid Abtahi) claims to have lived countless lives, and he possesses a worldview that reflects this. Black Canary (Elysia Rotaru) is a brawler with a sonic scream who doesn't want to let anyone past her guard. And Earth 2's Flash (Armen Taylor) has figured out more about the origins of his powers than his Earth 1 counterpart.

There's plenty of other action and surprise characters that we will leave you to discover on your own. What really ties this all together is the love story between Wonder Woman and military pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Diamantopoulos). I know what some of you may be thinking: that guy? Again? But writers Jeremy Adams and Meghan Fitzmartin make it work. They do it by taking full advantage of one of the strongest aspects of this series of standalone DC Comics features. We don't know what will happen. Anything can happen because the writers and producers are unencumbered by the weight of decades of continuity. Anyone can live. Anyone can die.

Director Jeff Wamester's pacing ensures you will remain fully engaged with the story to the end, and be assured, it's a tear jerker.

The extras on this release are plentiful and stupendous. The DC Showcase Short, Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth is an unadulterated homage to the character's creator, Jack 'King' Kirby. They even use Kirby's actual backgrounds in the animation. Seeing Kirby's post-apocalyptic world animated in this fashion, with this care and quality, is jaw-dropping. Kamandi, Tufftan, Ben Boxer - they're all there! There's even a too-brief musical callback to the Planet of the Apes. Wow!

Also included is an amazing short piece on the making of Justice Society: World War II. This panel roundtable discussion sheds a lot of light on the decisions and choices the creators made in making the film. Be sure to watch this after you've seen the movie, as it contains plenty of spoilers. Then there's a sneak peak at the next big release, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One. Based on Jeff Loeb and Tim Sale's classic story from some years ago, this looks to be a faithful adaptation. Also included is a nice short feature on the Justice League vs. Teen Titans, which promises some innovative takes on some familiar characters.

There's also a preview of the next Wonder Woman animated feature, Wonder Woman: Bloodlines, but what really ices this amazing cake are the two classic Justice League episodes thrown in. Justice League 'Legends' Part 1 and Part 2 were two of coolest, most moving episodes of the original JL series. They're 'golden age' vibe fits well with this package's feature film.

The creators of Justice League: World War II deserve a lot of credit for tackling a slice of DC's continuity that would have choked the energy out of a lesser team. Instead they handled it with aplomb, and delivered to us a modern interpretation of DC's Golden Age characters that will resonate for years to come.

Finally, imagine if someone can go into your mind and re-write your memories, to change how you grew up, to turn your best friend into your worst enemy and to make you do things you never thought possible and then erase it all. Satoru, Tsukasa and Hiroki are born with this superpower and they are employed by the Yakuza to do their dirty work and then they erase those who were involved afterwards, they are the Yakuza's 'pets'. But as they long to be free, they are suddenly ordered to hunt down the one person who escaped the Yakuza and also trained them, Hayashi in Pet: Complete Collection (2020).

After discovering few people were born with a supernatural ability to change people's memories, the Yakuza quickly found 3 psychics as children and then trained them to be psychic assassins. Hayashi was the origin and first psychic for the Yakuza and he found and trained Tsukasa and Satoru, but when he discovered the yakuza wanted them nothing more as tools and slaves, and he tried to escape with his students. But the Yakuza threaten to kill them and Hayashi was forced to escape alone. Without Hayashi, Satoru and Tsukasa just blindly followed the Yakuza's orders over the years and they were led on with false promises that one day they would be made men and part of the Yakuza's 'family'. Tsukasa eventually found and trained another student of his own, Hiroki, but Tsukasa was always jealous of Satoru being Hayashi's star pupil. Secretly Tsukasa planned to destroy and take over the Yakuza and then kill Satoru. The Yakuza method of controlling them was always simple, obey them or they kill their friends or family. However, Hayashi hasn't been just hiding, he secretly laid out a master plan to free all of them and he left clues and triggers in their memories that would be key to freeing them. But all their plans go south when the Chinese Triad tries to lay claim on the Yakuza's turf and Tsukasa's jealousy turns dangerous because he is willing to kill others to get what he wants.

This was an interesting supernatural psychological anime, because half the time the characters/series was in other character's minds and sub-conscience. But from a real psychological point of view, it was total BS, because the human mind doesn't really work that way. In the end, it is basically a story of Yakuzas with superpowers instead of guns. Extras include clean opening and closing animations, promos and trailers.

Now for playback performance. The picture and sound quality (both offer the same lossless, DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix) on this two disc set are superb. By a simple margin, the 4K, 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.78 X 1 HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image has a fine color range, nice gray scale for the monochrome moments and solid look over all. The regular Blu-ray's 1080p image is also really impressive too, so whether you watch the 4K version or the standard Blu-ray, both picture and sound remain theater quality, including an amazing black and white sequence to start the film.

All three Sentai Blu-rays are also presented in 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition and offer Japanese DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes. They all look and sound great, save Pet, which has much weaker sound and image than I would have liked. Bookworm and Cage have lesser English DTS-MA Stereo dubs as well, but they are best skipped.

- Ricky Chiang and Scott Pyle (4K)


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