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Category:    Home > Reviews > Anime > Animation > Teen > Drama > Romance > Gaming > Action > Adventure > Airplanes > Fantasy > Supernatural > Chihayafuru: Season 3 (2019 - 2020)/Magnificent Kotobuki: The Movie (2020)/Queen's Blade: Rebel Warriors Collection (2010 - 2012)/Swordgai: The Animation - Complete Collection (2018/all Sentai Blu-ray

Chihayafuru: Season 3 (2019 - 2020)/Magnificent Kotobuki: The Movie (2020)/Queen's Blade: Rebel Warriors Collection (2010 - 2012)/Swordgai: The Animation - Complete Collection (2018/all Sentai Blu-rays)

Picture: B+ Sound: B+/B+/B+/C+ Extras: C/B/B/C Main Programs: B+

Now for some new Anime releases, a strong batch this time out...

Chihaya and Taichi are now both A class players and along with Arata beginning thinking playing on the master's level. Chihaya is torn between become the Karuta Queen and attending her high school trip. Arata and Taichi continue on doing their best, playing and thinking whoever is the best will eventually win Chihaya's heart. Chihaya continues to grow in her abilities while Taichi begins to realize his limits. Meanwhile, Arata is said he is most likely to become next Meijin in Chihayafuru: Season 3 (2019 - 2020).

Karuta is a Japanese card game involving memorization and reflexes, a half a poem is read aloud and players must find its 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. Chihaya has been childhood friends with Arata and Taichi, she was first inspired by Arata into playing Karuta and Taichi joined her. Taichi and Arata consider each other rivals for Chihaya but no matter what Karuta will keep them friends. Sadly, Chihaya does not notice their feelings and she is more in love with game than either of them (but she still keeps them both hanging). However, both Arata and Taichi both want to become the 'Meijin' to be worthy of Chihaya. Chihaya's growth surprises everyone and with no doubt she may one day become the future Karuta Queen.

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/challengers and there is romance and drama between the three main characters. Extras include clean opening and closing animations and trailers.

Episodes include:

Summer eventide - Chihaya and Taichi have summer camp as Chihaya recovers from her surgery.

The down skies glimmer as if lit by moonglow - Chihaya and Taichi learn the Meijin and Queen qualifiers are during their school trip. Chihaya and Taichi learn to play team battles.

Moonglow Over Yoshino - Chihaya plays against a former Queen, Inokuma Haruka, who retired after maternity leave.

On the highest peaks - Chihaya faces off with Haruka and takes the lead at first, but then Haruka comes back with a vengeance. However, as things get more difficult Chihaya starts enjoys herself and plays even better.

Heavenly Mount Kagu - Arata unexpected loses while Chihaya and Taichi continues to win, but then they realize Chihaya and Taichi will face off with each other.

The first brocade - Chihaya and Taichi face off with one another and Taichi tries a new strategy putting Chihaya on the defensive.

The storm rages on - Chihaya beats Taichi and decides she rather go on her school trip than attend the Meijin qualifiers. However, Arata and Taichi both decide they want to attend the qualifiers, which makes Chihaya rethink her choice.

This is where all meet - Chihaya continues to agonize not going to the qualifiers. Arata attends the westerner qualifiers while Taichi attends the eastern qualifiers.

And I am that very wave in this unrequited love - Chihaya continues to monitor Arata and Taichi with phone updates. Taichi loses and is disappointed with himself as Arata continues to play strongly despite having a stomach ache.

Be true to that name - Arata has a handicap of 4 cards when his stomach acts up in the middle of the game and he has to step away, but even with the handicap, Arata...

Early mists quietly rising in this autumn evenfall - Chihaya and Taichi helps their teacher Harada-sensei train for his upcoming match with Arata.

Cherry petals dance a snowstorm in a garden and I dance with them - Arata plays against Harada and it is a case of youth versus experience.

As they fall, I fall with them. Frail, old, withered, I depart - Arata continues playing against Harada and Harada is reminded of Arata's grandfather, a former Meijin.

Now that we have met - Arata loses to Harada by a single fault, but then afterwards he confesses his feelings to Chihaya. Taichi lies to the current Meijin, Suo saying he is Chihaya's boyfriend when Suo starts eyeing Chihaya.

To restrain the flow of the cold mountain river - Suo invites Chihaya to play a match with her and totally beats her, but Chihaya notices he wins not because he is good, but because he is good at manipulating others to make faults.

Wait, if you have the heart - recap episode.

No wand for the kami has been prepared - Taichi requests a match with Suo but only after revealing he really wasn't Chihaya's boyfriend. Chihaya discovers Suo's eyesight is failing and tells Harada's his weakness.

The sleeves of my robe, soaked anew by the morning dew - The Meijin and Queen's match begins. Shinobu seems not be able to concentrate. Suo intends to draw out the match putting pressure on Harada's weak knees.

Hold me one last time - Chihaya helps Shinobu with words of encouragement and helps get her to focus on the game. Inokuma gets morning sickness and realizes she is pregnant. Harada continues to shift his cards using them against Suo's weakened eyes.

Time enough for our love - Shinobu wins and defends her title as the Queen. Suo's past is revealed and why he plays karuta.

Be true to that name - Suo draws the competition into the 5th round and wins, but then he decides not to retire when Arata challenges him to remain the Meijin until he can challenge him next year.

Some people I love - Taichi stays for a new year's karuta tournament and plays against Arata and loses.

Under this long ceaseless rain - It's Valentine's day and the girls of the Karuta club makes chocolates to cheer up the guys. Chihaya plans a special game for Taichi's birthday.

Crossing the Yura river On a boat without rudder - A new semester begins, Taichi confesses to Chihaya that he has been trying to get one up on Arata and that he loves Chihaya, but after Chihaya rejects him Taichi quits the Karuta club.

and Blown by harsh wind - Chihaya is unable to play karuta after learning she has cause Taichi to quit. Arata starts a karuta club at his school and sends a picture of his new club to Taichi and Chihaya knowing both of them can't stay away from karuta long.

Long ago, holes opened up in the skies and it swallowed the oceans and the oceans disappeared, but through those holes, another race appeared bringing technological advancements, airplanes and airships, and they filled the skies. Just as suddenly, the mysterious holes closed and disappeared, closing off the two worlds. Now huge airships carried precious cargo and resources between the towns and cities, and civilization continued to thrive, but now the skies were filled with a new danger, sky pirates. The Kotobuki Squadron is an all-girl group of pilots and they protect the ships and their cargo, but will it be enough to stop the sky pirates who are trying to control the entire the sky?

In The Magnificent Kotobuki: The Movie (2020), Kylie, Reona, Chika, Emma, Kate and Zara are female pilots who work on Kotobuki Squadron in protecting their precious cargo delivery on their airship. Each pilot has a different flying style, they all strive to see who is the best and compete with each other, but they all work together when it comes to fighting the Sky Pirates who try to raid and steal from their ships. Secretly, the pirates are funded and control by the government who trying to control the skies and reopen the holes in the sky to gain access to more new and advance technologies. Once the Kotobuki Squadron discovers the government conspiracy, they team up with other private squadrons to fight against the government tyrants who are trying to take away freedom in the skies.

The Magnificent Kotobuki - The Movie was like the entire series crammed into a 2-hour movie, but it worked well enough despite the shortening of exposition. If you don't feel like watching the series, you can just watch the movie. The movie takes all the big fight scenes from the TV series and clips them together in one single story. You basically miss out on all the characters back stories/development and background of the world. Extras include a bunch of specials, air battle, reports, including video game previews and trailers.

The Queens Blade tournament is a battle royale to see who is the most powerful female warrior, whoever wins becomes the current Queen of the kingdom, but no one is ever Queen for long, because there are always challengers to the throne. It seems like the current Queen is getting rid of all who has the potential to challenge her and amass all the power in the kingdom to her. The Iron Strategist Ymir seems not care as long as she continues to experiment with her inventions in Queen's Blade: Rebel Warriors Collection (2010 - 2012).

There is something wrong with the kingdom, the beautiful warriors are being defeated one by one and the Kingdom is doing nothing. The land is being taken over by evil, the people are suffering and there is no one stopping the spread of evil. Annelotte is a wandering knight protecting the people from monsters, oppression and dangers. She and her friends are tired waiting and manipulated by those in power and decide to challenge the current Queen and her minions.

Queen's Blade is full of fanservice for the boys with scantily clad warrior maidens getting stripped naked when they lose. The story and reasons why the character fight were weak, but just excuses to see girls fight in sexy outfits and get naked (and they aren't embarrassed). Extras include OVAs, Queen's Blade audio dramas, Queens Blade Omake, clean opening and closing animations and trailers.

Episodes include:

Warrior of the Resistance - Yuit and Vante fight against Ymir who is trying to capture her, but instead she captures Mirim and Yuit is reunited with Annelotte.

The Sacred War - Annelotte fights against the zealot priestess Sigui, but can she prove it Sigui who wrong and misguided?

The Moonlight From the Jungle & the Sun - Annelotte journeys into the jungle to fight a tentacled monster and joins forces with Luna Luna.

The Unstopping Hyper Vibration - Mirim is brainwashed by Ymir in wearing her prototype Hyper Vibration Armor with makes her invincible, but a side effect is that it gives her orgasms.

The Secret of the Castle at Gainos - Annelotte and Yuit sneak into Gainos Castle and ends up fighting Branwen the Dragon Warrior.

A Crown of Flowers & the Hidden Power - Annelotte fights Mirim, but suddenly Vante is stolen by the sky pirate Captain Liliana.

The Flying Pirate Ship - Annelotte and Yuit sneaks aboard Liliana's ship to rescue Vante, but they discover Ymir is also trying to steal Vante.

The Tempted Young Wife - Aldra was former queen but now is a housewife with no memories of her past. Ymir uses her to summon two demons to serve her cause.

A Samurai Arrives - Annelotte helps train Izumi a samurai girl who wants to protect a village made up of orphans of the war.

An Angel, a Trap, and the Queen's True Motive - Annelotte and her friends are caught in a trap set by Ymir.

Wavering Spirit - Turns out Melona was copying Ymir and manipulating everyone and everything to increase the power of evil and the Swamp Witch

Bonds of Resistance - The Queen doesn't care if good or evil is in control, but as long as she reigns in power, she doesn't care what happens to the people or the kingdom. Annelotte challenges her, but who will win?


Faith! Elina's Unshakable Bond - Elina gets captured, but she has unshakeable faith that her sister will come and save her.

Difficult Parting! The Thousand Year Farewell of Alleyne - Nowa and Alleyne spend the day a the beach, but then suddenly are attacked by Nyx.

Depression! Airi's Duplicity - Airi faces her past, but is she really evil? She is asked to prove her loyalty to the Swamp Witch, but has she discovered something stronger than evil ...friendship?

Restoration! Menace Joy Palace - Airi and Melona are tasked to bring Menace back to the Swamp Witch, but instead they are tempted by Menace's offer of wealth and power.

Fallen Angel! Nanael's Pleasure - Nanael steals one of God's grapes and becomes a fallen angel.

and Secret Technique! The Journey Escorted by Summoned Danger - Tomoe and a former queen journey to the Land of the Rising Sun.

All throughout time, legendary swords and weapons grant their users supernatural abilities and powers. However, it is a doubled edge sword, these weapons have souls/spirits of their own and they slowly take over their users and eventually turn their users into monsters known as Busoma. Gai was born into this world right after his mother was possessed by such a weapon and she committed suicide right after his birth. Now, he hunts down those who also possess cursed swords with the very sword that killed his mother as his right arm in Swordgai: The Animation - Complete Collection (2018).

Gai is a young swordsmith, but is cursed with the sword Shiryu which was remade into his right arm. Over the centuries secret societies and organizations have been trying to collect cursed weapons, but one society the Shoshidai not only collects them, but places users into cryo-sleep promising they are working on a cure that can turn them back into humans again. Gai is recruited by the Shoshidai because they see promise of him becoming a human hybrid Busoma, a Busoma that can transform and still return to human form. But as Gai soon learns, not everyone is what they appear to be, including the Shoshidai.

The Shoshidai never had a 'cure', only lies, lies they used to control them and exploit their abilities and they really want take over the world. But now, a group of fully awoken Busoma want to release all cursed weapons and destroy all mankind. The Busoma tells Gai he has been fighting on the wrong side and it would be better for him to join them ...but which side will Gai stand on? Only Sayaka, Gai's only childhood friend (and she is also in love with him) believes in Gai and no matter which side Gai is on, she has faith and believes in Gai.

This was a fairly dark and grim anime where there were no happy endings, every character is either a tragic hero or eventually turns into an evil one. It is filled with violence and each character is a 'Mary sue' and is destroyed by their own power, killing everyone and everything they love and then they become 'possessed' by the spirit of the weapons. Extras include clean opening and closing animation and trailers.

Now for playback performance. All four releases have fine 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers that are pretty strong and impressive from their color to their detail, even as they have differences in their artistic style and approach.

The Japanese DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix on Kotobuki offers the most tracks we have ever encountered on any Sentai release ever (can a 12-track DTS: X or Dolby Atmos mix be far behind?) and it offers a slight advantage in impact and synergy with the image, so we hope to see and hear more of this from Sentai.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Swordgai and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes on the other two releases are on Japanese and lesser Wenglish dubs, all with Pro Logic-like surrounds. Unfortunately, Swordgai seems a little off and forced into a 5.1 mix, maybe a generation down. Maybe a stereo mix to compare could have been included, but it is passable just the same.

- Ricky Chiang


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