Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Ergo Proxy Box Set
Released By: MVM
Rating: 15
Running Time: 575 mins
Audio: English and Japanese 5.1
Release Date: Out Now
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

A new world has been born, one of greater futuristic proportions where the people thrive in a clean and germ free environment. After an ecological disaster that killed off most of the population, this new utopia has been set up as its replacement where humans work and live along with androids in a domed city called Romdo. All  is supposed to be well in this new world, though the residents are controlled by those who are above them in station, using robots called Auto-Reivs in everyday life they help out the humans in their duties. The moderated world they live in is disrupted by a number of murders they believe to have been done by robots gone insane once they have been infected by the Cogito virus making them emotional and giving them feelings and fear. To investigate the murders, Re-l Mayer a gothic looking woman clad top to toe in black leather and her partner Iggy, an Auto-Reiv assigned to help her out with the case. In an operating room, a strange creature of inhuman origin escapes from its bonds and leaves the confines of the city, urging Re-l and Iggy to come and look for clues. Along the way new characters are met as are new and dangerous challenges.

Contains episodes 1-23 o n 6 DVD'S. look at the EXTRAS section for more information on the series box set.

Ergo Proxy itself has been labelled as a follow-up to many great serious sci-fi classics. Some that have stood the test of time like Ghost in the Shell, Blade Runner and I Robot. The interesting thing about this series is it mixes the sci-fi aspect with gothic and thriller parts too that can be described as unforgettable. With an excellent popular voice acting cast to bring the characters to life it is no wonder it has been so popular with those who enjoy their sci-fi and cyberpunk themes. Proving its popularity, their closing theme was recorded by none other than Radiohead, the song 'Paranoid Android' giving  the series that apocalyptic and desperate tone it needed to convey the tone of the series. The scenes are dark, the animation crisp and original, the concept an intriguing one that will keep the viewer guessing as those who liked such films as Dark City and Casshern will undoubtedly take to this straight away.

Bonus Material: Bonus features include Trailers for other anime titles in the MVM series, the box set comes as six thin cases inside one large presentation box, the box itself is a gothically black with a half face of Re-l Mayer on the front, on the spine she stands in a modest pose while on the back she strikes a dynamic pose with a gun, her mannerisms meaning business.

Verdict: If you plan on seeing a darkly futuristic anime box set,  get this one - robots, guns, plot twists - it's all here.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Yaoikuza: Oruji
Released By: Yaoi Press
Writer and Artist: Yamila Abraham
Cover Art: Studio Himitsu
Release Date: Out now
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Okina knows what happened the night he found Aruji and his brother, Sobokuna in a compromising position. Since then, Okina is annoyed at him for daring the seduce someone who he sees as an innocent. He is his younger brother, after all and always wanted to look out for him, and in the one moment he should have been there to protect him, he couldn't. He carries a lot of guilt, and as a form of punishment, Okina can think of nothing more satisfying than to make Aruji pay for taking Sobokuna's virginity - he wants to do the same to him, right there and then, making him submit to him just as his younger brother had to. What he doesn't know is that it was the boss who submitted to Sobokuna.

Aruji didn't like the idea of him knowing his most intimate details and could have done without him pressing him for the information. Aruji didn't feel as though he had done anything wrong, after all he didn't love him - it was just sex. Okina though, likes teasing Aruji, and knows more than anyone about his gay inclinations, and he isn't afraid of telling him how handsome he looks in the throes of passion. This annoys him deeply, and the two characters from the first story has now turned into three - a definite love triangle, and one that Subokuna doesn't know about.

While Subokuna thought his brother would disapprove of what he did with Aruji, readers will remember what Aruji said to him in response - his brother could be a hypocrite for telling him off about it. As Aruji knows too well, the majority of the Yaoikuza have gay inclinations, and will either fuck or be fucked by others.

This is the perfect second part to a series like this as it mixes Japanese yakuza history with the yaoi knack for bringing those naughty ukes and semes together. It is just as saucy and erotic as the first one, and has Okina and Aruji arguing over Sobokuna, and for good reason. Fans of yaoi novels and stories will like the characters who are always in denial, plus the cover artwork which has the characters on it, and behind them a couple of kissing Japanese dragons!

The Yaoikuza: Oruji can be purchased at the Yaoi Press website for on Kindle or iPad at your leisure.

Verdict: This one's a surefire candidate for the keeper shelf.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Countdown Seven Days Vol: 1
Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
Writer and Artist: Kemuri Karakara
Release Date: Out now
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Mitamura, a very lonely teacher at the Sheol Soul School thinks he is pretty good at what he does, even if others think he is a bit big headed about his achievements - one such person thinks this of him, and wants to sort him out in a big way. The school is a top academy dedicated to the teaching of pupils about the afterlife and what happens after the death of the body, when the soul searches for the light. This is hardly so serious a novel though, with crazy characters and only one way to find the truth that lies in a place no one would think to find it.

Unhappy with his lot, Mitamura has to keep looking round after his star pupil, Tsuru has gone missing in the world of the living. His dealings have normally been with the dead, so he has no idea how to talk to humans, have fun with them, love them or interact with them in any way, so he has his work cut out to get to her without showing who he is to others - they wouldn't believe him anyway!

He discovers there is little time for that -  so he has to enlist the help of Hanasuke, a kid off the street he asks to help him find her, but with only seven days to do it, he has an idea he might lose. The strangest thing of all is Hanasuke is actually dead, so he can get along fine with him as he has so many times before.

Countdown 7 Days Vol:1 is an unusual story of a guy being given the slip by a girl who knows what she is doing, the question all the readers will want to know is whether he does too.

Verdict: A heartwarming story full of comedy and social comments.

Great Place High School Student Council Vol: 2
Released By: June
Writer and Artist: Naduki Koujima
Release Date: Out now
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Rin Amanohara and Eichi Shidou act as Student Council President and Vice President of the Great Place High School, but as cruel and heartless they can be, and tyrannical too, they don't stand a chance against a newcomer who threatens to destroy all they have built so far. 

This manga is well drawn and hellishly comical in every sense. Right from the beginning it grips you and reels you in. The manga is made up of small four panel cartoons that with their tag lines make you smile, then giggle at how funny they are. With chibi versions of the characters at the side, it makes for fun reading, and also gives you and insight into the characters real feelings along the way. If you are in any doubt as to whether it's a yaoi, it puts paid to the doubt as soon as you turn the pages, as you are instantly met with naughtiness right from the first page, porn sites, sites you wouldn't let anyone else look at in a million years, and this is from the Information Management Club - which for these guys seems to double as the Computer Club too, even if the sempai doesn't like it being referred to as that!

The four panel look to the manga makes it look funnier as you are watching for the looks on the characters faces as a result of what they are experiencing or what the other characters have done. From crazy character mouse pads, to stranger students who think everything they do at Great Place High is just a big laugh. You can't really blame them as it's a hoot no matter what others may think. From the manga-ka who brought us the ever popular Our Kingdom, Be Honest and Selfish Love she puts the effort in and creates a really excellent novel that is just as good as the first. 

If you liked Ouran Hight School Host Club, and Gakuen Heaven, then you are guaranteed to love this all the way through as it is a continuation of the previous volume. Everyone liked the first one, so this one got brought out, and who can blame them when it looks so darn good. Get it, you won't be disappointed - the fun is right there. 

Verdict: Enjoyable, fun reading entertainment yaoi style. 

Friday, 12 October 2012

Finder Vol:3 - One Wing in the Viewfinder
Released By: June
Writer and Artist: Ayano Yamane
Release Date: Out now
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Akihito comes back to his apartment to find that the place has been burgled, and all his stuff is strewn all over the place, and if that isn't enough to shock him, he also finds that at least whoever wanted to take what he had, left his cameras alone. He had them hidden in a special place he hoped no one would find them and he's right. Others think it is unusual they could not find his cameras, as they would be the only things worth stealing out of all the stuff he calls belongings. A rival gang lord wants something of his and he has sent his best men along to take it - but when they prove they are more incompetant than even he thought, he realises he needs to use someone else to get to him, and the thing he wants the most.

What annoys Akihito the most is the men who burgled him stole some important cds that contained photos, and they are those he will have to shoot again later, making him behind with his projects as a photographer. When he is on a routine assignment, he is horrified to find that Fei Long, the man who abducted and tortured him and hurt his friends is the one who wants what he has, and if he doesn't give it to them, he is in big trouble as Fei is prepared to put his friends at risk if he can't come up with the leaked data from Asami's organisation they will die along with him.

When Akihito goes to see Asami for the information, he doesn't want to give it to him - instead he tells him Fei's demand is a bluff, as he has nothing to gain from killing his friends, so the story ends up being a double-edged sword, he gives over the information, and his friends live, or don't and they die, but if he does give over the info, then the people on the list will be targetted by Fei's assassins.

Fans of the Finder series of novels will enjoy the pages of sweet love-making these two get up to at times through the story. Akihito becomes the lover of Asami once again, and even though he won't save his friends, he will protect his lover, but being his lover is a dangerous thing and he hopes Akihito will be prepared for what happens as a result.

Asami is a more seasoned fighter, and one used to being tracked by assassins, so when the deal doesn't go as planned for Fei Long, Asami can sort out the ones who are after him without Akihito worrying too much about it.

Verdict: A touching love story with all the fun of assassins and intrigue that you can only find from one of Ayano Yamane's novels.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Naruto Shippuden Box Set 9
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Rating: 12
Running Time: 300 Mins
Audio: English and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1
Release Date: Out Now
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Kakashi is uneasy about their recent run in with the Sound Ninja, especially the crystal style user, Guran. Yamato can tell something is wrong, and knows they need to formulate a plot that could help the team win. While they are going through that, Shizune, Lee and the others are running as fast as they can to get to help Naruto and his team as he goes in search of young boy he had met before, Yukimaru. His mistress, Guran is mindful of anyone who might be wanting to take him away. She knows this would have an effect on the mission to control the three-tails. Guran already has the beginning of a bond with Yukimaru, and she isn't about to let Kabuto use him, and possibly kill him in the process of reaching his and Orochimaru's personal goals.

As everyone knows Orochimaru is only interested in using allies as pawns in his carefully crafted games. After Guran has shown that she has an other interest in Yukimaru as more than a mere test subject, her men are feeling used as well when they hear what Orochimaru wants to do with the three-tails. Team Kakashi have to find out the three tails so that Orochimaru doesn't get what he wants. Lady Tsunade has thought of what they should do, and decides on two teams. They are all ready for battle, but the winner is still as of yet undecided.

Through most of the series, Naruto has been obsessed at how Sasuke has left Team Seven, and strived to get him back. In the past few episodes, Naruto's interest has turned to Yukimaru. He still has the same enthusiasm for taking him as he did with Sasuke, and Kakashi can see how it will get him into more trouble. Naruto thinks Guran is alright with using Yukimaru for their experiments, but he si so far from the truth. Guran has shown she is very fond of the boy since he said he felt he belonged with her, yet she is torn between her affection for him, and wanting to earn the respect and admiration of her master, Orochimaru. There is a confrontation with her and Kabuto, but Kabuto has hidden information on Guran that he uses to his advantage. This goes to prove just how cruel and devious Kabuto can be with his subordinates.

While all this is going on, the Akatsuki are hot on their trail in the form of Deidara and Tobi. Tobi being the new Akatsuki member introduced into the anime is a welcome addition as he is a comical type that annoys his partner most of the time. He is erratic, bounces around the screen and is fun to watch. Viewers will notice the story getting closer to what they expected of the manga, and that the incidental music chosen for the scene where Yukimaru is unleashing his terrible power is the one where Naruto faced up to Orochimaru as the nine-tails.

Kabuto is his usual sneaky self. He has been manipulating Guran since the last series, using her desire to get Orochimaru interested in her abilities. Some may get the impression that Kabuto is all promises, and Guran might not even get the recognition she thinks she deserves.
Orochimaru has already thought up what they must do, and has considered all the options so that his plan can't fail. And as this series is starting to change in a different direction, the viewers are assured of an exciting time.

Bonus Material: Production Artwork and Trailers for other anime series.
Verdict: This set has the usual intrigue, action and pacing we have come to know and love.

Naruto Shippuden Box Set 8
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Rating: 12
Running Time: 300 Mins
Audio: English and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1
Release Date: Out Now
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Hidan has been taken down, but Kakuzu is still at large. Naruto and the others of Team 7 have come to the rescue though, and Naruto for one isn't afraid to put up a good enough fight to save his comrades. There is still the threat of the other Akatsuki getting to them and Naruto. When a new mission is set up where Sasuke might be in their grasp along with Lord Orochimaru, Naruto is kept out of the loop and might not appreciate it if he finds out.

Their tactics are a bit cruel as Naruto has been waiting for a long time to meet Sasuke once again so he can persuade him to come back home where he believes he belongs - but Sasuke has other ideas. He isn't about to be sidetracked by Naruto or anyone else. He has his own mission to take care of and he feels he has already told Naruto, his supposed best friend that he is no longer a member of Team 7 or will ever be. Naruto never gives up on his friends though, and has annoyed him on many separate occasions - and judging by his style he will continue doing so!

These two discs are more of a catch up and a break off from the characters - Naruto takes some time out with Master Jiraiya at a hot spring in order to take his mind off his recent successful battle with the Akatsuki while Shikamaru does some serious soul searching of his own after the death of Asuma sensei, his master and former shogi partner.

Through all of this, Naruto has proved he has got stronger now that he has learned a new technique - the rasen shuriken, but the jutsu is seen as too dangerous as he used it on someone who could be described as one of the best Akatsuki around. Viewers are likely to feel for him when Sakura is concerned about the damage to his body as a result of using it. She has to hide it, but it is hard for her as she has been absent for so long. She has stopped seeing him as such an idiot due to all the heartache he has been through. Lady Hokage has to get him to see reason, and tells him personally he must stop using the rasen shuriken or he might not recover from his injuries.

Shikamaru on the other hand has not just lost a shogi partner; he's lost a mentor and a friend, a man he looked up to even though to some he was evasive and not easy to get to know personally. Shikamaru has mourned his loss, and now he has to help others, not least Kurenai sensei who carries Asuma's child in her womb, and will be part of the future of Konoha, and he promised to help her raise the child on Asuma's behalf.

I found this quite heart-warming in the face of the threat from the rest of the Akatsuki. Shikamaru is a brave shinobi and knows how to lead his team, yet he doesn't think he is ready until his mentor and master dies. It is only them when he has to grow up quick, and decide his team are relying on him to make the really big decisions in battle, and we already know how great he is with thinking up strategy plans. So while he is undergoing an emotional change, and Naruto has to revise his use of the rasen shuriken jutsu that has taken a lot of time to perfect, out there viewers are treat to a few episodes that involve Lord Orochimaru and his men, Kabuto and Sasuke. While Kabuto has to go on a short mission to get another of Orochimaru’s henchmen who thought he would never have need. Viewers will enjoy seeing Sasuke in training as it shows he has become more powerful, even than he was before. It is enough to make his master think he is ready to take his body as the vessel he has always desired. They might get the impression he isn’t going to let him take his body so easily. Not when he has his own mission to kill his brother, Itachi.

These two discs are all about the decisions the characters have to make if they want to move on in their lives. Shikamaru has to truly be a leader of his team, and leave uncertainty behind. Naruto has to find another jutsu, one that is not so self-destructive and perfect it ready for future battles with the Akatsuki. Kakashi has to pass the baton onto Naruto as he feels he has surpassed him, though Naruto needs the help of Jiraiya to train him again after such a failure with his new jutsu. It is good to see him reunited with some of Chief Toad’s family and fans of the series will see a few more characters they never expected to see at all.

The general feeling of the series so far is serious, as you get the sense Sasuke is plotting something on the inside, and that Naruto is still not ready enough to face him yet.

Bonus Material: Production Art and Trailers for other anime series in the Manga Entertainment range.

Verdict: This is Shikamaru's turn to shine in a series of difficult situations.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Beloved 4490
Released By: Yaoi Press
Writer and Artist: Yamila Abraham/Archie The Red Cat
Release Date: Out now
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Janis and Edwin are drinking together for the last time as free men in a world where slavery was rife. Now that he is nothing more than an ordinary man, and a handsome one at that, he has to be careful not to cause any trouble for anyone, not even those he was once a slave to. He can never allow anyone to know he was once a powerful avatar who could dampen the extreme powers of the demigod Malachi. Janis jokes about his time there with Edwin and how a revolution would be a great thing to happen, but Edwin calms his spirits, telling him he does not know who is listening to him. There could be spies everywhere, and he wouldn't know it.

Edwin has a different belief to him, and it isn't a good one, he believes they will always be in slavery to Malachi, no matter what they do, even if they organize an uprising. As they are the ones who mine the gems for the demigod, he in a way needs them, yet he can destroy them any time he feels like it as he has a devil of a temper if moved to anger. And as only Janis can calm his anger, he begins to feel strongly about Malachi, as they have been apart for so long.

Janis finds he doesn't want Malachi as much as he thought, instead he hides out of his way and finds love with old friend Edwin who is estranged from his wife who doesn't want to go near him anymore. Janis comforts him when he would otherwise have felt lonely, though he does have to watch what he says around others.

Edwin does know how obsessed Janis has become with Malachi, and he doesn't understand it, only Janis does - and recalls a time when he first saw a portrait of him - his mouth agape at his handsome looks, then on hearing his voice, it made him tremble with desire, and he still can't understand it. Janis knows if he is not around Malachi, then he has lost the war, as he cannot hurt him. For once Jace as Janis is using his brain, and he finds he is more at home with Edwin as a lover - even if the prospect of getting with Malachi at some point could give him the pleasure he has long since searched for.

As the other territories have been defeated, there is only one thing that can happen, Jace must go to Malachi and defeat him and become his beloved after all, but will Janis reveal who he really is to the men in the mines and the magistrates?

In this part of the story, Jace as Janis the avatar is a young slave who works in the mines pretending to be oblivious of his responsibility as an avatar purely due to him wanting to keep the peace. He isn't as pure as others might imagine even though he has a kind heart; he likes his men, and he likes them big in certain departments, and will sometimes let two or more men inside him on some nights. It is what Janis gets up to as a slave that will set the hearts of the readers fluttering, but he does retain a kind of normality. He is not big-headed, or brash in any way. He is seen as an unfortunate caught up in a dark time where a demigod could have them killed on a whim. Even though he is the chosen one, he has the chance of suffering the same fate as the others around him, and what is worse he knows it. Malachi still searches for him, though, even in his dreams, and these will also prove interesting for readers who like their sexual play as descriptive as possible.

There is no ignoring the depth of this twenty-five page stunner of a story. There are parts that are truly pornographic, and sensual, but that doesn't detract from the powerful story Yamila has managed to weave her characters around it. Archie the Red Cat has done the equally powerful and sensual cover art for this part, and its loose style, plus the colours she has chosen give the reader a great deal of clues as to how erotic the story is going to be – especially with the dark figure in the background.

Beloved 4490 is now available on Kindle and at, so go get yourself a copy before they all go.

Verdict: A heart-rending tale of love and how it can blossom in even the most dangerous of places.

Saihoshi Redemption: Part 1
Released By: Yaoi Press
Writer and Artist: Yamila Abraham/Archie The Red Cat
Release Date: Out now
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Saihoshi Redemption is the long awaited sequel to Saihoshi the Guardian, one of the most intriguing and talked about manga series that graced the shelves of popular book stores. This volume continues where the last one left off. For those who have no idea what the series is about, it would be advised to familiarize yourself with the setting and story by taking a look at Saihoshi the Guardian first so you get the general look and feel of the story as well as the various characters.

After the guardian Sastre went his own merry way and betrayed the organization, it has been no more than a year with him and his lover, Kaleth, the former servant and confidante of Prince Anel doubling their efforts and escaping the wrath of warriors and bandits along the way - as they were originally in enemy territory, they were lucky to find Yinn the guardian of the Eastern forest who protected them and helped them. The problem is the guardian order has found out about their betrayal and has in turn sent their own band of warriors to kill them, the cruel and wrathful executioners who no one has ever evaded for long.

In this story there is plenty of humor and drama with a tenseness thrown in that keeps the reader hooked to the mystery of who the executioners are and why they act like they do.

This novel unlike the previous series is not a graphic one, but written in prose format as an e-book instead. It loses none of the interest though as the story reads just as well as a normal yaoi manga. Created by Spanish art studio Kosen, this first part is an exciting look at the next stage in the evolution of the Saihoshi series and from what can be seen it is an amazing start.

Verdict: An excellent sequel to the original series - something you can really get your teeth into.

Spring Demon
Released By: Yaoi Press
Writer and Artist: Yamila Abraham/Himitsu Studio
Release Date: Out now
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Takuma is at a loss to keep his emotions in check, but it is even more difficult for his lover, Lord Ryuuto to keep him happy. Being a demon it is a part of him he would rather not have. He has been with Takuma for over a month back when they were in the hot spring, kissing and holding each other, yet Ryuuto could not make love to him, he was too afraid of his demon side emerging and hurting him when in the throes of passion.

As a demon, Ryuuto would love nothing more than to make love to him life mate, but in order to do this he decides he has to invite another demon who will show him how to control the demon side of his nature. The problem is if he goes through with his plans, Ryuuto has to let well-known demigod demon, Figaru make love to him without Takuma being around. The last thing he wants is to see his jealous looks at them.

Ryuuto sees it as his addressing his lover’s needs, but Takuma doesn't want him to be dominated by another demon - he's jealous, yet he is also torn between waiting Ryuuto to be able to make love to him. Ryuuto isn't doing this out of wanting to sleep with another demon; he is devoted to Takuma, and really wants to make him happy in bed. While he wrestles inside with this, Ryuuto also tells him he has made a bargain with Figaru, as Fuyu had sent him along; Figaru is an incubus and if he doesn't mate he gets ill, so they are both doing each other a favor.

As expected, Takuma doesn't see it this way, though, as any reader will know it feels like he is cheating on him no matter what kind of good deed he is doing for the other incubus, or how good the outcome. It will always be on Takuma's mind that he let a demon have his way with him in their bed.

When Takuma leaves his side on the night of the full moon, he goes into the forest and bumps into Figaru - who, sensing he doesn't like what he will do to his lover, Ryuuto, asks him to watch them make love - if Takuma doesn't like what he's doing to him, he will call it off and Figaru will leave. For Takuma this is all too unexpected, and he has to make a choice - leave them to make love alone and let it pray on his mind, or watch and see the outcome.

Spring Demon is a forbidden treat, a guilty pleasure that has to be read to be believed, and I would say this is Yamila's longest and best sex scene yet! Takuma plays the jealous lover who has always stood by his demon lover, yet when the thought presents itself of Ryuuto being made into a better lover, he has to sit back and watch rather than act, as he could jeopardize how his lover reacts to him later. You might think it is in Takuma’s best interests to listen to what Figaru says to him, but jealousy is a funny thing and can make anyone thing anything, good or bad. I liked the steady progress of the character development, and what each character was thinking in turn.

Verdict: This is a nice continuation of the Winter Demon series of novels.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Naruto Shippuden Box Set 7
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Rating: 12
Running Time: 292 Mins
Audio: English and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1
Release Date: Out Now
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Shinobi have to protect the Hidden Leaf village from attack by shinobi who have been turned into zombies, they have to be eradicated, or the whole village will become like them. Asuma knows what Sora meant when he mentioned the king, and it doesn't help when it looks like they might lose their village to the enemies who want to seal their fate. Their enemies from the land of fire are using similar techniques that Orochimaru employed when he reanimated two of the Hokage's in a previous battle with the fourth. Just when everything looks like it is going to go the way the enemy wants it to, Naruto and Shikamaru have something to add to the battle that will make sure they don't lose in a fight.

Naruto has a harder fight though, he has to fight a friend who has become an enemy, Sora, and he's not just his enemy, but the leaf villages too. He already planned to kill the fifth Hokage, and wants to destroy the village, as his hatred of others and his anger grows with each passing moment.

Even though it isn't the first time the village has been in serious jeopardy, this series of episodes proves to be the most dramatic in terms of how serious the damage to the village. and the deaths of its people are in comparison with the previous seasons of Naruto. Good is pitted against what their opponents believe their cause to be righteous evil. They seek to obliterate the village and the reign of the Hokage, as they believe there can't be two rulers or kings.

Furido shows his maniacal side as the leader of the land of fire, and what kind of person he is to have wanted to make his cause grow stronger by using someone else as a scapegoat and his pawn, but for him, a mighty pawn can only come from one person, and the twist in this story is only made more cruel and shocking by its reveal later. Sora is used to such an extent that Naruto is forced to fight him, but try his best to hold back his nine-tails power.

Iruka sensei has his own series of problems to deal with, and a realization that comes to him about his relationship with his father, the fourth Hokage. He appreciates being a part of his life, and a member of the Sarutobi clan even though he was a difficult child who often wanted to be left alone in difficult times. This has a heartwarming effect that the viewers will enjoy as it's out of character for him. Also in this series, the Akatsuki arrive again, this time looking for the rest of the tailed beasts.

Bonus Material: Production art and Trailers of other anime series in the Manga Entertainment range.

Verdict: Naruto has got action, style and story in bucket loads - it deserves to be considered the best anime series of all time.

Fairy Tail Series 1
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Rating: 12
Running Time: 300 Mins
Audio: English and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0
Release Date: 05/03/2012
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Fione is a kingdom in a far away land where its people live a peaceful existence. It is also a place of great magic and magic can be traded like goods in the market place. For the residents of Fione magic is a part of everyday life, but for some, say wizards, it is more special than that, there are the wizards who are part of various guilds where they have honed their skills for the better. One guild in particular though is the best of them all, and which some of the most intriguing tales are still told today.

Lucy has the desire to become a true mage, but it will be a struggle for that to happen. While in Harujion she comes across a young man called Natsu who is a member of Fairy Tale; it is considered by many to be one of the best mage guilds around. Natsu gets into town but doesn't have much luck when it comes to travelling as he's sick all the time, yet he needs to find his way to Fairy Tail as soon as he can. Lucy wants to buy something from the local magic shop but can't use her feminine wiles on the shopkeeper. Instead, she has to settle for something else, and that is when she sees a handsome man called Salamander who tries to get her to go with him to his castle - she also meets Natsu and other girls can't help but get into the famous mage. Her meeting Natsu could lead to a wonderful friendship providing she takes notice of what he says.

Like Hei from Darker Than Black, Natsu has one hell of an appetite when it comes to food, yet that can be put down to the journey he's just come back from. He knows Lucy wants to be a part of the guild, but can Salamander offer her more than him?. Salamander is the wizard in town and Lucy thinks he is as impressive as he looks, but on a second look notices he wears a charm spell ring that can get other girls to fall in love with him - after that she thinks he is a low life - but you can't blame him for trying even if he is an impostor. With the promise of getting her into Fairy Tail, she goes along with his wish to go with him to the party, but what will happen once she gets there?

Ritsu is an adventurous type who tries as hard as he can to get what he wants, and he doesn't like it when impostors make out they are the real deal. Lucy is kind, yet easily distracted by handsome men who make promises they can't keep, but luckily for her, there is someone who can get her into Fairy Tail. The first episode establishes the characters; while the next one lets Lucy gets to meet the others at the guild. Fairy Tail Part 1 is a funny, feel good anime and viewers will realize just how many characters are in it that can provide them with an excellent time. Grey Fullbuster a talented man yet he has to rip off his clothes and wander around half-naked when he fights; Karia barely wears any clothes, and is the heaviest drinker of all the guild put together, while Elfman Strauss thinks all you need to get on at the guild are a good pair of strong fists; Loke is the ladies man of the guild, and the girls just keep on coming; Mirajane is the beauty who ends up in bikini swimsuit photos in Sorcerer Weekly magazine.

These aren't all the characters, these are what I consider to be the best of the bunch - and there are many more. it is a perfect anime for those who like watching magic and wizard anime series like Naruto, Negima and Bleach.

Bonus Material: Episode 1 Commentary, Text less Opening Song: "Snow Fairy," "So.W. Sense of Wonder," Text less Closing Song: "Kan Peki Gu-none," and "Tsuioku no Merry-go-round."

Verdict: Enter the world of Fairy Tail where it’s fun, enchanting and bursting with colorful characters you won’t want to miss.

Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society OVA
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Rating: 15
Running Time: 105 Mins
Audio: English & Japanese DD 2.0
Release Date: Out Now!
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

In the futuristic world of Japan, the year is 2034 and flights in and out of Japan are put on a holding pattern as the suspicion of terrorist activity sharpens the senses of Section 9, the elite counter terrorist and crime Police unit who are looking for suspects and their officers are scouring the area. As the Police gather in the airport terminal they are assured the suspect they had been following has willingly submitted to be questioned. Section 9 uncover a kidnap plot by one Colonel Ka - Gael who has taken a hostage to negotiate himself out of the country. As they try to corner him, he screams that the Puppeteer is coming to get him, and as they come forward to capture him, he shoots himself in the head. Operatives swearing allegiance to General Ka - Rum have begun committing suicide one after the other in Japan and with the deaths of Ka - Gael there is a rumor of a link between them.

At a blood-spattered crime scene Section 9 officers discover the body of the 13th tattooed male with the "true believer" glyph in the palm of his hand. Thinking that he is the next suicide.The Police decide to go to the hidden location to find out what they can about the suicides to get more clues.

Major Motoko Kusanagi has been away from Section 9 for two years since she left the service. The personnel have got 20 individuals along with Togusa who is their leader and they have been getting on with things in her absence.

Motoko though has recently been seen around listening in on conversations Section 9 have been recieving, and turning up in places where other Section 9 officers have been investigating. Is she ready to come back, or is she working undercover. No one really knows, but she is around at certain moments during the movie.
The officers come across another dead body who was recieving treatment of an illness and was hooked up to a machine keeping him alive. He looked to have pulled out the cables tot  he machine, killing himself in the process. They also find he had been using a computer trying to get through a backdoor in the system. Ka - Rum was communicating with his people through the Comm Log. They believe he was planning a terrorist strike using a micromachine virus.

Motoko spends time listening in to conversations and finding clues as to the events.
Section 9 think there is another rumour circulating that someone is going around assasinating the people who are members of the society as they did not want anyone else to know Ka - Rum was dead. Then something mysterious happens. Underneath the body on the floor are the characters for "puppeteer" written in blood.
They remember Ka - Gael spoke of a puppeteer before his death and think it is the codename for one of his men.

Batou watches Major Motoko and she tells him that they are on the same case about the tattooed suicides, giving him a polite warning not to go near the Solid State or he would end up killing himself just like the others did. Ma - Shaba is dead too which rules him out as being the puppeteer as they once thought. Batou wants to know who the puppeteer is supposed to be when one of the points out it is a rebel's codename, he is the one who hacks other folk's cyberbrains forcing them to commit suicide, believing him to be the Wizard - Class hacker.

The plot thickens later when they uncover a secret place where children have been kept against their will and are implanted with micromachines in order that Ka - Rum could spread his virus. A Raj Puhto who has not entered the country is also under suspicion of being the puppeteer.

The animation is in perfect balance with the richness of colour that address the eyes of the viewer, as the layout and composition of the buildings and robots is one to be enamoured by. There is an air of surreality as this is usual with the Ghost in the Shell series phenomena and it keeps the tension as it builds up throughout the movie.

This has solid plot, exciting characters and a story that can be interepreted in many ways as the murders have many suspects. Who is the very elusive puppeteer? Will be the question on the lips of those who watch this, and they will be fulfilled with the outcome.

Bonus Material: This two disc set has its own separate disk full of extras, such as: Work World File, Making of Tachikoma Report, Anime and Car Design, English Production Interview, Mitsuhisa Ishikawa Interview, Uchicomatic Days, English Trailer, Japanese Trailer, Trailers, and English End Feature Credits.

Verdict: Brilliant action and thrilling suspense all rolled into one gripping movie!

Mahoromatic - Something More Beautiful Vol 1
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Rating: 15
Running Time: 600 Mins
Audio: English & Japanese DD 2.0
Release Date: Out Now!
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

There is a huge difference between aliens and humans and for Mr Ryuka, a Saint combat android it is an eternal struggle for him to understand them - there's a catch though, he has those in the human world who want him dead including a robotic cat, Slash who can't believe he's so interested in the humans.

Mr Ryuka is investigating Mahoro and her home, school as he had originally failed to kill her in a war he waged on her in the past. As failure is not an option for him, he decides to wait a while until he gets a chance to kill her once and for all. His attempts have proved useless as he becomes more interested in her than he considered and she thinks nothing of him posing on earth as a sexy school teacher.

Slash, Mahoro's faithful feline friend isn't all he seems either as he has a deep seated hatred of Ryuka, yet what he doesn't know at first is he has a genuine interest in humans even to the point of admiring them and wanting more than anything to lead a decent life pretending to be a human in order to shed his past as an android assassin.

This is a comedy with plenty of  laughs and some scenes that aren't really meant for children to watch as they are steamy, or is that known as fan service? When Seguru is caught with the signed Miho Asaoka Photo Collection  "Beautiful Doll" Ryuka acts as teacher confiscating it, then decides to read it himself at the same time discovering human emotions and desires.

It might start out as a science fiction story, but halfway through the first episode viewers will find it is more than just that, it is a meaningful comedy that will be enjoyable for older teens and adults alike. Mahoro and Seguru have a decent relationship most of the time, yet his interest in girls tend to annoy her enough to scald him for it.

Bonus Material: Trailers for anime releases from MVM.

Verdict: This is a fun drama, action-packed sci-fi with rip roaring comedy that will never go out of fashion - oh, did I say fan service?

Solty Rei Vol: 1 
Released By: MVM
Rating: PG
Running Time: 150 Mins
Audio: English & Japanese DD 2.0
Release Date: Out Now!
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

In a run down city a dark night is the setting for a mercenary chasing his mark. Elsewhere a girl  poises atop a high building looking over the city seeing all its wonders and its darker side, but even she is on the run from those who have spotted her breaking and entering a top security area, and the same people want to take her alive, however she does not want to go with them. Instead, she fights with all her might which turns out to be more than the organisation can cope with.

The mercenary finds his target was one of the survivors of the blast fall many years ago and has a rebuilt arm using cyborg implants – he makes his way in the world as a small time thief, but he wonders what has gone wrong with the new world.

Roy the mercenary brings his target back to Maverick Hunters Agency as usual for the cash, but he is not ready for his next target and what happens to him to change his life forever.

What seems like an ordinary anime on first looking turns out to be a mixture of sci-fi and fantasy with Solty Rei a Resemble, or cyborg girl who survived the blast fall, an unusual event that occurred where the broken bodies of thousands of humans were re made with cyborg parts, the most up-to-date ones continued their lives exceptionally well considering the devastation they had.

Solty Rei, produced by Gonzo and directed by Yoshimasa Hirake who did Keleido Star and Excel Saga – this combines action and drama in a future just being rebuilt again after tragedy.

If viewers liked Ergo Proxy and Ghost in the Shell then this will be the one for them.

Bonus Material: Character Cast Auditions, Text-less Opening and Closing Animation and Trailers for other anime titles.

Verdict: Deep and meaningful – Solty Rei is both moving drama and seething action.

Released By: Manga Entertainment
Rating: 12
Running Time: 180 Mins
Audio: English & Japanese DD 2.0
Release Date: Out Now!
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Like many manga and anime before it, Deathnote, Dragonball Z, Guyver, City Hunter and Street Fighter have been made into live action movies, and although they have originally been made for the Japanese market, they have become of great interest to us in the West.

Gantz is an unusual story - two men save a drunken man who has fallen off a train platform, but get run over for their efforts. Expecting never to wake up, the men open their eyes and find themselves around other men in a white room, a large, black sphere in the center.

After a short while, a woman starts to materialize before their eyes, and falls onto the floor - she is the same as they are, dazed and confused, but naked and vulnerable, especially with one man in the room who is less than decent around her. When they think things can't get any worse, the Gantz sphere tells them they are to forget about their old lives and be happy they have new ones, then tells them of a man they must kill - but for very different reasons. One man starts to remember what happened to him before he ended up in the room, he was drugged and in a hospital where they treated him.

When they least expect it, they are transported with their guns to a location outside and told by another man that they are in a virtual reality TV game for Yale University in the US. If they decide to participate, they can win $ 100,000 in cash, which works out at 10 million Yen.

There are plenty of strange goings on, the contestants chasing after a child who looks unusual, yet you can't tell if it's prosthetics he has on, or he looks like that for real. Even the contestants think they are in a virtual reality setting and what they are doing isn't real at all. The only two people not to react to any of the lures are Kato and Kurono.

There are the moral implications of the movie to consider as well, and that is anyone might be persuaded to hunt a defenseless child and kill them, or anyone else for that matter if money is offered. They are put into a situation where they have to act quick, and they find they can't, some get killed, while Kato and Kurono are still alive. When the Gantz sphere sends them back into the real world, he has the remaining contestants feeling out of place as they did not do their jobs. Gantz also makes them believe that it might have all been a dream. Kurono remembers how things were when he knew Kato, but now they are apart he wonders what will happen to them later.

Gantz has been described as being similar to Elfen Lied, but not so violent, and very much like Requiem For the Darkness. It is pretty violent but there is plenty of teen angst in it too.

Bonus Material: The Making of Gantz, Interviews, Teasers and Trailers, TV Spots and Close.

Verdict: Gantz could be the best movie interpretation of manga yet - horror, sci-fi and an eerie setting, it's a tense, psychodrama with well-rendered special effects.

FLCL Collection Box Set
Released By: MVM
Rating: 12
Running Time: 180 Mins
Audio: English & Japanese DD 2.0
Release Date: Out Now!
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Life is anything but interesting for twelve-year-old Naota as his existence concerns him being at home and at school - nothing ever happens that makes his life any better than it has for the past few years he has spent with friends or his father and grandfather. Since his older brother left to play professional baseball in the US it h as become even less fun for him as a kid struggling in a post apocalyptic neighborhood where no hope is to be found for anyone it seems - until a strange girl, Haruhara Haruko comes into Naota's life, kicking him around mercilessly after running into him with her scooter and beating him with her favorite guitar - from this beating a horn protrudes outside his forehead where strange robots come through at times when he least expects them to, and to make matters more humorous, but not for Naota, his father then takes Haruko in to do the housework, adding insult to injury he discovers she is an alien being from outer space and uses one of her robots to help her with the work she has to do!

Kazuya Tsurumaki created and directed this masterpiece of animation and slapstick humor  He also did Rebuild of Evangelion which was also written by Yoji Enokido who wrote for Neon Genesis Evangelion. Co-produced by Gainax and Production I.G. who produced such fantastic works as Ghost in the Shell, Kill Bill and Dead Leaves.

This is the kind of anime that could easily get underestimated or overlooked as it is humor all the way, and the kind of humor some fans of anime may not take to so easily. FLCL is going to reach a cult status though as it has so much humor crammed into it, these episodes are bound to be a hit with many fans of this kind of comedy.

Bonus Material: Directors Commentary with accompanying subtitle track, Outtakes, Art Gallery, Fully Reversible Cover, and thick insert cover.

Verdict: A pop culture anime, impossible to miss and ideal for fans of comedy and madcap humour! Five stars and money well spent!

Figuarts Zero Aizen Sousuke Hogyokou Fusion Version PVC Figure (try saying that after a few beers).

We have all seen the character grow in the series, but when it comes to the action figures based on the characters, the makers don't always get it right. Maybe they don't watch the anime, maybe they do.

This new figure has the look of what the character is wearing, but when you consider the hair, since when did Aizen go blonde? Was I seriously missing something while I watched the series? Did he go out and get a makeover one episode or what. To be honest, he looks like he's going to do a triple salco on ice.

Usually collectors of such things would proudly display their figures on their stands for all to see - hoping that friends would mention how good they look, but in this one's case having this figure would be nothing more than a guilty pleasure, one you would keep in its box under lock and key like the Orochimaru one where they displayed him complete with his long tongue.

Verdict: If you're into yaoi, it's a guilty pleasure for sure.