English Cast Announced for the Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear Anime

The English cast has been announced for the Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear anime:

  • Marissa Lenti is Yuna
  • Xanthe Huynh is Fina
  • Mallorie Rodak is Helen
  • Steph Garrett is Kai
  • Lindsay Seidel is Kumakyu, Kumayuru
  • Justin Duncan is Lanz
  • Jamal Sterling is Ralock

Jad Saxton is directing the dub.
The English dub will be premiering on FunimationNow on January 20, 2021.

Source: ANN

Anime DVD Review: Pokemon Adventures in the Orange Islands The Complete Collection

Pokemon Adventures in the Orange Islands The Complete Collection includes 34 episodes of the Orange Islands episodes on three DVDs. This is labeled as being a complete collection two episodes are not included on this set (“Stage Fight” and “The Mandarin Island Miss Match”). Both of these episodes would have been removed due to Jynx’s appearance.

Pokemon Adventures in the Orange Islands The Complete Collection
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Format: DVD
Release Date: May 5, 2015

After losing the match at the Indigo Stadium, Ash makes a quick stop at home in Pallet Town before heading on his way to the Orange Islands to compete in the Orange League. Ash’s original traveling companions are Misty and Brock, but Brock leaves the group to work on Pokemon research with Professor Ivy. Ash and Misty meet Tracey Sketchit, a young man who enjoys drawing pictures of Pokemon. Tracey accompanies Ash and Misty as they journey through the Orange Islands. When it comes to the change in traveling companions, I feel that replacing Brock with Tracey was a mistake. I think that Tracey really didn’t add anything to the franchise, either during the Orange Islands or in the future sections of the series, and I found him to be on the annoying side. Yes, Brock’s constant flirting with girls could be annoying, but I thought Tracey managed to edge Brock out in the annoying department.

During the course of these episodes, Ash earns the four badges he needs to compete against Drake, the Orange League champion. After a hard-fought battle, Ash comes out the victor and earns a spot in the Orange League Hall of Fame. For many years, this would be Ash’s biggest accomplishment in the Pokemon anime.

After having an 80-episode journey through the Kanto Region, the Orange Islands section is a nice break before Ash heads off to the next region to continue his quest to become a Pokemon Master. Even though Ash doesn’t truly enter a new region, there’s still a noticeable shift in the feel of the anime. This is due in large part, of course, to replacing Brock with Tracey, but there was more to this shift than that. I’m not entirely sure I can truly put it into words. I think this is something you can only truly understand if you watch and experience it for yourself.

When it comes to this DVD release, it’s clear that VIZ Media really didn’t put a lot of effort into it. The DVD menus look like they were done on the cheap and feel more like menus that would have been made in the earlier days of the DVD format (early 2000’s) than a menu that would have been made for an item released in the 2010’s. I know that this release compiles three single disc releases together, so perhaps VIZ simply took those original singles releases and did nothing to update the menus for this release. But even for the time period those singles would have been released, these menus still look and feel cheaply done. On the menu, there is an option for “subtitles,” even though only the English dub is included. There is an option to turn on “English Subtitles,” This may sound strange at first, this is likely meant to be an option to be used for viewers who have impaired hearing. I think VIZ should be applauded for thinking about these viewers and making it that they can also enjoy the episodes included in the set.

On the first disc, the only extra is a preview for the Pokemon 4Ever film. This is the theatrical trailer for the film. There are no bonus features on either the second or the third disc.

Even though this a very budget line release, Pokemon Adventures in the Orange Islands The Complete Collection is still the only way to get these Pokemon episodes on home video in the United States. If you’re a Pokemon fan that wants to own as many episodes of the series as they can on home video, then you have to acquire this release in order to have the episodes set in the Orange Islands.

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Hulu Adds the Third Season of the Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Anime

The Fandom Post is reporting that Hulu is now streaming the third season of the Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? anime. According to the report, the entire season is available on the service in the original Japanese language with English subtitles.

The story of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? is described as:

Some adventurers delve into the sprawling labyrinths beneath the city of Orario to find fame and fortune. Others come to test their skills against the legions of monsters lurking in the darkness below. However, Bell Cranel’s grandfather told him a different reason: it’s a great place to rescue (and subsequently meet) girls. Now that Bell’s a dungeon delver himself, the ladies he’s encountering aren’t the helpless damsels in distress he’d imagined, and one of them, the beautiful swordswoman Ais Wallenstein, keeps rescuing Bell instead. As embarrassing as that is, it’s nothing compared to what happens when goddesses get involved. Freya, Hephaistos, and Loki, with their powerful Familias, are intimidating enough, but there’s one goddess whose relationship with Bell is certain to spark trouble.

Source: The Fandom Post

Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon: Episode 15 – “Farewell Under the Lunar Eclipse”

First of all, I’ve got to say: YES! We finally get answers to a lot of the questions that the series has raised up to this point. There’s still a handful of unanswered questions, but most of the big ones now have answers. Unfortunately, you had to have some serious patience to get here. Viewers who were able to make it through some of the slower pacing early on, as well as being willing to come back after watching the problematic Episode 14, were rewarded immensely.

The framework for the episode is that Riku is telling a story that first started 18 years prior to the beginning of the series. We see Riku talking with Hosenki II, a character who created a black pearl using Riku’s rainbow pearl and Lady Izayoi’s rouge. Hosenki II delivers the black pearl and the rouge to Inuyasha. The black pearl is a gateway to the grave of the Great Dog-Demon (Inuyasha’s father), and he immediately puts it in his eye. Kagome insists on holding on to the rouge, so Inuyasha doesn’t do something irresponsible with this other keepsake from his mother.

The story then skips ahead to the time that Rin is giving birth to the twins. Yes, we finally got official confirmation that Rin is Towa and Setsuna’s mother. There had been some hints dropped throughout the series up to this point, but this is the official confirmation. As a very pregnant Kagome is on her way to see Rin, she notices that a lunar eclipse is starting. She is stopped by Riku, who warns her about a comet that’s on it’s way and visits every 500 years. Previously, the Great Dog-Demon and Kirinmaru had defeated the comet fragment that threatened the Earth. He asks Kagome to convince Sesshomaru and Inuyasha to work together in order to defeat it. She is told the comet will arrive in seven days’ time. Meanwhile, Seeshomaru is approached by Zero, a mystery demon who has connections with the currently slumbering Kirinmaru. She warns him that Kirinmaru will soon awaken, and that his twin daughters are going to be in danger. This explains why Sesshomaru takes the twins away shortly after their birth. Jaken creates a barrier and says he will raise the twins until such a time that he can bring Rin to the barrier. We obviously know that Rin never made it to the barrier, but this episode doesn’t answer how Rin ended up in suspended animation in the Tree of Ages. So that’s one of the major questions that’s still left unanswered.

After this, we see Sesshomaru and Inuyasha successfully destroy the comet fragment, and everything seems to be fine. But then, we see Kirinmaru awakened and being informed about Sesshomaru taking a human wife and the birth of the half-demon twins. He also learns that a quarter-demon child is soon to be born. Apparently, the Shikon Jewel had left a prophecy that something that should not exist and “not of this world” would destroy Kirinmaru, and Zero pieces together that the half-demon girls and the quarter-demon soon to be born could be the ones to fulfill the prophecy. Sesshomaru barges in, and says he he will help Kirinmaru kill Inuyasha.

We then skip to the flashback scene of Kirinmaru and Sesshomaru approaching as Kagome asks Hachi to take Moroha away to safety. We then get to see what happens afterward, and it turns out Sesshomaru isn’t there to help Kirinmaru. After taking the black pearl out of Inuyasha’s eye, he uses it to send Inuyasha and Kagome to the Dog-Demon’s grave. Now we know what happened to Inuyasha and Kagome, and why we haven’t seen them this whole time. My guess is that when the time comes, Sesshomaru will use the black pearl to bring them back. It’s also revealed where Moroha went to: Hachi took her to Koga’s wolf tribe. Knowing this, Moroha’s clothing style and behavior make a lot of sense, since she would have been raised by the wolf tribe. But we still don’t know how Moroha has acquired the debt that she’s so desperately trying to pay off. So there’s a second unanswered question. Although, from the preview, we may potentially get an answer to this in the next episode.

And then we see the first scene from the second episode, when Towa and Setsuna were separated by the forest fire. We still don’t get to see what happened to Setsuna, so there’s another unanswered question left hanging out there. At this point, we return to Riku, saying that’s all he’s going to tell, and chides the audience for being so hasty. Let’s face it, the writers were smart enough to know that the audience would be left wondering what happened to Setsuna, so they used Riku’s personality to bring across the idea that they were aware of this. But it’s interesting to note that Riku ended up being an important player in the events depicted in this episode. Riku is still rather mysterious, and I’m still not entirely sure if he should be seen as a hero, a villain, or as an anti-hero. Maybe we can count that as another unanswered question?

Overall, though, I’m glad that several of the major questions hanging over this series have finally been answered. But could we have had this episode somehow happen a little earlier, or have the information in this information sprinkled in throughout the series up to this point? By waiting until the 15th episode, they were really asking the audience to be patient, but they risked losing audience members who simply don’t have the patience to wait this long.

But it’s going to be interesting to see how Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon progresses from here.

Additional posts about Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon:

Anime Blu-ray Review: Chihayafuru Season 1

Chihayafuru Season 1 includes three discs that contain all 25 episodes of the first season of the series. The release includes the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and an English dub.

Chihayafuru Season 1
English Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
Format: Blu-ray
Release Date: September 12, 2017

The main character of Chihayafuru is a high school student named Chihaya Ayase. When she was younger, she was more of a tomboy and spent her life supporting her older sister in her modeling career. In elementary school, she stood up for Arata Wataya, a transfer student that the other students in the class would tease and pick on. Among the tormentors is Taichi Mashima, Chihaya’s friend who excels at sports.

Through Arata, Chihaya learns to play karuta, a Japanese card game where players have to quickly determine which card out of an array of cards is required and grabbing it before another player does. After learning the game, it becomes Chihaya’s dream to become Japan’s best female karuta player (which is referred to as the “Queen”). Over the next couple of years, Chihaya is separated from both Arata and Taichi.

At the beginning of the series, Chihaya is trying to form a karuta club at her high school, but she doesn’t seem to be having a lot of luck. While Chihaya has matured into a beautiful young woman, her classmates consider her to be weird and refer to her as a “waste of beauty.” She discovers that Taichi has transferred to her high school, but he claims to have outgrown karuta. Chihaya, meanwhile, decided to keep playing karuta in the hopes of being able to see her friends again. In the first episode, both Chihaya and Taichi mention that neither one has heard from Arata in a while. Chihaya comments that Arata didn’t compete in the last major karuta championship.

Eventually, Chihaya convinces Taichi to help her form the karuta club, and they find the three additional members they need in order to become a recognized school club. Kanade Oe is quiet girl who is a fan of Japanese poetry, especially the One Hundred Poems that are used for karuta. Her mother owns a kimono store, and Kanade agrees to join the club if they start wearing hakama for tournaments. Yusei Nishida is a tubby boy who acquires the nickname “Porky-kun.” He was one a top karuta player, and had played against Chihaya, Arata, and Taichi in the past. He had quit karuta after being defeated by Arata, but Chihaya helps him find the fun in playing the game again. Tsutomu Komano is an anti-social, yet intelligent boy, who is often seen studying at his desk, and he acquires the nickname “Desktomu-kun”. Chihaya and Taichi both manage to convince him to join the club, and the five of them start practicing and competing in karuta competitions.

At the same time Chihaya is trying to get the karuta club going, she is also trying to reconnect with Arata. When she calls Arata, he tells her that he doesn’t play karuta anymore and not to call him again. Chihaya drags Taichi along to Fukui to visit Arata, and it’s a tense meeting. After throwing them out of his house, Arata’s neighbor explains that Arata quit playing karuta after his grandfather (who had been an important figure in karuta and Arata’s teacher) died from a stroke on a day that Arata was supposed to be watching over him but went to a competition to make Class A. Over the course of the season, though, Arata realizes he still wants to be friend with Chihaya and works at trying to get back into karuta again.

While the karuta card game is a major focus in Chihayafuru, there is also a major emphasis on relationships and drama. There were two instances that stood out to me for events that weren’t about the karuta matches. The first is the fact that Chihaya’s family seems to place a lot more emphasis on her older sister’s modeling career than on what Chihaya is doing. This comes to a head when Chihaya tries to tell them about her club making it to nationals, but they’re more focused on her sister appearing on a quiz show. Later, among all the large scrapbooks her father’s been keeping on Chihaya’s sister’s modeling career, she finds a small one for her that includes newspaper articles and pictures of Chihaya’s successes in karuta, along with encouraging words written by her father. This did help to redeem Chihaya’s parents for me, since before then, I felt as if Chihaya was being completely ignored and overshadowed by her sister.

The other example comes from Arata’s flashback to his grandfather’s decline to his passing on the day Arata made it to A Class. It’s revealed in the flashback that Arata’s grandfather was diagnosed with dementia. My mother passed away from complications related to dementia in September 2019, and I can say from my own experience that the series’ depiction of Arata’s grandfather’s decline due to dementia was accurately portrayed. I nearly cried during these scenes, as it made me think about my mother and her dementia.

During the karuta matches, things could get quite intense. The intensity I was feeling reminded me of some of the sports anime that I’ve watched over the years, such as Haikyu!! and Yowamushi Pedal. But one thing I have to give Chihayafuru credit for is the fact that while Chihaya’s playing is impressive, it’s made clear that there are others playing the game who are even more incredible. To me, Chihaya’s progression for her karuta skills during this season felt very natural and realistic, and that she’s shown to have faults. She’s not a “superwoman” who is suddenly making waves and winning all the time. This gives Chihaya the chance to progress and mature as a character and as a karuta player, and still leaves her room for growth in future seasons of the anime. This season also establishes rivals for Chihaya, such as Shinobu Wakamiya (the current “Queen”), Hiro Kanashi (a player from Hokuo High School that Chihaya and Taichi knew from when they were younger), and Akito Sudo (another member of Hokuo High School’s karuta club).

The animation for the series works well for the story that’s being told. I liked the character designs, as well as the way the animators captured the motion and movement of the characters playing karuta. I’m not sure how to describe it, but the overall atmosphere of the series’ look almost has what I think of as a “warm” feeling to it. I get so drawn into what’s going on that sometimes I forget I’m watching something that’s animated.

I really enjoyed the first season of Chihayafuru, and I’m looking forward to continuing to follow Chihaya and the other members of the karuta club in the next season for the series.

The Blu-ray video for this set has 1080p High Definition / 16×9, while the audio has English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. I had no complaints about either the video or audio quality of this release.

Not surprisingly, the bonus features on this release are what I’ve come to expect from Sentai Filmworks. It’s the usual again: a textless opening, a textless closing, and trailers for other Sentai Filmworks releases.

Even with the relative lack of bonus features, I would recommend this Blu-ray release of the first season of Chihayafuru to readers who are fans of the anime and want to add the series to their anime home video library.

Case Closed: Episode 994 – “Kyogoku Makoto the Understudy (Part Two)”

The episode started with enough of a recap to remind the audience of the important events that transpired in the previous episode.

As the investigation continues into the death of the actor at the on location shoot, the possibility of hiding a device in a small container (such as a medicine container) is brought up. But it’s quickly pointed out just how many of the actors and staff have small containers, so this possibility seems like a dead end. However, Sera decides to use this as an opportunity to start asking questions about Shinichi and when Ran has seen him recently (he’ll seem weak and pale at first, but suddenly starts looking and acting better). Sera starts asking if Ran has seen Shinichi take anything, and this eventually leads to Sera to insinuating that Shinichi and Conan have never been seen together. I appreciate how this was used as an opportunity to use footage from previous episodes as flashbacks. For me personally, it was nice to see footage from one of the episodes in Case Closed that I have never seen, since it’s in the block of episodes that have never been made legally available in the United States in any way, shape, or form. I had no idea about the special Conan disguise that was made for Ai, so it could look like Shinichi and Conan are seen together.

After Sera’s line of questioning gets shot down, she returns her focus to the mystery at hand. At one point, Inspector Megure is so frustrated that he gets this look of agony on his face. Even under the circumstances, it was kind of amusing to see the normally level-headed Megure wearing this kind of expression.

But a new wrinkle appears after one of the ADs brings back drinks for everyone. One of the other crew members, who seems to have figured out who the culprit is, suddenly keels over after having some of his drink. It appears he was poisoned, although by the end of the episode, it isn’t clear exactly how the poison was put into his drink. But when his pockets are emptied out, an important clue is revealed through a toy he had in his pocket. Who says that “dead men tell no tales”?

Right at the end of the episode, Sera sneakily gets Conan to admit to her that he’s really Shinichi. Oops! The preview for the next episode seems to focus on Conan worrying that Sera will try to ask Ran and Sonoko more weird questions about Shinichi and Conan.

This is one of those rare storylines in the more recent years of Case Closed that is longer than two episodes. I had a feeling this was a story from the manga, since Sera is in it (since I have yet to see Sera appear in an episode that comes across as anime-only “filler”). But seeing her snooping around and asking questions about Shinichi in this episode helped me to confirm my suspicions that this story arc is likely a “canon” story from the manga.

So now there are two cases to solve, and it appears the first murder can’t be solved with figuring out who murdered the second victim. I can’t wait to see how this story unfolds next week.

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Tickets On Sale Now for GKIDS Release of Studio Ghibli’s Earwig and the Witch

GKIDS, the distributor of multiple Academy Award®-nominated animated features, will release Studio Ghibli’s new feature Earwig and the Witch in both theaters and on streaming in early February 2021, followed by a home entertainment release in Spring 2021. Tickets are on sale now for the film’s theatrical debut on February 3, 2021, in both Japanese subtitled and English dub versions. The film will appear in select theaters nationwide with longtime partner, Fathom Events, as well as independent theater circuits. At Fathom Events screenings, in addition to the full feature, audiences can look forward to a special interview with director Goro Miyazaki, and producer Toshio Suzuki. For fans looking forward to viewing Earwig and the Witch at home, starting February 5, 2021, the film will also be available to stream in the US on HBO Max.

Tickets for Earwig and the Witch are available now at EarwigMovie.com and participating box offices. Ticketing setup is at the discretion of local theaters. Audiences unable to purchase tickets at their local theater are advised to continue to check back for updated ticket availability, especially closer to the event date.

The latest film from Japan’s Studio Ghibli is directed by Goro Miyazaki and produced by studio co-founder Toshio Suzuki, with planning from Academy Award®-winner Hayao Miyazaki. An official selection for the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, the film aired on NHK in Japan December 30, 2020. Based on the children’s novel by Diana Wynne Jones, the film marks Studio Ghibli’s first CGI animated feature and first feature film production in four years.

The English language cast features the voices of Richard E. Grant, Kacey Musgraves and Dan Stevens, as well as Taylor Paige Henderson as Earwig. In addition to her debut voice acting role as Earwig’s Mother, six-time Grammy Award winner Kacey Musgraves sings the English language version of the film’s theme song, “Don’t Disturb Me.”

Growing up in an orphanage in the British countryside, Earwig has no idea that her mother had magical powers. Her life changes dramatically when a strange couple takes her in, and she is forced to live with a selfish witch. As the headstrong young girl sets out to uncover the secrets of her new guardians, she discovers a world of spells and potions, and a mysterious song that may be the key to finding the family she has always wanted.

English Cast Announced for the Motto To Love Ru Anime

The English cast has been announced for the Motto To Love Ru anime:

  • Ry McKeand is Rito
  • Alexis Tipton is Lala
  • Lindsay Sweeney is Ahiko
  • Olivia Swasey is Aya
  • Chris Hutchinson is Buwartz
  • Kailin Coates is Celine
  • Sara Gaston is Haruko
  • Bryn Apprill is Haruna
  • Jay Hickman is Honekawa
  • David Wald is King Deviluke
  • Monica Rial is Kyoko
  • Marissa Lenti is Marron (F), Mikado
  • Josh Morrison is Marron (M)
  • Matthew Kuns is Matome, Ooyoshi
  • Andrew Love is Maur
  • Brittney Karbowski is Mikan
  • Juliet Simmons is Mio
  • Natalie Rial is Momo
  • Allison Sumrall is Nana, Sayaka
  • Melissa Molano is Oshizu
  • Holly Segarra is Peke
  • John Swasey is Principal
  • Greg Ayres is Ren
  • Avery Smithhart is Riko
  • Chaney Moore is Rin
  • Olivia Swasey is Ringo
  • Meg McDonald is Risa
  • Christina Kelly is Run
  • Mark Laskowski is Saibai
  • Maggie Flecknoe is Saki
  • Greg Cote is Saruyama
  • Katelyn Barr is Yami
  • Amber Lee Connors is Yui
  • Mike Haimoto is Yuu
  • Scott Gibbs is Zastin

John Swasey is directing the dub.

Sentai Filmworks will be releasing Motto To Love Ru on Blu-ray Disc on February 16, 2021.

Source: The Fandom Post

Honey and Clover Anime Is Streaming on Amazon

The Fandom Post is reporting that the Honey and Clover anime is now available for streaming on Amazon, and that Prime members can watch it for free. The 26 episodes of the series are available in their English dubbed version, and are available for 99-cents each or all of the episodes are available for $20.99. The episodes are available in high definition.

The story of Honey and Clover is described as:

What do you get when you cross creativity with self-discovery and unrequited love? Art school. Yuta Takemoto has no idea what’s in store for his life when he enrolls at a Tokyo art college, but he find out right away it’ll never be dull. Love triangles form as fast as friendships when both Takemoto and senior classmate Shinobu Morita fall hard for shy artistic prodigy Hagumi Hanamoto. And while architecture student Takumi Mayama secretly pines for an older woman, dazzling ceramicist Ayu Yamada pines for him. Confused yet? Welcome to the bittersweet world of Honey and Clover

Source: The Fandom Post

Demon Slayer: Mugen Train Anime Film to Screen Both Dub and Subbed Versions in U.S. Theaters

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba THE MOVIE Mugen Train is coming to select theaters in North America in early 2021, and the official @DemonSlayerUSA Twitter account has announced plans to release the English dubbed version at the same time as the subbed version.

The English cast for the film includes:

  • Zach Aguilar is Tanjiro Kamado
  • Abby Trott is Nezuko Kamado
  • Aleks Le is Zenitsu Agatsuma
  • Bryce Papenbrook is Inosuke Hashibira
  • Mark Whitten is Kyojuro Rengoku
  • Landon McDonald is Enmu

Source: Crunchyroll