Anime, when it first came to American shores, was a cult favorite genre. It was one of those genres of TV and film that was relegated to group viewings at comic book shops around the country. That was thanks to the stigma attached to the genre and its fans. That stigma is still there. But it is far less today than it was when it first started gaining fame here in the U.S. Now years later, it has gone from being a genre seemingly enjoyed by only certain types to being its own cultural phenomenon. Famed anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazake’s films gained more popularity than ever. And any number of anime series found new fame among American audiences. Series such as Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Digimon became some of the biggest names in the genre, leading some American companies to try their own hand at making their own anime series. One of the surprises from that batch of today’s American anime series is Monsuno. The series has already produced two seasons. And a third is supposedly on the way. And thanks to Shout! Factory, the first half of the series’ first season is available along with the first half of its second season. They are presented over the course of three DVDs that were released in 2013. And as audiences will see in the second of those DVDs, Monsuno: Power, there are a number of reasons that this series has worked as long as it has. The first of those reasons is that Shout! Factory has maintained the series’ chronology in its DVD presentations. The second reason is that it stylistically mirrors its imported Asian counterparts almost identically. This includes the writing and animation. And last but not least of all, is the inclusion of a voice cast that is itself quite familiar with the world of anime. Audiences will agree that in considering each of these factors, any anime fan will find Monsuno: Power worth at least one watch.
Monsuno is not the big name anime series that Pokemon, Digimon, and Yu-Gi-Oh have all proven to be in their runs. However, it has managed to churn out two full seasons, and a third is allegedly on the way. While audiences wait to see if that alleged third season develops, they have the second volume f episodes to tide them over. Audiences, whether new to the series or not, will appreciate that just as in the series’ previous DVD, the episodes included on this disc are presented in chronological order. Together with Monsuno: Destiny, the episodes featured here comprise the first ten episodes of Season One. Interestingly enough Shout! Factory apparently has not released the final sixteen episodes from Season One. Yet, the first half of Season Two has been released on DVD. So at least audiences know that in having Monsuno: Power and Monsuno: Destiny, they have just over half of this series’ first season. Regardless of whether those final sixteen episodes should see the light of day in the near future, at least audiences have that much to take in.
Audiences that are familiar with the more popular anime series out there and who enjoy said series will appreciate Monsuno: Power especially if it is their first introduction to the series not just because of the episodes included and their organization, but also for the fact that the episodes are collectively a near identical mirror image of Digimon, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and others of that ilk. That is speaking stylistically (I.E. writing and overall look). Just as with those series, the episodes included in Monsuno: Power present a series in which a group of young people has access to extraordinary creatures with equally extraordinary powers. They are kept in their own little containers, which the young people holding them keep as they search for a specific goal. That overall writing is much the same as in its bigger name counterparts. And the overall look (animation) is just as much the same as other anime series. That combination of writing and the show’s overall look keeps the series right on par with its bigger name counterparts. That’s especially the case when it is put alongside the chronlogically coorect episode listing in this set.
The episodes included in Monsuno: Power are in proper chronological order in relation to the original broadcast of the episodes n television. The look of the episodes in this collection is also a near identical match to the its bigger name counterparts. Both of these aspects play their own part in the success of the DVD among fans of the anime genre. There is one more aspect to this collection that audiences will appreciate, rounding out the whole presentation. That last factor is the cast tapped to voice the series’ characters. Few may know the names of the actors brought in for these episodes. However, the series and movies in which they have starred are quite well known. Cam Clarke, Karen Strassman, Christopher Corey Smith, Keith Silverstein, and Kirk Thornton voice the primary roles of Chase, Jinja, Bren, Dax, and Bayal respectively. They also voice the roles of the show’s various villains and other good guys. While most people might not know their names, audiences will recognize Cam Clarke as the voice of Leonardo in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series from Fred Wolf Films. He is also the voice of one of Clifford’s fellow dogs in the short lived PBS kids’ series Clifford. Few may also realize that Clarke has previous experience in the anime realm. He voiced the character of Kaneda in the anime import Akira. Karen Strassman has her own previous experience in the world of anime, too. She played a rather significant role in the American version of the anime series Bleach. She voiced Soifon, Momo Hinamori, Cyan Sung-Sun and others throughout the series’ run from 2005 – 2012. Before coming on board Monsuno, Christopher Corey Smith voiced Rojuro Otoribashi, Wonderweiss Margela, and Makoto Kibune during Bleach’s run on American television from 2007 – 2010. He was joined on that series by fellow voice actor Keith Silverstein, who voiced Coyote Starrk, Tesra Lindocruz, and Mabashi. Last but not least is Kirk Thornton. Thornton’s anime resume is perhaps the most extensive of the Monsuno voice actors. Thornton provided his talents to Bleach alongside Keith Silversten and Christopher Corey Smith. He also worked on Digimon: Digital Monsters, Ninja Scroll, and Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro among a number of other anime series and features. It would have been easy for Monsuno’s show runners to get a bunch of no-name actors with not experience in anime. Instead they brought in a group of actors whose collective talents are quite extensive to say the least. That would perhaps explain the characters’ believability. That believability alongside Monsuno’s overall style and its properly ordered episodes collectively make Monsuno: Power a good first introduction to this anime series for those not so familiar with the series. It is just as welcome for those that are familiar with the series and that are fans of the series, too.
Monsuno: Power is not the first and obviously not the last of the collections to be released from Shout! Factory. Regardless of how long fans of the series have to wait for its next release, fans will agree that thanks to the factors noted here, they have plenty to appreciate in this collection. Monsuno: Power is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/node/216947. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.