Slugterra: Return Of The Elementals Will Impress Any Anime Fan

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Disney XD/Nerd Corps

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Disney XD/Nerd Corps

Disney X D’s Slugterra is one of the most popular series on the Disney Channel’s digital sister station today.  The CG-based series has drawn large numbers for the network and seen a handful of episode compilations since it first debuted.  This week, Shout! Factory released the series’ latest DVD, which is in fact the first non-compilation disc rom the series in the form of Slugterra: Return of the ElementalsSlugterra: The Return of the Elementals is the first “movie” spawned Disney X D’s series.  Those that might not be so familiar with this presentation will enjoy this story for more than one reason.   The first reason that audiences will enjoy this feature is the fact that while it is an anime series of sorts, it can only rightfully be compared to maybe one other series stylistically speaking.  Another reason that audiences will enjoy this “movie” is its writing.  It is a bridge of sorts between the series’ previous episodes and those to come.  And unlike other features of its ilk, it doesn’t necessarily require viewers to come into the presentation with knowledge of the series up to this point.  Last to note of the note of the “movie” is the series’ exhibition of its stylistic difference from the likes of Beyblade, Pokemon, Digimon, Monsuno, and others within that realm.  All three factors taken into consideration, audiences will see in watching this latest release from Shout! Factory and Disney X D, that Slugterra actually proves worth watching by any anime fan.

Disney X D’s Slugterra has proven to be a big hit for the network in its now three seasons.  It is sure to grow in popularity now with the brand new release of its first full length “movie” Slugterra; Return of the Elementals.  The primary reason that this presentation will help increase Slugterra’s popularity is the fact that it can’t necessarily be compared to all of the other series out there today in terms of its look.  Series such as Monsuno, Pokemon, and Digimon have a very specific look about them.  The only series to which one could truly and justifiably compare Slugterra, as evidenced in this DVD, is the short-lived series Hot Wheels Battle Force 5.  This should come as no surprise as both series are produced by the Canadian animation studio Nerd Corps.  Viewers that are familiar with Hasbro Studios’ properties will see a similar trend among its series, too.  So the fact that Slugterra: The Return of the Elementals can be compared to only another series under the Nerd Corps umbrella and not other CG/anime hybrid series makes it stand out right from the start.  It’s only one aspect of this DVD that will impress especially audiences that are new to Slugterra, both in terms of the series and this DVD.

The look of Slugterra: The Return of the Elementals is an important part of this presentation especially among those audiences that are experiencing the series for the first time on this DVD.  Just as worth noting in this DVD is the writing behind the presentation’s story (I.E. its script).  The story behind this feature picks up where the events of the series’ second season leaves off.  The Shane Gang thought that they had gotten rid of Dr. Black and The Goon, and saved the caverns.  So, things seem okay at first.  But when all the slugs start essentially becoming possessed, Eli knows that something is very wrong.  It turns out that things are very bad and are about to get much worse as they didn’t finish the job after all at the end of the series’ second season.  It leads to a perilous hunt for the fabled Elementals, which are essentially the ancestors of all of the slugs in the caverns.  It makes for a fun story within itself and an equally enjoyable bridge between the events of the series’ first two seasons and the potential third season to come.   The inclusion of a series recap before the story even begins enhances the overall viewing experience even more both for viewers that are more familiar with the series than others.  It shows respect for those that might be coming on board for the first time and for those that had forgotten what had happened even having watched the series’ first two seasons.  It’s one more way that Slugterra: The Return of the Elementals proves to be worth the watch by any anime fan at least once.

The writing and the look of Slugterra: The Return of the Elementals are both important in considering the impact of this DVD among its key audiences.  They both help to set this movie apart from the extended features spawned from other series such as Digimon, Pokemon, and Monsuno just to name a few examples.  There is one more aspect of this presentation that makes it stand out from that crowd worth noting.  That last aspect is the “movie’s” stylistic approach.  The stylistic approach taken with Slugterra is rather different from those aforementioned series.  Whereas the series in question center on battles between characters, Slugterra: The Return of the Elementals presents a somewhat different approach.  The series’ characters do use super powered creatures and even keep them in their own special containers as with the other anime series out there.  But unlike those series, Eli and his friends in the Shane Gang, don’t necessarily engage in the same kind of battles per se.  Rather the slugs are used as part of the overall action of the story.  From saving Eli and company from a raging underground river by crafting a web to hold back rocks to protect them from evil attackers and even to heal a person, the slugs are more tools so to speak than the sort of creature used in the other anime series currently populating the television spectrum.   It’s one more aspect of this feature that makes it stand out and in turn makes it even more enjoyable for viewers new and old.  Together with the feature’s script and its overall style, all three elements collectively make Slugterra: the Return of the Elementals even more worth the watch by any anime fan.

The general style or look of Slugterra: The Return of the Elementals is one that can only be compared to its fellow Nerd Corps counterpart in Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 much as the series under Hasbro Studios are quite similar to one another.  The story that makes up Slugterra: Return of the Elementals is full of action and even humor that audiences old and new will appreciate.  Whether viewers are jumping on board for the first time with this DVD or are more familiar with the series at this point, its series recap before the presentation serves as an excellent addition to the overall program.  And rounding out the whole presentation is the “movie’s” stylistic approach. While it is fantastic in its own right and bears a slight similarity to other anime series out there, it still maintains its own identity from those series in how the creatures are used.  All three factors alone make this feature rather interesting in their own right.  Collectively, they prove Slugterra: The Return of The Elementals is a “movie” worth at least one watch whether one is new to the world of anime or is far more a fan of the genre.  Slugterra: Return of the Elementals is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online via the Shout! Factory online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-animation/slugterra-return-of-the-elementals.  More information on this and other releases 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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Anime Fans Will Enjoy Shout! Factory’s Second Monsuno Collection

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Transformers Cybertron Offers Entertainment For Fans Of All Ages

Courtesy:  Hasbro Studios/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Hasbro Studios/Shout! Factory

When it debuted earlier this summer the Michael Bay directed Transformers: Age of Extinction was met, as expected with rather mixed reviews.  And as audiences will note, it apparently didn’t last very long in theaters, either.  While it didn’t last very long, Shout! Factory has made up for the failure of that film by releasing earlier this month Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series.  There is plenty to say of why this box set will last far longer than its big screen counterpart.  The primary reason for the success of this “series” is its writing.  While it is its own series, it is actually just one part of larger story.  Another reason that many audiences will appreciate this latest installment of the beloved Transformers franchise is its mix of hand drawn anime style animation and CG elements.  And lastly, the packaging of the discs rounds out the whole thing.  It is even more proof of why Shout! Factory remains not only the leader in classic and modern classic series, but in home releases overall.

The central point of success behind Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series is its writing.  Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series is the final installment of a three-part series that started with Transformers Armada and continued with Transformers EnergonCybertron picks up right where Energon left off.  In this installment of the Unicron trilogy, the Autobots are trying to close a black hole created due to Megatron interfering with Cybertron’s new Energon sun.  The only way to close the black hole is to get a group of “Cyber Planet Keys” that will close it.  Along the way, the Autobots have to face off against their old foes the Decepticons time and again.  This aspect of the series will bring in even the oldest of fans that perhaps are more familiar with the Transformers than their younger counterparts.  Younger fans of this long-running franchise will be impressed as this latest installment incorporates certain elements of today’s hit anime series into its writing.  One of those elements is the use of “cyber keys” to “power up” the Autobots and Decepticons.  This is very similar to the way that characters in Pokemon, YuGi­Oh, Digimon and others of their ilk use their own special power ups for their characters.  The very fact that the Autobots and Decepticons are searching for very specific hidden objects is much in line with other current anime programs, too.  Given in the original Transformers animated series, the Autobots and Decepticons were searching for Energon cubes on Earth.  But the “Cyber Planet Keys” are more specific, almost legendary type of objects much like those hunted in those other anime series.  So again, the use of this element will certainly bring in today’s younger audiences.  With any luck, bringing in younger audiences will also get those same audiences interested in the original Transformers series that remains the gold standard for what is one of Hasbro’s most well-known properties.

Audiences of all ages will appreciate the writing behind Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series.  The writing incorporates elements of the franchise’s original series and those of more current anime favorites into one series that can in turn perhaps bring the whole family together.  Just as important to note of this installment in the Transformers franchise is its “animation.”  Just as it incorporates the writing elements of current anime series, so does it also incorporate the “animation” elements of today’s hit anime series.  Again, the similarities to the likes of Pokemon, Digimon, and even Yu-GiOh are quiet clear.  There’s even a similarity to the likes of Monsuno to a lesser degree.  That’s because that series and the others use both hand drawn anime and CG-based creations together, too.  While the use of such animation techniques will not grab everybody, it is sure to pull in audiences that are fans of those animation techniques.  And then having pulled in the fans of those techniques, hopefully those same fans will become even more interested in the original Transformers franchise through the inclusion once more of the Autobots and Decepticons, even if some of the characters have changed.  Yet again, audiences see just why Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series will be far more welcomed by audiences than Michael Bay’s recent big screen adaptations of the Transformers.

The animation techniques used throughout Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series and the writing that combines both the original Transformers series with its more recent incarnations are both important in their own right to the overall success of this box set.  There is one more aspect of the set overall that is worth noting when considering what will make audiences appreciate this set.  That last aspect is the set’s packaging.  For the longest time, Shout! Factory has proven to be the leader in multi-disc home releases not just for the content of their releases but also for their packaging.  The packaging of their sets has maintained a certain bar that has been the model to which so many other companies aspire to achieve.  Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series is no different.  The series is spread across seven discs.  Each of those discs is placed on its own spindle on either side of a group of “plates.”  One disc is placed at the top of said plate on one side, while the other disc is placed at the bottom of that same plate on the other side of that plate.  The set’s seventh disc is placed on the inside back of the box’s case on its own spindle, too.  This method of packaging multi-disc sets saves the discs from one another and it saves space on DVD racks.  It’s too bad that some other companies out there still don’t strive to achieve this model.  It only serves to exemplify once more why Shout! Factory is the leader in home releases.

The packaging used for Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series is a model to which every home entertainment company should aspire to achieve.  That model set alongside the animation techniques used in this series and the series’ writing make this box set even more enjoyable for those that are fans of both anime and the Transformers.  The three factors together make this a box set that as one can tell, so many audiences will appreciate and enjoy. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct online from Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/transformers-cybertron-complete-series-0. More information on this and other releases 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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Fans Will Delight At New Digimon DVD Boxes

Courtesy:  New Video Group/Flat Iron Film Company

Courtesy: New Video Group/Flat Iron Film Company

Saban’s Digimon: Digital Monsters is one of the biggest hits among anime fans since the original Pokemon series.  It’s been roughly a year since the first half of Digimon’s first season was released.  Now fans of this show finally get the second half of season one in a complete eighteen episode, three-disc set.  The second half of Season One sees the “Digidestined” as they were called through many more battles and more dimensions.  At one point they have to fight to get out of the digital world when it’s blocked by an evil digimonster.  Also revealed in season two is the revelation of a hidden eighth “digidestined.”  That fans had to wait roughly a year for the continuation of season one makes it that much more worthwhile for true hardcore fans, even with only the American version being included.

The continued story in Volume two is just one part of what makes this set impressive for real fans of the anime genre and of Digimon.  The bright, vivid colors help to keep viewers’ attention.  There are those who might discount something as simple as coloring.  But the reality is that something as simple as colors can play a very pivotal role in keeping audiences engaged.  It’s purely a psychological issue.  Had the digital world been full of dark colors, then that would have created a foreboding feeling, and thus giving the characters’ journey a whole different meaning.  And it would have given audiences a whole different feeling in watching the show, too.  It makes the show less “scary” for lack of better wording, and thus more suitable for viewers of all ages.

Digimon Season 2Just as season one ends, fans of this hit anime have even more reason to celebrate as New Video Group and Saban have released the Complete Season two alongside Season One: Vol. Two.  Season Two picks up four years after the end of Season One.  Audiences get a whole new team of “Digidestined.”  There’s also a new threat in the digital world for this new group.  The writing is just as impressive for audiences as the animation.  It manages to live up to the expectations built from the show’s debut season, which would explain why the show went on for another three seasons after this one.

Season two comes in a full fifty episode, eight-disc set.  Among those fifty episodes is a handful that was banned from U.S. television following the events of September 11th, 2001.  That included the show’s landmark 100th episode, ‘Duel of the WarGreymon.’  That episode is here, as is the holiday themed episode, ‘A Very Digi-Christmas.’  Fans of the show will appreciate that those episodes previously banned from U.S. TV are included in this set.  Also to be appreciated just as with Season One Vol. Two is the set’s packaging.  Even with eight discs, those responsible for assembling it could have gone the old route with multi-disc packaging.  Instead, all eight discs are placed on either side of their own plastic insert.  This protects each disc, and preserves space on one’s DVD and/or Blu-ray rack.  New Video Group and Flat Iron could have easily gone another route and placed the discs one on top of another as other companies do.  The company could also have gone the slim package route in which discs are placed partially on top of each other.  Neither of these packaging fashions makes much sense.  Luckily for fans, New Video Group and Flat Iron went neither route.  The companies went the much smarter route, thus making one more reason for fans of this modern classic anime cartoon to be happy.  The same applies with its companion, Season One Vol. Two.  Together, the packaging, animation and writing make both Season Two and Season One Part Two of Digimon good companions for one another and equally good sets for any hardcore fan of this modern anime classic.

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Giveaways, Giveaways, And More Giveaways!

The Phil’s Picks blog keeps rolling in 2013 with lots more giveaways.  I’m proud to announce that I have LOADS of new giveaways this coming week.  First up, I’ve got three (3) copies of Anthony Hopkins’ new movie, Hitchcock on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo pack to give away.  I’ll give away these copies Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday March 25th, 26th, and 27th.  The first person to get five (5) people to “Like” the Phil’s Picks Facebook page each day will win their own copy of this brand new release.  Each person that “likes” the Phil’s Picks Facebook page has to either message me or post on the Phil’s Picks Facebook page timeline letting me know who sent them so that I can keep track of each person’s entries.

The second of the week’s contests will be drawings for copies of the brand new Digimon Adventure: Volume 2.  I’ll draw three lucky winners’ names Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Just “Like” the Phil’s Picks Facebook page to get your name in for this drawing.  On Friday, one lucky person will win a copy of Digimon: The Complete Season 2 for themselves.  Again, this is a straight up drawing.  You can enter simply by posting on the Phil’s Picks FB page’s timeline or messaging me via the Phil’s Picks FB page.

I have a third contest for all the parents next week.  One lucky parent will win Scholastic’s brand new triple disc set, Scholastic Storybook Treasures Spring Collection.  I also be giving away that box set on Thursday, March 28th.  The process is the same as above.  Simply either message me or post on my timeline letting me know that you want in on this drawing.

And last, to cap off this coming busy week, I’ve got one more HUGE giveaway for my brothers and sisters in the Metal Nation worldwide.  On Thursday, March 28th, I’ll be giving away a copy of Anthrax’s new EP, Anthems.  One person will take home this disc.  And then finally on Friday, March 29th, I’ll draw the name of one person who will win not just the new Anthrax EP, but also a pair of tickets to see Anthrax when the band headlines the Metal Alliance Tour at its stop in Charlotte, North Carolina on the Metal Alliance tour.  Again it’s a drawing, nothing more.  So make sure that you start getting your name in ASAP if you want to have the chance to win.

If any of this confuses you, just message me and let me know via the Phil’s Picks Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/philspicks.  You can’t enter unless you “Like” the Phil’s Picks Facebook page first.  So get out there, get the word out, and get your name in!

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news, reviews, and giveaways, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news, reviews, and giveaways in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.