Batman: The Animated Series, Volume Two (DC Comics Classic Collection)
Manufacturer: WarnerBrothers Brand: Warner Brothers Model: 2232536
Batman: The Animated Series Vol. 2]]> The early-'90s Batman series was probably the best animated superhero show ever, mixing stylish animation with a dark tone appropriate for the Dark Knight. The second volume, comprising four discs of 28 episodes and vastly preferable to the many single-disc releases, features familiar characters the Joker, Catwoman, the Penguin, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, as well as the first appearances of the Riddler, and Ra's Al Ghul and Talia. The episodes are highlighted by the Emmy-winning two-parter "Robin's Reckoning," which recounts the origin of the Boy Wonder and his chance for revenge years later. In "Perchance to Dream," Bruce Wayne finds his parents alive and another Batman patrolling Gotham City, the two-part "Something" pits Batman against Miyazaki-styled robots, and Batman revisits the samurai training of his past in "Night of the Ninja" and "Day of the Samurai." Give the series credit for not talking down to kids--Japanese characters spoke in Japanese with English subtitles, and one episode, "Almost Got 'Im," was styled after a '50s black-and-white variety show. It employed smart humor and characterization even to the point where it could let villains carry an episode. Certain stories were based on comic books, and the series involved comics veterans such as Denny O'Neil and Len Wein. Also camp-master Adam West appears as the voice of the Grey Ghost. --David Horiuchi
Batman: The Animated Series, Volume Three (DC Comics Classic Collection)
Manufacturer: Warner Home Video Brand: Warner Brothers Model: 2210524
Batman: The Animated Series Vol. 3 (DVD) (Multi-Title)]]>
Batman: The Animated Series, Volume 4 (DC Comics Classic Collection)
Manufacturer: Warner Home Video Brand: Warner Brothers Model: 2210525
Batman: The Animated Series Vol. 4]]> The fourth and final volume of Batman: The Animated Series is a little uneven but still encompasses some great episodes. Start with "Over the Edge," a nightmarish scenario in which Commissioner Gordon dedicates himself to hunting down Batman following the death of his daughter, Batgirl. "Critters" is a tribute to Japanese monster movies, "Mad Love" recounts the origin of Harley Quinn, and "Legends of the Dark Knight" animates both a '50s-styled Batman adventure as well as a scene from Frank Miller's Return of the Dark Knight. This run of 24 episodes has a lot of Batgirl, too little Nightwing, and a lot of the new Robin, Tim Drake, whose origin is explained in "Sins of the Father." Drake gets a mostly solo adventure, Batgirl teams with Supergirl, and there's still a sense of fun, with goofy humor that includes an appearance by the Three Stooges as the Joker's henchmen. Guest voices include Sela Ward as Calendar Girl and Tippi Hedren, and Mark Hamill continues the excellent work as the Joker that created some early rumors about his taking the live-action role in the sequel to Batman Begins. By this time, Batman had become part of the Batman/Superman Hour, so viewers can choose the opening sequence for either that or the original animated series. That, as well as the unbalanced number of episodes in the seasons (e.g., the first season of the animated series was 60 episodes), is why Batman: The Animated Series was released in volumes rather than as single-season sets. --David Horiuchi
Whisper of the Heart
Manufacturer: Walt Disney Home Entertainment Brand: Buena Vista Home Video Model: 02535000
From the creators of the Academy Award(R)-winning SPIRITED AWAY (Best Animated Feature Film, 2002) comes a tale based on the screenplay from the legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki. During summer vacation, a schoolgirl named Shizuku, who longs to discover her true talents, observes an ordinary-looking cat riding by himself on the train. Intrigued, she decides to follow him. This chance encounter leads her to the mysterious Seiji, a boy who is determined to follow his dreams, and The Baron, a magical cat figurine who helps her listen to the whispers in her heart. Soon, Shizuku's exciting adventures carry her far beyond the boundaries of her imagination. Featuring extraordinary storytelling, enchanting animation, and an all-star voice cast, this 2-disc set will inspire dreams and warm hearts of all ages. ~~(c) 1995 Aoi Hiiragi/Shueisha Nibariki GNH Based on a manga by Aoi Hiiragi, the gentle coming-of-age story Whisper of the Heart (1995) was scripted and storyboarded by Hayao Miyazaki, and directed by the late Yoshifumi Kondo. Shizuku Tsukishima is an absent-minded, insecure junior high school student who reads book after book of fairy tales, helps her friends, and does most of her chores, but remains dissatisfied. When she encounters a wonderfully supercilious cat on the train, she follows him and meets Seiji Amasawa, a student in her class who hopes to become a violin maker. Seiji's commitment to his dream helps Shizuku find her voice, literally and figuratively: she realizes she wants to become a writer. A statue of a cat in the antique store of Seiji's kindly grandfather inspires her first story, "Whisper of the Heart." Shizuku and Seiji exhibit believable strengths and flaws: their warm humanity contrasts markedly with the shabby superficiality of the characters in many American animated films. The lively performances of Brittany Snow and David Gallagher transcend the geographic limits of the story to make Shizuku and Seiji the kids the viewer wishes lived next door. Miyazaki's script suggests that a sense of magic can exist, even in everyday Tokyo. Whisper of the Heart was the only film Yoshifumi Kondo directed before his untimely death at age 47, but its understated charm stands as a monument to his talent. (Rated G, suitable for ages 10 and older: tobacco use) --Charles Solomon
Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Complete Book One Collection
Manufacturer: Nickelodeon Brand: Paramount
Avatar: The Complete Book One DVD Box Set includes the collection of all Avatar Water Nation episodes. This six-disc set will center on the Water Nation and its characters in 20 Avatar episodes (Chapters 1-20), Five DVD’s plus a bonus disc filled with incredible special features! Book 1: Water, Vol. 1 Mysterious, visually beautiful at times, and surprisingly funny, Avatar: Book 1, Volume 1 is the exciting story of Aang, a 12-year-old reincarnation of the ancient Avatar, whose purpose (in an imagined world that seems both ancient and futuristic) is to restore peace and order between warring armies of the four elements: fire, earth, water, and air. At one time or another, over thousands of years, the Avatar has been embodied in masters of each of the elements. Aang (who is freed from a century-long sleep inside an iceberg) happens to be an "airbender," capable of using air and wind as powerful forces for moving objects and defeating hostile armies of firebenders. The feature-length Avatar follows Aang and a couple of friends as he becomes reacquainted with the world he knew before his 100-year hibernation--a world now lost to history. The story also concerns internal dramas within the unforgiving world of firebenders, who are intent on destruction and conquest. This engaging story, very pleasant to look at in its rich tones of blue and orange, is for all ages. --Tom Keogh Book 1: Water, Vol. 2 Avatar The Last Airbender, Book 1: Water, Volume 2 continues the adventurous if half-comic journey of 12-year-old Airbender Aang, reincarnation of an ancient avatar, and his friends Katara and Sokka as they seek a teacher to help Aang fulfill his peacemaking destiny in a war-torn world. The four episodes on this disc, a follow-up to the elegant, magical series introduction, find the trio wandering through sundry Earth Nation cities, where they encounter signs of troubles between the once-harmonious, elemental tribes representing fire, earth, air, and water. They also bump into trouble with the occasional evil kingdom, as in "The King of Omashu," where Aang must go through various trials to save Katara and Sokka from a bizarre execution. (They're encased in growing, crystal structures.) "Imprisoned" finds Katara inadvertently responsible for the arrest of an Earthbending boy who dares to use his powers while his people are under Firebender occupation. The ambitious, two-part "Winter Solstice" is the best production in this collection, a pairing of storylines involving the capture of a Firebender war criminal and the hopes of a frightened village that turns to Aang to defeat a monster from the spirit world. The action is still original and fun on this sequel--most of it continues to be based on exciting uses of the elements--and the lead trio's characters (Aang the scamp, Katara the idealist, Sokka the skeptic) are still a pleasure to be with. --Tom Keogh Book 1: Water, Vol. 3 The Avatar saga continues with four of the anime series' strongest stories yet o...
Star Trek The Animated Series - The Animated Adventures of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek
Manufacturer: Paramount Brand: Paramount Model: 4978527
Boldly continuing where Star Trek: The Original Series left off, these animated adventures chart the progress of Captain Kirk and his crew in a universe unconstrained by "real-life" cinematography! With all characters voiced by their original actors, join Kirk, Spock, Bones and the crew for 22 new adventures: to boldly go where no animation has gone before! Star Trek: The Animated Series is often referred to as Star Trek's "fourth season" because it was created in 1973, four years after the third and final season of the original series, and because most of the original cast provided the voices. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Majel Barrett reprised their characters, and some contributed other voices as well. The only major omission was Walter Koenig's Chekov, who was replaced at the navigation console by Lieutenant Arex, the three-armed alien who most prominently represented the series' freedom to create non-humanoid characters. (Koenig did write an episode.) And while the animation is crude at best, the stories are solid sci-fi (penned by some of Star Trek's veteran writers including DC Fontana and David Gerrold, all of whom received prominent opening credits), explored the Star Trek mythos, and elevated the series above typical Saturday-morning fare. For example, "Yesteryear" goes back to Spock's early years on Vulcan, continuing some explorations from the original series' "Journey to Babel," and offers the familiar voice of Mark Lenard as Sarek. "One of Our Planets Is Missing" raises some interesting philosophical questions about the value of life, and "More Tribbles, More Troubles" and "Mudd's Passion" revisit favorite characters. Star Trek: The Animated Series lasted just barely over one season, but it won the franchise's only Emmy (for Outstanding Entertainment Children's Series in 1975) and some of its ideas were embraced by future series. Trekkers who know it only by reputation will find it a valuable part of the Star Trek canon. In addition to the series' 22 half-hour episodes, the DVD set includes "Drawn to the Final Frontier: The Making of Star Trek: The Animated Series," a 24-minute featurette including interviews with the producers and writers (but not actors) on how the series was created and why it still holds up; "What's the Star Trek Connection?", a glossary of characters and themes common to the animated series and other series; a storyboard gallery; and a brief text history. Writer David Gerrold and producer David Wise contribute audio commentaries on three and one episode, respectively, and the ever-reliable Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda provide text commentary on three other episodes. --David Horiuchi
Dragon Ball Z: Season 1 (Vegeta Saga)
Manufacturer: Funimation Brand: Funimation Model: 4938502
The Saiyans are coming! The last survivors of a cruel, warrior race, these ruthless villains have carved a path of destruction across the galaxy, and now they have set their sights on Earth. They will stop at nothing until they have the wish-granting powers of the seven magic Dragon Balls for their very own. With the fate of his family, friends and the entire human race hanging in the balance, Goku, the Earth's greatest hero, must rise to meet the approaching threat. As he prepares for the fight of his life, Goku embarks on an epic journey that will take him to other worlds, pit him against new and old enemies alike, and force him to confront the dark secrets of his own past. At the end of his path, the most powerful opponent he has ever faced awaits - the evil Saiyan Prince Vegeta! This Dragon Ball Season Set is the definitive collection! Digitally re-mastered in High Definition Transferred from the original Japanese film The complete season one - contains 39 episodes on 5 discs Over 900 minutes of action Revised English dialogue and original Japanese music Extra features include: Footage on the re-mastering The ultimate Dragon Ball Z - Collect them all! One of the most popular franchises in anime history, Dragon Ball began in 1984 as a manga by Akira Toriyama in Shonen Jump. Dragon Ball Z (1989), the second TV adaptation, is the most beloved: it ran for 291 episodes--more than Dragon Ball (1986) and Dragon Ball GT (1996) combined. Over the years, the program has introduced countless boys to the world of Japanese animation. The first season re-introduces the main characters and sets up a new threat. Goku learns he's not an Earthling, but a Saiyan from the planet Vegeta. Only three other Saiyans survive, all of them extremely powerful and destructive. Goku destroys Raditz with the help of Piccolo, but dies in the process. He spends much of the season training in the Other World with King Kai. Piccolo takes over training Goku's son Gohan, anticipating he will have to face the remaining Saiyans, Nappa and Vegeta. These episodes set the pattern for the combination of martial arts training, fantasy-battles and slapstick comedy that make the series so popular. The storyline rambles, with lots of digressions, repeats, and false endings--none of which bother the fans. Although Dragon Ball Z has been released previously in the US, Funimation pulled out all the stops for this edition. The entire series has been remastered from the original prints, and the Japanese language track is included for the first time. (Goku and Krillin have higher-pitched, younger voices than they do in the American dub.) For Dragon Ball Z fans, this version clearly supercedes all previous ones. (Rated TV PG. suitable for ages 8 and older: violence; minor incidents of risqué and toilet humor, ethnic stereotyping and alcohol use) --Charles Solomon
Dragon Ball Z: Season 2 (Namek and Captain Ginyu Sagas)
Manufacturer: Funimation Brand: Funimation Model: 4938503
''You won't believe how powerful it is now!'' -- NewTypeHaving suffered heavy losses in the battle with the Saiyans, and with Goku still recovering from his injuries, the remaining Z-Fighters must embark on a perilous journey to Planet Namek in search of the Namekian Dragon Balls. Unbeknownst to them, however, a powerful new enemy has set his sights on the same prize the ruthless tyrant Frieza!Beset on all sides by danger, Gohan, Krillin, and Bulma must fight for their lives as they struggle to keep the Dragon Balls from falling into evil hands. Meanwhile, Goku races against time to join his friends in their quest, but waiting for him on Planet Namek is an army of the most powerful villains the universe has ever known, led by Frieza s most elite fighting unit the unstoppable Ginyu Force!Season Two contains: -The Complete Namek Saga - first time on DVD! and Captain Ginyu Saga -35 Action-Packed Episodes on 6 discs -Revised English Dialogue with Original Japanese Music The second season of the wildly popular Dragon Ball Z comprises the "Namek" and "Captain Ginyu" sagas. Gohan, Krillin, and Bulma travel to the planet Namek to find an even more powerful set of Dragon Balls that can restore the lives of Tenshinhan, Yamucha, Chaozu and Piccolo, who were killed by Vegeta during the first season. (Their souls continue to train with King Kai in the Other World.) All is not well on Namek: the arch-villain Frieza, who looks and sounds a bit like Truman Capote, also desires the Dragon Balls. If he uses them to obtain eternal life, he'll rule the universe forever. With a cadre of lieutenants that includes Vegeta, he slaughters the Namekians to gain the supernatural orbs. After his injuries have been healed by a magic senzu bean, Goku heads to Namek. En route, he trains at 100 gravities, raising his powers enormously. Vegeta believes Goku may be the legendary Super Saiyan that appears once a millennium--except he lacks the requisite love of battle. This version of Goku is less aggressive, and he uncharacteristically uses his brain (never his greatest asset) to defeat Ginyu, Frieza's second-in-command. Unlike Season 1--Vegeta Saga, Season 2ends on a cliff-hanger. Skeptics may find Goku's adventures needlessly protracted, over the top, and even silly. But for millions of boys, they provide the special blend of comradeship, martial arts training, and take-no-prisoners battles they love. The newly remastered edition includes the original Japanese dialogue for the first time. (Rated TV PG. suitable for ages 8 and older: violence, minor risqué humor, brief nudity, tobacco and alcohol use) --Charles Solomon
Dragon Ball Z: Season 3 (Frieza Saga)
Manufacturer: Funimation Brand: FUNIMATION PRODUCTIONS, LTD Model: 4938504
The Definitive Collection continues! The battle to decide the fate of the universe begins! On the distant Planet Namek, the seven magic Dragon Balls have been brought together and the dragon Porunga summoned. Now, Goku and the Z-fighters are all that stand between the evil Frieza and his wish for immortality! Having survived their encounters with Frieza’s dreaded minions, Goku and his friends are now left to contend with the ruthless tyrant himself. Despite their recent victories, however, the Z-fighters are ill prepared to face the terrifying reality of Frieza’s power. To defeat this seemingly invincible foe and restore peace to the universe, there is but one hope—a Super Saiyan must emerge! This 6 disc set contains the complete Freiza saga. Stills from Dragon Ball Z: Season Three (Click for larger image) The third season of the popular shonen (boy's) show Dragon Ball Z continues the adventures of Goku and Gohan on Namek, Piccolo's home planet. Goku, who has been in a regeneration tank since the end of season 2, recovers just in time to challenge the sniggering Frieza, one of the most grating villains in anime history. Having defeated Gohan, Krillin, Vegeta, and Piccolo, Frieza takes on Goku in a protracted duel. When he begins to doubt his ability to overcome Goku, Frieza destroys the core of Namek, ensuring it will explode in a matter of minutes. Enraged by the death of Krillin and so many others, Goku transforms into the one thing Frieza fears: a Super Saiyan, a legendary warrior who appears once every 1,000 years. As the seconds tick away, the two most powerful individuals in the universe duke it out. While they're beating the soba out of each other, King Kai hatches a plan to use the Dragon Balls of Earth and Namek to ensure a happy ending. As the battle between Goku and Frieza intensifies, the kicks and punches fly, producing titanic explosions. But the duel goes on for more than 20 episodes: With only a limited budget and crude special-effects techniques at their disposal, the filmmakers have to recycle footage endlessly. Dragon Ball Z: Season 3 is more entertaining when the viewer allows a few days to elapse between episodes, rather than indulging in a Super Saiyan marathon. (Rated TV PG. suitable for ages 8 and older: violence, brief nudity, tobacco use, ethnic stereotypes) --Charles Solomon
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