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Year: 2010
Studio: Studio Deen
US Distributor: FUNimation Entertainment
UK Distributor: Manga Entertainment UK
BBFC Certificate: 12
English Cast: Todd Haberkorn, Patrick Seitz, Christopher Bevins, Scott Freeman, J. Michael Tatum, Eric Vale, Jerry Jewell and Clarine Harp.

Alien invaders. A world united. Weird goo. LOL wut?

Introduction

After spending a happy summer last year passing the time by watching Hetalia: Axis Powers, I was delighted when Manga UK announced that they were to release the film, Paint it White, in June 2012, and I was happy to finally sit down to watch the film, and see how the antics of the lovable anthropomorphic countries would translate to the big screen.

The story begins in Germany, as a young woman is being chased by white, faceless aliens, who manage to corner her, and, in an explosion of green light, and strangely, pink flowers, turn her into one of them. The scene then quickly changes to a meeting with nine of the main countries of the series, Italy, Germany, Japan, England, France, America, Russia, China, and poor forgotten Canada. The meeting is about trying to save the world from these faceless aliens, named Pictonians. However, as usual, the meeting descends into a huge argument (featuring a great Doctor Who reference that pleased my inner Doctor Who fan), Germany trying, and failing, to restore order, and everyone walking out, claiming that they can get the aliens to pack up and go home without each other’s help.

However, they fail miserably, with their weapons and famous landmarks being turned white. We also see countries like Poland, Finland, Prussia and South Italy falling victim to the Pictionians. As the survivors of the attack, the countries must work together in order to defeat the Pictonians and prevent the entire world from being, as America put it, “freakishly boring and white”.

Animation

The film is animated by Studio Deen, who also animated both series of Hetalia, and the animation is the same for the film as for the both series. The animation, while not particularly detailed, is full of bright colours that a comedy sketch show like this needs. The character designs are basic, but bring out the cuteness for all the characters. While the animation isn’t great, it is all part of the show’s humour (so much so that, the English dub at least, makes fun of the quality of animation).

Sound

The soundtrack for the film is the same as the series, fun, light, and very fitting for the series. The films credits features a song, sung by the Japanese cast members, which is so catchy you’ll be humming the tune for days afterwards.

I watched the English dub track for the film, and it was as funny as the series is, and made the film an absolute pleasure to watch. The accents are hilarious, and the jokes, while they may offend some and make you go, “did they really just say that?” are just as funny.

Characters

The characters are all anthropomorphised versions of world countries, and their personalities reflect the stereotypes of each country, such as England’s cooking being bad. Their designs, like I have already stated, are basic, but it is all part of the shows humour.

Source

I watched the film on Manga Entertainment UK’s DVD. The picture quality is great, with the NTSC-PAL conversion having no juddering and ghosting that plagued earlier DVDs with such a transfer, and is just as well, considering the frantic action and fast scenes that make up the film, and includes FUNimation’s dub and the original Japanese with English subtitles. The DVD has a decent selection of extras, including an audio commentary and outtakes from the dub cast and crew, two versions of the ending song (a Japanese theatrical version and a textless version), the Hidden History within Hetalia, which features some backstory on some of the sketches as they move too fast within the film, a stage greeting and Madman Entertainment’s trailer for the film.

Conclusion

Overall, the film is as fun, frantic and hilarious as the series. My only problem with the film is that it features sketches from the original series, and while it isn’t a problem for people who have yet to watch the series, may drag a little for those who have, as it makes up about 20 minutes of the film’s 1 hour and 20 minute run time. However, it is perhaps understandable, as Hetalia is first and foremost a comedy sketch show, and perhaps the sudden change to one of the sketches helps the film flow more easily in the series’ usual format. Despite that, the film is a fantastically funny watch, and is recommended for all fans of the Hetalia series.

I rate the film:

8/10

Back in March at the Birmingham Expo, and last weekend at the MCM Expo in London, the anime distribution companies Manga UK, MVM Films and Kazé UK announced some of the anime series they would be releasing this year. I have made a list of said titles, with any release dates that have been confirmed. EDIT: announcements from Manchester MCM Expo added.

So, without further ado, here is the list.

Manga UK

  • Angel Beats! – 25th June (DVD and Blu-ray)
  • Aria the Scarlet Ammo - Currently no release date (DVD)
  • Black Butler Complete Series 2 - 16th July (DVD)
  • Blue Exorcist – Part 1 on 20th August, Part 2 on 29th October (DVD)
  • Chaos;Head - 22nd October (DVD)
  • Clannad -  Part 2 on 30th July (DVD)
  • Clannad ~After Story~ – Part 1 on 24th September, Part 2 on 5th November (DVD)
  • Dragon Ball Z – Series 1 on 2nd July, other series’ to follow, with Series 9 being released on 13th September 2013 (DVD)
  • Fairy Tail - Part 3 on 16th July, Part 4 on 17th September (DVD)
  • Fractale - 10th December (DVD)
  • Freezing - 17th December (DVD)
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Complete Series - 13th August (DVD)
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – OVA Collection - October 15th (DVD and Blu-ray combo)
  • Fullmetal Alchemist – The Conqueror of Shamballa – 3rd September, in a combo pack with The Sacred Star of Milos (DVD and Blu-ray combo)
  • Fullmetal Alchemist – The Sacred Star of Milos - 3rd September (DVD and Blu-ray)
  • Gintama Movie – 24th December (DVD)
  • Guilty Grown - Currently no release date (DVD and Blu-ray)
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers – Paint it, White! - 18th June (DVD)
  • Hetalia: World Series - Part 1 on 23rd July, Part 2 on 10th December (DVD). There is also a complete collection for Hetalia, containing all of Axis Powers and World Series, also released on 10th December.
  • Jormungand - Currently no release date (DVD)
  • Ninja Scroll – 15th October (DVD and Blu-ray combo in a LE steelbook)
  • Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom - Re-release in complete boxset on 3rd December (DVD)
  • Okami-san and Her Seven Companions - Currently no release date (DVD)
  • Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt – 30th July (DVD)
  • Princess Resurrection – 10th September (DVD)
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica – 29th October (DVD and Blu-ray)
  • Sengoku Basara 2 - 17th September, also in a complete box set with series 1 (DVD)
  • Sekirei ~Pure Engagement~ - 19th November (DVD)
  • Shiki - Part 1 8th October, Part 2 31st December (DVD)
  • Spice and Wolf - 18th June (DVD)
  • Spice and Wolf II - 6th August (DVD)
  • Squid Girl – Series 1 on 13th August (DVD)
  • Strike Witches Series 2 - 24th September (DVD)
  • Tales of Vesperia ~The First Strike~ - 3rd December (DVD and Blu-ray)
  • The World God Only Knows - Series 1 on 8th October, no release date for series 2 (DVD)
  • Towa no Quon - November 12th (DVD)
  • Welcome to the Space Show – 2nd July (DVD and Blu-ray)

Kazé UK

  • Berserk Films – First film 24th December (DVD, DVD/ Blu-ray combo/collectors edition)
  • Black Lagoon – 9th July (DVD – series 1 and 2 complete box set. Blu-ray – series 1 and 2 separate sets)
  • Persona 4 - Part 1 on 24th December (DVD and Blu-ray)
  • Planzet – 27th August (DVD)
  • Princess Jellyfish – 3rd September (DVD, LE with Clara plush)
  • Roujin Z – 11th June (DVD and Blu-ray)
  • Tiger & Bunny – Sometime in 2013 (DVD and Blu-ray combo)
  • Trigun: Badlands Rumble – 1st October (DVD and Blu-ray)

MVM Films

  • .hack//Quantum – 9th July (DVD)
  • Bodacious Space Pirates – Sometime in 2013
  • Broken Blade – 4th June (DVD and Blu-ray)
  • Dream Eater Merry – Sometime in 2013
  • Ergo Proxy – 6th August (DVD, re-release)
  • Mayo Chiki – Sometime in 2013
  • Rosario + Vampire – Series 1 on 3rd September, Series 2 on 8th October (DVD)
  • Rosen Maiden Overture – 5th November (DVD)
  • Shakugan no Shana 2 – Sometime in 2013

Okay, so there is the complete list of titles that has so far been confirmed for a 2012 release, or has been announced has been required for a release in 2013. If any new information is added, such as changed release dates, confirmed Blu-rays or new licence announcements, I’ll edit this post.

Please note, this may contain spoilers. Though I have tried to keep it to the bare minimum.

Year: 2009
Studio: Manglobe
US Distributor: FUNimation Entertainment
UK Distributor: Manga Entertainment UK
BBFC Certificate: 15
English Cast: Cherami Leigh, Blake Shepard, Monica Rial, Anastasia Munoz, Alexis Tipton, Chris Cason and J. Michael Tatum.

Wielding his blade, she will defend the weak.

Introduction

As a fan of any kind of fantasy show, and as someone who usually blind buys any title from FUNimation, The Sacred Blacksmith was instant buy for me, as it fit both criteria. And although the series had its weak points, I wasn’t disappointed.

The story mainly revolves around Cecily Campbell, a knight for the Independent Trade City of Housman, who assumed her role as a knight to follow in her father’s footsteps. The only problem is, she isn’t much of a fighter. So when she finds herself cornered by a crazed swordsman, Luke Ainsworth, the Sacred Blacksmith of the title, comes to her rescue, and effortlessly cuts through his opponent’s sword like it was butter. The sword he wields, a katana forged with the help of his assistant Lisa, is one of the strongest swords Cecily has ever laid eyes on, and now that her own sword is broken, she demands that Luke make her a katana, though he doesn’t seem so keen on the idea.

Throw in Aria the demon sword, a handful of other characters that are forgettable and a villain with about as much character development as a sock, a back story about the Valbanill war and people signing contracts in order to give up their human lives to become demons, and you have the basic storyline for The Sacred Blacksmith.

This series, although it didn’t bother me too much, did have a copious amount of fanservice, with most it jokes about Cecily’s…assets. Fanservice doesn’t bother me too much, but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Although I myself cannot stand it if it’s over done either, and is the reason I am going to avoid Ikki Tousen like the plague.

Animation

This series was animated by Manglobe, who also animated Samurai Champloo and Deadman Wonderland, and as always with this studio, I found the artwork to be very nice, although I thought that it definitely wasn’t up to Samurai Champloo’s standard. The character designs are decent, if perhaps a little basic, and the colour of the artwork in the series, especially on the character and outfit designs, looked great. The designs for the background, from the busy streets in the city, to the quieter, more rural areas outside the city, to the interior designs, such as Luke’s forge, the town hall and Cecily’s home, are nicely done and add to the medieval feel of the series. In some parts, like when Luke and Lisa forge katana, the animation looks spectacular.

Sound

The soundtrack, composed by Tamiya Terashima, who also composed the music for Tales from Earthsea, had a very medieval like feel to it, which suited the series perfectly, and gave the right atmosphere for particular scenes. The opening theme, ‘Justice of Light’, by Mayumi Gojo, and the ending theme, ‘Miracle Happy Day’, by Aki Toyosaki, were enjoyable to listen to between the episodes, and the ending theme especially was particularly catchy.

As I always do, I watched the dub track for this series, and although perhaps not FUNimation’s best (that title goes to the likes of Baccano! and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, but that’s for another review) it was still a very good dub. I very much enjoyed hearing Blake Shepard, in what I believe is his role with FUNimation, as Luke Ainsworth, and Cherami Leigh, as Cecily Campbell, gave another very good performance, with her voice perfectly suiting the character’s personality. The other voice actors, including Monica Rial as Lisa, Anastasia Munoz as Aria and Alexis Tipton as Charlotte and others in their supporting roles did a very good job too.

Characters

The four main protagonists of this series, Cecily, Luke, Lisa and Aria, are all given some character development and back story, enough as to make them interesting and to make their actions within the series explainable. The secondary characters, such as Hannibal, Mayor Housman and Cecily’s mother, aren’t really given a huge amount of screen time to make them very interesting, but if the series had been longer, I feel that there would’ve been more time for character development and involve them more in the story. And then we have the villain, who is given little to no back story, and his actions are unexplainable due to this, and he is given no character development, which made him appear boring and pointless to me.

Source

I watched this series on DVD from Manga UK. I found the quality of the picture and audio on the disc to be fairly high (bearing in mind I’m not really bothered about whether I’m watching the DVD in NTSC or PAL format). The episodes are spread over two discs, and there are a few extra features in the form of textless opening and closing songs and Japanese episode previews. Both the English and Japanese language tracks, with English subtitles, are on the discs. As for the packaging for the series, the cover matches the US release, while the insert had a list of episodes and a picture or the four main characters.

Conclusion

I found this series to be a highly enjoyable watch. With the highlights being the good quality animation, the medieval-esque soundtrack that gave the right feel to the series, good voice acting for the English language track and a decent plot. However, the series did have its low points, such as the lack or character development for some characters, and the twelve episodes this series got wasn’t enough to do it justice. Despite these low points, The Sacred Blacksmith was a very enjoyable watch, and if you like shows about demons, set in a medieval city with likeable characters, and don’t mind the fact that the series felt too short to give it the plot and character development it deserved, or are just looking for an enjoyable fantasy series, then I would recommend this to you.

I rate the series:

7/10

About time I set up a blog! So, here I am. I intend to post my anime reviews, top ten anime lists, opinion posts and anything that happens to randomly pop into my head that I feel like sharing.

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