TV On DVD: Legion of Superheroes: The Complete Series [Blu-Ray]/FLCL: Progressive/Alternative: Two – Series Collection [Blu-Ray/Digital]

“Legion of Superheroes” arrived during that darker time where “Teen Titans” and “Justice League” had ended their excellent runs and DC was embroiled in a lawsuit over the Superman name. Around this time DC and Warner were attempting to create series less about critical acclaim and more about making merchandise money. Legion of Super Heroes: The Complete Series (now on Blu-Ray with all 26 episodes) isn’t a bad series per se, it’s just as grand as “Justice League” or as entertaining as “Teen Titans” was. Even during its entire run, the best episodes were just okay.

Set in the 31st century, “Legion of Superheroes” follows the ever-growing group superheroes that includes the hot-headed Lightning Lad, telepathic powerhouse Saturn Girl, ultra-intelligent Brainiac 5, sarcastic Phantom Girl, body-splitting Triplicate Girl, and comic relief Bouncing Boy. Their first addition is the one and only Superman, who is nabbed by way of time travel. They accidentally go back too far, though, and get teenage Clark Kent (Yuri Lowenthal) just before his big move to Metropolis.

Clark’s formidable yet fully untapped powers don’t make the transition a smooth one, but the Legion needs all the help they can get. I don’t quite think of “Legion” when I think of the best from the DC Animated Universe, and it’s gone unnoticed for a reason. Apart from the choppy low grade animation, it’s hard to really relate to any of the characters, and that’s a shame because this concept is screaming for a series. Just look at the “Superman: The Animated Series” episode “New Kids in Town.”

If anything, “Legion” does also offer a departure from the heavier “JLU” with some more science fiction based villains and concepts the series is known for. Plus the diverse cast allows fans easy access to pick and choose who they want to root for. “Legion” is still a very good diversion of a series that sheds the spotlight on some fantastic characters that have yet to be brought to life in the DC AU or DCEU.

The Blu-Ray from Warner and DC includes the nine minutes We Are Legion, the 2007 promotional featurette that was originally included on Warner Bros.’ Legion of Super Heroes Volume 1 DVD collection. It’s mainly a promo piece that mostly features cast and crew members gushing about favorite characters, moments, and a bit of history about the franchise, et al. There’s also a new Audio Commentary, an exclusive new commentary track which is actually a double header that plays during the two-part series finale “Dark Victory.”

It  features producer James Tucker, director Brandon Vietti, and voice actor Kari Wahlgren (Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet), and is moderated by the Warner Archive Podcast team of D.W. Ferranti and Matt Patterson. Topics include a “badder Superman” and the edgier second season, character designs, the shadow of Bruce Timm, creative restrictions, past and future DC animated productions, the voice acting process, cameos and supporting characters, Kryptonite blood transfusions, and much more.

From Warner Entertainment and Adult Swim comes FLCL: Progressive/Alternative. Fans of Fooly Cooly (or FLCL) can now collect both “Progressive” and “Alternative” series in various viewing formats. A return to the FLCL creative roots from 2000, FLCL: Progressive is a sequel and re-imagining of the original hit series that won over legions of new anime fans. Although the new series is mainly about a cast of new characters in the same universe as the first FLCL, this follow up and companion piece is much in the same vein as the original.

It also marks the return of fan-favorite character Haruko. The series centers upon the young teen girl Hidomi, who lives in a quiet town where next to nothing exciting ever seems to happen. Yet one day her understanding of her reality comes into question when she has an encounter with Julia Jinyu (Allegra Clark): a moment which makes her question how quiet her town actually is in reality. Things start to shake up even more when she encounters the zany alien girl Haruko acting as her teacher at school.

I admittedly don’t know too much about “FLCL” but “Progressive” and “Alternative” are both beautifully animated (with mesmerizing art direction by Kazuhiro Arai) and garner some fantastic music from the Pillows all around. I was quite immersed and even compelled to back track to classic FLCL. I don’t know if this series will win new fans, but it might just serve as a neat re-visit to the universe for FLCL fanatics alike.

I had a pretty good time with it.

FLCL Progressive/Alternative has been released by [adult swim] and Warner Brothers on Blu-ray, on a two-disc set. Each disc has the original Japanese language with optional English subtitles, and an English dub.

Extras on the disc include, Meet the Creators is an engaging, insightful twelve minutes behind the scenes look at the production of the FLCL sequel and its long path to development. This includes interviews with Maki Terashima-Furuta (Production I.G. USA President), Mitsuhisa Ishikawa (Production I.G. CEO), and others close to the project. The Pillows is a great five minutes interview with the beloved Japanese rock band. Consisting of Sawao Yamanaka, Yoshiaki Manabe, and Shinichirou Sato, the band discusses the process of how they became involved in the original FLCL anime and how they had hoped for a sequel. The Making of FLCL Progressive & Alternative an extensive fourteen minutes making-of featurette which delves into the development of the project with an emphasis on the English ADR dubbing process.

Stephanie Sheh who wrote the FLCL dub script for the sequels and was a casting director involved in the project. As the behind-the-scenes featurette is explored, Production I.G. and the return of The Pillows is delved into more. The footage also showcases the English dub cast working on their recordings: including Kari Wahlgren (Haruko), Steve Blum (Yoga), Robbie Daymond (Ide), Xanthe Huynh (Hidomi), Allegra Clark (Jinyu), Marianne Miller (Mossan), and Ray Chase (Tabata Kanda), respectively. The six minutes Production: Behind the Scenes showcases footage from the behind the scenes creation of the FLCL sequel series. There are conversations with directors (Yutaka Uemura and Kazuto Arai), character designer Chikashi Kubota , and others involved in the production discussing the creation of the new season.

Animation checker Reiko Sakai discusses her part in the production and how she prefers animation on paper to digital, and there are some interesting glimpses into the development of the project. There’s the five minutes English Voice-Actors: Behind the Scenes, which features an extended interview with Kari Wahlgren (Haruko) as she discusses how emotional it was for her to return to the part (voicing Haruko was her first voice-acting gig in her career as a voice-actor). Ray Chase (Kanda) also gives an interview about his involvement and the importance of anime. Other extended interviews includes Allegra Clark (Jinyu), who discusses how she grew up watching Toonami and her love of FLCL, Marianne Miller (Mosan), and the iconic Steve Blum (Yoga). English ADR director Michael Sinterniklaas and VA Robbie Daymond (Ide) also discuss working on the new season and what the dub process is like with FLCL.

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