Samurai 7 Vol. #3 (Viridian Collection) (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Justin Rich
Review Date: Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, October 09, 2007



What They Say
Kikuchiyo has been foolishly captured by the Bandits, and the samurai must leave the caverns to rescue him. When daylight approaches, the towering machines plan to ambush them. Clearly, a traitor is in their midst.

Kambei knows legions of Nobuseri will be searching for them soon, and decides the group must get to Kanna, though the team of seven is incomplete. To survive the trek, new bonds of trust must be forged. As their journey begins, the samurai must confront an even more dangerous deception: betrayal from the farmers who hired them.

The Review!
The seven have finally all been gathered and now the treacherous journey and preparations take precedent in Kambei‚€™s plan to save the Kanna.

Audio:
For this viewing session I began with the 5.1 Japanese track. The music is constant as well as the continual gunfire and explosions makes great us of the surround sound. I also listened to FUNimation‚€™s English dub too to listen to their 5.1 as well. Great balance amongst the speaker setup, which lead to great sword collisions from behind during all the fight scenes. In the last episode there was nice rear speaker echoing as the Bandits left the cavern, once again showing great balance for the 5.1.

Video:
Samurai 7 is one of the latest Gonzo series airing in Summer of 2004 till Christmas of 2004 so the transfer is 16:9 widescreen. Animation is sharp and crisp with beautiful combination of hand drawn and computer like most Gonzo shows. There is no bleeding in the animation making the background scenery and the characters come out vibrant and lifelike. The steam punk city is a sharp contrast to the docile farming village with beautiful swaying rows of rice. Battle scenes are fluent and color holds up well, especially in the fast paced fight between Kyuzo and Kambei.

Packaging:
FUNimation continues to use the clear keepcases like they used for Fullmetal Alchemist and Burst Angel, which is great especially when including reversible covers. The first side is a watercolorlike painting of Kikuchiyo looking off to the left and Akira Kurosawa‚€™s Samurai 7 right by his chest. To mark the volume is a three in a diamond below the u of Samurai with FUNimation and Gonzo‚€™s symbols on the bottom left corner. On the back is eight screen caps and episode listings. The reverse cover is a battle scene of a bandit and a mech samurai squaring off during the great war. The disc also includes a thirty page booklet with character sketches and staff interviews from Gonzo on the resurrection of the Seven Samurai.

Menu:
There is thirty second sound clip with a nice war era type feel to it. In the upper right corner is a picture of Kikuchiyo standing in the forest outside of Kanna, with play, episodes, audio and extras directly below him. The curser still blends into the background making it hard at sometimes to figure out what option you are on but not as much as the previous disc, and the response time is still quite quick.

Extras:
This disc contains four character profiles: three of the samurai 7 Kyuzo, Gorobei, and Heichachi as well as the Nobuseri (bandit war machines). Followed by the entirely bizarre animated short Mr. Stain on Junk Alley. This disc also contains textless songs of both the opening ‚€œUnlimited‚€� by Nanase Aikawa and the closing ‚€œFuhun‚€� by Rin. The highlight of the special features is a two minute color image gallery, for the image go in chronological order for the first four episodes on this disc ending with Kambei and Kyuzo. There is also trailers for Samurai 7, Burst Angel, Galaxy Railways, Baki the Grappler & Gunslinger Girl.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers) The disc begins Honoka having a flashback to her village being raided and then she leads them into an ambush in the pursuit of Kikuchiyo. Kambei and the group fight the bandits and are doing well until a shot is fired hitting Kambei in the arm. The raiden is about to attack when Kyuzo shreds him down to nothing setting him up as a loner with neither the Bandits or the samurai. Against Heihachi‚€™s opinion Kambei passes no judgment on Honoka‚€™s betrayal and even swears he will help save her sister after the war at Kanna. Once again we can clearly see the noble heart of Kambei and how the effects the thoughts and feelings of the rest of the group.

In rage Kyuzo continues to carve up Nobuseri like a Thanksgiving turkey and when he turns his back on his old partner to stare down Kambei he begins to pull the trigger. Katsushiro reveals himself and frees Kikuchiyo from his ropes and Kyuzo‚€™s blinding speed cuts down his enemy; making him the final of the seven samurai. Kambei knows that they the samurai must split into smaller groups to make it to Kanna with the news of them coming spreading along the Bandit‚€™s line of communication. The plan is to make it to feather rock and all three groups achieve the goal and proceed to sneak into Kanna. The episode does show the strengthening of relationships and brings out more of the individual character‚€™s unique personalities; including seeing Kyuzo strong & silent loyalty come through in his protection of Kirara even if it meant injury to himself.

The samurai enter Kanna but find the city abandoned. Komachi and Kikuchiyo go for a walk where they come across Komachi‚€™s old friend Okara who tells them about the preparations hidden before the possibly wicked samurai arrived. Kikuchiyo, Okara and Komachi go to city‚€™s secret stash where the ricer and Shino were hidden. The city elder and men of the village circle around Kikuchiyo. There is still an obvious feeling of distrust amongst the villagers. But, Kambei moves the preparations for the pending war forward delegating responsibilities to Gorobei, Shichiroji and Heihachi. Katsushiro‚€™s biggest job though is to stop Manzo‚€™s betrayal to the Bandits, which leads to his first kill and the feelings of conscious that goes with shedding another man‚€™s blood.

Kambei arrives to see the death from Katsushiro, proceeding to slap him and takes his kitana. Heihachi is once again lived at a second betrayal and drags Manzo off to the center of town for a decision on what to do. Kambei gives back the sword to Katsushiro that he had cleaned and refolded telling now that he has gone down the road of killing he must always take care of his sword. Because of their conversation Kambei and Katsushiro are the last of the samurai to arrive at the calamity in the center of the village. What to do with Manzo? Manzo explains to the villagers why the samurai are no different from the Bandits while Rikichi fights against it. Heihachi is willing to finish off Manzo before Kambei once again gives pardon, but it is Kikuchiyo not Kambei that explains what should be done. He reveals his true past as a farmer who changed into a machine to slay the Bandits and why Manzo‚€™s behavior was not a direct betrayal but the psychology of a person who was a consequence of his environment. Kambei heeds Kikuchiyo‚€™s words by telling Manzo that he is forgiven this time but if there is another betrayal Kambei will kill Manzo himself. The village then returns to the final war preparations just in time for the oncoming onslaught from the Bandits.

In Summary:
Samurai 7 even with the update in technology to the masterful original maintains the plot and feel in perfect pacing. All the samurai are now united as Kyuzo decides that he will join Kambei‚€™s forces, and the have reached Kanna to make their stand. The villagers handling of the pros and cons of the samurai being there is especially interesting, for the politics balanced over who actually is more dangerous really encapsulates the time period of the Seven Samurai. We get to see more depth in characters other than just Kambei in the volume, mostly noted by Kikuchiyo revealing his true self. The Bandits are on their way to Kanna and the fighting will start; who will live and who will die? Can the samurai 7 really save the village or is this simply an illusion of petrified villagers? There are four volumes left to unravel the final mysterious of this exceptional series.

Features
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Songs,Character Profiles

Review Equipment




Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: TV 14
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
MSRP: 19.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Samurai 7