Kaze No Yojimbo Vol. #4 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kaze No Yojimbo

Kaze No Yojimbo Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     October 11, 2004
Release Date: October 12, 2004

Kaze No Yojimbo Vol. #4
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
An unexpected attack on a lonely street was a godsend for George because he can use his attacker as a pawn to score points with Ginzame. Although the attacker?s identity was a big surprise, and George gets slapped by the beautiful innkeeper, he is able to get what he wants and even witness a great sting!

The Review!
With Rin back in town, everything changes pretty quickly but there are still many secrets to be revealed.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series has a very good stereo mix that features a lot of small moments of directionality with both voices and ambient sound effects that help enhance the mood and pacing of the show. It's not terribly strong and can be difficult to discern a lot of it if there's other noise in the room, but there are some very enjoyable small moments. Dialogue throughout is clean and clear and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions on either track during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2001, the transfer for Kaze no Yojimbo is very good looking throughout the bulk of the print. Colors are solid and provide a good mixture of subtle earthy tones and a number of very vibrant areas. Dark colors maintain a very solid feel and avoid coming across as a blue tinted black. One of the areas in previous volumes we had a problem with was with cross coloration showing up in a few designs but more noticeably in the opening title card. This is the second volume we've seen the show with our new player and connections and were very surprised and pleased to see that it eliminated it during regular playback. Now, if you pause during the title card you'll see the rainbows throughout it, but when it plays normally it doesn't even shimmer to give a hint of it.

Paying homage to its roots, the cover here with the original series name combined with the color palette of an almost sepia feel gives an impression of an old movie poster from something quite some time ago. George contnues to be the only character in full color here as he's done in a full length profile with his jacket over his shoulder while the town locals are cast in gray tones in the background. The style isn't terribly appealing but there's something about it that just seems to work right in context with the show itself. The back cover is a bit more traditional looking with a number of screenshots set up as a collage across the middle as well as a few other places. There's a brief summary of the premise that lets everything grow from there and a rundown of the basic features, including listing the episodes by number and title. The insert replicates the front cover artwork and opens to a two-page spread that has individual summaries for each of the episodes with faded out shots from the episodes as well as a shot of George from an illustration piece. The back of the insert has the main rundown of production information including fully credited bilingual cast listings. A limited mini-cel is also included with the first round of releases, which is basically a flimsy pencil board that has an image of two George's first real encounter with Rin.

Done in a letterbox mode using some of the animation from where it was done like that in the beginning of the series, the menus here are simple yet feel like they're missing something since the extras section isn't here. With the black and white feel combined with almost upbeat opening song playing along, it just has a weird vibe to it that doesn't quite seem to fit with the show. The menus are technically solid and have good access times. The menu also uses my players preset preferences and highlights which languages are selected as well.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While the previous volume was terribly uneven in its presentation, it ended with an episode that completely blew me away with the way it executed itself in both style and substance. The introduction of the Rin Ginzame brought a whole new dynamic to the show and that was without even having him interact with anyone from the town yet but in a completely separate setting that, while related, had little to do with the current issues in Kimujuku.

But now with him back with his brothers and taking an active interest in Ginzame Industries as their new managing director, he's orchestrated a merger and peaceful reconciliation with the Tanokura group. With one swift move of basically caving in but securing your existence for the foreseeable future, Rin's brought all the violence to an end in the town and made sure that his family interests will continue, though maybe a bit differently for the time being. Rin's presence throughout the town becomes apparent really quickly as he's visiting all sorts of places, from employees to their new partners, in an effort to get himself into the cycle and to make sure his plans are moving as he wants.

With the reconciliation now happening, his first move is to personally fire George, especially since George has worked for both sides. While George has certainly won over some friends in both organizations, they aren't able to do anything about it and Rin gives him a verbal notice with a bit of bothersome style to it. His release from Tanokura goes in a much different fashion with a simple formal paper notice. All of this leads everyone to expect him to leave town but he only takes up a new room in Sanae's hotel since he's now not formally employed and needs something a bit cheaper. He's still got a mystery that's fifteen years old that he's trying to solve and there are buttons to still press around here.

In one of the calculating moments, Rin's encounter with Tanokura himself is a preview of sorts of what looks to come. The two engage in some verbal sparring over the town, the reconciliation and the past as each tries to keep to their game. Rin, who was presumably something of a lesser but more violent player before his incarceration, is now playing a deeper game with bigger stakes as everything continues to revolve around that mysterious train incident all those years ago. The sparring between the two is very interesting as each tries to keep their face as much as possible but some of the insinuations go just far enough to provoke.

Another interesting bit of side movement to things is the continuing relationship between Miyuki and George. As she continues to try to get out from under the shadow of her father and assert herself as a growing young woman to an adult, she finds that she's continually cast in the role of a child while events are sweeping her family along. She's still mostly an observer of some of the events and trying to understand them, such as the reactions of her mother after Sanae ends up visiting the Tanokura house and she begins to look to her past again, but she's also becoming a more active participant through her attraction to George and the way trouble always seems to find him. She didn't seem like much of a character at first other than a bit of fanservice wrapped up in some innocence but she's slowly seemingly becoming more important to the story.

In Summary:
While this volume didn't have any outright home runs in terms of what's going on, there are some very interesting revelations made throughout it. The mystery of the train continues to be an ever present piece of the story but much of the present day continues to dominate the story as everyone has their secrets and are trying to gain an upper hand against each other. There is actually a fair amount of things revealed here or at least clarified that it's going to help going into the next two volumes in bringing things to a head. The show continues to be fascinating in many ways and is keeping us very interesting but it's missing a certain spark to really ignite the imagination.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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