Kaze no Yojimbo Vol. #6 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B+

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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. #6

By Chris Beveridge     December 31, 2004
Release Date: January 04, 2005

Kaze no Yojimbo Vol. #6
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
For the first time since he's arrived at Kimujuku, George feels it's time for him to leave. However, the story doesn't quite end the way he expected.

Ginzame's kidnapping of Miyuki forces George to turn around and go on a new mission to rescue her. Wanting to pay for her past sins, Sanae also attempts a rescue in her own way. Nevertheless, George's search for his missing brother is truly coming to an end.

The Review!
Wrapping up the very long running and fairly complex storyline, Kaze no Yojimbo races through its final episodes with many revelations, plenty of action and high drama.

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. Most of the principals of the final episodes get a shot on the cover here though a couple just can't get on due to how many people are really involved with it but this last cover continues what came before and looks good with its style. 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 George's face through a red filter.

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 many episodes in this series have been pretty slow and often seeming to have little going on within them, there were a few bursts of activity throughout that kept you on your toes, much like the old serial dramas would play out. With the end of the series, the last four episodes start off with a shocking tease and it really doesn't slow down until the end frame, though some of the quieter moments are also the most deadly.

With the secret of the gold train now becoming a potentially massive political issue that could dissolve the entire lower house should it be revealed and the political types role in all of it exposed, Kinbara has decided to cast off the Ginzame folks as they've been unable to find out the information that's needed about the whereabouts of the gold. Such a treasure could easily finance a win for them at this point and close the book on the entire story but the continual failures of the Ginzame brothers in this regard has caused that to be a dead end.

Knowing that they've lost all their chances, Rin decides to take matters into his own hands and decides that a man will grab the thing most valuable to him in a time of crisis. So in the way Rin's mind works, it's acceptable at this point to burn down the Tanokura mansion in order to see Tanokura race in and grab anything related to the gold and be able to swipe that from him. With Miyuki stuck inside oblivious as she's taking a bath in a very secluded room, this turns into a very tense piece as Rin's play to get what he wants unfolds. The way they did it as a flashback from the start where we see the entire place in ruins is cruel and they tormented me in how they hinted at various ideas.

But even all of this only starts things to really happen as the events of fifteen years compel people to make rash decisions as those who want the gold or to silence those who know start to make their moves. So many people are involved in this and those who we haven't even suspected to be involved start to reveal just how involved they really were and that causes some ripples. With this being a mystery series of sorts, it's hard to talk about everything that happens since one little bit spoils the rest, but as the first three episodes race through there are a lot of things that happen that just keep stacking up upon each other. And much like the old dramas that this is based on, the death toll keeps climbing as well.

The last episode though is the best of the series I think. Visually, it's a fascinating piece once it gets outside as this has to be one of the best displays of snow in an anime series that I've seen. It's such a quiet series of events as Tanokura reveals more of the events from the past and we see just how deeply involved others were as well as what happened to George's brother. So much is revealed in such quiet moments like this that when combined with the visuals it's just extremely powerful to watch and take in. The last episode almost warrants a second viewing to make sure all of it ties together as well as it does.

In Summary:
Kaze no Yojimbo has been a hard series to watch because it required a lot of patience and a lot of setup both in the past and the present to be done. In looking back at it there are certain areas that could have been cut out or streamlined but I don't know that it would have actually improved the pacing of the show just because there is so much. With a good number of the people in the town complicit in the events of the past, there had to be a fair amount of examination of the key figures to it and then the forces that are exerted upon them in the present day to really have it all sink in. It's easy to see that this isn't a show that's going to have a lot of fans and I doubt it did well in Japan either, but it's a show that's great to display just how wide and varied the medium really is. There are no super-villains here, or buxom babes in skintight clothes, aliens or harem girls. It's a solid mystery series that's more layered than it lets on at the beginning and it got me very caught up in it.

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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