Peacemaker Vol. #3 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Peacemaker

Peacemaker Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     February 02, 2005
Release Date: February 01, 2005

Peacemaker Vol. #3
© ADV Films

What They Say
Strange winds are blowing through Kyoto. A boisterous man sporting a gun, a cowboy hat, and a vocabulary full of foreign phrases breezes into town. Meanwhile, rumors are afoot about a fallen lord, a powerful mystic and their chaotic game that could threaten the capital. But trouble also comes in other guises.

Seeing Tetsu falling farther into depression, Yamanami and Heisuke take it upon themselves to give the boy a vacation-and an education-that the young boy will not soon forget!

The Review!
While the brothers get to work together a bit more and each of them moves forward ever so slowly in their chosen paths within the Shinsengumi, more pieces start falling into place to explain their backgrounds and motivations.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The Japanese side of the show contains a straightforward and solid sounding stereo mix. The series has a good sense of directionality across the forward soundstage with lots of wind style sounds being used for the swordplay moments as well as things such as leaves moving around during the stylish moments. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and there's some good placement to it. The English track has a 5.1 mix to it which comes across a bit louder and sharper but is essentially the same as the stereo mix from what we heard.

Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this show is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. With the show taking place in older times, there's the standard color palette used for it and the colors in general are fairly muted and earthy. There aren't a lot of really vibrant moments and even things like the bloody scenes are done with dark reds and not bright shades. Some of the night time backgrounds, which use a bit of a softer set of blues to it, showed a bit of blocking in a couple of scenes but not too much that was distracting. The main problem that comes across with the transfer is inherent in the source with the amount of color gradation that's visible. It's not in every scene but there are a number of sequences where it shows strongly, particularly with the darkly colored kimono's. Colors in general look really good and cross coloration is blissfully absent as well as being very minimal in regards to aliasing.

Using the same artwork and even the same logo as the Japanese release, the cover features a great looking piece of artwork of Yamanami getting up close and personal with a particularly pretty blonde. The colors and expansive white section really makes everything stand out nicely here. The back cover continues to the white feel but is a bit darker and has a bloodied strip collage of shots from the show along the top. There are a couple paragraphs of a decent summary next to the list of the discs extras. The rest is filled out by the thick section of production credits and the very lovely technical grid that holds all the important information. The cover is also reversible with that side providing the Japanese cover art of Hijikata. This artwork is also the front of the included booklet. The booklet folds out into several pages and has quite a bit of information, from text interviews with the staff, two side stories and a few full color character design sketches.

The menu layout is nicely done for the most part and definitely sets it up right for the show. Using the same kind of look as the box artwork with the mix of off-whites and blood trails, the foreground gets set with the sword from the first volume cover and adds in some falling cherry blossoms while underneath the splotches you get some very obscured bits of animation playing through. The only downside to the menu is that it feels like the clip of music used is so short and abrupt when it ends that it's going faster than it should. It's not a menu you can leave on for any length of time without getting frustrated by it. The menus are very easy to navigate and easy to access with quick load times. I still wish there was a way to return directly to the main menu from the trailers though. The disc also correctly read our players language presets properly which is always a big plus.

There's a good selection of extras here that should please both sides of the fence that mirrors the previous volume quite a bit. The opening and ending sequence are presented again in their clean format and a new array of production sketches is available in video form. The Character Collection continues with this volume and this time it's for Okita. Like the first one, it's a video piece that runs just under two minutes or so and sort of gives you a quick feel for the character. It's in Japanese only but it is subtitled. For English voice actor fans, a commentary track is provided with Vig Mignogna and David Born talking about their characters and impressions of the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While Peacemaker has been fairly enjoyable throughout the first episodes, particularly after it settled down from a lot of its frenetic nature in the first couple of episodes, it's not something that's found a real hook that's grabbed me completely yet and has me looking forward to the next volume. While the brothers Testu and Tatsu have their moments neither are ones that I find particularly well rounded enough to actually carry the series as they're supposed to. Tetsu has enough issues himself and the added problem of his short size doesn't work that well for me as a way of getting more interested in him. If anything, his size makes it harder to believe that he's in the situation he's in, since he's often acting the age of his size, which is not the fifteen years he is.

With this volume, the hook finally shows up and it's not what I expected. Initially, we get to have something a bit different happen for the show after Hijikita decides to send the pair off to on a mission past Kobe where at the port they'll pick up an item that he wants to have delivered to him. While it's not a huge thing it's something that he wants to entrust to a Shinsengumi member so it works ideally to get the younger brother out of here for a bit and to let his older brother play watcher with him again. Of course, with Tetsu, nothing goes right and on their journey he ends up coming across Suzu again and this ends up causing the two to go off the beaten path in dealing with each other. Since Tetsu's not exactly in a position to kick anyone's ass, the two actually end up talking a lot more than anything else and get to know each other while trying to make their way back to the main thoroughfare. Suzu comes across better in these scenes than in earlier ones and it's easier to see these two getting along rather than fighting.

One of the best things to come of the trip is a bit of a side story that has Tetsu, once again, chasing after someone instead of instead of just worrying about their mission at hand. Interestingly, Tetsu gets intrigued when this warrior type walks by him and is singing a very twisted sounding song that shouldn't take long to really be familiar with but his butchery of it is quite amusing. Even more interesting, he's wearing a cowboy hat and carries a six shooter and just has that feel of trouble. When Tetsu tries to stop him, he takes off like a madman. Eventually Tetsu does catch up to him but they all end up in a completely different situation thanks to a gang that wants to teach the mystery man a lesson. This of course allows for a brief bit of action so he can show off his skills which are quite good, but it's his style that's the hook. He has the right look and feel of an actual "cowboy samurai" while mixing the two languages and having that broader worldview.

He gets to make a return appearance later and we learn that he's something of a wanted man named Ryoma and he's not exactly popular with the Shinsengumi nor Okita in particular. What Ryoma does bring to the table is that he knows something about Tetsu and Tatsu as he eventually makes the connection of their lineage. Though it hasn't played much into the series so far, he's suddenly calling Tatsu the Peacemaker and making insinuations about his father being the last one and how different he and his father actually are though they're so close to resembling each other physically. This starts to change how you look at Tatsu considerably since for the most part he's played the role of a nanny for Tetsu but now he may have something more important to play in the future. Ryoma in particular seems to really like both of the kids and though it may be mocking to some extent, there's some real feeling to it. Ryoma brings something really interesting to the show at this point since just a couple of careful words from him has changed the perception of the two lead characters and put more of an air of mystery on their parents.

There's a lot of other good material in here as well for the some of the other characters, particularly a good scene about being a pawn between Yamanami and Hijikata. With a lot of history between them and a lot of other members of the group, these small pieces start filtering into the show in their relationships as they are now and each of them are still trying to figure out exactly where they fit in the scheme of things. Mix in some fun material, especially a new fight that Tetsu gets to take place in, and it's a fairly well rounded set of episodes that does a good job of bringing new things to light and slowly but surely expanding the existing characters into more interesting people.

In Summary:
The introduction of a new antagonist that ends up befriending the leads of the series is set to add some fun to the show but it's his sense of style combining the east and west that makes him interesting at first. With his apparent knowledge of the leads parents and their pasts brings him squarely into the center of things and it's interesting to see how his arrival has changed the dynamic a bit and moved more of the focus from Tetsu to Tatsu. Though the action sequences are far too short, the mixture of them plus the character developments and revelations helps to actually give the series some sort of forward motion but it's still feeling undefined as we near the halfway mark.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animation,Production sketches,Character Collection 2,Voice actor commentary

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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