Peacemaker Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Peacemaker

Peacemaker Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     March 22, 2005
Release Date: March 29, 2005


Peacemaker Vol. #4
© ADV Films


What They Say
Impatience runs rampant through both the Shinsengumi and Choshu camps. Still, no wounds are as deadly as the ones we inflict on ourselves. Caught up in the painful memories of his past, Tetsu's hatred threatens to consume him as it grows stronger. At the same time, Susumu questions his worth in light of his failure on the enemy front.

The Review!
Wrapping up with a bit of amusement a side story, Peacemaker then goes for the comedy angle in one of the funniest episodes of the series yet.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
Using the same artwork and even the same logo as the Japanese release, the cover features Ryoma against the stark white background with him giving the perfect smile while tipping his hat. This is one of the best looking characters in the series and it just looks great here. 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 Tatsunosuke. 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.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
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 there are two, one for Hijikata and another for Yamazaki. For English voice actor fans, the voice actor commentary for this round has several participants, including Luci Christian, Jason Douglas and Greg Ayres..

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the fourth volume of the series, the show drops down to three episodes but doesn't seem to really affect much since the show has been fairly episodic to date, or rather the larger plot has been so much in the background that getting tidbits of it here and there in each episode doesn't really change it all that much.

This set of episodes provides some closure for the small arc that had been taking place with Tetsu and Yamanami spending time in the red light district house of ill repute. Yamazaki is continuing to enjoy his downtime with exclusive "use" of one of the women there while Tetsu spends his time hanging out with Suzu and Saya. Saya's sitting there enraptured by Tetsu though she does a good job of hiding it and mostly just listens to the two young men talk. The pair have had an interesting relationship so far but it's with this conversation that we get down to some of the core basics of their personalities and lives and it's interesting that what they believe is actually something that's reversed from most shows.

Both of them spend time talking about their masters, Suzu talking about Yoshida while Tetsu goes on about Hijikata. Both of them reflect on how similar their two masters are with their dark looks, personality and overall nature. Where the differences come down is how each of their "pupils" views them. Suzu has nothing but complete respect for Yoshida and would follow him to the ends of the Earth while Tetsu sees Hijikata as nothing but an overbearing creature that's intent on making his life complete hell. The way this all comes about in their conversation is just very well done and it speaks volumes about how each of them approach their daily lives. It also leads to a rather fun pivotal moment where Yoshida comes looking for Suzu and finds them all in the same room and ends up showing more emotion in that moment than anytime prior in the series.

It's interesting how this single moment ends up hitting Tetsu so profoundly and opens the floodgates to the past in what happened to his parents and the family in general. It so completely overwhelms him that when they all return back home to the compound, he's essentially useless for several days while everyone tries to prod him back to life. The most revealing comes from Tatsu though as he tries to deal with the best way of helping his brother but we start to get more insight into him that's been missing about why he does what he does. The way everyone has grown to accept them into the group becomes the obvious moments here as each of the others in the compound try their own way of helping, the best being Okita sneaking up on Tatsu and trying to discern what his expressions really mean.

The best episode of this volume, and I'm tempted to say the most enjoyable of the series so far, is the last one here that stands alone and provides nothing but comedy. It's such a simple premise yet provides so much fun and laughter that it's almost not right. Taking place in the compound, Okita swipes a secret book from Hijikata which is filled with all the haiku's that he's written. Awful, terrible haiku's that make no sense. Okita's sitting along the deck reading them and laughing to himself and eventually Tetsu gets caught up in it. The moment that Hijikata realizes that they're missing, he goes completely psycho with flames surrounding him and flies around the place looking for Okita. It spirals into other people seeing and reading the book and Hijikata adding them to his list of people who must die, all of it tied together with lots of jokes and humor about the haiku and who wrote them. It's just a priceless fun little episode that completely made this volume worthwhile.

In Summary:
Peacemaker continues to be a series that's lightly moving towards its plot and is more about the group of men who are part of this mission of theirs, but the focus less on the mission and more on the men (and pig). The plot is kept relatively light though they do keep it surfacing here and there which makes the show somewhat frustrating since I want more of that and a bit less of the continual bonding material. This volume provides a bit of the plot but manages to get saved by some very fun slapstick humor that just had us laughing out loud much more than normal.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animation,Production sketches,Character Collection 3 & 4,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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