Peacemaker Vol. #6 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • 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: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Peacemaker

Peacemaker Vol. #6

By Chris Beveridge     August 10, 2005
Release Date: July 19, 2005


Peacemaker Vol. #6
© ADV Films


What They Say
Spurred on by an acute desire for justice, the Shinsengumi prepare to smoke out their enemies. But playing with fire can get out of hand, and pyromania sets in on both sides. The conflict reaches a fever pitch as hands all-too-eager for battle stoke the flames of war. But not everyone is prepared to fight. Deeds from the past paralyze Yamanami, and lingering memories send Tetsu into a catatonic fit. The question must be answered now: will he become a demon and run with wolves? Or will he choose a path of peace?


The Review!
With the last arc now fully upon us, the action kicks in several notches, emotions run high and Tetsunosuke undergoes a true mental trauma once more.

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, this time the theme goes to the younger set as we get the three "children" from the show together, each looking really good with the soft colors against the white background. 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 a great illustration of several of the Shinsengumi warriors. 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, 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 it's for Tatsunosuke and Suzu. Like the previous ones, it's a video piece that runs just under two minutes or so and sort of gives you a quick feel for the characters. It's in Japanese only but it is subtitled. Unlike past volumes, no commentary track was done for this release.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In the penultimate volume to the series, we're still at the three episode level but they're three of the better episodes of the series so far. At the same time, it's difficult to say whether these are good episodes because we're finally getting some of the really good action sequences to it or its good because the plot is finally moving forward. The characters in general still have not really won me over outside of a couple of secondary members which means that I'm enjoying this more for the minor pieces than the actual core storyline itself.

The results of the last volume set the stage for the Shinsengumi to finally take a stand. It's unfortunate that it took the death of someone in their group and that it had to be a woman at that, but the way this has been portrayed has been nothing short of fantastic. It's been blunt and up front, from when she got caught in the sheets with the enemy knowing who she was to the way they strung her up, abused the hell out of her and then tossed her out like so much trash. The main group of the Shinsengumi goes after Masuya and his men in an attempt to get Yoshida and discover what's going on, but it's following Susumu and Tetsunosuke that's the most interesting from when they find Ayumu out in the rain to their eventual follow-up.

Susumu hasn't been too deep of a character so far but now that we get him exploring his past issues of being the poorer younger brother to Ayumu's highly successful spy and all around good girl, he's got some of the best scenes there. Between the very touching scenes taking place in the rain to his raid in Masuya's and time in the basement all the way to his rooftop downtime with Tetsunosuke, he's got some great performances and screen time here that shifts him to one of the best played characters of the series, easily surpassing the lead characters.

The increased presence of the Shinsengumi in the town after these events leads Yoshida's faction to getting their preparations ready for burning down the capital and kidnapping the shogun for their nefarious needs. Though Yoshida for the most part goes to ground, events do happen with Suzu that leads Tetsunosuke into something of a trap. This sets things up for a re-enactment of sorts for the trauma that Tetsu had gone through a couple of years prior with the loss of his parents only this time it's caused by someone he considered a friend but at the same time brings the old nemesis back into his life. Tetsu's breakdown isn't surprising but it comes at a time when the Shinsengumi is ready to finally take full action and has even given him his own outfit and weapons. His inability to deal with the return of his demons in full force, again not unsurprising, puts him into a truly bad place that even his brother isn't sure is the wrong place for him to be since it will keep him safe.

As mentioned earlier, it's hard to say what the real appeal of these episodes are. The characters that are the most engaging and fun to watch here are the ones who you can easily consider secondary or less, such as Susumu and even the Commander, as they deal with their own situations. Watching the Shinsengumi move out into the city and taking revenge for the death of a comrade and then getting ready to handle the trouble that's coming down the road is engaging and very well animated, but the bulk of it is without the characters that you're supposed to care the most about. Is it more engaging because it's just some well animated swordplay action or because of the story? I'm really not sure at this point.

In Summary:
Peacemaker's been an odd series in what's been interesting to watch in the past as the ones that focus less on the main characters have been more fun to watch for me. This volume bears that out pretty strongly as well and for the most part makes up the bulk of the three episodes here which makes it a lot of fun. Emotions run high throughout but some of the best material is at the beginning when dealing with the fallout from Ayumu. This is good stuff but it's taken a long time to get to it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Video production sketches,Character Collections,Clean opening animation,
Clean closing animation

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

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