Peacemaker Vol. #7 - 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. #7

By Chris Beveridge     September 03, 2005
Release Date: September 13, 2005


Peacemaker Vol. #7
© ADV Films


What They Say
The time: July 8, 1864. The place: Ikedaya. In hushed tones, the Choshu rebels plot their most sinister undertaking yet: the burning of Kyoto. Outside, all is quiet. But suddenly, the doors fling open and the Shinsengumi announce themselves with a battle cry as they set upon the Choshu clansmen. Meanwhile, on the rooftops, Susumu squares off with his nemesis, the mysterious female ninja. But for Tetsu, the battle rages within. Away from the fighting, he struggles to come to grips with what he must and cannot do. Can he fulfill his promise to Saya? His vow to his parents? Whichever path he chooses, he can no longer dodge the question. With lightning precision, the swords of the Choshu and the Shinsengumi will clash in a spectacular battle! You won’t want to miss a second of this gripping conclusion to Peacemaker!


The Review!
Peacemaker comes to as best of a conclusion as it can with the manga still running by providing some stunning action sequences.

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 last cover goes for something of a cast shot with the key characters from the final attack and battle getting some very clean looking designs here. This looks really nice and has a good amount of detail to it once you really look at it. 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 Yoshida preparing to fight. 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 volumes 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 conclude with this volume and this time it's for the unusual pairing of Yoshida and Saya. 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. Two other new pieces are in this release, one of which is a music clip called "Ikedaya" that basically covers the action sequences from this volume set to an instrumental piece. The other piece is one that covers the Gion festival as shown through shots from the show and a commentary by one of the characters about that time in their lives.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the Peacemaker manga still ongoing, it falls into the problem of just what kind of real ending can it provide. With the last three episodes of the twenty-four episode series, the focus that's been given to Tetsunosuke is just as strong as always but not working on the back of the rest of the Shinsengumi as they mete out some serious damage and retribution for the death of Ayu.

The retribution scenes, which play out like many other shows that contain the Shinsengumi, has them arriving at the Ikedaya and with just four of them going in, it's a brutal sequence. The commander is brilliant at long last in taking an strong stand and leading the charge with Okita just behind him. So many of the exclusionists are gathered in this inn that they're caught completely unawares as the four make their way to cover all the exists and deal with the few guards that are around. The way this is all filmed is done in a way that I know they like to do with a mixture of the CG style backgrounds that allow for full camera movement while the characters are done in the more traditional manner. This is a method that only gets better and better each year and works to great effect here. Watching the characters jump, dodge and swing as the camera moves around them in the hallways and in the confined rooms' just works beautifully here.

Paralleling this is the last discussion that the vice commander has with Tetsu who is still somewhat shell shocked from what Susumu told him and then having his brother come in and raise a bit of hell. Tetsu takes the story and analogy that the vice commander offers him, but what he really realizes is the important thing and he heads off to the Ikedaya so that he can help out and stand with his friends. The growth of Tetsu has been the big thing with this series and this has really been his arc in terms of growing up and dealing with what happened to his father two years prior, especially now that he knows it was Yoshida. He's grappled hard with the idea of killing and doesn't want to do it, particularly with what Saya has said to him as well, but this final challenge is what he needs to make that final leap.

Not surprisingly, most of what the first two episodes here is pretty much all action. It's very well done and beautifully choreographed as it progresses throughout the Ikedaya inn. The fight boils down to just Yoshida against the rest of them and it's exciting to watch since it's a chance for all of them to go all out, Okita included. The other battle that goes on is with Susumu and the foreign ninja and it mirrors the inn battle in a lot of ways except it takes place on the rooftops. The animation is just gorgeous throughout this and it has that high quality level that you haven't seen in most of the earlier episodes. That's not to say the previous episodes didn't look good, but it just gets so much better here that it reaches a new level at times.

The last episode gives the cast a bit of a chance to reflect on things and look back at where they came from so it's a very light and calm episode, though not without it's sad and ominous moments as well. Looking at the series in a long view, Peacemaker has been interesting to watch but I still find that a lot of the early episodes were very uneven. With this tale being essentially Tetsu's arc in what's presumably a larger story in the manga, what you want to see in the end is that he is a different person and that he's changed. That is definitely what happens here so in looking back at the earlier episodes where you establish the character, you can see a bit better in what they were trying to do. I think they missed it a number of times and Tetsu for a good part of the first half of the series simply wasn't a character that you could really root for. Not because he was a bit whiny or anything, but because his goals were really very vague in general. When he realizes it at the end here, he becomes much more interesting and you want to see where he'll go and what choices he'll make.

In Summary:
Peacemaker's a very stylish series that has the folks at Gonzo trying some interesting and amusing things with a pretty varied property about something that's been covered many, many… many times. I found the elements that I liked were underused and the ones I didn't care for being used much more. The biggest problem it had though I think is that it really suffered being a seven volume release for twenty-four episodes. Between the length of time and the episode counts as it went along, it had the problem of being over just as you were really getting into it. This is a series that will make out better being watched in larger chunks and much closer viewing sessions so that the characters and their emotional journeys will remain more relevant.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Oroduction sketches (video),Ikedaya music clip, Character Collection 9: Toshimaru Yoshida, Character Collection 10: Saya, Video section “Gion”,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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