Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: A-
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: B
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
- MSRP: 29.98/49.98
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Samurai 7
Samurai 7 Vol. #4 (also w/limited edition)
By Justin Rich
February 06, 2006
Release Date: February 07, 2006
What They Say
Last minute preparations have been made, as the impending battle for Kanna draws near. In the furious climax, not all of the Samurai will survive.
There is no turning back.The Review!
Carnage is underway as the Bandits relentlessly attack Kanna to make sure that no other village has the audacity to fight back against their tyranny ever again.
For this viewing session I began with the 5.1 Japanese track. The music is constant as well as the continual gunfire and explosions makes great us of the surround sound. I also listened to FUNimation’s English dub too to listen to their 5.1 as well. Great balance amongst the speaker setup, which lead to great sword collisions from behind during all the fight scenes. In the last episode there was nice rear speaker echoing as the Bandits grenade arrows exploded all around you, once again showing great balance for the 5.1.
Samurai 7 is one of the latest Gonzo series airing in Summer of 2004 till Christmas of 2004 so the transfer is 16:9 widescreen. Animation is sharp and crisp with beautiful combination of hand drawn and computer like most Gonzo shows. There is no bleeding in the animation making the background scenery and the characters come out vibrant and lifelike. Each part of the Kanna is slightly different from the flowing rice fields to the bamboo forest to the subtle hut village. Battle scenes are fluent and color holds up well, especially in the fast paced fight between all the samurai and the bandits, even if there was a constant reuse of footage especially with the lightning quick slashing of Kyuzo.
FUNimation continues to use the clear keepcases like they used for Fullmetal Alchemist and Burst Angel, which is great especially when including reversible covers. The first side is a watercolorlike painting of Kyuzo peering through the part on the left eye with both of his hands on the handles of his twin kitanas and Akira Kurosawa’s Samurai 7 right by his waist. To mark the volume is a four in a diamond below the u of Samurai with FUNimation and Gonzo’s symbols on the bottom left corner. On the back is eight screen caps and episode listings. The reverse cover is an extremely bland picture of a Nobuseri with some battle bots flying over a burning village. The disc also includes a thirty page booklet with character sketches and staff interviews from Gonzo on the resurrection of the Seven Samurai.
LE: The Limited Edition contains a soundly constructed cardboard box with an exact replica of the Kyuzo cover art on the front but on a canary yellow background this time instead of much darker mustard yellow in volume 3. The box is the size of a hardback novel and contains four sketchbooks for each of the episodes.
There is thirty second sound clip with a nice war era type feel to it. In the upper right corner is a picture of Kyuzo with his right kitana pointing towards you while he stands in the middle of the rain, with play, episodes, audio and extras directly below him. The curser still blends into the background making it hard at sometimes to figure out what option you are on but not as much as the previous disc, and the response time is still quite quick.
This disc does not contain character profiles any longer but it has in it’s place commentary on episode 14. R. Bruce Elliott (Kambei), Sean Michael Teague (Katsushiro) and director Chris Bevins take us through the episode of “The Offering”. Followed by the entirely bizarre animated short Mr. Stain on Junk Alley. This disc also contains textless songs of both the opening “Unlimited” by Nanase Aikawa and the closing “Fuhun” by Rin. The highlight of the special features is a two minute color image gallery, for the image go in chronological order for the first four episodes on this disc ending with Gorobei and Heihachi slicing through flying bots. There is also trailers for Samurai 7, Burst Angel, Dragonball GT collector’s box 2, Case Closed & the Zstore.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers) The villagers and samurai eagerly await the pending attack from the Bandits to emerge from the mist, and when they do Kambei has them move their surprise into position. Rikichi fires the giant arrow from the crossbow and pierces the armor of the Benigumo war machine kicking the battle of to a powerful blow for Kanna. The battle bots attempt to cross the bridge into Kanna but Kambei’s plan of flaming arrows takes out both the bots and the bridge giving the first round to Kanna. The Bandits return and Rikichi pledges his loyalty and turns over Katsushiro, Gorobei, the head of Kikuchiyo and Kyuzo as prisoners!
Kirara steps into offer her self in exchange for the safety of Kanna. The Bandits take the rice, four samurai and Kirara on board the Benigumo as Rikichi promises to find the missing three samurai. But, that won’t happen since Kambei, Heihachi, Kikuchiyo’s body and Shichiroji were concealed with rice they easily snuck into the Benigumo to handle their different jobs. Gorobei and Kyuzo untied themselves and freed struggling Katsushiro from his ropes to join up with the group. Heihachi headed to the engine room to destroy the machinery from the inside and Kambei lead the group into the center room to release Kirara. Kyuzo dices up the Raiden and everyone jumps off the crashing ship to the mountain wall.
Even with the Benigumo crashed at the basin of the mountain the Nobuseri still survive. The samurai fight off the small counter attack and Kyuzo takes off on his own to do a scouting mission into the heart of enemy camp avoiding gunfire as he descends down the side of the mountain. Kambei decides that moral of the villagers must be lifted and he suggests that they finally be free to enjoy the fruits of their labor and eat rice balls while the samurai it the firefly water that they were forced to live off for years under suppression of the Bandits. The villagers stand watch as the sun begins to fade and out of the mist someone emerges: Kyuzo has returned and with a stolen gun as well as word that by tomorrow morning the Bandits will attack.
During the night a rainstorm comes and Kambei knows that the next attack will come through the cover of the storm. Gorobei hears the foot soldiers coming but is caught by surprise by the firing of arrow grenades as they break through the south. They overpower Kikuchiyo and his group and Kyuzo destroys his Raiden opponent with ease and grace as always. Kambei, Shichiroji and Katsushiro are bombarded with flaming arrows as the foot soldiers storm into the center of the village. Kyuzo and Gorobei regroup with them to fight sword to sword while Heihachi gets caught by surprise attack from behind by an arrow grenade which wounds him. Gonzo has beautiful combat scenes in the episode but reuses the footage repeatedly to extend the battle scenes till the Raiden starts shooting in the village. Kyuzo chops down the foot soldiers as Katsushiro finishes off the Raiden, but then a powerful Bandit fires on them, the first bullet is cut in half by Gorobei the second takes him down hard; leaving him bleeding on the muddy rain. Kyuzo and Kambei go sword to sword with the Bandit and Rikichi shoots him the back with his gun. Kambei decapitates the bandit and returns to the group just as Gorobei passes away, leaving the samurai’s number down from seven to six.
Being a person who has seen the Seven Samurai numerous times I know primarily what to expect from this series it still hits you when characters that you spend so much time with cease to exist. The emotional level is so high in this volume that you can’t help but ride a rollercoaster of exultation to sadness as these four episodes transpire. The look into the stoic heroics of Kyuzo was exceptionally interesting this volume as he runs off into his solo mission and the budding love of Kirara and Katsushiro continues to blossom as she helps deal with his walk down the path of killer becoming a true samurai. Being a remake you have a good idea of what is going to happen but when a series can execute so masterfully that when the event happens that is known and the emotion is still activated then the show is firing on all cylinders. Plus the strong closing of the last episode will leaving aching for volume five to arrive at your door.
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Songs,Director/Actor commentary with Chris Bevins; R. Bruce Elliott & Sean Michael Teague
Sony SAVA D9000 Dual Stack DTS w/ 5 Disc Changer in stack 1 and subwoofer in stack 2 Tv is Sony 57” widescreen rear-projection HDTV Model #KPD 57WS550