Samurai 7 Vol. #5 (also w/limited edition) -

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Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C-
  • 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. #5 (also w/limited edition)

By Justin Rich     March 31, 2006
Release Date: March 28, 2006

Samurai 7 Vol. #5 (also w/limited edition)
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.

What They Say
The once impenetrable band of seven, now diminished to six, was forced to come to terms with inevitable when Gorobei risked his life to save his brethren. With sword in hand, Kambei is determined to find answers. Leaving the surviving samurai behind, Kambei departs on a solitary trek, with an even more perilous mission in mind.
After a confrontation with the Emperor lands him in prison, Kambei awaits his fate as the purported assassin of the Imperial Envoy. But, turmoil at the Capital is far from over. Ukyo's sudden rise to power has put Kambei at his mercy, and sparing his life is not what this scheming Emperor has in mind.

The Review!
The six remaining samurai have their own internal jobs and missions that must be handled after the saving of Kanna.

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. This volume was less action packed then the previous which did not give it the opportunity to show off the 5.1 mix.

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. The nice thing about this volume is seeing new setting with the addition of the capital to the series.

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 Gorobei leaning on is sword facing to the left and Akira Kurosawa's Samurai 7 right by his shoulder. To mark the volume there is a five 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 a group picture of the seven samurai on snow white backdrop. 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 Gorobei cover art on the front but on an army green background. 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 Gorobei looking up towards the sky with a pale indigo background and picture of the capital behind him, 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.

First FUNimation dropped off the character profiles and now the commentary is gone as well as special features keep getting deleted from the Samurai 7 release. Fortunately, the two minute image gallery continues to be on each volume since the pictures are vibrant and crystal clear. This disc also contains textless songs of both the opening "Unlimited" by Nanase Aikawa and the closing "Fuhun" by Rin. There is also trailers for Samurai 7, Galaxy Railways, Baki the Grappler, Desert Punk & the FUNimation channel.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers) Samurai 7 picks up in this volume directly after the death of Gorebei and the successful defense of Kanna by the samurai. But, Kanbei must keep up his word and travel to the capital to rescue both Rikichi's wife and Honoka's sister from the Emperor who kidnapped them. We unfortunately get a series of flashbacks in the first episode to bring us back up to speed on how the samurai came together and defeated the bandits in this recap episode. The recap ends with Kanbei walking through a sandstorm and arriving at home of the Shikimori to meet with Honoka.

A new storyline emerges as the devious Ukyo decides that he wants the samurai pulled together for a meeting. He then proceeds to apologize to them for the roundup that occurred and then asked them to follow in the footsteps of the samurai who defended Kanna. He then decides to make a visit to the capital himself. Kanbei convinces them to not infringe on their trade partners but rather to turn in Kanbei as the killer of the envoy. The Shikimori take Kanbei to the capital as their "prisoner" so that he continue with is solemn vow to rescue the women stolen from their homes. We finally meet Rikichi's wife Sanae, only to find out that she has become pregnant with the Emperor's child. A fact that she uses to convince Kambei not to kill the Emperor as he has his knife embedded in the tank that encases the cyborglike Emperor. Gonzo draining all the color to only black and white in this scene to emphasize the surprise of Kambei truly brings home the shock to the viewer.

Regardless of their orders Kikuchiyo and Katsushiro decide they cannot sit and wait, but instead will prove their samurai worth by going after Kambei. Kirara and Komachi also agree to tag along with the two samurai heading to the capital. Rikichi even yearns to join them in the rescue mission regardless of his injuries showing that his character has grown since the beginning of the series.

Ukyo arrives the capital and to the surprise of the group present in front of the Emperor they find out that he is the 49th child of the Emperor. This leads to him being given the test to see if he should be the true successor, which last three days and hundreds of questions. Yet, while Ukyo is being quizzed he shows an odd interested in the construction of the vessel in which the Emperor resides. After being presented as the new heir Ukyo goes to work on his true plan...immediate succession. He assassinates the Emperor and takes the kingdom for himself.
Ukyo's first job as the new Emperor is to meet with head of the Bandits and even with his admission of hatred towards them he continues the old system. But, like everything with Ukyo, it is a trap so that the Bandits will get slain just like at Kanna with all the samurai that Ukyo has already dispatched to the villages. He also decides to move the capital to his hometown, just as the quartet from Kanna was arriving.

In the center of town the notice of Kambei's execution is posted and he is given his last meal by Honoka's sister. When the execution begins the town is astonished to find out that Ukyo has now become the Emperor. Katsushiro, Kikuchiyo and Kirara take off; disguised as Shikimori, and invade the rice storage of the capital. Once again we get to see the internal strife of Kikuchiyo as he fights the his heart of a farmer and his new body of a samurai as he begins to wreck the rice barrels. Also we get to get another glance at the inner works of the complex barter system set up between the capital and the Shikimori. While this is occurring, the volume ends with the arrival of the executioner and Kambei's head on the block.

In Summary:
After an extremely strong volume four the series take a slight step back to start by going directly into a recap episode after the exhilarating battle at Kanna, which throws off the rhythm that the series had firmly established. Then we see the six remaining samurai handling their own responsibilities, problems and emotions as they head in their own directions. Unlike most of the series, this volume consists mostly of Kanbei with the other five samurai falling into supporting roles or in the case of Kyuzo, Heihachi and Shichiroji practically none existent. The series does start to get back on track with the political power struggle and rise of a new emperor once again throwing the character's live into complete flux. Fortunately, the series is able to leave us with a nice cliffhanger at the end of the volume make volume six much more anticipated than it would have been based on this group of episodes.

Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Songs,Director/Actor commentary with Chris Bevins; R. Bruce Elliott & Sean Michael Teague

Review Equipment
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


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