Samurai Champloo Vol. #6 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Samurai Champloo

Samurai Champloo Vol. #6

By Bryan Morton     July 31, 2006
Release Date: August 07, 2006


Samurai Champloo Vol. #6
© MVM Entertainment


What They Say
In this volume, the unexpected and often perilous adventures continue for Mugen, Fuu and Jin. Fuu elects Jin to accompany Sara on her journey, but no one is aware of the danger that awaits them on their journey. Later, Mugen, Jin and Fuu inadvertently land themselves in the midst of an interesting excavation site, where countless numbers of miners work around the clock hoping to unearth Heike's buried treasure.

The group then finds itself in the middle of a high-stakes ballgame after Mugen's baseball skills are discovered and all three are forced into a crash-course in baseball and recruited to join Kagemuru's baseball team.

Episodes Comprise
21 - Elegy of Entrapment, Verse II
22 - Cosmic Collisions
23 - Baseball Blues

The Review!
Heartless killers, zombies " and baseball. You certainly can't accuse Samurai Champloo of not covering all the bases...

Audio:
A good selection of audio options is provided here. The Japanese audio is provided in both DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 formats, while the English dub is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. I listened primarily to the Japanese DTS track, which was a joy to behold - while the dialogue doesn't make too much use of the surround channels, background effects make good use of the soundstage and provide depth and atmosphere to the audio. There's not a huge amount of background music, but what there is makes full use of the soundstage. There were no obvious problems with the audio track.

Video:
Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Samurai Champloo looks as good as it sounds, with vivid colours, nicely details backgrounds and nothing obvious in the way of problems or encoding defects. Subtitles are provided in both song-and-signs and full translation tracks - MVM's standard yellow-on-black font is clear, although possibly a little on the small side.

Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review copy.

Menu:
Menus are in the same general style as previous volumes, this time with a patterned red background with a few flies dotted about, and with the usual options for Play, Episodes, Extras and Setup. A clip from the show's soundtrack plays in the background. With no transition animations, everything is quick to use.

Extras:
As with previous volumes, extras are pretty thin on the ground. The disc's sole extra is another 10-piece slideshow of conceptual artwork, of minor characters from these episodes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Jin faces down Sara's attacks, still wondering what he's done to end up on the receiving end of another attempt to kill him. The damage from her weapon leads to the collapse of the bridge they're fighting on and the premature end of the battle. Next day, the local villagers - along with Fuu and Mugen - discover the wreck of their bridge and Sara's unconscious body, but of Jin there's no sign. While Fuu looks after Sara (who's doing her best to play the innocent), Mugen goes looking for Jin - and what he finds is enough to tell him the bridge's collapse was no accident.

The more you see of Sara, the more interesting a character she becomes, as some of the details around why she's trying to kill Jin & Mugen are revealed as the episode unfolds. By the end of the episode it's very hard not to feel sorry for her and the situation she's found herself in " she's certainly not a killer by choice " and I did find myself almost cheering her on at one or two points. Her efforts to kill the boys are a good excuse for the animators to go to town a bit so the fight scenes are beautifully done, but not to the detriment of the story. One real point of interest comes when we learn who sent Sara and why " it seems someone doesn't want our merry band to reach Nagasaki, and that's bound to become an issue as the series draws to a close.

But not on this disc. The remaining two episodes are standalone comedy stories of the sort that featured quite heavily in the early part of the series. First up, after a minor earthquake sees the gang fall into an underground tunnel system, they emerge to find themselves in the middle of a very strange mining operation. The leader of the miners, Shige, claims he and his men have been digging for five years now, searching for his family fortune, but it turns out that they've been there longer than five years " a lot longer.

Anything with zombies gets my vote, and this episode is no exception. Fuu and the gang aren't aware of Shige's undeadness at first, and the promise of free food & lodgings and a share of the fortune when it's found is enough to persuade Fuu and the gang to join the operation. The longer they stay, the stranger things get, until even they begin to realise there's something not quite right. While the episode tries to keep a serious atmosphere about it, a lot of what happens is almost slapstick.

The funniest part of the disc is the final episode, though, which sees the return of Manzou the Saw, the secret policeman first encountered back in volume two. This time, he's investigating reports of an American ship making regular appearances near an outlying town. The ship's contribution to local culture: the game of baseball - which Mugen & the others find themselves roped into playing after Mugen skips out on his bill at a local restaurant. If Mugen can lead the local team to victory against the visiting Americans, his bill will be written off - lose, and it's washing dishes for months for our gang of travellers.

From the moment the American Commodore appears, guns blazing and middle finger defiantly raised (tact & diplomacy? They've heard of it...), you know you're in for an episode that's not meant to be taken remotely seriously. With Fuu, Mugen, Jin, Manzou, a dog & the 80-year-old village consul making up the home team and the Americans determined to play dirty it's an unfair battle, but when the home team decides to give as good as they get the body-count starts rising. So much for a friendly game of baseball.

The only problem I have with all this is that, although it's great fun to watch, we're now only three episodes away from the end of the series, which seems a strange time to be taking comedy detours. Sara's arc raised the prospect of some real issues around the gang's trek to Nagasaki, but that was brushed aside so quickly I was left wondering what the point was. There's part of me now that's dreading the possibility that, come the end of the series, the whole sunflower samurai / Nagasaki story will be left unresolved " hopefully, I'm just being paranoid.

In Summary:
This volume provides something of everything in a very enjoyable passage, but I can't help but feel that this late in the game the series should be at lest beginning to ramp up towards some sort of finale, and there's no real feel of that here. Certainly no problems with bringing a smile to the face, though, making this another volume of Samurai Champloo that's well worth watching.

Features
Japanese Language DTS 5.1,Japanese Language DD 2.0,English Language DD 5.1,English Subtitles,Conceptual Art

Review Equipment
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

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