Mania Grade: A-
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- 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: Â£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. #7
By Bryan Morton
October 25, 2006
Release Date: October 16, 2006
Samurai Champloo Vol. #7
What They Say
© MVM Entertainment
In the moving series finale, Mugen, Jin and Fuu close in on Ikitsuki Island. Although the journey's been long and difficult, there is strong bonding between them. In the final stretch of their adventures, Sara had died and the government sends their ultimate assassin to hunt them down.
Meanwhile, three brothers who have a serious beef with Mugen take Fuu hostage. When she's freed, Fuu finally gets to see the infamous Sunflower Samurai. All the struggle, strife and butt-kicking leads up to the most dangerous moment yet in their journey.
24 - Evanescent Encounter, Part I
25 - Evanescent Encounter, Part II
26 - Evanescent Encounter, Part IIIThe Review!
It's journey's end for Fuu, Mugen and Jin, although the Shogunate seems keen on ending more that just their travels " and as if having one killer on their trail isn't enough, some of Mugen's past deeds are about to return to haunt him as well...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 detailed 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 blue background with a few frogs swimming past, 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:
Slightly more in the way of extras this volume - along with the usual art gallery, there's a trailer for the US release of the Samurai Champloo video game and a gallery of the various eyecatch images used in the series. Still not what you could call a stellar collection, though.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
The Shogunate are growing increasingly concerned as Fuu and the others draw closer to Nagasaki and a potential meeting with Seizo Kasumi, and so swordsman of legend Kagetoki Kariya is dispatched to deal with them. Back on the road, Fuu's decided that she doesn't know enough about the boys, and even though their journey's likely coming to an end, she's decided now's the time to fill in the blanks. It seems that Kariya's not the only person on the gang's trail, either, while despite her feelings for Mugen and Jin, Fuu decides to complete the final stage of her journey by herself.
Kariya sets about completing the first part of his mission by killing Mugen and Jin, but while it's clear he has the skill to deal with them both quickly if he chose to do so, curiosity about his adversaries gets in the way of a clean kill. Their battle is interrupted when, having captured Fuu, Mugen's pursuers deliver a message, insisting the boys come to the island before they kill their captive. With Jin occupied dealing with Kariya, it falls to Mugen to be Fuu's hero - but the bad guys aren't playing fair.
After being almost evasive with the main story for most of the series, Samurai Champloo finally gets down to business in grand style with a three-part finale that tries to tie up all of the show's loose ends. I've been muttering almost since the series began about wanting it to leave off on the standalone episodes and deal with the underlying story that was always there, but always ignored, and now I've finally got my wish. I haven't been disappointed with how it's turned out, either.
There are really two tracks to the story here, although they interweave so much that it all makes up the one tale. The less important " but no less deadly - side of events sees one of Mugen's past misdeeds catch up with him. Keen to avenge Mugen's destruction of their illegal business, three former sailors have tracked him down, leaving a trail of dead bodies in their wake, and now that they've found him they're determined to make him suffer in as long and drawn-out a way as possible. Not that such things ever really bother Mugen. This feels in some ways like it was tacked on to fill the space " three episodes is a lot of airtime to fill, and simply following the final stages of Fuu's journey wouldn't have used much of it, so some past incidental characters are re-introduced to fill the gaps. That said, it's interesting enough and gives Mugen a chance to shine and to show that he's learnt the value of friendship during his time on the road.
On the other side, there's the arrival on the scene of Kariya, who's as ruthless a character as we've seen all season and perhaps the one person who could actually better Jin or Mugen in a fight. After all the one-sided battles we've seen up to now, seeing Jin and Kariya get down to action was a joy to behold, especially as the fight scenes were beautifully detailed and animated. Kariya's good enough that you can't take for granted that the boys will survive, which makes the fights even more enthralling to watch " there's tension and uncertainty there, where there hasn't really been before.
Those two tracks together lead up to what has in a way been the real point of the journey " seeing Fuu reunited with her father. After so long, and after Fuu's been harbouring thoughts of giving him a piece of her mind, the circumstances around their meeting turn it into a bit of an anti-climax. There's a feeling that there's an awful lot that both of them would like to say, but that they never get the chance to.
For the most part, it's a good ending, though. There's a real sense of closure to events, there are no real loose ends left hanging, and while it's not a happy ending it is appropriate. You couldn't really ask for much more.In summary:
I wasn't too sure when I started Samurai Champloo that I was going to be able to get into it, but it didn't take long before the gang's roadtrip became enjoyable viewing. The lack of any real progress at times was a frustration, but this disc has dealt with pretty much any gripes I've had about the story and tied everything up in a way that has been very satisfying to watch. Definitely worth picking up.
Japanese Language DTS 5.1,Japanese Language DD 2.0,English Language DD 5.1,English Subtitles,Conceptual Art,US Videogame Trailer,Eyecatch Gallery
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.