Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: C+
- Age Rating: 15 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Media Blasters
- MSRP: 29.95
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Samurai Deeper Kyo
Samurai Deeper Kyo Vol. #4
By Chris Beveridge
December 31, 2003
Release Date: December 16, 2003
Samurai Deeper Kyo Vol. #4
What They Say
© Media Blasters
Many years before the battle of Sekigahara took place, one man controlled all of Japan through fear and violence. His name was Oda Nobunaga, the Demon King. He has now returned, swearing vengeance upon Kyo no matter what the price! The Review!
In what at first seems like the climax to the series, Kyo meets up with The Lord and all hell breaks loose.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The show has a pretty solid stereo mix with some good moments of directionality and depth throughout. While with some tracks it’s not as easy to discern stereo mixes – particularly if you have a wide forward soundstage, but there’s several excellent moments in this release including an amusing left/right sequence with some of the music. Dialogue was nice and clear and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.Video:
Originally airing in 2002, Samurai Deeper is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is encoded for anamorphic playback. The bulk of the transfer here looks great, lots of rich colors with nice depth and no visible bleeding and no noticeable edge enhancement. Cross coloration has picked up a bit since the last volume and is more noticeable around parts of the characters, but not a showstopper. Aliasing is about the same as the past volumes, but the strange rolling effect has cropped up much more noticeable throughout these episodes during panning sequences.Packaging:
Similar to previous releases, the cover artwork here is fantastic with its wood look and feel, this time with Nobunaga doing his evil look with a strong focus on a really nice shade of green. This looks quite good here with the color and artwork style, giving it a rough natural feel that you don’t get from the slick and colorful animation. The back cover provides a number of animation stills and some collage pieces while providing the shows summary. The discs features are clearly listed and accurate. The features and production information is nicely listed as well, making it easy to check out the specs. The insert is a drop from the first three with only a single sheet that lists the chapters on one side and has adverts on the other.Menu:
The menu layout is nice with selections ring in the four corners while the central “play all” feature is in the Kyo logo in the center. Through the center bar is various images from the show playing back. When you move to submenus, there’s a brief transitional yin/yang animation that plays as well. Access times are decent and each menu loads pretty quickly.Extras:
The only extra included in this release is the dub outtakes section, which has several good moments like the previous volume and runs just under three minutes.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first three volumes of the series, the show started to settle into its pace and style, dropping a fair amount of the outright humor and going for a but more cynical style to it and moving more into the action side of things. The confused feel from the early episodes where it couldn’t decide what it wanted to be isn’t anywhere near as strong, and that’s simply a plus all around.
Two plots start running through this volume and they eventually merge up towards the end, which brings the central arc of the series to a close and sets the stage for the final storyline to be told. The central arc at times almost feels like they’re playing with the final storyline, but it’s the usual tease with the big villain and how he handles his first head on meeting with the ‘hero’.
The main plot that runs through the volume is the movements of The Lord and just how close Kyo is getting to him. With Kyo and his ‘servants’ moving rather easily through the Sea of Trees towards where his original body is located, and most of The Lords servants defeated or on other errands now, he decides that it’s time to confront Kyo even though he’s not fully realized in his temporary body. A series of fights eventually brings the two of them together, and Kyo is completely in his element even though he’s fully outclassed by The Lord, who is revealed to be Nobunaga Oda come back from the demon world to try and take over the country and then the planet once more.
The battle between Oda and Kyo is rather exciting, though the element of supernatural is brought on high here as he reveals that much of his power is derived from the demonic energy contained within the Sea of Trees itself. With the power of the forest at his command, he goes out of normal form and into something out of Princess Mononoke in both size and style as he needs to go to such extremes to take down Kyo. This battle gets so pitched on both sides that even Kyo is forced into a corner he doesn’t expect, having to have an actual conversation with Kyoshiro inside of him.
What becomes fascinating is that when Kyoshiro is finally let back into the world and in control of his body, he’s even more of a complete badass than Kyo is, notably because Kyo at least looks like he’s having fun with the blood and slaughter, while Kyoshiro is completely cold and ice-like over the entire thing. This is a drastic change from what we remember seeing of Kyoshiro in the beginning when he’s just a medicine man trying to avoid Yuya, that if like me you weren’t able to connect the dots throughout the episodes, it may be confusing.
Which is why with the second plot, where Yuya is following Akira towards Kyo’s real body, is turned into a recap episode when Akira turns them all to ice and goes off on his own to retrieve the body. With their lives now in danger since they’re frozen, Yuya starts to ask some of the questions in her mind about what’s been going on, but she finds herself answered by Lady Sakuya, who has left her place where Yukimura had her and has come to seek certain truths. Through the two of them, the series is pieced together from all that’s been learned, going from the meteor that hit that was really called by the Mibu clan to revive the Sixth Demon Lord, to the final fight between Kyoshiro and Kyo at Sekigahara and so much more. This series actually makes sense after this episode.
Most of the time the recap episodes are easily skipped, but with bits of new animation mixed throughout it, as well as placing all the pieces in proper order and keeping names straight, names we’re actually familiar with now as opposed to when they were first introduced (sometimes off-camera at that), this recap episode is pretty solid. It works very well in getting everything in order and lets the “calming down” episode after the last big confrontation become even more useful now that everyone’s motivations are very clear and fresh in the viewers mind.In Summary:
With an actually useful recap episode, my opinion of the series has changed into really enjoying the second half of it even more as things make sense and the fog’s been lifted. The opening episodes were too chaotic at times to really figure out what’s going on, but it’s almost all cleared up after this. The stage gets set for the next final confrontation and the changes that await most members of the group.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Dub Outtakes
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.