Samurai Gun Vol. #1 (also w/box) -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: NA

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  • Audio Rating: N/A
  • Video Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: N/A
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Samurai Gun

Samurai Gun Vol. #1 (also w/box)

By brettbarkley     July 27, 2005
Release Date: August 16, 2005

The Review!
Please note: This content review is of a check-disc version of the Samurai Gun release prior to its street date. The disc included the show only and did not include things such as menus or extras. All we've looked at is the content of this release as it is not a final version. A full review will be done when that release is available.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Shadowy samurai warriors fighting side-by-side in the night, armed with newly acquired guns, seeking to bring justice to the turbulent waning days of Japan’s feudal system—what a concept!

Based on Kazuhiro Kumagai’s original story serialized in Young Jump Comics, Samurai Gun follows Ichimatsu, the lead character, and his two counterparts Daimon and Kurenai as they battle against the corrupt shogunate’s terrific abuses of power. From the murder of innocent civilians, to torture, imprisonment and worse, serving as gun-wielding samurai assassins, the three strike back from the darkness at those responsible. Their targets, orders and weaponry are supplied by the mysterious “council”, and when the package arrives, they are expected to act without hesitation.

Ichimatsu is regarded as a half-breed, born of a foreign mother and Japanese father. A brooding, one-eyed man, he bears the burden of seeing his parents and sister killed horribly before him. But is it the need for revenge, or a sense of justice that drives his dark character? Kurenai is the mysterious equivalent of a nightclub singer in the local tavern. Seductive and strong, she too has tragedy and loss in her past. I didn’t care much for either Ichimatsu or Kurenai in the first two episodes. Though episodes one and two were seemingly designed to flesh out the characters of Ichimatsu and Kurenai respectively, I thought they really did the exact opposite. Ichimatsu comes across as somewhat wooden at times (particularly while repeatedly playing the role of reluctant soldier), and Kurenai seems to only appear as something more than window dressing in very brief glimpses. Surprisingly, Daimon, the least explored character, stands out as the most appealing. A school teacher by day, he projects a public image that is somewhat clumsy and simple, hiding the very capable warrior beneath. Beyond a somewhat slow start, there’s a lot of room for character development, and it’s my hope the creators will make the most of this in the remaining ten episodes of the ADV release.

Obviously, I came to the review of the first three episodes of Samurai Gun with a great deal of expectation. The concept itself has nearly limitless possibility for exploration. For the most part, I was not disappointed and am looking forward to further volumes. The series focuses on an interesting period of change in Japanese history, while not binding itself too closely to authenticity (machine guns, anyone?). It introduces several interesting characters, from Ohana, the former prostitute and Ichimatsu’s confidant, to the very formidable Watou and his dangerous Anti-Samurai Unit which seeks to destroy the Samurai Guns. It also finds occasion to mix in some brief humor. Aside from a few initial issues with character development, there is a fair amount to enjoy. Most of the action is well done. I was particularly fond of the combining of traditional Eastern fighting techniques with the Western weaponry. In one scene, a Samurai Gun catches a crossbow bolt in mid-air, and then takes down his foe with John Woo-inspired gunplay. I really like that dynamic.

Visually, the animation is clean and consistent. While I found there was nothing new or truly cutting edge in the artistic direction of the series, it was very solid and enjoyable. The colors are slightly subdued, but mix in a healthy amount of warm crimsons and purples. Additionally, the opening is actually really nice, utilizing a collage of traditional Japanese art from the period juxtaposed with sharp, brightly-colored kinetic visuals.

The opening theme song, “Samurai Crew”, as performed by ZZ is very catchy and fun and, for the most part, the rest of the audio works. I did have some slight issues with the dub, however, as the English subtitles are just stronger. But I was most surprised how they sometimes completely contradict one another. For instance, in episode three, Ohana, while speaking of Ichimatsu, says, “From what I’ve been told, Ichi’s mother was a foreigner. I don’t know from where. But I’m sure that’s why his hair is such an ugly color.” The subtitles, however, read, “Ichi’s late mother was apparently a foreigner. Maybe that’s why his white-ish hair is so beautiful.” And occasionally during the course of an episode, the mood music reminded more of a crime show like Dragnet, than a samurai action piece.

In Summary:
In summary, combining aspects of the secret agent, the cowboy vigilante and the samurai assassin, Samurai Gun holds a great deal of promise and I’m hopeful it will live up to that potential. While I can’t recommend this for younger viewers due to the violence, language, and sexual content, fans of moodier, more action-oriented anime, may take notice. If you enjoy voluminous blood splatter with wild samurai-themed action, I think you’ll be interested in Samurai Gun.

Review Equipment
34” Sony FD Trinitron Wega HDTV KD-34XBR910 and Sony Dav-FR9 progressive scan Home Theatre System with 114 watts per channel to each speaker and 115 watts to each of the subwoofer's two woofers.


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