Samurai Gun Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: ADV Films UK
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Samurai Gun

Samurai Gun Vol. #2

By Bryan Morton     May 10, 2007
Release Date: December 18, 2006


Samurai Gun Vol. #2
© ADV Films UK


What They Say
An elite group of specially trained fighters in feudal Japan, the Samurai Guns forge ahead in their relentless struggle against the sinister forces of the Shogun. With their expertly crafted firearms and explosives, these brave warriors are badly outnumbered but still they have no choice but to infiltrate heavily fortified enemy installations to rescue fallen comrades. Can this new breed of rebel samurai avoid the cunning traps the Shogun's operatives set for them at every turn? Follow the explosive action as a tiny band of fearless warriors takes on the Shogun's entire military establishment in Samurai Gun!

Episodes Comprise
5 " Natural Enemies
6 " Blood and Song
7 " Daimon at the Front Lines

The Review!
Another three missions for Ichi, Daimon and Kurenai, and just as little luck for the Anti-Samurai Unit as there was on volume one. Some jobs are just thoroughly thankless...

Audio:
Audio is presented in English 5.1 surround, and in Japanese and German 2.0 stereo. I listed to the Japanese track for this review. While the soundtrack is clear and there's no problem picking out dialogue from the background effects & music, there's not a huge amount of use made of the soundstage to give any real feeling of direction to on-screen events. A spot-check of the English track shows some use made of the rear channels, but it's not all that extensive. There were no apparent problems with the encoding on either track.

Video:
Video is presented in the original 1.33:1 full-frame ratio. There's some colour banding visible in darker scenes " it's quite noticeable when it occurs, but it doesn't show up very often. Apart from that, the show looks good " colours used are bright & vibrant and come across very well, while there's plenty of background detail in most scenes.

Packaging:
Again differing slightly from the US release, this volume's cover focuses on Kurenai, who's shown in both her performing gear and battle outfit, with Ichi inset into the background. The rear has the usual screenshots, promotional summary and disc information.

Menu:
Menus are available in both English and German, selectable when the disc loads. I went with the English option, which appears to a montage of clips of Ichimatsu in battle gear making good use of his gun. The main screen has a static image of Kurenai. Direct access is provided to the episodes, while submenus are provided for language select and extras. There are no transition animations, so it's all quick and eady to use.

Extras:
Along with the traditional clean versions of the opening and closing sequences, there are production and character artwork slideshows, and a 7-minute "Fun with Audio" clip, which sees some of the show's scenes being redone with comedy audio.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Watou of the Anti-Samurai Unit receives some good news, for once - a man who appears to be a Samurai Gun has been captured, and is being brought to the Edo Castle. News of the capture soon reaches Ichi and the others, along with orders from the Council to retrieve the captive - a member of the Council itself, Sutekichi. He's one of the original Samurai Gun, and holds information that could be devastating if the Shogunate were able to break him under interrogation, hence the need for a rescue mission - or failing that, an assassination. As you'd expect, the Shogunate have their own plans for Sutekichi " none of which are particularly pleasant " and so the race is on for Ichi & co to reach their target in time.

Later, the Samurai Gun must deal with a Shogunate killer with a penchant for young girls and song, while Daimon's first joint mission with the Satsuma Special Missions Unit doesn't go as well as he'd hoped, leaving Ichi to clean up the mess and save his friend.

The details of the missions in Samurai Gun aren't really important " all you need to know is that there'll be one every episode, they provide the excuse for most of the action, and that barring any major surprises Ichi and friends will emerge victorious in the end. That formula holds true for these three episodes " with two of them involving the capture of Samurai Gun members, the possibility of something different is dangled in front of you, but the writers never really have the nerve to follow that through, and the inevitable rescue eventually comes.

I'm not going to use that as a cause for complaint, though. The series may be following a simple formula (so far, at least), but that formula's providing a foundation for some development in the core characters, with Ichi and Daimon being the main beneficiaries of that here, as you get to learn a bit about how they both tick and get more of a feel for them. Ichi in particular seems to have moved past the constant objections to killing (they're still there, but not as prominent or heartfelt), while the final episode here gives a glimpse into Daimon's school-master life and how Ichi deals with trying to fill his shoes that's definitely going to be of interest to anyone who likes something more than just point-and-shoot heroes. Kurenai, so far, remains a bit of an enigma, so hopefully she'll get a bit of the focus on later discs.

The other regular cast member to get some attention is Ohana, now working in Kurenai's tavern and having put her life as a whore behind her. There are plenty of hints here that she and Ichi have become sort-of an item (mostly Daimon poking fun at Ichi's expense, and Ichi going into jealous mode at the prospect of anyone else spending time with her), but the downside to that is that she's suddenly become a surprisingly innocent character. During the first volume, she was far more weighed down by the situation she was in, and managed to look positively sultry in places " now she's getting hints on how to handle Ichi in the form of Daimon's porn collection, when you'd think that given her past occupation she'd know all that already. I still love the character and her interactions with Ichi are great to watch, but she's really been toned down from how she was originally introduced, and that's a shame.

The action side of the show provides everything you'd expect " some good gunplay, some thoroughly unlikeable villains, some unfortunate victims (nearly always cute and female), and victory at the end of the day for the forces of good (or are they..?). It's simple, but the execution makes it all worthwhile.

In summary:
Samurai Gun continues pretty much as it began, but that's not really a bad thing " it doesn't set out to do anything overly spectacular, but the set-piece gunfights and the cast of decent characters makes it all worth watching. It's not a series that looks likely to become a classic, it's well presented, well executed, and entertaining enough to make it worthwhile viewing.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,German Language 2.0,English Subtitles,German Subtitles,Clean opening & closing animations,Production & character art galleries,Fun with Audio

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

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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jnager 3/13/2012 8:46:57 PM

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