Samurai Gun Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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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. #3

By Bryan Morton     June 08, 2007
Release Date: February 19, 2007


Samurai Gun Vol. #3
© ADV Films UK


What They Say
Hidden motives drenched in blood.

Lord Kozan's new position has increased his power, and thus, the Anti-Samurai Gun Unit has become even more deadly. They have garnered even bigger and badder weaponry " and their counter-intelligence has moved them dangerously one step ahead of our freedom fighters. And that spells trouble. With three very important missions on the docket, the Samurai Gun warriors cannot afford to lose their technological advantage. A highly secretive package must be transported through enemy territory, an extremely valuable captive must be rescued from prison, and an entire village must be pulled from the clutches of ruthless killers.

Episodes Comprise
8 - Valley of Ambition
9 - Running on the Shoreline
10 - A Doll's House

The Review!
The latest volume of Samurai Gun almost sees it becoming the Ichimatsu Show, as Ichi takes centre stage for a serious of typically dangerous missions " but his own frame of mind seems to be deteriorating, which could be as dangerous to him as any enemy...

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 Daimon, who's shown in both his regular gear and battle outfit. The rear has the usual screenshots, promotional summary and disc information, while a set of production notes are on the reverse of the cover.

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 Daimon. 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 easy 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)
Ichi's quite literally battling with the demons inside, in the form of a recurring dream that's linked to the death of his sister - a murder he was forced to witness, and which plays a part in his reluctance to kill now. Not that he has much time to dwell on such things - his latest orders have come down, and he's been assigned to act as escort for Sutekichi, who's finally moving on. But the Shogunate's intelligence unit is on their trail, while they must also travel through the territory of a clan that may well see defeating the Samurai Gun as a badge of honour. Along the way, the effects of his dream see Ichi beginning to become distracted " a dangerous problem for someone with his position and responsibilities. Later, a member of the Shogunate Protection Office takes a personal interest in Ichi's frame of mind " but is the mysterious observer a threat to Ichi, or somehow trying to help?

If you enjoy seeing Daimon or Kurenai in action, this disc is going to be a little disappointing " Daimon gets only a brief run-out, while Kurenai sees no action at all. Instead, Ichi is the focus of the disc's attention, with the prologue to the first episode setting the scene by showing us the dream that's been troubling him, before moving on to three missions that are each affected in some way by the problems Ichi's having inside his own head. That changes the tone slightly from the previous two volumes " you still get the missions and the gunplay, but now instead of being the main treat they take a back seat to the more psychological side of the story. Action scenes are short and to the point, and there's very little of the over-the-top gore that so characterised the early stage of the series. There's even a good bit of background information given out about Ichi, in particular some scenes showing how he and the other Samurai Gun were trained as children and how they appear to share a common background, that really to flesh out his character and make it a little easier to see where he's coming from. All good stuff, and nothing to really criticise so far.

The others aren't completely ignored, either. Back at the tavern, Ohana's still pining for Ichi and wondering where he keeps disappearing to " she's still unaware of his double life, and young love is beginning to put a bit of a burden on her as Ichi's got no time to return her obvious feelings. I'm still a little unsure about Ohana's place in the story " I like the character well enough, but she too often seems to be used as a distraction or diversion from the main story, and with Ichi seemingly completely oblivious to her feelings for him you begin to wonder what the point of her storyline is. Perhaps the final volume will tie that up, but at the moment she just seems a little irrelevant.

The interest Lord Rekkai is developing in Ichi, explored in the final episode here, is also interesting " he clearly knows a lot about Ichi already, maybe more than Ichi himself does, and you can't help but wonder why. It's also not at all clear whether Rekkai's trying to help, hinder, or just having a little fun at Ichi's expense. You would think someone from the Shogunate Protection Office would simply try and dispose of one of the Samurai Gun if they had the chance, but Rekkai gets that chance here and doesn't take it. All very intriguing, and that little bit of mystery definitely adds to the show's appeal.

What you can complain about, though, are the missions Ichi is given along the way. On one level, they're not important " just a tool to be used to put Ichi in the positions the writers needed him to be to get the more important plot points across " but they're starting to feel a little samey. Another escort, another rescue, another meeting with someone who may or may not prove significant further down the line... Something a little different would be nice, although to be honest I'm not sure the format & setting of the show would really allow that.

In summary:
Samurai Gun's made an almost complete break from the "Guns! Whores!" feel that characterised the early episodes, and is beginning to develop quite nicely as Ichi's nature and past are explored. While the way the story is being told could use a little work, there's plenty here to keep you entertained, and some very interesting aspects introduced as the story develops. Hopefully the final volume can tie is all up in a satisfying way.

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,Production Notes

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

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