Samurai Gun Vol. #4 - 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. #4

By Bryan Morton     June 18, 2007
Release Date: April 16, 2007


Samurai Gun Vol. #4
© ADV Films UK


What They Say
Justice: A Deadly Rationale

Ichimatsu's past is as dark as his future. Not only has it come to light that a member of the Shogunate may have been responsible for his sister's brutal rape and murder, but now it appears other disturbing relics of Ichi's past are here to haunt him once again. Old friends and enemies confront Ichimatsu and force him to question both his mental stability and his loyalty to the Samurai Gun. He will be tested against the rigours of his disturbing childhood training, he will struggle with his stser's memort, he will be trapped into choosing between his conditioning and his emerging ideals. Ohana will be in danger, a friend will betray him, the Shogunate will take advantage. And Ichi will be caught in the middle.

Episodes Comprise
11 - Blood and Amusement
12 - Substance
Bonus - The Inereasable Past

The Review!
Samurai Gun comes to an end " sort of " with one last mission for Ichi and a look back into the past. Don't be expecting any real sense of closure, and this series sadly doesn't provide it...

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 Gouta, looking suitably insane with Ichi in the background. 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 Gouta. 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)
So for this volume, we get a two-part story that tries to close out the series (not entirely successfully), and a 'bonus' episode that wasn't part of the original TV airing and slots in between episodes 8 & 9. Let's look at the two-parter first.

Edo Castle's intelligence shows that the Samurai Gun council has been working on a new weapon - the "Heavy Samurai Gun". Just the name alone is enough to give the Shogunate cause for concern, and they're making preparations to deal with the new threat. The Council has problems of their own - one of the original Samurai Gun has gone rogue, and has already killed a number of other members of the unit. Ichimatsu, Daimon and Kurenai are ordered to take the rogue down - but with the man concerned already having the reputation for being the most bloodthirsty of the Samurai Gun, it's not going to be an easy task. Events overtaken their plans, though, and Ichi is soon left having to face Gouta on his own " and Gouta has tried to give himself the upper hand by taking Ohana hostage.

Gouta was Samurai Gun #2, and had always had more of a taste for killing than for justice. That said, when Gouta and Ichimatsu do eventually come face-to-face, the confrontation doesn't play out in the way that anyone really expected, as the Council's motives come into play. While all this is going on, the Council ends up bringing their new weapon into play against one of their own, and some within the Shogunate see a chance to put an end to the threat of the Samurai Gun once and for all.

The big problem here is what's left undone. "Vincent", who made such a prominent appearance last volume, goes unseen " while the matter of how he knows so much about the Samurai Gun gets a quick explanation, his motivations for letting Ichi go are never really explained. There are a few hints dropped along the way about the intentions of some within the Shogunate and how the Council may be playing a part there, but it's nothing more than a few passing comments that leave you intrigued without ever really explaining anything.

I'd already had a dig when reviewing volume 2 that Samurai Gun's stories were getting very samey as far as the gang's missions were concerned, and this disc doesn't do anything to address that. For all that it's meant to be the climax if the series, I felt very much that I'd seen it all before, and that there was no attempt being made to do anything new.

The bonus episode is no different. The visions in his head tell him that Lord Rekkai was responsible for the death of his sister, and also tell him that his sister wants him to take her revenge. Not that his dreams can make him do anything he doesn't want to do. The latest mission from the Council gives him a chance to at least get one over on the Shogunate - to swap a codebook they've stolen for another, that will stop them from being able to decode the Council's communications. But while Ichi and the others are away on their mission, Ohana receives an unwelcome late-night visitor.

More of the same, then " Samurai Gun is enjoyable enough, and at points through the series it's been on the edge of doing something different & surprising, but it's always bottled it and stuck with the safe options. For me, that's been a real frustration, and it's meant that a cast of characters who each have their unique points have never really been used to the best of their potential.

In summary:
This disc sticks to Samurai Gun's tried-and-tested formula, which makes in enjoyable but nothing special. That sums up the main problem the series has had throughout " it just doesn't want to do anything surprising, and with the early-season gore having largely disappeared, there's nothing left to make the series really stand out. It's not bad by any measure, but if the potential of the characters and settings had been fully used, it could have been a lot better.

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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