Samurai: Hunt for the Sword -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Samurai: Hunt for the Sword

Samurai: Hunt for the Sword

By Chris Beveridge     June 26, 2001
Release Date: June 26, 2001

Samurai: Hunt for the Sword
© Media Blasters

What They Say
Shinjuro may be a little young to be the master of a swordsmanship school, but fate didn’t give him a choice. Now his position and martial arts skill land him right in the middle of serious trouble when the rogue samurai Mikage faces off against the Tokugawa government.

Caught in the middle, Shinjuro and the small group of swordsmen who train at his school must protect the town from harm. However the group won’t really be challenged until the Tokugawa house calls in a favor, and the young swordsman is forced to duel Mikage himself!

The Review!
I'll say it outright here; this is an anime that has to deal with a game. But unlike most of those poor anime, this one is actually fairly decent. And it's probably the best looking disc from Media Blasters yet.

For our primary review session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The show is very much dialogue driven, with very little in the way of music throughout or a lot of action. Not that there isn't any of the last two, there is, just very brief. The audio throughout is solid though, and when the music does come up or the action starts off, the front soundstage works well. But there's a distinct lack of music in scenes where you know you'd normally have something going on in the background.

Any complaints I have about this video transfer is just nitpicking. Sort of like just trying to find something that's really worth complaining about, but not, so going for the little things. And these are things you'll only see if you're looking for them. Such as some color banding in the solid clothes of a few characters during the dark scenes. Or the slight bit of line noise during some of the camera panning motions. But that's it. That's all that stuck out that bothered us. I was just thrilled to see such vibrant colors, such solid look characters, such fluid looking animation during the fight sequences, particularly the end one. There are a few sections that are intentionally soft and look great. Some are quite vivid. If only every disc they put out could look like this. It's fantastic.

While the cover does look pretty decent, if a bit dark considering the general lightness of the tale, my main disappointment is that the main character of Shinjuro is nowhere to be seen on the front or back. The front has one of the more prominent secondary women taking up most of the space while one of the lesser ones takes up a good section of it as well, while the evil bad guy gets a bit of a shot. The back cover gives a good rundown of the show as well as a nice looking layout with the animation that's included. The insert included is a variant of the front cover with the chapter listings on one side and box art for other shows on the back.

The menu system is pretty simple with selections quickly accessed from the main page. There's not a lot going on with this disc, so the layout is easy to use and looks good. There's no animation, but some music playing along.

There's about a minute and a half of dub outtakes included this time around. Unfortunately, the Bang Zoom people seem to be too good at what they do and don't flub that much or that strangely. There were a couple of good chuckles though.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Though this does appear to be a game related anime, what with all the Game producers and execs listed in the credits, this show stands on its own quite well. It's another samurai show set back in the day of the Tokugawa period. The story focuses on young Shinjuro, the son of a samurai master.

Said master has just left off on a mysterious mission, and as left Shinjuro in charge of the dojo. The others in the dojo dislike such a young person being in charge, so they all leave. All that remains is Shukuno, who helps Shinjuro try and keep things in perspective. This lasts all of five minutes before his childhood friend of Koharu decides she wants to live there. And then things get even worse when a mysterious girl named Lei Lin arrives, indicating a debt owed from Shinjuro's fathers past, and convinces them to let her stay there.

Add in a cute busty friend and a shy female doctor as well as a mysterious mind reading silver haired lass, and you've got a sizeable female cast. And you quickly think it's all going to be very Tenchi Muyo-like, with one guy and all these girls. Fortunately, it doesn't really enter that angle much, and not to the same level. Shinjuro does have an interest in two of the girls, but the rest aren't all that interested in him in that way, or at least not to the same level. And Shinjuro's got a bit of backbone and actually says what he likes on occasion.

The main thrust of the story is about a group called the Shuhei School whose searching for Mizuchi sword, an old and exceptionally powerful sword that can lay waste to things quite well. Shinjuro finds himself coming up against the members of this school, which is quite small in number, as there's apparently a grudge between his family and members of this school. Parts of the past begin to surface, and the sons of warriors past take up the blade again and history begins to repeat.

The animation for this show is hugely benefitted from being digitally produced. While it doesn't have the same look as earlier shows like Sol Bianca: The Legacy, there's a gorgeous depth to the color palette here, the sunsets look stunning and the character animation is excellent. The powerful ancient swords, when lit up, are quite the sight to behold and look great. The overall design is both authentic to the time period as well as caving to convention with the girls in their hair colors and their clothing at times. It's an interesting mix, but one that doesn't really take away from the story.

And the story is really centered around Shinjuro and his maturing from son of a samurai to someone who can stand on his own and do what's needed. There's no real whining going on here, no deep moral quandaries or other dilemmas that seem to be so common these days. It's just a simple tale told at a slightly slower pace, but it's definitely a tale of Shinjuro.

This title certainly won't change the world, but it was a most pleasant surprise when watching it. I found myself entertained for an hour, which is what the show both promised and delivered upon. Add in a good sounding dub, this is a title I can see myself popping in to pass the time easily. Recommended.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Dub Outtakes

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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