Shura no Toki Vol. #4 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 29.95
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Shura no Toki

Shura no Toki Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     May 20, 2005
Release Date: May 10, 2005

Shura no Toki Vol. #4
© Media Blasters

What They Say
The arrival of the Black Ships have triggered an age of revolution in Japan. Ryoma Sakemoto, a young Imperialist, is known as one of the greatest swordsmen in Kyoto. He opposes the last of the Tokugawa Shoguns, who is willing to throw away any number of lives to resist Westernization. When the battle begins to rage with the legendary Shinsengumi, Izumi cannot resist the challenge!

The Review!
Shifting forward to the Bakamatsu and bring in a new Mutsu, Shura no Toki continues to serve almost as a history lesson as it shows this family line over time.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix is nicely done for it with some noticeable directionality across the forward soundstage in some of the fight scenes, particularly where you can hear the kicks moving across it. Though there is some directionality here it isn't the bulk of the show and it goes by pretty fast but the dialogue and ambient effects come across well and the musical pieces are solid. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Being a very new show, the transfer is clean and pretty free of problems. The usual minor issues such as some cross coloration or aliasing aren't noticeable at all and the authoring is void of any noteworthy moments of blocking. Colors look good and are solid throughout while not being overly vibrant or problematic with gradient issues.

Using the same artwork as the Japanese cover but with a bit of modification to make it a bit darker looking, this is a good looking cover outside of the bad look that Sakamoto's design has with his face since it just looks almost constipated or something. The covers have been good in general with some nice style and color design to them and this one is no exception. The back cover continues the dark look and provides a number of shots from the show surrounding the shows premise summary. The discs features are clearly listed and the usual production information takes up some decent space. The technical information grid provides all the very useful information that makes a purchase even easier with its clear listings. The insert uses some of the artwork from the front cover and provides the chapter listings for all of the episodes while the reverse side is just boxart advertisements for other shows.

The menu uses the same artwork from the cover with the series logo taking up most of the screen while a small split along the left side allows for the actual selections. With not many extras expected for this series based off of the Japanese release, the extras are listed along the top level of the menu and quickly available. As is normal with most Media Blasters releases, language selection is accurate via presets but the menus don't indicate which language is chosen when you view it.

Continuing with what came before, this installment only gets a series of dub outtakes which are some flubs and some intentional gags thrown in to have a bit of fun.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With each new volume of this series it continues to surprise me and I am ever more thankful that going into it that I knew less than nothing about it. The way that the show manages to change out characters so frequently yet still maintain the similarity is fun to watch as is the progression of time. This volume brings us up to the time of the Bakamatsu in the 1850's and we get to see the arrival of the Kurofone very early on, one of the biggest changes to ever hit the country and something that truly opened to the floodgates to change there.

Within that context, we're introduced to the latest of the Mutsu clan with Izumi Mutsu. Just like his ancestors, he's got the same look and mannerisms about him that you'd almost call him an immortal but there's just enough that separates them all up. Izumi's doing exactly what others have done before him and that's searching out for the strongest opponent out there with which to challenge himself so that he can feel those few moments of being more alive than at any other time. His sites have focused on Ryoma Sakamato, a young Lord who won the shogunates contest among samurai the year prior. With the arrival of foreigners, the country has become more focused on the martial arts as opposed to the literary world so those who can excel here have gained the upper hand once more and Sakamoto is one of the best in the land.

Izumi arrives at Sakamoto's dojo where his introduction is done in an amusing way but one that impresses Sakamoto and the two become interesting friends. What Sakamoto reveals about Izumi is that the young man is here to challenge him but that such a challenge won't be fought until Sakamoto himself is ready to deal with it. Izumi's challenge is one that requires something from Sakamoto that he doesn't have right now, that edge that will give him the chance to really take do Izumi since he can tell just how powerful his opponent is, especially since he fights barehanded. This becomes apparent over the months that the two spend together doing things as friends, from simply watching the clouds roll by to strolling around town. Occasionally Izumi even gets into a bit of a scrap, such as with a smaller dojo called the Shiehikan where we meet two men who will become powerful players within the Shinsengumi.

All of this sets the pace for when Sakamoto starts taking an active role in taking down the Shogunate and becoming a key player in how the naval forces are dealt with. There's a strong sense of history mixed throughout this so that when you do go and actually read up on the real Sakamoto, it's impressive how accurate a number of these areas actually are. Shura no Toki has a lot of fun by adding in Izumi to the mix and allowing him to be not only a catalyst at times for Sakamoto but also something of an observer to the rapidly changing events. With his own desire to see the world so he can find a true challenge, he's able to make use of Sakamoto's own desire to hit the seas and the two complement each other nicely, something that's almost always a commonality among those that the Mutsu seem to fight.

In Summary:
This volume provides for a bit more of a lazy start as we get to know this fascinating period in history that's covered in a lot of anime series. Once it hits into its swing of things though it's just like that period of time in that it flows fast and is constantly changing. Izumi is just as interesting as the previous Mutsu men and retains enough of a similarity that you don't find the character to be annoying or someone you don't like in comparison to the past ones. Shura no Toki simply is a lot of fun to watch and this volume shifts the story into an exciting period that you get to see from another angle once again.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Dub Outtakes

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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