Shura no Toki Vol. #6 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • 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. #6

By Chris Beveridge     October 26, 2005
Release Date: September 13, 2005

Shura no Toki Vol. #6
© Media Blasters

What They Say
The year is 1868, the time of the Boshin Wars. The last remnants of the Shinsengumi, Lord Kondo and Toshizo Hijikata, are warring with the Imperialists all over Japan. Meanwhile, Izumi Mutsu lost his will to fight back when he lost his best friend, Ryoma. But within his heart there is still one flame flickering, it's the promise he made with Soushi Okita on the night of Ryoma's murder. To fulfill his promise and the destiny of all Mutsu, Izumi stands one last time to challenge the greatest swordsmen of the Meiji Revolution!

The Review!
As the Boshin War heightens and the Shinsengumi dwindles, Mutsu must do what he's been born to do.

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, the covers for this series continue to be quite striking and attractive. The last volume lets Hijikata take the full cover with a look at him mixed between his Shinsengumi style and his adopted western ways which looks great and very powerful here, as well as letting Mutsu sneak in through the fiery red background. 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)
The Age of Chaos comes to a close with the last volume of this series and at the very end of it, it becomes apparent just how much I've enjoyed it since I don't want to let the characters and their adventures go. While the second half of the series wasn't quite up to the same level as the first, this volume brings it up a fair bit more and closes that gap considerably as we get the last rounds of the Shinsengumi and the close of the Boshin War.

With Ryouma out of the picture in the last volume, the direction of these last episodes isn't all that clear and Mutsu exemplifies that right from the start as he's been spending his days since the loss of his friend simply staring out at the sea. He's lost his edge now and can't even recognize when an old man is sneaking up on him. The country itself is continuing the sea of change that both he and Ryouma had been working through and the Imperialists are dealing with what remains of those that have fought against them. The Shinsengumi has been beaten down to almost nothing with word of Kondo having turned himself and being beheaded as well as others falling under the weight of the enemy forces. Hijikata has left Kyoto and headed north to Aizu where he fights in a Western style now having understood the changing winds of war. He's even gone so far as to dress Western and cut off his top knot.

Some of what Mutsu learns gets him to finally go and see Okita so he can keep his promise to him that they made on the night of one of their first meetings and fights. Okita's not had it well as the tide has turned and his disease has continued to work its way through his body, weakening him even more. He spends his time watching the rain and the skies flow by while being attended to by Ran, a young woman with red hair and brown eyes that has strong feelings for him that just can't be expressed due to how Okita is. Her life enters a change when Mutsu shows up to have his final fight with Okita, something that brings the spark of life back into each of them one last time.

Where a lot of the focus on this volume centers with is in regards to Hijikata himself as we see a number of the battles he's going through as he changes from a tried and true Shinsengumi man to someone adopting the methods and ways of a new kind of war being fought. His realizations strike deep at him but his need to fight, his inner demon, is more powerful than anything else even if he's on the losing side. His move up to Aizu and defending various areas up there are shown not in a lot of detail but more as a commanding point of view but they highlight the changes he goes through but also how much he's stayed the same. This exploration of the character is one that series rarely touch upon and the fact that they do here, even while talking about how surreal his final days were, are only all the more engaging because of that.

Looking back at this series in total, it's a real diamond in the rough and one of a handful of series that has me smiling almost all the way through each episode. With its various historical moments and interactions with key figures, it has a lot going for it from there but also in how it highlights the different fighting styles that are used throughout it. A lot of fighting shows tend to suffer from some seriously bad editing and fast cuts in order to add tension and excitement to it, but the fight sequences in Shura no Toki were almost always completely visible and easy to see which added so much more impact to it since you could actually follow it. Combined with the way these characters were so positive in their beliefs and how they carried through on things and it was like a force all unto its own.

In Summary:
Shura no Toki is a series that I can recommend easily to both hardcore fighting show fans as well as those that haven't had much interest in it. The show is very accessible and with it moving across several hundred years worth of periods in the country, it highlights the changes nicely and incorporates it well into the story and the reasoning behind their motives and methods. The animation isn't the most beautiful out there but the character designs have a great feel to them and with some of the most fluid and engaging hand to hand fight scenes done in the last couple of years, it's something that can draw new people into the fold. Whether in collected form or singles, Shura no Toki is a series that should not be passed up.

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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