In the fifth volume of Peacemaker there are three episodes which
continue the story of the Shinsengumi in ancient Japan. This program
has really been having problems finding its voice. Though there are
only seven volumes in this series, the fifth disc still doesn't reveal
what the main story for the program is going to be. The series started
out with a lot of promise, but hasn't delivered yet.
In nineteenth century Japan, young Tetsunosuke joins a fighting band,
the Shinsengumi. (They were the antagonists in Ruroni Kenshin, and
this series is one of the few that show them in a positive light.)
He does this in order to learn to fight and become stronger, so that he
can avenge his parents death. He's still not sure if he wants to
become a killer though, and for the time he's a page one of the leaders
of the group.
The Shinsengumi are not without troubles though. There are several
groups in Japan that would like to see the members of this group killed.
There are several factions warring, and the Shinsengumi are holding on
to power, but just barely.
This volume introduces a new character, Kichisaburo. He is a blood
thirsty killer in addition to being a homosexual. That's not all
though, Kichisaburo also looks exactly like the Shinsengumi sword
master Okita. One of the Shinsengumi's enemies use this boy to sow
discord through the city. Kichisaburo attacks local guards, leaving
some alive to identify him as Okita, as well as trying th assassinate some
of the higher ups in the Shinsengumi. The Shinsengumi figure out
what's happening pretty quickly of course, and go hunting for the doppleganger.
Finding him won't be too hard, but stopping him may be.
I was really disappointed in the volume as a whole. I thought
the Kichisaburo story got off to a very good start, but the ending was
very anticlimactic and didn't live up to its potential. They set
up Kichisaburo as a great fighter and totally ruthless, but in the end
Okita didn't even fight him. He was dispatched without a battle which
made me wonder what the whole point of this two part story was.
Looking back on the whole series, this program is a bit of a mess.
Tetsunosuke, who was the main character in the first few volumes and clearly
the focus of the show, is hardly seen in these three episodes. His
journey to avenge his parents seems to have been forgotten.
They touch on mystical events and a powerful magician in a few shows,
but that storyline gets dropped for several shows before being briefly
brought up again. Other subplots are similarly dropped so it hard
to really see where this show is going.
As with the other volumes, make sure you sit through the FBI warning
for an amusing voice over.
This volume contains another scant three episodes in a white keepcase
with an insert. Even with the credits, that runs to a bit over 70
minutes, which isn't a lot of content. I really wish they would put
at least four episodes on each volume.
This DVD offers the viewer the choice of an English 5.1 dub or the original
Japanese language stereo track. I listened to both tracks, and I
enjoyed the original language a little bit more than the dub track.
The dub track had some strange sounding accents that didn't really blend
well with the show, though there were all minor characters. Most
of the Geishas had pretty awful accents. The English track did make
good use of the soundstage, with sound effects and some dialog coming from
the rear. The Japanese track made use of the front soundstage and
was just as full.
The full frame image looked pretty good. The picture was just
a tad soft, with the lines not being as tight as they could be, but this
was very minor. The colors had a nice tone to them, and the contrast
was good. Digital defects were just about nonexistent. A very
nice looking DVD.
This disc also includes clean opening and closing animations and a series
of production sketches. There are also a pair of two-minute long
video "Character Collections" that give the background information of a
I'm starting to become frustrated with the lack of focus this series
has. Just as soon as I get interested in one plot, they shift the
focus to another, and then yet another. The main character, Tetsunosuke,
was barely in these three episodes, and they seemed to have dropped the
main story all together. If you've stuck with the series so far,
it is worth watching this disc, but I'd make it a rental.