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Peacemaker 2: Of Swords & Strength
The turbulent times of ancient Japan continue in the second volume of Peace Maker. Young Tetsunosuke has joined the fighting band the Shinsengumi in order to learn to fight and become stronger, but he's still not sure if he wants to become a killer.
Tetsu is in the Shinsengumi now, but he's still only a lowly page. As the volume opens, he's angry that he hasn't gotten the chance to train and grow strong. But he's seen the violence that accompanies real swordsmen, and he goes through a crisis. He desperately wants to avenge the death of his parents but he doesn't think that he could kill someone. He realizes that if he kills anyone, he'll start down a path that will turn him into a demon. But how can he get revenge when he isn't willing to kill?
The second episode gives the fighters of the Shinsengumi a break as they have a track and field day. They compete in a series of martial arts contests and a foot race, that's fun for everyone. Everyone but Tetsu, who is still struggling with what it means to be a swordsman. He challenges the best fighter to a sparring match while the others are racing around the village, in the hope of discovering what it takes to be a killer.
Things start heating up in the last half of the volume, with the Choshu sneaking more troops into Kyoto. They are planning something, and the Shinsengumi spies are trying to figure out just what.
The volume ends on a light note. After hitting the captain in the head with the hilt of a sword, Tetsu gets sent to a festival to obtain some brown sugar candy. He runs into some girls he knows and the three of them have a good time.
This series continues to have a good mixture of drama and humor. Though this set of shows were a little more serious in tone, with Tetsunosuke contemplating some serious issues, there were still a lot of light moments. The time that Tetsu spent at the fair with his two young friends was amusing, as was the foot race in the second episode. I was a little disappointed that the overall plot with the Choshu plot didn't progress at a faster pace, but these were still enjoyable episodes.
One of the interesting things about this show is that it paints the Shinsengumi in a good light, something that doesn't happen often. The Shinsengumi are the antagonists in Ruroni Kenshin, and the people that he helps defeat to bring about the Meiji era. In this series they are portrayed as the protectors of Kyoto, elite swordsman who guard the current regime against the violent renegade Choshu clan.
Oh yeah, and make sure you sit through the FBI warning for an amusing voice over.
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. Tetsunosuke's father's English accent sounded pretty bad for example. The English track did make good use of the soundstage, and the sound of the episode that takes place in the rain was every enveloping. 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, a series of production sketches, and a couple of original TV spots advertising the show. There are also a minute long video of Tetsunosuke that explains his character and motivation, along with trailers to other ADV releases.
Episode seven has a commentary with voice actresses Luci Christian, Kira Vincent-Davis and Julie Knapp. The commentary starts out with a wild and wacky party atmosphere, which I really dislike, but it calmed down as soon as the credits were over. It was actually a good commentary, though a lot of it wasn't scene specific. They talk about what it is like to be voice actress and give a little historical background to the show.
Only suffering slightly from the sophomore slump, this second volume of Peacemaker was a good set of shows. They plot wasn't advanced as much as I would have liked and they totally ignored the supernatural aspects of the show brought up in the previous volume, but the episodes were still enjoyable. Tetsu's character has grown a lot, and he's really becoming three dimensional. A fun series. Recommended.