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Peacemaker - Prelude to Battle V6

ADV Films // Unrated // July 19, 2005
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted August 15, 2005 | E-mail the Author
The Show:

The sixth, and second to last, volume of Peacemaker takes on a darker and sadder tone as things start to come to a head.  The three episodes in this volume contain a lot of death and torture, something that has been absent in the previous volumes.  This program has really been having problems finding its voice and this volume changes the direction of the show once again.  I wouldn't mind so much if this was an improvement, but it certainly isn't.

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.

As the last volume ended the Shinsengumi's main spy and cook (?!), Ayumu, was captured by the enemy as she was trying to get some information.  Word reached the camp that Ayumu was being tortured, and the available member of the Shinsengumi take off to rescue her.  Tetsunosuke runs to tell Ayumu's brother, Susumu, that she's been nabbed.  He's had to live in her shadow his whole life, and doesn't seem to care that she may be killed.  Until he finds her mutilated body that is, then he gets mad.

With one of their own dead, the Shinsengumi take to the streets looking for revenge.  Any Loyalist ronin they find are either killed or tortured for information.  This makes them little better than the forces they are fighting.

While this is going on, Tetsunosuke meets a friend, Suzu, on the street.  Tetsunosuke suspects that Suzu works for the opposition, but doesn't see any problem with going to an abandoned building with the enemy.  This was a trap though, and when Suzu doesn't have the heart to kill the young page, his master steps in to finish the job.

I was really disappointed in this volume.  The show suddenly takes a much more adult and darker turn, with torture and killing filling these shows.  They have totally eliminated the humor in the show.  I don't like the fact that the tone changed so quickly and without warning.  In these episodes fingers are lopped off and eyes gouged out as the Shinsengumi go looking for revenge.  I had trouble sympathizing with their methods.  I know this period of time in Japanese history was very violent, but I can't root for people who are so quick to overreact.

This series started out with a lot of promise, but it really went down hill as the series went on.  The characters who seemed interesting in the first shows never were fully developed.  I don't really care about any of the main people in the show, and can't sympathize with any of them.  Tetsunosuke's quest to avenge his parent's death has been forgotten, and many of the interesting sub-plots have also been forgotten.  Overall this series has been having trouble deciding what it wants to be and where it is going and has ended up being rather uninteresting.

As with the other volumes, make sure you sit through the FBI warning for an amusing voice over.

The DVD:

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 on Tatsunosuke Ichimura and Suzu Kitamura.

Final Thoughts:

This penultimate volume of Peacemaker has really started accelerating the downhill slide the series has been on.  Not only am I frustrated with the lack of focus this series has, but this series of episodes throws in a lot of torture and murder, something that hasn't shown up until this point.  Why they have changed this series so radically this late in the game is anyone's guess, but the changes didn't improve the show.  Best to give up on the series at this point.  Skip it.

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