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Samurai Gun Volume 2
Anime about samurai are certainly no rarity and the genre is full of shows taking place in feudal Japan and swordplay. A recent sub-genre of the samurai-type incorporates guns into the hands of the warriors and plays off of tidbits of a historical time period. The most recent show to do this is Samurai Gun and quite honestly, if you can't tell from the name this one's a straight shooter.
This is one of those shows that doesn't beat around the bush and is in your face with loads of over the top violence, adult themes and tons of action. Prostitution and senseless murder is a prevalent theme in Samurai Gun and it has a very seedy atmosphere for the time period its set in. All of these things put together sets this show apart from the rest of the anime crowd and it is definitely aimed towards an older audience.
The focus of the show centers on a one-eyed man named Ichimatsu and follows his exploits as a member of the Samurai Gun. They are an elite special force commanded by something called the council, which basically acts like a black ops government agency. Ichimatsu doesn't go at alone though and he teams up with his friends Daimon and Kurenai to carry out the Samurai Gun missions.
In the first volume we met the Samurai Gun and watched as they took on a murderous group of brothers and Shogun Preservation Bureau's prototype steam engine. Towards the end of the four episodes included we were also introduced to the anti-Samurai unit and a young prostitute named Ohana joined Ichimatsu and Kurenai at the Dragon Palace Tavern. Things on the second disc pick up essentially where the last one left off with the one-off nature of the episodes and excessive violence.
The first episode has the troop doing some prisoner rescue to save a fellow Samurai Gunner from the anti-Samurai unit. He's a fellow eye-patch wearer and man from Ichimatsu's past known as Number Six, Sutekichi. The character Mitsu is introduced who is essentially Samurai Gun's answer to Q from the Bond franchise (of which this show borrows moderately from). The team assaults the steamboat Sutekichi is being transported in with typical samurai flair.
After Sutekichi is set free he joins Ichimatsu and company as reports of a mysterious new weapon surface from the anti-Samurai unit. It would seem that they have created a powerful new cannon and are testing it's destructiveness on innocent girls. Naturally that incites Ichimatsu and causes a personal conflict inside of him because he doesn't want to kill anymore. He and Daimon go in to investigate and meet a man named Archimedes who has his own agenda.
The final episode on the disc sees Daimon on a mission to retrieve some documents and teams up with the Satsuma clan Special Missions Unit. We learn a little about Daimon's past and in the meantime while he's gone Ichimatsu is in charge of the brats at his school. The group squares off against Watou again and the guy shows that he's more than you're average samurai hating gunslinger.
The lack of any real continuity and single episode story arcs still don't allow for my character development or overall plot to emerge. Considering there are three episodes on this disc as opposed to four on the first the show is more than half over at this point. It is entertaining but a series like this would benefit hugely from devoting an episode or two for background story or to set up a grandiose plot. Unfortunately that hasn't happened yet but maybe it will in the last two volumes coming out soon.
Samurai Gun is presented with a 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio and looks pretty good on DVD. The image is very crisp and colorful with a great use of some animation techniques to spruce things up. My only real complaints are that there is some grain that appears in some scenes as well as some pixilation in the darker ones. In a couple parts I noticed some aliasing, but it wasn't anything too glaring or blatantly obvious. This show would have benefited from a widescreen presentation, but even so the transfer looks pretty good.
There are two ways to watch this show as is the anime standard now-a-days. For all you dubbing fans out there you will definitely enjoy the 5.1 Dolby English set up since it features a decent channel mix. Most things come from the front channels though, but it's a step up in terms of quality from the Japanese 2.0 track. While I don't mind listening to the English tracks, I tend to enjoy my experience more with subtitles and the original language going. The audio is very good and clear, but it didn't blow my socks off either.
Samurai Gun Volume 2 features a lot of bonus material worth mentioning just like the first volume. Obviously there are the clean opening and closing animations that find their way onto every anime release these days. A couple of art features are present and include character artwork and backgrounds set to some of the music found in the show. I always like seeing sketches of characters and seeing the steps of the production art is pretty interesting as well. Aside from some ADV previews the last feature on the disc is called "Fun with Audio" and is basically outtakes done by the English voiceover cast. I love outtakes and a lot of what goes on in this feature is hilarious. A little too much time is spent on the spoofing of the songs though and those bits are just honestly not funny at all. Even so, I wish more anime had extras like this one because it shows a lot of personality and that the crew had fun reworking the show.
Samurai Gun is just one of those shows that is going to be very polarizing among anime fans. The harsh and gratuitous violence will not be for everyone and there are several adult situations, although there is no nudity (how odd). I had a lot of fun watching it and even though the action is over the top the show carries a relatively serious tone.
With more than half of the series released so far there's still not a lot of character development or really much of a story to talk about. There's a little bit of intrigue with the anti-samurai unit and Samurai Gun's enemies but with the singular nature of the episodes don't lend themselves well. This show is still a lot of fun with plenty of humor and a lot of action. Recommended