Samurai Champloo-Complete Collection (Blu-ray) (2004)

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Released 14-Jun-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Music Video-"Battlecry" (Opening theme) promo video
More…-Creditless Opening and Closing Animations
Gallery-Conceptual Artwork
Music Video-Promo Video
Teaser Trailer
Gallery-Bumper Gallery
Trailer-x 11 for other releases
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 607:39 (Case: 650)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,4 Directed By Shinichirô Watanabe
Takeshi Yoshimoto
Studio
Distributor
Fuji TV
Madman Entertainment
Starring Kazuya Nakai
Ginpei Sato
Ayako Kawasumi
Steve Blum
Kirk Thornton
Kari Wahlgren
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $69.95 Music Force of Nature
Fat Jon
Nujabes


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Samurai Champloo (Japanese title Samurai Chapuru) was director Shinichiro Watanabe’s follow up to the excellent Cowboy Bebop. Samurai Champloo ran for 2 seasons in Japan with the first episode Tempestuous Temperament airing on 19 May 2004 and the last Evanescent Encounter – Part 3 on 19 March 2005. The first season contained 17 episodes of approximately 23 minutes each, the second 9. All 26 are presented on this 3 disc Blu-ray Samurai Champloo – Complete Collection from Madman. Episodes 1 – 9 are on disc 1, 10 – 18 on disc 2 and episodes 19 - 26 plus extras are on disc 3.

     Set loosely in the Edo period of Japanese history, Samurai Champloo follows the adventures of three misfits as they search for the elusive “samurai who smells of sunflowers”. Two are master swordsmen; Mugen (Kazuya Nakai, Steve Blum) is young, violent, arrogant and annoying with breakdance fighting moves while Jin (Ginpei Sato, Kirk Thornton) is an older ice cold ronin, a well-mannered, traditional killing machine. They are saved from execution by a ditzy15 year old tea-house waitress, Fuu (Ayako Kawasumi, Kari Wahlgren), who on the toss of a coin persuades the two swordsmen to delay killing each other for a while and to join her in her search for the mysterious “samurai who smells of sunflowers” from her past. Together they go on the road.

     Samurai Champloo is very entertaining and great fun. The mis-matched characters of Mugen, Jin and Fuu are nothing new, nor are some of the storylines which draw from everywhere including Frankenstein, zombie films and any number of samurai pictures, but the whole is done with such exuberance and wry good humour that one cannot help being carried along for the ride. Because of the loose story arc some episodes are stronger than others. The best ones, such as the superb, dark double episode Misguided Miscreants Part 1 and Part 2 (series 1 episodes 13 and 14) with its themes of betrayal, friendship and loyalty, and a peep into the dark soul of Mugen, concentrate upon the relationships between the three main characters and also say something about the society. Others have a wry wit – if you ever wanted to know where Van Gogh got his inspiration for Sunflowers check out Artistic Anarchy (series 1 episode 5) which is a scream! The weaker episodes, to my mind at least, are those that stray away from the main relationships, such as Beatbox Bandits (series 1 episode 9) or are a summary of previous episodes, such as The Disorder Diaries (series 1 episode 12). But everyone will have their favourites. By series two the episodes became more uneven; a couple, such as Cosmic Collisions and Baseball Blues (series 2 episodes 5 and 6), one dealing with comets and zombies and the other with the first baseball games on Japanese soil, are weirdly at odds with the rest of the shows. But then the series ends with the dark, bloody and powerful three part Evanescent Encounter – Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 (series 2 episodes 7, 8 and 9), which ties up the loose ends and is a worthy conclusion to this series.

     Samurai Champloo’s visuals are stunning. This is an anime with a lot of muted colours but when vibrant colours occur they leap off the screen. Backgrounds are gorgeous, often looking like a watercolour painting. The other major plus is the music by Force of Nature, Fat Jon, Nujabes and Tsutchie. The tag line for the series is “ Loyalty, betrayal and . . . hip hop” and the music is indeed an integral part of the series giving the whole a quirky feel that works well. At times, such as the excellent Elegy of Entrapment Verse 1 and Verse 2 (series 2 episodes 4 and 5) the music plays an essential part in the plot.

     I always prefer to listen to non-English films in the language in which they were made as often voice dubbing is atrocious! Anime is a slightly different case and in Samurai Champloo I listened to the Japanese and English audio basically turnabout. Each is enjoyable but I still incline towards the original Japanese audio.

     Samurai Champloo – Complete Collection has beautiful visuals, engaging characters, quirky humour and marvellous music. Anime fans will love this Blu-ray Samurai Champloo – Complete Collection which includes all 26 episodes and does the series full justice.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Samurai Champloo is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original release ratio, in 1080p.

     The print is not as crisp as newer series, but it certainly is when it wants to be. As noted, this is an anime with a lot of muted colours but when vibrant colours occur they leap off the screen; skin tones are deliberately shades of grey and white mostly! Backgrounds are gorgeous, often looking like a watercolour painting with its hand coloured frames. Blacks and shadow detail are great.

     I did not notice any marks, dirt or similar artefacts or issues. On occasion the screen shimmered, such as panning over the sunflowers in series 1 episode 5 but I believe this effect was deliberate.

     It is anime so lip synchronisation is approximate in either audio track.

     The English subtitles in a white font in US English spelling. Occasionally they were a bit difficult to read against light coloured backgrounds, but not too often. They did not contain any spelling of grammatical errors in the sections I saw. One thing of interest: when you select Japanese audio and English subs, the closing song is subtitled in English and the Japanese words displayed in Western script. When the English dub is selected, the song is still in Japanese but no subtitles are available.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is a choice of Japanese or English Dolby True HDS 5.1. Both share similar characteristics. Both the Japanese and English dialogue is good, clear and easy to understand. As well as dialogue, the sound stage is mainly front centred with only ambient effects and music in the surrounds. I did not notice any panning effects. The sub-woofer gave some support to the music and effects.

     The original music by Force of Nature, Fat Jon, Nujabes and Tsutchie is an integral part of the series giving the whole a quirky feel that works well. It is well integrated into the mix and never unbalances the sound stage.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Except for a trailer for another DVD / BD release that plays on start-up of disc 1 (Afro Samurai Resurrection (1:39)), and disc 2 (Samurai 7 (0:32)), which cannot be skipped or fast-forwarded all – use the “options menu” on the remote – all the extras are included on disc 3. On starting up disc 3 the trailer for Witchblade (0:31) plays; the other extras are selected from the menu.

Making of ”Battlecry” (Opening) Promo Video (1:45)

     The song by Nujabes that plays over the series’ opening credits here set to a montage of scenes from the series.

Promo Video (1:01)

     A promotion for the second series.

Teaser Trailer (0:49)

    

Conceptual Art

     33 conceptual sketches of characters and locations. Silent, use the remote to advance to the next slide.

Bumper Gallery

     34 advertising concepts. Silent, use the remote to advance to the next slide.

Textless Opening Song (1:32)

     Opening credit sequence song Battlecry by Nujabes without the titles.

Textless Closing Song (1:46)

     Closing credit sequence song Shiki No Uta by Minmi (produced by Nujabes) without the titles. It is in Japanese with subtitles.

Trailers

    Included are trailers for various anime and live action releases: Devil May Cry (0:32), Burst Angel (0:32), Fullmetal Alchemist (0:32), Tsubasa (1:02), Shigurui: Death Frenzy (1:02), Basilisk (0:32), Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid (0:32) and Ichi (1:38). .

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Our Region A/B release is identical to the Region A US release. There is not a Region B UK release at present.

Summary

     Samurai Champloo is director Shinichiro Watanabe’s follow up to the excellent Cowboy Bebop. It has beautiful visuals, engaging characters, quirky humour and marvellous music. Anime fans will love this Blu-ray Samurai Champloo – Complete Collection. The video is excellent, the audio good. Extras are limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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