Samurai Warriors (Sengoku musou) (2015) (NTSC)

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Released 6-Sep-2017

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Bonus Episode-Samurai Warriors: Legend of the Sanada (49:31)
More…-Textless Opening Song - “Ikusa” (1:32)
More…-Textless Closing Song - “Nadeshiro Zakura” (1:32)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 311:43 (Case: 300)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kojin Ochi
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Takeshi Kusao / Jason Liebrecht
Daisuke Ono / J Michael Tatum
Jouji Nakata / Michael Johnson
Yuko Nagashima / Skyler Davenport
Eiji Takemoto / Ian Ferguson
Masaya Takatsuka / Ian Sinclair
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI ? Music Kensuke Inage


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     16th Century Japan; Hideyoshi Toyotomi (voiced by Hideo Ishikawa / Jeffrey Schmidt) has almost succeeded in bringing unity and peace to the warring clans. Only one castle in the Kanto region holds out against Hideyoshi’s army led by Mitsunari Ishida (Eiji Takemoto / Ian Ferguson); when the siege drags on brothers Yukimura Sanada (Takeshi Kusao / Jason Liebrecht) and Nobuyuki Sanada (Daisuke Ono / J Michael Tatum) force an entrance, capture the castle and bring the wars to an end. However, the peace is not to last; Hideyoshi dies suddenly, leaving his young son Hideyori (Kensho Ono / Brandon McInnis) as head of the Toyotomi clan. Mitsunari pledges to support Hideyori but his fellow general Ieyasu Tokugawa (Jouji Nakata / Michael Johnson) uses the pretext of a threat by the Uesugi clan to accumulate power. Many of the Toyotomi warriors come over to Ieyasu’s side, including Nobuyuki, Kato Kiyomasa (Tomokazu Sugita / Jarrod Greene) and Fukushima Masanori (Takahiro Fujimoto / Cris George), while others, including Naoe Kanetsugu (Masaya Takatsuka / Ian Sinclair) and Yoshitsugu Otani (Satoshi Hino / Paul Taylor stay with Mitsunari. When Yukimura also pledges allegiance to Mitsunari, brother is pitted against brother in war.

     Ieyasu divides his forces, taking the main army towards Sekigahara and a battle with Mitsunari. He sends part of his army under the command of his son Hidetada (Shota Ebina / Tyler Walker) with ammunition and supplies over the inland route. Nobuyuki is sent with Hidetada, but when Hidetada disobeys his father’s orders and diverts to attack Ueda castle, the castle of the Sanada clan held by Yukimura, the brothers must face off against each other. Hidetada’s disobedience means that his forces miss the battle at Sekigahara. Although hard pressed, Ieyasu Tokugawa wins the battle; Mitsunari and a number of other prominent lords are killed, and Ieyasu declares himself Shogun of Japan.

     Ieyasu then has to decide how to deal with Hideyoshi’s teen aged son Hideyori (who is technically his overlord) and the warriors who opposed him, including Yukimura. Although Hidetada, who has come to hate both Sanada brothers, urges his father to execute Yukimura, Ieyasu’s foremost warrior Tadakatsu Honda (Akio Ohtsuka / Philip Weber) counsels the opposite. For his own reasons Ieyasu spares Yukimura and exiles him to Mt Kudo. But peace is still illusionary. Nobuyuki becomes Ieyau’s envoy to the Uesugi clan and manages to secure their acceptance of Ieyau’s demands and when Ieyasu creates his son Hidetada Second Shogun, thereby sidelining Hideyori Toyotomi and causing Kato Kiyomasa and Fukushima Masanori to have second thoughts about their loyalty, Nobuyuki again is his envoy to Hideyori. Hidetada still hates both Sanada brothers and a ninja is sent to kill Yukimura. Yukimura survives the attack but leaves his place of exile. He travels to Osaka Castle to join Hideyori who is gathering warriors. Ieyasu assembles a great army to attack Osaka; the battles at Osaka will decide if the Toyotomi or Tokugawa clan will rule Japan. They will also pit the Sanada brothers against each other in a final, tragic encounter.

     Samurai Warriors (Sengoku Musou) is based on the video game Samurai Warriors 4 and the style of the anime reveals its game origins. It is very colourful, with red fires, yellow sunsets, green forests and landscapes and blue skies and rivers, but in most battles the figures are quite static with only the “hero” characters animated, and they fly through the air, weld huge weapons and are capable of impossible feats – just like game figures! With one swipe of their mighty weapons they smite dozens of ordinary soldiers, although all the battles are bloodless; there are no sprays of blood, decapitations or severed limbs. Samurai Warriors is also very much a macho affair, the most notable exception being Kunoichi (Yuko Nagashima / Skyler Davenport), the female ninja with the cute possum like pet who is the servant of Yukimura.

     Samurai Warriors is a trawl through a turbulent period in Japanese history, featuring many historical figures and the events of the period although the time period is condensed. For example, the Sanada clan did hold Ueda castle against Hidetada Tokugawa, causing him to miss the battle of Sekigahara. Indeed, Samurai Warriors is essentially a succession of castle sieges, battles, ambushes, political manoeuvring and shifting loyalties, with an extensive cast of characters. For those unfamiliar with the video game, or Japanese history, to help make sense of what is happening there is a frequent voice-over narration, individuals are first identified by a screen text (and thereafter are always in armour of the same colour and design, whether in battle or not) and screen graphics show locations, movements of armies and the positions during a battle.

     Samurai Warriors is frequently close to being a history lesson, covering many of the individuals and events of this period in Japanese history. For a non-Japanese audience (or those who are not familiar with the video game) keeping track of who is who can be a challenge and character development is minimal. However when Samurai Warriors concentrates on the tragedy of the Sanada brothers, one a pragmatist, the other an idealist, it is very good indeed. Most people would be aware of which clan won, giving a sense of tragic inevitability to the brothers’ conflict.

     Samurai Warriors aired on Japanese TV between January and March 2015 in 12 episodes. This DVD release, Samurai Warriors: Complete Series contains all 12 episodes on two discs. The TV special Samurai Warriors: Legend of the Sanada, which aired in 2014, is included as an extra on the second DVD.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Samurai Warriors is presented in the original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1, in the NTSC format and 16x9 enhanced.

     The lines are firm and detail strong throughout although backgrounds can look soft. Colours, including reds, yellows, greens and blues are rich, the pink cherry blossoms delicate and beautiful. Blacks are solid and shadow detail fine.

    The English subtitles are in a white font. Occasionally they seem to be affected by mosquito noise but are easy to read and are removable for speakers of Japanese. Otherwise artefacts are not present.

     The layer change on disc 1 was at 94:05 during episode 4 where it resulted in a slight pause at a scene change. I did not notice the layer change on Disc 2.

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

Audio

     Like many Funimation releases, the DVD contains an English dub in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps and the original Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kbps. I listened to some of the episodes alternatively as the audio and subtitles can be changed on the go with the remote.

     The original Japanese audio is surround encoded. The surrounds and rears were active and featured music, arrows striking, cries during battle, rain, wind, cannon fire and the clash of steel weapons. The subwoofer did add boom to effects such as cannon fire and drum beats. The English dub was good; it had more separation in the effects but I felt the voice acting lacked the intensity of the Japanese.

     The music by Kensuke Inage is varied, often martial but reflective when it needs to be. The opening and closing songs are both excellent, setting the tone of the anime well.

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

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

Extras

Samurai Warriors: Legend of the Sanada (49:31)

     This TV special which aired the year before the series commenced is in essence a prologue to the events occurring at the start of Samurai Warriors. The Sanada brothers supported the Takeda clan and lost the Battle of Nagashino to forces which included those of Ieyasu Tokugawa. Masterless, they retreated and built Ueda Castle for themselves where Yukimura attempted to form an alliance with the Uesugi clan where he met Mitsunari Ishida and Kanetsugi Naoe. The special climaxes in a battle where the Sanada, defending their land and castle, defeat the army of Ieyasu.

    Samurai Warriors: Legend of the Sanada (49:31) has only the English Dolby Digital 2.0, surround encoded, audio track; there are no subtitles and the original Japanese is not provided. I do not usually suggest watching extras prior to watching a series, but in this case if you are not familiar with the video game, or with the period of Japanese history, this is a worthwhile introductory primer.

Textless Opening Song - “Ikusa” (1:32)

     The opening song without the credits.

Textless Closing Song - “Nadeshiro Zakura” (1:32)

     The closing song without the credits.

R4 vs R1

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

     The Region 1 US DVD of Samurai Warriors looks to be identical to ours.

Summary

     In covering a large number of historical individuals and a myriad of actual events in a turbulent period of Japanese history, Samurai Warriors can be a bit of a history lesson. For those uninitiated in Japanese history, the series provides a voiceover narration detailing what is going on, graphics to explain battles and text on screen identifying locations and people so it is possible to follow what is happening. The series, however, is at its best when it concentrates of the inevitable tragedy surrounding the two warrior Sanada brothers, who have chosen opposite side in the conflict.

     The video and audio are fine. The extras are the same as available elsewhere.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, December 14, 2017
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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