Samurai X-The Motion Picture (1997)

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Released 1-Jun-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Menu Animation & Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Trust/Betrayal
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 90:35
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Hatsuki Tsuji
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Click
RPI $27.95 Music Taro Iwashiro


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Samurai X: The Motion Picture is a Japanese animated feature that deals with the relationship between two former warriors and the struggle to deal with their troubled past.

    Kenshin Himura is a samurai who has vowed never to kill again in an attempt to atone for his bloody past. Takimi Shigure is another samurai that is looking for a way to atone for his bloody past. Both of these men share a single event in their past that was pivotal in influencing their current lifestyles. This incident is shown in a number of flashbacks from both characters' point of view, each time revealing a little more of the event. After a chance meeting between Kenshin and Takimi both warriors futures become entangled and they are destined to meet again.

    Many viewers may be familiar with the OVA (Original Video Animation) that has been released on two discs in this country by Madman. The change in the main character Kenshin Himura from fierce warrior to a pacifist who carries a reverse-bladed sword used only for self-defence may seem sudden and out-of-place. The OVA series was released as a prequel to the 95 episode TV series. It is during this series that Kenshin makes his decision to give up his killing ways. This movie directly follows the TV series but luckily is able to stand alone and does not require any previous knowledge of either the previous OVA or TV series. Many viewers also prefer the alternate naming for this series: Rurouni Kenshin. Happily Madman have again included a reversible slick for these viewers.

    While viewing this disc I did discover a couple of slightly annoying problems. When played on a standalone DVD player, the viewer is unable to jump backwards to a chapter point. The viewer is able to move forward to the next chapter point but never backwards. This problem was not present when the disc was played on a PC. The other slightly annoying problem is that the viewer is only able to resume playback at their current point in the movie from the chapter selection menu. This should not bother many viewers but it would have been nice to also allow the viewer to resume from at least the main menu.

    I am constantly impressed by the quality and range of Japanese animation that is produced. This disc is set in historical Japan and will appeal to viewers who are looking for more depth in the storyline than a traditional hack and slash sword-fighting anime.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is consistently sharp and is able to show the high levels of detail present in the high quality animation. No low level noise was detected during the transfer. Excellent levels of detail is visible during the darker scenes with high levels of shadow detail present.

    The extensive colour palette used in this film is accurately reproduced and is able to easily display the intricate shading employed by the animators.

    No Gibb's effects, macro-blocking or other traditional MPEG artefacts were detected during the transfer but there were some problems seen that may be the result of the encoding process. At numerous points throughout the transfer, parts of the image appear to move independently in the frame. Specific examples of this artefact may be seen at 4:11, 24:14, 46:37 and 56:29. These artefacts are not extreme and are only slightly distracting to the viewer.

    No instances of aliasing were detected during this transfer.

    A single small film artefact was seen at 25:05. No obvious film grain was detected during the transfer.

    Two small instances of telecine wobble are visible at 19:25 and 36:48. These are very brief and only minimally distracting to the viewer.

    Throughout the transfer, some small NTSC to PAL conversion artefacts may be seen. Some examples of this may be seen at 0:02, 7:05, and 74:01. These artefacts are usually quite small and are not distracting to the viewer.

    A single set of yellow English subtitles are present on this disc. As is common with anime discs, these subtitles differ considerably from the English dub track. While there are obvious differences in the sentence construction, the same information is conveyed to the viewer. One small problem with the subtitles is that they often appear partially in the lower black letterbox section of the picture. This is fine for the majority of viewers but it will be annoying to viewers with 16x9 sets who have zoomed in on the non-anamorphic picture.

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

Audio

    English and Japanese Dolby Digital 192 kbps 2.0 mixes are provided on this disc. I listened to both tracks in full and found both to be very high quality.

    During both soundtracks, the dialogue is always clear and easy to understand.

    As this is an animated feature, there are the expected obvious problems with audio sync for each soundtrack. A single audio dropout was detected on both the Japanese and English mixes at 45:11 resulting in an extremely short burst of static.

    The classical score by Taro Iwashiro is extremely effective and provides excellent support for the on-screen action. I personally found the opening theme a little overbearing but luckily it is quite short and is not repeated again in the film.

    The surround channels were not utilised during the movie.

    The subwoofer was used to support the effects and occasionally the score but never draws attention to itself.

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

Extras

Menu

    The animated menu is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Theatrical Trailer (1:24)

    This trailer is presented with an English Dolby Digital 192 kps 2.0 soundtrack at an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

Trailer: Trust/Betrayal (1:36)

    This trailer for the OVA series is presented with a Dolby Digital 192 kps 2.0 surround musical soundtrack at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

R4 vs R1

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

    Both versions of this film appear to be identical and I therefore would have no preference for either version.

Summary

    Samurai X: The Motion Picture is an enjoyable film for anime fans and provides a little more substance than a simple sword-fighting movie.

    The excellent animation is marred by a small number of problems in the transfer but these are unlikely to prove significantly distracting for most viewers.

    The high quality Japanese and English tracks will appeal to fans of both dubs and subs.

    The minimal collection of extras presented on this disc could have been supplemented by the inclusion of a short history detailing the events from the previous OVA and TV series.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Anthony Kable (read my bio)
Tuesday, August 14, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplaySony KP-E41SN11. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationFront left/right: ME75b; Center: DA50ES; rear left/right: DA50ES; subwoofer: NAD 2600 (Bridged)
SpeakersFront left/right: VAF DC-X; Center: VAF DC-6; rear left/right: VAF DC-7; subwoofer: Custom NHT-1259

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