Case Number 08459: Small Claims Court


ADV Films // 2004 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // January 26th, 2006

The Charge

Welcome to the Wild Wild East.

The Case

Japan's Edo era is coming to a close. A small band of freedom fighters known as the Samurai Guns have come together in an effort to end the bloody rule of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Although they lead normal lives by day, Ichimatsu, Daimon, and Kurenai spend their nights on covert missions, employing advanced weapons supplied to them by the Ukishima Shrine -- weapons they hope will help bring an and to the oppression of the Shogunate.

The first four episodes of the anime series Samurai Gun are included on this release. Here's a brief synopsis of each:

* Episode 1: "The Man With the Samurai Gun"
Ichimatsu is dispatched to locate and execute the Three Minamiyama Brothers, a band of thugs who like to imprison young women and later hunt them down for sport. Despite the fact that he continually refuses to take part in missions involving the termination of targets, Ichimatsu straps on his gear and sets out to take down the three villains.

* Episode 2: "Experimental Railroad"
Ichimatsu, Daimon, and Kurenai are dispatched to locate and infiltrate the Shogunate's new experimental steam locomotive and rescue a spy who is being held onboard. Ichimatsu once again says he doesn't want to kill anyone, but he is lead to believe that violence won't be necessary. As soon as the team has infiltrated the train, Ichimatsu shoots several people in the head. The spy onboard the train turns out to be someone from Kurenai's past.

* Episode 3: "The Sleeping Flower"
Local prostitutes are being systematically slaughtered. The killer is using weapons similar to those employed by the Samurai Guns, which leads Daimon to believe the murders are a trap designed to snare the Samurai Guns. Ohana, a prostitute who works at the brothel frequented by Ichimatsu, is kidnapped by the killer; Ichimatsu sets out to rescue Ohana and stop the killer. The killer turns out to be someone from Ichimatsu's past.

* "Inazuma"
Ichimatsu is dispatched to sneak into a prison located on Kabuto Mountain and free the enemies of the Shogunate who are being held there. Ichimatsu is aided in his efforts by Inazuma, an operative working for the Southern Council. Ichimatsu and Inazuma confront the prison's warden, who turns out to be someone from Inazuma's past.

There is absolutely no reason to recommend this series. The characters are thinly drawn. The plotting is crude and far too episodic. The stories are repetitive. The animation itself is incredibly lackluster. On the other hand, if you're looking for nothing more than liberal doses of graphic violence and leering sex, then this series is just for you, as these two elements appear to be the series' primary selling points.

The only flaws in the transfer are some infrequent jagged edges and a few instances of grain in a handful of darker scenes. There is very little heft or channel separation in the Japanese stereo track; there is very little surround action in the English Dolby Digital dub, although you do get a wide spread across the front of the soundstage and some nice low-end activity. That being said, I'd advise anyone who does watch to stick with the Japanese track, as the voice acting in the dub is a bit of a mixed bag and the dialogue in the English script has a tendency to contradict what you'll find in the original version. (The dub is also considerably more profane than its Japanese counterpoint; why this is so is beyond me.) Extras include the standard clean opening/closing sequences, previews, and art galleries. You also get seven minutes of outtakes in which the English cast improvises unfunny dialogue over footage from the series.

Review content copyright © 2006 Mitchell Hattaway; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 60

Perp Profile
Studio: ADV Films
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)

* English

Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Clean Opening/Closing Animation
* Outtakes
* Art Galleries
* Production Notes
* Volume 2 Preview
* ADV Previews

* IMDb

* Official Site

* Anime News Network Page