Samurai Champloo: Volume 6 Review
Mugen and Fuu begin to worry when Jin and Sara go missing, but there seems to be very little that they can do about it. With the group separated things are going to get tougher for them, especially when they’re about to face their toughest foe yet. Biwas, zombies and Baseball are but a few of the problems our heroes will face in the penultimate volume of Samurai Champloo
The opening episode of the disc, which continues from the first part of Elegy of Entrapment is largely spoiler intense. As such I won’t be discussing it here, because it would make my efforts not to spoil the previous volume somewhat futile. Any mention of characters doing certain things would be bad, and bad is bad. Anyway, it’s a good episode, with a particularly nice reference to the legendary Musashi Miyamoto.
With that, possibly my worst single review for anything ever, I’ll get on to the two episodes that make up the rest of the disc. Curiously, though unsurprisingly given it’s a popular topic, we’re handed an episode filled with supernatural themes in Cosmic Collisions. Matsutake mushrooms are the order of the day; famed for their healing properties, pleasant aroma and being ridiculously expensive, they lead our trio of travellers into the unlikeliest of places - the Tokugawa era. This, coupled with astronomical tales and a mysterious figure named Shige, makes for one of the series’ most oddball moments. As a breather from several two-part storylines we’ve had of late it’s somewhat refreshing, but not particularly compelling, save for one or two funny moments at the expense of some bloated characters.
Baseball Blues, the last episode on the disc, is where things really hit their stride. Here it recalls the first time that Baseball came to Japanese shores; the early days that very few people actually know about of course. When Mugen runs out on yet another bill, leaving behind a fatty Fuu he runs into a former ninja named Kagemaru, who hands him an offer to get out of his predicament. All he has to do is play a game of Baseball, or “ball and a stick” against an invading America. Naturally the thought of the Americans being tough foes sees Mugen jump at the chance, while roping in Fuu and Jin in the process. From here we’re treated to a delightful episode as Manzou the Saw returns and our hapless heroes go through the motions of understanding this new, foreign game. This is a very energetic episode, filled with dozens of sight gags and great one-liners, not to mention the hilariously awful (and no doubt deliberate) dubbing of the American soldiers. A great episode to finish on.
#21 Elegy of Entrapment (Part 2)
With Jin and Sara having gone their own way, Mugen and Fuu rest up and wonder over what to do next. Soon enough they’re stirred by a certain event which causes them concern for their friends.
#22 Cosmic Collisions
Whilst continuing on their journey, Fuu spots Matsutake mushrooms growing in the forest. She tells Mugen and Jin that they should pick and sell them for a fortune a piece, but her idea goes unheard when the two starved samurai gorge down the lot. Soon a strange force leads them to a strange place, where a man named Shige, who looks a bit like Bob Dylan, invites them to help him hunt for a lost treasure. Well, for 10% of the profits they’d be mad not to, right?
#23 Baseball Blues
America has reached Japan, and with it comes a new game called Baseball. When Mugen is caught trying to avoid paying a bill, his only way out is to take up the challenge of playing a game of Baseball with the invading Americans. With Fuu and Jin reeled in and Manzou the Razor close by does Japan have what it takes to send the Americans packing?
MVM brings us Volume 6 of Samurai Champloo on another solid disc. The menu has some moths, backed by some Hip-Hop grooves.
Presented in its natural 1.78:1 aspect ratio and anamorphically enhanced, Samurai Champloo looks very good indeed. Colours throughout the series consist of very warm hues, with black levels looking very pleasing. Detail is considerably high and every portion of the quality animation is complemented greatly. There are some minor banding and Edge Enhancement issues, but otherwise this is very respectable.
For sound we get three audio options. In a rare case for anime series we have a marvellous Japanese DTS 5.1 track, along with Japanese 2.0 and a newly created English 5.1 Surround. Naturally I opted straight for the Japanese DTS track, and it sure does impress. The series’ hip-hop score gets a good amount of exposure throughout the surround channels, while dialogue is suitably forwarded to the central speaker and remains crisps and clear throughout. The rears get a healthy amount of effects work, particularly during the impressive sword fights, in addition to creating some nice ambient effects. The English 5.1 option is a very respectable rival to the DTS option, but lacks that extra punch. Not much should be expected of the Japanese DD2.0 option, although it does a nice enough job of maintaining surround coverage.
A small gallery of concept art and MVM previews makes for another less than meaty set of features.
There’s very little in the way of developments this time around, although there is a great sense of fun. The three episodes on this volume vary tremendously, with the last being the real highlight. Three episodes left to go. Will Fuu find her samurai?
Last updated: 01/05/2018 00:28:23