Intrigue in the Bakumatsu: Collection 1
Country of Origin - Japan
Discs - 2
Distributor - Section 23/Sentai Filmworks
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Series (4/5)
I have always loved a good samurai film from Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai and Eiichi Kudo's The Thirteen Assassin's to more violent entries like Lone Wolf and Cub and the 26 part Zatoichi series. Over the years anime has been a particularly great platform for the samurai genre with such great properties as Samurai X/Rurouni Kenshin and the fast and loose Samurai Champloo series. Intrigue in the Bakumatsu is a fine anime samurai series that combines the established tone of a great samurai film with a very well established eye toward the historical, and even a bit of the supernatural for good measure.
The series takes place during the latter part of Japan's Edo period. This is the time when Japan was starting to allow foreigners to enter into it's borders to begin trade, and the beginning of the disbanding of the samurai due to the changes happening in the established order it appears that war is fast approaching across Japan. In the midst of this a lone samurai, Yojiro Akizuki, begins a quest to search out an ancient artifact. While on his journey he joins up with a theater group who are on a mission of revenge against those who slaughtered their parents. Together they journey across Japan on their respective missions, of course, their might be a more sinister agenda underneath it all.
I don't watch a lot of modern anime, the reason being is the animation style differs from what I enjoyed in my younger years, and there is something stylistically that just puts me off outside of that. It's almost like the platform (and I have always considered anime less a genre than a platform), had become too self-aware and pandering to it's fanbase, but I digress.
Intrigue in the Bakumatsu is one of the best animes I have seen in many years. It establishes a start serious tone from the first episode. It is not afraid to be dark, and violent, and the animation while quite beautiful is totally fitting to the overall tone of the series. The episodes flow very nicely one into the other, and the story moves at such a pace that I was always compelled to throw in the next episode to find out exactly what happens next, this is high praise because I do not find myself doing this for many series these days.
Intrigue in the Bakumatsu is a serious treat for fans of excellent anime, and those looking for a fantastic samurai fix. It seamlessly combines great samurai action, with drama, history, and a touch of the supernatural for something quite unique and is an absolute great blast to watch.
Sentai Filmworks have presented Intrigue in the Bakumatsu in a splendid 1:78:1 AVC encoded 1080p transfer that preserves the series original aspect ratio. The colors fit the tone of the series, and look to be accurate, black levels are solid, and there is a nice bit of film grain (although this is probably a faked effect) throughout the transfer. The fine detail throughout is quite excellent.
Sentai have presented the viewer with 2 audio options DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 tracks in both English and Japanese. These tracks are both quite solid, with dialogue coming across clean and crisp throughout, music and special effects sounding quite nice, and no single elemnt burying the others in the mix. I did not detect any audio anomalies such as pops, cracks, or hissing on the track.
There isn't much here just clean opening and closing animations, trailers for other Sentai release, and credits for the disc.
I don't watch a lot of anime these days, so I don't know how this stacks up against other modern series. That being said Intrigue in the Bakumatsu was a completely awesome samurai anime coming from fresh eyes. I truly was obsessed with it's blend of samurai action, conspiracies, and the supernatural in a late Edo setting. The disc looks great, but some extras to put the series into context would have been nice. Recommended.