Blu-ray Review: Samurai Bride – The Complete Collection
06/07/2015 Leave a comment
It may taken have a while to get here but Samurai Bride has finally arrived into the UK, and on Blu-ray no-less!, so what can we expect from this sequel to Samurai Girls and more importantly is the Blu-ray itself any good? Find out in our review of Samurai Bride – The Complete Collection.
Things seemed to be going so well for Muneakira Yagyu. On top of dealing with Jubei, the immortal samurai warrior who fell out of the sky and into his arms and lips, he used his ability to awaken the latent power of a female samurai with a kiss to successfully juggle a handful of very powerful, very female master samurai, and led them all to victory against the minion of a great evil.
So was it too much to ask for a little break in the routine of saving Japan? Apparently it was, as another great evil has appeared in the land, this one even stronger than the last. However, that’s the least of Muneakira’s problems, because with all the women he’s kissed in order to awaken their latent samurai powers, the inevitable has finally happened.
Someone’s taking the long walk down the aisle with a samurai girl! It’s going to be a really old fashioned wedding and any resistance by the groom will be totally feudal in Samurai Bride!
Samurai Bride is the sequel to the previously released, and now potentially hard-to-find, Samurai Girls; a story which saw Muneakira unlock the potential of female samurai’s by kissing them and then fend off an attack from the evil master general known as Amakusa. Samurai Bride on the other-hand is nowhere near this intense –in terms of kissing at least- and instead opts for heavy fan-service with a relatively subliminal storyline and minor threat; that is until the later stages of the series.
It all begins six months after the battle with Amakusa; as during this timeframe Muneakira has been travelling Japan in an attempt to become a stronger general; however upon returning home to the dojo, which has now been converted into a Maid Café due to financial trouble within it, he and the rest of the Samurai Girls are attacked by unknown assailants known as the Dark Samurai. The battle is relatively short-lived and the Samurai Girls are easily over-powered, even in there Master Samurai forms, but before destroying them completely the leader of the Dark Samurai, known as Miyamoto Musashi, offers them some mercy; but at a heavy cost.
Miyamoto’s intention is to have a battle with Jubei Yagyu in her Master Samurai form, which is currently impossible due to events from the previous season, and as a result she gives Muneakira a month to retrieve her. If Muneakira fails to meet this demand then he will be unable to wield a sword (and in turn run the dojo) due to the curse that another member of the Dark Samurai (Hozoin Inushunn) placed on him. This first episode sets expectations for the remainder of the series pretty high –or it did for me at least- as from here I expected training sessions and countless confrontations with the Dark Samurai; and while the former may be accurate the confrontations are nothing more but light hearted banter.
Its ironic how the perspective swiftly changes from defeating the Dark Samurai to protecting their home; but for the next selection of episodes at least we see the entire group attempting to turn their dojo into a profitable business – by any means necessary. This leads to some comical moments between characters, especially when newcomer Sasuke –who is a pet monkey of Yukimura- shows up on the scene and ends up becoming a Master Samurai herself. Interestingly enough the Dark Samurai still make their appearance within these episodes; as Miyamoto often visits the Maid Café in order to have fun with Jubei and in the envitable beach episode the Dark Samurai (as a group) attempt to defeat the Samurai Girls via their own beach activities; which yields some interesting results.
Of course these episodes are not pointless; as storyline elements – such as the unveiling of KI and the Samurai Bride rumour – setup events that unfold later in the show; however it’s not until the half-way point, when the dojo has been saved from bankruptcy that things get back on track with the Dark Samurai. It’s here where Muneakira and the Samurai Girls begin to train in order to develop their KI and as a result enlist the help of Keiji Maeda, a KI Specialist that hates men, in order to bring out the potential of the Master Samurais and return Jubei to her more powerful form. The introduction of Keiji brings out more fan-service, and more naked bath-scenes, but while this training takes place an unknown assailant begins destroying town and shortly after the true intention for the arrival of the Dark Samurai is revealed; and it all revolves around Amakusa. Not to spoil the surprise; but with the month of training over this final confrontation of epic –and emotional- proportions between numerous samurai makes the waiting and blatant fan-service totally worth it.
Samurai Bride is a strange one; at first glance nothing seems to fit and the story tends to flow unnaturally – especially with the first episode being a bit of a firestarter – but when you start to think about it everything manages to fit in place quite well and it leads to a satisfying conclusion; albeit a rushed one.
Just like with the previous release of Samurai Girls viewers can expect a variety amount of bonus content; some of which are more questionable than others. As usual you can expect the inclusions of textless songs but as an added bonus we have six animated shorts and the original Japanese promos – which is something we aren’t always treated to.
The animated shorts are the main highlight of these extra materials and they take place in between selected episodes of the main series; but you need not worry about remembering where they should go as they are clearly labelled. Ironically however these animated shorts are just as ecchi, if not more so, than the show itself as each one sees questionable content being shown. For instance one episode sees Keiji providing advice on how to make Yukimura’s breats bigger while naked in the bath; which leads to some interesting results for those listening in – another episode meanwhile sees Jubi, Sasuke and Miyamato head to the public bath; yet again more completely naked scenes for your viewing pleasure.
Each of these animated shorts are three minutes in length and are presented in Japanese with English subtitles; but if these shorts aren’t your thing then there is a variety of original promotional material to watch. The final selection of content is non-other than textless songs, with two variations of the opening theme included, and a singular trailer for Samurai Girls.
Media: BD 50 x1, BD 25 x1
Region: A & B
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Subtitles: English (Yellow for Dialogue, White for Translations)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Aspect Ratio
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps
Samurai Bride starts off by promising a mighty on-going clash between two rival samurai fractions but instead delivers fan-service upon fan-service until inevitably the original storyline of a samurai fighting it out returns to your screen; at first the maid café scenarios seem pointless – which I think it still is – but it manages to serve a bigger purpose by introducing new characters into the Dojo and seeing the Dark Samurais more ‘friendly’ side.
When all said and done, and the fan-service is put to one side, there is a story to be told and an epic fight needing to be settled. In short the story is this; a demonic ghost revives the dark samurai in hopes that they will kill the current Master Samurai within the land at which once this is achieved the ghost will be reborn and take control of the land. Of course things do not go to plan and instead a fight of biblical proportions takes place with only the Samurai Bride having the fighting power to stop it.
Storyline elements, and potential spoilers aside, this Blu-ray release of Samurai Bride returns Manga Entertainment UK to top form – so its well worth the delays it received – as not only the picture quality as the quality you expect it to be but the chapter placements and episode markers are all in the correct places; furthermore the subtitles are the original Sentai Filmworks produced version so no generalised brutishness here. It’s all positives here on the Blu-ray front and it’s a similar story with the English dub; as while it may be woeful it does retain the original voice actors from the first series – so if you enjoyed the English dub of the first season you’ll easily find yourself accustomed to this. Personally however I found the Japanese (with English Subtitles) version to be more enjoyable to watch – for obvious reasons. Its not just the presentation either; as the selection of bonus materials, both in terms of animated shorts and promotional materials, is also worth some praise.
In short Samurai Bride may feature questionable content, such as the naked bath scenes, sexual innuendoes, skimpy clothing and breast groping, but it somehow manages to provide the right amount of entertainment when it needs to. If you can ignore the, in my eyes, over-the-top fan service and you have seen the original series then Samurai Bride is worth checking out; as at the end of the day it is a pretty fun show.
Samurai Bride – The Complete Collection is now available on DVD and Blu-ray within the UK.