Shigurui Death Frenzy (2007) DVD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Feature 8.0
Video 9.0
Audio 8.5
Special Features 7.0
Total 8.5
Distributor: Madman
Classification: MA15+
Running Time: 300 minutes
Reviewer:
David Murcott

8.5


Shigurui Death Frenzy (2007) 

It is the year 1629 and a sadistic feudal overlord in search of amusement has summoned some of the country’s leading warriors to do battle in the grounds of his palace.  Much to his surprise and disdain, the first to square off are a pair of disfigured samurai, one blind and crippled, the other with only one arm.  Before a single blow can be dealt the viewer is taken back in time via a series of flashbacks, and the history of the two swordsmen is expounded in detail.  Their initial bloody encounter, subsequent love rivalry and the manner in which each came to be maimed are all explored over the course of the series’ 12 episodes. 

Visceral in the truest sense, this is definitely not one for the kiddies, as blood, semen, innards and gore are spattered liberally throughout.  A combination of traditional and computer techniques, Shigurui’s animation is, however, truly superb and remains multifaceted and luminous without degenerating into gratuitous exhibitionism.  The minimalist and percussive score is also a masterful affair, heightening the drama of action sequences without distracting from the spectacle.  The Japanese voice actors do a convincing job, and though dialogue is somewhat sparse it is employed effectively, complementing the predominantly visual narrative exposition. 

Based on a popular manga, this vibrant and compelling series draws much inspiration from the 17th century philosophical work The Book of the Samurai, which states that ‘the way of the samurai is found in death’.  Death Frenzy certainly lives up to its name and the ethos of the text , with many graphic (though artfully staged) encounters between its master swordsmen.  The series also contains some highly confronting subject matter, with sexual violence, incest and pederasty all unflinchingly depicted as part of the daily life of these complex and often morally ambiguous characters.  The storyline is an expansive one, incorporating feudal lore, bloody conflicts, crises of conscience and perennial figures of Japanese mythology such as the blind swordsman.  Furthermore the narrative has been deftly handled, and though it unfolds gradually and contains some extremely weighty themes it maintains clarity and avoids veering into obscure melodrama.   

All in all this is a challenging and richly rendered epic that will appeal to both hardened anime buffs and newcomers to the genre alike. 

Special Features

24-page booklet with interviews, production notes and historical background

Audio commentaries with writers, producers and voice actors

Artwork galleries

Character Bios

Trailers






 
 



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