Seven brides for a single general?
What They Say:
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!
The audio presentation for this release is a solid one when it comes to stereo mixes as it has both the English and Japanese tracks in lossless format using DTS-HD MA as its codec. The show has a pretty good balance of action and dialogue, and silliness, and it works well across the board when it comes to keeping the viewer involved. The dialogue side of it handles things very well with some good quiet scenes where the importance of the moment can be heard well while the action builds up to a big level in an appropriate way. The opening and closing sequences are the strongest when it comes to an overall stereo experience, but the show works very well throughout though it doesn’t have anything that you can really call a huge standout moment. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2013, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episode series is spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second which also contains all the extras, which roughly runs the length of another episode. This series has a very distinct look when it comes to its design and it’s definitely appealing because it is going its own route, from thicker outlines of the character artwork to a very stylized series of backgrounds. While the transfer for the first season had a few issues to it, the transfer for the second season has a lot going for it and the show definitely comes through with its style, especially if you had watched the simulcast. And it’s uncensored, which makes a huge difference. Colors are great, the designs are spot on an the detail carries through really well here. It may not be the most vibrant show, but it hits all the right notes overall.
The packaging for this two disc release gets a standard sized Blu-ray case with no hinge so each disc is against the interior sides of it. The front cover uses some really appealing illustration artwork of five of the lead female characters against a white background where the black brush stroke covers much of what’s behind them. It uses both the Japanese and English parts of the logo along the top which gives it a bit more color and style that works really well. The character artwork here is really strong but it does change it up from in the show by using thinner borders around them. The back cover splits things up in three ways with the left side featuring more character artwork and the extras while the right showcasing the summary. The middle split has the shots from the show with the total episode and disc count. The bottom is standard fare that lays out the production information and technical grid that covers everything cleanly and accurately. The release has no inserts included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu layout for this release is pretty nice as it uses the same styling and designs from the cover with each volume featuring a different cast configuration along the left side with the logo attached to it in both English and Japanese. The character artwork for the show has a very good look to it and its reflected here, though the artwork here doesn’t use the same thickness to the line work, which eases the differences a marked amount. The right side, using the paintbrush look, has the listing of all the episodes by number and name with the language selection and the special features to it. It’s a good looking menu and I like the change-up by having the navigation on the right, which is used for the popup as well. While it takes up some real estate during playback, it’s easy to pick out the episode numbers even if the titles themselves are small, and that makes it easy to see where you are in the disc. The release didn’t read our players’ language presets and defaulted to English with sign/song subtitles.
The big extra for this release are the bonus shorts which run just about three minutes each but there are six of them. They’re light, amusing and full of fanservice overall and it’s completely free of any male influence, so it’s all about the girls, the boobs, the butts and the fanservice. In addition to that, we get the original previews, the Japanese Blu-ray commercial spots and the clean opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the 2010 series doing better than I think a lot of people anticipated, the original production team included, it took another three years to get the second season out, which went with the same Samurai Bride instead of Samurai Girls. The show is essentially more of the same in a way and while that could be problematic with some series, it actually works in its favor here. We spent the first season being introduced to everyone and growing that overall group of women that Muneakira ended up being associated with and this one takes that, adds a little more and nudges the larger storyline forward. But honestly, and this isn’t a slam, the larger story doesn’t mean much. You can ignore it for the most part and just enjoy the characters and their interactions as well as the action and the fanservice without feeling like you’re missing anything by skipping on the big story via subplot.
After the events of the first season and the scale of events, which went big but still felt like it was within a proper realm of reason when you consider the characters involved, Muneakira went off for awhile and has now returned to the dojo. Unfortunately, the dojo isn’t what it once was as it’s now a… maid cafe? Amusingly, and I do mean amusingly, the dojo is stuck in even harder times after that victory because Sen’s brother claimed the victory for it, which meant he kept the money that was garnered from the action, and that has put the girls in even more of a pinch. So in order to make ends meet and pay off their debts, they’re forced to run this cafe. That means some maid costumes, though they’re not a dominating factor, and some fun material involving the weird nature of such a thing happening, particularly with the way Muneakira is just kind of stunned by it.
This material sort of dominates the first five or so episodes of the season as we get him figuring out how to exist in this kind of setting and the way the girls act with it. Kanetsugu is rather into it compared to the others at times and that makes for some cute moments, especially in contrast to Gisen who wants nothing to do with it. Most of them are just going on with it. Where the change comes in is during a maid cafe competition that comes up in order to determine who the best in the region is, the girls end up facing off against another group that has a darker feeling to them. Which is why it’s appropriate that they become called the Dark Samurai who in turn provide quite the challenge ahead for the group. What really cements the challenge though is that in a particularly daring attack on the girls, Muneakira’s power gets sealed and that puts him out of commission.
Luckily, this shift also puts the maid cafe behind us while introducing us to a new character that comes into play with Keiji. Keiji’s interesting in that she’s competent and confident, but not boisterously so, and she’s needed by the group to help them train in using their spiritual ki. That ability is needed to face these Dark Samurai and push back against the background ground threat of darkness that exists in this Japan that threatens to infect it with a sickness that will turn it all to ash. It’s a natural extension and next phase aspect to what we had seen in the first season so even though there are some familiar beats to the story here, it does work well to build on what has come before. It doesn’t feel like a retreated and it adds some real element of danger to things because in order to do the training that will lead them to a way of “fixing” Muneakira, it will end up causing the death of most of the girls. So the show places us in that natural position of true danger that you know they’ll get past, but it’s interesting to see how it all comes together since the girls have formed a decent bond around the young man.
Similar to my feelings on the first season, there’s a very good sense of fun about the show here. This season really does go with the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. The design elements of the series are one of the bigger draws and that works just as well here, fanservice and all, though that feels like in some ways it’s eased up a bit. The bonus shorts takes care of that though. The creative team here really does a good job in adapting the light novels and breathing life into them as we get something really fun to watch here that, even while it does familiar things, does it with a sense of style and choreography that makes it come alive and feel fresh. The visual presentation is the big plus here but they also know how to work with familiar story material and characters and make them fun when they’d otherwise be just more stereotypes.
With a couple of years between seasons, there’s always a fear that it’s just not going to be the same. It’s hard to recapture that magic in a bottle again. Samurai Girls was definitely something that clicked very well for me back in 2010 and I was excited about a new installment. All that excitement was well rewarded here as we get a very fun show that takes the characters, nudges them along with a few tweaks and builds on what came before. Not in a huge and radical way, but more natural and obvious. I can see this feeling a bit more forced if it had come right after the first season, more repetitive of the first, but with a bit of distance between them the growth comes across smoothly. This kind of show isn’t for everyone, but they do well for obvious reasons and Samurai Bride does it with a lot of style that helps take it up an extra level or two. Definitely fun and great to be a part of this world again.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Blu-ray Promos, Samurai Bride Shorts, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animations
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: June 24th, 2014
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.