What They Say:
In a world where history took a different path, Japan has been isolated from the outside world by steam-powered robots that repel all invaders. Inside Japan, however, the people are divided into feuding and fighting feudal factions. Feisty Keiichiro Tokugawa dreams of changing this and unifying Japan, and he just may be the one man who can use the legendary giant robot Susanoo.
Unfortunately, just touching a woman makes him break out in hives, and the Susanoo ALSO requires a female copilot. In VERY close quarters. And just to twist the katana, while there seem to be plenty of women who might covet the copilot’s seat, not all of them have his best interests at heart! Who can he trust? Kiriko the Ninja? Chiharu the fox-demon? Or will Keiichiro’s rash ambitions be thwarted by rashes and a totally rational phobia of the female form? It’s a giant robot show like no other as the birds, the bees, and the giant robots take flight in Dai Shogun!
The audio presentation for this series is rather straightforward as we get the original Japanese language only in stereo encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is one that works the familiar blend of dialogue and action so that it has a good balance to it. The action side doesn’t run quite as long as one would expect but it’s well supported by the music which gives it some additional warmth and overall feeling. The forward soundstage handles all of it well with the mecha running about and the impact they have but it’s not something that goes above and beyond in any way. Dialogue is similar in that it’s solid and serves the material well, whether it’s the quieter scenes or the bigger dramatic pieces, and that makes it easy to keep up with as there are no problems with it during playback such as dropouts, distortions or bad levels.
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Being a monolingual release, all twelve episodes are kept to just one Blu-ray disc here. Animated by JC Staff and ACGT, the show has a colorful, bright, and vibrant look about it that definitely works to give it some real pop and engagement. I like the look the show and the characters and it translates well here. The downside is that some of the animation goes for cheap digital tricks to give it some movement from time to time and it just looks rubbery and fake. For the most part, however, it comes across with a good look to it and has the right color design and detail to give it a better look than a show like this might ordinarily have.
The packaging design for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the single disc inside. The front cover doesn’t try to hide what part of the show is all about as we get three of the lead female characters spread across it completely nude if not for the band of white light across it. It makes it clear that there’s plenty of T&A here and makes no bones about it. The background is given over to the Susanoo design and that gives it a bit more weight and detail, especially against the softer green of the background that contrasts the vivid red aspect of the red-light district element of the logo along the bottom. The back cover goes for something a bit more of the time period with the darker wood colors and some yellows for contrast that works nicely. We get a clean premise summary, albeit at an awkward angle, and a good slate of images from the show that are a bit bigger than normal in some case and shows off more of the look. The episode count is clearly listed as are the extras while the remainder breaks down the production credits and the technical information in a clean and accurate way.
The menu design for this release goes simple with a single static image for this disc and a big piece of actual navigation due to there being some really long episode titles. The breakdown works well as the episodes are listed by number and title in a clean fashion that’s easy to read while set against darker pieces similar to the back cover packaging, while the right side uses one of the more familiar (and clothed) images that promoted the series before its release. It’s got a lot of detail and great color to it and the logo itself has some great pop to it. It’s easy to navigate as there’s little here but it’s smooth and works well as a pop-up menu as well.
The only extras included with this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
An original series that aired in the summer 2014 season, Dai-Shogun: Great Revolution is a twelve episode series that was animated by JC Staff and ACGT. The series had me interested since it was written by Dai Sato, who has done some great scripting on big shows like Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell: SAC, Ergo Proxy and some very fun Space Dandy episodes. It was bolstered with Takashi Watanabe directing as he’d done some fun shows I’ve enjoyed over the year from Slayers to Starship Operators and some solid action pieces like Aria the Scarlet Ammo’s first season. What got me to move this to the top of the pile was the overt amount of fanservice on the front cover as I was totally in the mood for something trashy and fun.
Unfortunately, the series kind of misfires in a lot of ways and instead of really grabbing the concept and running with it ends up feeling disjointed and unsure of itself. It’s almost like we have two different series here as the first half is all about the introduction of the main cast while the second half brings in more characters from a different location, expands on the past, and then sets a larger stage that simply doesn’t grab you like it should. What helps it remain fun during a lot of this, though, is that it does stick to the silly fanservice and it has some fun with the steampunk-ish mecha aspects. Initially, we’re told that the advancement of civilization here is all about the steampowered side of things, but there’s not much evidence of that in Nagasaki where most of the show takes place. It’s fairly familiar and normal for the most part as most of the steam we see come from the bathhouse.
We’re introduced to series lead Keiichiro, a young man who has been raised there by an elderly woman that runs the bathhouse. She’s kept him in check for the most part when it comes to his young male tendencies towards the other gender as he’s somehow remained a virgin all these years. It’s even more impressive when you consider thta he’s largely bested everyone in Nagasaki to be considered the best and kind of street boss that supposedly wields some power and influence, but it’s not something that we really see for the most part. Keiichiro is a kind of fun rough and tumble young man that is looking for a bigger conquest to make out there and is feeling limited in Nagasaki where he’s done most of this with his sworn brother Hyakusuke – a kind of mild comedic sidekick.
All of this changes with the arrival of Kiriko, a ninja from the Iga clan that has come to essentially unlock Keiichiro and who he really is. Kiriko’s your standard very chest-heavy young woman that uses seduction to get her way, but part of that here is to prove that Keiichiro is actually a virgin because that’s what’s needed to power the Susanoo, a steam powered mecha of which there’s a light/dark angle at play with other ones out there. The familiar aspect is certainly there and no surprises to be had. The fun part is that we learn that Keiichiro is actually a Tokugawa offspring that had been hidden secretly years ago and it’s his bloodline combined with the virginity that allows him to operate the big machine and protect Nagasaki. It’s not a world that he’s thrilled to be a part of, yet at the same time it offers him the potential to leave and go to Edo to truly assume his destiny. Which, naturally, he’ll waffle about doing the whole season instead of actually doing it.
The first half throws a lot of the basics at us for all of this as we see the secrets revealed, the first opponent arriving and causing a lot of destruction in typical crazy-girl opponent fashion, but Hokoin also really gets into the fights as she gets incredibly turned on by it, making for some comical moments as she and Keiichiro fight – both in the mecha and elsewhere. The show has its own kind of silly fun in these early episodes as we see how Keiichiro acts and as the secrets are revealed, but at the same time it never feels like we get to know these characters and their place in the scheme of things. It feels superficial and without what it needs to really make it connect in an engaging way. There’s a lot of fun interplay between the characters, especially as they halfheartedly force the whole Kiriko and Keiichiro “romance,” but there isn’t much to really sink your teeth into.
The second half is where the show lost me more though as it stepped back in time twenty-one years to when the Black Ships arrived and how the Susanoo and others were involved in destroying that fleet and setting the tone for international relations between Japan and the outside world. WE get more characters that step up to the plate once it gets back to the present time and shows us things going on in Edo at this time with some political intrigue along with the clans and control of the emperor through concubines, but it feels like we’ve stepped into a different show when it starts this and when it shifts back to Keiichiro it feels like it loses the momentum it had, floundering even more. There are neat elements to it with the mecha and those that pilot it, again going back to the pervy side of things, but almost everything introduced in the second half as part of the bigger picture just comes across poorly and didn’t work for me, making it more of a trudge to get through rather than a building-upon point.
Dai-Shogun: Great Revolution has a lot of familiar trappings to it and is backed up by a solid production and creative team. But it never feels like it comes together well in terms of the story and has some weak moments of animation as well. There are fun if familiar ideas here and some of the execution works, but there’s such a shift halfway through that I felt like it never recovered from and that lessened my enjoyment the further it went on. There aren’t a lot of shows that really work with steam powered mecha overall so there’s an appeal there for fans and they’ll likely enjoy this more than me, though the pervy side could be a dealbreaker for others. Sentai put together a solid release overall with a clean transfer and a good look about it, though the show didn’t do well enough in its simulcast and its general tracking to warrant a dub unfortunately. Still, for those that are interested in this genre you could do a whole lot worse.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: January 5th, 2016
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.