What They Say:
Based on the hit video game series from the Dynasty Warriors franchise, this dramatic reimagining of one of Japan’s most revered historical periods throws you head first into the middle of an epic battle royale. Follow along as your favorite hacking, slashing characters from the video game meet once more on the battlefield.
Under the banner of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, brothers Yukimura and Nobuyuki Sanada fought to end the wars raging across Japan uniting the country under one peaceful rule. After many hard-won battles their victory was sealed, but unfortunately the peace lasted only as long as Hideyoshi himself. After his untimely death, the very men who believed in his cause were split down the middle… and for the first time, the Sanada brothers found themselves on opposing sides of a conflict. As they gear up to go to war with one another they find themselves torn between their duty as warriors, and their bond as brothers. At the end of the day, only one side can win—but which brother will come out on top?
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded at 192kbps and the English language mix in 5.1 which is encoded at 448kbps. The series works a decent balance of action and dialogue so that each episode has something lively in it but it’s not one that really stretches itself. It’s fairly straightforward fight material with some nice accents on the sound effects for things like the horses and other pieces of the war machines. The dialogue has some decent placement from time to time but it’s also not an area where it’s going to stretch itself much. The balance between the two makes for a solid presentation overall as it captures the design that was intended and comes across clean and clear throughout.
Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs in an eight/four format with the extras on the second disc. Animated by TYO Animations and Tezuka Productions, the series has a kind of basic look about it that feels like it could have been made anytime in the last twenty years or so. It’s solid and competent but it doesn’t have anything distinctive and the action scenes don’t stand out. The color designs are good with no real noise to be had in the solid color fields and the high motion scenes are handled well. It’s a bright and colorful design that hits all the right notes with the way it’s encoded that should make most fans happy.
The packaging for this release is done up in a standard sized clear DVD case that has an o-card that replicates the artwork of the case itself. It’s a familiar key visual piece with the cast splintered off into different segments on it but it works with the weapon speared through it and the variety and color to it all. It’s also a bit brighter and stronger with the o-card cardstock that gives it a nice boost. THe back cover goes for a dark black background with some decent character artwork blended into it while having some paper style background over it that breaks down the summary of the premise. The few shots from the show are decent and we get a good clean look at the extras and episode count. The rest is the usual with a minor production section and a small but clean technical grid. While there are no show related inserts we get a nice two-panel spread with the leads on one side when they were young and the other with them as they are in the series.
The menu design for this release goes with a simple approach that works nicely as we get a static image that’s the same for both discs with our primary red and blue characters along the left. With the fiery reds and yellows in the background, it has some decent pop to it and stands out well. The navigation is to the right of them with the English logo and the basic navigation that’s quick to load and easy to move around in. Selections are straightforward and everything is smoothly functional.
The extras for this release are interesting as we get the nearly hourlong Legend of Sanada special. This was a pre-broadcast special that essentially recaps a decent chunk of the series as it introduces the characters and basic motivations of what’s going on. After watching the show I only skimmed it because of what it is and just couldn’t bring myself to revisit what I had just watched. Beyond that, we also get the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After putting out a special in early 2014, the main series for Samurai Warriors arrived in the winter 2015 season for a twelve episode run. Based on the Samurai Wars 4-II game and following up the special, this series was animated by TYO Animations and Tezuka Productions. Directed by Kojin Ochi from the scripts by Yuka Yamada, the series essentially gives us fairly standard sengoku era style material. We’ve seen a lot of these shows over the years and there’s definitely a wide range of ways to tell the tale. What Samurai Warriors wants to do is to just tell us the most basic and simplest of stories when you get down to it and that’s its undoing. Because we’ve seen creative ways of bringing it to life, going to something more basic just reminds us of why it doesn’t work.
The story is straightforward in that it takes place with the kind of infighting that we expected of this era with the various sides going at it. It’s primary focus is on Yukimura Sanada as he’s considered one of the threats to the potential new way coming with a unified nation where samurai ethics will be turned toward governance, it moves back and forth in trying to deal with him and what he represents. There’s this good sized faction of samurai and other warriors that simply love to fight and are uneasy to say the least about the era of the samurai coming to an end. So we get to see elements of this from time to time but the show isn’t really trying to tell a story. When it has to deal with these issues it almost comes across as a history lesson more than anything else as it talks about what’s going on and why.
Quite frankly, the more this show went on and the more characters came into play that just lean into their tried and true formulas, the more we saw familiar places like Sekigahara and the struggles of the various factions, the more the show simply turned me off. It’s decently put together in the technical sense but it has no life, no energy or enthusiasm to it that helps it to separate itself out into something that stands on its own. We’ve seen more than enough good game to anime adaptations over the years and even within this particular field of material but Samurai Warriors is what you basically call a baseline. Which is fine when you’re starting this kind of run at a story but after a couple of decades of shows about this period that I’ve watched now the baseline just doesn’t cut it at all.
I’ve seen this story so many times that it really doesn’t register all that much anymore. There are fun and creative things that can be done with it as we’ve seen over the years but Samurai Warriors simply doesn’t do that. It could easily exist ten years ago as is and twenty years ago as well. Fans of the show will be glad to have it and likely don’t care much that there isn’t a Blu-ray release because they’re just looking to see the adventures of their favorite characters. This show didn’t do a thing for me but it’s at least put together well in the technical sense.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Legend of the Sanada
Content Grade: C-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: June 26th, 2017
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic 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.