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REVIEW: Shigurui: Death Frenzy DVD


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vashfanatic



Joined: 16 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 11:09 pm Reply with quote
This is not a series I would ever want to have to review. Not just because my own feelings on it are so mixed (beautiful art, nauseating story), but because whichever way you reviewed it, positively or negatively, you'll get eaten alive by the opposition. Have fun, Mr. Kliminger...

edit: half an hour later, maybe not... or maybe I'm the only person who keeps these hours?
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HellKorn



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:03 am Reply with quote
Hm. Fun.

Litmus test for reasonable responses! Will the fans of atmosphere and/or hyper-violence be as unreasonably fanatical as moe fans? STAY TUNED.

I'd also be interested to see Carl respond, as the rare times when I do take the time to reply, I've never seen a response from a reviewer.

Oh, and why is the art given a "D-"? That doesn't make sense. Production values for this series is gorgeous, no argument.

Carl Kimlinger wrote:
To Shigurui, feudal Japan isn't the admittedly merciless land of adventure portrayed in Akira Kurosawa samurai films.

Well, obviously. It's a hyper-violent Harakiri -- what do you expect?

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And for viewers who like their entertainment gory, sadistic and full of gratuitous sex, it's heaven.

I'm not remembering the gratuitous sex, actually.

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Manga-ka Takayuki Yamaguchi, the brain (for lack of a better word)...

Man, you really had fun writing this.

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In Shigurui's world women are objects to be traded, the handicapped are smug, back-stabbing cowards, and homosexuals are self-fellating perverts who leave a trail of bloodied boys in their wake. There's un-PC fun, and then there's pure bad taste. This is the latter, and it isn't the kind of thing that can be excused in the name of realism.

Uh, you're trying to correlate a variety of different things here. You're not only stating that these characters are insinuating that these negative traits are emblematic (that homosexuals are EVILLLL), but also insinuating -- also partially based on earlier remarks -- that the writer is deranged. Oh, and that fiction is moral.

This specific point actually reminds me of a lot of the comments in regards to Watchmen; not that Snyder didn't unnecessarily stylize the violence when the original comic does not, but still.

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To be sure medieval Japan was not kind to women, but the frequency with which the series subjects its female cast to rape, sexual humiliation and nipple-ripping violence can't help but open it up to accusations of misogyny.

Because it's showing that the male characters who committ such attrocities are in the right, and not insane and driven by pure egomania, right?

Not to mention the exaggeration, like much of the review.

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If the show had an ounce of humor in it—just enough to fool yourself into thinking that perhaps it's a parody of testosterone-addled entertainment—then it wouldn't quite so sick-making; but it doesn't.

I don't think any fan of the show or the original manga believe that it's humorous per se; it's definitely absurd, though.

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The casting is uniformly accurate, and the actors do a fair job of differentiating their characters even when the look-alike designs don't.

Is this really the reason for the art rating?

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In them Chris Bevins makes several unfortunate comparisons to the works of Akira Kurosawa (by way of Takashi Miike), David Cronenberg and David Lynch—all of whom, the long-deceased Kurosawa included, can excrete more wit and intelligence after a breakfast of bad burritos than this series can muster throughout its entire length.

I really don't like calling reviewers hypocrites, because that's targetting the reviewer themselves and not the content. However, considering that Cronenberg, Miike and Lynch have their own fair share of excess and criticism, could you properly defend this addition without just using it as a justification for your witty metaphor?

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Though even gorehounds may find the series' conclusion, which fails to resolve any of the major conflicts, singularly unsatisfying.

Uh, no, the ending itself resolves many of the series' conflicts.

But, uh, go ahead with the generalized insults, I guess.

vashfanatic wrote:
edit: half an hour later, maybe not... or maybe I'm the only person who keeps these hours?

Depends on if you're the occasional insomniac like I am. Razz (Though I'm not usually up this late.)
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Acinom
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:23 am Reply with quote
Can't say I'm surprised. I saw the first couple episodes on Funimation's website and was holding out hope that there was more to it other than the grotesque shock value.
I was enthralled with Texhnolyze, so I had high hopes for Shigurui.
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Ian K



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:40 am Reply with quote
I fell compelled to respond because someone reading the review might think that only a truly messed up person would find anything worth watching in Shigurui, and in case a reader takes a look through the comments I want to give them a different perspective.

Shigurui has a lot of over-the-top violence and sex, and I can't say it isn't at least partially intended to be gratuitous. I think less of no one (the reviewer included) for being turned off by these elements, they really go farther than I think is necessary.

However, the plot and character development, once it gets going, is quite strong, and I found it thought provoking as well. Whether it is because, or in spite of, the efforts of the creators I won't judge (I feel the criticism of heavy-handed symbolism is particularly valid), but for me the show is powerful and compelling, in an nihilistic sort of way. The characters change, and so do our feelings about them, going from sympathetic to repulsed to still repulsed but once again sympathetic.

I found the final parapgraph ridiculously funny, though, much as I may have disagreed with it.

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Oh, and why is the art given a "D-"? That doesn't make sense. Production values for this series is gorgeous, no argument.


Sure, I found the character designs confusing at times, too, but this seems a bit much, especially when the almost non-existent animation gets a B+.

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Well, obviously. It's a hyper-violent Harakiri -- what do you expect?


Best samurai movie ever, in my opinion (yes, it beats kurosawa's stuff).

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edit: half an hour later, maybe not... or maybe I'm the only person who keeps these hours?


I try not to, but I seem to end up doing it anyways.

EDIT: off topic - Acinom, that has to be one of the best avatars ever created.
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vashfanatic



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:48 am Reply with quote
Actually, while I'm no real fan of the series (I could barely stomach viewing it just once), I do think that Mr. Kliminger missed the point that this series is not intended to glorify what it displays; rather, by slathering on layer upon layer of depravity and despair, it wants to tarnish the myth of the "glorious samurai era" by having not a single character who is truly noble or admirable (much less likable). I say there are better ways of doing this than Shigurui, but it isn't an old-school "Killing = Fun!" anime. It's supposed to leave you with a bad taste in your mouth.

This would be helped if they hadn't "translated" the title as "Death Frenzy." It's actually a reference to a passage from a book on Bushido (it's too late right now for me to look it up) where it says that a samurai's strength is "deadly madness," a phrase that summarizes this series pretty darn well...
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Jedi General



Joined: 27 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:49 am Reply with quote
HellKorn wrote:
Litmus test for reasonable responses! Will the fans of atmosphere and/or hyper-violence be as unreasonably fanatical as moe fans? STAY TUNED.


Oh ho ho! I'll be staying tuned alright. Very Happy Especially given the fact that I, like you, absolutely love Shigurui. I don't consider myself to be a "gorehound" either, as Carl so wrongly generalized.

I have to agree with you on the art grade though. Carl gave Shin Chan's art an "F." So by giving Shigurui a "D-," he's saying that Shigurui's gorgeous art is only slightly better off? What the hell?

Carl Kimlinger wrote:
It's an approach that has served him well in the past, but what worked for the sci-fi crypticism of Texhnolyze feels alien and pretentious when applied to a series that is basically Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman with extra brain spillage.


Pretentious? Not at all. Hamasaki's direction is one of the more predominant reasons why I found Shigurui to be so great. His sense of style and atmosphere is so superb that it elevates this series above the usual hyper-violent series. Not to mention Kiyoshi Yoshida's takes it upon himself to create a score to match Hamasaki's ambitions and succeeds wonderfully.

Carl Kimlinger wrote:
Sadistic, gut-spilling violence for the mindless cretin in us all.


Huh? Shigurui may not be the deepest anime in the world, but it certainly is far from mindless. The plotting isn't completely linear, so you definitely need some semblance of a brain in order to follow along.

Then again:

Carl Kimlinger wrote:
Though even gorehounds may find the series' conclusion, which fails to resolve any of the major conflicts, singularly unsatisfying.


Sure, Shirgurui doesn't come full circle (blame the incompleteness of the manga for that), but plenty was resolved. Well, if one actually pays close attention to the "mindless" plotting and character development, that is. It also goes without saying that the final fight is riveting beyond belief.

Carl Kimlinger wrote:
the show had an ounce of humor in it—just enough to fool yourself into thinking that perhaps it's a parody of testosterone-addled entertainment—then it wouldn't quite so sick-making; but it doesn't.


Uh .... you lost me there. Shigurui isn't intended to be funny. Yeah, it's ridiculous and can't be taken completely seriously, but any intentional humor certainly would have been terribly out-of-place. What did you expect?

Ian K wrote:
Quote:

Oh, and why is the art given a "D-"? That doesn't make sense. Production values for this series is gorgeous, no argument.


Sure, I found the character designs confusing at times, too, but this seems a bit much, especially when the almost non-existent animation gets a B+.


Almost non-existent? Seriously?
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Ian K



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 1:11 am Reply with quote
@Jedi General:

Quote:
Almost non-existent? Seriously?


Okay, there was animation, its usage was just, um, unusual. Most shows save the animation budget for the fight scenes, and use still shots, pans, and other shortcuts for the quieter bits. Shigurui, on the other hand, had some very well animated contemplative bits, but then had very little movement in the fight scenes. It was an odd stylistic choice, to say the least.

And count me as someone else who liked the ending. It didn't catch up with what they showed at the beginning, I know, but it resolved plenty.
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DKL



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 1:42 am Reply with quote
A fascinating theme Hamasaki touches upon in here and in Texhnolyze is the idea of "permanent damage"; one thing emphasized in Texhnolyze greatly was the idea of conveying the damage realistically; while Shigurui does stretch itself in parts, (well, Texhnolyze too, really) I actually found myself rather convinced at the pain that people would feel when damage was levied upon them.

(think of how Gus Van Sant manages to make the dude who gets runned over the train in Paranoid Park feel real, despite the outlandishness of it; I'd like to think that Hamasaki has a sensibility somewhat similar to it, looking past all the stylized Kawajiri-isms *who actually storyboarded the last episode, interestingly enough*)

As for the David Cronenberg comparison... I buy it; I've seen A History of Violence (which sort of suffers from an "obvious-ness" in the script that reminded me of the original Cape Fear: this is the idealized American life... but stuff happens and ruins it) and Eastern Promises (which was a lot better; loved the bathhouse sequence and its sheer brutality) and I think Hamasaki does a great job of making the pain seem... well, painful (like Cronenberg does).

ANYWAY, Shigurui is actually more than just its violence; it takes a surprisingly detailed look at something that I don't actually see a whole lot (in anime, anyway... but yeah, maybe I'm not seeing enough things?): the immense rigidity of Samurai culture (which Shinichiro Watanabe makes fun of in his super excellent Samurai Champloo, but that's besides the point). The political aspects connected to it are intriguing as well; the look of disdain on people's faces when they realize that they don't have a choice but to hold the sword tournament with real swords speaks VOLUMES: given the culture (where, as far as I can tell, you're suppose to obey those above you), they have no choice...

But that doesn't mean that they have to like it, but the circumstances forces people to just sit there and take it (and scowl with varying degrees of dissatisfaction).

And there was even interesting bits of scheming: I was particularly interested in how Kogan Iwamoto's dreams of success were shattered when he was tricked into covering his extra finger (that tension of the rigidity of the culture can really be felt during exchanges like this).

Later on in the show, there was an interesting conflict with trying to get an audience with someone: given how high up in the food chain he was, it was described as "almost like getting an audience with the Shogun himself" or something like that and that rigidity in the culture pretty much tied their hands, despite the fact that they were playing into a trap.

But yeah... it's those extra little layers that really put this beyond the realm of "mindless violent entertainment" and I'd like to think that Hamasaki didn't suddenly forget how to tell a layered, texture-rich story, despite the deceivingly simple nature of the show.

As for the art... honestly, I like that the characters come in various shapes and sizes; I like that I can see age lines; I like the individualized physiognomies and that I can actually see the architecture of the skull... these aren't the prettiest people most of the time, but like... you know: that's what real life is sometimes.

As for accusations of misogyny and homophobia...

Would buy into misogyny a little (like Kawajiri's work, Hamasaki doesn't hide the fact that he eroticizes women), but homophobia... I dunno; I don't really feel like the depiction of Homosexuality necessarily dictates a mindset that ALL gay people are not-so-nice-people... it's just that the gay people in the thing happen to be not-so-nice-people (and it's not like the straight people in the thing are much better or less flawed, really; men exploit women... men also exploit other men... it's usually men doing the exploiting for that matter).

Yes, there's that one scene, but it did a good job of showing that there's the culture (the twin dudes are tasked with getting wives), and there's what they actually do (and even if the partners were women... they'd probably still be not-so-nice-people); I actually liked that sequence in a sense that it showed the damage and cruelty of those twin dudes and it made no effort to hide the fact that they used men as sexual objects: this is something that people do (on that note, the sexual exploitation of men isn't necessarily something I actually see a whole lot (it's usually women)... god, I think I've only seen it done in Gus Van Sant movies... Mala Noche was a movie about that and the kid in Paranoid Park was sexually exploited by his girlfriend).

That said, Yamazaki's sexual attraction with the new kid was rather interesting; in an explosive montage of sexual imagery, Yamazaki's obsession was conveyed really effectively and acknowledged the fact that: yes... some Samurai were probably gay (which, as far as I can tell, probably isn't a popular subject in Samurai stories).

Well... or maybe my view is skewed because the gay thing isn't actually touched upon seriously in animu (from what I've seen anyway); I don't know.

Blah blah blah, stuff.
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Zalis116
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:04 am Reply with quote
Just a little question for those who have seen both this series and Funimation's future offering, Mnemosyne. How do the violence levels compare between the 2 series? I'm guessing that Shigurui rates higher on the ultra-violence scale, but how much higher?
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vashfanatic



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:12 am Reply with quote
Zalis116 wrote:
Just a little question for those who have seen both this series and Funimation's future offering, Mnemosyne. How do the violence levels compare between the 2 series? I'm guessing that Shigurui rates higher on the ultra-violence scale, but how much higher?


Higher on the violence, lower on the sexual content.

I feel uneasy with Shigurui; I ****ing hate Mnemosyne.

(self-censored)
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rekishi



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:30 am Reply with quote
HellKorn wrote:

Litmus test for reasonable responses! Will the fans of atmosphere and/or hyper-violence be as unreasonably fanatical as moe fans? STAY TUNED.


not today, i don't have the energy... but lets just say i pretty much agree with everything you said, and disagree with everything thing said (or rather, the tone in which it was said) in the review...

Shigurui is a damn good series... it's nice to see an anime in these modern times that isn't afraid to show things that aren't... "popular"... the world is drowning in political correctness... the fact that this series offends people... kinda makes me happy... since it's proof that not everyone on the planet wants to conform and braid up with the rest of the sheep and not make waves...

don't go by what the review says... watch it for yourself, and make an informed decision for yourself... if the review is to be believed, it's nothing more than one massive fan-service to gore-ophiles... which isn't true...
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Acinom
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 3:47 am Reply with quote
rekishi wrote:


not today, i don't have the energy... but lets just say i pretty much agree with everything you said, and disagree with everything thing said (or rather, the tone in which it was said) in the review...

Shigurui is a damn good series... it's nice to see an anime in these modern times that isn't afraid to show things that aren't... "popular"... the world is drowning in political correctness... the fact that this series offends people... kinda makes me happy... since it's proof that not everyone on the planet wants to conform and braid up with the rest of the sheep and not make waves...

don't go by what the review says... watch it for yourself, and make an informed decision for yourself... if the review is to be believed, it's nothing more than one massive fan-service to gore-ophiles... which isn't true...

The fact that people dislike Shigurui is less about political correctness and more about going against human nature. Humans are social creatures. Thus it would prove that if we were grotesquely cruel and violent towards each other on a regular basis our social structure would fall apart. We'd cease to be social.

There are plenty of shows out there with violence, but the violence is conveyed in such a way that the audience can remain detached and undisturbed, yet still get the general idea of what's going on. From what I've seen, Shigurui takes it a step further. Shigurui doesn't spare the audience from the depravity of its characters.

spoiler[Ex: The samurai disemboweling himself. Needless to say this goes against basic human nature. People just don't disembowel themselves on a regular basis. Not to mention we get a decent tour of his innards prior, which allows less audience members to remain aloof to the events happening on screen. As the samurai lays dieing in front of his lord, the exact opposite of what he was trying to prevent occurs. Instead of being horrified, the lord is transfixed by the samurai's display and wants to see more.
This is a genuinely horrifying scene because the events that transpire defy human self-preservation and the human capacity for compassion. Being "politically incorrect" has nothing to do with this scene. ]


It's fine to like Shigurui for going against the grain but people's reasons for disliking Shigurui go way beyond political correctness.
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ikillchicken



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 3:50 am Reply with quote
So it's mindless, misogynistic, and has identical character designs? Oh my god! Shigurui is a moe-harem romance! And it's not funny? Make that a moe-harem romantic comedy!

Acinom wrote:
There are plenty of shows out there with violence, but the violence is conveyed in such a way that the audience can remain detached and undisturbed, yet still get the general idea of what's going on. From what I've seen, Shigurui takes it a step further. Shigurui doesn't spare the audience from the depravity of its characters.


Hang on, if you want to say you don't personally enjoy Shigurui because you find it disturbing, fine, but if for that reason you're saying it's a bad show, I think you're dead wrong. It's a good thing if it intentionally disturbs you. It's what sets apart from sleazy, detached, exploitative junk. I haven't seen Shigurui yet so I can't say what it's like. However, if you're going to tell me that it's violent, sleazy crap like the review does because it actually conveys how disturbing it's violence is...well that just doesn't make sense.

Quote:
The fact that people dislike Shigurui is less about political correctness and more about going against human nature. Humans are social creatures. Thus it would prove that if we were grotesquely cruel and violent towards each other on a regular basis our social structure would fall apart. We'd cease to be social.


Um...what? You're massively white washing 'human nature'. Sure, humans are naturally social but we're also naturally cruel and violent. Look at any part of human history and you'll find an endless number of acts of violence and cruelty. Socialness and violence are hardly mutually exclusive though. I mean, look at animals. There are numerous animals that live in groups but that sure doesn't stop them from fighting like hell on a regular basis. Humans are no different.


Last edited by ikillchicken on Wed Apr 22, 2009 11:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Generic #757858



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 4:35 am Reply with quote
Gah, now I'm even more torn about getting this series. Texhnolyze has been mentioned a few times and I loved that series, so should I give this one a chance as well?
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12skippy21



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:11 am Reply with quote
HellKorn wrote:
Litmus test for reasonable responses! Will the fans of atmosphere and/or hyper-violence be as unreasonably fanatical as moe fans? STAY TUNED.


Well. looks like it is my turn to give an opinion Smile
I found the animation to be excellent in this series, the only positive thing in the series however. I found the whole story to be boring, usual dojo internal and external conflicts and lots of depravity. Depravity is one of the easiest storytypes to follow since bad news is a lot more popularist than good news for example.

In terms of the shows violence factor I found it comical kinda like I found Ichi the Killer funny. However the story is so stupid and everyone is so 'corrupt/muderous' that you don't care what happens to them. For me, I need to feel attached to the characters in some way for the violence to have any meaning (Higurashi/Elfen Lied/Kite), which I did not feel for this series. Violence for Violence sake is just a poor set-up in general and geared at only those who crave violence or those who attempt to seek out a greater meaning which just is not there (overanalysis).

Well I did not think that was fanatical Cool
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