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Tajomaru: Avenging Blade Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Running Time: 128 Mins.
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Studio: Funimation
  • Blu-ray Release Date: September 20, 2011
  • List Price: $29.98

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BestBuy.com:
Tajomaru: Avenging Blade -

Purchase Tajomaru: Avenging Blade on Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack at CD Universe

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Overall
[Rating:2.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:2/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:2/5]

Tojamaru: Avenging Blade is an update to the legendary Japanese bandit of the forest that we’ve seen in the film Rashômon, but this telling of the story is so completely devoid of sense that one wonders if it was purposely made to be humorous.

The story is of Naomitsu (Shun Oguri) who is forced to flee from his home with his betrothed, the beautiful Ako (Yuki Shibamoto), into the forests of feudal Japan when a plot instigated by Sakuramaru (Kei Tanaka), a man that Naomitsu and his brother Nobutsuna (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi) brought into their homes and grew up with as one of their kin, is brought to its fruition. Nobutsuna forces Naomitsu’s hand when he forces himself on Ako, setting the brothers at odds instantly. The brothers are pitted against each other fighting over missing gold, the title of Shougun’s deputy, and Ako’s hand in marriage. When Naomitsu and Ako reach the forest, they come upon the legendary bandit Tojamaru who knocks Naomitsu out so he can rape Ako. Upon awaking, Naomitsu finds a scene he cannot bear to witness and Ako escaping into the woods. He kills Tojamaru, thereby inheriting his name and the legendary blade, The Cutting Wave. But his vengeance cannot be tamed until he goes back home to settle the score with his brother for defiling Ako and forcing them to flee.

Sadly, this convoluted tale is rife with plot holes. We have no motivation given for Sakuramaru’s betrayal of the two brothers, only some tossed out hints of his abuse at the hands of the Shogun. Every scene is like an encapsulated melodrama – now we are happy; now we are sad; now we seek revenge. There is also the issue of the awful soundtrack. It is out of place in time, with songs that range from emo-rock to some sort of madrigal Japanese rap. Seriously? Seriously.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

This AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement of Tojamaru: Avenging Blade is somewhat uneven. On the one hand it looks as clean as one would expect a film of such recent vintage to look and is filled with numerous scenes where the color and detail in the imagery are just sparkling and alive, but on the other hand there are a few too many moments where the entire image softens and a lot of foreground and background detail is lost. There s also evidence of video noise that can especially be seen is some darker areas of the image.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

It’s a rather active mix that is captured in this lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 encodement, coming in both the original Japanese language and an English dub. A couple of scenes with thunderstorms fill the entire room and also provide an ample workout for the subwoofer, horses gallop through the room with effective front and rear panning, while dynamic range is wide, but not enormous. High frequencies might be a tad brittle, but dialogue is crystal clear with no hints of clipping.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0.5/5]

This is another rather barebones release from Funimation consisting of no more than a brief “making of” featurette and a few Funimation trailers.

  • Making of Tajomaru (1.78:1; 480i/60; 00:17:07)
  • DVD

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:2.5/5]

There’s one thing alone that makes Tojamaru worth watching and it’s Yuki Shibamoto – and it’s not because of her performance. It’s because the camera is in love with her face (or maybe I am, who knows?). Anyway, this is a bad hodgepodge of Japanese cinema clichés thrown together in a film that sometimes looks like good eye candy.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B00576U93A[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Tajomaru: Avenging Blade -

Purchase Tajomaru: Avenging Blade on Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:2.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:2/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0.5/5]

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