Based upon the historical short story Suruga-jou Gozen Jiai from one of Japan?s most prolific authors, Nanjo Norio. Two damaged warriors wear the scars of a twisted and violent past. Bitter rivals for the secrets of their ... more »master?s sword and the right to his daughter, these samurai inflict wounds on each other that would destroy lesser men. The final chapter of their saga unfolds within a brutal samurai tournament, a gruesome contest arranged to satisfy the bloodlust of a cruel tyrant overlord. The disfigured legends of the blade must summon the strength for one last battle ? a final lesson in the artistry of violence where nothing is more beautiful than the kill. The Complete Series Set includes: 24-page booklet with interviews, historical notes and in-depth story outline Marathon Play Feature Actor and Director Episode Commentaries Production Artwork Galleries Textless Songs
Stills from Shigurui: Death Frenzy (Click for larger image)« less
trashcanman | Hanford, CA United States | 03/31/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Shigurui Death Frenzy" is among the most twisted anime I've ever seen and an outstanding vengeance tale from a culture stuffed to the gills with similarly-themed works. It is based on true events (whatever credibility you give to that) and takes place in feudal Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate. It's spectacularly graphic in both the sex and violence departments, but features extremely beautiful artwork and a pace and tone that is almost Kurosawan in it's meticulous and thoughtful storytelling and features a very gorgeous traditional Japanese soundtrack. But as artistic as it is, there enough mayhem, nudity, and general psychosis here to rival any Asian grindhouse flick I've ever seen. This one is not for the kiddies.
In the opening sequences the audience is treated to a retainer pleading with his daimyo to allow a tournament to use wooden blades rather than steel ones lest their most talented samurai die needlessly. He then opens up his slit belly and pulls his entrails out with his bare hands, telling his lord that that would be the only result of a tournament using real swords. His final plea falls on deaf ears and bloodthirsty eyes that have more than a hint of madness in them. As the tournament begins we see the first two samurai face off. It is a one-armed swordsman versus a blind samurai. While the audience mocks the pair, it is soon obvious that the two are not only skilled warriors, but have a past together. The story of "Shigurui" is that past.
Rewind to a few years back in time and we meet earnest sword pupil Gennosuke Fujiki and Seigen Irako, a stranger to the Kogan dojo who seeks audience with the sensei. The two clash, leaving Fujiki embarrassed and possibly stripped of his status as the heir to the deadly techniques of the sword school. Kogan Iwamoto is the deranged sensei whose advanced age regularly leaves him in a state of vulgar dementia with a string of neverending drool in the corner of his mouth and a habit of urinating on himself even as he performs feats of swordsmanship. Even more disturbing, the man still has a sexual appetite when in his glassy-eyed stupor. As Kogan's concubine Lady Iku, she gets to bear the brunt of that, though the sensei's own daughter gets a taste as well. The children of the town sing a song about Iku's body bringing misfortune and death to all of her lovers, but that doesn't deter Irako but getting a piece of the action. This is something that he will regret as he seeks the title of heir to the secrets of the Kogan style. And eventually, each and every character will regret the chain of events that forms.
As I said before, "Shigurui" is not for kids even if it does seem like a typical samurai anime on the surface. There's plenty of viscera, eyeball abuse like you wouldn't believe, decapitation, and dismemberment. In fact, the Kogan school seeks to spread it's name not by killing those who challenge it, but by "giving them a new look" which is to say the cut off various facial features so all of Japan can see their prowess rather than hear about it. Then there's the graphic sexual content which includes watching Kogan's drool fall upon his daughter as he "inspects" her suitability for breeding, a rather explicit but brief glimpse of cunnilingus -which I've NEVER seen in an anime (and no, I don't count hentai as true anime)- and a woman getting her nipple sliced off then watching her attacker pick it up and lovingly place it upon his tongue. Yeah, this is twisted stuff. Kogan is among the most intimidating and disgusting villains ever and the rest of the cast are more tragic victims then heroes. In fact, I think it's safe to say that there are no heroes here at all; just brutality, cruelty, and selfish deceit.
I really wish I could give this a perfect score because it is so harsh and uncompromising but still manages a plethora of beautiful and artistic flourishes that give this anime a credibility that few examples of the genre have anymore. But there is a fatal flaw that left me feeling less then thrilled at the conclusion in spite of the fact that the final kill is quite possibly the most impressive I've ever seen animated. While it is the best samurai anime I have seen in a long time, at only 12 episodes "Shigurui" becomes a victim of it's own slow pacing during the second half and the viewer can't help but feel a bit cheated at the lack of resolution in the story. After the amazing setup of the first episode, we never see it revisited for a fitting conclusion. It's almost like the staff got bored and just decided to move on before the story was done. A few more episodes -even one- could have easily garnered this show an unapologetic five star rating. But frankly, it's close enough. This is an anime that will absolutely warrant repeat viewings.
I am very pleased to say that this anime has been released in a full boxed set right off the bat. None of the month(s)-long waits and customer-gouging while each disc is released individually. Thanks, Funimation! While there is not much in the way of extras on the discs, there is a "marathon play" feature which means that the discs will play as a continuous film rather than making you fast-forward through the opening and closing credits every 20 minutes. I hope to see more of these things in the future. They are reason enough to buy this set. If we support more quality anime releases that take the fans' wishes into account, maybe we'll see more of this kind of thing.
"Shigurui: Death Frenzy" is an outstanding adult anime that stops just short of all-time greatness, but is still an absolute must-own for fans of animated sex, violence, and chanbara films. The soundtrack, animation, plot, and characters are all first-rate. It's some of the best of classic Japanese arthouse cinema with all the cheap thrills of the grindhouse. Buy, buy, buy!
4 1/2 stars, rounded up for treating the fans right. "
Everything typical has been addressed and made better
Kurt Ackerman | Westchester, IL United States | 05/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Shigurui: Death Frenzy Complete Box Set [Blu-ray]
This is a title that seemed to come out of nowhere, and it was great from the start. How could this have been passed up by me? Yes, the story revolves around early dynasty Japan and Samurai, but it is not what I expected, or have really seen before. First off, unlike most Anime, the music is absolutely excellent, and makes this story dark, brooding and mysterious. It is deep and effective. No goofy J-pop teenager whailing her head off here, just dynamic and powerful, as soundtrack should be. Second, the figure detail is better than the box lets on. There's a wealth of art in this story, and the stylization of the drawing, painting, and even 3D varies regularly, without jumping around so much you get dizzy. Really, they may use only subtle 3D techniques, but they are gorgeous. Lastly is the story. I actually read a review here that said it was "slow". Perhaps it could be seen that way, but only if you're looking for a sword fighting frenzy. This is so much more than action. I just have to say that these writers know how to do what is missing from most anime, and that is how to create depth without needing a saga of episodes to successfully develop the characters and plot. From the very first episode, I was hooked. I've been watching anime since the beginning, and this is one that I'm buying on Blu-ray. The dialogue and sets, the tension, the darkness, and the violence all have space to breathe, and flow together very well. Put all these elements together and you have a viewing experience that no anime fan will easily forget. This is going on my top 20 list, and certainly is my favorite Samurai anime of all time. (Yes, better than Samurai 7, and better than Sword of the Stranger, just to name a few.) It's simply darker, deeper, and more mature on many levels. Sound like your style? Good, then buy it and help the industry. "
oxidesofliving | 06/13/2010
(1 out of 5 stars)
"this could have been one of the most brilliant things i've ever seen...and heard. the animation and the soundtrack work in a synergistic harmony that make it a feast for the eyes and ears. characters are developed well and their motivations are convincing, from mad, heartless scumbag to blind ambition and megalomania. this is really good stuff. but it ends there. the series just ends. right in the middle of things the episodes stop. the product description is fat out wrong. there is no battle between these two samurai. we are drawn in by the battle preparations in the first episode and in the end the series never returns to that battle. it never finishes the journeys of the two samurai in that opening fight. this show never finishes anything. so in the end all we have is pointless, twisted carnage. the violence and sex fit into this show. brutal and tragic endings i am fine with. bad guys winning? no problem. i like the bad guys. nobody winning? fantastic. i can live with how an artist chooses to end their work. so i'm not complaining about that. but there is no end. the series never completes the story it claims to tell. it is this fact that the series simply stops, like the developers took a lunch break and never came back, that is absolutely unforgiveable."
Sniff Code | Somewhere out there | 07/28/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"To be honest, I almost abandoned Shigurui somewhere around the first 2 or 3 episodes. The virtues of this series are at first masked behind opaque layers of extremely graphic violence, sex and nudity. Not that I have a problem watching violence, sex and nudity. But too often are the three used as stand-ins for a missing story. But that is not the case for Shigurui. Our story here begins with a tournament between two samurai with severe disabilities that they were clearly not born with. Instead, these handicaps were brought upon them by an event (or events) in their lives prior to their stand off. From here, the story circles back to the beginning, following the breadcrumbs that lead to said tournament. It is here that we learn that these two men, Fujiki Gennosuke and Irako Seigen were competing successors to their master's dojo. Fujiki, who was initially the obvious choice to follow in his master's footsteps, is suddenly eclipsed by Seigen. However, sex, betrayal and Fujiki's need for redemption and revenge re-tips the scales of the story. That is when things turn really nasty.
Just how nasty they get, will be for you to discover.
Seeing the hideous deformities of the two men at the beginning foreshadows the volume of carnage that you can expect to witness in Shigurui. Do not underestimate the visceral impact of this violence because the series is animated. The explicit detail of a man's entrails rivals what you'd see in a live action version. The good news for those with a weak stomach is that, thanks to minimal animation, you typically will only see the before and after of some disturbing slicing and dicing. The bad news is that the fast cuts between a raised sword and a hashed body amplifies the tension, and the long takes of a sliced off limb gives the imagination plenty of time to either recoil or recover from the aftermath. You'll be given generous time to meditate on the upper portion of a person's face. To aid in your meditation is an atmospheric soundtrack that makes the image either terribly putrescent or strangely poetic. Or both.
This dichotomy alone might be the brilliance of Shigurui. By walking the line of gratuity and minimalism you certainly get a feeling of art and not pornography. Even the explicit nudity and sex is so disturbing that it neutralizes any inherent erotica. You also get a clean break (or slice) from the usual good versus evil thing. Shigurui offers us no protagonists or antagonists. There's only an ensemble of characters who stand on the same nihilistic stage and under a morally ambivalent spotlight that casts no judgment on any action or ambition - no matter how foul. All men are truly created equal in this series: equally troubled. Equally troubling. And equally twisted."
Reflective of a violent era
JYK | Washington State | 05/24/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I hesitated about watching the anime, because the description emphasized its violent nature. However, I found it to be a realistic portrayal of a sliver of feudal Japan. One often finds the samurai being portrayed in movies as noble beings who sacrifice themselves for lofty goals, but this anime shows the other side of such a martial culture. The nobles, except for one, cower before their lord's madness. Everyone is flawed, and their seething envy, ambition, betrayal, and cruelty lead this bitter story toward the inevitable conclusion strewn with bloodbath. The series did seem to end abruptly but the manga seems to have continued and one can download the story in places such as Manga Reader."