July 23, 2009

Kaze No Yojimbo #18: The Vendetta

2002 episode
directed by Hayato Date
written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa, Satoru Nishizono, Akatsuki Yamatoya, Daisuke Yajima, Michiko Yokote
based on the film YOJIMBO by Akira Kurosawa and Ryuzo Kikushima

(1961 film)


Following the lethal booby trap sprung on the Ginzame cartel by old-blood Tanokura, the situation escalates with each side taking deadly potshots at one another. It's believably chaotic with the increasing attacks driving people to send their wives and children away, and I have to wonder if they're taking the town to such lows so as to finally let the events of the film play out (was this all really just an expanded setup?). Unfortunately, there's the animation. I'm guessing the stunning, fluid stuff we saw in episode 13 must have been a special, one-time fluke to show off a new character, because things are back to their largely static choppiness, with epic concepts diminished through the execution of still-frame montages, and those bizarre camera tricks of drifting closeups against an electric snow background once again highlighting already obvious information. By trying to look stylish, they only reveal how little their budget really was.

Another thing holding the episode back, and this is true of the series as a whole, is that there's too much focus on this fight between individual characters without enough examination of the broader town itself. Bits like Miyuki having to apologize to her school mates as they're sent away or Ginzame swelling its ranks with outside strangers are great, but they feel impersonal without enough developed weight behind the broader workings of Kimujuku itself.

And then there's George. I like that he's finally starting to quietly manipulate the situation, but it feels under thought and lacks impact, especially in the wake of his passivity up to this point. And the way he, a guy of such simple means, suddenly whips out technology feels terribly forced.

Now, all this said, it's still a decent enough episode. The stakes are raising, the hero is starting to show his hand, and it all climaxes in a violent kidnapping attempt that leads to the show's first major death, the consequences of which I'm very eager to see.

(series trailer)

(opening titles)

(anime news network)
(internet movie database)

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