Anime Review: Samurai Warriors (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 09.07.2017

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Samurai Warriors (UK Rating: 15)

This is based on Omega Force's Japanese-focused Musou games, running since 2004. These games took the beloved Dynasty Warrior gameplay and overlaid it onto the warring states of Sengoku era Japan, reimagining iconic characters from the period into anime styled flamboyant designs. This particular series adapts the story of the latest title, Samurai Warriors 4-II, but with Capcom's Sengoku Basara already telling the tales of this era, how can Samurai Warriors compare? This complete collection is out 10th July and comes courtesy of Manga Entertainment.

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The Sengoku period has to be the most popularly adapted time in Japanese history for anime and games, with so many rich characters, fascinating stories and memorable moments. The problem is, of course, that anyone who has any interest in Japan would have seen some adaptation of these stories and so knows exactly how everything is going to play out. The story begins with Hideyoshi Toyotomi finally achieving his dream and uniting Japan, halting the constant battles between clans that had raged endlessly. It was a short-lived peace, though, one that died with Hideyoshi. Suddenly the family that had been built around Toyotomi is ripped apart with in-fighting and jockeying for position to try and fill the gap left by Hideyoshi. A new war erupts, which tears apart the alliance that formed around Toyotomi. Pitting friend against friend, even brother against brother as Yukimura Sanada backs the Tokugawa as the most likely to keep the peace, whereas Nobuyuki Sanada fights for righteousness with Mitsunari.

What follows is an anime that looks like it belongs in the mid-1990s or something, produced cheaply to be included as a short OVA with a Collector's Edition of one of the games. The storytelling is awful, with terribly paced episodes that end up feeling more like history lessons than any sort of anime series, and that's without the obnoxious narrator. The action scenes look like they were all produced as filler background scenes that were outsourced to China. The Sengoku stories have been told many times before and in many different media forms, and every one of them is better.

When it comes to the quality of this production, it's a sad state of affairs. Considering the source material, fans would hope to see fluid and stylish battle sequences, yet instead this ends up delivering a series that looks even worse than the games it's based on! For some reason, the character designs from the games have been butchered, taking away their individual style and charm, replacing them with horribly generic and bland designs. Even the FMVs found within the original look better than this mess. The art and animation are horribly sloppy and looks considerably older than its 2015 release date. The audio is just as bad; even the Japanese voice-actors end up delivering robotic and emotionless performances. They are nothing compared to the joke of the English dub, though. The English voice actors all clearly struggle with the dated language and deliver horribly stunted performances.

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This release contains all 12 episodes in dual audio - although, again, the English is really not recommended - along with text-less opening and closings and a special bonus on top. Included on the second disc is Samurai Warriors: Legend of the Sanada. This special OVA is a prequel to Samurai Warriors 4 and tells the story of the Sanada brothers' history, all climaxing with the Battle of Ueda, something that is glimpsed at the start of the series and gives a little more explanation to some of the actions in the main story. This OVA suffers from the same problems as the main series, however, with questionable art and terrible English performances throughout.

2/10
Rated 2 out of 10

Very Bad

Samurai Warriors is a really lacklustre production that only hardcore Sengoku fans are going to enjoy. The problem is that Sengoku Basara has already done this and done it so much better. There's not enough of a focus on the action and battles and too much time spent turning this into a history lesson. This, combined with the mediocre quality, makes for an altogether disappointing series. Stick with the games, or frankly any other adaptation of the Saneda story.

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