Well for the first ever review on the Drunken Master Red Comet Blog I present to you dear reader something of a stylishly late to the party look at the samurai period piece Shigurui: Death Frenzy, a 12 episode TV series which was originally released back in 2009 by Manga in the UK and Funimation in the US.
The story of Shigurui centres on the story of Fujiki Gennosuke and the Irako Seigen, who are first shown participating in a tournament being held by a local lord in 1629. The story deals with the events that bring these two individuals to fight against each other, Fujiki missing an arm and Irako now blind. Both originally members of the, to the best of my knowledge, fictional Kogan Dojo, a dojo of samurai led by an incontinent old man who takes up the guise of one of the living dead for the majority of the year and isn’t adverse to feeling up his own daughter. Though he may be insane for the most of the time, Kogan Iwamoto had mastered an incredibly strong and deadly sword technique and most of the series consists of our two protagonists vying to become the inheritor of both the secrets to this technique and the dojo as well. This is no look at the world of the samurai through rose tinted glasses as you may have guessed already, this rather is a down and dirty view of the villainous scum the members of the samurai class could be.
As one would hope to expect from a Studio Madhouse production the animation is of a consistently high, if not excellent standard. Often however there can be the oddest bit of CG which can be somewhat jarring at times especially in one instance where the decision was made to have quite obviously CG spiders crawling around a woman’s naked body. Now whilst I say the animation is high budget, please don’t get me wrong, this is a hideous show, the character designs are realistic, yet over exaggerated giving the cast almost monsterlike appearances reflecting the despicable and depraved creatures that the vast majority consists of and the no holds barred approach taken towards gore only adds to this.
Well I’ve been writing this whilst watching portions concurrently and one of the dojo instructors just ate someone’s eyeball after murdering him in nigh on cold blood. When I said it took a no holds barred approach to violence my word did I ever mean it, this show takes ultra violence to new peaks; people’s faces are cut off, chins are torn off, the tops of people’s heads are sliced clean off and women’s nipples are cut off and later eaten by one of the behemoth dojo instructors. Not even animals are safe from the bloody nature of this show; there are indeed multiple instances of various furry animals being beheaded throughout the show.
One thing to be said about the show, fair bit of genital mutilation, and y’know don’t get that much these days so if you’re into that kind of stuff this is most definitely the show for you! However, if you are like myself and the remaining 99.99% of the population, and the idea of shoving a red hot poker into someone’s sexual organs makes you a bit sick in the mouth, well uh, be warned? In addition to the high levels, comparatively, of genital mutilation in this show there is also quite a bit of graphic nudity which I suppose is in keeping with the vast quantity of graphic violence. So really if you are of a weak disposition, I would recommend very much so that you don’t watch this show and instead go and watch a Ghibli movie, maybe Laputa Castle in the Sky, love that movie.
My, my, what a lovely pile of adjectives I have amassed to throw at Shigurui; disgusting, disturbing, outright insane, hideous and genital mutilation-tastic. However the greatest complaint I can level against it at times is that though all this crazy stuff may be going down it really is just boring at times and the narrative didn’t catch me personally. This could have been taken as a smart and interesting look at the dark side of the samurai lifestyle but it is no such piece of art and the director doesn’t seem competent enough to pull it off fully. What results is merely 12 episodes of bad people doing bad deeds. I can’t recommend that someone should go out and watch this show, but there is some sort of almost perverse pleasure to be derived from it once you have started, it but as I say I really don’t think I can recommend that anyone go out and watch this show If you do however and your morbid curiosity takes control of your wallet you can get the entire series for fairly cheap, even on bluray, on Amazon.