Released by: Madman Entertainment.
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (anamorphic)
The battle proper for Kanna begins with the hastily errected defences proving initially quite effective. But while the Nobuseri take a pounding they aren't the kind to let this pass. Especially as Kanna's success will embolden other villages and might well make their entire lifestyle untenable. No the Nobuseri regroup and return in force to settle matters. Kambei expects this and devises a countermove or two of his own so the four episodes play out as a series of attacks, diversions, feints and deception as the two sides grapple to win the conflict.
Katsuhiro is finally forced to choose between purely defending to aggresive attack and he finds he does have the will to kill. But unlike Kambei, Gorobei or Kyuzo his attacks are frenzied, savage and fairly uncontrolled affairs. As he himself describes, and we visually see, a red mist descends for him as he loses controll in the battle for survival. He doesn't like this side of himself and he wisely worries further that he needs to control it in a calm and methodical fashion. All this leads him to a painful decision about the relationship he has with Kirara.
Finally Reichi, through Kirara's efforts, discovers the likely fate of his wife taken by the Nobuseri so long ago. To attempt to recover her he needs to travel to the Capital and wouldn't you know it but Ukyo seems to be the key here. It seems his little harem has been collected for him at least partly by the Nobuseri. This points to a degree of collusion between the Merchants and the Nobuseri that is now being seriously upset thanks to Kanna's actions. With this we get strong hints about where the series is going to go now that the battling for Kanna itself against the Nobuseri draws to a close. This being a remake of the Seven Samurai I doubt it comes as a surprise to anyone that Kanna is victorious here. But not without cost, one Samurai falls and another is seriously wounded. Kambei feels guilty for having involved them all in this and knows full well that while the battle itself is over the war continues...
My one big grumble is that for one segment of the fighting there was scandalously heavy reuse of animation and a music motif that was repeated for just far too long. Otherwise though we got the battle and fighting the series has been building to for three volumes. It is also the point at which the film ended and we now begin to tread new territory as the series writers extend the story. The hints with Reichi give a pretty strong clue that the tale will wend back to the Capital and Ukyo is likely to feature heavily but exactly how that is going to pan out isn't clear right now. A solid entry in a series that has been entertaining me well.