Released by: Madman Entertainment.
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (anamorphic)
Aware that Kambei is threatened Katsuhiro and Kikachu begin to effect a rescue attempt by infiltrating the capital. Naturally Kambei himself has a plan in motion and both efforts combine to surprising results. The new emperor, wishing to appear magnanmous to the populace, issues a pardon even as he maneuvers the Nobuseri and Samurai to undo what has been achieved at Kanna village. From his point of view a succesful peasant 'rebellion' cannot be allowed to stand but at the same time he cannot appear publicly to be quashing it either. Instead he opts for a more subtle game of manipulation and more discrete forces with the end goal being the destruction of Kanna and the Nobuseri.
Publicly though a new era of benign rulership is being ushered in with rice being distributed from the Capital back to the farmers to mark this new reign. Nearly everone is hopeful for the future but a few wiser heads, like Kambei, are seeing the larger machinations at work. At the worst possible moment Katsuhiro loses faith in Kambei and heads off on his own path. This leaves the group of seven split in two as Kambei and cohorts head to the Shikimori Veto caves to fufil one of his promises while Katsuhiro ends up back at Kanna village just as some of the new Emperor's men arrive to threaten it.
Here the story diverges even more from the film and we see the machinations of the new emperor as he plays the Samurai, Nobuseri and the Farmers off each other in a new way - all the while trying to appear a benevolent ruler. Sadly the motivation of the new emperor is never really explained - even Katsuhiro's split with Kambei is barely explained and to be honest feels a little abrupt. Indeed his behavior over being scolded by Kambei undoes a lot of the character development where Katsuhiro has been quietly maturing and learning the true cost of the samurai life.
But these three episodes do the job of setting up the final conflict of the series and bringing all the players back towards Kanna village once again. I just can't quite shake the nagging feeling that as the series gets further away from the story of the film it is losing it's way more and more.