DVD Title
Zatoichi's Conspiracy
International Title
DVD Length
Original Length
87 Minutes
87 Minutes
Year of Manufacture
Aspect Ratio
2.35:1 (Anamorphic)
2.0 Stereo
- Menus (English)
- Chapters (8)
- Trailers: Zatoichi's Conspiracy, Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman, Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance, Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell
- Character Biographies (English, 10 in total)
Program Notes (English)
- Complete film and DVD Credits (English)

AnimEigo's release of Zatoichi's Conspiracy, the last film in the long running Zatoichi series to go through Toho, is sadly not up to snuff with the company's many other releases. The video presentation here is all right, but lacks the normal polish one associates with the company, while the audio presentation on the disc is lacking slightly as well, and the extras are kind of standard fare for a AnimEigo release, which is still better than what's seen on most other region 1 Toho DVDs though.

The video presentation on this disc, while not bad, seems rather meek when stacked up to AnimEigo's other DVDs. Like with AnimEigo's Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman, the company's usual vibrant array of colors are mostly gone. Instead the disc "boasts" more monotone shades, while the colors overall appear to have a slight brown tint to them, most noticeable during the main title of the film (seen here). It's not the only flaw, though, as the brightness level is also set too low here, making some scenes hard to distinguish details during. In regards to digital inconsistencies, artifacting isn't a huge problem, although the film appears more blurred on this release than it should. As for the print used in the transfer, which is the film's original Japanese version, it's thankfully in great condition without scratches. As for noise levels, there is hardly any grain visible during the course of the movie, removed painstakingly by AnimEigo as with their other discs.

Zatoichi's Conspiracy is also presented here in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, or widescreen, and is Anamorphic for widescreen TVs.

The DVD, according to the cover, includes a stereo presentation of the movie, although that's debatable. On all accounts, the presentation sounds more like a mono track, failing to have any notable speaker distinction through out the film. Even the explosions sound notably flat, although they are stock Toho sound effects. Akira Ifukube's score also sounds scratchy during the main title, although for the rest of the film it sounds fine, more or less. On the bright side, AnimEigo has complemented the Japanese audio track here with English subtitles that are color coded (yellow, green, and red) to signify when more than one character is talking during a scene. Like other AnimEigo DVDs, the subtitles can be toggled on and off, and are available in two varieties: a general one, and one which provides definitions for words which apply to Japanese customs or alternate translations that might apply.

The disc boasts AnimEigo's standard selection of extras, which are adequate, but not much stands out here save the trailers. In total, there are four trailers on the DVD: Zatoichi Meets the One-armed Swordsman, Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance, Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell, and the film's own trailer. "Program Notes", which can be found on the disc itself and in print format, provide background information on the time period that the Zatoichi series is set and a further explanation on some of the Japanese customs or references that occur during the film. Also present are ten character biographies, which are rather generic and serve no distinct purpose after one has seen the film, but they are a quick reference source so one can't complain.

Bottom line, Zatoichi's Conspiracy is far from a bad release, but it's a rather large let down when compared with AnimEigo's early selection of excellent titles.

This disc is also featured in the box set: Zatoichi The Blind Swordsman: DVD Collector's Edition Box.

-Anthony Romero