DVD Title
Zatoichi In Desperation
International Title
Zatoichi In Desperation
DVD Length Original Length
92 Minutes 92 Minutes
Company Year of Manufacture
AnimEigo 2004
Language Subtitles
Japanese English
Region Number of Discs
1 1
Aspect Ratio Sound
2.35:1 (Anamorphic) 2.0 Stereo
Menus (English)
Chapters (9)
Trailers: Zatoichi in Desperation, Lady Snowblood , Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril, Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons
Character Biographies (English, 10 in total)
Program Notes (English)
Complete film and DVD Credits (English)

Damn you AnimEigo, damn you! It would seem that the company's horrendous Zatoichi At Large release has a "brother". Like its predecessor, this disc suffers from an extremely poor video presentation, which completely overshadows the merits of the audio quality here, while AnimEigo's "standard" extras don't help the matter.

Star Rating

From the minute the mostly obscured Toho Logo is first flashed on screen, one should probably be preparing themselves for the worst. To this disc's credit, though, the colors here are improved upon from the previous release. They are actually very vibrant in fact, with reds, blues, and greens all standing out very well. There appears to be a little discoloring, a slight red tint to the film, but not enough to detract from the movie. The same can not be said for the brightness level, though, which utterly ruins the video presentation. In fact, it's set so low on this release that all of the night scenes, and a good deal of the indoor shots, are utterly unwatchable. I can't believe that AnimEigo didn't foresee this as a problem either, especially considering how bright the main menu is set at. Digital inconsistencies could have been handled a little better here as well, as the film does sport some edge enhancement with the movie looking a little blurred through out. What makes this really tragic, though, is that the print used for the transfer is in excellent condition without visible scratches. As for noise, grain on this release is most unnoticeable. It's a shame that AnimEigo wasn't able to correct the brightness level here, as they could have had another top notch video presentation on their hands.

Zatoichi In Desperation is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, or widescreen, and is Anamorphic for widescreen TVs.


The disc's best aspect, without a doubt, is the audio presentation, which is featured here on a 2.0 stereo track. There is nothing inherently wrong with it, except for the fact that it sounds fairly flat. In fact, it would be better to just assume this is a 2.0 mono track, as it sounds like a mono track was simply doubled into both speakers as opposed to having any speaker distinction. This might be a problem for some, and a true stereo track certainly would have been appreciated, but the film's original format was mono anyway, so there isn't much to be cross with in this regard. The quality of the audio track here is fairly good as well, with no pops or crackles to be heard and most of the dialogue sounding very clear.

The audio track is accompanied by English subtitles, which can be toggled on or off. The subtitles are also color coded, so it's easy to tell when more than one character is speaking during a particular scene. The subtitles are available in two types: a general one, and one that only subtitles onscreen Japanese text.

Star Rating

No punches are pulled here, as AnimEigo pulls through with their standard array of extras for this disc. The most note worthy aspect is the four trailers present (Lady Snowblood , Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril, Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons and the film's own trailer) although the quality on those does leave some to be desired. There are some "Program Notes" included too, both on the disc and in print format inside the case. The programs notes are fairly generic though, discussing Japanese customs as seen in the film, while ending, as their Zatoichi At Large disc did, by covering the death of Shintaro Katsu. The last supplement on the DVD is ten character biographies, which each amount to about two or three sentences of text for each character and, by all accounts, aren't worth looking at if one has seen the film.

Star Rating

Bottom line, AnimEigo seems to keep delivering sub par, if not horrible, DVD releases, yet they continue to ask for them at upper end ($25-30) prices. As it stands, Zatoichi In Desperation is easily one of their lesser discs, and one would probably be better off skipping this release, unless they are a huge fan of the series.

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

- Anthony Romeros
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