DVD Title
Zatoichi At Large
International Title
Zatoichi At Large
DVD Length Original Length
87 Minutes 87 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
Extras
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Menus (English)
.
Chapters (8)
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Trailers: Zatoichi At Large, Zatoichi Goes to the Fire Festival, Zatoichi in Desperation, Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance, Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril, Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell
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Character Biographies (English, 10 in total)
.
Program Notes (English)
.
Complete film and DVD Credits (English)
Captures
Review
Sadly, I have given up hope that AnimEigo will ever release a DVD as nice as their Zatoichi the Outlaw disc. I have credited AnimEigo in the past, and have spoken highly of their portfolio of releases, but after viewing Zatoichi At Large, I might have to refrain from giving them such strong praise. Unfortunately, Zatoichi At Large isn't just a poor DVD by AnimEigo's standards, it's simply just a poor DVD. The video presentation here is intolerable at points. Granted, the disc does sport a decent audio transfer, and has the standard extras for a AnimEigo release, but neither of these off set the poor visual presentation.

 Video:

It's amazing to see how low AnimEigo has sunk with Zatoichi At Large. Often credited as having some of the best video transfers for Toho titles when they first started out, Zatoichi At Large's video presentation is, sadly, anything but good. The company's trademark vibrant array of colors are mostly gone from this release, replaced by more monotone shades, with only a few exceptions like the early festival scenes. The colors themselves are also discolored, as the entire film appears to have a faint purple and brown tint to it. The video presentation's true fault, though, and what ruins the DVD as a whole, is the brightness level. It's set so low on this release that many scenes, such as the climax, are rendered entirely un-watchable. It's a fatal error, and one which pretty much overshadows the positive aspects of this DVD. The negatives don't stop there, either, as the disc is plagued by some digital inconsistencies. It's nothing severe, certainly incomparable to what was seen in the early Simitar days, but all the same, the film does appear notably blurred while there are minor signs of pixilation. The video presentation isn't entirely a lost cause, though, as the condition of the print here is actually fantastic. Grain appears to be greatly reduced, while there isn't a visible scratch during the entire movie. As with all of AnimEigo's releases, Zatoichi At Large is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, or widescreen, and is Anamorphic for widescreen TVs.


 Audio:

Zatoichi At Large's audio presentation, which is the original Japanese audio track, is about on par with AnimEigo's other titles. This means that there is nothing inherently wrong with it, unless one is expecting a great stereo experience. Even though the disc boasts about having a stereo presentation, the actual film sounds like it's accompanied by a mono track, with hardly any speaker distinction to be heard at all. Under normal circumstances, a title might get some flack for this, but the original audio presentation of Zatoichi At Large was mono to begin with, so there isn't a whole lot to gripe about. The actual audio track sounds good too, with no pops or any other problems to be heard during the course of the film.

The audio track here is accompanied by English subtitles, which can be toggled on or off. Like other AnimEigo releases, the subtitles are 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 provides definitions for words which apply to Japanese customs.


 Extras:
Star Rating
The additional material found on this disc is the same type of extras AnimEigo packs with all of their titles. This means there is a lot here, but nothing all that interesting, save perhaps the trailers. In total there are six trailers on this DVD, the most of any AnimEigo title, including: Zatoichi Goes to the Fire Festival, Zatoichi in Desperation, Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance, Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril, Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell and the film's own trailer. Some "Program Notes" are also included, both on the disc itself and in print format, although they aren't as insightful as they usually are. This time, they seem to deal with the death of Shintaro Katsu, no complaints there, and the birth process in general. The latter, although it does relate to the start of the film before the main title, seems out of place. It's safe to assume that AnimEigo has run out of things to talk about regarding the Zatoichi films and the era in which they take place. As a final note, there are also ten, rather generic, character biographies here. They work well as a quick reference source, perhaps if one can't recall a character's name, but otherwise there isn't anything notable about them.

 Overview:
Star Rating

Bottom line, AnimEigo's release here does an acceptable job in the audio and extra department, but the video presentation here is just so poor that it's hard to suggest the title to anyone unless found at a bargain price, or if one wants the entire series on DVD.

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

- Anthony Romeros
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