Peacemaker vols. 1-2
Brian Hanson rates it:
It's an oft-repeated platitude that reviews of mediocre product are much harder to write, or at the very least, write without boring readers into a deep, catatonic state. Peacemaker straddles that fine line between outright rubbish and cute-yet-forgettable fluff. I have a feeling that intense scientific study on Peacemaker would yield the formula for the blandest anime ever.
Peacemaker gets all the pieces together to make a decently entertaining (if forgettable) yarn in the Shonen Jump vein, most notably aping Rurouni Kenshin in the process. There's a spiky-haired teenage milquetoast out to avenge his parents/prove he's the best/make a name for himself/power up to the 30,000th power level, who has issues regarding his short stature, and indeed is recognized by powerful men able to decipher his nascent talent. Spunky-Anime-Protaginist #856700B happens to be named Tetsunosuke Ichimura, who lives with his older brother Tatsunosuke after their parents were brutally murdered by a Choshu assassin. Instead of listening to the advice from his good friend Bruce Wayne, "Tetsu" ignores the costumed-superhero route and heads off to join the Shinsengumi. This all involves avenging his parents' death and proving himself to the world and maybe other stuff.
Now, the Shinsengumi were really little more than assassins and thugs of the Shogunate. But, thanks to flowery period dramas airing regularly on Japanese TV for the past forty years, the Shinsengumi have become romantic symbols of Japan's 19th-century Samurai era, equal parts intelligent and brutal. This certainly trickles down to Peacemaker, where a not-so-subtle homosexual overtone is draped rather efficaciously across the all-male cast.
The content is certainly the most puzzling aspect of Peacemaker. The aforementioned Shonen Jump trappings suggest lighthearted and relatively safe fare, and the copious amounts of goofy and rarely amusing slapstick and "superdeformed" humor don't hurt, either. However, the show becomes surprisingly violent; giant seas of crimson flow from each episode, including the first, where a hapless victim is shredded onscreen into several bite-sized chunks. Similarly odd are the un-subtle gay overtones, as the embittered Deputy Commander taking the spry young Tetsu as his page causes many a raised eyebrow amongst the cadre of samurai. All the innuendo occurs in the typical, cutesy anime fashion, but nonetheless.
The key conflict of the series erupts as Tetsu is faced with a choice: should he surrender his soul to vengeance through the Shinsengumi, or become a "Peacemaker" (hey that's JUST LIKE THE TITLE) in the footsteps of his late father. In true Shonen Jump fashion, this idea is very, very drawn out. Which isn't to say I have anything against Shonen Jump and it's myriad of hot properties the world over; not in the least. I proudly proclaim myself a fan of Dragonball and One Piece, along with my guilty pleasures Jojo's Bizarre Adventure and the wonderfully retarded Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo. The difference between most Shonen Jump fare and Peacemaker is that typically the Shonen Jump titles manage to put a unique spin on their conventions while spending an inordinate amount of time developing their characters. Peacemaker does neither.
The animation holds up nicely, however, with animation powerhouse Gonzo providing the show with a very clean, very soft look. It looks a little too clean, at times, with the obvious digital animation sometimes a tad on the bright and overbearing side. I didn't notice anything spectacular on the Japanese audio side, possibly because I don't recognize any of the cast save Kappei Yamaguchi. The English dub, however, sounds great, with luminaries such as Vic Mognana, Monica Rial, and Luci Christian turning in fine performances.
I suppose there are worse fates then watching sub-par "shonen" material such as Peacemaker. But with the world literally overflowing with fantastic animated adaptations of actual Shonen Jump properties, why even bother?
Added: Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Related Link: ADV Films