One hundred years after their deaths, six legendary holy warriors are reborn to seek justice against the former comrade who betrayed them into the hands of an evil god! The six warriors search the feudal province of Edo questing for the last Saint Soldier, Haohmaru, and their sworn nemesis Shirou Amakusa. Will the followers of the divine light triumph over the forces of darkness, or is history destined to repeat itself? Before their hundred-year journey has ended, six samurai will prove that the only thing stronger than their holy blades is the steel of their wills!
Samurai Shodown the Motion Picture is an anime movie based on the SNK video game series, Samurai Shodown. I don't know much about the game apart from the two characters featured in Capcom vs. SNK 2 (since it only seems to be released on a console called "Neo Geo" which I've never even heard of) but a quick bit of research revealed this was released around the same time the original game in the series was voted Best Video Game of 1993. Don't let that deceive you, however - this is in no way the best video game adaptation.
Story - 3
Oh boy. I'm pretty sure
this story took about as long to write as it took to play the game, if even that. It revolves around a group of holy warriors, sworn to protect a seal of ambrosia (which I'm just going to go ahead and assume is spelt the same as the rice pudding brand) who are betrayed by their seventh member, Shiro Amakusa. Blinded by the power of ambrosia that she has awakened, she kills the other six warriors and becomes something of a warlord in the century before the warriors are reborn. After this point, we follow our main character Haohmaru on his journey to learning of his past and defeating Amakusa. It's really that simple.
My main problem with this story is that it's super fucking predictable. You can see almost everything in this story coming from a mile off and it's hardly the most innovative thing on the scene. Yeah, I know I'm not meant to be expecting much from a video game adaptation of all things, but at least something that vaguely grasped my interest would've been nice.
Art - 5
Now I really love the anime art styles of the 90s, moreso than a lot of today's styles, but this art is pretty bad even for 1994. It felt rather shaky, and the characters barely moved at all. It didn't really feel like there was much effort put into it, although being forced to watch a 240p YouTube copy could hardly have helped. It's certainly not the worst I've seen though, so it's getting a solid 5. The art here is just genuinely nothing awe-inspiring at all.
Sound - 2
Well then. This anime's sound. The sound effects and music were rather mediocre by themselves, but I evidently made a mistake by opting to watch the English dub here. I have heard some bad dubs before, but even shoddy hentai seemed to be doing a better job than most of this. Amakusa's voice definitely reminded me of someone, but not in a good way - just hearing her speak made me grimace. You would definitely do better to find subs if you really have to watch this, although I have to admit that I didn't see any on offer.
Character - 3
Every character in this movie was pretty one dimensional. It felt like the level of good/bad divide you put in a film aimed specifically at children, and I definitely don't mean the quality sort either. It had a very 90s bargain bin VHS feel to it, the sort of thing your parents found at a supermarket on the cheap during the weekly shop. It was good when you were 7, but now the characters are so simple that they're not going to entice anyone. The only character with any real depth beyond "must defeat evil in a righteous manner and get revenge for the deaths of others!" was actually the villain, Amakusa. We don't even see most of the holy warriors for more than a few minutes at a time, and character development is hardly a thing. In fact, a lot of the relationships in this felt very lost and spur of the moment - it was just one big fat clusterfuck of not very well written characters.
Enjoyment - 3
Bluntly put, this movie was dull. I love samurai anime, I really do, but no amount of sword fighting here could have kept my interest. It was really an effort to get to the end, since the only really interesting part was Haohmaru's home life, mostly because it was hilariously stupid. A movie of a dim wannabe samurai doing village chores would really have been better to watch, if only because that sort of ridiculous samurai slice of life element is one of my favourite parts of samurai anime. I honestly zoned out way more than a few times.
Overall - 3
This movie is poor. Not only is it a bad video game adaptation, it's not even an interesting one. At least some of the others, despite their hideous flaws, are strangely gripping in their ridiculously awful attempts at storyline and characters. This movie isn't really fun or a breakthrough or even worth the time it took to google the title. I'd only be free of guilt from sitting by and allowing someone to watch this if they'd actually played the game and just wanted to bask in some nostalgia, but I honestly doubt this movie is worth even that.