Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #12: Blind Justice (of 22) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, November 06, 2001
Release Date: Tuesday, November 06, 2001
What They Say
When Evil is blind, murder is justice! The killer Usui serves as one of Shishio's most powerful lieutenants, despite the fact he is blind. The last survivor of the Shinsengumi, Hajime Saito, believes that only one willing to commit murder can defeat Usui. Therefore, he challenges the blind assassin himself and lets Kenshin go ahead on the road to Shishio.
However, Saito is now up against someone with senses so sharp, he can hear any opponent's muscles contract and predict their movements. If that isn't enough, yet another legendary warrior appears to block Kenshin's path...
Shinomori Aoshi has returned, and this time he plans to kill Kenshin and then take his own life. Can Kenshin thaw his heart and bring him back to the woman who is waiting for him?
There's a lot of payoff on these episodes, plain and simple. Fights people have been waiting for are given out in spades. This is a disc that will be rewatched several times I'm sure.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Throughout the presentation, we had no noticeable distortions or dropouts. Dialogue continues to be very center channel heavy, but the action sequences are doing a good job of making use of the left/right channels. The opening and closing music also make great use of those channels, causing us to jack up the volume for both.
Things here with this transfer look pretty similar to the previous volume. There's some slight pixellation in a few areas and a little softness once in awhile, but the main culprit is the occasional cross-coloration that shows up along the edges of characters or in some of the more tightly drawn areas. It's not all that noticeable, so it's a minimal problem. Colors look good and there's no noticeable ghosting or breakup of the darker colors and blacks.
The cover art plays our a couple of the fights shown within, with Anji and Sanosuke in the larger background as well as Saito and Usui. Kenshin stands alone in the center, but is the visual focus as well with him being in regular colors. The back cover provides a number of nice screenshots and a brief summary of the show. The episode numbers and titles are listed (with this disc bringing us up to episode 52) and the technical and production information are clearly listed. The insert provides the chapter listings along with resized images from the back cover, while the reverse side is boxart adverts for other shows.
The menus follow the same design as other previous Kyoto arc discs, with its striking colors and general look and feel. The layout is the same and access times are still nice and fast.
A good selection of extras are included in this disc. The first is the usual round of liner notes, though it's a fair bit shorter this time around as we're dealing with less new things in the show rather than just the fights. The dub outtakes run just over two minutes, with a few worthy of a chuckle. The latest ending appears on this disc as well, and a nice textless version is once again provided here.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While not everyone will be happy, there's more than enough fight sequences in here that we've been working up to for months that most people will find a lot of payoff in watching this disc.
The carryover onto this disc from the last with the fight between Anji and Sanosuke was perfect. It pretty much runs through the entire first episode, with a highlight flashback to a very different younger Anji, and what turned him onto the path he did. The fight between the two only got bloodier and more vicious here and was one of the real highlights of the series so far. The two of them are so alike and are really fighting for the same thing, having them go at each other and reaching the levels they did was great to watch.
We also get movement onto the next battle, where we get a small room that's been done over by Usui. The walls are covered in his Eye of the Heart symbol, and his confidence and arrogance is impressive. Figuring that Kenshin would be involved here, I was surprised that Saito stood in and took over the match while Kenshin and Yumi headed off towards the next encounter. I've truly grown to like Saito's character over the series, and to see him be able to take on a truly gifted opponent who is intent on killing him was great to see. It's a half visual battle half psychological one, and was an impressive sequence on a disc full of them.
Kenshin's battle with another of the gang doesn't quite happen though. While they're running down the hallway to the next battle room, Kenshin stops short at a doorway to Houji's room. Something's inside that's got his attention. As we see through the door, we hear Kenshin describing his promise to Misao, and we pan up along the image of Aoshi in this darkened room.
The encounter between Kenshin and Aoshi is one of the more eagerly anticipated events of the series, since the death of his fellow Oniwaban group members way back earlier in the show. This reunion works perfectly, with both men no longer quite who they were then, or even just within recent memory. Their sparring, both verbal and physical, runs across two episodes and is definitely worth the investment in the series to date. Aoshi's still something of a cypher, but his being that is one of the key points to their relationship.
We also get a huge payoff back at the Aoiya. Kaoru, Yahiko, Misao and the other members of the Oniwaban group are set to take on 150 members of Shishio's group as well as three of his super powered gang. It looks like its going to be a massive battle, but the three gang members indicate that the henchmen are simply there to provide a wall so that they cannot escape. Their fight is much smaller, but still very much deadly.
The character to make out the best from these fights is Yahiko, whose finally moving beyond the sidekick status and becoming a full swordsman on his own. Kaoru and Misao also end up working well together, and the way the new Oniwaban group is set up does well in keeping them all fighting together for one goal. There's some flashbacks for Misao to her younger days with those of the Oniwaban who've been killed, but this is a perfect setup to move the plot forward for this group.
There's still a number of great fights to come up to be sure, but after having a lot of great ones already since the Kyoto arc started, having such a payoff in one disc was surprising. Get this disc as soon as you can if you've been following the show. You'll find it getting quite a lot of replay.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Liner Notes,Dub Outtakes,Textless Ending
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Media Blasters
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Rurouni Kenshin (aka Samurai X)