Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #19: Dreams of Youth (of 22) (

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, July 03, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, June 25, 2002

What They Say
Kenshin and the others meet Daigoro, a young man with a western education. Daigoro has been rejected by Kaishu, a famous teacher, who has been active since the times of the Revolution. Kaoru steps in, and the Kamiya Dojo gets a new student. Kenshin suspects that something is amiss, however, and he uncovers a strange conspiracy leading back to the Tokugawa Era. A powerful group of outlaws, the Beni Aoi, believe that Kaishu is the heir of the Tokugawa fortune, and they won't let him or Daigoro live in peace until it is uncovered!

The Review!
The further we move away from Kyoto, the more I get into the show. Dreams of Youth presents a nice four part story that deals a bit with the final Shogun, but more so about those involved with his downfall.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The audio track here is basically what we've seen in previous volumes with a good forward soundstage based track with some decent directionality here but nothing going to the rears. Dialogue is nice and clear and we noticed no dropouts or other distortions.

The transfer for these four episodes is pretty good, mostly comparable to the last volume where the colors look a bit more vivid and things in general look a bit sharper. Cross coloration still creeps in during a few areas as well as the aliasing, but it?s pretty minimal and had little impact on the overall enjoyment of the disc.

The front cover has a lot of cast members on it, but all of them are done in darkened shades other than Itsuko in the center. It?s a decent looking cover which is nicely offset by the colors in the background. The back cover provides a couple of animation shots and a brief summary of the episodes. Episode titles and numbers are included here as well as the features listing and production credits. The insert provides the shots from the back cover placed underneath the chapter listings for this disc while the reverse side is just adverts.

Essentially using the front cover, the menu here is a nice image with some text moved around and the addition of the selections along the right. There?s music playing along but these are pretty much nice and simple menus. Selections are quick to access and moving around is pretty simple as things are logically and consistently laid out.

There?s a couple of extras included here, the usual things we see towards the end of a series. The opening is presented in textless form again since there were changes to it from the previous arc. The liner notes are only one page this time, with just a touch of information related to the final shogun. There?s also another round of dub outtakes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
For four episodes, we get a good self contained arc that deals with more fallout from the Revolution. While the plot in the end is fairly simple, it does what the show does best, show how Kenshin and others are atoning for what they did during that time.

There?s two central characters to this story. The elder one is Kaishu Katsu. Katsu served under the final shogun and was involved heavily in the plan that stopped the invading army from destroying Edo, and instead turned the city over peacefully. Once that occurred, the shogun ended up in residence in Mito, never to really enter public life again. For the samurai who served under the shogun, they were cast off to an island village for well over ten years, left to rot essentially. Naturally, this did not sit well with them.

The other central character to this story is Daigoro, the young apprentice to Katsu. Daigoro is one of the people for whom the entire revolution was really fought, though many on both the winning and losing side can?t accept that. Daigoro?s the dreamer, reading books by Verne and discussing science and how mankind can get to the moon. When Kenshin and friends are walking through the streets and he hears Daigoro talking about this, he becomes very interested in it, and even says he?d love to go on such a journey.

It?s through this encounter that things begin though. The leader of the former samurai tries to attack Katsu and those with him. They don?t pay much mind to Kenshin, until he and the others leap to Katsu?s aid. This was a very well done sequence, particularly in how the angles of the shots were done and the amount of attention paid to the way the light came through the trees onto the characters. It was truly one of the more cinematic displays of Kenshin leaping into battle.

Through this, we end up with Daigoro, and eventually Katsu?s daughter Itsuko, spending time at Kaoru?s dojo. Katsu insists that Daigoro learns the way of the sword, while Itsuko goes to stay and be concerned over him. All of this is just a sham though, to get the two of them away while the more violent forces from Katsu?s past come forward to haunt him once more.

There?s some interesting play among the characters here, things we haven?t seen too much of for a while. At one point, Kenshin goes to Katsu?s residence, to try and discern exactly what it is that the old man is hiding from everyone. Being late in the evening, we get a glimpse again at the skills of both men. Katsu senses Kenshin, and steps outside. Kenshin?s simply standing across the koi pond and in the shrubs, looking across. The two talk simply as adults about their pasts a bit, while visuals play of a possible encounter between the two during the revolution. These little bits, and the slow progression of the story, really added a lot to the atmosphere of things.

The secondary cast gets some amusing moments in, such as Kaoru taking on the fencing-trained Tetsuma, or the banter between Yahiko and Daigoro when Daigoro becomes an apprentice. Sanosuke even has a fun little singsong moment. There?s a good balance of action, drama and humor throughout these episodes, which definitely didn?t feel forced or rushed. While not as exciting as the Christian arc, Dreams of Youth was a solid piece of Kenshin entertainment.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Liner Notes,Dub Outtakes,Textless Opening

Review Equipment
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: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Media Blasters
MSRP: 29.95
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Rurouni Kenshin (aka Samurai X)