Rurouni Kenshin OVA Vol. #1 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: -
What They Say
Perhaps one of the greatest ironies of the early DVD era is Sony, and their (lack of) support of the medium. It is Sony themselves who helped create the wonderful DVD hardware, and yet they have shown absolutely -no- support whatsoever for DVD software (anime) in Japan. While they may not have the largest collection of anime titles to distribute, they certainly do own a decent share, with such standouts as "Street Fighter II: The Movie" (the real import, not the hacked up US version), "KO Century Beast" OAV series I, II, and "Rurouni Kenshin." Yet, finally, after 2 years of DVD hardware growth, Sony has finally decided to join the fray of DVD software (anime) publishing with the timely release of "Rurouni Kenshin: Tsui Oku Hen ("Recollection")" OAV series on DVD. The first episode released on DVD is "Kiru Otoko" ("The Slayer" or "The Man Who Slays"), and as Sony Japan's official DVD debut, it is amazing to say the least: Featuring an awesome storyline, cool animation, great film direction, and one of the most outstanding video transfers yet, all wrapped up in a gorgeous package, Sony Japan's "Rurouni Kenshin" OAV DVD is an absolute must-buy for any anime fan!
The basic story behind this "Recollection" OAV series is that it begins in Kenshin's past, before he became a "rurouni" (or "wandering samurai"). The first episode details the origins of Kenshin, and details the tragic events surrounding his 'rebirth' from being Shinta (a regular orphan boy), to being Kenshin, renamed by his new master, Seijuro who adopts Shinta after saving him from a band of murderers who just wiped out Shinta's only 'relatives.' From there the story details the origins and growth of Kenshin as an assassin, and even shows how Kenshin gains his now famous 'cross-scars' on his cheek.
One note is that this video is -not- for the weak of heart. Unlike the TV series, the OAV series is a drastic change: It features some of the bloodiest and goriest fight scenes ever in an anime series. The way certain people are killed is absolutely brutal, and for that, this anime should be rated as "R," so parents take note. In addition, the art style has also changed quite a bit, and that is one point of contention among many die-hard Kenshin fans. I personally see it as a welcome and good change that is necessary to establish the correct mood in this OAV series, similar to what Mamoru Oshii did with the "Patlabor" Movies (versus the original "Patlabor" TV, OAV series). The story and tone are definitely dark and dead serious, with -no- comedy whatsoever. This may seem odd for regular Rurouni Kenshin TV anime fans, but it is fitting here. Finally, the only familiar characters that show up in this OAV series are Kenshin himself, and Seijuro, Kenshin's master who teaches him the Hitten Mitsurugi Ryu style of fighting.
The overall video transfer is drop-dead gorgeous. That is hardly surprising in that this is from Sony, one of the creators of the DVD hardware technology. If one company knew how to properly transfer / master DVD anime, it would be them. Of course, it must be noted that the DVD only holds 35 minutes of information, but still, as Sony's debut DVD title in Japan, it is stunning. The audio is also gorgeous and robust in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, and all the dialogue and music blend perfectly together, with neither one overpowering the other.
What tops off Sony's first effort is the awesome extent of 'Extras' on this DVD: A limited edition DVD collector's box; a great interactive menu that contains an "Illustration Gallery" featuring gorgeous Rurouni Kenshin artwork for your perusal; "Voice Cast Comment" section, giving you a picture of the actor / actress, and some comments from them about their work (they even include a brief 'history' section highlighting some of the roles they've done in the past); "Staff Comment" section; "Making of Rurouni Kenshin" videos that show some of the process in making the OAV; and a TV Commercial for the OAV series.
In conclusion, Sony Japan's first anime DVD release, "Rurouni Kenshin: Tsui Oku Hen," is one of the best DVD releases yet, featuring great packaging, tons of Extras in the DVD menu, gorgeous animation and an involving story to boot. If you're a fan of classic Japanese samurai cinema, or "Ninja Scroll," then look no further: Ultra-violent (but not gratuitous), director Kazuhiro Furuhashi (who helped out on "Ranma 1/2," "You're Under Arrest!") brings a stunning visual style to this anime, and transforms the bloody massacre into a poetic art form. Studio Deen ("You're Under Arrest!: The Movie") provides some of the most gorgeous sword-fighting scenes yet. Powerful, graceful, and thoughtful, "Rurouni Kenshin: Tsui Oku Hen" OAV series is an excellent tribute to Japan's feudal samurai heritage, and a must-buy DVD for all anime fans.
Japanese Language,Limited Edition DVD Collector's Box,Illustration Gallery,Voice Cast (Seiyuu) Comments
Staff Comments,Special "Making Of Rurouni Kenshin" video,(2) TV Commercial Advertisement,Color liner note insert
Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: All
Region: 2 - Japan
Released By: Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc.
Running time: 35
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Rurouni Kenshin (aka Samurai X)