Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #07: Shadow of the Wolf (Mania.com)

By:Lawrence Chu
Review Date: Monday, February 18, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, July 10, 2001



The Review!
Rather than be the happy gibbering fanboy I'd normally be in this opening paragraph, I'm going to be the happy gibbering fanboy I'd normally be in the upcoming review. For those looking for a sane review, I'll give you the following sentence:

With this disc, Media Blasters does what ADV should have done and more.

Content:

The blurb above does a fairly good summary of what happens here without much spoiler content, so I'll leave it at that.

Audio:
(Note: Primary listening track is Japanese.)
The good: The Japanese was good, and I rewound and spotchecked the English track at certain times. The sound is gorgeous; the battle sequences and the dramatic music were brought together perfectly. And while I normally don't have too many qualms with the English cast, I have to say that they picked the perfect VAs for Saito and Soujiro, who sounds almost exactly like his(her? Both are played by female VAs) Japanese counterpart.
The bad: Dub mispronounciations of Japanese names/locations are almost inevitable, but it still makes me cringe. Although I like Saito's voice, I think it could be more evil-sounding. Ah, well.

The ugly: One little nitpick in the dub is in the beginning of the first ep, where somebody on the opposing side calls him by his full name,when they should only know him as Himura, the Battousai or Battousai the Manslayer. The other thing is...I miss the dub songs! ;_; Ah, well.

Video:
The good: Beautiful fight sequences, unhampered because of an incredibly clean transfer. They also used a better (read: thinner yet still visible) font for the overlays.

The bad: But they're still overlays. With one noted exception (those of you who've seen it know what I'm talking about), it would be best to leave the screen alone, methinks. Or use alternate
angles.

The ugly: Thankfully, some of the bloodier bits were censored (Not by MB, but the animation studio--the show is untouched), especially in the bits dealing with some of Kenshin's past. There also happens to be one frame after the "Devil of Vengeance" title card which looks like the original Japanese. Slight error, and you'll miss it if you blink.

Packaging:
The good: The cover promises a lot of action, which is delivered. Probably enough to grab the eyes of the wandering consumer. The back delivers a few good screencaps and a good blurb.

The bad: Although I was initially enthused by the front cover, I don't really like the grey and red combination. ^^; The ugly: Grey and red don't go well together, I don't think.

Menus:
The good: THIS is the menu I've been looking for. The menu starts with an attention-grabbing animated intro, followed by a very atmospheric selection screen. The music in the background adds to this. Access times are quick, pictures are colorful and moody.

The bad: Well, I kind of miss the direct-episode linking. In order to skip episodes, you now have to go to chapter selection.

The ugly: Plus, the Setup and Extras menus are a little hard to read, since they're done in the Japanese top-down manner (i.e. one-character columns). I understand the point behind doing so, but it doesn't work very effectively.

Extras:
The good: Oh, man, I could go on ranting about the extras here. Creditless ending, liner notes up the wazoo (just about anything you could want to know about the Revolution in context), outtakes, and the brand new, this-disc-exclusive coup de grace, the epilogue of the final ep on this disc, presented in the original Japanese as opposed to MB's overlay used in the episode itself (for those people who can put two and two together--yes, this is the one exception I mentioned earlier). ADV SHOULD have done something like this for their OAV releases, but didn't. (They didn't even bother ove--I think I'll stop ranting here.)

The bad: The one thing that might've worked well in here would be the Character Profiles that populated the first two discs. With a whole slew of new cast members making their way in, I'll be expecting some of these in the next disc. (Note that they DO have a historical profile of Toshimichi Okubo in the Liner Notes.)

The ugly: Oh, absolutely nothing. Unless you want to call the outtakes "ugly moments."

Other miscellaneous: There're a few typos in the subtitling, but I really wasn't paying much attention. ^^; The yellow subtitles work better than the white ones, too.

Overall: If you like Kenshin, there is absolutely no excuse to not run out and buy this disc. Beginning of the Big Plot, lots of extras, beautiful sequences, great transfer, good dubbing...Media Blasters has lived up to my expectations and more with this release.



Review Equipment
Dell Dimension XPS/350 w/RealMagic Hollywood Plus decoder, TBS Montego and Sennheiser HD470 headphones.



Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A-/A
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: A+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Media Blasters
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Rurouni Kenshin (aka Samurai X)