Rurouni Kenshin OVA Vol. #1 (Mania.com)

By:Jim Lazar
Review Date: Monday, February 18, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, October 10, 2000



The Review!
Audio: B-:
At 16:20 for five seconds the English audio is distorted while Saitou speaks. It's a hallow echo effect. At 26:05 there is a snap in the audio. Japanese audio is fine in both spots.

Other than these two points, I didn't hear any problems and the audio was clear and undistorted throughout the two episodes.

Video: B+

I didn't notice any problems to speak of. The blood seemed a little muted, but that could just be because I'm more used to the day-glo blood of the TV series. Otherwise, nothing about the video stood out as a problem.

About the only blemishes are the title screens used between the episodes and for the previews. The style ADV used to replace the original titles and episode names are very unattractive and the logo... well, it's like a stab in the heart every time I see it. They're so bad, I've taken to closing me eyes between episodes to avoid the jarring differences in the style of the episodes and end credits and ADV's title/next episode screen.

Packaging: C

For some reason the cover inserts are all inserted backwards, so the first thing purchasers of Rurouni Kenshin: Trust will want to do is reverse the cover to hide what must have been a printing error. It looks like the cover for some slapstick kids show was printed on the covers by mistake (for the humor impaired, this is a joke at ADV's expense).

ADV continues to use one of the worst DVD keepcases on the market. The disc
itself has the typical ADV gray paint job, which appears to be an attempt to mimic the laser-etched look without the extra expense.

Menus: C

They are functional with music playing in the background. Unfortunately, it's the same music for every menu. There is also a slashing sword effect for the menu transitions, which adds a little flavor to the menus.

Trailers: F

The grade is reflective of the trailers position on the disc (being autoplayed every time the disc is inserted) and not of the quality. Since I refuse to watch trailers that are automatically played in this manner, I really can't comment on the quality or content of these trailers.

Name: F-

No surprise here. It's unfortunate that such a great story has to be blemished with such a inaccurate, inappropriate, and insulting name.

Content: A+

Saving the best for last, I must say that this disc is no disappointment storywise. Having only seen parts of the Kenshin OVAs until now, it was a great pleasure to see the first two OVAs in their entirety. The story revolves around young Kenshin's past during a particularly bloody part of Japan's history. Although based on actual historical events and people, the story and characters are fictional. That said, the setting and characters are so well thought out that you can easily start to think you're in the real Japan and witnessing real historical events.

Although somewhat enjoyable on their own, to fully appreciate the OVA episodes really requires at least some understanding of who Kenshin becomes after the revolution portrayed in the OVAs. Viewing the Kenshin TV series through the Kyoto arc (episode 62) will fill in a lot of the more subtle points in this four-part story. Be aware that watching the OVAs before the Rurouni Kenshin TV series will spoil some moments of the TV series.

The English dub was okay for the most part. The only part that really seemed to be miscast was Tomoe. The delivery of the English actress was very stilted and seemed a bit out of place compared to the other characters. She might have been trying to mimic the Japanese Tomoe's portrayal too closely and comes off sounding a bit unnatural as a result.

Watching the English dub through with the subtitles didn't show any major differences between the two scripts, although on occasion the dub did take liberties. The use of 'that title' during the next episode voiceovers was also annoying.

One interesting bit was at the end of episode 2, the subs used the term hara-kiri and the English dub uses seppu-ku. I couldn't tell for sure if the Japanese dialog used either term, but I believe seppu-ku is the correct term, so it's interesting that the sub would use hara-kiri while the dub uses seppu-ku.

Also at the end of episode 2, ADV left off some text that described the burning of Kyoto, apparently by mistake.

Overall, it is a solid release, marred only by some dubious marketing decisions on ADV's part.



Review Equipment
Sony DVP-S300 DVP player, Sony DB-930 receiver (S-video and optical AC-3 connections), Sony Trinitron KV-32V15



Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: B-
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: C
Menus Rating: C
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 17 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Rurouni Kenshin (aka Samurai X)