Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: A
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: A-
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 15 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 90
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Rurouni Kenshin (aka Samurai X)
Rurouni Kenshin Movie
By Brian Chen
February 18, 2002
Release Date: March 27, 2001
When the "Rurouni Kenshin OVA" came out in 1998, people were stunned. The animation, the gorgeous music, the fantastic plot which finally revealed how Kenshin received his cross-scar... everything. When it was released in America a year ago, people were again stunned. With its increasing popularity, ADV Films released the motion picture, which takes place after both the OVA and TV series. And is it comparable? With its amazing animation, marvelous music, incredible plot, and talented voice actors, you cannot complain.
The animation is very fluid, and in no way could I complain. Okay, maybe I can a little. The battle sequences are similar to the TV series, with mere cuts being slashed on a still frame. What's bad about this is that the sound effects are still going with all the slashes and grunts. A few times (namely the beginning and end) were drawn in the OVA's type of fighting (where you can actually see what's going on). These were extremely enjoyable, and a few were even more action-packed than the OVA.
Fortunately, the original company that produced this decided not to use any CG effects. Thank God. They came off poorly in the OVA, due to the mixing of artistry and special effects.
According to the back cover, the movie got a remastered VHS source. Comparing it to the Rurouni Kenshin OVA, you can indefinitely see a major difference. But on its own, the movie looks fairly nice. There weren't any major rainbows or any line noise that I could detect.
During the entire viewing session, I listened to the Japanese audio. There are no real flaws here, technically. Unlike "Endless Waltz"'s 5.1 mix, this one only received a 2.0; it still sounds good, though. What's my complaint? The opening and ending songs. Ugh... they're just so... terrible. It's basically a man singing with some background music, but it doesn't fit at all with the actual movie's mood. The composer, Taro Iwashiro, seemed to copy the OVA's composer, Taku Iwakasi (who did the best job that could have been done). The only thing Iwashiro did wrong was that he made the songs too repetitive.
Packaging was extremely nice for this one. It's simplistic and very cool. The front cover sports Kenshin with the opponent yelling (extremely lame, might I add) in the background. The back cover is much nicer, though! There is a black background with a greyscale image of Kenshin blended in. The image of Kenshin holding Kaoru is stamped on and looks marvelous. In addition, there are nice little screenshots that are decorated in a nice white border work very well, as they mix beautifully. Nitpicks? Heck yes. The last two screenshots are, at closer inspection, very blurry and poorly captured. The top two of Toki and Yahiko must not have been screenshots; but rather scans. The listings of the cast and crew enhance the feel of it being a "movie."
While many people hated the Samurai X title (as do I), ADV actually gave us a nice looking "X". The actual DVD disc looks incredible. It has the picture of half of a 3D blue X, with three signs of ADV Films, DVD Video, and Dolby Digital. The insert is amazing. Though it first is terrible, once you flip it over you seem something much cooler. The colors (black, grey, red, and white) work extremely well. A greyscale modified image of Sanosuke screaming in the background, with a sharp full-color image of Kenshin about to slash his sword, layered over works on so many levels. ^^;
Extras? What extras? The only... *ahem* "extra" was the trailers for the movie and OVA. Extremely weak. ADV could of at least shown us some effort! Even textless versions of the opening and ending themes would have satisfied me! Bah...
Nothing new here: the same cast did the same magnificent job. After hearing Mayo Suzukaze's serious role in the OVA a million times, it's nice to hear her go back to the wackier Kenshin. All the others are on par, as well. A definite A+ job.
In Media Blasters's production of the domestic TV series, they list attacks as their pronunciation (for example: do-ryu-sen). However, ADV decided to list their translations and I had to resist the urge to break out in laughter. In the middle of the last fight, Kenshin yelled out the battle cry, "Dragon Hammer Flash!" Come on, people! This is turning into Pokémon, for crying out loud!
Content-wise, the movie is humorous, dark, and at the same time, dramatic. Though I've only seen the OVAs and 20-or-so episodes of the TV series, I can definitely say that this was an attempt to "combine" the two together. The result is incredible. While it does have a few chuckles here and there, the main theme is fairly dark; it deals a lot with Kenshin's past (a definite plus to all the people that hate this "wimp" version) as Hitokiri Battousai. We even learn that there are more "hitokiris" than just Kenshin! Cool!
Kenshin's opponent is just like many of the television episodes; a former Bakumatsu samurai, wanting to destroy the new Meiji government. But this one actually ties in with everything, if not a bit cliched.
Believe it or not, I enjoyed it just a bit more than the OVA (although watching it about thirty times might have helped). I've heard many people complain about it, but I rather enjoyed this 90-minute presentation.
DVD-RV65 player, JBL speakers, and a Sony 52" projection TV