Mania Grade: A+
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- Audio Rating: A+
- Video Rating: A+
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: B-
- 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)
Rurouni Kenshin OVA Vol. #1
By Brian Chen
February 18, 2002
Release Date: October 10, 2000
(Note: This review is for BOTH volumes of the OVA) Ever seen one of those movies that just makes you drop your jaw and keep them down on the floor even after you leave the theater? This one sure did it for me. Unlike the TV series which is very light-hearted and comedic, the OVA is very deep and dramatic. The animation is silky smooth, the music is mesmerizingly beautiful, and come on, this is a story practically begging to be told!
The Kenshin OVA takes place before the television series starts. This means that Kenshin is the ruthless murderer; the legendary "Hitokiri Battousai." The OVA explains details about his past, why he left his gloomy life, and how he got his cross-shaped scar.
Like I already said, the animation is incredibly fluid. This is definitely the prettiest anime I've ever seen. The background details are comparable to some of the Renaissaince (no joke, I assure you) while the actual characters are drawn in the same fashion as the television series. Still, it makes for an amazing duo and you will be blown away. On the second disc, there was some tiny speckles in the sky (they're not stars; I'm not a moron) but I only saw it the fourth time I watched it. ^_^
The music is some of the best I've ever heard. Not just in an anime, but for anything. Taku Iwakasi simply did a marvelous job. Opposite of the TV's J-Pop music, the OVA has classical Japanese music played by amazingly talented musicians. The music ranges from quiet subtle pieces to intense beats that will pull on your heartstrings and won't let them go for a good hour or two. To my knowledge, the soundtrack isn't domestically released, so youshould look into a CD import store.
Well, I can't praise the movie forever. The dub sucks. If you plan on buying the VHS, I highly urge you to stop and buy a DVD player. And if you already have a DVD and opt for the VHS.... well, I'll just give you a swift punch in the face. The English actors are just terrible. Kenshin sounds like a slightly more serious Yamucha (for the American DragonBall Z). His voice will make any Kenshin fan want to cry. If I ever see J. Shannon Weaver in a dark alley, I will have to savagely beat him. Tomoe's VA seemed to do a half-assed job. But however, the subtitled version is awesome! Kenshin's voice is done by Mayo Suzukaze, the same VA as the TV series. She does a much more serious job rather than the funkiness of the TV series. Tomoe's VA isn't anything special... sounds natural. Which is a good thing. Iizuka is voiced by Ryusei Nakao, the same person who voiced Freezer (of DragonBall Z). Wonderful job there, as well.
The subtitles are the ordinary yellow ones that you might find on a fansub. I prefer the FUNimation ones (bold white letters with black outline) but these do fine, as well. There wer a few parts where I had to squint to read them, but overall they were proffesionally done. The subtitler (or whatever the job is called) done a pretty crappy job. I'm not sure if I'm absolutely right about this, but when someone said "Oh please..." in a flattering kind of way, the guy put "Thank you." Also, in a line I distinctly heard "Hitokiri Battousai" but the line was subtitled as "What could you tell us about? His weaknesses?" But it's better than nothing, I must admit.
Extras? Probably the single let-down of both discs, the extras are really lacking. For both discs, you get the trailer, character introductions, and screenwriter notes. The screenwriter notes aren't really liner notes like the TV series's DVD had, but a review of the OVA by the subtitler.
If you're new to Rurouni Kenshin, and more specifically its domestic releasing, then you're probably wondering why it's called "Samurai X." To be honest, I don't know. I suppose the production company didn't believe a title like "Rurouni Kenshin" would fare well in the United States. Oh, how the scenario boomeranged right back at them. Luckily, ADV Films gave us reversable covers. While they do take a good five minutes to actually figure out HOW to change them (or, was that just me? ^o^), it's worth it. The domestic covers plain out suck and almost make you want to shove the DVD back into it's case. The original ones are compelling and beautifully drawn. Unfortunately, they didn't take out "Samurai X" in the actual parts of the film. At the beginning, it has the title "Samurai X: Remembrance" which almost made me want to rip the DVD in half. At the end of the OVA it has the exact same treatment. WHY?! Couldn't they just KEEP the Japanese version the same?! I mean, they canput the Samurai X title on the American version, but the Japanese? Are you MAD?!
Hehe, but moving on... I highly suggest you buy the two volumes. They are quite pricy (they'll probably add up to a total of $50) but they are well worth it. Actually, $25 for a single disc is actually a great deal considering the exceptional caliber of each! Both will make you cry, shout out, laugh (well, not laugh) and any Kenshin fans that DOESN'T see them doesn't have the privelege to be called a Kenshin fan.
A word to the wise: you should watch as much of the TV series as possible. You will see many characters that you had already seen, and as a prequel, it will give a much nicer effect (a la Star Wars: Episode I).
Panasonic DVD-RV65 player, JBL speakers, and a Sony 52" projection TV