Mania Grade: A+
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- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: A+
- Packaging Rating: A+
- Menus Rating: A
- 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. #2
By Chris Beveridge
November 07, 2000
Release Date: November 07, 2000
Rurouni Kenshin OVA Vol. #2
What They Say
© ADV Films
After the Great Fire in Edo, Kenshin and Tomoe are sent into exile on a small farm. They experience peace and quiet for the first time in their turbulent lives. The rebellion, wounded after the events in Edo, is slowly rebuilding, far away from Kenshin and Tomoe. Their only link to the outside world is Iizuka, who brings them dire news from the city.The Review!
I'm not going to skirt around the issue here. This is an extremely powerful set of episodes that are presented in a stunning way. This disc takes all the energy and passion hidden under the surface of the first two episodes and then unleashes it all.
I don't think I've been as moved by a piece of storytelling like this in quite some time. Beautiful, poetic, powerful and intense. Words, to me at this time, simply do not do it justice.
Keeping things simple, there's only two audio tracks for the disc, Japanese and English. The soundtrack for this show varies from a nice low subtle piece of music to very powerful stirring pieces that sound simply wonderful. There's a great sense of directionality through many of the sequences, from either dialogue to sound effects during the fighting. Dialogue throughout is very clear, even in the hushed tones that are used here and there.
When it comes to the transfer for these episodes, they're not entirely perfect. There are a few minor flaws here and there, but compared to the overall beauty of this transfer, they're negligible. Colors are beautifully lush, such as the flower petals or the varying bright outdoor sequences. The dark tones of the building interiors, night time streets and close quarter fighting are spot on with practically no noticeable artifacting. The last episode takes place almost entirely outdoors during the cold gray of winter and is just absolutely beautiful. There's a few rainbows, probably no more than I can count on one hand, scattered here and there. One scene with Kenshin and Tomoe at the waters side has some jitter in the trees in the background, but that's about the extent of the issues with it.
The cover for this second volume is a bit lacking compared to the first. While volume one had a striking full black cover with the image laid over it, the color this time around is a very dark blue, which doesn't mesh quite as well with the image used this time. It just doesn't seem to leap out as much as the first one did. Of course, one of the advantages of this particular release is... you can flip the insert and get the Rurouni Kenshin logo cover, which has completely different front cover artwork. And let me say, this image works ever so much better than the Samurai X side. The soft whites with a Kenshin holding onto Tomoe is just a perfect fit for the show contained within. I'd love to see more covers like this.
The menus are very similar, if not identical, to the ones used on the first disc. The animations are pretty nice and don't bog things down at all while the access times from menu to menu are pretty fast and work without an issue.
The extras on the disc are fairly minimal, with what appears to be the same character profiles as found on the first disc. What was a fascinating addition though for the DVD release is the screenwriters scrolling notes on the translation and their feelings about the show itself. There's a few interesting nuggets in there and having seen similar on the Nadesico disc, I'm hoping to see more things like this on future ADV discs. Not only are they interesting, but it definitely brings a bit of new light on the people who work on these shows and highlights their own passions about them.
As mentioned earlier in this review, I found this set of episodes to be among the most powerfully moving I've seen in quite some time. The show picks up a fair amount of time after the first disc, with Kenshin doing his duty in pretending to be husband to Tomoe in the countryside outside of Kyoto.
In the time since they started adopting the cover of being a farming couple, both have gotten used to the presence of the other, though there's still a hint of underlying tension between them. Their crops have grown well, their lives are simple but pleasant and Kenshin doesn't even look like he's touched his sword in months. Tomoe tries at times to draw Kenshin to asking her about her past, but he doesn't rise to it however.
Things start coming together though, as revelations about the situation in Kyoto and elsewhere in the Shogunate begin to filter down through the various characters and the larger plot at work brings about confrontations. What happens after this is... well, far too much to be put eloquently into a review to do it justice and would quite possibly spoil the intensity of it all.
The animation in these episodes is not only as good as the first disc, but surpasses it in many ways. There are some simply amazingly done areas. The folks who created this poured themselves heart and soul and it really shows on the screen. The fight sequences are gorgeously choreographed and done with great style.
The translator in his notes likens the show to some of the best of Kurosawa's live action movies, and I have to wholeheartedly agree. While I don't think this would be as powerful in live action, this show is very much done in a more traditional storytelling style and it pays off in spades.
The Rurouni Kenshin OVA's were something that I was fairly interested in seeing prior to its release. A good number of people, myself included at times, got very caught up with the whole naming of the show and its marketing as such.
None of that matters to me anymore. The content of the disc has completely won me over and if calling it Samurai X gets it into more peoples hands, I'm not going to complain. Don't hold off on watching these episodes, because you'll regret it later that you waited!
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles,Screenwriters Notes
Toshiba TW40X81 40" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.