Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #02: Battle in Moonlight - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • 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)

Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #02: Battle in Moonlight

By Chris Beveridge     September 26, 2000
Release Date: September 26, 2000


Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #02: Battle in Moonlight
© Media Blasters


What They Say
As the battle between Kenshin and Sanosuke comes to an end, a new alliance against evil is formed. Their skill is duly tested as their first opponent proves to possess great ability. Kenshin faces a new challenge as he must decide whether to throw everything away that he has worked for to defeat his adversary, or lose to preserve his honor.

The Review!
The second disc of the Kenshin TV series has arrived and another four episodes of this long running TV series is in my greedy little hands. These four episodes mark the end of the shows that I had seen previously, so with the third volume on it will all be new to me. Not that having seen some of them is a bad thing, as this disc definitely looks better all around.

Kenshin is presented in the usual line up number of languages, Japanese and English. We listened to it primarily in Japanese on our session with the disc on the main home theater and had no trouble. There was some nice directionality in some of the fight sequences, but overall we didn't notice anything that sounded distorted or out of whack. The English track was given a spin while compiling this review, and sounded just as good overall. A definite kudos to both Media Blasters and the dubbing studio Bang Zoom for doing such a good ending song.

On the video side, things look decent overall, with a few exceptions. On some scenes there's a bit of edge enhancement creating some rather jagged edges on smooth lines (noticeably on Sanosuke's headband at times). There's a bit of softness to the image in some areas which are more likely due to the material than the encoding as there are some really sharp scenes scattered throughout. In terms of rainbows, there's several there throughout. As always, how much each person will see will vary depending on equipment and eyes (my wife never notices them). They weren't terribly annoying, but once you know that they're there. The easiest place to see them each time is on the title card for each episode, with the drawing of Kenshin himself.

Much like the first disc, I really like the approach and style being used for the cover design artwork. The front cover looks pretty solid, though if you look closely at the pictures on the back cover, you'll notice that they're a bit ghosted with a double image. It's very noticeable on the Sanosuke picture at the very top (poor Sanosuke!). The text is a bit awkward to read (I've heard it's going to be tweaked for future volumes), but there's definitely a lot of solid information on the back. This is also the first disc from Media Blasters to carry an insert. Pay not attention to the chapter listing numbers though, as they're a bit skewed (though again, we've been told that they're taking steps to correct this).

Almost identical in layout to the first disc, the menu system is very functional and accesses its submenus very quickly. The only thing that could really be added to them is a bit of music. Yeah, I know, music. Big deal. But it's surprising at times how adding such simple things can really change perspective when going into a disc. Besides, there's lots of great music from this series to use!

In the extras department, we've got a serious number of things here, though it doesn't look like it at first. In the art gallery there's twenty two or so pictures, including the original version of the front cover. The character profiles pages have two very thick text filled areas for both Megumi Takani and Aoshi Shinomori. There's a great textless ending as well, which definitely shows more animation than you usually see when the credits do roll through it. There's also four pages of detailed liner notes that will definitely help enhance your viewing of the show. The final bit is one of the current favorites of many people, the dub outtakes.

The only real problem with some of the extras is the super small font for the text in the character profiles and liner notes. I know menu pages cost more money, but maybe expanding a few of them and using a bigger font will make it easier on some of us old fogies. I'd love to read the character profiles but I'm afraid my eyes will shrivel up!

Ah, four more episodes of Kenshin goodness. There's a lot to like on this disc with a good variety of episodes.

The opening episode does a good job of bringing the confrontation between Kenshin and Sanosuke about. Watching Sanosuke using his rather sizeable weapon is fun to watch, as well as Kenshin's changing techniques in trying to take him down. Sanosuke's definitely become one of my more favored characters as the series goes through the introductions.

The next two episodes bring in a rather surprising change of tone this early in the series with the arrival of Jinei, a man who fought much like Kenshin years ago. He's arrived in town killing various political people, though giving them warning ahead of time so as to enhance his sport in it all. The latest target though manages to get a number of men to try and protect him, Kenshin and Sanosuke included.

When Jinei finally arrives, he takes out a good number of folks right away using a rather unique ability to overpower other peoples bodies and keep them idle. Only those with a swordsman's skill as great as his own can resist. Of course, we all know that our Kenshin has this ability. Jinei finally sees this as a chance to really cut loose and bring out the old Battousai that Kenshin has buried deep in himself. The resulting fight scenes, especially in the third episode, is wonderfully done.

The final episode on the disc starts a new storyline, with the arrival of another woman into Kenshin's life. Sanosuke and Kenshin are busy gambling the day away, or at least Sanosuke is. When things take a dark turn, a raven haired woman runs into the room looking for help from a couple of ruffians. Being the kind of guys they are, they take them on. There's some interesting moves used by most everyone here, and leads into some more amusing fight sequences later on with a fire breathing giant.

Yes, a fire breathing giant. So it's not completely historically accurate!

After finishing the four episodes on this disc, I have to wonder about the people who've seen the entire series and say that only the middle arc of the story is good and everything else is bad. While I can understand a particular arc to be better than the rest of the series, to say that these episodes are bad is really an injustice. I've enjoyed the first eight episodes tremoundsly and am looking forward to getting more as soon as possible. Great stuff.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Liner Notes,Art Gallery,Character Profiles,Textless Ending,Dub Voice Actor Outtakes

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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