Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: A
- Video Rating: C+/B+
- Packaging Rating: B-
- Menus Rating: C-
- Extras Rating: A/A+
- 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 Lawrence Chu
February 18, 2002
Release Date: September 26, 2000
Ah, Kenshin. Having been hooked by the manga and started watching the anime a few months ago, I've been eagerly awaiting its DVD release, and I'm happy to keep it in my collection, despite numerous mistakes in its production.
Let's start with the content: We're still on the chapters adapted from the manga with this disc, starting with the second half of Sanosuke's fight with Kenshin. This first episode has some great fight scenes (does the series ever have bad fight scenes?...don't answer that one. I'll find out later. ^_^;) plus a bit of insight into what makes Sano tick (which is important when you claim to be a big Sano fan ^_^).
The next two chapters deal with Kenshin fighting against a serial killer known as the Kurogasa. I don't know how they crammed so much plotline into two episodes, but they did a good job with it. Once again, excellent fight scenes, and we finally get to actually see the real Hitoki...er, Battousai the Manslayer. (Prefer Hitokiri, but I don't mind Manslayer. *shrug*) Did I mention the cool fight scenes?
And the last chapter on the disc begins the Megumi arc, introducing both the 'fox' and Aoshi Shinomori, every fangirl's dream guy (or so it's said). Decent amounts of action splashed with a good dose of comedy in this ep--put on a good pair of headphones and watch the scene where Sano and Kenshin take on Beshimi for the first time, and I'm sure you'll laugh, too--make for anticipation for the next episode in the series.
One thing I noticed: There were major typos in the subtitles, such as one 'm' in 'Commander' and words like 'bearly.' Although the translations themselves are fine, I'd appreciate it (and I hope others would, too ^_^;) if Ms. Takahashi had someone proofread the subtitles before they're put on the disc. ^_^;
Audio: The good: No objections here--the Japanese audio tracks came in safe and sound with no stereo crossover whatsoever, and the English dubbing is still quite good, although it probably won't be a Cowboy Bebop anytime soon. ^_^; The most outstanding voice here probably comes from Kenshin himself--his voice is kinda passive and only vaguely emotional in wanderer mode, does the weird sounds (what once were 'oro's) very nicely, and really, REALLY does well as Battousai, in that he sounds like the wanderer with a harsh, raspy undertone. The bad: I don't like Gohei's voice, but since he's gone after the first ep, it doesn't matter anymore. The dubber for Sanosuke still sounds quite a bit older than his supposed 19 years, but oh well. The ugly: Well, I suppose you could call the outtakes 'ugly moments,' but...
Video: The good: Very little blockiness, and the animation is still insanely superb.
The bad: The rainbows are back! The rainbows are back! But I don't know whether to blame the source material or the encoding, because they look so...smooth...compared to the rainbows in other DVDs. Ah, well...
The ugly: Hyottoko spewing fire from his mouth.
...and it appears that, in Japanese mode, the subtitles for the ending song and the previews are hard-encoded into the episodes instead of using overlays like the last disc. Any particular reason?
Packaging: The good: It'll grab eyes on the shelf, and this DVD marks the first time that MB has included a little piece of paper within the DVD case, as I understand it. Disc itself looks nice, too.
The bad: One major problem with the packaging is the text on the back.
The color and font were all right last time because of the darker purple background it was against, but the same color against this sea- foam green makes it nigh-unreadable. ^_^; And there was one typo--one 'g' in 'aggression' instead of two--which suggests that it might not have been proofread properly.
The ugly: Sanosuke's got super huge rings under his eyes or something. Jinei looking like a skeleton.
Menus: The good: Easy access to everything--one-click access to the different episodes, and most of the other stuff can be reached in two or three clicks. Artwork's all right, even if it's a holdover from the last disc.
The bad: I really wish that MB would use animation in the menus.
After being spoiled by menus for DVDs like Evangelion, Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, and so on, it'd be nice to see small clips of battles, or of Kenshin being hit repeatedly over the head, or SOMETHING. ^_^; Or maybe just a dash of music--that'd work, too.
The ugly: Nothing really UGLY, per se...but did you notice that they changed that little icon selection thingy?
Extras: The good: Now THIS is where MB goes overboard and redeems itself completely. Never before have I seen so many quality extras packed into a single disc. The creditless ending would have been enough, but they crammed an art gallery and incredible amounts of information on Aoshi and Megumi as well. Plus, they even tossed in some really fun dub outtakes ("There's a fire?") and, of course, the Extensive Liner Notes which has Rika Takahashi's explanations for most everything fans want to know about their favorite terms, as well as how it fits into Japanese history/modern Japan (if it does). Now if only other DVDs could hold so much...
The bad: You don't hear ME complaining.
The ugly: Hyottoko spewing fire from his mouth. You thought it looked ugly in motion, wait until you see the freeze-frame...
Other random thoughts: I don't mind MB using the same opening on each title track, but if the credits and previews change with each episode, maybe they should just leave them on the same title tracks as the rest of the ep.
Overall: The series alone makes it a no-brainer for me. However, those of you who're looking for more in your disc should be enticed by all the extras included. The video's probably better than I make it sound, and dubbies will enjoy the English audio track, I think. Pick it up, it should be worth your while.
Sony KV29X1-B Trinitron Color TV, Toshiba DVD player (unknown model, chipped for codefree), JBL 5.1 Surround Speakers (also unknown model ^_^;). Dell Dimension XPS/350 w/RealMagic Hollywood Plus decoder, TBS Montego and Sennheiser HD470 headphones.