Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: 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. #03: Shadow Elite
By Chris Beveridge
October 31, 2000
Release Date: October 31, 2000
Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #03: Shadow Elite
What They Say
© Media Blasters
Aoshi and Kanryu take arms up against Kenshin and Sanosuke, and this time the prize is the life of the young doctor Megumi and the title of "Strongest Man". To achieve victory, Kenshin must break down the barriers surrounding the Oniwaban.The Review!
The Oniwaban group miniature arc comes into full swing here and brings about some interesting new villains. With this disc I'm finally moving beyond episodes I'd seen previously, which is definitely a plus. Audio:
We listened to the Japanese track for our primary review and then the English one while writing the review. Throughout both tracks, we didn't notice any oddities or distortion. Directionality is pretty minimal, but does show up briefly in a few of the fight sequences. Dialogue through the center channel is nice and clear.Video:
With each release it seems as if the video side of things are definitely improving. Colors this time around appear a bit more vibrant, rainbows are slow getting less and less apparent and edge enhancement jaggies continue to dwindle. There's still a few there, and some of the dark night blue skies still look off, but we're pretty pleased by what we saw. Packaging:
While some people don't seem to care for the more subdued looking covers that have been used for the series so far, I'm a big fan of them. This style is ever so much better than the animation shots used on a lot of covers and adds a certain feel to it that makes it seem above a lot of other titles. The back cover has a few pieces of animation as well as some nice artwork. Episode summaries, though small, will definitely help people figure out what's inside and each summary lists its episode number as well. Menus:
The menus are pretty straightforward with the episodes available right from the main menu and the various selections below it. Navigation was problem free and access times were pretty decent.Extras:
As long as these discs keep coming with copious liner notes, we'll be giving them high marks. The material in them are definitely great for the fan who wants to learn more about the show and its setting. The line art section has some nice shots in as well, though overall we're generally not big fans of the art galleries.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One of the problems that shows similar to this one face is coming up with believable "more powerful villains" each time a new arc is started or new damsels in distress for the hero to rescue. So far, Kenshin's managed to come up against some interesting villains, but most of the ones in the Oniwaban group seem pretty weak in design and style, beyond Hannya and the leader Aoshi.
Megumi's past is revealed within and why she's the one behind the opium that's filtering throughout the city. Kenshin, being who he is, sets out to make sure she can break free from the circle of destruction that she's in. And even though it was her fault that Yahiko ended up being poisoned, he and Karou join in the fight. Sanosuke bears a grudge against her as his friend did die because of her, but ends up becoming her strongest guardian of the group.
The three episodes that focus on the arc are pretty decent and have some good fight sequences, especially when Aoshi enters the picture. One of the movies that Sanosuke starts using just has me in stitches. When running into a group to battle, he pitches Yahiko at them first, reminding me of the classic Fastball Special used in the 150-170 issue range of the Uncanny X-Men by Colossus throwing Wolverine at enemies. Good stuff.
The last episode on the disc is pretty fillerish in style, but has some cute stuff. The focus revolves around Yahiko and his first solo fight where he defends a hostess from the restaurant they all frequent. Some of the moments are cute (as is the hostess he's defending!) but there's not too much to this episode. Watching the other three adults shadowing him as he does stuff was pretty amusing.
Overall, I was glad that the Oniwaban arc finished pretty early and paves the way for some more interesting stuff. It wasn't bad, but the villains didn't strike me as good as some of the ones from the first two discs.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Liner Notes,Art Gallery,Contest Rules (contest has ended)
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.