Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #04: False Prophet - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • 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: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Rurouni Kenshin (aka Samurai X)

Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #04: False Prophet

By Chris Beveridge     November 14, 2000
Release Date: November 14, 2000


Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #04: False Prophet
© Media Blasters


What They Say
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.

Saga 13: Going For The Grand Championship
Kaoru may be a good martial-arts teacher for Yahiko, but her new student is a much bigger problem. Toramaru is a full-sized sumo wrestler in full-sized trouble: An entire sumo school has a grudge against him! With so many heavy hitters around, even Kenshin and Sanosuke may not be able to protect him.

Saga 14: To Save A Small Life
Having escaped from Kanryu’s deadly opium cartel, Megumi has become a trusted country doctor. But the spiritualist Lord Raikou has other ideas. He is a powerful faith healer who believes in magic over medicine, and he won’t rest until Megumi is disgraced, discredited or dead.

Sage 15 & 16: Assassination Group Of Five
Kenshin isn’t the only retired manslayer in Tokyo. Sanosuke’s teacher and friend, Heihachiro, was once an assassin like the Battosai. Now his old compatriots are back, wielding a deadly sword style that cannot be parried! Heihachiro can either join them or oppose them, but his peaceful retirement is lost either way.

Saga 17: Fly To Your Dreams
When Yahiko visits a circus, he meets Marimo, the human bullet. Hounded by a competing circus, Marimo and her family are about to give up hope. It’s up to Yahiko and Kenshin to defend her against a circus which employs killers from the revolution.

The Review!
Media Blasters bumps the count up to five episodes on this disc, which is definitely a great deal considering the show was already a great deal with four episodes a volume.

Audio:
We listened to the Japanese track for our primary review and had quite the good experience with it. The music comes across really great with some nice separation on the left and right speakers. Dialogue throughout the episodes was solid with some directionality here and there and no dropouts or distortions. The English track was spot checked afterwards and sounded pretty solid with no hollow sound attached to it.

Video:
The folks at Media Blasters have done a bit of tweaking with the video and I believe this is the first one produced in house, which means some folks noticed that the colors are a bit less vibrant than they were on previous volumes. From what we've heard from Media Blasters is that the colors are now more accurately represented from the source master material, and after watching all five episodes, there is definitely a slight and seemingly better difference. There's no visible color bleeding, but a few rainbows make their way around, mostly in some hair and clothing edges, but nowhere near as annoying as some other shows I've seen recently. The opening sequence looks a little iffy in a few places between the gray colors and some grain/compression artifacts.

Packaging:
Yahiko gets the prominent colors on this cover, which with the soft brown shades looks really nice. The line art used for it is quite good, especially Kaoru's piece. The back cover has a few shots of animation and then several solid paragraph's worth of episode summaries and some technical information. You definitely know what you're getting with this disc.

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:
Yet another batch of really solid extras here, especially in the liner notes section. I never knew so much about sumo until I read these notes! Great stuff and something Rika Takahashi should be providing for every show she does. The outtakes are yet another fan favorite that's showing up more and more. This disc also shows off the winners from the Kenshin art contest, and I noticed several names from visitors of this site who entered. Of special note, Riki LeCotey had her "Oro Wear" piece chosen. Riki is one of our favorite Divi-chan artists, and seeing her work show up here was great!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With five episodes on this disc, there's some good stuff and there's some filler. But even the filler proves to be interesting, especially for those like myself who like to see some of the non-traditional stuff and some of the somewhat historically accurate things from this time period.

The two primary filler episodes are self contained and feature some very different themes. The first is the aforementioned sumo episode, where one of the bullied wrestlers ends up hanging out with the group and Kaoru helps to train him through her strict methods (and a few instances of tush pinching). There was some interesting bits throughout it, but other than the cultural lessons, it was one of the two weaker episodes on the disc.

The last episode was the other weak one, with the gang getting involved in two feuding circuses. Yeah, you can pretty much visualize the plot for that one entirely. There were some great comedic moments involved in this one that made it bearable, but only barely.

Megumi herself gets a highlight episode in dealing with running the doctors office by herself while he's off on a business trip. A con doctor moves in using superstition to take over various practices and tries to run the others out of town. Megumi of course isn't fooled one bit, and Sanosuke gets some good moments here. What was really surprising isn't the swastika image showing up in the clothing of the con artists, but the lack of explanation of it in the liner notes. I'm up on the meaning of it from the Blade of the Immortal manga, but this may confuse a lot of other folks.

The best set of episodes here though is the two parter that deals with a group of assassins who are all normal, called the Jinpuu. They're out assassinating various greedy bureaucrats and trying to change the world one dead body at a time. Sanosuke has a friend on his block who ends up getting pulled back into the swords game again due to these men, some of whom he trained years back before giving up the sword.

The subject of redemption starts cropping up again, as Sanosuke realizes the similarities between his professor friend and Kenshin, both trying to make up for their past mistakes. There's a lot of great bits throughout these two episodes as various members face up against Kenshin and Sanosuke while providing some more insight into Kenshin's time in Kyoto.

While not a grand slam across all five episodes, there's some good stuff in here that kept us really interested. And we definitely like this higher episode count considering the length of this series.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Fan Art Winners,Image Gallery,Liner Notes

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

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