Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: B-/C+
- Video Rating: A-/A
- Packaging Rating: A-/B+
- Menus Rating: B-/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. #05: Renegade Samurai
By Lawrence Chu
February 18, 2002
Release Date: March 27, 2001
With this disc, we move back to a manga-based arc for a brief moment, then return to fillers.
Content: This disc starts and ends with filler episodes. The first one, has Gohei Hiruma (from the first two discs, remember?) using Yahiko to lure Kenshin into a trap and trying to take his life. This is probably one of my favorite filler episodes so far, mixing some action, some drama, and a mild dose of comedy (one of the ending scenes kindasorta takes a cue from Monty Python--you'll know it when you see it).
The middle three episodes are very loosely based on the manga. As one of my friends put it, "they changed it just to get some more swordfighting going on." These three episodes, dealing with a man called Raijuta Isurugi, have him trying to establish a new kingdom, where swordsmen can roam about, by taking advantage of an orphan, Yutaro Tsukayama, who needs a father figure to look up to. Kenshin has to stop the inevitable war between Raijuta's swordsmen and the Japanese army and hopefully help Yutaro in the process. All in all, it's good (or, at least, it works) if you haven't read the manga version, but I very much prefer the latter.
The last episode is a short one-piece dealing with Kenshin and company on their first train ride and experiencing their first train robbery. Although lots of fun, the image of Kenshin on a horse just doesn't settle with me. ^_^;
Audio: (Note: Primary listening track is Japanese.)
The good: The main VAs have this DOWN. Kenshin's good, Kaoru's good, and even Gohei's VA sounds better. My particularly favorite piece of dubbing is Sano's monologue on the train in the last ep. He sounds like he's on crack, ranting and raving like a lunatic. That monologue is CLASSIC (ed. note: feel free to disagree with him at any time.).
The bad: Most problems I had with this disc are from a technical standpoint. Maybe it was my computer, but it felt like the center channel was fading in and out--for both the English AND Japanese tracks, at specific times. This made it hard to listen to the dialogue sometimes. Also, Yutaro's VA (as well as some of the others in this arc) felt off a bit.
The ugly: They removed the english-dubbed songs! ;_; Must be I was the only person who didn't like it. (Or maybe they had to, since one of the eps directly segues into the ending theme.) Video:
The good: As crystal clear as ever, with only a few rainbows.
The bad: Those overlays still get to me...I think alternate- angle usage (or maybe just separate subtitle tracks) are in order here. The opening also looks a bit fuzzier than usual. Did MB use the tape source or something?
The ugly: The entire last episode is visibly different from most all the other episodes in the series. Some of the regular characters look _ugly_ at points in this episode. Not a technical thing, but...oy.
The good: Very eye-catching cover, with Kaoru and Yahiko one one side, Yutaro and Raijuta on the other, with Kenshin drawing his sword in between. The insert now has all five episodes listed, as well as the volume title ("Renegade Samurai") lined along the top. Very nice looking.
The bad: A few consistency matters. "Yutaro" and "Raijuta" both have the extended u's on the back cover (as in "Yutarou" and "Raijuuta") when they don't in the subtitles (although, as many will tell you, both methods of spelling the names are correct).
The ugly: On the flipside of the insert, they misspelled "Earthain." You'd expect them to at least spell their titles correctly. ^_^; And for some unfathomable reason, they've got a picture of Marimo the Flying Bullet on the back, though she was only an ep in the last disc.
The good: Same menus as last disc--quick, practical, reliable. They also reinforced some of the lettering, so it stands out a bit better.
The bad: Same menus as last disc--lack of frills, though the music is nice. I somehow don't think the menu will change until Volume 7 comes out.
The ugly: Although they corrected most of the spelling errors of the last disc, Magic Knights "Rayerth" somehow makes it on there. Like I said about the Earthian problem, you'd at least expect...
The good: Liner notes. Five pages' worth. Creditless ending. Do you really need anything more?
The bad: No, but it'd be nice if we could get another art gallery. :P
The ugly: Nothing I can really say here.
Other notes: The first two times Raijuta's name is mentioned, they spell his last name "Isugumi," for some odd reason. Methinks MB could still use some proofreaders. Also, maybe they should start using different-colored subtitles for the times when they have background and foreground voices--it gets a bit confusing when there's arguing in the background while people make comments in the foreground.
Overall: Go ahead and purchase it. If you've got audio problems as well, chances are there's a manufacturing defect and MB will exchange. Other than that, the little problems that might've been don't really stop this disc from staying on top.
Dell Dimension XPS/350 w/RealMagic Hollywood Plus decoder, TBS Montego and Sennheiser HD470 headphones.