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- Audio Rating: N/A
- Video Rating: N/A
- Packaging Rating: N/A
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- Extras Rating: N/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. #08: Ice Blue Eyes
By Zubin Kumana
February 18, 2002
Release Date: July 17, 2001
The second season of Kenshin, the one people say "You've gotta watch!" is here. And into the second disc, no less. Can the second disc in the legendary "Kyoto" arc live up to the bang-up (zoom?) job done on the first one?
The menus on this volume are pretty much identical to Volume 7. They are fast, crisp, and have varied music that I actually enjoyed sitting through. The extras include the now standard liner notes, and while interesting there doesn't seem to be as much here as there was on the last disc. We also get outtakes, which are looking like they are becoming a standard feature. Good, but like I said before, they seem to be less amusing. Once again, the music in the menus is outstanding.
Content? Well, after the dramatic opening of the new season, things start to backslide a bit. You can expect to see a lot of the SD comic faces, made by pretty much everyone, with the exceptions of Saito, Shishio, and a few other bad guys. This isn't bad, but it feels a little disappointing when compared with the previous volume's serious nature.
Things start off with everyone in Kyoto commiserating about Kenshin's departure. Sano and Yahiko are eager to follow and help him fight, but Kaoru is so depressed that she won't eat/move/get out of bed. Saito tries to demonstrate to Sano that he is just a burden to Kenshin, and that his presence will cause Kenshin to fail (die). How does he demonstrate this, you ask? Whup-ass! Sano realizes he needs to get stronger, so he decides to train himself in Paul-Bunyan-ryu on the way to Kyoto. Meanwhile, Megumi and Kaoru have a slapping contest. Megumi convinces Kaoru to get her lazy ass out of bed and go see Kenshin, since the only person Kenshin came to see before leaving was Kaoru, and that must mean that he digs her. (chicks... Sheesh).
Meanwhile Kenshin walks down the long and winding road... to Kyoto, getting strange looks from passers-by due to his sword. He rests in the mountains (after being ridiculed at the nearest inn for being broke) and meets a young thug just as she is relieving a gang of thieves of their earthly possessions. Kenshin questions the morality of this, and Misao (as the girl is named) retaliates by annoying Kenshin (and the audience) for the rest of the next few episodes.
Those who revel in the comical side of Kenshin, have no fear; he will be chased, insulted, jumped, embarrassed, robbed, ridiculed, and stabbed to death more times than you can count. Oh, wait a minute, scratch that last one. But you get the point.
Misao, Kenshin's occasionally-friendly neighborhood tagalong ninja companion, it turns out, is a member of the Oniwaban Group, the same group of rag-tag bastards that managed to take out Kanryu Takaeda's Gatling gun oh so long ago. In what I'm sure is the one of the best-timed coincidences yet in this series, Aoshi Sinomori reappears in Edo looking for Kenshin. He is approached by Shishio's errand boy after being observed, and is asked to join Shishio against Kenshin.
Meanwhile, the thieves Misao has so gracefully defeated turn out to be part of the local branch of the Yakuza, so things get a little hairy for Kenshin and Misao when they are trapped on a bridge. Kenshin goes all River Kwai on the bad guys, and gives Misao a taste of his power (in a purely PG/PG-13 manner, you perverts).
Misao realizes that Kenshin must have fought with her friends, and persists in following and begging him to tell her what has happened to them. As this is happening they come upon a dying man clutching his little brother. It turns out that Shishio has taken over a nearby village, and has killed so many police that the town has been abandoned by the government. Kenshin enters the village, and teaches the bad guys a lesson (Saito shows up too, and teaches one bad guy a lesson he will NEVER forget). The village is afraid of defying Shishio, but Kenshin, ever fearless, resolves to save them by confronting his successor. Thus ends volume 8. Now, we wait for Disc 9!
These episodes are of decent quality on their own; as part of a larger arc (which I have not seen in its entirety) I would think they're better. The main problem is that it felt like the entire time I was waiting for something (which I was... I was waiting for Kenshin to fight a worthwhile opponent... not too many good fights on this one). Still, the story seems to be moving forward. I just wish they would have kept the darker, more serious tone of the previous volume. All in all, a mixed package.
Oh, and David Lucas provides the voice of Shishio! (Did you catch him in Akira as well? - he's the ill-fated researcher who checks on Tetsuo)
Bottom Line: If you haven't been watching, get on board with disc 7 and then see if you want 8. If you have been watching, this is a step backward in tone and style, but forward in story. I'd say go for it.
Sony PlayStation 2, 27" Sony WEGA FS12, Sony MHC-M630AV Sound System