Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #11: Faces of Evil -

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Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • 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. #11: Faces of Evil

By Chris Beveridge     October 09, 2001
Release Date: October 09, 2001

Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #11: Faces of Evil
© Media Blasters

What They Say
It is the hour of evil, when all the Juppon Gatana meet under one roof. Shishio, lord of madness, amasses his solders for a second revolution in Kyoto. With Soujiro, the boy assassin, and Anji, the fallen monk, Shishio launches his attack from a great iron ship. A product of industry and hatred, Shishio’s ship is nearly invulnerable.
Kenshin is reunited with Sanosuke, a former student of Anji, and both are determined to sink Shishio’s bringer of evil. They agree to work with Saito, a former member of the Shinsengumi, and stage an assault on the sea fortress just as its cannons are being aimed towards Kyoto!

The Review!
More revelations abound here on Shishio's side as parts of his overall plot begin to surface and members of his mercenary group begin to realize they're being used. While normally this might work towards Kenshin's favor, it doesn't in this situation and as he and Saito unravel the mysteries, things become even more ominous.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Throughout the presentation, we had no noticeable distortions or dropouts, though there were a few moments where the show went silent and I thought it was a problem, but really just a stylistic choice. Dialogue continues to be very center channel heavy, but the action sequences are doing a good job of making use of the left/right channels. The opening and closing music also make great use of those channels, causing us to jack up the volume for both.

Things here with this transfer look pretty similar to the previous volume. There's some slight pixellation in a few areas and a little softness once in awhile, but the main culprit is the occasional cross-coloration that shows up along the edges of characters or in some of the more tightly drawn areas. It's not all that noticeable, so it's a minimal problem. Colors look good and there's no noticeable ghosting or breakup of the darker colors and blacks.

The great looking Kyoto covers continue here with the primary characters all getting some face time on the front cover here, each looking fairly nasty. The back cover provides a few nice animation shots and a decent summary of the episodes. Episode numbers and titles are included (hard to believe we're already up to the 47th episode here!) with all the technical information listed along the bottom. The insert provides resized shots of the animation from the back cover along with the chapter listings.

The menus follow the same design as other previous Kyoto arc discs, with its striking colors and general look and feel. The layout is the same and access times are still nice and fast.

I did my rant in the last review about the dub outtakes, so I won't go on about them again this time. But the main juicy extra here continues to be the liner notes that really help flesh things out in this setting as well as showing some of the translation choices that were made along the way. They're still quite enjoyable to read after taking in the episodes. Of course, one other non-listed extra of sorts here is the inclusion of the first Berserk trailer for that new series. I want! I want!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Oh man, lots and lots of good stuff here, even though the actual fighting sequences are fairly minimal. There's still a lot to love.

The show kicks off with a follow-up to Seijiro's "death" after teaching Kenshin the move of all moves. Kenshin finds some medicine that was given to him on his deathbed and tries to bring Seijiro back to life. It works, but Seijiro reveals that the medicine was "just some stuff I threw together, nothing that would work". Kenshin goes bug-eyed, laughter ensues. The relationship between these two continues to be hilarious, right down to when Seijiro offers Kenshin his white cloak (what an image!).

Saito continues his way around Kyoto and while checking out one of the precincts, he comes across a jailed Sanosuke. The two banter a bit, then Saito claims no knowledge of him and walks off. Sanosuke proves his worth a bit by using his newly acquired skill to smash down his jail cell, something that actually catches Saito's eye. He brings him along as he goes to interrogate the recently captured Chou.

The interrogation session, normally something you'd think of as very serious and at times grisly, is hilarious. While Saito keeps his cool and asks the hard serious questions, we go into a lot out outtake scenes where Chou and Sanosuke go at each other as Broom-head and Rooster-boy. The go back and forth, then get serious, then go off on each other again with each looking like their nicknames.

With Kenshin's training done with Seijiro, he finds his way back to Kyoto proper and hooks up with both Saito and Sanosuke and take the new information from the interrogation and try and figure out what Shishio has in mind. Shishio's easily discovered plan of setting Kyoto on fire, much as was done once before, is just a cover for something else. But that goal is what eludes them.

But with everyone now in Kyoto, and parts of the plan discovered, everyone does a good job of working together. Kaoru and Kenshin regain some familiarity at the Oniwaban headquarters, as she and Yahiko begin helping them to defend the city. Probably one of the best new relationships to come out of all these changes is Sanosuke and Saito. The two play so well off of each other and bring a lot of laughs to the screen, especially with Saito's constantly calling him a moron and trying, half heartedly (?) to kill him. With such a dark and serious storyline, I'm so glad they found a way to really bring in some of the humor that was prevalent during the early part of the series.

This is really only getting the tip of the iceberg of what happens in this episode, but these are some of the more amusing highlights that really stuck out in my mind a couple days after watching it. The Kyoto Arc continues to be strong and I can't wait to see more. Very recommended.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Liner Notes,Outtakes

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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