Mania Grade: A-
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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. #11: Faces of Evil
By Zubin Kumana
February 18, 2002
Release Date: October 09, 2001
Ahh! Yet another hit of digital crack, straight from the distributor to my DVD Player!
We are now into the fifth volume of the Kyoto arc of Rurouni Kenshin. Consistency wins through, and we are presented with another solid entry into the series.
The menus will be nothing new to those who have been keeping up. The extras include the now standard liner notes, with plenty of meaty information on Buddhism and cross-dressing. We also get outtakes, again mostly of the mumbling type. The front cover, one of the best so far, depicts our four major players, with Kenshin up front, Sanosuke and Saito behind him in blue, and Shishio's head above them in red. The back cover has no (obvious) spelling errors. While not really an extra (unless the studio is dirt-poor), we also get a cool trailer for Berserk.
Though I was using a PlayStation 2 as my primary DVD player, what I believe to be the layer transition was placed in the middle of one of Saito's lines (I tried two separate discs), and the disjointed audio abruptly brought me out of the moment. I wouldn't imagine it's too hard to put layer transitions at chapter stops, especially with only four episodes, so I have to wonder why it is where it is.
Content? The disc kicks off with a follow up to the events of the last episode. Kenshin has learned the final technique of the Hiten Mitsurugi style. But in the process, he has felled his master. Of course, he's not really dead, just wounded. Kenshin uses some medicine that had been used on him as a child to heal Hiko, but as it turns out, it was merely a panacea. Hiko offers Kenshin the name of Seijuro Hiko and the white cloak, but Kenshin refuses, saying it his not his intention to bet the master. Kenshin makes one final request: that Hiko look after his friends at the Aoiya. So things go back to the way they were, with the exception of Kenshin's improved swordsmanship.
Meanwhile, back in Kyoto, Vash the Stampede (aka Chou the Swordhunter) is locked up in prison. Saito comes to interrogate him, and meets up with Sanosuke. Sanosuke busts out of his cell and "aids" in the interrogation (primarily shouting at Chou while in the guise of a chicken).
Kenshin and Saito meet up again and discuss what they know of Shishio and his plans. Aside from the leaked information of a fire, Kenshin believes that Shishio will attack Tokyo by sea. The two head of to part along with Sanosuke. As they arrive, Shishio and half of the Juppongatana are there, waiting on a decrepit old ship. Sanosuke has some bombs, given to him by his artist friend, which he uses. But surprise, surprise, inside this wooden antiquity lies an ironclad battleship. Words are exchanged and swords are brandished, and Sanosuke is given a chance to show off his new moves and prove his worth. The ship is destroyed, and Kenshin and Shishio agree to postpone their showdown.
Meanwhile, back in Kyoto again, Misao and the Oniwaban, with the help of Yahiko and Kaoru, prepare the city for an attack by fire. Many of the Juppongatana's squads are defeated, and disaster is averted. However, Usui, the blind assassin, catches Misao. She is saved at the last minute by Anji. Apparently, when each member of the Juppongatana joined up, they were given options, and not just of the HMO/PPO variety. They were able to present Shishio with one condition; Usui joined with the provision that he could attempt to kill Shishio at any time. Anji joined up on condition that he was given the power of who would live and who would die. Anji does not wish for mindless bloodshed, and so a standoff ensues between Anji and Usui. Misao escapes, but berates herself for getting caught in that position in the first place.
After Shishio returns to his mountain hideaway, he and his henchmen discuss their plan for a Mortal Kombat style tournament with Kenshin & Co., to settle the score. Three of the Juppongatana are selected to face off against Anji, Saito and Kenshin. The rest are dispatched to murder the Oniwaban group at the Aoiya.
Kenshin, Saito, and Sanosuke travel to Shishio's lair. Yumi leads them through the labyrinth to the first encounter: Anji the Destroyer. Sanosuke, given his history with the man, volunteers to fight this battle. They both use the Futai-no-kiwami to counter each other, making for a very interesting battle, as neither of them uses swords. Sanosuke defeats Anji, much to the shock of Yumi. But, Anji gets up, and then.... TO BE CONTINUED!
Thus ends volume 11. Now, we wait for Disc 12!
What makes this volume so great? Saito. He mistreats Sanosuke throughout the whole disc. He's funny. He's cool. And he's good. But on a side note, when did he become so addicted to cigarettes? I don't think I've seen him smoking before, but here it's like he's making up for lost time - he's got a cigarette almost every time you see him. Not that I mind - he's in good company (the entire cast of Bebop, for example).
Oh yeah, and we get a preview trailer for Berserk, with the awesome song "Forces" on it!
So go pick up this series, either from the very beginning, or from the start of the Kyoto arc.
Bottom Line: The only way you don't get your money's worth on this disc is if you haven't seen the rest. Buy it.
Sony PlayStation 2, 27" Sony WEGA FS12, Sony MHC-M630AV Sound System