Mania Grade: A+
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- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: A_
- 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. #12: Blind Justice
By Zubin Kumana
February 18, 2002
Release Date: November 06, 2001
Man, how am I gonna get rid of all this crack? Another sweet, addictive volume of Rurouni Kenshin arrives: Blind Justice! Justice is blind, get it? And so is Usui! And Usui is gonna be on the receiving end of some justice! Oh, the hidden meanings and double-speak! The delectable irony!
All kidding aside, we are now into the sixth volume of the Kyoto arc of Rurouni Kenshin. This is a good one, boys and girls, so do yourselves a favor and make sure you've done your homework (i.e., watched volumes 1-11, especially volume 3).
The menus will be nothing new to those who have been keeping up. The extras include the now standard liner notes, though a bit sparse this time around. We also get outtakes, which while containing a few funny ones, has also thankfully reduced the number of mumbling ones (Or the VA's just made sure the Novocaine wore off before starting the dub). In addition, we get a textless version of the new ending "It's Gonna Rain", which isn't as good as "4th Avenue Café" or "Heart of Sword", but is still a pleasant tune. The front cover, topping the last one, depicts our three heroes, with Kenshin up front, Saito and Usui behind him in blue, and Sanosuke and Anji above them in red. The back cover has no (obvious) spelling errors.
I must repeat my observation about the layer change. While thankfully not occurring in an important line, I don't see what's so hard about putting it at a chapter stop. Still it's a minor trifle, and you DO get an extra episode on this one.
Content? Where were we? Don't remember? Doesn't matter because this one kicks off right where the last one started. Anji isn't dead, and Sano's pretty banged up. Anji gets up and decides (like all opponents on the verge of defeat) to tell his life story. Anji used to be a beanpole of a monk, looking after displaced children of the revolution. The kids all love him, and want him to marry their older sister (She ain't THAT old... maybe 12.) However, these kids are the children of a "traitor" (their father apparently picked the wrong side in the war, and the consequences were far more dire than losing in the office football pool.) Additionally, it seems the Meiji government has outlawed Buddhism. So the local townspeople, fearful that the children and monk's presence will lead to a deliberate oversight of their village in the government welfare program, decide to torch the place and kill the bastards.
Anji was away at the time (obviously, since he's fighting Sano), but upon his return he finds the charred remains of the children, and, blaming Buddha for not protecting them, becomes an apostate. He trains for five years, becomes the hulk he is today, and gets his revenge on the townspeople (by doing his own version of the Kids in the Hall's head squishing routine).
His story told, Sano and Anji engage in some serious ass-whuppin'. The battle is only finally resolved by getting Anji to realize that beating up Sanosuke will seldom solve your problems, and besides, the kids probably wouldn't want that anyway. Sanosuke collapses, and Anji offers to heal him (using Kenshin's herbs, which may very well be the same ones used on Hiko). Before Saito and Kenshin take off though, he warns Kenshin of the impending attack on the Aoiya.
The next episode is one of the best. Yumi, Kenshin, and Saito meet up with Usui, lurking in the shadows of a room emblazoned with his damned "Eye of the Heart". Usui is looking forward to killing Kenshin (and everyone, for that matter), but Saito offers to take the fight. Kenshin and Yumi run off to the next encounter, leaving these two to settle things. Here we are treated, by means of a discussion on psychology, to the motivations of both Usui and Saito. Peeling through the layers, we see each man as he is: Usui, the petty coward; and Saito, the indifferently cold, yet driven, slayer of evil. I'll let you guess the outcome of the match, how's that? It's definitely worth seeing, though, despite the fact that you cannot see the zero-stance-kotetsu.
Kenshin and Sano meet up again, and as they race to the next encounter, Kenshin senses the presence of an old foe. He enters Houji's office, where waits for him one Aoshi Shinomori, former captain of the Oniwabanshu, and sworn to defeat Kenshin. Aoshi and Kenshin exchange fightin' words, but Kenshin refuses to fight Aoshi as a hate filled maniac, and will not draw his sword, instead opting to fight with bookshelves. Aoshi attacks anyway, and Kenshin is eventually forced to draw. Kenshin is on the receiving end of several blows, and realizes that Aoshi isn't just an obsessed maniac, he's a skilled obsessed maniac. In the meantime, Yumi, expecting to see Kenshin use his moves, and hoping to transmit that info to Shishio, slips away to a telegraph tap.
Kenshin and Aoshi go at it for awhile, until Kenshin berates Aoshi for abandoning his principles for the sake of revenge. Reminding Aoshi of the people who depended on him (a few too many times, actually) brings Aoshi back into the moment. Refreshed, and, hopefully, repentant, Aoshi agrees to give up after one last challenge. Kenshin uses the ultimate attack of the Hiten Mitsurugi, and Aoshi receives the same scar Hiko (and Sagat) received. Fortunately, the ultimate attack of the Hiten Mitsurugi style is invisible! So Yumi's efforts were in vain. But Sanosuke busts up her machine anyway.
Meanwhile, back in Kyoto again, Misao and the Oniwaban, with the help of Yahiko and Kaoru, to defend the Aoiya from the fat village idiot, a cross-dressing queen, and Batman. (You can tell these are the rejects of the Juppongatana). Guided by Okina, the four members of the Oniwaban group fight the tub of lard, while Yahiko remarks how the drag queen is sexier than Kaoru and Misao (not knowing his true gender). The pterodactylic Henya the Flight and Yahiko square off, with Henya dropping bombs all over the place (no, not videotapes of Dune and Ishtar, this isn't Animaniacs). Yahiko rides a blast above Henya and imitates Kenshin's moves to take him down. Misao and Kaoru deal with the cross dresser as well, in the end beating him. But, as the rest of the Juppongatana flee, a monstrous giant approaches... TO BE CONTINUED!
Thus ends volume 12. Now, we wait for Disc 13!
You know, there are a lot of great things on this disc. The first is the fight between Sanosuke and Anji. The second is the fight between Aoshi and Kenshin. But really, there's a reason that Usui and Saito get put on the cover and in the blurb on the back. And it's because it's the best thing on this disc. The only match up I believe is better is the fight between Kenshin and Saito at the beginning of the Kyoto arc. Still, there's more to Kenshin than fighting. The development of Anji, Saito, and Aoshi are your reward here.
Pick up this series, either from the very beginning, or from the start of the Kyoto arc.
Bottom Line: You cannot stop watching Kenshin until you have AT LEAST seen it up to this point. I'm serious. They're making it a law in 49 states.
Sony PlayStation 2, 27" Sony WEGA FS12, Sony MHC-M630AV Sound System