Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #13: Innocence & Experience -

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Mania Grade: A

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  • Audio Rating: C+
  • 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: 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. #13: Innocence & Experience

By Chris Beveridge     October 14, 2002
Release Date: December 04, 2001

Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #13: Innocence & Experience
© Media Blasters

What They Say
Sojiro, a young boy, stands beside the bodies of his murdered family. He holds a bloody sword in his hands, and lets the warm rain wash over his face. He is smiling pleasantly. Kenshin Himura, sworn to defeat the evil Shishio, has only one obstacle left between him and the mad lord himself. This obstacle is Sojiro, the boy assassin. Kenshin has already beaten many opponents on the road to Shishio, but Sojiro is special. He is faster than Kenshin, stronger than Kenshin, more skilled than Kenshin, and his temperament makes him immune to the special techniques of Kenshin's Hiten Mitsurugi Style! He is called the Tenken, because his swordsmanship can only be a gift from the heavens.

The Review!
In yet another segment of the Kyoto arc, you continue to wonder just how its possible for each disc to be better than the previous one. This one is no exception at all.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The show continues its strong sounding forward soundstage based mix with a lot of the music and ambient effects coming across nicely with a fair bit of directionality. Dialogue was nice and strong and the feel of the music was great. We noted two dropouts though across the five episodes here, with one during the first episode and another during the third.

Outside of some of the grain you can see during some of the darker sequences, this transfer is about as good as the series has been so far. Colors are nice and solid, cross coloration is practically non-existent and there's little I could see in the way of serious artifacting due to encoding. With the story getting as good as it is, it's great to not have any real problems with how things look.

With a good chunk of these episodes focusing on Sojiro, he gets a double shot on this cover with another serious shot of Kenshin with his blade in hand. The back cover provides a number of nice shots of the show and a brief summary of the episodes. While no volume number is included on the disc, the episode numbers and titles are listed on the back, with this volume of five episodes bringing us up to number 57. The insert provides some resized versions of the back cover artwork and 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.

Only two extras included in this round since there aren't any new openings or endings with these episodes. The dub outtakes make another round here, though the majority of them are just the general flubs, nothing as humorous as some other recent outtake segments. The liner notes make another appearance with about 4 pages worth of useful background information as well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This disc breaks down into an interesting way. We get the opening episode that finishes off events from the last discs surprise entrance of what appears to be an Angel from Evangelion making an appearance, then we get a 3 episode arc that just simply rocks hard and then we get the setup for the next segment complete with a bit of flashback. And it all goes by oh so fast.

The opening episode was a really surprising one. With the arrival of the massively tall Fuji who does look like some kind of feudal period Evangelion, I had rolled my eyes as it being something that like some of the other larger than life characters just didn't fit well into the scheme of things. The episode also focused entirely on the Aoiya crowd and helped to bring all the battles there to a very satisfying close. With the arrival of Seijiro Hiko for this battle, it provided some really slick moments of fighting along with his usual attitude of being ultra cool.

The big payoff is the three episode arc in the middle that gets rid of all the distractions and settles into the encounter between Soijiro and Kenshin. This encounter has been one of my more anticipated ones of all the enemies Kenshin has faced, since it was always fairly obvious that it would be the penultimate one to Kenshin taking in Shishio himself. Yumi surprisingly does her best to sway Kenshin and Sano away from going after this particular fight, especially after having just dealt with Aoshi, but Kenshin of course won't have any of it. It does provide for some amusing super-deformed moments between Sano and Yumi. I half expected Sano to tell her to meet up with him after all of this is said and done.

Soijiro's definitely an interesting character, though as we get closer to the battle he seems to have aged up a bit more in his character design, giving him more of a lanky teen look than the almost childish look he had in the past, always with his eternal smile. This was probably necessitated when they realized just how close in look and height the character is when they started doing the flashbacks to his past and there wasn't a whole heck of a lot of difference between the two.

And what an origin story to boot. His tale is spread across the episodes as he fights with Kenshin, tying his growing use of his special abilities with the growing fear and bloodshed evidenced in his past. It's a very well plotted trio of episodes that really gives Sojiro something more than just a smiling master swordsman second only to Shishio. Knowing what's actually made him the way he is and the choices he made, it's very easy to see just how well the two of them would have gotten along if things had gone differently.

This batch of episodes is extremely satisfying and of course extremely aggravating as it gets to the end and you just sit there screaming for more. With a great looking transfer and a solid story, this disc is a real winner outside of the two audio dropouts. Great stuff here.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Liner Notes,Dub 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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