Mania Grade: B-
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- Audio Rating: B-
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: A+
- 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. #15: The Firefly's Wish
By Zubin Kumana
March 24, 2002
Release Date: February 26, 2002
When the Kyoto arc ended in Japan, there were several episodes at the end of the second season that didn't exactly fit in with the huge season long plot, yet were still produced by Studio Gallop. These episodes are packaged in the US as the first volume in the "Tales of the Meiji" season, no doubt relabeled because it has little to do with any legends of Kyoto.
Menus: Evolution Three. The menus are nicely laid out; no more vertical lines of text; same divisions as before. The new music selections are nice, but I still wonder why only some of the menus have music, while some are silent. I'm not complaining though; Good Job, MB!
Packaging: I really like the design of the new covers, with the lighter purple to the right, and the deeper purple covering the left 1/5th of the front and the spine. The series title is displayed where it usually is, while the volume title is rotated vertically on the rich portion of the cover. Overall, it makes for a very pleasing design. The art used is that of Kenshin wearing a blue shirt (like the one he wears in the OAVs), with Kaoru in the back (with her INDIGO ribbon). Nice.
Extras: Liner notes and outtakes. The outtakes are funny enough... You have to watch the episodes first before you get some of them (the one with Sano at the table you won't get until you know the line that comes before his). No creditless ending for the last episode, which I thought was a little disappointing, since it was a special ending.
The video quality was on par with the better releases recently. Also, I wasn't bothered by any layer changes, so it looks like they put it in a proper break (Thankfully).
Content: Oh dear. It seems that, saving Japan, Kenshin has contented himself with life as a househusband (figuratively speaking, for now). The question is, can the audience accept this role for him as well as he does?
The first episode has a broke Kaoru asking Kenshin to go fishing for dinner. Kenshin avails himself of the opportunity, leaving Sano to fix holes in the wall and Yahiko to dust the Kamiya dojo. While fishing, he meets an old fisherman who tells him the tale of the "wishing fireflies", which, conveniently, happens to be his own tale. The moral of the story is obvious, but, even if Kenshin did get the point (and he must have, he's no idiot), it doesn't seem to change his actions (yet).
The next episode is basically the Prince and the Pauper done Kenshin-style. A prince looks exactly like Yahiko. You fill in the rest.
The next episode is pretty funny. Sanosuke goes to a temple to pray for better luck in gambling. While there he finds a Chow, who becomes attached to Sanosuke (literally and figuratively). The dog, Notaru, has inadvertently saved Meiji officials from blackmail and public exposure for corruption by burying a key belonging to a top government advisor. A group called the Kenwadan (looking like Kunimitsu rejects) hunt for the dog, to obtain the key to a safe containing all this information. A lot of the interactions, especially between Sanosuke, Megumi, and Kaoru, make this one of the better comic episodes in the series.
The final episode on the disc deals with Kaoru and her feelings for Kenshin. As the influence of the west increases, concepts such as engagement rings have become popular in Japan. On what appears to be the Japanese equivalent of Valentine's day approaches, Kaoru, prodded by Tae, becomes enamoured of the idea of being given an engagement ring by Kenshin (and has a pretty funny hallucination, too!). The boys have no idea what's going on, but Tae prods Kenshin into giving Kaoru a gift on this "special" day. Kenshin, utterly clueless, goes fishing, and presents Kaoru with a nice catfish.
Kaoru is none too pleased, as she has been expecting a ring (and apparently doesn't like catfish - what's not to like? They're oh-so-tasty!). But, as fortune would have it, this particular catfish has swallowed a beautiful engagement ring. Kenshin gives this ring to her, not knowing its significance. Kaoru is ecstatic (like the title of the episode says), and cuts Kenshin a break as she lets him sit there while she does chores (Damn, I need to get engaged!). But that isn't the end, of course. Sanosuke goes fishing, and meets a poor young man who impetuously threw his engagement ring into the river after thinking his girlfriend was cheating on him. Sanosuke puts 2 and 2 together and gets 4. Chaos ensues as the guys try to get the ring back without hurting Kaoru's feelings.
So how does this volume compare with the Kyoto arc? Well, to be honest, it looks like the best of the series is indeed over. Yet these episodes are still entertaining. No real resolution to the Kenshin/Kaoru situation appears near; Kenshin, newly unemployed (if you consider saving all of Japan a job) seems destined to remain a mere boarder, living out his days performing household chores and occasionally beating up some punks with his reverse-blade sword. If that is all he desires, then good for him; the simple life seems to be all he has ever dreamed of since (well, since the OAVs).
The next volume is the true beginning of the third season, and begins the Christian arc. Things may pick up in the action department there. This volume is more of a breather in the overall scheme of things (although there are some nice character moments here).
Bottom Line: A return to the simpler Kenshin. For the completist, a must-buy. For fans of the first season, a good bet. For Kyoto Arc/OAV-only fans, then it looks like this is where we bid you adieu.
Sony PlayStation 2, Microsoft X-Box, 27" Sony WEGA FS12, Sony MHC-M630AV Sound Syste