Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #16: Son of God - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • 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. #16: Son of God

By Chris Beveridge     March 30, 2002
Release Date: March 26, 2002


Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #16: Son of God
© Media Blasters


What They Say
Beware the wrath of the Son of God, for he commands an army of the faithful and fights with the Hiten Mitsurugi Style!

The first half of the Christian Saga unfolds as Kenshin unravels the past of a rogue Hiten Mitsurugi master. His young apprentice decides to use the power of this swordsmanship to destroy the newly restored peace of the Meiji.

Kenshin, Sanosuke and the others disembark to challenge this new army of revolution, but their enemy marches under the flags of faith and justice. Kenshin is left to decide if a just war is truly impossible.

The Review!
The Tales of the Meiji grouping of episodes moves beyond the single story episodes with this volume and into what is typically called the “Christian Arc”, since it deals with religion and persecution of Christians throughout the last several hundred years of Japanese history.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The audio track here is basically what we've seen in previous volumes with a good forward soundstage based track with some decent directionality here but nothing going to the rears. Dialogue is nice and clear and we noticed no dropouts or other distortions.

Video:
The transfer continues to look pretty decent here without many issues on our setup. Cross coloration sneaks into a few areas here and there, but for the most part there’s just a light layer of grain throughout. Colors look good if washed out and ‘real world’ style for backgrounds and various foreground images. There were a few jaggies showing up during some panning sequences, but nothing terribly bad at all.

Packaging:
The cover for the first installment of the Christian Arc provides a great looking shot of the two opposing warriors and the woman who may come between them in some way. Well, that’s what you’d think if it was a live action non-anime cover. The bck cover provides a decent summary of the show while also presenting the discs features and production credits. Episode numbers and titles are also clearly listed. The insert provides some animation shots and chapter listings on one side while the reverse is just boxart ads for other shows.

Menus:
Continuing the new look established in the previous volume, the new Meiji menus continue to look good and make good use of the original Japanese cover artwork in them. Using the front cover artwork and overall design, the look here is fantastic with some of the music playing along. Selections are quick to access and moving around is pretty simple as things are logically and consistently laid out.

Extras:
The usual array of extras for Kenshin is here in this volume as well. There’s a good batch of liner notes which talk somewhat of the Christian plight of the time, a round of dub outtakes that might pass as funny (though for some it will depend on how much you’ve been drinking). We also get a new creditless opening here, which is very similar to the previous arcs opening but the background animation has changed, so it’s somewhat subtle but great to have.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the couple of standalone episodes on the first Tales of the Meiji disc, things here start to get into serial mode again as all four episodes are about the Christian Arc, which will also go into at least the next volume as well. The story itself is also rather interesting, though it does the hard job of coming up with a villain that’s supposed to be tougher than Shishio (otherwise known as “get me excited and I burn up and die in 15 minutes”). This is one of the reasons I’m sure that people aren’t all that keen on the post-Kyoto arc.

But this arc starts off quite well. A number of ranking people are being killed by a mysterious assassin, though those who guard them are left unharmed but unconscious. Those believed to have been involved in the persecution or plight of Japanese Christians over the years though are killed violently and made to pay for their sins. It’s in Kyoto that Misao learns of what’s going on and sends word to Kenshin. She opts to investigate things for herself after Aoshi declines the request to help a particular targeted victim. When he learns of what she’s done though, he’s there quickly enough but not in time to save her from a blinding special attack from this black cloaked assassin.

With word already reaching Kenshin, the group all returns to Kyoto, which in itself feels really far too soon. Aoshi tells of how the attack was of the Hiten Mitsurugi style and has caused Misao to be blinded and unconscious for a really long time. While she does eventually recover, this gives Kenshin some concern as very few people are supposed to know about this particular style. So it’s off to see Seijiro! And anytime we get to see him, it’s an amusing time.

Through him we learn of the 250 year old vengeance that was brought about with the persecution and killing of thousands of Japanese Christians. We also learn of one of those who was slated to be a Seijiro Hiko who failed along the way but apparently lived when it was thought he was dead. It’s speculated that it’s that person who taught this new assassin the skills he has and given him the ability to do what few other people can. This works rather well in that it does give us a believable villain who certainly could overpower Kenshin, as he’s trained in the same secret skill that few others have. This is generally better than someone from a different school who has some greater power, as this brings it to almost more of an internal conflict, especially since it’s a lineage issue of sorts with Kenshin himself not becoming the next Seijiro.

The show introduces a small number of new characters into this arc beyond the assassin and manages to create some interesting subplots with them becoming involved with Sanosuke outside of the main storyline first and then into the overall arc. Sanosuke comes across perfectly in these episodes as he’s still recovering from the fight with Shishio but won’t turn away from a good fight. His interactions with the woman whose hiding a congregation and her guard prove to be both amusing and nicely choreographed and start to bring something new to the character.

On the downside, Yahiko and Kaoru get somewhat sidelined again, though Kaoru does get to make a nice passionate plea to the assassin before he goes to meet Kenshin for a one on one duel to get things settled so that he can move on to bigger and better things in securing a place of safety for his fellow Christians.

The episodes in this arc were a heck of a lot of fun to watch. Much like the previous volume where we enjoyed the stories, we got a kick out of these as well and continue to look forward to more. It’s not Kyoto, but hey, not everything can be. We liked the opening episodes of the series and these feel very similar but with a slightly different, almost more cautious Kenshin. The next volume can’t com fast enough, and that’s what I consider to be a very positive sign.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Outtakes,Liner Notes,Creditless Opening

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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