Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #21: A Shinobi’s Love - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 29.95
  • 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. #21: A Shinobi’s Love

By Chris Beveridge     September 01, 2002
Release Date: August 27, 2002


Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #21: A Shinobi’s Love
© Media Blasters


What They Say
Yutaro and the others are on the trail of Meldars, a deadly swordsman from Germany. Meldars's ambition knows no end as he searches for the legendary Divine Elixir, said to grant eternal life. Enlisting the help of Misanagi and her Sanada Ninja clan, the Germans prepare for a final confrontation with Kenshin and the others. The tragedy begins when Meldars's Lieutenant, Schneider finds himself attracted to the ninja, Misanagi. When the Germans plan a lethal double-cross, Schneider will have to choose between his feelings and his loyalty to the Fatherland.

The Review!
The penultimate volume in the series manages to not be quite as bad as the one before it, but that's damning it with faint praise indeed.

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 for these four episodes is pretty good, mostly comparable to the last volume where the colors look a bit more vivid and things in general look a bit sharper. Cross coloration still creeps in during a few areas as well as the aliasing, but it’s pretty minimal and had little impact on the overall enjoyment of the disc. There’s a bit more of the computer assisted work in here with some of the panning sequences and the layouts, which doesn’t fit that well with the more traditional animation. It’s also very brief, which is a plus.

Packaging:
The cover here is a bit darker in tone with the character shots, which is nicely balanced by the color scheme and patterns used in the background. The back cover provides a couple of animation shots and a brief summary of the episodes. Episode titles and numbers are included here as well as the features listing and production credits. The insert provides the shots from the back cover placed underneath the chapter listings for this disc while the reverse side is just adverts.

Menu:
Essentially using the front cover, the menu here is a nice image with some text moved around and the addition of the selections along the right. There’s music playing along but these are pretty much nice and simple menus. Selections are quick to access and moving around is pretty simple as things are logically and consistently laid out.

Extras:
There are a few small extras included in this release that’s about the same as the past couple. A brief 90 second section of dub outtakes is provided, mostly just flubs as opposed to more comical moments as well as a couple of pages worth of minor translation notes. The most recent closing sequence is provided as a textless version as well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the previous volume, I was most definitely not enjoying the Black Knights storyline that brought yet another group of foreigners to the land in search of some potential item that would lead them to dominate the world. These kinds of storylines fall into the same trap that Kenshin ends up placing itself into, where after defeating a very powerful enemy halfway through the series, how do you continue to make things interesting without getting bigger and stronger villains each time.

When you don’t get interesting villains, you end up killing the believability of it all. With all we’ve seen Kenshin and the group go through, having them being nailed almost too easily by the Sanada Ninjas just doesn’t feel right. These episodes bring that battle to its conclusion though, and it sort of just plays out across the screen because it’s difficult to really care about either side during all of it. The flip side to this coin is the Knights themselves, with the assistance of Minasagi, finally arrive at where the Elixir is and they all stare in awe. The elixir is mixed into the water apparently, as there’s a lush garden laid out underground here, and with only scant lighting, the elixir is what’s helped it to grow.

It’s at this time that one of the Knights develops something of a conscience and doesn’t like that after promising the Sanada group power, that they’re going to renege on it now that they’ve got what they want. This leads to dissent within the group and outright combat, which manages to play out just long enough for Kenshin and friends to arrive and take over the battle.

These last two episodes played out a bit better than the previous ones that setup the story since they didn’t drag all that much. The next two episodes after the Black Knights are standalone filler stories that barely make an impression, particularly the feng shui one that seems, well, almost silly at times compared to earlier stories. At moments, this one goes a bit furthering blurring the lines of what can be done in this world and what cannot be done.

With only a few more episodes left, things are winding down pretty fast. After the last eight episodes, I’m looking forward to it even more now.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Liner Notes,Dub Outtakes,Textless Ending

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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