Mania Grade: C+
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- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: A-
- 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 Zubin Kumana
November 16, 2002
Release Date: August 27, 2002
The penultimate volume of the Rurouni Kenshin TV series continues on in the horrible, horrible German arc, then provides us with a pleasant intermission before starting off the Feng Shui arc. Is this one worth buying? Possibly.
Menus: Same as before. If you've made it through the previous ones you should have no problem here.
Packaging: A step up from the last one, this cover features Schneider and Misanagi in the foreground, Kenshin behind them, and Meldars in the background, bearing his lance and a wicked stare. The description on the back covers only two of the episodes, but other than that, everything is laid out fine, like it has been.
Extras: Liner notes, outtakes, and the creditless version of the new closing "No!" The liner notes cover the appropriate information, but there are several spelling errors. The outtakes are short (thankfully, because they aren't funny either). No comments by Lex Lang about sandwiches this time.
Video: Great. Looks good, and the layer transition must be placed at an appropriate spot, because I wasn't interrupted this time.
Audio: Also good. The music did seem to be mixed at a lower volume this time (on the dub track), however.
Content: Okay, if you read my review of volume 20, you know how much I dislike the German arc. Fortunately, this only takes up half of the disc.
The first episode continues the "Kenshin Group" (as they've dubbed themselves) versus the Sanada Three (Snakeman, looking like a reject from the Cobra-la, Batman, not looking like much at all, and Other Guy - some guy wielding a trident). While we are treated to an extended fight scene, did we really have to have one as ridiculous as this? Thankfully, by the second half of the episode, it's down to Kenshin & Co. and the Black Knights. The betrayal (that was spoiled by its own inevitability) takes place, as does Schneider's treason. After he gets whacked a few times with Meldars' lance, Kenshin comes to the rescue.
Another episode is spent letting Kenshin fight Meldars, while Yutaro gets the root for his Divine Elixir, and everybody gets saved one way or the other. Oh, except Meldars; he dies, of course. At the very end, Yutaro decides to give up swordsmanship to concentrate on medicine. Good choice, since he's a pretty crappy fighter. Anyway, Yahiko dubs him a doctor of the Kamiya Kasshin style, and everybody cheers. Yay!
With that tripe out of the way, we finally get a good episode in the form of Misao's last day in Tokyo. Okina has sent Aoshi to come get Misao and bring her back to Kyoto. Misao wanted to go back, but then becomes indecisive, because she is unsure of Aoshi's reasons for coming: because he was sent, or because he cares for her. After some teasing about her childishness (which hurts Misao, as she wants Aoshi to see her as grown up), Misao, Kaoru, Megumi, and the two girls from the Oniwaban decide to go out for one last day of shopping. I laughed out loud several times during this episode; it was thoroughly enjoyable, from the return of the always funny Okina, to a glimpse of the kinds of things Aoshi does for fun, to some of the hilarious lines Sanosuke is given, this episode ranks among the best single episodes in the series.
The last episode starts off the Feng Shui Arc. It begins in 1608, with an incident at a temple, where two warring clans, both of which utilize feng shui, are at a standoff. The Wind Clan is determined to prevent the Water Clan from having the temple, and summons up a powerful electrical storm, killing everyone in the area. Fast forward to the present, where strange occurrences have caused the townsfolk to start to panic. The appearance of a feng shui master, who comes in and identifies the problem, followed by a generous benefactor buying the problem real estate lots, seems to be helping things, but Tsunan Tsukioka, Sanosuke's old friend, believes something is more sinister is happening. The well at the Kamiya dojo begins to act up, and a different feng shui master shows up, and identifies the problem.
When the same thing happens to the Akabeka, the old man offers to buy her out, but Tae decides not to sell. The Akabeka is attacked by several feng shui masters with rulers, who are somehow able to neutralize Kenshin. However, the "good" feng shui master (who stopped by the Kamiya dojo) stops by, and disables the attackers.
The German arc, while totally ridiculous, did seem to get a little better at the end, although the plot was as predictable as the success of the next Star Wars movie. I can't help but think that this scraping the bottom of the barrel for script ideas what the real reason the series was cancelled. On the other hand, the episode with Misao was a lighthearted episode that let the characters of Aoshi and Misao grow a little bit. On top of that, it was one of the funniest episodes ever. I remain undecided about the quality of the Feng Shui Arc. While a little... "unusual", with all the mystical powers being used, there may yet be some potential for some good storytelling (although the general buzz says otherwise).
Bottom line: This late in the series, my recommendation probably doesn't mean much. But... If you've already bought all the other volumes (especially that last one), go ahead and pick it up. Otherwise, I'd wait until the last volume is out before making the choice.
Microsoft X-Box, 27" Sony WEGA FS12, Sony MHC-M630AV Sound System, Samsung DVD-Rom