Samurai X: Director's Cut Collection -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV MA
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 44.98
  • Running time: 220
  • Aspect Ratio: Mixed
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Rurouni Kenshin (aka Samurai X)

Samurai X: Director's Cut Collection

By Bryce Coulter     January 09, 2007
Release Date: December 06, 2005

Samurai X: Director's Cut Collection
© ADV Films

What They Say
Kenshin was the premier assassin of the Ishin Shishi during the Meiji Restoration in Japan. Now discover the driving forces behind the life of the man known as the Hitokiri Battosai, the Man-Slayer. In Trust & Betrayal, uncover the tragic beginnings, the twists and turns of an unfeeling destiny that led a peaceful boy to become the most feared killer during one of the bloodiest eras of Japan's history. Then, many years later, the past meets the present in Reflection as Kenshin remembers the moments that filled his life with pain, blood and love.

The Review!
A repackaging of the Rurouni Kenshin movies in a complete collection.

We listened to the shows using a mix of English and Japanese. We started out listening to the show in the original Japanese that is clean and clear throughout. However, the English cast appeared to be more convincing. All of the girls are well cast, with their voice actresses turning in some great performances. The male vocal parts are equally well cast and performed. Distinctly missing is any serious attempt at use of Italian accents, which could have been easily added to the dub to make the series feel more authentic. The English script is another story, however. We did notice that the voice dub did take some liberty in adding a bit more filler to some of the dialogue, which I believe enhanced the overall emotion of the story. Typically, I prefer to watch most anime in Japanese, but this show seemed more convincing with the English dub. The Japanese voice acting just didn't seem to come across as effectively. We did have one instance of a voice dropout in the first movie but there were no distortions during regular playback.

Beginning with the first and final movies in the series (Trust and Betrayal and Reflection), their video quality can be compared to most modern day anime series with its use of vibrant and meaningful color melded with seamless action scenes. The choices of colors set the tone for the plot of the story and draw the viewer deeper into the experience. The show does a great job of transitioning from the softer indoor colors that contain a lot of visible detail to brighter outdoor scenery with just as much detail. The fighting scenes were more detailed and graphic. Whereas the Samaria X the motion picture stays true to the original anime series in all of its flavor. Within the video style, the movie was presented in the more typical the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1.

As a forewarning, I know the packaging portion of this review is going to sound petty. At the same time, in typical of ADV fashion, they made the choice several years ago to separate their product (Samaria X) from the TV series (Rurouni Kenshin) by using a different name and at the same time keep the original fan base. Paraphrasing Shakespeare, I guess a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, or a fighter with an 'X' is a fighter with an 'X'. Getting to the specifics on the packaging, the case that houses the thin pack collection has a picture of Kenshin in a striking pose on the front and a tender moment between Kaoru and Kenshin on the back. The artistry in the design of the images is really nice with the characters meshed with beautiful painted backgrounds over a gray and white image of cherry trees. Each of the thin packs themselves uses the same artistic style as the collection case. The front of each disc cover uses different images from each of the movies and a different pastel color scheme, while the back reveals the entire scenery used on the front.

The disc menus use the same image of Kenshin as shown on the front of the individual DVD cases. This is all set to a lengthy piece of instrumental music that loops very nicely. The menus are quick and easy to navigate. Access times are nice and fast as well.

As with most ADV thinpack collections, all extras and previews have been stripped out of the collection.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
To keep the content review simple, the DVD titles that contain "Director's Cuts" will be commented together.

Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal
Nineteenth century Japan is a land torn by warfare and rebellion where small bands of soldiers seek to overthrow the tyrannical Tokugawa Shogunate. Enter Kenshin, a young orphan whose fighting skills were honed by the great swordsman Hiko. Though still just a teenager and against Hiko's advice, Kenshin develops a reputation as a skilled assassin. Then, his world is thrown into confusion by the arrival of a mysterious woman named Tomoe, whose kindness shows him a life he didn't know existed. Only Tomoe has secrets that could either help Kenshin to become a man or destroy everything he holds dear.

Kenshin and Tomoe are forced to escape to a small farm in rural Japan after disastrous events in Kyoto. Living as simple farmers, the two begin to learn more about who they really are and settle comfortably into the peaceful country life. But the political conflicts of the outside world begin to encroach on their peaceful existence. A traitor is at work to bring down the rebellion and destroy Kenshin in the process. The fugitive couple is eventually drawn to a terrible but stunning climax.

Samurai X: The Motion Picture
Taking place sometime after the Kyoto arc of the anime series, this movie is an interesting piece of work that feels like a long Rurouni Kenshin anime episode. Just don't expect the same kind of animation as the OVA's as this was designed to flow with the anime series.

This movie takes place after a substantial amount of time has past since the Trust and Betrayal movie when Kenshin lived the life of the manslayer and used his deadly abilities to their fullest. The movie actually takes place sometime towards the latter part of the anime series as we find Kenshin still dealing his past actions. Kenshin no longer kills, instead living his life to defend the weak.

In this movie, we find the foursome, Kenshin, Kaoru, Sanosuke, and Yahiko together as typically seen in the anime series. While on a trip to Yokohama, an ugly encounter with some drunken British sailors introduces Kenshin and his friends to the noble Takimi Shigure and the lovely Toki Takatsuki. Shigure leads a group opposed to the Meiji government, which they believe is corrupting Japanese culture. His misconceived attempt at rebellion against the government brings him into conflict with Kenshin.

The arrival of a visiting British diplomat under the new government further complicates matters. Various factions are playing against each other as well as those who've infiltrated the government ranks in attempts to gain power. Friends and enemies tend to be interchangeable here, but in the end the important players are all ones that are standing up for what they believe in.

Samurai X: Reflection
The prolonged and bloody war where Rurouni Kenshin gained his fame as a master assassin has long ended, yet Kenshin has found little peace. He is a wanderer, a lost soul, cursed to seek atonement for his early life as an assassin. His wife Kaoru steadfastly awaits his return, mourning his absence as well as that of their son, Kenji. As her health steadily declines, she holds on to the desperate hope that someday Kenshin will return.

Many Ruroni Kenshin fans, especially those of the anime, may find this movie to be unsatisfying. The anguish of his past and his devotion to defending the weak has ultimately taken its toll on Kenshin. The sacrifice he makes to defend the weak has forced him to leave Kaoru and Kenji behind. Contracting an incurable disease, we see Kenshin's health decline to the point that he is no longer the mighty warrior he once was. In the end, Kensihin's true honor is displayed in his devotion to the people he has fought so hard to defend and the one true love that patiently waits for him. This gives the story a very satisfying ending.

In Summary:
Although some fans of the anime and manga may disagree, the shining point of this collection are the movies, Trust and Betrayal and Reflection. The storyline from Rurouni Kenshin is expanded, and viewers are provided with a more intimate perspective of the driving motivation of the man behind the blade. The movies (Trust and Betrayal and Reflection) are more specifically focused on Kenshin and tragedy of his life. While the motion picture movie appeared to be more of an extended episode from the Rurouni Kenshin anime series. The drama portrayed in the first and last movies came from a well written storyline, and provided a satisfactory and fitting tribute to the series. This is a must-see for any Rurouni Kenshin fan and highly recommended for all others.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, XBOX 360 DVD player, XBOX 360 Component HDAV Cable with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.


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