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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+/F
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 17 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 69.95
  • Running time: 205
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Rurouni Kenshin (aka Samurai X)

Samurai X OVA Collection

By Chris Beveridge     January 31, 2004
Release Date: January 27, 2004


Samurai X OVA Collection
© ADV Films


What They Say
Samurai X: Trust
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, 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 the Kenshin to become a man or destroy everything he holds dear.

Samurai X: Betrayal
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 are 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: 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 life in the bloody trade of the samurai. 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.



The Review!
Bundling up the original OVA series plus its follow-up Reflections, Samurai X gets a few tweaks along the way as well.

Audio:
For this box set collection release, the original 4 episode OVA series has gotten a remix for the English language track from its previous 2.0 mix to a full 5.1 mix. We listened to spots of it, mostly just for the action sequences, and liked how it came across. The Japanese track is left in its original 2.0 mix though I believe it might have been authored at a higher bit rate. Both tracks sound clean and clear throughout. ADV did however post a notice about the audio on this release just days after it streeted:

"January 30, 2004 "ADV Films' recent release (January 27, 2004) of Samurai X: The OVA Collection was inadvertently labeled as being newly remastered English 5.1 and Japanese 5.1 audio. However, the Japanese audio remains 2.0."

Since the Japanese 5.1 track was listed as a feature to expect on this release back when it was solicited in December, it was the main reason we were looking forward to this collection.

Video:
Much like the audio, the video side of this collected release has had some changes as well. Since there were changes made to the audio, a new encoding was done (not a video remastering) so there are differences in the video quality between this release and the original one. Since we've upgraded all aspects of our video playback between then and now, the show looks better regardless and it's hard to discern what's new in the track and what isn't just the higher quality of the playback equipment since then. The transfer looks fantastic throughout though, much as it did when we first saw it. And as with the audio, the "Reflections" disc is the same as it was when it was released in 2003.

Packaging:
The Samurai X Collection is a stylishly done box that will make some folks cringe with it being almost completely black. The front panel has the Samurai X logo on it with the mix of white and red. The spine panel has a shot of the young Kenshin with the Samurai X logo. The back panel has the Rurouni Kenshin logo. And not just any old original Kenshin logo, but the new updated on from Sony that's being used to promote the series worldwide now in English. Wrapped around the box is a nice off-white obi with the front listing (incorrect) specs and the back a bit on the shows premise. The individual clear keepcases inside the box all contain the same artwork as their original releases, including Reflections, with the exception that anywhere the original logo from the 90's was scene has been replaced with the new updated English logo. And yes, the spins have all been properly adjusted to match for this set, also with only the Samurai X logo on it.

Menu:
The menu layouts appear to be much the same as their original incarnations, the only differences being the updated trailers listed in that section. Strangely, on the second volume if you let it sit there for a few minutes you'll see the morphing/moving "X" logo in the background move into the actual image of Kenshin's bloody face, causing it to warp like you'd do to you monitor through one of those "orb" screensavers. The menus appear to work correctly even when it's doing this, but I've never seen anything like this before. The menu logos, unlike the packaging, have been left untouched and contain both the Samurai X logo and the original Kenshin logo.

Extras:
The extras on the individual volumes appear to be the same as past releases.

Individual Volume Content Reviews: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)



YUA Volume 7YUA Volume 8YUA Volume 9



In Summary:
While there are some quibbles about the set going into it since I had expected the Japanese 5.1, it's almost impossible to not recommend this collection based on the quality of the show itself and the fact that you're getting for a fair discount over buying them individually. Even though it had been some time since I had last seen these episodes, it was easy to slip right back into them and take it all in again, as well as realizing that it hasn't lost its allure at all.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Interviews with the original Japanese voice cast,Character Introductions,Historical notes,Screenwriter notes,Clean closing animation,Production sketches

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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