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Ruroni Kenshin: New Kyoto Arc Anime DVD Review

4 min read

“If it’s still in you to speak of restorations, sing of this nation’s future. I dare you.”

What They Say:
Although she’s only sixteen and looks even younger, Misao Makimachi is already a skilled and competent member of the Oniwabansh ninja clan. Which is a fortunate thing for Misao, as her onimitsu talents may be all that keeps her alive when a journey in search of the leader of the clan, Aoshi Shinomori, leads her instead into a face-to-face encounter with an even more dangerous man and a plot to overthrow the Meiji government! Quickly enmeshed in the affairs of the legendary assassin Hitokiri Battosai, now known as Kenshin Himura wielder of the reverse-blade sword, Misao finds herself pulled into the middle of a deadly intrigue against Makoto Shishio, who is orchestrating the conquest of all Japan, beginning with Kyoto! Get ready for blades to flash and blood to flow as Nobuhiro Watsuki’s acclaimed Rurouni Kenshin returns at long last to the world of animation in an epic masterpiece: Rurouni Kenshin – New Kyoto Arc!

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release comes with the Japanese Dolby 5.1 and English Dolby 5.1 tracks present, which were decent and sounded fine on my system.

These OAVs were originally released in Japan in 2012, and look very nice here. The digital animation techniques fine and colors are vibrant. The subtitles are colored and detailed appropriately, which makes them easy to read as needed.

The front has a simple picture of Kenshin standing with the title in the lower right corner. The back has some screenshots along the top and lower 1/3 with credits along the bottom and a selling synopsis in the middle. The text for this synopsis could be a little bigger because it is a bit compact.

There’s a split screen of Kenshin and his adversary that’s taken from the cover of one of the Japanese releases. At the bottom are large, readable text links to the various features taking up the lower thirds.

Not much present here other than the trailers for other Sentai Filmworks releases.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
At the outset, we see two men walking in medieval Japan. They’re discussing how the Chief of Internal Affairs was assassinated by Soujiro Seta of the Shishio Faction, and that Makoto Shishio has come to Kyoto with several people. Officer Fujita arrives at a local precinct and reads up on Shishio’s rise as a head assassin, noting that Shisho’s organization could’ve caused great change to the government of the Meiji Era that would’ve allowed him to rule. As it stands though, the government took advantage of the chaos of the Boshin War to dispose of him, by burning him alive. There are rumors though that swordsman supreme Kenshin Himura has come to deal with remnants of the situation personally.

Along the way, we’re presented with events that are presented in a somewhat haphazard fashion. I know that at some point an important duel took place but I’m not entirely certain for what purpose. There was a guy trying to kidnap a little boy and Kenshin uses a special non-violent technique to take him down. Later in the second episode, there are a couple duels that do enhance the story a bit and show Kenshin and Shihio ‘s skills, but as a whole, the story feels fragmented and doesn’t come together entirely. It feels this was more for people who were familiar with the original TV and anime versions but not really conducive for new viewers entirely. The story is presented from the perspective of Misao and at times doesn’t feel as involving as the TV series at all. The script by Mari Okada (Basilisk, Gosick) feels as though there’s something (or many things) missing. Considering a whole ton of episodes are compressed into approximately 100 minutes, it’s understandable but even to one who has not watched the whole show, there are times when it feels this whole thing doesn’t come together.

For fans of modern digital animation techniques, there’s some decent eye candy here from director Kazuhiro Furuhashi (Gundam Unicorn, Fatal Fury) but the artwork doesn’t feel as developed as older techniques of the TV show Furuhasi also directed, except in certain battles during the later scenes. Familiar characters do show up along the way so they can be fun to look at with newer animation, but again, their use isn’t all that great within the story.

As there was a revival of interest in Ruroni Kenshin due to the highly popular live action movie, it’s easy to understand why this OAV was produced. The franchise is still marketable though and a short work like this can bring a piece of Kenshin story to newer generations. The dub is serviceable but nothing really special. Individual aspects are decent such as the fight scenes but overall, it’s honestly just an ok effort at best.

In Summary:
This walk down memory lane is a bland one for the most part. As an outsider peeking into this story, I couldn’t help but feel like I wanted something of a cohesive story as opposed to fragments that were fused together. I’d recommend this to the diehard Ruroni Kenshin fans and to people who want a couple decent battles for eye-candy but not for anyone other than that.

Japanese 5.1 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles

Content Grade: B- / C+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade:  A
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: B

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: March 12, 2013
MSRP: $19.95
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1, 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Panasonic 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Marantz stereo receiver

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