This a masterpiece animation period. It acts as the prequel of the actual series Rurouni Kenshin produced in the mid 90 and is shown around the mid-end of the original manga classic by Watsuki Nobuhiro. However you do not need to watch the lenghty anime series beforehand to appreciate it. This movie defines perfection for me and is the reason why I love animation more than live movies.
The story is historically so deep that you'll need to open a book to understand the context. Portrayed with infinite details and reality,it tells the inner struggle of a young man named Battosai the Assassin in his quest for justice in the violent Meiji era. The characters depicted in the story actually existed adding meat to the setting.
The animation is old. it is a 1997 movie after all. But even today, in 2011, more than 10 years later, it doesn't lose of it's sharpness. It is still incredible storytelling and pure poetry.I enjoyed it as much as the first time I ever saw it and it is like my eight rewatch!
The sound here is incredible. Sophisticated soundtrack by genius Taku Iwasaki who delivers one of the best musical pieces of his entire career. The battle themes are jaw-dropping.Hey, he actually inspired the Pirates of the caribbean soundtrack! Talk about impressive. The voice work is unbelievable. It is calm and realistic; perfect for the movie atmosphere. It is a big thumb up for Suzukaze Mayo-sama who gives life to a spectacular Himura Kenshin at the peak of his charm. Don't forget Kenshin was only 15 years-old at the time and the choice of a female voice is a bit disturbing at first but rest assured it is one of the best voike work ever seen in a animation. The way she portreys a regrettful, and sad Kenshin is just magnificent. She stills proves she is one of my best voice actresses ever even if she only voiced two characters( The unforgettable Himura Kenshin and Queen Charlotte in the Le Chevalier d'Eon) in her entire seiyuu career!
The characters are simply brilliant. It focuses on only two majors characters: Himura Kenshin and Tomoe. Their developpement is just pure poetry. Warm and cute ( without the fluffy side) is so overwhelming you'll feel happy for them. Kenshin is now a legendary anime character, no doubt about it. And Tomoe is so likeable. In two words: exceptionnally-well written characters.
Overall, this story is the saddest love story I ever saw but it is so incredibly well made.It is quite (but not ) almost perfection. I garantee you'll shed tears as the end grows near as much as I was tear-wrecked. You do not simply cry for the sadness, but for the poetry and happiness these two characters shared in their simple farming lives. This show is among my perennial favorites and is an absolute must-watch.
Score: 5/5 And more if possible. One masterpiece period.
Next! Birdy the Mighty Decode Season 1, my actual review of Black Butler Season 1 and Rurouni Kenshin: Seisouhen.