Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen - Reviews

Alt title: Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal

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kamenoko's avatar
Aug 11, 2006

Story
It is difficult to explain why Rurouni Kenshin - Reminiscence is the best piece of animation, ever. The best I can come up with is that it distilled the television series down to its best components: A Samurai epic, and a love story. But this isn’t true, what makes Reminiscence the best animation ever is what was left out: cute secondary characters, announcing your attack before actually doing it, long drawn-out explanations of how said announced attack worked, plus leaving out a European Knights arc, and a feng shui arc. I shall get into more detail presently.

From the outset of the Kenshin OVA we know two things: these are violent times, and we shall see a lot of violence. But this isn’t Ninja Scroll II, and balancing out the spraying blood is a love story that isn’t merely tacked on, but weaves in and out of the swordplay like a comforting spirit. The love story brings about the cathartic release that all great tragedies have, it is also the source of the tragedy in this OVA in the first place. I hope I’m not giving too much away, but anyone who has seen the series beforehand knows that this is at least hinted at many times. The story for the Kenshin OVA provides the foundation on which two great pillars arise, the animation, and the characters; I shall begin with the animation.
Animation
Beautiful is how I must start, for it describes the animation perfectly. Realistic is how I must continue because there is no mouth stretching, chibi-fying, or any of that stuff. Poetic is how I must end this particular style, for the animation is so smooth it reads like the most exquisite poetry, and I cannot keep up this style much longer.

There is only one flaw I can find in the animation of the Kenshin OVA, and that is the inclusion of several live action shots: one depicting trees, and one depicting water. I felt this took me out of the experience of the animation itself, but it is quite a small nit to pick for neither of these sequences last more than five seconds.

Like I’ve already outlined, the animation is beautiful, and while it’s still easily identifiable as Japanese animation, the Kenshin OVA is the most realistically animated pieces I’ve seen. The sword fights are what they should be; short and violent. Nowhere to be seen is the long, drawn out fight sequences which I felt marred the original Kenshin TV animation. Himura Kenshin superiority is readily apparent, no one save for three* individuals stand against his sword very long. I also must mention the meticulous nature of the animation, the design of everything from rice bowls to umbrellas is quite spectacular. It’s these little touches that immerse you into the OVA.
Sound
I have already covered most of the Voice Acting aspect of the Kenshin OVA, save for that the rest of the cast live up to the incredibly high expectations we have for Japanese seiyus.

I know I’m beating you folks over the head with all this attention to detail nonsense, but I must do it once more. The craft that went into creating the sound effects for the Kenshin OVA is incredible. Everything sounds as it should be. The sounds of swords striking, the sound of wood being chopped, everything is exceptional, and the sentiment only grows with repeated viewing.

The music for the OVA is like the rest of anime: at most times understated, but vibrant and powerful when the time comes. The OST is well worth a listen, for the dramatic and battle themes alone, but there are more gems in there that warrant repeated listens.
Characters
Due to the length of the Kenshin OVA (around one hundred and twenty minutes) there are only really two characters of note: Kenshin and Tomoe. Both these characters have divided hearts: Kenshin does not wish to kill, but feels he needs to so that a new world can be created where all Japanese are equal. Tomoe must balance her desire for revenge with a burgeoning love. But like with the animation it’s the small details make the characters so immersive. The way that Kenshins spinning top is his last link with a lost childhood, and the knife is Tomoes last link with a lost love. The parallels are incredible. The differences between character even more so: Kenshin kills and Tomoe tries to sheath his violence. I can’t find the words to describe how well the director presents these characters.

The voice acting is superb as well, and while I’ve heard complaints about Kenshins seiyu being female, I find it unfounded. I cannot imagine Kenshin’s voice as being anything other than it is. Mayo Suzukaze has a subtlety to her voice that gives the teeth of Kenshin’s character. A lesser talent would have made him sound like Clint Eastwood in his Man With No Name days, gruff, bleak, and already weary with the world. By making Kenshin’s voice softer the juxtaposition with his violent nature is made all the clearer, and the impact all the greater.

Tomoe’s Seiyu, Junko Iwao, gives us an understated performance. Tomoe does not raise her voice, even at its most emotional, it is still quite reserved. Its subtlety is a perfect match for Kenshin’s, and it forces us to divine states of mind, instead of having it explained to us in some great exposition.
Overall
The Kenshin OVA is an aural and auditory treat, as well as a pleasant mental exercise. This is the anime you should watch, period. If you haven’t watched this anime yet, then watch it now, it really doesn’t matter if you’ve the original TV animation, though it helps define the dichotomy in Kenshin’s character. If you have watched it, watch it again, you’ll discover something else to love about this animation after every viewing. This anime is worth every penny it costs, and then some; for it will provide you with potentially hundreds of hours of good watching.

* Two of three I can mention Seijuro, Kenshin’s teacher, and Saito, one of Kenshin’s foils from the TV series, though this is the Saito from his Shinsen Gumi days. The third I can’t mention, and the bastard cheats!
10/10 story
9/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
Clannadia's avatar
Apr 13, 2011

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.

10/10 story
8.5/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
9.9/10 overall
VioletMadder's avatar
Jan 3, 2011

Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen (Trust and Betrayal) is a work of art. Perfect. Profound. Heartbreaking. Shakespearean in its tragic beauty. This is the deep and terrible pain in the heart of that most hypocritical and wretched creature; a swordsman who fights for peace.

...Rurouni Kenshin the regular series, on the other hand, is a chibi-infested disgrace. If you watched it first, great-- Tsuiokuhen will BLOW YOUR MIND. If you watched Tsuiokuhen first, be prepared for a pretty sickening disappointment.

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
10/10 overall
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RabidMonk's avatar
Oct 7, 2009

Interestingly when I first came across this anime I was really confused.  There were all sorts of fan rankings saying great things about the Rurouni guy and also this show called Samurai X and there were all these titles and alternate titles and then some other anime that was related but not the OVA thing (which I had no idea what that was originally) and so on and so forth.

For the uninitiated it was a huge, confusing mess of information and if it wasn't for good old wikipedia I'm sure I'd never have figured it all out.

Ahem...

So this was one of the first animes I watched and it was probably a good thing I did.  I will admit I first stumbled on the much longer series which also goes by the name Rurouni Kenshin which is much less serious, and while initially interesting I soon lost interest (I may go watch a bit more some day...it wasn't wholly awful).  I was at that point wondering what in the world the anime community was doing ranking it so highly but I soon figured out that there was this OVA thing which was quite different and separate from the series I had started watching.

To my delight the OVA set was *much* better than the TV series and I found myself quite enjoying it.  Samurai X was the first time I recognized that there were actually anime studios that made shows that weren't just silly tripe for children and youths who were loathe to grow up and accept more mature forms of media.

The story was excellent, and the animation was of a quality that allowed me to to fully appreciate what was intended by those involved with its production.

It's a short journey to watch the 4 OVAs and I fully recommend it to anyone who is looking for both a great romance or just a great story.

Again, it's been a long while since I watched this one, but I do have a fond impression when I thing back on it.  Just watch it.  Seriously.  Just admit it.  You have wasted time doing things which have far less value than this show.  =)

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
9/10 overall
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PhdInCartoons's avatar
Mar 13, 2013

Story

O.K, deep development in places, maybe too deep. It is guilty of spending quite a lot of time on certain areas. Still, it is a very good story about Kenshin's inner conflict. 

 

Animation

Old but good. All scenes, from the touching moments with the love interest to times when the Battousai is at his fearsome best are very well done. 

 

Sound

Excellent music. There is a mix of traditional and more modern music that both add to the tone and mood of the show. The voices are off-putting at first, but excellent

 

Characters

Very well written. Kenshin's inner struggles are very well done and the viewer can see the devlopment into the character that they are perhaps more familiar with from the TV show. His love interest, Tomoe, is also characterised expertly well. 

 

Overall

Brilliant in its own right. More violent than the TV show, yet more touching also. This is an excellent OVA and it would be unfair to judge it solely as a prequel. 

8/10 story
8/10 animation
9.5/10 sound
8/10 characters
8.4/10 overall
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