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Media Blasters presents
Rurouni Kenshin—Wandering Samurai #2: Battle in the Moonlight (1997)

"Get angry with me! Become like you were! Hate me, Battousai, hate!"
- Jinei Kurogasa (Akio Otsuka)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: February 28, 2002

Stars: Mayo Suzukaze, Miki Fujitani, Yuji Ueda
Other Stars: Akio Otsuka, Mika Doi
Director: Kazuhiro Furuhashi

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (strong violence, some language)
Run Time: 01h:43m:00s
Release Date: August 22, 2000
UPC: 631595200126
Genre: anime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ A-BB+ C+

DVD Review

Rurouni Kenshin #2 starts almost right where the first volume left off, with Kenshin and Kamiya (Mrs. Kaoru) running their small dojo and trying to keep out of trouble. Of course, in an era as chaotic as the Meiji-period, that's easier said than done. Things start out with Kenshin being challenged to battle by a mysterious warrior with a gigantic sword called a Zanbatou. The warrior, Sanosuke, wants to kill Kenshin because he was formerly involved in the Japanese revolution against the Imperialists. Sanosuke thinks Kenshin was one who betrayed the revolution by siding with the government that double-crossed Sanosuke's elite fighting group. Kenshin attempts to convince him that is not the case, but explanations won't do any good against such a powerful anger.The core of the story comes when Kenshin is asked to help the police stop a deadly serial murderer who is assassinating important political figures. The mysterious killer, Kurogasa, announces his target in advance, then waits until midnight to strike. He has managed to kill everyone who tries to stop him and a local politician isn't sure that even 20 bodyguards will do the trick. When Kenshin is faced with Kurogasa, he discovers he's a leftover killer from the revolution era, with the ability to paralyze people with a gaze. Kurogasa makes Kenshin his target, but refuses to fight him until he reverts back into his brutal persona he had during the revolution; the persona of the "Battousai" warrior. If Kenshin becomes the Battousai again, he will lose all his humanity and emotion, so he must decide how to face this challenger who makes things worse by kidnapping Kaoru.It is this story that comprises most of what defines this volume of Wandering Swordsman, because it challenges Kenshin's devotion to his friends and the Kendo schoolhe's helped re-start. Like most of what I've experienced so far with Kenshin, though, the slice-of-life humor is mixed very well with these serious and intense conflicts. While very much an action series, it still gets human emotions and relationships across with an amazing amount of ease. Wisely, the problems faced here serve to strengthen the bond between the characters, rather than just provide an excuse for more swordfighting. Kenshin makes a great hero, since violence is always his last solution. The disc concludes with even more problems for our friends, when they decide to help out Megumi, a mysterious woman who claims she's being pursued by a local crime lord. Indeed, she is, but her motivations for running away are not all that they seem. In the fray of combat with the Oniwaban (the local mob), Myojin, Kaoru's young pupil, gets seriously injured. His fate and that of Megumi will have to wait for volume 3, as we get a clever cliffhanger to sustain our appetites for more Rurouni Kenshin. Enormously involving and dramatic in the way great samurai films are, this series is easily among the best anime I've ever seen. It's exciting, quick, funny, and right to the point. It takes a bit of effort to truly get into it (spending time reading the liner notes helps a lot with getting the Japanese terms right in your head), but once you get over that hurdle, it progresses into something really addictive.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The image looks pretty solid for the most part, but does appear to be effected by minor amounts of grain and some color bleeding. The source seems to be primarily analog in nature, so the transfer suffers a few quality drawbacks, but is not ruined by it. Instead, thehigh-bitrate keeps the image solid, bright, and very cel-like without bringing out movement in hazy background textures. The opening and closing credits (which are on a set track that replays each time they're called for) are a bit worse, with lots of scanlines and compression artifacts.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Slightly better than my experience with the last volume, this audio track feels more expansive and smooth. Dialogue is clear and clean, with most sound effects using a very deep stereo enhancement. Virtually every action sequence carriesa lot of front directionality and auditorium-like resonance, as well as good bass impacts. The English track is basically the same, but the dub leaves a bit to be desired. The voices just don't really work, in my opinion, and sound far too casual for the kind of characters in the show.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Textless Opening/Closing
  2. Outtakes
  3. Art Gallery
  4. Liner Notes
Extras Review: None of the extras are very deep or complex, but the most important would be the Liner Notes section that goes into detail about certain terms used in the show, in order to clarify their meaning and translation methods. The Art Gallery contains some of the art used to put together the keepcase cover, without text. The outtakes reel is about 5 minutes long and just showcases some of the flubbed lines during the recording of the English dub. It's pretty funny, but it only makes sense when you've watched the whole disc to understand where the mistakes are.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Rurouni Kenshin is the perfect series for those unfamiliar with anime. It represents much of what the format is capable of, with epic stories of conflicting politics and warring gangs, set against the everyday problems of a small family of friends. It's like a Kurosawa film with a healthy dose of humor and fantasy; it by no means adheres to reality or historical accuracy.

 


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