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Media Blasters presents
Rurouni Kenshin—Wandering Samurai #3: The Shadow Elite (1997)

"Aoshi must be defeated, that he must."
- Kenshin (Mayo Suzukaze)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: April 05, 2002

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

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, fighting)
Run Time: 01h:25m:23s
Release Date: August 22, 2000
UPC: 631595200225
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A AA-B+ D+

DVD Review

In the last volume of Rurouni Kenshin: Wandering Swordsman, a cruel, cliffhanger ending left off with Myojin being poisoned and the Kaoru Dojo being threatened by the Oniwaban. As we begin the third disc, we jump right into the continuing episodes, where Kenshin and his friend Sanosuke, along with the rest of the Dojo dare to stand up and face this strange crime guild. Myojin is, thankfully, easily healed, but in the process, the secret life of Megumi (the girl the Dojo has recently taken in) comes out. She has been forced to make and sell opium, and this is why the Oniwaban want her back, as only she knows the formula for their new, super-addictive drug. Megumi tries to save the Dojo trouble by rejoining the crime group without a struggle, but Kenshin decides, without haste, that she must be rescued.Three of the four episodes on this disc deal with this overall plot, and there's lots of action to be seen. As Kenshin and friends take on the mansion of Kanryu (the man holding her prisoner by opium), they discover more unusually strong fighters guarding the eventual prize, including a mysterious ninja who is a master of illusion. The biggest threat is the ultimate boss, Aoshi, one of the greatest swordsmen in existence. Even Kenshin's special techniques to predict people's movements do him no good against Aoshi. It's battle after battle in this volume, and Kenshin fans will certainly enjoy that. With all the intensity of a classic samurai flick, the series kicks into high gear with masterfully inserted "weirdness" (some of the characters are truly out of the wildest kung-fu flick) and elements of humor.Unlike some anime that overload their stories by adding more characters into the mix, it would seem the constant "new arrivals" at the Kaoru Dojo actually expand the depth and action. There's virtually nothing in the show so far that qualifies as "filler," and the specific path of where the characters go seems laid out well. Typically, whenever I encounter an anime (be it a one-time movie, series, whatever) that comes enormously praised, I'm always a bit skeptical, but in the case of Kenshin, it really is on the top of the heap; at least, that's how I feel right now. Will that opinion change with successive volumes? I doubt it, simply because with the pace and overall attitude of the show, I can't see how it could weaken substantially, even if the more complex plots are abandoned for simpler ones.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: The image here seems to be a few notches better than previous volumes. If the source was an analog transfer (as previous discs seemed to be), it's one that was put to DVD with minimal problems, if any. The minor color bleeding and scanline problems are no longer present, and the animation comes across more pure and clean. Everything is very sharp and accurate, with no blurring or frame movements. This improvement brings some added life into the picture, with the transfer looking more natural with no distractions.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Japanese and English language stereo soundtracks are found here, and both are nicely expansive and loud without getting distorted or flat. There's some good directional effects from left to right (and vice versa) and the musical score is well balanced. If there were any complaints it would be the relatively weak quality of the English dub. It doesn't seem to match the characters or situations very well, but then most English dubs seem pretty strange compared to the original Japanese.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Virtua Fighter, Ninku, ShinesmanMagic Knight RayEarth
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Art Gallery
Extras Review: The only real extra is a gallery of artwork, most of which is textless art from the case cover. There are liner notes delving into some of the foreign terms in the show, but it's much shorter and less informative than previous versions of this glossary. There's a few trailers for other Media Blaster releases, and a whole set of rules for a fan-art contest, although the contest is long since over.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

If you liked volumes 1 and 2 of Kenshin, you should definitely like what you'll see here. If you haven't gotten into the show yet, do yourself a favor and check it out; I think even people who aren't particularly fans of anime would like this.


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