Anime Meta-Review


Rurouni Kenshin


By Date




Title Info

  • alias: Samurai X
  • seen: 1-94 of 94
  • type: TV
  • grade: worthy
  • genre: magic_war
  • made: unknown
  • Review created: A while ago, i'll revise it eventually.
  • mod: none

Note that this anime, and the matching OAV, are being released in America under two titles. These being `Samurai X' for the dub, and Rurouni Kenshin for the sub. With some DVD's apparently having a reversible cover that has both names. It has been noted, many times, that Kenshin is not a samurai, and that Samurai X is more than a little corny, but it probably does make good marketing sense.

This was a suprise, being a lot lighter in tone than I thought it would be. While the setting is historical Japan the characters and humor are thoroughly modern. The story is a good basis, a killer of samurai turns his back on violence and will now only fight with a reversed sword (blade on the back) to protect those he cares for. The fact that he doesn't kill his enemies means he should be able to build up an impressive number of them by the end of the series. Likewise his adoption by a dojo teaching non-lethal swordplay (with attractive young female master) allows for a goodly number of secondary characters. The main problem, and the thing that proves this as a magical warrior series, is that while the combat does not have energy blasts (although it does build up to them, boo) it is far from any sort of realism. It also includes the expected amount of posturing and threatening, and in the copy I viewed a fair amount of obscenity in the sub-titles. Still, this is a cut above its genre brethren and a very enjoyable watch.

As the anime progresses the cast grows ever larger, with many characters starting out as opponents (or victims) and ending as allies and friends. These characters interact and grow throughout the series and, for me, provide some of the strongest elements of this series. The early stories are relatively episodic and set in the local area, but the second season (known as the Kyoto arc) has a longer story which is a bit darker and significantly more violent, although the interest in character is still maintained. This balancing of `normal' lives, violent remnants from the past and Kenshin as the bridge between them does allow us to know kenshin better. Even villains get their past explained (indeed there is lots of mid-combat chatting) to enhance this.

Sadly there is still a lot we want to know about these characters, especially the wonderful Kenshin himself, and more stories to be told when the series suddenly ends (after one of the weaker stories). Still, the lack of conclusion, and the fact that the manga continues, give hope for further anime production.

The production values are generally excellent throughout this anime and the character design, animation and dialogue are very strong (even given the immense cast). Indeed the character animation and ability to capture emotion without dialog (and kenshin switching between nice and nasty mode) is very well developed for a `fighting' anime. I also found it helpful when someone explained that Kenshin always speaks in super-polite mode, which is of course lost in translation. Another nice touch is that a fair few `normal' people are developed as characters throughout the series. The action is generally good, albeit often simplified, although some combats are often over in a flash and defy physics (so what's new?) and (in later episodes) logic. The voices (I saw subbed) are a pleasure to the ear and the music is great, although the use of modern pop music for the intro and end confused me somewhat.

The guys at THEM have a good review (as per usual) and also hated the music. I'm not sure about it being used as a cultural reference though.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:24 WST 2009