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Rurouni Kenshin: New Kyoto Arc was a two-episode OVA series animated by Studio Deen that was released in Japan on March 21 and August 22 of 2012. The series adapts the Kyoto arc of Nobuhiro Watsuki's famous 1990s shonen manga title, Rurouni Kenshin. The OVA series was released to DVD and Blu-Ray video formats earlier this year by Sentai Filmworks.

The Plot

The rumors are true: they fucked each other here.
The rumors are true: they fucked each other here.

In Meiji era Japan, former government hitokiri Makoto Shishio is out to wage war against the new government, leading a group of swordsmen called the Juppongatana to overthrow the government and institute his own rule of survival of the fittest. Hearing of this threat, Kenshin Himura returns to being a wanderer to seek out Shishio, while being accompanied on his journey by a young Oniwabanshu ninja girl named Misao Makimachi.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Kenshin Himura- The main lead of the series. A former hitokiri who fought alongside the Meiji rebels to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate and now lives life as a wanderer swearing to never again take a life. In battle, he wields a sakabatou, a katana with a reverse blade incapable of inflicting fatal wounds.
  • Misao Makimachi- A young ninja girl raised and trained by the Oniwabanshu ninja clan who travels with Kenshin on his journey to learn of the whereabouts of Aoshi Shinomori, an older member of her clan whom she strongly admires and has romantic feelings for.
  • Kaoru Kamiya- The young trainer of the Kamiya Kasshin-ryu sword dojo whom Kenshin was staying with before resuming his status as a wanderer. Having fallen in love for the swordsman, Kaoru travels to Kyoto with her student Yahiko to seek out Kenshin's whereabouts.
  • Saito Hajime- A former member of the Shinsengumi who crossed swords with Kenshin during the Bakumatsu period. Now an officer for the Meiji military, Saito aids Kenshin in his efforts to stop Shishio's plans.
  • Makoto Shishio- A former hitokiri for the Ishin Shishi who was thought killed when the Meiji government ordered his assassination. Having much of his body covered in bandages from the severe burns his body underwent from being set ablaze, Shishio now desires to overthrow the Meiji government and implement his own rule of survival of the fittest.

Why It Sucks

Perhaps a bigger stain to the Rurouni Kenshin franchise than the Reflection OVA, New Kyoto Arc is a compressed take on the major events that took place during Rurouni Kenshin's famous Kyoto arc.

Usui not making the Purgatory trip.
Usui not making the Purgatory trip.

Having only ninety minutes total to tell the developments of the whole arc, New Kyoto Arc is very rushed in its developments, greatly limiting major character depth and development that took place throughout the span of the arc. What make this rather bad is the Kyoto arc was a major point within the Rurouni Kenshin storyline as the series delved more into Kenshin's past as a hitokiri with the man forced to come to terms with his bloody past when dealing with the indirect consequences his decisions had on influencing Shishio's later actions.

This rushed pacing also affects the many battle scenes that are scattered throughout the arc. While the series is polished and nicely-detailed with scenery and character designs, the title's limited run time leads to quick battle scenes that lack the polished choreography, depth and engagement that were offered from the manga and TV anime. As mentioned, depth is an issue here since Rurouni Kenshin was known to exploring conflicting ideologies between characters, shown through the battles that these characters had with one another.

Alongside the rushed pacing, New Kyoto Arc also adds in new scenes and some significant changes to the Kyoto arc's storyline from the original series. These changes either significantly affect later events in the title's plotting or are placed there to fit the OVA's 90-minute total run time. For example in the OVA, Kenshin has his final battle with Shishio aboard the Purgatory ship. Yet in the manga and TV anime, said final battle took place later on after Kenshin and his allies went through a gauntlet-style battle against several of Shishio's comrades and the Purgatory was destroyed earlier in the arc.

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