My view of anime and manga varies and will degrade with the passing of time. Anime that i once thought of so highly will be debased in my eyes as i mature and experience more anime and manga. There will be those anime that will endure with time though. Even after more than five years since i last watched it, i can still say that soul eater is a really good anime. And blood+ is still one of the best series i have ever watched.
I watched trust and betrayal nearly two years ago and up to now, i can say confidently that it is the best anime i have ever watched, even with all the stuff i have watched in the past 12 months. That is saying something when you consider that the OVA was released 13 years ago when technology was nowhere nearly as advanced as it is today. Even with the top quality shows i have seen these past few years, trust and betrayal still sits far above them.
Shinta is a small boy travelling with his adopted family in a train when they are ambushed by bandits. All are killed protecting Shinta, going so far as to shield him, a boy they never birthed, with their bodies in hopes of saving his life. Shinta would have died except for the skilled swordsman Hiko Seijuro who happens to pass by. He saves Shinta, butchers the bandits and, unable to do anything for the little traumatized boy, leaves.
He returns a long while later out of curiosity, expecting to find the boy long dead, only to find him hard at work, having buried all those that had died, including the bandits. Hiko, impressed by his spirit and strength, then takes him into his apprenticeship and changes his name to Kenshin (which means sword…something, i don’t remember) a more appropriate name for a swordsman. Hiko is master of the Hiten Mitsurugi ryu, the most dangerous swords style in the land.
Years later, Kenshin, still so young, is unable to ignore the cries of the weak, suffering under the Tokugawa shogunate and hopes to use his power to end its reign. Hiko is against this, mostly because the sword skill is of such power that whichever side kenshin supports, that side will win and he doesn’t believe Kenshin is old and wise enough to make the right decisions just yet. Mid training Kenshin leaves against Hiko’s will, joins the chosu clan and soon works for their leader Katsura Kogoro.
There Kenshin, through his opposition against the shogunate learns that it requires more pain that he anticipated to change the world and if he wishes to see lives saved, he will have to bathe in the blood of their enemies and bring more evil and suffering to those that he deems responsible than even they can achieve. In this quest he becomes the renown hitokiri Batousai, and in meeting Kiyosati Akira and eventually his wife Yikushiro Tomoe, learns what it truly means to live a meaningful life and make a true bloodless difference.
Undeniably the primary reason for this OVA’s success is Kenshin himself. I was a fan of the original samurai X TV series and during conversations regarding Kenshin’s past, usually brought up by his enemies, i always thought how awesome it would be to see what really happened back then. And this OVA reveals it to me, the story behind Kenshin, who he was as a child and the murderer he became as Battosai. And it is every bit as satisfying as i could have ever expected.
If all you did was watch the TV series and think you know who and what Battosai was, chances are you have no idea what you are talking about unless you have watched his OVA. Merciless doesn’t even begin to described Kenshin in this OVA. This Kenshin doesn’t afford precious seconds to his victims for forgiveness or grace; there are no negotiations. Once you encounter him, you are dead and that is that. In fact this Kenshin will not speak to you nor listen to what you have to say. He is basically terminator whose only objective is to kill when ordered and he does it well.
The Hiten Mitsurugi style of samurai X Kenshin is demonically fast, agile, stealthy and accurate. The Hiten Mitsurugi style of OVA Kenshin is demonically fast, agile, stealthy, accurate and demonically strong. Samurai X Kenshin was known for cutting men down before they could draw their swords or even complete a strike. In fact many of Kenshin’s enemies were down before they even knew it. It was merciful.
OVA Kenshin didn’t waste time with such mercies or stealthy kills unless necessary. If he struck and you blocked, he would cut right through the sword, cut through flesh and muscle and then sliced right through the bone like meat cleaver. Then he would walk away as blood spurting out of your exposed insides and you died a horrible death. This Kenshin wasn’t stealthily slicing enemies down, he was hacking through them, the way someone slashes weeds with a machete. When he went off, limbs went flying. You were lucky if you lost a head, it was that much faster a death. His style was brutal as it was vicious.
This Kenshin was perfect killing machine that wouldn’t have wasted times with the likes of Aoshi or Jenei. This Kenshin rarely wasted precious time jumping and skipping around, or letting his enemies cut into him while he tried to reason with them. You would be lucky to get your blade within a foot of him.
And with that description, you would be quick to label him a demon, which he was not. When you looked at him, all you would have felt was pity. There was a blindness, an unseeing in his eyes; there was no blood lust, or battle thirst. He wasn’t killing because he wanted to, or needed to, or because he liked it, or didn’t like it. There simply wasn’t any emotion in him, whether positive or negative with regards to killing. He wasn’t a killing machine, but a child trying to make a difference the best way he knew.
Katsura, his boss, once spoke of him as being in a dream, unable to fully comprehend and understand his actions for the past several months and years; but that one day, soon, the walls he had built around him would crumble, and he would finally comprehend his actions, what it is he had done all those years, what it actually meant to take a life; one day he would leave his innocence behind and, attaining maturity, and he would realize what he had done and that would destroy him.
Hiko had warned him, that he was too young, that he didn’t understand what it meant to fight in war. The OVA shows just how far Kenshin went in his attempts to save his nation. He could best be described as an infant with a nuclear weapon. He wants to save the world, to do good but he doesn’t understand what it means to take less capable lives this weapon, not until he matures, and realizes what he had done.
There were scenes were this happened, when Kenshin seemed to be ‘waking up’. During this scenes you realized why Kenshin acted as such during the TV series, why he swore off killing, because you now understand what he did. Kenshin wasn’t afraid that if he killed he would awaken some deep seated blood lust. That was never an issue for him. It was the mindlessness of the violence he meted out that made him so dangerous and which he feared to awaken, to lose himself for a so called right cause.
Tomoe is a big part of why this OVA works. She approaches Kenshin for revenge, intent on seducing him and then slaying the monster that is battosai; but as she comes to know him she sees, not a demon, but innocence, and how she reacts to that shapes Kenshin’s future.
I won’t deny it, seeing Hiko again in all his glory was a big draw for me; the way he destroyed that one bandit in the beginning was just…crazy. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the nine dragon… something attack shown from a realistic perspective.
Superb. Again i point out how long ago this OVA was released, yet its animation is better than most series i saw last year. It’s almost pathetic. The fight scenes in this OVA are in my top three fight scenes that i have ever seen. They are fluid and sinuous that you just want to keep watching them. In most anime fights these days, there is so much laziness where they try to make it seem like characters are moving really fast, but they are just rolling and twisting around each other; it gets confusing.. The fights in this OVA were animated satisfactorily, to the point that you could follow every strike and move. PERFECT 5/5
ART:> Another win for this OVA. Of course i was a bit shocked the first time. Everyone (that i knew from the series) looked quite different. But i soon got over that. The art in this OVA is perfect, and not just the fight scenes, but moments of calm, especially between Kenshin and Tomoe, are done so well, and convey a lot of detail with regards to atmosphere and mood. PERFECT 5/5
MUSIC:> Elements like music i rarely mention because i rarely notice them, and that’s because they don’t always matter, probably because they are lacking. The scores in this OVA were perfect, again especially in creating the mood for the scenes before and after an event. But i will admit that some of the best moments were the ones that should have and normally would have had music but where instead executed in complete silence. The best were the actions scenes, were the only sound punctuating the silence was the rain and the clash of swords. It worked perfectly in creating that atmosphere of…death. Sometimes it was necessary to follow a death with soft violins. Sometimes it was better to silently listen to the last breaths of a character, giving the death more impact. PERFECT 5/5
ACTION:> 7/5, in that they exceeded my expectations. I was happy when they eliminated all those annoying and lazy elements, such as the streaks cutting across a dark screen to show a really fast attack, or dashing lines followed by a character disappearing to show how fast Kenshin moved. They tried to make each attack clear and visible in the OVA. Even the moments were Kenshin moved at superhuman speeds were executed well and could be easily followed. Usually i dislike anime with gore. It isn’t that i have a problem with gory scenes. I don’t really care how bloody an anime is either way. What i hate is unnecessarily gory anime, where the point of the blood and guts is to shock. There was gore in this OVA but it was necessary to show Kenshin as Battosai. It was balanced.
The Japanese voice acting here was a masterpiece and portrayed the emotion within each character; definitely the crowning achievement of the OVA.
This OVA is the samurai show of all samurai shows, if that makes sense. It was powerful as it was sad, evocative and ultimately tragic. It showcased a tragic hero in a tragic world trying to set things right as best as he could. I would more than recommend this show for everyone everywhere no matter your interests.
Rourini Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal, also Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen, is a six episode OVA, the prequel to the rourini kenshin TVseries. It was released in 1999, written by Masashi Sogo and directed by Kazuhiro Furahasi. The OVA was based off of chapters 165-179 of the Rourini Kenshin manga by Nobuhiro Watsuki. It chronicles the story of Himura Kenshin as the hitokiri battosai during the years of the Meiji restoration while also revealing the origins of his famous cross shaped scar. It was later collected into a two hours feature length picture with new animated scenes. It has received near universal critical acclaim.
NB- I absolutely do not, and i repeat, DO NOT RECOMMEND ROURINI KENSHIN: REFLECTIONS. IT WAS TOTAL AND UTTER CRAP, probably the worst OVA (possibly anime) i have ever seen.