|Rurouni Kenshin TV Series - Anime Review|
Rurouni Kenshin TV Series - Anime Review
The Rurouni Kenshin TV series….ahh this was one of my earliest exposures to more longer running anime series…well, somewhat after completing DBZ of course
Ahhh yes I have very fond memories of this series and how it heightened my love for anime in general with it’s compelling storyline and well-crafted characterization.
After watching the original and highly acclaimed Trust & Betrayal OVA (A MUST WATCH BTW) I was actually somewhat surprised to find out the story of Kenshin Himura continued on as a TV series.
This story is set many years after the events of the T&B OVA. The protagonist Kenshin Himura has been wondering Japan for many years as a non-violent wondering swordsman often referred to in this series a Rurouni hence the series Title: Rurouni Kenhin.
One day on his wonderings Kenshin comes across a training Dojo run by a young woman named Kaoru Kamiya. Kaoru is the sole instructor of the Kamiya Kasshin-Ryū fighting style developed by her late father, Kamiya Koshijirō who was killed during the previous Seinan War.
Soon after their meeting an incident occurs at the dojo in which a group of thugs and their leader who claims to be the legendary assassin “Battousai the Manslayer” threatens Kaoru and her training dojo.
Kenshin comes to Kaoru’s rescue and swiftly defeats all the thugs as well as their leader, revealing Kenshin himself to actually be the true Battousai. After this incident Kenshin realises he is growing tired from his ongoing wondering and admires the philosophy behind the Kamiya Kasshin-Ryū fighting style so henceforth Kenshin decides to settle down to become Kaoru’s first lodger…thus, his life at the dojo begins.
Soon after, we're introduced to the other characters who become central to the series: Yahiko, a child pickpocket who becomes the first new student of the Kamiya Kasshin Style, under Kaoru's guidance; Sanosuke, a fighter-for-hire who allies himself with Kenshin after they fight, as Kenshin helps him understand that there is still work to be done to build Japan's future; Megumi, a doctor who is rescued by Kenshin and Sanosuke from the Oniwaban group and a whole plethora of other supporting characters introduced as the series progresses, many of whom are introduced early on, only to return later in the series to play a pivotal role in the overall story.
In general the tone of this TV series is strangely more upbeat than the previous T&B OVA. The story includes many moments of light-hearted humour sometimes (rarely tbh) ceryain situations border a slapstick level of comedy which can feel awkward if you are coming from the exceptionally darker toned OVA
However as the series story progresses we do encounter some of those more familiar darker themes / situations - it is just more mixed in with the now peaceful light-hearted-ness of this newer TV series…..which does ultimately make sense in regards to how the current society / era has changed over time
Now although the tone shift from OVA to TV series was a bit awkward to start off with as previously mentioned all in all I wasn’t particularly bothered with the light comedy / drama blend this series decided to combine.
The series goes through more than a few different story arcs that range in quality from good, very good, excellent and then finally ending on somewhat of a meh….which is ultimately the most disappointing thing aspect for me with the story - It did not feel consistent…..it felt kind of hit and miss for the most part with some story arcs just feeling out of place but then saying that nothing in this series various story arcs actually comes off as being particularly terrible…just mediocre at it’s worst
Overall there’s a lot to be seen within the many adventures Kenshin and crew participate in throughout this series. It’s just a shame the quality of the storyline seems to sway back and forth throughout the entire series run making it a bit more difficult to judge it in any singular fashion
Taking into consideration that the animation was done in 1996 and it was quite a long running series I think it still looks pretty decent / acceptable.....admittedly though it does show its age looking at it by today’s standards
For me the character designs can look a bit too cuteish most of the time but then it can suddenly change and become more aggressive looking and detailed when necessary….something I’m not really fond of – animation inconsistency.
Yep this series picks it’s moments to shine with it’s animation and I can only assume budgeting issues are to blame for the odd switches of consistency with the animation.
For the most part I’d say the action scenes are still pretty cool and upon revisiting some of the more epic battles I am still impressed with the action and attention to detail with the fighting scenes.
Finally, this series has some of my absolute favourite openings and closing themes which are also animated quite well…especially for it’s time.
Well, I originally watched the English subtitled version in Japanese and found everything to be just fine. Sadly when I eventually purchased the media blasters DVD releases I found a pretty shallow and annoying English dub that actually put a couple of my friends off this series altogether when I recommended it to them.
For me…the English dub is passable at best but if at all possible I would urge people to watch the Japanese language with English subs version for a better overall experience.
The overall soundtrack, opening and ending themes for this series were really good and I have nothing bad to say about them. Very well done and perfectly fit the tone of the series overall imo.
Ah…for me this is the series strongest point.
The characters in the show are very likeable on a whole but what gives this series that extra special edge for me with characters surprisingly enough is that I found most of the antagonists / villains to be the more interesting and well written in regards to their personal motivations, justifications and philosophies on life.
These “villains” were not all your everyday typical stock predictable archetypal characters. They actually explained themselves and had some interesting and thought provoking motivations behind their actions. Most of these characters had an interesting code of ethics and a strong belief in what they were doing…even if it was ultimately evil (lol).
Coming from the OVA’s story and background I found all the continued political and philosophical situation’s of this animes universe to be particularly thought provoking for my young mind upon my original viewing of this series and I appreciated a lot of the social and personal issues many people had to face throughout the series.
I know I’m making this series sound pretty visceral but that’s exactly what it was for me upon the first viewing and even now those characters dwell in my mind as still very well written characters.
Now, saying all that I will admit there are more than a few bad apples and lame side characters in this story but for a series of this length Its pretty much inevitable that is going to occur and I can forgive that as they do not hinder the overall story all that much
So in conclusion, I feel (for the most part) this series has a great cast of well written and memorable characters that help make the story that much more enjoyable
On a whole I enjoyed this series a hell-of-alot upon first viewing and still appreciate a lot of the depth and thought provoking subject matter that was raised til this very day. As it stands now I still look forward to a time when I will sit back and re-watch the series…..i’m actually hoping for a reboot to trim the fat off some of the more weaker mini-stories / subplots that I feel were out of place or just plain filler for me
Sadly this TV series has a somewhat open ending imo…but luckily things are all wrapped up in a sequel set of OVA’s (which I found to be a perfect ending to the entire franchise)
When this series is good it is REALLY REALLY good…..and when it’s not it still pretty watchable
This series undoubtedly shows it’s age in terms of animation and does have more than a few faults which can put people off it, but I’d say it certainly hits WAY more than it misses and if you combine the other related prequel and sequel OVA’s with this series and see it as one big story….(WHICH I HIGHLY RECOMMEND) This part of Kenshin’s story does hold firm and add’s in an interesting counter-balance to the rest of the franchise
However, judging this TV series alone as a separate entity....i think it would come off as a somewhat interesting shounen samurai anime….but it may seem pretty mediocre to newcomers with no idea to the stories background
Lastly on a side note, more recently (circa 2012) studios are doing some rehash movies and other stuff to reinvigorate Interest in the franchise…which I do appreciate but to be blunt I feel a completely rebooted TV series (like the recently remade HxH series) with all the OVA’s combined in one go would be a better way to go to gain new interest…not just releasing a single live action / anime movie highlighting the best part of the series separately (cough Kyoto movie cough)
Yes I’d say a trimmed down ultimate 1 shot Kenshin series of possibly 52 episodes would be the best way to reinvigorate the franchise…A Rurouni Kenshin KAI (Done Right) if you will
Rurouni Kenshin TV Series: Solid B