Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Rurouni Kenshin: New Kyoto Arc [Anime Review]

I've been watching a backlog of Bleach & Naruto on DVD, so its been a while since I've written a review. I've also failed to make it to the theater, so no reviews from that front either.

But tonight that changes, I'm finally reviewing a relatively new anime blu-ray: Rurouni Kenshin New Kyoto Arc. More after the fold.

I'm going to try a new method of review. I'll give my rating first and then explain my thinking behind the rating.

2.5 Stars

I really hate giving a Kenshin series such a middle of the road rating, but it does not earn anything more. Let me explain why.

In the heights of American importation of anime that occurred the late 1990s Rurouni Kenshin was a true gemstone amongst the rough, and there was a lot of bad anime that came to the American market in that time.

The first Kenshin vs Soujiro Seta duel.

So the central story of the 'New Kyoto Arc' is not new at all. It is a retelling. Now it does occur from a different perspective, somewhat, but it is not new. So, if I spoil some plot, I'm really not. It was spoiled years ago.

So lets discuss whats different between the first Kyoto Arc and the New Kyoto Arc. The simplest change is the story perspective. You see the story more from the perspective of Misao than you did before. But this is not really a huge change as she is a major character of the original arc anyways.

Misao Makimachi, old with kunai and new with pigeon.

The next most obvious change is the art style. Considering the original Kenshin series was first animated in 1996, one would expect at least some change in art style. The new style is cleaner, more emotive, and uses a lot less sight gags. The color pallet is softer as well.

The original was animated with hand painted cels, the modern is most likely computer animated. So the art will obviously be different. I like the new, but have no problems with the original.

Soujiro Seta, old (dark) and new (light).

There are a lot of plot changes that occur, mainly in the deletion of characters, and the erasure of entire subplots. This is to be expected when you condense a season of anime into an hour and half. Sadly, a lot of the subplots are what make the arc so much fun. So in cutting them, you are cutting out fun.

That can be forgiven.

Kenshin and Kaoru.

They also took out every reference to a special attack, save the one Saito uses. They do actually refer to it as the Gatotsu, and the Gatotsu Zero. There is no mention of any other ability, not even the Amakakeru Ryno Hirameki (). Despite the inclusion of Hiko Seijuro as a character, the entire training sub-arc is removed, the attack is removed, and thus the significance is removed.

Profound Oro?

That too is somewhat forgivable.

What is not forgivable is the change in Voice Actors. Yes, it has been years. However this is actually one of the few anime where the English VA's were good. I can even remember the names, Lex Lang played Sanosuke Sagara. Richard Hayworth (Cansino) played Kenshin. I liked them.

They do not reprise their roles. The actor, J. Shaonnon Weaver who played Kenshin in the Samurai X OAV does return, so there was at least that.

Gatotsu, the remembered attack name.

And yet, the VA change was just harsh on my ears. I could not listen to the English VA's at all, I lasted maybe 5 minutes before I went back to main menu and switched it over the Japanese w/ subtitles.

I think I have explained my reasons. There were good to ok things, but in general the bad outweighed the good. The cuts, the super condensed plot, the change of VA's, the removal of characters - all of this just made the viewing less than optimal.

Perhaps if I had never seen Rurouni Kenshin (1996), I would have enjoyed this more. In fact I probably would have, but I cannot review it in that way. This is a continuation, a retelling, of a prior story. A story I know well and greatly enjoyed, and this is just not good enough.

And that really sums it up. It just was not good enough.

Makoto Shishio, "I had snu-snu."
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