Rurouni Kenshin has always been one of my favorite shonen anime. When I heard that there was a new anime project coming up, I was excited because I thought that perhaps we would get the Jinchuu arc from the manga animated, since it has never gotten a proper adaptation. More news came by in the coming months and it transpired that the project was simply a movie retelling of the Kyoto arc; this by itself already represented a wasted opportunity, since that part of the story has already been adapted faithfully in the first anime, so there really should not be any reason for
this to exist in the first place. But that didn't mean it had to be awful. Having now watched the first part of it however, I can say that that the worst has come true.
The original story of Rurouken was very good (especially by shounen standards). However, it was obvious that due to the small runtime of the two ova's, much of the story would have to be condensed and as such the it might stand to lose some emotional impact due to not having enough time to give the proper scenes their due. Unfortunately this issue has struck this movie very hard. The pacing of the OVA is very fast, and it doesn't cover the story very well at all because of it. Everything feels incredibly rushed, almost like I'm watching a recap of something that already happened. There were also some changes to the plot besides simply condensing it, most of which are harmless, but there is one particularly egregious example which is the battle between Kenshin and Chou. I won't spoil it, but the way this OVA plays out ruins the entire point of the fight and what happens afterwards.
The animation is incredibly bland. Nothing really stands out and it just feels serviceable at best. It seems as if DEEN didn't pour a lot of money into this or the animators just didn't care that much. The character designs are alright, but they could be a lot better. This wouldn't be as much of a problem, except that you can't help but compare it to the old series, which had a far superior budget and/or just people who cared more, so it just comes off as worse.
The one aspect of the OVA that is possibly good is the music...but this doesn't really mean much, because the melodies are just different renditions of music from the old series. While the compositions themselves are good, the arrangements in the movie are inferior to the original renditions, because they're simplified and lose a lot of their energy and substance.
Overall, I'm not sure what exactly the point of this OVA being made was, and who it's supposed to cater to. As someone who is already familiar with Rurouken and has watched the old series, this did nothing for me whatsoever. I don't care to watch a bland, condensed, glorified recap episode of the Kyoto arc when I can just watch the original tv series, which was infinitely superior. This OVA will do nothing for people unfamiliar with the series, because it doesn't do a good job of introducing the characters and the events prior to the Kyoto arc, so anyone new won't have any emotional investment in what's going on, they'll just be confused.
Overall, I wouldn't recommend this even to diehard fans of the series. It just doesn't give you anything and feels like a waste of time and effort on part of the studio, which didn't even make the effort to do something good with the source material. This is a blatant cash-in as far as blatant cash-ins go.
The most succinct way to describe Shin Kyoto Hen would be: "glossed over." What else would you expect from a two hour retelling that attempted to cover 27 episodes of the original series? That's not to say, however, that the OVAs are entirely without merit.
The environments are strikingly beautiful. The characters are modernized: cleaner and redesigned to better suit the current aesthetic, but unfortunately look washed out and unfinished when set against the detail of the backgrounds. Cinematography is done very well; the usage of color and light, particularly contrasting Kenshin's meetings with Misao and Shishio, is a nice touch.
Animation was hit
and miss. Where the TV show would use light and sound to indicate a superhuman move being performed, Cage of Flames impresses with full animations; noteworthy in Kenshin’s confrontation with Misao and battle with Chou. The fights in Song of the Light, however, lack the impact of those in the series. (Saitou’s evaluation fight with Kenshin comes to mind.) An argument can be made for the finesse of Kenshin vs Soujiro’s shukuchi duel, but the gatotsu and the futae no kiwami just don’t have the same raw explosiveness.
The soundtrack is still excellent. While the renditions lack their predecessor’s quaint appeal, they are more intricate in timbre and more “cinematic.” Familiar themes are used accordingly and don’t fail to accentuate the mood of a scene or remind us that this is indeed Rurouni Kenshin. Just don’t expect something as amazing as Tsuiokuhen’s OST.
Much of the gag humor and lightheartedness of the series was omitted in favor of a serious tone that accurately reflects the gravity of the arc. Studio Deen was aware of the age of the RuroKen fanbase, and thus had no qualms about showing the brutal reality of the fights and Shishio’s world; things that were implied and understood but not displayed by the series. This is where Cage of Flames truly shows its potential, setting all the scenes for conflict, building tension, and acknowledging all the right events from the original anime.
As if discouraged by the nostalgia-biased criticism of OVA1, the staff seemed to give up in Song of the Light. Sloppy animation aside, every character seems deflated. Both writing and delivery are unnatural given how little the development of their camaraderie is depicted. (I did like the more mature Misao, though; more convincing for the role of Okashira.) Aoshi and Shishio, obviously keeping their desire to strike in check in the first OVA, never demonstrate that catharsis, wasting all the anticipation.
As for how everything plays out... The absence of so many things (and members of the Juppongatana) completely overshadows the version of the story they attempt to tell.
Kenshin and Sanosuke never meet up; Sano is instead exclusively partnered with Saitou.
Sano’s parallelism with Anji is not explained.
Hiko’s arrival at the Aoiya is far less grand, because Yahiko never proves himself against Henya or demonstrates his impressive spirit.
Soujiro’s internal struggle to reconcile Kenshin’s and Shishio’s philosophies is barely there.
Saitou does not show his loyalty to Aku Soku Zan & police fighting Usui.
In fact all the duels that are glossed over don’t take place in Mt. Hiei, even though it was shown in Cage of Flames. I can go on, but the greatest wtf of the OVA and absolutely unforgivable omission is that Kenshin never uses his ougi…every major fight is won handily and anticlimactically. The conclusion of Watsuki’s Kyoto Arc is fundamentally altered and weakened.
*One thing did pique my interest: Saitou didn’t disappear in the blaze; he escapes with Soujirou. What might happen should the prodigy be taken under the wolf’s wing?
And so our heroes return (heroes being Kenshin and Aoshi, wtf happened to Sanosuke?) While Studio Deen apparently forgot how to make shounen/seinen fights epic, they do reunions passably well. (Kaoru finding Kenshin in OVA1, Misao welcoming Aoshi back.)
TL;DR Longtime fans of RK, Cage of Flames is worth checking out. Song of the Light is a waste of the va’s reprising their roles. Newcomers, don’t bother, watch the series, but feel free to stop before the Christian Knights and FengShui >_>
When watching this, my mind invented a philosophical saying I should get halmarked, remeber people, I said it first:
"You obtain a wonderful large, one of a kind book, this book is very well written, highly valuable - you can't wait to read it.
Along the way, you incure a very, VERY tiny tear towards it's spine, most people won't notice.
You eventually get to the end of this book, yet you remember that insignifican tear somewhere within the book.
What do you do?...
Leave it alone and stick eith the notion of it being unlikely to draw attention to itself?
Do you get sticky tape to patch it up -
erasing the tear, yet making the book look worst?"
The latter option applies to this OVA!
This relies on filling in cracks which wheren't really there, just to prove something has been done - a lot like throwing an additional, unnessessary 200 adjectives into your well written story just so you can say "the story is longer then before" and give off the illusion of finer detail, when accutally, the oly thing your doing is dragging the thing out.
The OVA occurs during a very popular and importiant part of the story us viewers all know well, but we don't particullarly follow our main, this time, we 'alledgedly' see the story threw the eye's of temporary sidekick at the time Misao - really, we don't - Misao is simply a window for the first time viewer who's just watching to see what happens next, there isn't too much narrative from her and she's almost completely out of character.
Throw the above into the mix with this - there is no particular main character!
The story consists of the characters we know doing what we know they were doing/capiable of at the time, we see pretty much just as much of Misao's viewpoint as we do of:
- Kaoru and Yahiko on a fairly insignificant leg of their journey in pursuit of Kenshin (such as riding on a boat, which they'd obviously do, walking threw the woods taliking about nothing particularly importiant and doing chores whilst freeloading with Hiko - all of their events are uneventful and receive roughtly less then a minute in screentime)
- Shishio getting challenged by nobodies (who within the series liked the guy? we knew he was strong, so what chances are these saps going to stand, and don't expect a fight scene)
- Kenshin in re-cycled scenes (fight scenes that have been edited into a significantly less violent, short burst of energy)
On that final point^, I'll move onto the scenes... ??? Lousy!?
These fights are not re-mastered, they are lazy - highly uneventful, though nothing can really happen to be honest as they're trying to stick to what is cannon, there is pretty much no re-master scenes, it's almost fairl to say their is no fight scene; it's a redux in animation with the actual 'action' being cut out of fast tracked - it's as if we're getting a 4Kids cencored version of what we saw previously.
The lack of lack of deatil in the movement and character design in general screems 'low budget' - which takes me to the art.
Rurouni Kenshin is classed as an 'older' anime, the art style back then appeared to focused heavily on as many regions of fine detail possible.
After watching this OVA, I appreciate the old art style even more now!
The art style in this OVA is what you see in many anime's today - very 2D looking basic sketches with little enthesis on; body proportions, facial features and shading; highly unfluid in movement; at times, just a still face-and-body forward figure with a moving mouth - like a cardboard cut-out.
Everyone pretty much looks the same - as if three nude character designs where illustrated and the entire cast was created simply by 're-colouring' them. The characters have lost their individuality - all the girls are 'pretty', with virtually the same undetailed, almost vaccant, dazed face that lacks a hint of character - for example, we have Shishio's girlfriend Yumi - originally, she's pretty enough but has a bit of a 'harsh' look to her, now, she has a softer look and even appears to have a smaller (more feminien).
Basically, they have conformed to modern anime art - some detail in the eyes, but nothing else, which is fine with modern anime and would be fine if this is how things looked in the first place, but compare the before and after - this is a downgrade and a half!
The backing music is nothing special, either is the ending track - they just fit, so make of that what you will. ;)
The characters voices sound fine.
Like a poor fanfic - the personality is absent with the cast in this OVA.
Remember back to how they all behaved at the time in the anime:
Was - quite positive and approachable yet was on a serious journey, basically, a non nonscence character who wasn't cold.
Now - vaccant, not 'mean' vaccant, but just 'dazed straight faced' vaccant.
Was - high energy, naive, mouthy teen girl with a goal.
Now - fairly sensible and quite.
Was - a tsundere who was pretty stroppy, somewhat grown up but selfishly idealistic.
Now - sensible sweet girl in love who takes what's going on in her stride.
Was - an energetic pre-teen who could do with keeping is gob shut at times.
now - fairly sensible, only a little mouthy.
Basically, everyone has taken a 'chill pill'; they have been all sculpted into 'insert' characters and the Mary Sue versions of themselves - someone who has never seen the anime tuning into this wouldn't know anything about their personalities; something the anime manages to put forward in virtually any and every appearance a character makes; no matter how small.
All I have listed above tells me that production are simply heavily reliant on suporters of the series getting excited at some new* material coming out whilst ignoring the content which little to no effort has been applied to.
This OVA is just like a poor fanfic that occurs during cannon times, inwhich the author has copied and pasted the some of the ep' description and synced it into their work to cut corners, whilst they have no intention of bringing anything original to the table.
Almost enjoyment really. :(
Waste of time, no matter what your expectations and preferances are - this is pretty much a very mellowed out re-cap.
First thing is that if you haven't seen the Rurouni Kenshin/Samurai x's serie, you can enjoy this OVAS, but surely will not understand much of the things that happen. Second thing, I noticed that people were disgusted with the OVAS because of difference between the original and this one's, but I don't see it like that since this are, again, OVAS, not the remake of the arc or anything else but a great scale ensemble of the Kyoto arc events within another more dramatical point of view and story, that personally love it.
Ok, here I go:
I rate the story as very good because,
though it isn't the same as the original story and have some discrepancies, I perceive it as a more dramatic close up than the real story was, and certainly was something I enjoy. The same but with this realistic touch of the end of the bakumatsu tension that everybody may know.
I'm not the kind of person who loves the much more simple style of now a days drawings in animation, but can't say I didn't enjoy the sceneries and felt more connected to the time in which the story is supposed to be in. Still, the designs of the characters from my point of view, were awful.
It's one of the best parts. The background music in this OVAS was simple but in the part when you find a fight, that music guide you through those scenes amazingly.
Ok, they were ok, I mean, the whole thing was extra dramatic and showed us a deeper image of the characters as they wouldn't manifest in the main series and I like it but due to the time, we also lose part of the personalities from all. AND *spoiler alert*, there was something I really really disliked, at the last part Kenshin may leave the Rengoku without even caring about the others, ie Yumi, Soujiro or Saitou nor the tripulants, this also applies to that last blow to Shishio, leaving all the "not to kill, save all the lifes you can" philosophy go down the drain... really not like Himura.
Watching OVAS of a show you thought was lost and remembering all the funny and incredible adventures with that sense of "grown up" made me feel happy. Truly a sea of memories for those who used to watch the cartoon years ago.
I’m not going to use any arbitrary numbers because that won’t provide an accurate representation of what I just watched. One thing I’d advise before ever picking this title up is be sure you watched the original Rurouni Kenshin series prior. If you don’t you might be completely undone before you get to some of the juicier bits of this two part series. For everyone whose unaware of the story surrounding the New Kyoto Arc in Kenshin these films(?) are hard to follow and don’t convey enough of what made the original run of the arc so satisfying.
Now I’m not going to waste time arguing
what was done better in the original versus this adaptation, I’ll just get straight to it, it’s fast. The beginning of this series plunges you into the action of the story (with exposition, oh boy) and doesn’t really take its time to explain why the characters are all jumbled around, why Kenshin abandoned his friends, whose dead, whose not and that’s because it had to sum up the 30+ episodes that made up Rurouni Kenshin’s major arc in (give or take) 90 minutes. The soundtrack captures our wandering spirit (with a tinge of that sweet violin) just like the good ol’ Kenshin and Studio Deen’s fight choreography is great when Shishio and Kenshin finally get to have it out in [undisclosed location to avoid spoilers this time], so watch it for that even if it’s brief (the other fights are good too). Like any good fight scene though, context is necessary to drive emotions home and these films(?) don’t have time to provide context. Or at least not enough to make everything that’s happening feel justified.
Who am I recommending this to? People who watched (and/or loved) Rurouni Kenshin, because they’re the only ones who’ll get the whole picture. It’d be a pretty confusing watch otherwise.
what's the point of this?
Every five minutes or so I had to wonder that. Why would you have the sword collector and not give him swords? Why have over the top techniques and not show the name painted across the screen? Why reanimate and exclude the animation intensive scenes? Why have Kaoru and Yahiko if you take out all their scenes? Why have Kenshin's master and super fast Soujiro if there is no secret super fast final technique? Why have Soujiro loose his calm over a moral issue if you don't show whis moral issues? Overall this feels like someone with a plot synopsis
was asked to highlight the plot points on their first read without take backs.
(For example you'd assume at first that Chou is filler, and he originally was, but his character developed enough to put him in charge of the epilogue. Actually, all the characters that earned an epilogue are no longer part of the story.)
Ruroken always had some rhythm issues with Watsuki improvising way too much along the way. The artwork of the manga and some great episode directors made the originals work, but if there's a remake that changes events they could had fixed a lot of stuff.
So, what's the point of it? Was there really a need to do it this way? I think they wanted to capitalize on the live action films to promote the original, so they took out some sort of middle ground to motivate people to check it out. But the movies can do whatever they want because they are for a new audience and being live action you have a lower limit to push the fights before you lose the audience. There's nothing gain in this adaptation of an adaptation.
I would had been happier with 90 mins of the final fight, but that would make it exclusive for fans who still care about it and are willing to rewatch it. Maybe a retelling from Shishio's perspective would had been attractive to people who watched the anime/movies while being significantly shorter. But Ruroken without fights is just really boring, and there are literally no fights for more than an hour. And the ones there are after that fall flat because the motivations are said out loud 2 minutes before being refuted if there's any build up at all.
Usui constantly cock blocking Shishio was probably the only extra content that I sincerely loved. All historical elements were taken out (the burning of buddhist temples, prostitutes officially being defined as farm animals, the british economical control through Hong Kong, and so on) with all the great dead scenes. How do you dumb down an action show for 12 year olds? What's even the point?
I knew out of the gate that I would feel little fondness for this OVA, having been disappointed that it wasn't the animation of the Revenge Arc I've been wanting for years.
On its own, the OVA was way too fast-paced, changed too many key elements of the story around and made Kenshin too OOC for me to enjoy it.
Without spoiling it, Kenshin several times acted more like Battousai than the Rurouni even though he had no reason to, including doing something to an opponent very similar to what he had done to an opponent in Tsuiokuhen.
So over all, they tried to cram too much into
too short a space of time, changed important events around and couldn't even get characterizations right.
In the end, though I don't despise this OVA the way I do Seisouhen, I see it as a waste of the makers' time that would have been better spent on the Revenge Arc.
This first part of an attempted revival of a beloved franchise starts out as a half complete and completely rushed missed opportunity, where the unnecessary trends of adaptations before it continue and tries to put a spot light on a character who really doesn't need it and fans who know that it shouldn't be on that character.
*This review will be updated when the second half becomes available to watch.*
STORY: As a long time fan and blah, blah, blah, you can guess the rest, and you can definitely guess what I'm about to say: This is a pretty big disappointment.
A project that was doomed at start,
Rurouni Kenshin Shin Kyoto Hen is an unnecessary and unwanted rebirth of a franchise. What I meant by both unnecessary and unwanted I mean by how they went about with this adaptation and where they decided to start it at. The best and cheapest way to get something off the ground again is to do a movie right? Only if the series had great fandom for it at it's time, Rurouni Kenshin is still to this day very well loved by many if not all of the anime fandom, and the decision to start it off as a movie just disappoints when it's obvious a much bigger and grander way of doing it would be a better way to go, I mean a new tv series (Dragonball Kai, Hunter X Hunter and even FMA Brotherhood were all successful in some way or another).
And where they decided to start it off is just confusing, I mean of all of the story arcs in Rurouni Kenshin, the Kyoto arc is practicably time less, a flawless shonen epic that even the original anime adaptation is superb and doesn't need to be retold by messing with the story.
The new rebirth is simply that, a un-need retelling of the arc that everyone was completely fine with. I know I'm going on a bit with the whole "LEAVE IT ALONE!" bit, but be honest, wouldn't you have felt this way if let's say Berserk was getting a movie rebirth that was ultimately a long summary... Ha... Bad example.
But yeah, this movie feels like you're watching a rather short summary of the Kyoto arc, shortening down about half of the entire arc into 45 minutes. And shortening down is probably the lenient way to put it. Especially with the fight scenes, they're all, yes every one of them, are unsatisfying (For example, the fight between Kenshin and Soujiro fight is literally done in seconds) coupled with extremely brief plot points (Like Kenshin looking for a swordsmith to repair his sword, it goes by so damn fast it'll be nothing more than an after thought).
But not to worry, the one thing this movie also sets out to do is to put the focus on Misao, the spunky ninja girl who I believe inspired Final Fantasy characters like Yuffie and Rikku. Of all of the characters to switch focus on, why not someone with a little more importance than Misao? Why not Saito or even Yahiko? But despite the claim to have Misao's point of view expressed, Kenshin still gets front and center attention, heck Saito even gets to waste about 5 minutes interrogating Chou (Which funny thing to mention, Chou gets more sceen time than Sanosuke, heck his training scenes are all skipped right over). What Misao ends up doing is talking to a bird or stalking/following Kenshin around, with I'm actually happy for this decision at least as it to is shorten down to a few minutes.
And of course I need to mention Shishio, do really doesn't do too much except apparently killing Usui, the blind guy who is supposed to fight Saito later on in the Kyoto arc, when Shishio was getting some tail. Okay, I mean Shishio is a dog, but getting some like that is a bit much, especially since this movie is based on a manga that ran in weekly shonen jump.
Now I'm not trying to say this is a bad anything, but what I'm trying to say is that the attempts the change things up don't work, especially with you're trying to character to be placed in a leading position when her old position was originally intended to a support character, yet the movie doesn't even meet it's claims of what it was at first said to be doing. The movie is a summary, not a bad summary or not a completely bad one at least, but a summary to a story that the intended audience already knows and love.
ANIMATION: It's all fine and detailed and great overall. However, like with the ovas before this, this adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin decides to go the more realistic direction, and I say: Why? Rurouni always looked best when it is done in Nobuhiro Watsuki's original style, and this movie decides to ditch it. And for me, it really messes with the fight scenes greatly as Kenshin himself looks serious all the time in this movie, and his expression doesn't change like how it does in the anime and manga, and personally, seeing Kenshin in all bloodlust mode from his usual goofy persona make him more of an engaging character to me.
SOUND: While the voice acting is good (Though I can never get used to Kenshin Japanese voice), the music reminds me of the background music from the tv series, which is cool. The ending theme song however is quite possibly the best thing this movie has to offer.
+ The ending theme song is great.
+/- The animation is great. / The animation continues the strange trend of having Rurouni Kenshin look more unnecessarily realistic when the original style is the way to go.
- The movie is more of a summary or a recap than it is a new story, or in it's case, a remake.
- Fight scenes are way too brief for a shonen series adaptation.
- Fails at forcing a spot light role to a character who is really more suited for a supportive role.
- An ultimately unnecessary and unwanted adaptation of an arc that no one felt it was necessary to remake.
The first part ends right before Kenshin goes off to train with his master, and if this remake plans to include Misao in places she isn't needed in, then prepare for her to witness Kenshin vs Shishio, the speed run version!
As a fan of all things Rurouni Kenshin I was quite excited to see an updated two episode OVA remake of the Kyoto arc of the original series involving Shinshio Makoto as the bad guy, probably made to coincide with the release of the live action film. After all Rurouni Kenshin inspired me to take up martial arts.
I have to say I was left disappointed. Disregarding the fact that the two episodes were released so far apart, the first episode was good but the second felt rushed like the producers were trying to squeeze in as much as possible and as a result some of
the story was different from the original series, the voice acting was lackluster and some of the characters just looked odd because of the modern animation techniques.
However, the main charge I would aim against this OVA is that by using modern animation techniques much of the charm of the original series was lost.
All in all an unworthy addition to the Rurouni Kenshin saga.
I gave this a 7 but it really is a fan's 7. I would imagine most would give it much lower,
Well, I admit since it's a remake of the original anime it does look a far better version -quality wise-, the story has been hugely diverged from the original story and I don't understand the concept of making new special episodes that are just an altered story remake (and not a better alteration).
I suggest since they seem to be interested in making some more money, at least they should remake the full anime keeping the story intact. seriously it pissed me off!
the story order has been messed with, the characters that were in the main anime are removed from main events such as Sanosuke and
I don't understand the logic behind that, etc.