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 worst thing that happened to Rurouni Kenshin series so far!! A complete cash in, even worst than the filler episodes of the lastest arc of the original anime!!
Storywise they pick when Kenshi is going to Kyoto to stop Makoto Shishio and ends on the purgatory boat scene! Yes Makoto is defeated there! Sorry for the spoilers, but it had to be said, also lots of important events of Kyoto's arc (Kenshin reunion with his master learning the ultimate techinque in the process, Sanosuke trainning with the fallen monk) DONT APPEAR!! They are skiped and what is left is a rough early draw of the true original story about Kyoto's arc. It sucks alot!!
The thing that made me watch these OVA was the animation, remenber every great scene fights of the original, well they dont take place/ or when they do, they are SOO rushed, sloopy and sometimes VERY weird (kenshin gets pierced by a sword in his chest, but easily manages "to ignore" this pain, and easily overwheelms a very powerfull foe that on the original show surely took more than one episode to do so (expect 15-20 seconds here...). The only good thing about animation is that you get to see how would it would be, a remake of the characters so well portaited, before!!
Sound is nothing special, and not as bad as most thing of this OVA!!
Rurouni Kenshin had those comedic moments with Kenshin, and as the story progressed the drama would make its appearence, loved it!
This is a" dramatic version" of everything that happened (you never hear kenshin laughing, he is a depressing character) on the original, but it sucks at being dramatic!
Every character development is extremly rushed and too unbeliaveble! The pace is too fast and rushed, the result could only be this one, a work about Kenshin universe that is really hard to swallon to all its fanbase!!
The best thing I got out from watching this OVA was seing the characters I liked, on current anime animation standarts, in 1080p!
There is nothing more to look forward here! Like I said a cheap milking tentative of getting easy money!
If they want to do more money with Rurouni Kenshin, do a true remake to the series, with all the other OVA's (Trust and Betrayal, and Reflections) in it, and then I will certainly watch with great joy!read more
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.read more
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 >_>read more