There's a universally accepted truth as far as anime shounen stories go: nine times out of ten, the manga is better than the anime adaptation. While that is the case with Rurouni Kenshin as a whole, what Studio DEEN did with Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen can be called nothing short of a masterpiece. In the manga, Nobuhiro Watsuki describes Kenshin's past that's full of strife and hardship, but with a touch of comedy to help tone down the entire seriousness of the situation. Studio DEEN abolished what little comedy Watsuki went with and, along with flawless animation, a unique art style, and a beautifully composed soundtrack
by Taku Iwasaki, Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen is an ideal example of as close to perfection as one can get.
Art/Animation - 9
Taking a step away from the style of the Rurouni Kenshin TV series, Tsuiokuhen takes a darker and more grim approach to its presentation. The first and most notable change from the TV series is the depiction of the various sword styles and their employment in the scenes, as well as realistic blood splatter. While the TV series emphasizes the effect and abilities of the techniques of these styles, Tsuiokuhen brings realistic swordplay into its story. Another noticeable changeover is the expressions of its characters: although in the TV series these characters are serious but still have comedic tendencies, all this is removed in these OVAs, leaving a serious tone for its story. In addition to these changes, Tsuiokuhen also has more of an emphasis on its setting through its animation. It is undeniably Japan under the Tokugawa Regime, the banners of the Samurai, rags worn by the slaves, and everything down to the buildings and clothes.
Sound - 9.7
This anime’s music soundtrack is both beautiful and intense. In addition, combining sword fights that sound like real sword fights, attention to sound effects, and the voice actors chosen, Tsuiokuhen’s sound is nothing short of brilliant. The voices of the characters are just another reason as to why this anime has a grim depiction as many are cold and basically emotionless, while other characters have either normal voice expressions or even upbeat tones. With such great story, characters, and animation, Tsuiokuhen could have easily loosened the reigns in the sound department, but instead this show doesn't stop short. The great sound selections really finalize and add polish to an already great show with the final result being a true masterpiece.
Characters - 10
Tsuiokuhen provides the foundation for what becomes one of anime's most likable and well developed characters in Himura Kenshin. A focus of this anime is Kenshin's growth as he transitions from adolescence to adulthood and his struggle as he comes to terms with his role in the world. Newcomers to the Rurouni Kenshin scene will be introduced to a wide variety of unique characters who play a prominent role throughout Kenshin's life. Fans of the historical/samurai genre will see familiar faces in Soushi Okita and Hajime Saito of the Shinsengumi. The swordmaster Seijuro Hiko also serves as a counterpoint to Kenshin's idealism with his jaded take on life and his belief that a sword is merely a tool for murder. Those already familiar with Kenshin as the vagrant samurai with a reversed blade sword will be treated to a glimpse into the background of the Hitokiri Battousai, his relationship with Tomoe, and the events that shaped Kenshin and gave direction to his life. Cameo's by Makoto Shishio and Enishi Yukishiro will seem more noticeable and somewhat nostalgic for those who have seen what they become and the role they play in Kenshin's future.
Story - 10
The story of Tsuiokuhen depicts the past of Himura Kenshin and how he became known as Hitokiri Battousai, all the way to the origin of his cross-shaped scar and his vow to never kill again. It shows Kenshin's trials and tribulations during the Bakumatsu and, as readers of the manga are familiar with, his relationship with both Yukishiro Tomoe and her little brother, Enishi. The beauty of what Studio DEEN has accomplished here lies within the dark, brooding and emotional way they went about narrating the story. Contrary to the aloof way the TV series was, Tsuiokuhen went with a more mature outlook, easily evident with the excessive blood and gore shown in all of the battles. And with telling the story in only 4 OVAs, the story never seems to slack, but stays intriguing from start to finish.
Enjoyment - 10
Tsuiokuhen manages to combine a high level of violence with a very dramatic historical storyline, which is quite an accomplishment since many shows often go overboard on either the gore, the action, or the narration. Here Studio DEEN has done a great job portraying the story in a very gritty, down to Earth style that lends seriousness to the historical and dramatic aspects of the show. At the same time, the violence is very raw, brutal, and shocking to the senses, but while there are fantastic sword fights, the focus remains on the purpose behind them. Combined with a subtle but chilling soundtrack, this lends an air of maturity to the show and contributes to the tumultuous and unsettling environment Kenshin has become a part of. While this OVA isn't very lighthearted, it is a very unique blend that will likely please most viewers and makes Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen a must see for any anime fan.
OVERALL - 9.74
This review is the final result of a review team composed of members from the "Critics and Connoisseurs" club. The team members were:
BlackMagic - Who wrote the Character and Enjoyment sections and combined the individual review parts together into a whole.
BURNlTHElPRIEST - Who wrote the Art/Animation and Sound sections.
vindemon64 - Who wrote the Introduction and the Story section.
Here are their individual scorings for the Anime:
Category - BlackMagic, BURNlTHElPRIEST, vindemon64
Also named: "Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal", this is a prequel to the anime series 'Rurouni Kenshin."
One word for this anime: Amazing! It's so good that it's hard to decribe. This is one of the only anime series that will make the viewer's jaw drop to the floor and be filled with emotion. Those who are Rurouni Kenshin fans will love it; those who are new to the series will still like it. It's a drama and may not be as interesting among younger viewers and is more mature than the anime. Those who are sensitive to extreme violence and blood may want to turn
their heads during some scenes.
The first episode is a little jumpy as it skips from past to present, which to non-Kenshin fans may be confusing. Besides the jumpiness, the plot is excellent. For a drama, the pacing isn't thin and slow and is perfect for the setting. The story to Trust and Betrayal is far more enjoyable than regular series. (which is enjoyable to begin with) The characterisation is somewhat shown in the series, and could be developed further. One learns that Kenshin is turning into a merciless manslayer when he slices a man in half, killing for the first time, and shows no emotion after. However, the other character's personalities aren't as developed.
The artwork is realist compared to Nobuhiro Watsuki's original concept, but is artwork at it's finest. Those who aren't into realist artwork will still find this series interesting to watch. They used computer three-dimension graphics, mostly in the backgrounds, but still kept unto the traditional animation. For traditional animation, it's one of the best.
The music will make one go in awe with it's use of a fulll orchestra. It creates moods and themes that also make the viewer full of emotion. The music is a main factor in making this OVA unbelievable, but it was already magnificent to begin with.
They hired the best actors in both casts for this anime. The Japanese Kenshin voice (Mayo Suzukaze) is a little too girly for the role and the English Tomoe voice (Rebecca Davis) is too emotionless it sounds like she is reading the script. The voices have a different tone than the regular anime series, which is a nice change. The OVA voices are realistic and set the drama tone, while the anime has exaggerated voices that are too cartoony. Even the Kenshin voice is different, but it's hard to decide which voice is suited better. (J. Shannon Weaver in OVA, Richard Hayworth in anime) The Landlady had the best acting performance in the English dubbed, but the acting was still great. More emotion could be used in characters, but the voices matched the characters.
This OVA has to be the most underrated anime known in the anime world. It was never a "fad" or a trend as most popular series start out, which is somewhat sad because this anime deserves attention. (Although fads are always hated in the end which shouldn't happen to this OVA) Everything about the OVA is wonderful from the music to the artwork. Anyone involved with this OVA worked extremely hard in putting effort and it clearly shows. This OVA should be on every anime fan's shelve.
Battle shonen has always been a genre that is mostly frowned upon by the Anime community. Many fans tend to disregard most of the shows in that particular genre as something that is both unrealistic and imitative of one another. Add in to the fact that samurai Anime in particular always miss the point when it comes to their narrative, from the unnecessary hip hop style found in Samurai Champloo, to the redundant, hit and miss comedy that is prevalent throughout Gintama’s long run – it fails to work most of the time and it’s not hard to see why it does so. That is
why going into Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal is like going to the lottery and winning the grand prize. It had all of the odds stacked up against it, yet it managed to stun the majority of those who unwillingly gave it a try, myself included.
The narrative is fairly realistic, a young child loses his clan in a devastating tragedy and is forced to live his life in vengeance. After a while, the audience gets to see him as a skilled samurai who’s turned his back on the meaningless vindictive ways he sought after and decided to go the heroic route this time around. It’s easy to see why this particular premise would fail in any battle shonen you could find; it’s unoriginal and overdone. The thing about this narrative here is that it takes itself seriously, succeeds in doing so and adds more to the seriousness by taking it’s time to develop it’s universe and cast. It is like if Galactic Heroes were set in feudal Japan, as the political factions and their reasons are all explored extensively, while the characters’ psyches are as well.
Speaking of the characters, Himura Kenshin is our main protagonist. On the surface, he might seem like the typical battle shonen protagonist, but he is far more than that, and the OVA demonstrates it thoroughly. He does not fear killing and inflicting pain onto his enemies, and does not speak in gibberish heroic quotes or justice argot. That does not mean that he is heartless or robotic as well, since the Anime does take it’s time to develop his character, his past, his motivations and his romantic interests. Throughout the OVA’s run, Kenshin thinks about the consequences of his actions at all times, asking many deep questions about the nature of what he does and if it is actually right or wrong to do it. Unlike most of the battle shonen we see, this one explores it’s main character’s mindset and delves deep into his complex psyche. Many scenes indicate that Kenshin is feeling regret, where he is sitting silently and ruminating over the killing of his enemies, wondering if what he is doing is the right thing to do or not. As for things that can go unnoticed about Kenshin’s complex character, one of them is the scar that he receives on one of his cheeks. The wound Kenshin receives bleeds over and over again with each subsequent kill he commits for a while, possibly as a sign of his guilty subconscious, though it is suggested to him on a more superstitious level that the vengeful spirit of the dead man who gave him the scar is causing it’s continuous bleeding. As such, there is a lot to ruminate over when it comes to Himura’s character, from his design to his actions and ways of thinking, he demonstrates that he is thoroughly developed throughout this OVA.
Other characters get their fair share of development as well. Characters such as the main love interest for Kenshin - Yukishiro Tomoe - who has a poignant backstory that ties in with the story's main plot. Her relationship with Kenshin is well developed and executed, as she may look like an average character at first, but as the episodes go by she grows more and more human and complex, diverting away from her monotone demeanor to become a fully-fledged character. Aside from those two, the other characters, such as Katsura Kogoro, serve the story as well and have a great dynamic with Kenshin. As such, every main character from the cast is developed here and serves the narrative in a unique manner.
If the story had the same character designs and directing as the main series, then it would have crashed into it’s own grave. The directing here is dark and works well with the tone that the OVA was striving to achieve. I wouldn’t say it’s the darkest I have seen from an Anime, but it does it’s job in terms of conveying a gloomy atmosphere. Battle scenes are animated exquisitely and beautifully here, the animation always being on point and never going on a budget. As for the character designs, comparing Kenshin’s face in this OVA to his face from the TV show, you will see how brilliant his design looks here, as it conveys emotion on a much higher level than his cartoony counterpart from the main series.
The soundtrack helped this OVA to convey it’s tone further by creating an immersive atmosphere. All of the tracks were well made, and fit the narrative of samurais and feudal Japan well enough. As for the best track, the one to stick out with the viewer and be used just at the right moment during the most tragic scene, It would have to be a track called “In Memories”, or “Kotowari”, which has this peaceful yet calamitous tone going for it. It is memorable, not only because it is good musically speaking, but because it was used at the right moment and time. A tragic scene unfolds infront of our eyes, and the only thing that helped elevate the tragedy even further is this track in particular.
At the end of the day, even if samurai Anime was not your thing, do give this one a try. It does not fail unlike it’s contemporaries, as this one is a real gem. The historical background and politics might seem a bit daunting or uninteresting at most times, but the OVA does not give much purpose to it’s politics, as opposed to it’s characters. Brilliantly well done characters, an intriguing plot with a mystery to unfold, and audiovisual direction that is unparalleled when it comes to samurai Anime, all wrapped up in four short episodes that never failed to deliver.
Surprising though it may be, it’s really incredibly rare to find a samurai anime that is actually good. As far as the samurai genre goes, Akira Kurosawa pretty much closed the book with 1954’s “Seven Samurai” and since then, is seems as if whenever anyone attempts to tackle the genre, there exists a mysterious force that compels them to strip away any and all sense of authenticity and add in superpowers, vampires, aliens, or hip-hop (not that that is necessarily a bad thing but it certainly gets tiresome). That’s one of the reasons why Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen is so refreshing, it daringly tackles the story
of young samurai-turned-assassin Himura Kenshin in the turbulent era of the Meiji Revolution with such bleak realism and solemnity that it’s really hard to believe it originated from a shonen manga. In short: Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen is a masterpiece in the sincerest sense of the word; a true work of art that not only shatters the boundaries of the samurai genre but also what it is possible to achieve in an animated work.
Tsuiokuhen tells the story of Himura Kenshin, detailing his rise to infamy as Hitokiri Battousai during the Bakumatsu period and ultimately tracing the origin of his cross-shaped scar and his vow never to kill again. The beauty of the story lies in its raw, ominous execution. Contrary to the manga and the TV series, Tsuiokuhen faces the brutality of the Meiji Revolution with a mature clarity that really draws you in, and exhibits an emotional rawness that will leave you in pieces. The story never slacks and, despite being told over four OVAs has more of the feel of a movie, remaining unified and captivating from start to finish.
Tsuiokuhen is particularly enjoyable character-wise having already watched the TV series and read the manga, but the character of Himura Kenshin as presented in the OVAs is well-shaped enough to stand on his own and still be a tour de force of character design. The focus of this anime is the period of Kenshin’s life as he transitions from adolescence into maturity amid the turmoil of the Bakumatsu and his struggles to uphold his idealism while continuing to commit acts of violence in the name of a brighter future. The splendor of the character designs throughout the OVAs is in how convincing each character manages to be, each action is believable and sympathetic, further drawing you into the story.
The darker and more realistic theme can also be seen in the animation, which, despite being made in the late 1990s, is remarkably sharp and dismally realistic. The animation is fluid and the action is raw and brutal. The comedic edge to the animation style that existed in the TV series and manga is completely gone, furthering the serious tone.
The music is dark and intense in the same manner as the story, and there is great attention paid to realism in sound effects. The voice actors each give magnificent performances (particularly, in my opinion, Mayo Suzukaze’s darker interpretation of Kenshin). Overall, the sound just adds onto what is already a brilliant work.
This is a must-see for pretty much anyone who enjoys anime, particularly those with an appreciation for accuracy in the portrayal of history and fans of the samurai genre (as well as anyone who watched the TV series or read the manga).
The word masterpiece is used too much these days.. I haven't seen anything that deserves that title as much as Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen. While the original Rurouni Kenshin is meant as a typical shounen (comedy, action, a bit of romance?), this is a serious historical drama. Those words might turn you off, but you'll be surprised how well it is done: never is Tsuiokuhen truly slowpaced, never will the action be disappointing, never will the animation cease to amaze you. And the music. Ah, the music. Taku Iwasaki at his best.
Story - 10.
A serious, sad story. A romantic drama. Or is historical a better word?
After all, this isn't just the story of the Hitokiri Battousai. While the focus lies on his actions, the overall story is that of the Bakumatsu and the bloody war before the Meiji Restoration. The OVA beautifully plays with this legendary battle, not pushing it to the background, but not letting it take the lead either.
Art - 9.
The art may seem too dark at first but it is in fact quite fitting. The characters look serious, mature and their emotions are clearly visible on their faces. The setting is especially beautiful: the backgrounds, buildings, even the crowds you see on the streets, they all look real. The same goes for the swordfights. Typical shounen anime defy all laws of nature or show only flashes of light. There is not a single fight in Tsuiokuhen that doesn't make sense. Perhaps that is the best part of the fights - blood, wounds, exhaustion, they all seem real.
Character - 10.
Every character truly matters. The smallest side characters are crucial to the plot. This may be because it's a short OVA.. but what if a story is so well-written that you can see the story from every character's eyes? By focussing on a character's face just a little too long, their (side)stories will grab you when you least expect it. The historical characters, for example Soushi Okita and Katsura Kogoro, aren't ignored either. Every single character influences the storyline, and by that adds something to Kenshin's life - be it a good or a bad thing.
Sound - 11.
I wish I could give an 11/10. I already was a bit of a Taku Iwasaki fanboy but now I am convinced that there are no better composers. The voice actor's are fitting (serious voices for serious characters), the sound effects are great (especially in fights), but I was too distracted. Well, not really.. but the soundtracks give me shivers if I just think about them. The music get's intense at the right moments but never loses it's beauty. Nothing sounds synthetic or unfitting. I almost want to say: 'It's as if the OST was made for this anime'. Hehe.
Enjoyment - 10.
A romantic, historical drama that never ceases to amaze. You will feel the chill run down your back when a fighting scene starts, if your volume is high enough. You won't be bored by too many historical aspects, and while every fight is bloody, the gore isn't so much that it becomes too much to handle. Serious themes like death, hatred and betrayal aren't shunned.. and it doesn't stop there. A mature OVA that didn't let go of me for quite a while.
What would make a man with a cross-shaped scar on his cheek devote his life to end bloodshed and make him vow to never kill again? Watch this. You'll find out.
Throughout the past decades, japanese history and culture is often portrayed in various mediums, in particular that of movies which often take place in the last two centuries of Japan's history. This era is characterised by a slow shift from feudal traditions to the modernization brought from the west, being the transition from the Edo period to the Meiji period, also known as the japanese revolution in 1868, of importance in this case. Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan - Tsuiokuhen narrates the tale of Himura Kenshin's past and his struggle with his own beliefs against the harsh reality he faced. It is truly a masterpiece,
with a compelling story, flawless characterization, and fantastic animation and sound. It is a story of romance, trust and betrayal, as the english title suggests.
The story focuses on Himura Kenshin, who is saved from a massacre by the master swordsman Hiko Seijuro in his childhood. Advising him to seek help in a nearby village, Seijuro leaves the child alone, just to return a few days later discovering Kenshin - or rather Shinta, which was his name at the time - having made graves to every individual, both foes and allies. Surprised and taken away by the young boy's actions, he decides to take him in and teach him the ultimate swordsmanship, the Hiten Mitsurigi Ryu. As time passes, Kenshin, believing the events that are taking place at the moment as unacceptable in his philosophy, he sets out to support and help crafting what he believes is a better, more just world. However, throughout his journey he soon realizes that not everything is as simple as it seems, being faced with the harsh and crude reality of the world.
These events all occur several years before the Japanese revolution in 1868, which will culminate in the establishment of the Meiji period. The setting itself is on its own interesting, yet where the anime really shines is in its narrative and on how it approaches and explores Kenshin's past. Audiences observe and follow the protagonist's life from his childhood to his current self, in which the learning of swordsmanship take place, and how his ideals were formed and conceived. Love, retribution and betrayal are other themes that are explored through his past. The pacing of the story was without doubt splendidly done: neither too slow nor too short, never overdoing or prolonging battles, or dialogues more than necessary, befitting to keep viewers on their edge of their seat. The narrative had a realistic and natural progression, which enhanced the overall experience.
Other great aspect of the anime is the fact that it manages to depict the current era splendidly, in particular that of the japanese revolution; while its main focus lies in displaying Himura's past, it also presents a bigger picture of events, without never focusing excessively on it, making it more a character driven story than a plot driven one. It managed to convey and portray to the viewers the setting of the story, as well as the social instabilities and the society of that particular period. The atmosphere of any revolution was well presented, in addition to how these operated with treason and their opponents, in this case the government. Naturally some may point out that some of the latter events that take place are a bit lackluster, as some of the characters introduction was not conveyed to the viewer, as there was little foreshadowing to said characters.
The cast of characters presented in "Rorouni Kenshin - Tsuiohuken" is small, yet of great importance to the overall storyline. The most important character is naturally Himura Kenshin himself. This character undergoes easily the biggest character development throughout the whole duration of the OVA's. Though he may seem to represent a stereotype at first, the viewer soon realizes that is in fact not the case. From his youth to his former self in the japanese revolution due to the environment and circumstances he went through, he develops from an idealistic young boy, to hardened and emotionless assassin to shut his pain out of killing people. Yet he continues to do so in his sole belief that he truly is helping in ushering and forging a new era; this is without mentioning that shortly after his world is shifted upside down by the fateful encounter with Tomoe.
The story and development of the main character wouldn't be possible without a convincing, good cast of secondary characters. These interactions with various individuals are of big importance, which are represented through revolutionaries, the shinsengumi, Kenshin's master Hiko Seijuro, or Tomoe herself, which will be of great importance for his character development. Some may argue that not enough attention was paid on fleshing out the supporting cast such as the revolutionaries and their particular motives on why they had that mindset, yet I see that as a very minor drawback, as most motives are tied to true historical events and facts, being people who either truly believed in the changes, or just individuals working in their own interest.
~Animation and sound~
The animation of Rorouni Kenshin - Tsuiohuken is done by studio DEEN, and is certainly very well done, even when considering it was released in 1999. The battles were very dynamic and fluid, never exaggerated as viewers may be used from shounen shows, with great battle choreography, in addition to depicting the different sword styles used, as well as the abundance of blood to further emphasize the grim and serious atmosphere of that era. The characters design are realistic and much less "cartoonish" than it was from its manga adaptation, which further enhanced the narrative.
The soundtrack played also an important role in the anime: it managed to convey the various settings it was trying to convey to the audience, being both intense and magnificent, particularly "The war of the last wolves" composed by Taku Iwasaki. These really managed to immerse viewers in the story. Not to forget the sword fights that sound very realistic, in addition of having voice actors that matched splendidly with the characters they were trying to portray.
Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan - Tsuiokuhen was overall a fantastic experience which I thouroughfully enjoyed in every single aspect, from the storyline and the narrative, to the flawless character development and magnificent OST and animation. Other aspect I personally liked was the fact of ditching the more "cartoonish" art style of the manga to a more serious one, which really made it much easier to immerse myself in the story, in addition to removing the comedic touches that served to lighten down the atmosphere in the TV series.
Even though this anime could be watched as a standalone series, I particularly think that these OVA's are best to be watched after completing the original TV series, "Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan", as it really gave the viewer everything they wanted to know and understand about Himura Kenshi's past and on why he evolved to be such a person. Hence, I could recommend this to any potential viewer of any demographic, yet I would advise on completing the original TV series beforehand for a full experience.
There's a part of me that wonders if this review is even necessary. Whenever I have a discussion with someone about "great" anime--not the "funniest" anime, not the "saddest" anime, not the best "action" anime, but anime that breaks boundaries and defies classifications--this OVA is mentioned without fail. Being a little late to the party, I first saw this five or six years ago; having watched Rurouni Kenshin on English television as a child, and later rewatching a subbed release, my interest was piqued when I heard that there was an OVA in the franchise that was intelligently scripted and intended for more mature audiences.
Everywhere I looked, people sung its praises. I'm one who doesn't take words like "classic" and "masterpiece" lightly, so when I saw this show drawing these words in like moths to a flame, I put on my cynical face and decided to watch it and see what all the fuss was about.
Since then, I can't even count the number of times that I've rewatched these four episodes. In terms of sheer entertainment value provided vs. time spent watching, no other piece of animation has given me more than this OVA has. So while it's quite likely that my words will disappear like raindrops into the sea of adoration that seems to surround this production, I don't feel like I'm wasting my time here. I owe this show something, so in my eyes, this is the least I can do.
Those who have seen the Rurouni Kenshin television series are familiar with our protagonist: The kind-hearted man who was once a murderer of unparalleled skill and ruthlessness during the Bakumatsu. But this series begins in a time before all that, when Kenshin was a child, and shows the series of events that shaped him into a man. It glosses over the training he receives from his master and surrogate father Hiko Seijuro and quickly moves into his recruitment as an assassin within the Choshu clan, a group of revolutionaries working to bring about the end of the Tokugawa shogunate. I can't say too much, both for the sake of brevity and to avoid spoilers, but the plot is complexly woven, chock full of dramatic irony, and a pleasure to behold.
In terms of characterization, the OVA takes a far darker outlook than the television series did. Internal conflict of the highest quality abounds when Kenshin's experiences as the Hitokiri Battousai force him to reevaluate whether the philosophies he's held onto since his childhood are valid. It's a classic battle of idealism against realism: The young Kenshin wants to end the suffering of others and protect them all with his own hands, but the more murderous justice he dishes out, the more he realizes that his desired ends might not justify his means. The character grows and matures as the OVA progresses, giving true depth to the sincere young man who once wore the stony mask of the great manslayer.
Kenshin isn't the only interesting character in the cast, though. He's joined by Tomoe, a young woman whose background is revealed piece by piece as the series progresses, and by the time the credits roll on episode four, she's been made into a character almost as richly developed as Kenshin himself. And, of course, there are the two Shinsengumi officers who were Kenshin's greatest rivals--men not unlike Kenshin, bearing no grudges, driven only by the volition of their own ideals and beliefs. I can't mention everybody, but whether it's plot related, philisophically motivated, or just to provide a nifty tie-in to the television series, rest assured that every character in Trust and Betrayal's extensive cast serves a distinct purpose.
Visually, this OVA looks gorgeous. Backgrounds, whether they're snow-covered forests or the deep green and blue expanses of Japanese fields and lakes, are spectacularly rendered with an attention to detail that's all but flawless. The streets of Kyoto, partially lit by the moon, become an eerie maze of bars and back alleys which Kenshin drifts through like an ephemeral revenant. The OVA forsakes the angular character designs of the television series in favor of rounded facial designs that are decidedly more human-looking, and it benefits greatly from this touch of realism.
Th animation is fluid and smooth. Fight scenes play out with a sort of brutal poetry that's quite lovely and compelling to watch. Swords, reflecting sunlight, ascribe iridescent blue half-moons in the air before striking their targets. Deep, crimson blood splashes on white clothing with sickeningly beautiful results. Every motion seems to be perfectly choreographed, perfectly thought out, and carried through with intense precision and skill.
In every aspect of its production, this OVA surpasses "average" by leaps and bounds, but I have to say, the music is what really makes this such a cohesive and strong piece of work. Numerous orchestral numbers, complete with a flute and powerful percussion, form the bulk of the soundtrack for this series, and it just seems like whatever is going on, the music complements it. Wistful, soft songs play as Kenshin and Tomoe discuss the sad life of an assassin; traditional patriotic-sounding songs highlight moments of action. The track that is, in my opinion, the best on the soundtrack plays during the last five minutes of the OVA's final episode. I can't put into words just how good the timing is: The song explodes with a great booming of drums just as two warriors cross swords in a long-awaited duel, and if I said I didn't get chills the first time I watched this scene unfold, it'd be a damned lie.
When every element that I've described combines, the result is something amazing. There's a quality hanging about this OVA that I can't quite capture, but I think the closest I can come in a word is "legendary." This OVA feels like it's really describing a man who would be in the history books, in paintings, a man whose name would be whispered around campfires generations later. A man who, with his sword and what he stood for, wove his name into the fabric of time forever. Although we're aware that the story is fiction, it doesn't feel that way as we watch, and this is a great achievement of writing: To tell a lie so artfully that it seems like a truth. Trust and Betrayal is a beautiful, symbolically rich creation that accomplishes this in spades.
All I have to say is that this is a must see for fans of the series. Even though this serves as a prequel, I would not recommend this to people who have not yet seen the TV series because the tone and style is completely different and will probably give you the wrong set of expectations for the TV series which always implements humor. While in this OAV, it’s flat out drama and full of tragedy, and none of the comedic moments of what defined the TV series is present. But does it negate the quality of this OAV? Certainly not. The pacing is
a little slow, but you get to learn more about Kenshin and what goes through his mind and will get to know the other characters.
Just like in the original TV series, this oav also implements events and characters from actual Japanese history. For example, Kenshin’s boss Katsura, the leader of the Choshu clan is one of them. And I heard that less than 30% of the Japanese public are not at all aware of his significance to Japanese history such as he had a role in restoring power to the Meiji emperor. And an event implemented in the story of this oav is the Ikeda-ya affair in which the Shinsengumi made their mark in Japanese history. So I thought it was an effective touch to progress the story and set the tone.
So if you’ve seen the TV series and haven’t read the manga, I say check this out. You’ll see a completely different take on Rurouni Kenshin in which it still fits in the continuity of the series and view Kenshin from a different stand point not just because he’s younger, but of what he’s struggling with and see what defined his character in the TV series. As for manga readers, it faithfully adapts this flashback from it so you’ll be able to appreciate it but with a different art style which I will not get into.
As fans of the franchise can tell, the character design takes a totally different direction from the TV series and manga. While the manga and anime looked more generic Shounen in its own way, the quality of the art in this version is much more theatrical and realistic. The resolution, the clothing, the faces, eyes, and everything else felt more like an Oshii Mamoru movie than something based off of Shounen Jump, and it really fit the atmosphere and mood of the OAV excellently well. In further addition, since this is Kenshin in his killing days, you get to see more blood and violence. I wouldn’t say it’s to the level of Ichi the Killer, but it is pretty violent and intense. Though I praised the action for being technique-centric, that isn’t really at all present here. You won’t see Kenshin doing his Ryuu Tsui Sen, but you just see him hack and slash, but from what little knowledge I learned from a friend of mine who does Iaido and Kendo, it looks right and the quality feels more like a Kurosawa movie and I felt it goes with the aim of being realistic.
Unfortunately, the high profile bands and the techo, and acoustics and all the things that made the music kick ass in Kenshin isn’t really perfect here. If anything, music in general isn’t that centric or present. I felt the silence gave more an appropriate feel of ambiguity and unpredictability and brought a different style of drama. When watching this OAV, I do feel some music and be too much in your face at times, and I felt the lack of music in its own way was too much in its face. But I totally understand that this oav has a different kind of intention and direction, so it works in its own way. I just wish for the ending or opening themes, they could have used TM Revolution to contribute just to give Kenshin its unique identity in that sense of why I like Kenshin.
But moving on, Suzukaze Mayo resumes as Kenshin, Ikeda Shuuichi resumes his role as Hiko Seijuuro, and Hirotaka Suzuoki is back as Saitou. But enough about them, time to talk about the others. I thought Iwao Junko got the voice of Tomoe down though I think anybody could have played her. She’s reserve and secretivie, and that’s all you need. And Seki Tomokazu, another personal favorite of mine plays the role of Katsura. He’s charming, charismatic, and fair. And Nakao Ryuusei who is most famous as Freeza in DBZ and the multi-talented Takagi Wataru also known as GTO play a couple of Kenshin’s buds. Though they play practically almost nobodies, their well known voices (at least to me) stood out.
I have to say that this oav captured this part of the Jinchu arc excellently well. Even though this story arc was dark to begin with, I felt the art style and the different approach to be less reliant on music made it feel fresh and gives you a different kind of insight.
Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen is a great film (which I will classify it as throughout this review, for all intensive purposes) because of the respect that it has for its audience. Throughout the work's two hour running length there are countless opportunities presented that could've allowed for the story to introduce twists and to attempt to shock the viewer, but instead, the turns that are taken in the final quarter of the production are foreshadowed early on, and are often revealed to the viewer before they are revealed to the protagonist, Kenshin Himura.
This technique, the method of hinting to the viewer what should happen early on
in the film and then challenging us to interpret how specific situations are changing as the relationships between characters develop, is a masterful one. It plays to those who prefer to think through their entertainments as opposed to being simply presented with them, and is complemented time and time again by director Kazuhiro Furuhashi's use of symbolism (one will never think of an iris the same way). It would be fair to claim that Tsuiokuhen is not so much a marvel of Japanese animation but more accurately a marvel of storytelling as a whole, one that is on the same level as many of America's most heralded Hollywood dramas.
If there is a flaw to be found in the film, then it is in the sloppy decision to insert live action images into certain scenes. Sometimes, the technique works, but more often than not one finds himself wishing that everything had been drawn, because the images that are drawn are stunning.
Tsuiokuhen is notable for its characters, perhaps more than anything else. Kenshin never looks vicious, even when he's tearing people apart with his brazen sword, but he always looks tormented. Here's a being who's dedicated his life to doing what someone else believes is right simply because Kenshin wants to do something helpful, but in doing so, he bears an overwhelming sense of sadness upon people who never wanted anything to do with anything. Kenshin's intentions and the harrowing effects that they lay upon his soul make us sympathize with him, despite the fact that in the modern day world, we might view him as a monster.
As the story progresses, Kenshin develops relationships with certain characters that compound into an earth-shattering catharsis. The final few minutes of the film play out like a ship setting sail from home, Taku Iwasaki's grandiose soundtrack playing over scenes that that resound in the mind. One would think that such a sad movie would be difficult to endure, but surprisingly it isn't. The film is undeniably enjoyable, and despite its slow pacing never ceases to keep your every attention.
After my first viewing of Tsuiokuhen and every viewing thereafter, I was left with a shiver down my spine that few presentations have ever left me with. One cannot stress just how accessible the work as a whole is to all lovers of stories, and to all supporters of well-crafted art. I am not a colossal anime fan - that much should be obvious - but, by hook or by crook I stumbled upon this anime, and I love it in ignorance. For those who are not ignorant, I can only imagine that the experience would be all the better.
This OVA restored my faith in RK animation. I hate the second set of OVAs and find the TV series just too childish for my liking, but this gem has it all. It's more serious than the anime, but isn't pointless emo tragicrap like the last OVA.
This is set during the Bakumatsu when Kenshin is a young assassin on the razor's edge of insanity. Every night, he spills blood in the hopes of bringing in the new era of peace for the people of Japan. Every night, his soul dies a bit more.
One night, he crosses swords with a young Shogunate swordsman who is
able to wound him on the cheek before Kenshin does him in. As the young swordsman dies, he cries out the name of his beloved fiance.
One month later, Kenshin meets a mysterious woman in the rain. She passes out in his arms and he brings her to the Kohagiya to live. Little by little, Kenshin and Tomoe fall in love with each other.
Ultimately, circumstances force them to flee to Otsu where they pose as apothecaries. Kenshin finds a measure of peace for his embattled soul in the countryside. All too soon, the realities of war are thrust back upon them.
Will Kenshin and Tomoe find happiness, or will a deadly secret tear them apart forever?
Is it possible for a prequel to actually be good? The answer is YES, because Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal exists! This prequel OVA has something for everyone: great story, great characters, beautiful music, amazing animation, and plenty of bloody samurai action! In this review I will explain not only why Trust and Betrayal is an absolute masterpiece of 1990s anime, but also give a little history lesson, since this IS a historical fiction afterall.
Bonus Section: History and Rurouni Kenshin (skip the next 2 paragraphs if you don't care about history!)
Rurouni Kenshin and its prequel can actually teach casual viewers a small amount of Japanese
history. For example, Rurouni Kenshin shows that in 1868 there was a civil war between the Imperialists that wished to put the Emperor back on the throne and modernize Japan, vs. the Tokugawa Shogunate, who wished to uphold the status quo of isolationism and rule by feudal Shoguns with a powerful samurai class. Even though Trust and Betrayal is FAR more realistic, serious, and somber than the main Rurouni Kenshin anime, it is still FAR removed from actual historical realism. Samurai X shows the Japanese civil war as an absolute bloodbath that was primarily fought with swords and made the streets from Kyoto to Tokyo run red with "hundreds of thousands of deaths". In reality, only 3,500 people died in the entire war, and the VAST majority were killed with guns. The EPIC and bloody battle of Kyoto killed a grand total of 350 people. Once again, the vast majority were shot! A police sword corp called the Shinsengumi did exist, but they mostly just bullied civilians and were NOT the most elite group of swordsmen in human history. The fact that they wore no armor, should be a strong clue that they were NOT the elite troops of the Tokugawa Shogunate. They were mostly just a bunch of thugs that beat up shopkeepers and had swords because it looked cool.
Samurai X is like a Shakespearean tragedy...only with samurai! You have Kenshin as a naive young soldier that believes that war is simply good vs. evil and allows himself to be manipulated by wicked men into killing countless people. Kenshin believes at first he is fighting for justice, peace, and freedom, but he discovers that this isn't really the case and becomes overwhelmed with guilt over the countless lives he has taken. This is made worse by the fact that he later finds out he killed his beloved's fiancee' right before they were about to get married. Tomoe at first wishes to get close to Kenshin so she can take revenge, but she then sees that Kenshin actually has a good heart and slowly falls for him. Realistic? not really. Good drama? Hell Yes! Besides, I'm a huge Elfen Lied fan, so you think I'm going to complain about the realism of this relationship? There is also a traitor in Kenshin's group who wishes to convince Kenshin that Tomoe is the rat and that he must kill her. I will simply refer to this character as "Japanese Iago". The last important characters are Tomoe's little brother Enishi, whom we will NEVER see again (spoilers!) and Seijiro Hiko, who trains Kenshin and is a total badass. The relationship between Kenshin and Tomoe is heart-rending yet beautiful. Kenshin's growth from a naive child soldier to someone that understands the horrors of war and the gravity of his actions is truly powerful stuff! As a tragic romance, psychological drama, and analysis of of the suffering of war, Trust and Betrayal is one of the best anime ever made. Most of the character development is from Kenshin and Tomoe, but this is only a 2 hour movie, so there wasn't time to develop everyone. Trust and Betrayal makes the absolute best of the time it has to develop the characters that matter and deliver a story that will probably bring tears to your eyes.
The story begins with Kenshin as a very small child. His parents have died and he has fallen into child slavery. Some bandits murder the slavers and all the slaves except for Kenshin, who is saved at the last minute by Hiko. Hiko is moved that Kenshin took the time and effort to bury all of the slavers and bandits despite how much they wronged him. Kenshin even made special graves for the female sex slaves that were nice to him. Hiko takes Kenshin under his wing and trains him in the ultimate sword style: Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu. However, Trust and Betrayal turns the cheese factor WAY down and doesn't have Kenshin performing magical feats or yelling attack names with 13 syllables, unlike the main anime series. I'm looking at you, Amakakearu-ryu-no-hiromeki! Instead, Kenshin is shown to be a very good swordsman, but for the most part a believable human being with obvious limits. Kenshin doesn't jump 30 feet in the air and yell something silly before coming down approximately whenever he feels like it. If that was the part of the anime you enjoyed, do NOT watch Samurai X, because you will not see that bullshit here! Of course, Kenshin soon grows frustrated and leaves Hiko's training early without completing it, in order to help the rebellion. I sure haven't seen that last plot point before! Kenshin leaves his master, who rightly warns him that he is not ready, and races off to Cloud City. Oops! I mean Kyoto! Kenshin soon shows himself to be an incredible swordsman and becomes an assassin. After brutally murdering a bodyguard who desperately wanted to live and get back to his fiancee, Kenshin soon runs into a beautiful young woman who stumbles upon Kenshin comitting yet another brutal assassination in which he cuts a man in half and sprays her with about 10 gallons of blood. Kenshin contemplates murdering her as well, but decides to take her in to the local tavern. This girl named Tomoe gets a job as a tavern girl, but seems perpetually sad, for reasons that most of the viewers have already guessed. I will admit that although I love this movie, subtlety is NOT what this movie does well. If you didn't guess that Tomoe is the fiancee of the bodyguard Kenshin murdered than you are REALLY bad at predicting movie plots! Fortunately, the enjoyability and merit of this movie does not depend on that plot twist coming as a surprise. The quality of this movie stems from how it portrays the emotional evolution and moral development of Kenshin. Most people never get beyond seeing the world in very simple, good and evil terms. They support wars with absolute confidence that their country is good and that the other country is evil and that there are no ulterior motives. Well a LOT of my fellow Americans think that way at least. This movie is about a young boy learning the truth about the complexity and nastiness of war and politics. It is about losing the innocence and naivete of youth and simplistic nationalism. Finally, it is about becoming a responsible adult, taking responsibility for your sins and working towards repentence. The movie suffers from some plot cliches, lack of realism, and other minor faults, but it tells a moving story and reminds me an old school literature tragedy. Like I said earlier, this often feels like a modern retelling of a Shakespeare play with samurai.
The soundtrack is absolutely wonderful! I loved the Rurouni Kenshin series soundtrack, but despite the absence of the original composer Noriyuki Asakura, this new composer really shines through. The action tracks are powerful and moving, while the sad tracks bring the tears. I own this soundtrack and I am very glad I do. I didn't even pirate this one, I bought this shit straight cash homey! BTW, for otaku that don't watch sports, the last sentence was paraphrasing an American football player named Randy Moss.
The art is a huge improvement in animation quality over the regular series. The regular anime DOES look a lot closer to the original manga, but Watsuki's goofy style really didn't fit the serious tone established in this movie. The change to a more somber art style was very appropriate. The only negative part is that it occasionally tries to use CG to show some things in the environment like water or fire, and like most 1990s CG, it is pretty painful to look at. The whiplash from beautiful animation to PS1 cutscene quality water just might break your neck if you aren't careful!
Is this movie as perfect as critics made it out to be 10 years ago when animenewsnetwork was the BIG site for anime reviews? Not exactly. It actually has some of the same sins that other anime get slammed for, but it does so well in other parts that people are willing to overlook the minor blemishes. I still think this movie is an absolute masterpiece and although I recognize that it has a few flaws, I will defend this movie to the last! If you are a Rurouni Kenshin fan and you missed this movie, GO SEE IT! If you are a younger anime fan and have no idea what the fuck Rurouni Kenshin is, GO SEE IT! This is one of very few anime that I would recommend to pretty much everyone...unless you are 11 years old and gallons of blood spraying everywhere makes you squeamish. In that case I might wait a few years. This movie is rated R for a reason. I will also advise to watch the Japanese audio with subs, because the English dub available on youtube is...bad. I mean bad even by the standards of other 1990s OVAs.
I figured it was about time I posted a review on one of my favorite anime of all time. Samurai X: Tsuiokuhen (Trust and Betrayal) is a masterpiece of an OVA, and the prequel to the Rurouni Kenshin anime series.
After having completed the series, to say I was disappointed would be an understatement. This OVA series is what gave me a new appreciation for Rurouni Kenshin. Needless to say, you should watch the series before diving into this one, as it will allow you to feel the same as I did.
The animation is top notch. It is a beauty to behold. The musical score composed
by Taku Iwasaki is as Epic as the anime itself though when listening to the soundtrack I felt that it was somewhat repetitive. As for the story, it was absolutely compelling from its action packed start to its ultra sad ending.
One of the reasons I enjoyed this so much was because of the action and romance that was brought together. The fight scenes are really fast paced and awesome. Whereas the first half, Trust, is more action based, the second half, Betrayal, focuses more on the romance part of the story. I loved the peacefulness of Episode 3. Some people, who are only looking for action, may have been disappointed by the lack of it in this episode. This is a drama, that involves action and romance. I feel that between the first two episodes and the last two episodes, a perfect balance was struck.
This is obviously a must see for anime fans. Fans of the Rurouni Kenshin series get to see Kenshin at his best, not to mention an appearance by Saitou. Even if, for whatever reasons, you do not enjoy Rurouni Kenshin, I must advise you not to pass on this sure to be timeless classic tale of Trust and Betrayal
Samurai X: Turst/Betrayal is not like a lot of other animes. It doesn't stress swift justice, and eye for an eye sort of justice, but rather a way to live one's life (and it tells what happened to Kenshin before the series). It deals with how war can affect someone's life and the realization (looking at the story close enough) that your inner peace is where you must start if you really want to create a better world for you and others. I don't remember who said this, but someone once said, "Be the change you want to see," which is what Kenshin realized. Kenshin
misunderstood or ignored Master Hiko's teachings, and only when he lived his life with Tomoe, he finally understood what was being taught to him years ago. She showed him the right way to bring about peace. Unfortunately, he has to pay a heavy price for the lives he tore apart. A story with betrayal (obviously) and very heavy tragedy. In my opinion, it is the greatest anime created so far, and will be for years to come. But you decide for yourself. You are guarenteed story you will never forget.
This was a great series (if you could call four OVA's a series). If I could give it a 9.5, I would. It was fantastic, only lacking something that made my jaw completely drop, which is why I just couldn't quite give it a 10. Totally worth watching and I would recommend this to anyone, though be immediately warned, there is a ton of blood and it can get pretty graphic (the opening of the first episode is actually as bad as it gets in terms of gruesome violence, so if can get through that, you should be good).
Story (10): The
story was outstanding. This isn't just another action anime. No, the action and sword fighting are more of a means to advance the plot. The pace felt just right. Interesting story line that will keep you involved. Also pretty original.
Art (9): The action scenes were done perfectly. The art was fantastic throughout and at times stunning and beautiful. Great job. Again, just not mind blowingly awesome enough to quite get a 10.
Sound (9): I started watching the series with an English dub, but it just wasn't quite working for me. I probably didn't give it a fair shot, but nonetheless, I switched to the sub part way through the first episode. I had no problems with the sub and I liked the soft voices that some of the characters had (especially kenshin, because it was a great juxtaposition/revealing of his true character). Try the dub if you want, but if you don't mind subs, I would recommend the sub. The music was very suiting and the effects were just right.
Character (10): Simply great character development. Character development is probably what this anime is all about, and they nailed it, getting just the right combination of sympathy and mystery.
Enjoyment (9): Overall a very enjoyable anime. Again I would highly recommend it. Just watch it (c'mon, it's only four episodes).
Slightly edited review from Critics and Connoisseurs club.
The animation fits perfectly with the historical theme to Tsuiokuhen. I can honestly say that the style of art in Tsuiokuhen could not work with almost any other anime.Also, the more serious tones used in Tsuiokuhen are more fitting towards the the more serious story in this ova than the Kenshin tv seres.
I don't usually pay attention to the music happening during an anime but it was different for Tsuiokuhen. The historic Japanese style music gives every scene a greater emotion whether its action or tragedy. The Japanese voice acting is truly great and its one
of the few anime that i can get through dubbed.
Even though the anime focuses on Kenshin and his story, the other characters are represented through there own ambitions and hardships. But Kenshin is represented very well as having the deepest and by far saddest past and personality that you will ever see.
The story stands above any other historical samurai anime because of its focus on the characters and there hardships rather than a greater plot that the characters are only involved in. I loved the story because i personally prefer an anime that is character driven and not plot driven.
As you can tell i really enjoyed this anime. I was also able to go back and watch it several times because of how powerful it is emotionally.
First of all, I've never actually watched the series Rurouni Kenshin, so everything I write is from a blank slate perspective. :)
Story- This was really beautiful and sad. The plot idea of an assassin who no longer likes being an assassin, though already done, was completely remastered and thought out in a unique fashion. I was completely enthralled from the beginning and wasn't completely sure where everything was going to turn out. I like the fact that they seemed to write this so that somebody who hasn't seen the show could understand and be emmersed. I could definitely see this as a stand alone.
I wasn't sure if I liked the style of this, or not. They used live shots for water and fire and I really did not like that. Possibly it is a personal preference thing.
Character- I loved the twists and complexities to each character. I did not think that anyone in this was predictable or banal.
Overall I think this was a fantastically done piece and I'm pretty sure this just got me interested in watching the actual show now.
Perfection is (probably) unattainable, but once in a while, an anime comes along that gets pretty damn close.
"Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuikuhen" is one such anime.
I originally watched "Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen" without watching the main series. I was drawn to the OVA's by its stella ratings, but was too daunted by the length of the main series to watch that. Eventually, I grew out of my allergy for long series and watched the 95 episodes of "Rurouni Kenshin". Coming back to this afterwards, I wished I wasn't so hasty to watch it before - as good as it was first time round, it's much more meaningful
after the series, and it would have been great to experience this stunning piece of work to its full potential on the first watch.
[Note: For the remainder of this review, I'll be assuming that, unlike me, you were sensible enough to have already watched the series before coming to this, so there might be some references to the series in this review]
"Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen" (or just "Tsuiokuhen" for short,) is the story of how Kenshin became a swordsman, how he took part in the revolutions, and how he came to get his cross shaped scar. It's the chronicling of the making of the manslayer before his later years as a pacifist, and of his first love that was hinted at in the series.
Stylistically, "Tsuiokuhen" is a compeletly different beast from the main serie: gone are all the comedy elements - this OVA is deadly serious, and not for the faint hearted. It opens with a brutal, shocking prologue involving a bandits' attack on slave wagon. Men and women are cut down alike, swords are put through throats, and blood sprays in abundance. The violence is graphic, but not gratuitous.
Admidst the slaughter, it's hard not to notice the beauty of the artwork and the fluidity of the animation. The realistically designed characters reflects the serious tone, with no super deformity nor traditional big-eyes-small-mouth style in sight. Visually, "Tsuiokuhen" is just incredible.
Contrary to the impression given by the prologue, "Tsuiokuhen" is not at all heavy on action. The mood in this anime is often subdued (in fact I found some of the voice acting to be a little flat), and there are plenty of quiet moments, such as Kenshin's brief stint at living a peaceful life in the countryside, that acts as a counter balance against the action. The story also contains a lot of political elements as it describes the power struggles that went on prior to the revolution. There are plenty of references, linking together a great number of events, a lot of them real historical ones relevant to the Kenshin story. It can be quite thrilling to see some of these events click into place, and it always excites me to see cameos from significant characters from the series such as Hajime Saito (who, unfortunately, doesn't look as wolfish as he does in the series), but some of it went over my head. My knowledge of of Japanese history is extremely limited, and a portion of the political backstory involving real historical figures that are less directly related to the Kenshin felt a little redundant and confusing.
What really matters is the backstory of Kenshin himself. This short OVA series covers the key parts of Kenshin's early life; their importance in shaping young Kenshin's character and their influences on the choices he makes later in life cannot be overstated, but you'll need to have watched the main series to fully appreciate it. "Tsuikohen" is easily strong enough to be watched as a standalone, but without watching the main series, you won't know just how the young, brooding Kenshin contrasts against his more open, cheerful future self; nor will you pick up the deft touches added here and there that adds plenty of meaning and depth for those who've seen the series, such the hints on the consequences of Kenshin's actions.
Everything comes together in an epic finale in the last episode, concluding a tale of love and vengeance, trust and betrayal in spectacular fashion. If I have any nitpicking to do, it would be that the gauntlet that Kenshin was made to go through seems a little too contrived and shounen in style for a show with such mature vibes. I doubt many people will give a monkey's toss about that, however, as the polished action and the torrent of emotions peak simultaneously to create a breathtaking climax.
Fast paced action, achingly beautiful romance drama, depth of character and story, "Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen" has it all (apart from comedy). Just make sure you watch the "Rurouni Kenshin" main series up to the end of the "Legend of Kyoto" arc if you want to appreciate this OVA to its fullest. Believe me, it's worth the effort (and the series ain't half bad either).
I realize that this is only a 4 episode story, and that it probably shouldn't have the second place mark for all anime, but it definitely deserves to be the best OAV by far in my books. It also tops tengen toppa gurren-lagann, the current leader in anime on this site by far. I just had to mention that since I am angry that tengen toppa gurren-lagann has the top spot at the moment.
Theres really not much to say about this OAV, if you liked rurouni kenshin and your interested in more of the background story then its worth a watch. If you
like blood and the classic samurai battles then you should also get a kick out of it. It isn't the easiest short series to find but its worth the trouble.
Overall I think it had a very old fashion feel to it with lots of interesting scenarios. The expressions of the characters help put the viewer in the shoes of the characters and makes it seem more like a ride than watching a show.
I have a confession to make: I've never seen Rurouni Kenshin. I've known of its existence for a long time, but I haven't seen the 90 episode anime. I did see one episode of it dubbed, but that was because my college anime club showed it for historical fiction week, along with three other shows. It never interested me, and in a way it still doesn't interest me now. I don't think I can commit myself to a 90 episode anime, especially if its full of pointless filler. But one of my favorite bloggers was praising this up the wazoo and said that I didn't
need to know about the show or manga in order to enjoy it, and I kinda wanted to watch something dark and mature since I hadn't seen any dark and mature shows for a while. I can't believe I'm saying this...but I absolutely adore Trust and Betrayal despite not knowing anything about Rurouni Kenshin at all, neither anime nor manga (I might read the manga when I can. I'll probably just rent it at the library).
On a cold night, a band of warriors kill slave traders, leaving a young boy as the only survivor. A swordsman named Seijuro Hiko takes the boy in, renaming him Kenshin, and teaching him the ways of the sword. Kenshin grows into a killer who kills people in order to defend the innocent in a world infected by corruption, disease, poverty, malice, and greed. One would think that his humanity is as good as gone, but when circumstances force him to pair up with a woman named Yukishiro Tomoe, Kenshin gradually realizes that life without the sword can actually be good for him, and that the world isn't all evil. But the awful truths still remain, and not everyone can be trusted.
I have to admit, the animation, for its time, was absolutely sumptuous, especially in the fight scenes. They are all well choreographed, there are so scenes where characters just fly faster than the speed of light to hit their enemies, the blood and gore (yes, it is very bloody and not for the faint of heart) actually serves a purpose instead of just being there for the sake of being dark and edgy, the gore itself is realistic, and the characters move believably. The anime also takes a lot of care in showing both the good and the bad of feudal Japan, especially in regards to dress, customs, food, etc. I love an anime that does its research. But if there's one thing that bothers me, its the fact that sometimes for no real reason, the scenes switch from 2D animation to live action scenery, such as candle flames flickering, snow falling, sunbeams through the trees, etc. It really doesn't fit well here. I don't get why they didn't just draw those scenes out, as putting in live action scenery just really takes you out of the atmosphere. Also, I have a very hard time believing that someone is actually capable of slicing a person's entire head in half, right through the skull and all, let alone slicing an entire person in half with just a katana. For the most part, the fight scenes are realistic and well animated, but I do think some of the feats Kenshin pulls off, such as the ones I mentioned above, kinda push my suspension of disbelief VERY much.
The music really does its job well. There's no opening theme song, and the ending theme song is mostly an instrumental piece, but I don't really have much to say about the music except that it's plain awesome and the assigned pieces fit their assigned atmosphere well. When it wants to be creepy, the music is creepy. When there's battles and sword fights going on, the music is epic and bombastic. Quiet moments have quiet music. Every single piece of background music is used very well, and they all fit their assigned scenes. It knows when to be subtle and when to really go all out.
The main characters are the ones who steal the show, and since the story is centered completely around them in a span of just four episodes, they develop wonderfully. Even the romance between them is beautifully and subtly executed, and nothing is forced or artificial between them. The side characters, on the other hand, don't have much to go on. Some of them I even hate because of their actions. Kenshin and Tomoe are the stars of this OVA, and the OVA knows it, and it fleshes them all out in great detail. They pretty much make the OVA what it is, a tale of two lovers learning from each other and learning about new sides of life and each other, even in the face of tragedy. I don't think this OVA would be good if they weren't in it.
I have to admit though, I saw the English dub first, and while normally I don't like to be negative about English dubs, as I prefer to be someone who gives things a fair chance as I've seen many good dubs that people hate for no real reason, but...Trust and Betrayal's English dub isn't very good. Granted, the scripting is faithful to the sub, the dialogue fits with the setting and the time period, and the lip flaps match the lines just fine. It's just...the voice acting. Either the characters' voices don't fit or the actors clearly CANNOT emote for the life of them, the worst offenders being Kenshin and Enishi. I may not have seen the TV series in its entirety, but I know that in the show, Kenshin was voiced by Richard Cansino, but in the OVAs, he's voiced by someone named J. Shannon Weaver, who...makes Kenshin sound like an emotionless emo kid who smoked too much crack. And that's not his only problem! During emotional and epic scenes, Weaver absolutely cannot emote or raise his voice enough to make his performance convincing in any way whatsoever, which really kill the moments for me. Everyone else is the exact same way. The actors don't seem to care about their work here, and don't seem to want to give their all in their performances. Say what you want about the Attack on Titan dub and its scripting problems, but at least the actors could emote and put their heart and soul into their performances. Also, Enishi. GOOD GOD, Enishi's voice is the worst in the entire dub! He's supposed to be a preteen kid or something, but he sounds like a 40 year old man who's trying way too hard to sound like Carl from the Jimmy Neutron cartoons, it's THAT bad! I've heard bad voices, but Enishi's...is pretty much the worst voice I've ever heard. You want to know what the sad thing is? Even though ADV licensed this in their early days, they picked Monster Island studios to do the voice casting, and Monster Island is usually known for producing very good dubs for anime such as Nadia and Petite Princess Yucie, among other titles. Clearly, Trust and Betrayal was not one of their better dubbing efforts. And who was the casting director responsible for giving Kenshin and Enishi terrible voices?!
But yeah, if you want a genuinely good story with great build up, intense scenes, and a well executed romance, definitely put this on your list, especially if you're into period-anime. Just don't watch it in English. And there's a lot of blood and gore, so it's not for the faint of heart.
As I stated in my Rurouni Kenshin review RK is my favorite manga of all time and the anime adaption while not as good as the manga was what seriously got me into anime/manga when i was a kid, well anyay on to tsuiokuhen!
This OVA is by far the greatest peice of animation I have ever seen, lets start with the artwork. This Series is simply, heartbreakingly beautiful. it is potrayed as a more detailed and realistic style as opposed to the original source material, and that is actually done for the better, if it was done in a shounen style it would have
not have been as good. The animation has aged very well and still is better than most modern action anime.
The story is actually an adaption of volume 19-21 of Rurouni Kenshin which is a flashback sequence, It takes a much darker approach to an already pretty dark story arc and will always leave an impression on you. another thing is that you do not have to watch rurouni kenshin(or read it) to understand Tsuiokuhen it actually stand up VERY well on its own. if you don't want to watch 4 hours of something than watch the 2 hour movie Samurai X Trust & Betrayal.
The voice acting is good and the dub is above par but it agravates me because they pronounce Tomoe an Tomo .
Overall this thing is amazing...
i recomend it to any otaku or fan of RK and even non-otaku!