7.2

Samurai X: Reflection review
My Reflections

The good:

  • Beautiful, realistic graphics, especially in the Blu Ray edition
  • Includes the Jinchu arc absent from the TV series
  • Fantastic fight scenes
  • Well-written script

    The bad:

  • Terrible, tragic ending
  • Some major persons out of character
  • Lack of emphasis on major fights
  • Voice actors sometimes unsuitable or with poor pronunciation

    Summary:

    **Caution**
    This review contains spoilers. If you have not seen this film and do not want to know what happens throughout, be wary.
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  • BACKGROUND
    Rurouni Kenshin, one of the most inspiring animes of its time having established a twenty-two volume manga series, three season TV series, sound track set, OVAs, collectibles, and other merchandise, continues to live on even fifteen years after its creation. The anime follows the life of Kenshin Himura, an ex-samurai who fought in the revolution as the strongest of the Imperialists. Formerly known as the Hitokiri Battosai (man slayer), Kenshin has left his dark past behind him as he wanders Japan with nothing but a sakabato (reverse blade sword) and a cross-shaped scar on his left cheek. Ten years after the Battosai mysteriously disappears, Kaoru Kamiya, a girl living alone in her father's dojo, has been targeted by someone out for revenge on her father. After being saved by a mysterious wanderer, Kaoru learns he is none other than the man slayer of legends. After staying there for a few days and some heartwarming conversation, Kenshin decides to stay and live with her and two others they later meet in quite odd situations. A mix of intense battles, humor, and romance brings about the incredible anime known as Rurouni Kenshin.

    Reflection is the last of three OVA segments done by ADV films. The first two, Trust and Betrayal, takes the audience through Kenshin's years as a man slayer in the revolution, a time period only briefly covered in the manga. Reflection is a collection of flashbacks as well as one way the story could have ended. It follows the end of the manga, not the TV series (the third season was a series of fillers because the author had not finished the manga at that point). It has a different feel from the original series, much more dark and depressing with less (if any) humor and a very tragic ending that even the creator of the OVA himself did not favor.

  • PLOT
    The main plot, which takes place in the future about ten years after the end of the manga, is very depressing. We follow Kenshin as he struggles to get back to his wife while on the brink of death. As he travels, he reflects back on his life spent with his friends that became his family and the fights he had to face to protect them and the people of Japan. The characters are sad and sick, which isn't something the usual RK fan is used to seeing. Kenshin is dying of a mysterious illness which produces a purple rash on his body. It is said to represent the pain he carries in his heart from all the lives he had taken in the revolution, including his first love. It seems as though all of his attempts to repent for his sins that we had seen in the manga and TV series were not enough to even slightly lighten the burden. It was sad to see a man who had done so many great deeds continue to suffer so harshly.

    As previously mentioned, this film contains a collection of flashbacks from Kenshin's life during his stay at the Kamiya dojo. ADV did a beautiful job recreating some of the more prominent fight scenes such as with Jine and Enishi, whom we have not seen digitally brought to life up until this point.



    However, they seemed to put more emphasis on fights that focused on Kaoru and Kenshin's love life. The fight with Makoto Shishio, which was one of the biggest fights of Kenshin's life, as well as the climax of the entire Kyoto arc, was given a ten second segment as opposed to the fight with Jine Udo, which was a minor fight in the beginning of the series given a ten minute segment.

  • CHARACTERS & ACTORS
    Kenshin himself seemed to be very out of character. In addition to being sick and weak and feeling sorry for himself, his life as Kaoru's husband was spent leaving for long periods of time while she raised their son. They are still portrayed as very much in love and understanding of each other, but the real Kenshin would never want her to suffer in such a way, and he would never leave his child, who grows to resent him.

    Kaoru's voice actor was significantly different from the one in the TV series, which I did not like. Her character lacked even a bit of spirit and independence, which her original counterpart possessed much of. They managed to portray her strong love for Kenshin pretty well, but in a very tragic way.

    Other characters such as Sanosuke, Yahiko, Hiko, and Kenji are only minor. It's nice to see how well they had grown, very different from when we had last seen them. Kenshin's friends grew strong because of his influence, and suggest his continuing significance in their life even as he wanders once again.



  • GRAPHICS
    The graphics of all the OVAs are very different from the usual RK style. They're more realistic and dark and were said to have been aiming to make the characters look older in this particular OVA segment. At first they seem a bit unfitting, but once you get used to them, you realize the beauty behind how realistic they are. The blu ray version is simply gorgeous and incomparable to anything RK seeing as the OVAs are the first HD samples available for the anime despite being unofficial.

  • EXTRAS
    There are three versions of Reflection: the original, the director's cut, and the limited edition blu ray. Each one offers a decent amount of extras, including cast interviews, which I found interesting when the writer of the OVA claimed he did not like the ending himself. The viewer also has access to production sketches which are interesting to look at.

  • CONCLUSION
    Although this film features beautiful remakes of scenes from Kenshin's past, the ending takes away a huge portion of my positive feedback for this film. After the suffering Kenshin had went through and all he had done to repent, he did not deserve an ending such as this. While this film had great potential and even though they managed to pull a great deal of it and include some happy scenes not shown in the original, they did not quite hit the nail on the head.

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    Comments

    0 thumbs!
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    Gryzor Dec 11, 11
    That's a pretty good review dude.

    One thing I noticed though - it's how you laid out your pictures. I think bunching two or more together looks a little cluttered and unorganised, and if you're going to bunch a group of shots together, four is pretty ideal. A square number, if you will.
    0 thumbs!
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    Kayde Dec 20, 11
    Thanks for the feedback. I agree with you but instead of four I'm going to leave it at two sets of two. It looks even less cluttered this way.
    0 thumbs!
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    Gryzor Dec 20, 11
    Yeah, it looks better. Dunno why I said that two looked cluttered - guess it was just the way you laid it out before haha.
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