Rurouni Kenshin: Reflection Anime Review
Rurouni Kenshin: Seisouhen
Wandering Kenshin - Book of the Years
US Release By
Historical Action Romance
81 minutes in 2 episodes
2001-12-19 - 2002-03-20
What's In It
- Violence: 3 (significant)
- Nudity: 1 (mild)
- Sex: 1 (mild)
- Language: 1 (mild)
"Rurouni Kenshin: Seisouhen", or as it's called over here "Samurai X Reflection", is really the ending to the Rurouni Kenshin TV series. It is separated into two OAVs and takes place around 15 years after the end of the TV series. Kenshin is finally married to Kaoru and they have had a son named Kenji; but Kenshin is pulled away from her because of his life-long desire to atone for his bloody past. Kaoru, now ill, wonders if he will ever return to her again.
One thing that should be mentioned before viewing this is that, unlike the "Remembrance OAVs", Samurai X: Reflection should only be watched after completing the series. This is because the film refers back to the series often. Also I'd strongly recommend the subtitle rather then the dub as it takes away from the story and many of the voices are poorly done.
Right away it is apparent that "Reflection" is far brighter in color than the first four OAVs although the style itself closely resembles them. It should be too, since it is no longer the days of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the viewer should notice this right from the second scene of the first episode. Another alteration that becomes quickly apparent is that Kenshin looks older and even fragile at times. Of course everyone else looks aged too and I did not find that any of their appearances were disappointing. Altogether the animation is as good, or better than the "Remembrance OAVs".
The first time I watched this, I noticed that one must pay close attention because, like "Samurai X: Trust & Betrayal", you'll find that it subtly changes from present to past often and if you're not careful you might get confused. However, I do not consider this a negative mark towards the film whatsoever. If anything, this is a realistic way of how people reflect on their past.
I have read some reviews that state this film refers back to the series far too often and all it really is is just a monotonous recap of what we've already seen. This could not be farther from the truth. Though specifically, Kaoru thinks back to the times she and Kenshin have had together frequently, it is never done in a gimmicky fashion that is only there to fill up time. Not only are the scenes redone with terrific detail, they give you that sense of excitement as you wonder how they will look.
Getting to the story, I found that it revolves around Kenshin and Kaoru just like "Remembrance" centered around Kenshin and Tomoe. Without ruining or spoiling the movie I'll just say that throughout, we see how Kenshin and Kaoru come to a more intimate relationship between one-another both in the past and present. We also see how they persevere through each trial that arises in Kenshin's life and how they are affected by it all. Though Kenshin appears to be worn in both body and soul, he strives to atone for his past crimes and I found that I was pitying him at times. Like in the series, we see once again in a stronger way how Kenshin has changed the life of others through risking his own. For example this is shown in Yahiko as he is now a mature young man and living an upright life with strong beliefs like Kenshin.
This is truly a story held together by its deep, intricate characters and their development. Even though a couple of vicious fights occur, never is it merely for show, or to satisfy the viewer's shallow enjoyment of action and gore. Fight scene or not, it all seems to be based around the characters and to further develop them.
No doubt, there will be die-hard fans of the series that will be disappointed because of how mature and serious characters such as Kaoru have become. No longer is Kaoru punching Kenshin through a doorway with white, demon eyes and Kenshin is not saying "oro" twenty times an episode. Though I enjoyed that in the series, it just wouldn't be appropriate to try to force those humorous scenes into an hour and twenty-one minute film so focused on more crucial subject matter aimed toward the characters. Therefore I disagree with those who might fault "Reflection" for its change in character tone.
The music just as before is breath-taking. If you've seen "The Last of the Mohicans" then you'll be delighted when I say that the music here is comparable. As to whether it is better then the first four OAVs? That is debatable. Simply put, it's some of the best I've ever heard and is incorporated into the film perfectly.
Altogether I found myself loving "Rurouni Kenshin: Seisouhen" tremendously and even more each new time I watched it. There is so much to take in that I'd strongly recommend viewing it several times; you will not be disappointed. Trust me when I say that there is much more to say but I do not want to drag on.
One final thing I'll mention is that this is clearly meant to be a conclusion to a timeless tale so those expecting any new revelation to appear might be disappointed. However, if you keep an open mind, then you'll be sure to realize just how amazing this film is and how well it fits in.
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Notes and Trivia
ADV used the rather cheesy title "Samurai X" for their releases of parts of the Rurouni Kenshin series (the OAVs and movie).
US DVD Review
ADV films did a great job with their dvd. Excellent picture and sound quality. It offers English, English with song subtitles, and Japanese with English subtitles. For special features it has interviews with the Japanese vocal cast, clean closing animation, production sketches, and of course ADV previews.
Has since been re-released in a combined "Director's Cut Collection" box set that also includes the Trust and Betrayal OAVs.
Violence: 3 - Very few bloody scenes, especially compared to Rurouni Kenshin: The Remembrance.
Nudity: 1 - Partial perhaps.
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - One implied scene.
Language: 1 - Nothing serious if anything at all.
Available in North America from Section 23 on bilingual DVD, in a "Director's Cut Collection" set that also includes the four episodes of the "Reflection" OAV series. Was previously available from ADV films on a single bilingual DVD under the title Samurai X - Reflection.