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Rurouni Kenshin: The Movie (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 12, 2011 by  



If you enjoyed “Rurouni Kenshin: The Movie” (known back then as “Samurai X: The Movie”) a decade ago on DVD, you’ll definitely want to own this version on Blu-ray!  This is the definitive version of the film to own and this 1997 film not only looks better but also sounds incredible via HD.  Definitely recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 1997 Nobuhiro Watsuki. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Rurouni Kenshin: Ishin Shishi no Chinkonka [Requiem]/Rurouni Kenshin: The Movie

FILM RELEASE DATE: 1997

DURATION: 90 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16×9), Japanese Linear PCM (16-Bit) Stereo, DTS Master Audio/5.1 Ch, Japanese and English DTS Stereo, Subtitles: Japanese, English

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: NOT RATED

Release Date: November 29, 2011

Originally created by Nobuhiro Watsuki

Directed by Hatsuki Tsuji

Script by Shinichi Tsuji, Yukiyoshi Ohashi

Music by Taro Iwashiro

Character Design by Hatsuki Tsuji

Animation Director: Hatsuki Tsuji

Executive Producer: Junichiro Hisaita, Ryuzo Shirakawa

Anime Production: Studio DEEN

Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayo Suzukaze as Kenshin Himura

Miina Tominaga as Yahiko Myôjin

Miki Fujitani as Kaoru Kamiya

Takehito Koyasu as Sadashirô Kajiki

Yuji Ueda as Sanosuke Sagara

Akihisa Soukuchi as Ken Ikeuchi

Harî Kaneko as Aritomo Yamagata

Hiroshi Yanaka as Tsunan Tsukioka

Hirotaka Suzuoki as Hajime Saitô

Juurouta Kosugi as Eibin Tamono

Kanako Nagao as Hirofumi Shimozaki

Kaori Yuasa as Ayame

Kappei Yamaguchi as Yasuharu Musashino

Katsuya Shiga as Toshiyoshi Kawaji

Kazuhiko Inoue as Takimi Shigure

Mariko Nagahama as Akira Tsuruoka

Mika Ishibashi as Hidefumi Takemoto

Mika Sakenobe as Kouji Kitade

Naomi Matamaru as Kazuhiro Daikoku

Noriko Namiki as Suzume

Nozomu Sasaki as Gentatsu Takatsuki

Rie Tanaka as Shingo Ushiyama

Tatsuhiko Sugiyama as Yasuhiro Miyata

Yoko Nakai as Makoto Ueki

Yuko Miyamura as Toki Takatsuki

The war against the Tokugawa Shogunate ended years ago, but there are those who are not pleased with the outcome. Shigure Takimi witnessed his family and friends being slain in the name of freedom and prosperity. Holding a cold, hard grudge inside, Shigure Takimi and a band of misguided rebels have sworn to exact revenge. There is only one man who stands between them and their goal: Himura Kenshin. But when Shigure discovers Kenshin’s true identity, Shigure’s fight becomes a personal vendetta.

Features exclusive new box art by character designer Atsuko Nakajima and includes both the original deluxe booklet from the Japanese release plus a second booklet of English translations.

In 1997, the film “Rurouni Kenshin: Ishin Shishi no Chinkonka  [Requiem]” was released in theaters.

The film was directed by Hatsuki Tsuji (“Akazukin Cha Cha”, “Rurouni Kenshin TV Series”, “Pokemon” films) who also produced and provided character designs for the film.  Although not based on a story from the manga, the film was written by Shinichi Tsuji and Yukiyoshi Ohashi (“Pokemon” series, “Urusei Yatsura” series and “Yu Yu Hakusho” series”).

The film would feature L’Arc~en~Ciel’s hit song “Niji” as the opening theme and Animetal’s “Eternal Future” as the ending theme.

In the U.S., the film would be released on DVD as “Samurai X: The Motion Picture” in 2001 and now, a decade later, the film would be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex Inc.

In keeping up with doing simultaneous releases in Japan and the U.S., which many hardcore anime fans have wanted, both Blu-rays were released on Oct. 26th and what American fans are getting is the actual Japanese Blu-ray release with English subtitles included and the original English dub.  From the packaging and the included booklet, everything is in Japanese (note: English translated booklet will also be included).

For those not familiar with the series, the story revolves around a man named Kenshin Himura, a feared assassin once known as “Hitokiri Battousai”.  Because he has killed so many, Kenshin wants to atone for his sins, thus he becomes a peaceful wanderer helping those needing protection.

Kenshin carries a reverse-bladed sword known as the sakabato, which he uses to make sure that he is unable to kill anyone ever again.

He arrives in Tokyo (during the Meiji era) in which he meets a young woman named Kaoru Kamiya, who was in a fight with someone claiming to be Hitokiri Battosai.  Kenshin ends up defeating the fake and is offered a place to stay at the dojo and throughout the series, makes friends such as the powerful Sanosuke Sagara (former member of the Sekiho Army) and the young Yahiko Myojin, who is trained by Kaoru.

But throughout the series, he meets people, friends and also ex-enemies and does all he can to find true atonement.

This leads us to “Rurouni Kenshin: The Movie”.

During the Bakumatsu (the final years of the Edo period and the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate), Kenshin went into battle against an excellent swordsman named Takatsuki Gentatsu.  And as one expected from the Hitokiri Battosai, Kenshin killed Gentatsu.

A decade later, while arriving with Kaoru, Sanosuke and Yahiko to Yokohama.A Yokohama that has changed as Japan has embraced western culture (including clothing and lifestyle).  While walking through the city, they witness British sailors taking advantage of a Japanese woman named Toki.  Being the protective type, Kenshin is prepared to go for the rescue, but another man does it.  His name is Takimi Shigure, another well-revered swordsman and as more sailors come to attack, Kenshin and Sanosuke join Shigire.

Throughout the film, we learn that Toki is the sister of the deceased Gentatsu  and as for Takimi, he was a close friend of Gentatsu and for Takimi and has vowed to protect Toki since the death of Gentatsu.  Shigure places blame of Gentatsu’s death on himself and not being there to protect him against the Hitokiri Battousai, the man who killed his close friend.  And since then, he has dreamed of having his revenge against the Hitokiri Battosai.  Not knowing that Kenshin is the man who killed Gentatsu.

Within the story is a story of deceit as factions are working against each other while the British diplomat working under a new government has arrived in Japan.

To complicate matters, as Takimi and Kenshin become friends and partners, the two make a vow that if anything ever happens to him, Kenshin would look after her.  But what happens when Takimi finds out that Kenshin is responsible for killing Gentatsu?

VIDEO:

It’s important to note that “Rurouni Kenshin: The Movie” is literally old school anime.  A film that some of us have reviewed when it was first released on DVD.  But this time around, for me, what I wanted to see is how the film would look in HD.

As more and more classic anime TV series and films are being released on Blu-ray, I have seen how many of these titles have looked absolutely wonderful with the HD upgrade.

“Rurouni Kenshin: The Movie” is presented in 1080p (16:9) and for the most part, the film looks much crisper and vibrant compared to the previously released DVD’s.  Painted backgrounds have much more detail and look absolutely beautiful on Blu-ray.  With that being said, again, this is an older animated film and while it may not have the same digital look of today’s films, for fans who owned the previous release on DVD, will definitely enjoy the PQ upgrade of watching this film on HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Rurouni Kenshin: The Movie” is presented in Japanese via an uncompressed LPCM 2.0 stereo track and also Japanese 5.1 DTS-HD MA.  Also, an English DTS 2.0 soundtrack is included.

First, let’s talk about the lossless Japanese soundtrack, the music beginning with L’Arc~en~Ciel’s “Niji” sounds fantastic~  And because of the amount of action, from the sword swings to the gun shots and blasts, while the film does feature a lot of dialogue, during those action segments, the film sounds absolutely awesome.  Good use of the surround channels and also LFE.  Those moments are quite immersive and sound awesome!

As for the English dub, I didn’t listen to the English soundtrack to do comparisons of whether or not the old ADV version was used.  I’m a bit biased towards the Japanese voice acting, but for those who prefer English dub, you do get a DTS 2.0 soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Rurouni Kenshin: The Movie” features the following special features:

  • Japanese Trailer – (1:32) The original Japanese theatrical trailer.

EXTRAS:

“Rurouni Kenshin: The Movie” comes with a black slipcase and a Japanese booklet (according to Righstuf, American release should have an English translated booklet as well).  The booklet features interviews with the voice talent, character profiles and story guide.

I loved the “Rurouni Kenshin” manga and anime series back in the ’90s and it was a big part of my viewing and reading during my college years.

As I have reviewed this title a decade ago on DVD when it was known as “Samurai X” (btw, a title which I can’t stand), it’s great to review the Blu-ray edition of this film and there are two positives of this release.

The first positive is the fact that we are getting “Rurouni Kenshin” on Blu-ray and for me, it is the definitive version of this film to own!

The second positive is the fact that we are getting the simultaneous Japanese and USA release of this title.  For years, fans have wanted simultaneous or near-simultaneous release of anime and the fact that Aniplex, Inc. has been dedicated in doing this, you really can’t complain.  If anything, the only complaint would be from those who grew up watching the old English dub and were not thrilled back in 2001 when the DVD version came out from another company and used different voice talent.

Other than that and the fact that the story was more political, I absolutely enjoyed the film back then and enjoyed it today.

I’m a big advocate of seeing more old school anime being released on Blu-ray and the fact that “Rurouni Kenshin: The Movie” has received HD treatment plus a simultaneous release, for me, that’s pretty awesome!

While those who have never seen the TV Series can easily watch this film and understand what’s going on (although I do recommend watching the original anime series or even reading the manga), fortunately with the release of a newer series that is based on the storyline of the original manga, hopefully we will see the new “Rurouni Kenshin” anime series released on Blu-ray in America in the near future.

While many people probably owned the original DVD release, those fans may be wondering if it’s worth upgrading.  While this latest Blu-ray release does not come with any major special features but the trailer, and you do get the booklet, it all comes down whether or not you want to see the best presentation of this film to date.  It looks much better, much crisper and more vibrant than the original DVD release.  It also sounds much better with the inclusion of the lossless 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack.  And for purists who want it in 2.0 stereo, yes, you get an uncompressed Linear PCM version as well.  And for those who prefer to watch anime via English dub, you also get a 2.0 DTS soundtrack.  Most often, Aniplex releases don’t come with an English dub, so the fact that there is one included, is another welcomed addition for fans who want an English dub.

Overall, “Rurouni Kenshin: The Movie” is another welcomed, old school anime film that looks and sounds so much better than the 2001 DVD that it’s definitely worth the upgrade if you enjoyed this film!

Recommended!

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