Rurouni Kenshin-Volume 1: The Legendary Swordsman (1997)

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Released 10-Apr-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Production Notes-Liner Notes
Biographies-Cast
Gallery
Trailer-Boogiepop Phantom; Gasaraki; Orphen; Vampire Princess Miyu
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 96:46 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kazuhiro Furuhashi
Studio
Distributor
SME Visual Works Inc
Madman Entertainment
Starring Mayo Suzukaze
Miki Fujitani
Miina Tominaga
Yuuji Ueda
Case Click
RPI $29.95 Music Noriyuki Asakura


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Preview After Credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Rurouni Kenshin Wandering Samurai: The Legendary Swordsman contains the first four episodes of this popular 95 episode Japanese animated television series.

    Kenshin Himura is a warrior who has vowed never to kill again in an attempt to atone for his bloody past. Over the years, Kenshin was responsible for the deaths of many men and he has become known as Battousai the Manslayer. In an effort to leave his past behind, Kenshin disappears in a defiant act to display his determination never to kill again. He becomes a wanderer, able to avoid the attention of the authorities, but at the beginning of the series he meets Kaoru, an assistant master at a local kendo school. Kaoru and Kenshin quickly find a small number of close friends and the group encounters a range of adversaries as the series continues.

    Many viewers may be familiar with the OVA title Samurai X that has also been released on two discs in this country by Madman. That OVA is set before this series but was actually released after the television series had begun. Samurai X: The Movie has also been released locally and this is chronologically placed after the television series. Viewers do not require previous knowledge of either the OVA or movie, as the series is able to easily stand alone.

    This DVD release contains the following four episodes. I have included a very short description for each episode but as these may contain some very minor spoilers you may wish to skip directly to the Transfer Quality section.

The Handsome Swordsman Of Legend
    Kaoru is hunting for Battousai the Manslayer who is killing innocent civilians while claiming that he is using her school's fighting style. When she finally confronts this killer she is saved by a mysterious wanderer who vows to help her clear her school's name.

Kid Samurai
    While heading to a restaurant in town, Kenshin and Kaoru meet a local pickpocket, Yahiko, who was forced into crime by a local Yakuza group in an effort to pay off an old family debt. Kaoru is determined to free the boy and she confronts the gang members.

Swordsman Of Sorrow
    A group of corrupt police is harassing innocent townsfolk and Kenshin is determined to help. While he is in town another group of police arrive at Kaoru's school searching for Kenshin and they are already aware that he is the Battousai.

Bad!
    A mysterious warrior for hire turns up in town and he quickly challenges Kenshin to a fight. This challenger has an event in his past that causes him to hold a grudge against Kenshin and all Imperialists.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The full frame transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The packaging for the disc claims that this is a full frame pan & scan transfer and as these terms are mutually exclusive the labelling is obviously not quite correct.

    The transfer is acceptably sharp throughout but some scenes are noticeably softer. This problem may be due to the original source material, although due to the style of animation this is never disruptive to the viewer. The series is brightly animated but during the occasional dark scene, excellent levels of shadow detail may be seen. No low level noise was detected at any stage of the transfer.

    The extensive colour palette used in this film is accurately reproduced and is able to easily display the intricate shading employed by the animators.

    Some small Gibbs effect artefacts may be seen during the opening credits for each episode. At no other time during the transfer were any MPEG artefacts detected. No instances of aliasing were detected at any time during the transfer.

    A number of minor film artefacts may be seen during the transfer. Some examples of these artefacts may be seen at 2:27, 7:55, 8:46, 9:21, 11:10 and 13:31. All of these artefacts are quite minor and are never distracting to the viewer.

    Throughout the transfer, some minimal edge enhancement may be seen during many scenes. This is initially slightly distracting, but is able to be ignored as the feature progresses.

    The disc contains a set of yellow English subtitles which are always clear and easy to read. A second subtitle stream is included on the disc and this includes a duplicate of the subtitles during the second episode, but contains no information during the other three episodes.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Japanese and English Dolby Digital 224 kbps 2.0 soundtracks are provided on this disc. I listened to both in full and personally preferred the Japanese soundtrack as I found some of the voice acting during the English track to be disappointing.

    The dialogue is always clear and easy to understand during both tracks.

    As this is an animated feature, there are the expected obvious problems with audio sync for each soundtrack. No dropouts were detected at any stage during the transfer.

    The score by Noriyuki Asakura fits the on-screen action well and never draws attention to itself. The opening theme 'Freckles' does not fit the mood of the rest of the series and always seems out of place. Fortunately, the viewer may easily skip this opening theme as it is provided as a single chapter.

    The surround and subwoofer channels are not utilised during this transfer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The animated menu is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Liner Notes

    This is an interesting 12-page collection of notes providing some background information on the terms used during the series. This is an informative extra and one that will hopefully be continued through the series.

Character Profiles

    Single page profiles are provided for the following characters: Kenshin Himura, Kaoru Kamiya, Sanosuke Sagara and Yahiko Myojin.

Art Gallery

    This is a collection of six images depicting various characters from the show.

Trailer: Boogiepop Phantom (0:34)

    This trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Trailer: Gasaraki (1:31)

    This trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Trailer: Orphen (1:28)

    This trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Trailer: Vampire Princess Miyu (0:30)

    This trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

    Each of the above trailers are presented as separate chapters in a single video section and may be accessed by selecting the Madman logo on the main menu.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    As the Region 1 version of this disc includes a textless opening my slight preference would be for that version but hopefully Madman will include this extra on future discs in the series.

Summary

    Rurouni Kenshin: Wandering Samurai is an excellent series that will be appreciated by all anime fans.

    The video transfer displays very few artefacts and is only marred by the obvious use of edge enhancement throughout.

    The choice of audio mixes should appeal to fans of both dubs and subs but some people may feel a little let down by the voice acting on the English track.

    The collection of liner notes included provide some interesting information and background facts for viewers.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Anthony Kable (read my bio)
Monday, May 06, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySony KP-E41SN11. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationFront left/right: ME75b; Center: DA50ES; rear left/right: DA50ES; subwoofer: NAD 2600 (Bridged)
SpeakersFront left/right: VAF DC-X; Center: VAF DC-6; rear left/right: VAF DC-7; subwoofer: Custom NHT-1259

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