Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Rurouni Kenshin OAV 2: Seisouhen (Reflection)

Genre: Martial Arts/Jidai Geki/Drama
Parental Guidance Recommended
Credits: Nobuhiro Watsuki. Script by Yoshida Reiko. Directed by Furuhashi Kazuhiro

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It is the 29th year of Meiji. Eighteen years have passed since the battle with Yukushiro Enishi.

Himura Kenshin still searches for atonement...
...and Kamiya Kaoru waits patiently for his return, together with their son, Kenji.

It is a battle of love and endurance, as much as it is of justice and inner peace.

Witness the closing of a timeless tale, the ending of a legend, as continued from that of the manga.

The end of it all.>>> by thundersenshi (03.27.2002)

I had spent quite some time thinking about how I would rate this particular title. It just so happens that Rurouni Kenshin is my most favorite anime and manga of all time. I've since declared Nobuhiro Watsuki a genius back in the days when I even ditched a lame high school dance so as not to miss a single episode of this series. Then I heard the news (just a few months ago) that there would be a second OAV release, and it would reveal part of the Jinchuu arc. Since I always despaired that the tv series did not include this wonderful finale to the story, you can just imagine my reaction.

Now I've finally seen it, after having a break from RK for more than a year already. But I pretty much have mixed feelings about it.

Firstly, I found out that it wasn't just about the Jinchuu arc. It didn't focus much on that at all, although some of the more essential parts were shown. Seisouhen, in fact, tells of an ending further than that of the manga. And it was undeniably beautiful. Dramatic. Heartbreaking, even. It was such a rush seeing all the old characters again, save for Aoshi and Misao, who were unfortunately missing.

But then, what stopped me from giving this a perfect 10? As a huge fan of the series, I felt like there was something missing. I am not at all certain if it was with the execution, or the pace of how it was all done, but something was lacking. Come to think of it, it might not have been so obvious. Perhaps being the RK fanatic that I am made me acutely aware of it. I keep thinking that if I did not love this series as much as I do, maybe I would've given a different opinion. As it is, I'm not just any other critic. I'm a critic who happens to love the series in its entirety, and all in its several renditions.

You can view this either as a happy ending, or not. I'm not so sure myself. It did depress me, though. And maybe it was that. Sure, it was okay to be depressive with the first OAV (hell, Kenshin's past was grim), but somehow, I feel as if this second one lacked a certain transition. What had been shown in the manga was a closure I would've much preferred. Yes, it was happy, but most importantly, it had been the perfect ending. Kenshin had finally gotten what he didn't with Tomoe. But to continue that happy manga ending with the contrasting overall atmosphere of Seisouhen ...well. I wouldn't mind half as much if they were able to infuse a bit of the happier memories (of Kaoru and Kenshin's life together) so at least there would be a different sense of fulfillment after everything that has happened. Just so the manga ending would still make complete sense, you see. But then, Seisouhen was simply too short for that.

Maybe it's just me. I love RK too much, enough to beg for a little consolation. But this is the end, and this is as real as it gets.

Note: This OAV will be appreciated more by people who are familiar with the series as a whole. Just as a reference.

Individual Rating: Art: 10; Story & Plot: 9; Characters: 10; Sounds: 9

They're Human After All>>> by skysenshi (03.28.2002)

If you have already seen the first OAV, with it's soul rending, emotionally heavy themes, you can expect the very same from this final installment to the Rurouni Kenshin series. This OAV, just like the first, is completely in an alternate dimension parallel to that of the TV series and the manga. If the TV series and the manga were all about feel-good entertainment, this isn't.

The narrator of the second part implores that everybody watch the final segment with an open heart. I did exactly that, and I ended up crying for hours after. I couldn't even eat without bursting into tears. And this opinion will be very short because every time I try to relive the moments of Kaoru and Kenshin's beautifully chronicled lives in order to write a decent contribution to Anime Okashi, I break down and cry. From the beginning to the end, I was watching with a heavy heart. The story takes off after the seemingly happy ending of the manga, where we saw Kenshin and Kaoru living as husband and wife with son Kenji completing the balance. In this OAV, Kenshin meets up with the shadows of his past, triggering a series of events that ended in bittersweet triumph of life over death. Of ends and new beginnings. The plot is all about realism and coming in full circle, and while I resent the fact that Nobohiro Watsuki allowed Reiko Yoshida to cap his witty, light-hearted work with such a dark cloud hovering over it, I can't help but feel that this is an absolute masterpiece. After all, the ending after the credits, where Kenji and his "friend" are shown, shows a light of hope and a rainbow at the end of the storm--however not obvious this is to a viewer who doesn't appreciate subtlety.

On top of that, Kaoru is shown here in a light that made me understand her more. If I was apathetic to her existence in the series, liking her only for the fact that she is Kenshin's love interest, I have grown a newfound respect for her in this OAV. She has shown selflessness, strength and resilience beyond physical abilities--and that makes her an admirable woman of noble character.

If you are a Rurouni Kenshin fan, you must definitely see this. I guarantee you will like it despite itself--even if you became a fan of RK because of its wit and relaxed atmosphere and would hate to see your favorite legends in a less idealistic state. As the narrator had spoken, this was a story written with love for the series.thus, it must be seen with an open heart that watches with love for the series.

Individual Rating: Art: 10; Story & Plot: 9; Characters: 10; Sounds: 10

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