a.k.a. Samurai X: Reflection
Kenshin is once again back in action. When an unexpected visitor from his past comes looking for revenge due to one of his most ill-fated slayings, Kaoru is thrust into the middle of it all as the perfect bait. Alone and with his strength failing him, can Kenshin yet again summon his strength and defeat his foe with his trusty sakabatou and his Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu style?
summary by Mugs
Highs: Nice to see some of the old scenes in OVA style
Lows: Aspects of the plot that deal with Kenshin/Kaoru; lack of cohesion
*sigh* Why do companies not know when to let a series just end? I’m sure we’ve all heard the comment before and it never held truer than in this, the decidedly last in the long line of Kenshin anime. This is without a doubt the worst of all the Kenshin products and has little to no redeeming value.
The animation and artwork are much closer to the Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen OVA than the television series. Everything is quite decent, although I preferred the television style and seeing Kaoru and Yahiko in OVA style is quite disconcerting to say the least. But the art style and animation isn’t what ruins this anime; indeed if its problems were that superficial I would be glad, unfortunately in this case beauty is merely skin deep.
The problem is, unfortunately, what all good anime are built on: the plot. Almost the entire first episode of this meager two OVA anime is a recap of the television series. In other words it’s a waste of time that does nothing to further the new material presented in it. The second episode takes the manga’s Revenge Arc and manages to compress it into about twenty-two minutes. All buildup, background, emotional and psychological impact to both the character and viewer are now gone. What is left is one fight scene that occurs on the beach, which should be populated by the likes of Sanosuke, Saito, Yahiko, Megumi, Aoshi and Misao, yet only contains three individuals. After that the anime decides to once again go off in its own direction from the manga which, as we all know, is usually the worst possible idea. This tangent is as awful as what preceded it, with the sole saving grace being a short scene between Yahiko, Kenji, and Seijuro.
The world would have been better had this anime not been created. Do yourself a favor; get the manga and try to forget this exists.
Highs: Sweeping music
Lows: Overwhelmed by truncated flashbacks; overwhelmed by sweeping music
Rurouni Kenshin: Seisouhen (I like to refer to it as Rurouni Kenshin Again as a tribute to the hastily-done finale to Love Hina) is akin to those reunion shows reserved for golden oldies like M*A*S*H or Dukes of Hazzard: the characters are past their prime and attempt, in vain, to rekindle some of the old magic that made them hits years prior. Anyone recall the last time one of those reunion shows was even remotely successful?
The real problem with Seisouhen is that it is the Kenshin and Kaoru Show. That in and of itself isn’t the big issue; there’s only so much one can cram into two OVA. No, the real problem is that Kenshin and Kaoru are pathetic shells of their former selves. I suppose this is done to show that, despite physical deterioration, their emotional link remains strong. What made this a failed attempt is that the two spend nearly the entire time apart from each other, each suffering from the same debilitating malaise and looked after by their caretakers like undertakers at a wake. I don’t see how this anime cemented their relationship, nor was I able to make out how the course of events finally purged Kenshin’s demons.
When almost 2/3rds of an anime is flashbacks, there is little room to focus on anything else. What roles did Sanosuke, Yahiko and Kenji play? Not much, and this is due to the age-old problem with OVA sequels: too much story, too little time. And while the music selection was nice, there was entirely too much of it. I felt suffocated.
If there’s a silver lining in a bad sequel that concludes a story, it’s this: at least they can’t make any more.
Highs: The fight between Kenshin and Enishi; above average animation; story is somewhat touching
Lows: Just a summary of the television series condensed into a two-part OVA; tries too hard to impress… and fails
Even with all of the trash talk about Seisouhen, I still tried to be optimistic while watching it. I really wanted to like this, and gave it a chance by not taking for granted the things that are done right… but in the end, it was a total waste of time.
I wouldn’t say that this OVA has no redeeming value. While the art is not as good as Tsuiokuhen‘s, animation was very fluid, and the battle scenes were possibly better than those in the original series. The battles, however, were just a small part of Seisouhen. The story is the… wait, what story? The entire first OVA, and the majority of the second one, is just a recap of what happened in the first two seasons of the television show. Luckily, instead of doing the same for the third season, the manga was chosen. Finally, the great fight between Kenshin and Enishi in animated form: unfortunately, just like everything else in Seisouhen, it was extremely condensed to cram as much stuff in as possible.
The last twenty minutes, which are a serious attempt at drama, are the only redemption for this OVA. But they couldn’t even get this right. What happens is very touching, but the way it is presented is all wrong. Instead of wanting the viewer to feel compassion for the characters, it ruins the moment by trying way too hard. Instead of adding to the atmosphere, the ridiculous amounts of dramatic music and flying cameras angles only took away from what is going on screen.
Even if you have seen the Rurouni Kenshin television series, there is no real need to see this. But if you insist on watching it, make sure you have watched the television series first because this is just one huge spoiler.
Highs: Music; animation
Lows: Overly compressed; confusing presentation
I really wanted to enjoy Seisouhen. I really wanted it to be a worthy successor to the first Rurouni Kenshin OVA, but it ends up being nothing more than a huge letdown.
This final installment in the Rurouni Kenshin saga does have a couple of good points. The character designs are more realistic and similar to the style seen in Tsuiokuhen. I like this style, and it was interesting seeing Sano and company drawn this way. The animation is superb, and the few action scenes are truly a treat for the eyes. Iwasaki Taku once again has created a moving soundtrack to accompany the feature. While it isn’t quite as moving as some of his previous works, it still is beautiful and is one of the best aspects of this anime.
Looking past the animation and music, the flaws are very apparent. The entire first episode is nothing more than a glorified recap of the television series. While it is interesting seeing some choice parts with the new style, it feels very out of place. The second episode doesn’t get much better. While it does actually introduce a new plot, it ends up being far too condensed; compressed to the point that people who have not read the manga will have trouble understanding the sequence of events because there is no attempt made to explain anything. The conclusion feels even more rushed. They are trying to force some emotion out of the viewing audience, but without any development it fails miserably.
The most frustrating thing about Seisouhen is that there are few good moments. The scenes with Yahiko and Sano, in particular, were very well done. These parts make the rest seem that much worse. It’s very disappointing for something with such great potential to turn out so poorly. It looks like fans of Rurouni Kenshin will never be able to see a decent animated conclusion to the series.
Seisouhen can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.