The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen

Title: Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen aka Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal
Genre: Drama/Action
Company: Studio DEEN
Format: 4 OVA
Dates: 20 Feb 1999 – 22 Sep 1999

Synopsis: Hitokiri Battousai was one of the most legendary samurai of revolutionary Japan. His blade helped shape the face of an entire nation, but what toll has it taken on him?

The Highlights
Music: Chilling to the bone.
Animation: Crisp and fluid.
Characters: Identifiable and emotional.
Blood: Lots of it.

On occasions in the past, I have sung the praises of Neon Genesis Evangelion’s director, Hideaki Anno and his marvelous characters in that series, as well as his exploration into the depths of the human psyche. Tsuiokuhen does the same, however this time we enter the mind of a samurai assassin and we learn how love changes his life. Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen is an anime that stands out among all others with amazingly fluid animation, an underrated soundtrack, and the incredible exploration of the soul of a hitokiri; however it may turn away viewers that dislike excessive gore.

Tsuiokuhen has one of the most underrated musical scores in the history of anime. It is an entirely classical composition, but never fails to superbly complement the progression of the story. From the beginning, the music sets the mood that defines the entire progression of the story, with hauntingly beautiful pieces composed by Iwasaki Taku.

The depth to which the audience is allowed to explore the soul of Kenshin is beyond incredible. From the scene where he lays the cherry blossom on the back of the man he just killed to his final battle with the man who kidnapped his love, we learn to understand how close he is to the brink of insanity. We also discover how tortured he is inside from the death of those he loves.

The detailed artwork is nothing short of A-grade craftsmanship. The animation is close to top-tier as well, with the exception of a few cut corners on the part of the production crew, most notably by editing in real fire instead of animating it. While the use of gore can be excessive, I commend the creators for not watering down the pain and suffering caused by war.

In the end, Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen is more that just a blood-and-guts sword session, it is a character study and a journey into the mind of a war torn samurai. You will be taken on an emotional roller coaster through war torn Feudal Japan that never ceases to wow and incite awe from its viewers. The emotional score coupled with brilliance in every facet makes Tsuiokuhen one of the best anime ever made.

The Rating: 9

Reviewed by: Seven

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