Rurouni Kenshin will always have a special place for me. During my time as an anime fan, the one big show right at the centre of the experience was Rurouni Kenshin. I bought all of the series on DVD, patiently waiting for the next one to be released before finally getting a chance to see the next 5 episodes. When I heard there was a new anime coming out, I couldn’t wait to see it. Despite not being into the anime scene anymore, I would still make an excuse for the a new Kenshin.
The story in Rurouni Kenshin – Shin Kyoto Hen is a retelling of the Kyoto arc of the original series, split into two 40 minutes OVA releases. At the moment I’m writing this review, the second one hasn’t been released yet. The biggest change in terms of story is that Shin Kyoto Hen is told from Masao’s point of view. It starts off with her meeting Kenshin, barely trying to explain the events prior to that, or the meanings and motivations surrounding any of the other characters.
In fact, the entire intro is an awkward mess of plotlines cut off from their roots. occasionally there’s an attempt at explaining what’s going on, and more often than not, they change the explanation in an uncomfortable way. The reason? It’s Misao’s point of view, and she doesn’t know everything.
With a rerelease of an existing story, it’s not too strange to mix things up and add a couple of changes. Maybe throw in a new scene or two. But to use an unreliable narrator to achieve that effect, while still throwing in additions that the narrator could never have known about (Shishio sex scene, why the fuck did they have to throw that in there?) is not a good way to retell a story.
A new release of an old anime also means that the animations have gotten modernized. With Shin Kyoto Hen being released as an OVA, you would expect it to have a decently sized budget, so at the very least the animation quality could be improved upon. Instead they used this as an excuse to get rid of the traditional drawing style of the original run. The new style seems to prefer big panning shots, so they’ll have to cut to different scenes and angles less often, giving the entire show a much more static look.
The biggest problem I had with the animations is that it’s all digital. The colors are overly sharp, the animations looks choppy, with absolutely no soul. It feels as if the changes in animation style were to make it easier to animate is digitally. In other words, no effort went into creating this. It’s quickly pieced together, with the least amount of attention to detail possible. Early on there’s a scene where Shishio is riding a horse, and the horse riding animations are just a still shot of him slowly bobbing up and down like a crudely animated boat sailing on the ocean.
But what about the fights? The Kyoto arc was an amazing ride full of exciting battles and strong characters classing all over the place. Do the swordfights make it worth it?
No. Absolutely not. The new animators have absolutely no idea how to put weight into the attacks. The camera angles stay as static as ever. There’s absolutely no strength, no soul, no effect in the fights whatsoever. It’s amazing they managed to fuck this up as badly as they did.
I honestly have no idea who they made this one for. Original fans of Rurouni Kenshin will get pissed off by the awkward changes and the messed up narrative. People unfamiliar with Kenshin will have absolutely no idea what is going on as nothing is getting explained for them.
Rurouni Kenshin Shin Kyoto Hen is a waste. It’s a waste of time to watch it. It’s a waste of time to read about it. It’s a waste of money if you’re thinking about buying it. A waste of talent for the voice actors that worked on it. It is just an absolute waste in every way possible. Watching the entire arc in the original series is 30 episodes of 20 minutes, and even that is much more time effective than watching the two 40 minute OVAs. Avoid at all costs.
- It’s Kenshin
- He uses a sakabatou
- At least they know the Kyoto Arc was the best part
- The animation style doesn’t fit at all
- Nothing gets explained for newcomers, while nothing is added for old fans
- The fights are badly made
- Just about everything about it