Sentai Filmworks description:
Although she’s only sixteen and looks even younger, Misao Makimachi is already a skilled and competent member of the Oniwabansh? ninja clan. Which is a fortunate thing for Misao, as her onimitsu talents may be all that keeps her alive when a journey in search of the leader of the clan, Aoshi Shinomori, leads her instead into a face-to-face encounter with an even more dangerous man and a plot to overthrow the Meiji government!
91st Post Streak!
* Warning: It will have spoilers and this includes the story arc which will be taking place. If you have not watched the Kyoto Arc in season 2 of the original anime or read the manga,the review is going to be heavily spoiled.
A swordsman legacy and his fans
Rurouni Kenshin is a series in which has gained popularity in the anime and manga community. Nobuhiro Watsuki is the creator of Rurouni Kenshin and the series started off as a manga and was in Weekly Shonen Jump magazines in Japan along with manga like Dragon Ball and YuYu Hakusho. He also mentored some of his assistants such as 19 year old Eiichiro Oda, the same guy who does One Piece. Rurouni Kenshin popularity in the manga spawned many projects such as OVA, manga spin-offs,and movies. Despite the current controversy with the creator, Rurouni Kenshin remains one of the popular and recommended series for fans. However, even a series like Rurouni Kenshin can have a black sheep among the works. New Kyoto Arc is actually a two episode OVA, but Sentai Filmworks and Aniplex agreed to make it into one movie OVA. This OVA movie covers the Kyoto Arc of the story, in anime talk, it covers season 2. That black sheep is this OVA film New Kyoto Arc and I am about to tell you my reivew.
I actually did an old review of this anime years ago when I first started reviewing anime; however, my skills back then was very amateurish and lackluster. If you’re curious about my embarrassing past review, read here of my first draft review.
Story: Viva Kyoto!
The story begins with a quick and brief description on the whereabouts of the main characters being told by an officer who is giving information to his superior Saito Hajime. We also get information that the once was assumed dead Shishio Makoto is alive and is plotting something deadly as he seeks vengeance against the Japanese government. We then later see the perspective change to the young girl of the Oniwabanshu, Misao Makimachi. Misao, with her pet pigeon, bumps into Kenshin Himura and tails him and wants to know how powerful he is after hearing about a swordsman to defeated the members of the Oniwabanshu. Kenshin however is very vague and tries to tell her to turn away and stop following him as he is on a quest to stop Shishio. Also joining the quest is Kenshin’s friends Kaoru Kamiya and Yahiko Myojin who doesn’t meet Kenshin on the arrival to Kyoto, but they do meet his master, Seijuro Hiko. Once an enemy, but now a friend, Sanosuke Sagara tags along to Kyoto, but he spares some free time training with a monk named Yukyuzan Anji and learn the Futae no Kiwami, a technique where after making contact with an object, the user must counter strike the force between object and the fists. Not a friend, we have Aoshi Shinomori who is traveling to Kyoto seeking vengeance against Kenshin for the deaths of his members in their past encounter. Last but not least, we have Shishio Makoto himself as the main antagonist of the arc. Shishio is plotting something dangerous on Kenshin and all the inhabitants of Japan as he tries to prove that the strong will live and the weak will die.
Character English Dub Voices
I haven’t watched the classic in Japanese Dub, but I did watch the series in English Dub and I can tell you that the character’s voices and personality have been really altered. For example, the voice for the antagonist Shishio is not voiced by Steve Blum. Instead, his voice is done by David Wald who did the voice of Bulat from Akame ga Kill and Hannes from Attack on Titan. The voice of Kenshin is done by J. Shanon Weaver who did the voice of Kenshin in the Samurai X OVA such as Reflection, Trust and Betrayal, and the Motion Picture movie Rurouni Kenshin: Requiem for the Ishin Patriots. Andrew Love joins in the anime as Seijuro Hiko; Andrew Love does the voice of Akainu from One Piece and Akio from Clannad. David Matranga also appears in this anime as Chou Sawagejo, and David does the voice of Tomoya from Clannad and Shoto Todoroki from My Hero Academia. Overall, we have an interesting cast of voice actors for this OVA.
Review: +50 episodes under one hour
What’s my opinion about this OVA? This OVA wasn’t good. Let me start off with some of the positives first before I hit hard on the negatives. I like the updated animation. Even though I favored the classic tradition art style from the anime series, it didn’t seem too bad especially on the background. The background had bright and vivid colors during the daytime setting and the night time settings was pretty good. Maybe it was me, but I like how the OVA brought back some of the classic background music from the anime. Some of the English Dub were pretty okay at the most, but my favorite will always be the classic version. Nothing will ever beat Steve Blum’s version of Shishio or Kirk Thornton’s performance for Saito.
Now, let’s talk about the negatives. Number one complaint about this OVA is the pacing is faster than the Flash. The Kyoto Arc, whether you are watching the anime or reading the chapters, is a really big arc to get into. The reason why is because this arc focuses on dramatic and memorable fights and we even get some character development. This OVA ditches all that and give us really fast fights and nothing to remember. I was also ticked off on Kenshin’s character in this movie. If you know Kenshin, we know that he’s a man seeking redemption and he is suffering from his past sins. Whenever he is pushed to the limit and sees his friends in danger, he let lose and is willing to fight to the death. I really love the anime series version where we get to see Kenshin’s personality change. Besides seriousness, Kenshin is a funny guy who can make mistakes and get scared easily by Kaoru. In my opinion, Richard Cansino does a better job than J. Shanon Weaver performance. The problem I have with Weaver is that he makes Kenshin sound emotionless and dull. It sounds like whenever Kenshin is fighting, he doesn’t look like he is mad or sad, he just fights with a bored look; maybe it is also because how this OVA designed the fight scenes. In addition to Kenshin’s plain behavior, he also does things pretty extreme in which you never imagine. For example, when fighting Chou, he literally he struck his eye with his sheath and comments that he can do anything in order to win without killing. He also killed Shishio by splitting his head apart with the butt of his sword.
Going back to the pacing part of the review, the pacing is so fast that we don’t get to fully experience the fight scenes; even most the members of the Juppongatana didn’t make it in the OVA. The fight with Kenshin and Shishio takes place in the Purgatory battleship instead at Shioshio’s hideout and Shioshio is not even the final boss, but instead we have Aoshi. Speaking of Aoshi, Aoshi character change from cold blooded fighter who betrayed his people for vengeance to a forgiven ally happens way too fast. He goes from almost killing his friend, to joining Shioshio, to fighting Kenshin (who easily gets defeated) and then saying sorry and everyone is cool with it. In a small note, there is also a sex scene with Shioshio and Yumi (it’s censored, no worries). It’s definitely not like the anime series.
Most of the characters doesn’t really get a lot of screen time either. The OVA feels like it wants to focus on the perspective of Misao, but I feel like the majority of screen time goes to either her, Kenshin or Shishio. There wasn’t enough for Yahiko and Kaoru.
Is this OVA worth watching? As much as I love Rurouni Kenshin, I will say no. If you want to enjoy Rurouni Kenshin for the characters, battles and drama, go settle for the manga or anime series. The OVA does poorly on pacing as it tries to squeeze in every moment under an hour. The content of the series feels really different than the source material. If you like Rurouni Kenshin with graphic blood and sexual content, this is for you. I don’t mind violence, but seeing it being done by Kenshin himself feels wrong; Kenshin’s character appears as if he is dull and plain rather showing off some emotions in the original anime. For the rest of the voice cast, I don’t mind and it’s pretty decent. Background animation and music is really nice and the music does feel homage to the anime. Overall, it’s best to stick with the anime than the OVA. I love Rurouni Kenshin, but I don’t like this one here. What’s your opinion on the OVA? Did you like it? Comment down below.