Some time ago, I wrote about Samurai X the OVA which is my absolute favorite anime movie. Feel the love. I wrote about it on the Anime Cafe site. This is a review for parents so it talks about whether it is appropriate for kids. For the most part it isn’t, but I love it.
Reprinted from abcb.com
Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen
(Samurai X) OVA
A Parent’s Guide to Anime
Recommended for Mature Audiences
Review by Rosalyn Hunter:
Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen (Remembrances) is an Original Video Animation story from the popular Rurouni Kenshin manga. I think that it uses the same voice actors as the TV show. The dub has been released as Samurai X. The quality of the animation is outstanding with some rotoscoping. The music is excellent. The acting in the original was very subtle and beautiful. The dub, however, was a bit heavy handed which is a shame because many people will miss the complexity of the original if they only see the dub.
The Rurouni Kenshin manga and TV show are about the adventures of a wandering swordsman ten years after the civil war, Bakumatsu, in which the Shoguns were overthrown and a constitutional government headed by the emperor was established (Imperial Restoration). In the TV show, Kenshin is now a man of peace, but during the war he was an infamous Hitokiri, manslayer, and killed hundreds of people. RK Tsuiokuhen is set during this war. At this time Kenshin is a 15 year old assassin.
This is a pseudo historical drama and some of the characters are real historical figures. Although there was no real Hitokiri Battousai, there were real hitokiri; and one of Kenshin’s opponents Okita Soji really was 15 when he was a captain of the Shinsen Gumi.
The story is about a 15 year old assassin and how he meets and falls in love with a mysterious woman. She leads him to question his life as a mindlessly loyal assassin and starts him on the road to becoming the man of peace that he is in the later series. This movie also tells the story of how Kenshin got the cross-shaped scar on his cheek. A story told in the manga, but not in the TV series.
The box has an NC17 warning and it is appropriate. This movie is extremely violent with shocking scenes and graphic violence. As an example, Kenshin’s preferred way to kill people includes swords through the neck, and slicing people in half from the head downward. The violence however is integral to understanding the character of the main character who is basically a sweet person with a horribly unpleasant line of work. There is one sex scene.
There are many complex issues: betrayal, patriotism, and revenge. Is it justified for the leaders Katsura Kogoro (Kido Takayoshi) and Takasuki Shinsaku to use a 15 year old boy as an assassin, or is it evil? Is a war of assassins the appropriate way to effect cultural change? Do the ends really justify the means?
Samurai X discusses in detail the conflict of the warrior. That each person must make his own decision about what is right and what is wrong.
The main character has given his conscience to his leaders; he does what he is told and doesn’t want to know about his victims. He learns that his work has consequences, and that deferring judgement to others does not excuse him from the crimes that he has committed. He chooses not to be an assassin, but he continues fighting until the war is over, and then he swears never to kill again.
This title should be viewed with caution. Although a subtle and insightful teenager will surely be affected by the deep issues discussed in this work; a less observant child may just be excited by the violence and the power expressed by people so young. Even so, this is a beautiful and powerful work, and these issues are not alien to young people today in this age of gang violence and school shootings.
This work also could help start an interest in history. Many of the people in this work were historical figures: Katsura Kogoro (Kido Takayoshi), Takasuki Shinsaku, Saito Hajime and Okita Soji. Many historical events are horrible, and they often lose their horror when listed on a history book timeline. This work talks about how unpleasant it would be to live in “interesting times”, and how the times demand that ordinary people make choices about how they will live their life, including the choice of whether or not to kill.
Graphic violence. Blood, blood, blood. War scenes. Assassination by minors.
One sex scene, but no full nudity. – R.H.