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» Cover

» Company
ADV Films
» Running Time
60 minutes
» Genre
Action, Drama, Romance
» Type
» Final Score
» User Rating
No user votes yet.

Samurai X: Reflection

» written by Dark Wind [Discuss]

Kenshin’s life has settled down since his days as the infamous Hitokiri Battousai that he was once known as during the Meiji Revolution. He’s come so far as to live with a group of nice and kind-hearted people at a dojo in Tokyo. But, the Meiji Government keeps asking for Kenshin’s help in various wars and internal strifes, and Kenshin heartily agrees to help, as he is still seeking atonement for all the people he killed during the Revolution. But, he makes one thing clear: though he goes off to war, he plans on saving lives, not taking them. As Kenshin never stays at home  at the dojo, Kaoru is forced to stay home in the hope that Kenshin will keep coming back after each battle. But, will she die of grief? Will Kenshin one day not come back alive?

Ok, a few things out of the way first. You simply cannot see Reflection without first having watched the prequel OVA series known as Trust and Betrayal first, and also you must have seen at least 30 or so episodes of the Rurouni Kenshin TV series. Otherwise, when you watch this, you will be absolutely confused. Luckily, by the time I did buy this, I had seen both the prequel OVA series and the TV series, so I was set to be blown away. Not so. I should have been skeptical from the start, because of the short 60 minute running time, but after being so impressed with the prequel OVA, and knowing this was being done by that same team in the same exotic animation style, I overlooked it.

My first impression after having seen this was really high, I really liked it. But after re-watching it a few times and thinking it over, I realized this isn’t that good, at all. First of all, the first episode of Reflection is just that, flashbacks to earlier occurences, from the first episode when Kaoru and Kenshin ‘met’ to the fight with Jin’e and a random appearance  by both Saito and Shishio. We are also  shown in the first episode that Kenshin is currently on the continent (the flashbacks come courtesy of Kaoru, who is almost in a coma-like state with Kenshin’s absence). Granted, seeing flashbacks to events that occured in the TV series reanimated in this new animation style is cool, but it feels pointless and a waste of time when there is only 60 minutes to tell the story. Do we really need to waste time on what we already saw in the TV series when there is new stuff to tell? I think not.

He’s on the continent courtesy of the Meiji Government, who want him to lead their very young and inexperienced army into battle on the continent (for those who know their Japanese history, the battle on the continent is the Sino-Japanese war). Of course, Kenshin, always seeking atonement for his past misdeeds, goes to fight, but with the intention of saving lives. So far, so good. The flashbacks end of course, and then we are shown Yahiko, all grown-up, taking care of Kaoru during her coma-like state, and then we are shown a huge surprise. While we are told that Kenshin and Kaoru were married, it’s now told to us that they have a 15-year old son named Kenji, who is estranged and angered at his father Kenshin for always leaving him alone with Kaoru, never being there for them.

Kenji’s training with none other than Seijuro Hiko, Kenshin’s old master. Of course, he still looks 30, like the superman freak he is. Before Kenshin went off to war, we are told that he  contracted a disease (it’s never told what exactly it was.) Of course, we are force-fed some  BS that he’s sick because of his weak body  and heavy sins, but it’s actually because he has a disease (and I imagine his accumulated injuries from his many battles contributed to his weakened state). Anyway, Kaoru says that she wants to share  Kenshin’s pain  and so they have sex and she contracts the disease to, so pretty much both of them are now destined to die (why she would be so selfish as to do this when she has a son to worry about is beyond me).

Before all this disease crap and before Kenshin went off to the Sino-Japanese war, we are off to the second episode of the DVD! Yah! Flashback (in the technical sense)! Of course, the second episode chronicles the Jinchuu (Revenge)  arc of the manga storyline, which has never been animated before. Sounds awesome right? Wrong. Nobuhiro Watsuki, the creator of the manga which all of this animation (TV series, yadda yadda yadda…) is based on, wrote a final arc for his manga, known as the Jinchuu (Revenge) arc. The TV series never got around to animating it, so when this was made, they decided to animate it here. How these guys thought they could condense 10 volumes of the manga (the last 10) into less than  30 minutes of animation is beyond me. And they fail completely.

While what is told in the second episode is pretty good, what with Enishi being a total bad ass with a cool character design, who has one hell of a fight with Kenshin, it feels as if a lot of the story is missing, the pacing of the second episode is extremely disjointed. I recommend instead to just read the manga, though this is a nice visual companion if you already have read all of the manga, I guess. Then of course, there’s the totally pointless and melancholic ending to the whole Kenshin saga at the end of the second episode. While I’ve said enough, there’s one more major problem with Reflection, the characters, they are totally out of character, other than Kenshin.

Sanosuke is off on some enlightenment trip in Mongolia which he  has spent the last 15 years  doing and Kaoru is an extremely depressed wife who has lost all of her wacky, spontaneous personality from the TV series. Yahiko has become some sort of bad ass, a complete decimation of his wacky, arrogant, and goofy personality from the TV series and Megumi has still made no ground in her medical career or with her relationship with Sanosuke, which isn’t explored at all in Reflection. I’ve had enough of this crap.

These character assassinations wouldn’t seem so bad if the story was told in chronological order, because if it was we may understand at least somewhat why these people we have come to love (by way of the prequel OVA series and the TV series)  are acting the way they are, but since the story is told out of  order we struggle to even understand what’s going on, much less why the characters are the way they are. I mean, we go from the Sino-Japanese War part, to flashbacks from events in the TV series, to time spent between  the end of the Jinchuu arc upto the Sino-Japanese war, and then we go back again to the Jinchuu arc, and then forward yet again all the way to the end of the story when Kenshin comes back from the war. It’s hard to keep up, to say the least. For awhile I even thought Kenshin got his disease FROM the war, rather than BEFORE the war.

The Breakdown
Do not buy this disc. I’m a completionist myself, and that would be the only good reason to buy and watch this. If your not a completionist but have seen a lot of Kenshin and are into the whole thing, borrow this from a friend or rent it. My recommendation is to import volumes 18-28 of the manga from Japan and read that with script translations since that is the end of the Kenshin story that entails the Revenge arc in all its awesome glory. You can also wait for the manga to come here in November 2003, which it is then to be serialized in Shonen Jump. Of course, they won’t reach volume 18 for a couple of years…but it’s better waiting that watching this drivel.


» The Pros
The animation is beautiful and vivid as it was in the OVA series and the music is perfect for the tone of this OVA series. The fights are also amazing, especially the ones between Enishi and Kenshin, Kenshin and Jin'e, and Kenji and Yahiko. The fights almost make all the trouble worth it.

» The Cons
The complete decimation of each character's personality from the TV series to this OVA. I've heard of 10 years changing people, but this is extremely to drastic. This OVA is trying to hard to be sad and tragic for it's own good. I also hate how the story bastardizes Watsuki's manga stroyline, especially the Revenge Arc, which is one hell of a story in manga format. We can only hope it's properly animated some day.

» Animation
Beautiful, vivid, and exotic animation, similar to the prequel OVA's, but even better. I pray more animes use this style of animation, as it just looks so damn nice.

» Sound
Excellent melancholic tracks that fit the mood and tone of the OVA perfectly. They sound really nice, especially the background songs. Not quite as good as the prequel OVA's though.

» Story
Story? A bunch of flashbacks mixed extremely poorly that only help to confuse the viewer. The 10 years that have been skipped between this and the end of the TV series is not explained at all, we are just to assume we know what the hell's going on. Then there's the disjointed and poor storytelling of the Revenge arc.

» Recommend
Only buy this for completionist's sake. I mean, if you bothered to buy the previous 25 DVD's of Kenshin, what's one more to finish the collection off? Otherwise, this is a rental at best.


» Other Information
Language: English/Japanese with Subtitles

Interviews with Japanese Vocal Cast, Clean Closing Animation, and Production Sketches

An almost great cover. Has a cool white background with half of Kenshin face on the side, with the simple word of Reflection written to the right of his



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