Category Archives: Rurouni Kenshin

Remembering Tsuiokuhen

I spent the evening watching the newly released Blu-ray edition of Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen. It’s worth every minute and every dollar (or yen). It’s the kind of thing that ages well, too.

The transfer, for the most part, is a faithful take from the original OVA. The only problems are the digital superimposed scenes in episodes 3 and 4; they look jarring and out of place in contrast with the vintage-looking hand-drawn animation.

Well, they already were out of place 10+ years ago.

The test of time is the one test that fewer and fewer new things stand to pass, anime or not. And admittedly despite the fond memories many had with the franchise, much of Rurouni Kenshin anime (and arguably the manga) is chaff to its core substance–a bloody HK opera about a redeemed assassin. Yet, in the anime adaptation of Tsuiokuhen, time has forged a diamond out of the romantic and bloody refrain of the mistakes of one’s youth, complete with a remastered Blu-ray disc that made it look better than ever before.

Without the memories of Kenshin on the shoulders, I believe Tsuiokuhen is still a powerful and graceful display of Japanese animation. Finely filtered with enough directorial gimmicks, but yet not too gimmicky; the art direction hops between emotionally grim-dark atmosphere and flashes of purity, of hope, and of the sheen of naked steel. The music remains one of Taku Iwasaki’s best anime works. The story alone works just fine on its own, even without the fanservice-nod of little Enishi or the silhouette of Shishio. The amount of enjoyment goes up to 11 when those nods start to make sense.

Despite all that, Tsuiokuhen is a blip on the radar; an artifact from the past. Its palette is suited for just those of us who have grown older, sentimental, and forgiving of simple stories that rely on the strength of its raw emotion, stirring up fond memories of a time not that long ago. The kids on my lawn will just have to learn to sit down to enjoy this masterpiece from a different era, and swallow that lyrical period-piece dialog like a preacher to his charge. It’s no Redline, but it will stay around longer.

Having borne the weight of most of UC Gundam since I last watched Tsuiokuhen, Hiko Seijirou’s words now ring truer than ever. Yep, it’s that mistakes of youth guy!