Scott over at Mechanical Anime often comes up with brilliant ideas. You know the type. The ones that seem deceptively simple and so natural that you wonder why no one has come up with it before only to realize it’s because they’re just that clever. Yeah – it’s that type of blog. I’m pretty lucky to have discovered it.

And for his blogiversary, Scott decided to just throw one of these little gems around by creating his own tag, and really you guys, why didn’t we think of this before???

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we should have….

 The recommend an anime tag:

  • Let the world know who tagged you with a link and describe who they are for your audience members. Credit the original creator if you want. (actually, credit Scott it’s a great idea)
  • Choose an anime that you like the most based on art style, animation, plot, music, and characters
  • Use that anime as your Featured Image
  • Under sub headings (something like Art Style, Animation, etc), say what you find best about them.
  • Have fun, this isn’t a review. Just say what you like about your chosen series and what makes it special. Get people interested in a series that they might not have heard about yet. Be as biased as you like.
  • After you are done, tag five more people to do this.

Rurouni Kenshin

Alrighty boys ‘n girls, we are talking old school classic time. I absolutely love that Scott has given me the opportunity to discuss a show in a purely subjective supremely bias format because this is probably the only way I will ever be able to talk about my gateway anime and first ever husband, Rurouni Kenshin. Let me warn you right now, I will ignore any and all criticism of this show no matter how accurate or constructive it may be. We will not be discussing what happens after the Kyoto arc, lalalala I can’t hear you…. You want a fair and rational discussion? There are plenty of knowledgeable and balanced bloggers around. Here we are going to fangirl and fangirl HARD. 

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I think there are other characters…

Art

Considering my usual leanings in anime, it’s a little surprising that so much of my devotion started with a shoujo series and one that truly looks the part. There have in fact been several iterations of the story (OVAs and Live Action) that take on very different looks but they’re all quite stunning.

The original series’ traditional 90s art style is pure nostalgia at its best. The colours are ultra-saturated and completely unnuanced, with huge bold shadow work. The very large, rounded eyes (which are reduced to slits for bad guys), the smaller faces with pointy chins and equally pointy noses, all interchangeable, transport you back in time with a single glance. The art is a product of its time, certainly, but it’s also one of the best examples around. 

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ok what’s with the fish bones?

The softer more naturalistic images of the staggeringly powerful OVAs, complete with the desaturated colour palette served to punctuate the more serious and devastatingly emotional tone of the story and remain beautiful to this day. 

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sorry guys, I can’t be funny on this one

As for the movies. I haven’t seen them but Raistlin assures me that they’re great. The images do look impressive in any case. 

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The hair needs to be oranger

Animation

Once again I have to remind you that the show is over 20 years old. I have to remind you because there’s no way you can tell from the animation. A battle heavy story, movement is fluid and fast with no loss of detailing. I am constantly amazed at the action scenes in both the series and the OVAs. I  don’t really know how well the manga sold but it must have made a fortune because no expenses seem to have been spared in the anime. I can name at least 3 animes per season that still do not match it.

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epic fight scenes 

Music

To be honest, I preferred the music of the OVAs than the show proper. This is probably because the OVAs are more atmospheric with long pauses in dialogue that truly allow the soundtrack to shine. It’s very moving. Go watch it NOW.

However, I will take this opportunity to mention Kenshin’s voice actress. Again, this was one of my first animes and I did not realize until years later that Kenshin was voiced by a female seiyuu. Maybe by coincidence, but I have found that I regularly fall for male characters voiced by women. Not boys (which are almost always voiced by women) but adult men with slightly softer tones and usually gentler inflections.

Kenshin’s voice is beautiful. It’s subtle and extremely expressive, never relying on volume or growling to simulate emotion. The pure range will leave you in awe. I will always be amazed by how one of Kenshin’s soft remarks can be filled with so much tenderness and joy one second and the next, one of his harsh whispers can chill you to the bone. It’s truly a performance to be praised which will defy anyone who dares call voice acting easy.

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omg she has red hair!!!!

Plot

Awww. Listen, I know I just said it was a shoujo (and it is) but what Rurouni Kenshin most precisely should be described as is a Romantic Jidaigeki. An epic Historical Samurai drama set in the early Meiji era, following the adventures of a fallen Samurai and assassin as he struggles to redeem himself from the sins committed during the Bakumatsu war. A story of redemption and betrayal it streams together Slice of Life adventure, historical drama, political machinations with a fair deal of comedy and simple human moments. There’s really something for everyone here and the insistence of historical references will make you discover so much about the political strife that formed Japan and the culture we see illustrated in all anime.

original here

Characters

We never forget our first and Kenshin will always have a soft and warm part in my heart. This said the entire cast is worthy of praise, carefully balanced to offset each other and confronted with some truly interesting and worthy adversaries at that. What at first appears to be a very classic good vs evil tale quickly unfurls into beautifully compromised moralities and nuanced values. The narrative respects the complex implications of History and War and mirrors it in an array of characters which are both difficult to gage and utterly satisfying. Just for a taste though, let’s go back to my beloved Himura for a second. Please keep in mind that in many ways, Kenshin is on of the least interesting characters. As the protagonist and occasional audience surrogate, he presents on of the most traditional and uncomplicated personalities – namely The Hero. Kind, just and infinitely patient, Kenshin is an almost invincible fighter who always sides with his conscience, protects the weak and defends justice. An uncomplicated good guy you can peaceful root for without having to worry too much about it. Until you realize that the man has so much blood on his hands he could almost drown in it. The gentle, lovable wanderer and humanitarian was forged in battle and steeled through murder. Regret and self-loathing guide him much more than goodwill and righteousness. Fact is, Kenshin the Rurouni only exists because Battousai the Manslayer did and it remains unclear whether he ever did manage to even out his karma. He’s also a really hot ginger, you guys!

Look, I know older animes are a hard sell. I get it. Even I tend to push them aside but this show is simply wonderful and you really shouldn’t let a bit of experience rob you of such a treasure.

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told you Kenshin wasn’t the only character

16 thoughts

    1. well it’s the age old question of can/should we separate the artist from the art. Sadly if you go back more than 100 years – pretty much all art is tainted…

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  1. Nice post, I am tempted to watch some of this now. I haven’t seen the anime, but I have seen the live action – it was pretty good.

    This might seem harsh, but I don’t think the Japanese film industry is very good at live action. One of the problems they have is casting idols vs. skilled actors. If anyone has any solid recommendations of Japanese films I am totally open to have my mind changed 🙂

    I saw Gintama live action recently, I’ll give them praise for making a solid effort to translate Gintama humour to live action, not sure it really works though.

    I checked out Scotts blog and his original post reviewing FMA is really good too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It IS!!! I mean Scott’s posts are always good. As for Japanese cinema, well I really love Survive Style 5+ and After Life. I’m also a pretty big fan of Love Exposure but that one is a bit experimental and not for everyone.

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  2. I freaking loved Rurouni Kenshin!! But haven’t watch it in ages ago… need to re-watch it again. The live action is until now the best I’ve everseen! (still have to watch the Gintama live action movie). Thankyou for reminding me to re-watch it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Okay….and now you have convinced me to watch the anime! 😀😀 I love retro anime, (maybe it’s because I’m too old anyway lol 😂😂), but I love old school graphics. But in general after having seen the live action films I had always wanted to see the original anime anyway. Posts like this serve as great reminders for this.
    And thank you for mentioning me..appreciate it 😊😊

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  4. I didn’t watch Samurai X until the end, but it was one of those Animes that I watched as a kid, dubbed in portuguese and for me it was just… Well cartoon! 😀
    I can say is, Samurai X and Dragon Ball were passing at the same time in televesion here in Portugal and I always though of Samurai X being way better than Dragon Ball, specially because of the animation/movement that you mentioned!
    And yeah… It was also a portuguese voice actress doing his voice! 😛

    Liked by 2 people

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