Rurouni Kenshin: Reflection
Ever since his days as the Hitokiri Battousai, Kenshin has been searching for ways to atone for those who died at his hands. After the ending of the TV series, Kenshin lives happily with Kamiya Kaoru, or so it seems. There is a deep rooted sorrow behind the smiles and grins of Kenshin. His hollow happiness is not enough for him. He now looks to seek for true atonement while all Kaoru can do is wait at the door. Will Kenshin come back and find his answer?
It's about darn time that I picked this DVD up. I've been sitting on purchasing Reflection for months due to money constraints, but the minute I had enough, I went to buy it.
Oh my was it worth it.
Almost the entire length of this series is all characterization, flashbacks, and Kenshin's past. Those who are expecting sixty minutes of full-blown action packed martial arts will be sorely disappointed. Granted, there is some blistering action still within the two episodes, but nowhere near the amount that Trust and Betrayal had.
Instead, Reflection focuses more on character growth and development more than anything else in this series, more specifically Kenshin, Kaoru, and their relationship. And the creators do an incredible job of doing just that. At first sight, you will see the dramatic changes in the character designs for all of the characters. This takes place many years after the final episode of Rurouni Kenshin and when designing the characters, the age of the characters was taken into account. Kenshin and Kaoru have noticeably aged in comparison to what they were in the TV series along with Yahiko who is starting to push his way into adulthood. Sanosuke now has a very gruff look with much longer hair and a poorly shaven face. Like Trust and Betrayal, the artwork and animation are darker, smoother and overall about ten times better than the TV series.
But the characters develop far more in terms of personality. I can say that without hesitation that Kenshin is one of the most complex characters to ever be animated. He can never get away from his past. He has spent years of his life trying to live through such a hollow happiness with Kaoru after ending his reign as the Hitokiri Battousai, but his soul is crying profusely inside. He tries to the best of his ability to become peaceful and to no longer kill, but once a killer, always a killer. Kenshin once thought that he could his sword to protect people, but he was wrong. No matter who you wish to protect, any form of swordsmanship has the intent of killing your enemies. No matter who you may protect, there are people on the other side who will die a painful and brutal death. The many lives that he has taken haunt Kenshin constantly as he goes on to find out how to atone for those deaths. His journey is a tragic one because there's only one way that he can truly atone for his sins.
Kaoru is now waiting for Kenshin's return. But she has an inferiority complex when thinking about Tomoe. Kaoru wonders if she can ever take the place of Tomoe and fill the void in his heart that Tomoe occupied before her awful death. Her relentless devotion and loyalty towards a killer shows she truly has a heart of gold and that she may be able to fill that large vacancy in Kenshin's heart.
She has done everything she possibly could to ease Kenshin's pain, in the process contracting the incurable disease that has been significantly weakening Kenshin. But the pain that she has physically pales in comparison to the emotional and mental pain that Kaoru is undergoing. Although Kaoru has attempted to relieve Kenshin of his pain, her efforts are ultimately futile when all is said and done. All she can do is agonize over the possible fate of Kenshin and hope for a safe return.
There are many flashbacks to the TV series and first OAV during Reflection, most of which contain very little in terms of actual sword fighting. These flashbacks may be put off as boring by massive fans of the TV series, but the take on them is a touch different. They focus more on the interpersonal relationship between Kenshin and Kaoru and its evolution up to the present time. It is a relationship that is painful to the core and depressing to the point of insanity. Most of the cries that Kaoru makes towards Kenshin are rejected because Kenshin does not want to involve Kaoru in his pain and suffering. She doesn't completely understand Kenshin's past and what is going through his mind. It is a vicious, neverending cycle that only enhances the melodramatic tone that encompasses the entire Kenshin series.
The ending caps a saga that has made anime the medium that it is today. Incredible characterization, a wonderful and complex storyline, breath-taking animation and music add to make what could be considered to be one of the best OAVs ever animated. It would be an absolute disservice if any Kenshin junkie missed this work of art.
Tragic in every sense of the word, Reflection is a must see for fans of the Kenshin saga. — Robert Nelson
Recommended Audience: There actually isn't as much violence in Reflection as there was in Trust and Betrayal. There is a tastefully handled sex scene, but no skin is shown. Older teens and up.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (2/2)
Rurouni Kenshin: Reflection © 2001 Watsuki Nobuhiro / Shueisha / Fuji TV / SPE Visual Works
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