When I first saw Rurouni Kenshin, I was still relatively new to the world of Japanese animation. I had only seen a handful of series before, and though they all entertained me, it had yet to earn the same status with me as so many millions of anime fans claim Japanese animation to be worth. Rurouni Kenshin did that for me.
The first 20 episodes or so were nothing out of the ordinary; A lighthearted comedy series, with a bit of action and drama mixed in. And even though these aspects were handled extraordinarily well, it wasn't anything remotely special. The animation was slightly mediocre, though not too bad considering, but the feel was nice. Good music, great characters and average plots, for a swordfighting anime. But with episode 28, the series made an incredible flip over. The change in atmosphere was shocking in fact, and took me completely by surprise. It was like a complete opposite of the episodes that had come before it. All of a sudden, the plot thickened incredibly. The animation went better. The storytelling of the images changed dramatically and the music went through the roof. (Well, at least for a Japanese animation newb like I was at the time)
But all this was only to increase in the coming arc... The plot turned a lot darker, the lightheartedness was all but erased, and the animation increased incredibly. There's a lot of controversy about this change to the Kenshin fans. A lot of people seem to appreciate the lighthearted beginnings more. I am not one of those.. This new arc (Entitled the ''Kyoto Arc'') was indeed really masterful to me. It enchanted me. And to this day, Rurouni Kenshin ranks above the top of my favourite anime list.
However, don't go rushing out and buy this; after this ''Kyoto Arc'', the series takes a dive for the worse. Apparently unable to keep consistent and on par in release speed to the original ''manga'' comic (Which was released at the same time), the animation studio had no choice but to continue with a self-created filler Arc. It was a tedious, boring and quite frankly annoying arc, which disgraced the beauty of before. Even worse: Bad ratings forced the company to shut and end the Rurouni Kenshin series, leaving the final arcs of the original manga (Which were just as powerful as the previous ones) unanimated and untouched.
However, Rurouni Kenshin (Despite the mistake listed above), is truly a powerful series with a stunning storyline and great characters and I recommend it heavily. Though, if you're looking for some brainless entertainment with lots of ''cool'' action, don't go here. Rurouni Kenshin also pleases there, but you'll get a lot more out of it if you can appreciate all the series has to offer.
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