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Kenshin OVA Blu-Ray Review

Posted by Sanjuro 
Kenshin OVA Blu-Ray Review
September 18, 2011 06:05PM
Well, my Kenshin OVA Blu-Ray finally arrived. I'd like to thank Canadian customs for delaying my parcel by over two weeks, rummaging through my parcel, and charging me $8.50 (on top of taxes) to do so.

The blu-ray arrived in an attractive slipcase, and includes a Japanese booklet as well as an English translation booklet. While I like the artwork on the slipcase, it feels a bit out of place stylistically. The OVA has a very distinct elegant, realistic and dark art-style, while the slipcase is very vibrant and cartoony with a modern anime feel.

The booklet is pretty high quality, but is all Japanese. There is a translation book included, but it contains just the text. While I am grateful for the translation, I think it would have been more impressive if they just printed out an English version of the booklet. The booklet contains some cool production sketches, tiny screen captures, character information, and an interview with the director.

But of course, the main attraction is the Blu-Ray disc. The menu is pretty, and has some very cool visual brush stroke effects overlaid with HD footage. Upon starting the video, it is obvious that they wanted to keep the Blu-Ray release as close to the original as possible. The video is presented in 4:3 aspect ratio, and contains none of the changes found in the Director's Cut DVD released a few years ago. This is mostly a good thing, since the director's cut really messed up the music and cropped the images poorly to force widescreen.

As for the Bluy-Ray's video quality, it is amazing! This is probably the best we will ever see the OVAs. I gained a new appreciation for the amount of detail and work that went into the artwork. You can see how incredibly detailed the background paintings are. You can see the fine wood grain and intricate leaves and branches that had been painstaking painted by hand. The characters look incredible, almost like you have the animation cel in front of you at times. You can see the inked outlines and finely detailed hair with crisp colors. High Definition finally does justice to all the elaborate detailing that was lost by standard definition, and shows that the hand drawn Kenshin OVA can give any modern big budget CG anime a run for its money.

While the video transfer was very impressive, it isn't perfect. The vast majority, probably around 90% was transferred from film master to HD and looks amazing, but the remaining portion was simply up-scaled from an SD source. I think it was because the original film was either lost, or only an SD digital master exists for those scenes. They don't detract from the experience too much, but it would have been nice if they could have found a way to make these scenes true HD like the rest of the film. Another gripe is with the credits in between each Act. They interrupt the flow, and while it worked when each episode was on its own VHS, it doesn't really make sense when all the episodes are on one Blu-Ray.

For sound, you are given the option of Japanese 2.0, Japanese 5.1, and English. Subtitles are available in Japanese and English. I've only listened to the Japanese 5.1, and it's pretty good. Sometimes the vocals can be harshly panned from one speaker to another, but I didn't find it too distracting.
There wasn't much in terms of extras. There is some vintage promo footage in SD format that lasted a minute, and that was it. I would have liked to see some interviews with the cast and director.

Overall, the Blu-Ray release delivers. It is the ultimate Kenshin OVA experience and really showcases the amazing artwork and detailing that went into making such a high quality anime. There is some room for improvement if they ever make another release, but I am totally satisfied with my purchase. This release isn't for everyone - It is very pricy compared to domestic releases, but is actually a steal if you had considered importing it. So for all you hardcore Kenshin fans, this Blu-Ray release gives you the chance to see revisit Kenshin in HD glory.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/18/2011 06:08PM by Sanjuro.
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