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4.8 out of 5 stars
Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story, Vol. 1
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
EDIT: Evidently, it seems that some reviewers are unaware that Amazon placed reviews that were originally written for the first release of "Rurouni Kenshin Volume 1" under the reviews for the "VIZBIG" edition (if you're not on that product page, feel free to skip to the Review segment beneath this edit). Since many people seemed to only give a cursory glance at the line telling the date on which the review was written, they might not have realized that my review was intended for an older product. Let me note that it was Amazon which has placed many of these reviews under the VIZBIG edition, without the consent of the reviewers (and it is amazon's right to do so). With that out of the way, here's a brief review of this new release:

3 out of 5 stars (this rating in no way reflects my impression of the quality of the actual story--this portion of the review covers the aspects of the new release). The story and the translation of Rurouni Kenshin seem, for the most part, to remain intact, with little to no edits made to the text of the original releases (and for those wondering, they have NOT censored the profanity, as has become customary of VIZ translations). The VIZBIG is essentially an omnibus collection of three volumes of Rurouni Kenshin in one. Make no mistake: This is an excellent purchase if you do not already own the series and desire to do so. We are given a decent cover (one not taken from any of the existing single-edition volumes) that depicts our protagonist (although he is drawn in what later becomes Watsuki's customary style). The printing quality of this release is superb, with the blacks dark and clear, and the whites untainted and crisp. The lines are distinct; there is no blurring or ink stain. This is a release with far superior printing quality than that of the first editions. This is most likely a result of the thicker, lighter, and overall higher-quality paper (though it does not possess the glossy, shiny quality which is customary of the paper used in Viz's full-color artbooks).

In addition to the improved printing, the pages are larger, with a substantial increase in both width and height (the page sizes are comparable to those of the manga printed the actual Shonen Jump Magazine), meaning that we see the panels and artwork magnified to a larger degree than in the initial, single-volume copies. The pages of the first chapter that were originally done in color for the very first serialization of this series in Japan have been reproduced here, with lots of reds and some darks being the primary hues. The covers of the first three volumes of this series are also printed in full color in pages, free of any obfuscating text, in the back of this edition; note that the covers are those of the ENGLISH EDITIONS.

So, if this is such a strong series being given honorable treatment, why have I deducted two stars? Quite frankly, I am impressed with this release; however, I feel that they could have made it better in several ways.

Firstly, they have left the sound effects translated; this is sad news to purists, though other fans may not care either way. I personally would have liked to have seen the original Japanese sound texts, with a translation listing in the back; such a remarkable effort on Viz's part would have then ensured my purchase.

Secondly, though I did not deduct a star for this reason, since it is personal preference, this release is in softcover. It would have been wonderful to see this series printed in hardbound copies, even if that meant reducing the number of volumes in each new release. If anyone has seen the special editions of the Tsubasa Resevoir Chronicle manga by CLAMP, they might know what I had been hoping for: That release came with a hardcover volume in a colored, cardboard slipcase, featuring gorgeous, original cover-art that was unblemished by text and covered both the back and the front covers in their entirety. The manga volume was also replete with full color pages, glossy high-quality paper, extra color inserts, and a very nice postcard.

Thirdly, not all of the pages that were originally printed in color in the initial Japanese release are reproduced in color here. Chapter 4 has three pages that were meant to be in color--they are not in color here! Additionally, Viz failed to include a color page that shows the Japanese edition cover of volume two as it was in the original Japanese release (although it is possible, if unlikely, that they may print this in later a volume).

So the bottom line: If you already own this series, you MAY want to consider this release (especially if your old volumes are worn from re-readings, as are mine, and you truly cherish this series). For the new buyer: This compilation is cheaper than purchasing each of the volumes individually, so it is of excellent value. If you do not own this series yet and are considering purchasing it, then this is the release you'll want to obtain. But for a few flaws that mainly emphasize what this edition could have been, this is a truly an all-around solid collection for newcomers to Kenshin. With the low price, the high-quality paper, and the color pages, this is unequivocally the best release that any VIZ manga has yet been given. And Kenshin is an engrossing, beautifully depicted series, with dynamic characters and an art style that evolves throughout the course of the progressing chapters; it is a manga fully deserving of this second printing.

REVIEW: (03/2005) Rurouni Kenshin is indeed a great series. But it seems to me that many people don't seem to get out of it what others do. The series does have action, humor, and romance. That makes it all the more likeable. But some don't seem to appreciate the subtle things that make Kenshin so great.

Rurouni Kenshin takes place ten years into the Meji era (a time of peace in Japan after the revolution). Kenshin was an asassin, or hitokiri, during the revolution. He fought for the Choshu but dissapeared when the struggle ended. Now he is a rurouni, a wanderer, seeking to atone for his crimes.

That is the basis for the series. It grows more complex as it moves on. With the introduction of the heroine, Kamiya Kaoru, and the kid, Yahiko, the story grows. But what makes Rurouni Kenshin so brilliant is how it fits right into the era it's set in (Volume 7 shows this best of all).

Volume 1 is not bad. The reason it gets 4 stars is because it has not reached its peak and is pale in comparison to the ensuing volumes. It is an introduction to a series, so it is natural that it is somewhat lacking. The artwork is good I feel, but Watsuki eases into his style as the stories progress. The story is what kept me; I was interested to know what would happen to our characters as I became attached to them.

The stories in vol. 1 are okay; nothing really special, but they're still a step above some other titles out there. Strength is a bit exaggerated but thats not necessarily a bad thing, as it does make things a bit more interesting. My favorite part of the book was the introduction to the Zanza arc which piqued my interest in Volume 2 as it ended without ending the fight.

Overall, this is a very good manga and should be purchased. Buy it and become engrossed in this popular series. And yes, I DO prefer the manga to the anime.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
And cheering me is what this manga has done. "Rurouni Kenshin: The Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story" has a long subtext, but certainly has an engaging potential. I, for long, have waited for an English version of this manga, as many anime-literates say that the anime version of Rurouni Kenshin isn't completely true to the creator's original work. Now it's here in all it's beauty, thanks to VIZ.
Speaking of beauty, the artwork is full of it. The characters, while a little cartoon-ish at times, are very expressional and it proves that each well-made character has a sense of personality. It's a little unpolished since this is the 1st volume, but the artwork will get better with future releases, and its charm will definitely sets in.
The first volume consists of 6 irresistible chapters that were from the first four episodes of the anime series, and as a special bonus, it contains the creator's first work which is a precursor to the RuroKen saga, simply titled "Rurouni". It's good to know how the series was made, and having this so-called 'side-story' as an extra was the right move for VIZ to kept intact for the US release. It wasn't a right move, however, for VIZ to translate the sound effects, but since I was so engage with the story, I hardly care about that.
On the subject of translations, some people were peeved with the translation of the manga not being literal. What's their beef? So what if it's not as accurate as its import counterpart, I checked the actual translation notes and I think the manga's English translation is just fine and it's good for VIZ to jive it up a bit so the story doesn't sound boring. Be satisfy that Kenshin's famous catchphrase "Oro?" was kept in the English version; he never says it dubbed.
Manga readers of any kind should not miss out a classic like "Rurouni Kenshin". it has heart, action, laughter, perversion, stupidity, etc. Be warned, though: the manga series ran for 28 volumes in Japan, so this is a big investment to own the whole set, but believe me, it's worth it.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
Let me start off by saying, I have not seen the anime of Kenshin. The only thing having to do with the series that I have seen is the Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal DVD. So this is coming from the viewpoint of someone who isn't familiar with the general story, only up to what is in this volume of Rurouni Kenshin.
First, some hard facts:
Pages - 201 (Without the back advertisements)
Chapters - 6
Kenshin - Himura Battosai
Rurouni in the City
Tokyo Samurai
Kasshin-Ryu Reborn
The Fight Merchant
Face Off: Sagara Sanosuke
Other Stuff-
The original one shot written 1 year before that was a prelude to Kenshin, "Rurouni: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story"
Character Profiles
Glossory of terms that appear in the manga
Okay, now for the review!
I'll start with the cover. I've seen 3 variations on the web so far. The one in Amazon's picture, which is downright ugly, the design that mangabits.com has for their review, and the mangabits one except the green is replaced with blue. The one from Amazon is the green one, which is not bad. It could have been better, but it could have been a lot worse. I actually like the jungle green floral pattern of the cover; it looks very "medieval" J. I particularly like the shot of Kaoru, the coloring of her face is very nice, but Kenshin's orange hair clashes with his red robe thing. I think the actual logo (The Rurouni kenshin with the sword in the middle) is cheesy, but meh, it's a small part. 6/10
I'm mixed with the artwork. I like the designs of the characters, and some of the backgrounds are very well done (I like that shot in the restaurant, pg 129, top panel, as it achieves being busy without giving me a seizure J But the battle scenes are most definitely not my favorites. They are shaded, with spray, and blast points that are supposed to show contact, but it managed to confuse, me, which is not a plus in my book. The artwork is almost grainy in some areas. That's not to say the artwork is bad to any extent, and it most certainly gets the job done. The characters wouldn't be half as loveable if they didn't have that individule quality about them that sets them apart and conveys their qualities. In fact I think it's something that Watsuki does very well, relaying the qualities of his characters through the artwork. The fight scenes could be better though. I've heard that the artwork gets a little better a few volumes in, so I'll give this one a tentative 8/10.
Translation: I honestly don't see why people have a problem with the translation here. I actually LIKED (yes liked) the literal translation of Kenshin's speech, with him referring to himself as this one and all. I thought it set him apart (along with the Oros of course;). I admit, I do not know and have no real desire to learn Japanese, but I had no qualms about the "literal" translation. I liked how they kept the original titles on, instead of changing them to "Mrs." And "Lady", etc. They give you a glossary in the back if you have trouble. And I may be alone in saying this, but I prefer the translated sound effects. I don't know the Japanese sound effects, and having to look down at the subscripts would disrupt the general flow of the story and prevent me from "immersing" myself in it. No qualms here, in fact I really see nothing Viz could have done in one area to make it better without disturbing another area. 10/10 (YES, I said 10/10. Arrest me)
Story: I love the story so far. I won't bother with a summary, as others have already provided that and I run short on words. The story is fun, with comedy, action, adventure, all that good stuff. The story is not only good, but *fun* to read. I especially look forward to when the Trust and Betrayal story is told, along with the Enishie ark, which I have heard only good things about. Of course we are still a long way off from that, but still. The manga is a hefty 28 volumes long, so be ready to commit if you like it! This particular volume leaves you at the beginning of what promises to be a good fight, and I can't wait until I get the chance to pick up the second volume. Another thing, this Volume doesn't lose any of its charm, even after 10 read-throughs (Save for Chapter 1). Of course no story is perfect, and even though its the introduction and is good for the first read, the first Chapter began to lose its appeal. 9/10
Extras: The extras are really nice in here. I liked the character profiles, which explain the idea for the chracters and the design motifs, but the real extra is of course the one shot "Rurouni: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story". While it is not on the same caliber as the actual Kenshin story, it is an entertaining read, and it is fun to see the original design for Kenshin and how his design progressed. The Glossary in the back is very handy. Big Fat 10/10
I believe that covers it. I love the Rurouni Kenshin story so far, and I like how Viz is handling the Translation. I think any person remotely interested in manga should get this, and it would be an excellent choice for someone just getting into manga. I give it 4/5 stars, and only because I cant do 4.5.
Peace!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
FINALLY, the Kenshin manga is available in English! If you're coming in blind, this is a story set during the Meiji (late 1800s), Japan's restoration period after the Bakumatsu revolution. If you're already confused, that's one of the few drawbacks about this title: being a partially historical period piece, it relies on some familiarity with Japanese history. However, all pertinent events are explained in the story, and Viz has included a short glossary of terms and events in the back. The only other setback might be a concern over how appropriate this is for younger children. I would say that Kenshin is best for ages 11+, due to the occasional violence and political tone. The focus of this story is more about finding peace than fighting, so the violence is coupled with lessons about the meaning of true strength, etc. If you're okay letting your child watch samurai dramas or kung-fu movies, then Kenshin is fine.

I felt it best to start with concerns since I've heard them from parents. But if you're coming into this series after viewing the anime, or are like me a long-time manga reader, you know that Kenshin is worth reading for the endearing characters and gripping story. It manages to be equally dramatic and humorous with telling ease, and doesn't skimp on the romance OR the action. Even when you know it's dipping a bit too far into martial arts cliche, even when you know what's going to happen, Kenshin's story is always worth following, and has garnered a huge worldwide following since the manga first started in 1996. It's almost 10 years later, and fans still get choked up, excited, and laugh out loud when they see either the book or the show.

To new fans, it might be fun to watch the anime AND read the manga to note the differences in how the stories are presented, but neither is dependent on the other. The manga is probably a fuller Kenshin experience due to the added depth. The anime follows the book through the Kyoto story arc (season 2 in the show), but then departs from the original material, so around volume 10 in the manga starts all new storylines that make this piece of work even richer.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
Now I'm, not a big fan of Viz and I'm a huge fan of Rurouni Kenshin. So when I heard Viz has aquired rights to publish translated Kenshin manga here in the USA, My eyes rolled into the back of my head as I silently cursed the gods. I'm writing this to take back that curse because Viz has done a comendable job getting this series translated and brought to the USA. Aside from my only complaint which is what they did to the cover, I think this is fine. The translations are on mark, Kenshin still say's "oro?" and It's in Right to left format, The correct and only way manga should be read in my opinion.
And in case anyone is wondering what the manga covers, if you've seen the anime, it covers episodes 1 and ends right near the end of 4 I believe. So check it out. You wont regret it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
I am a very large fan of the Rurouni Kenshin series, and I've found this to be a very good translation. It certainly could have been a lot worse. For instance, they've kept the right-to-left format and didn't flip the images, meaning Kenshin's scar is still on the proper cheek. Also, they've kept the names in the surname, given name format as well. That might not be as important, but it makes me appreciate the translation more. Also, they didn't translate every single word. For example, Battousai is referred to as "hitokiri" Battousai rather than "manslayer" Battousai. The honorifics were also kept, which would have seriously hurt the translation if they were taken out. There's a big difference between "Miss Kaoru" and "Kaoru-dono in the level of formality. "Miss Kaoru" could just as easily be "Kaoru-san." But "Kaoru-san" is certainly _not_ the same thing as "Kaoru-dono," and shows a good deal about the personality of the rurouni through his humility. They also kept Kenshin's "oro"s, which made me very happy.
If you're looking for this manga to be exactly like the anime, its not. Its better. It has the elements of the anime- the seriousness and dark themes punctuated by silly humor and lighthearted romance- but a continuing storyline. This is Rurouni Kenshin in its truest form, other than the original manga published in Japan. The manga will also go into the Revenge Arc, which was never animated.
If you've never seen it before, it is a wonderful series dealing with a turbulent period in Japanese history. Themes of decisions and consequences ring through its pages with storylines that occasionally become very dark. But the darkness never lasts too long as Watsuki manages to incorporate plenty of lighthearted humor and romance. So try it out, you'll be pleasantly surprised.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
Okay, I've noticed a pattern with these reviews. These are reviews for Kenshin vol. 1, not volume-whatever. Anyways, Kenshin vol. 1 is a good starter for the series. Unfortunately, I now have to battle with my little sister for it. (>_<) But that's beside the point.

Kenshin starts out with a flashback of the Meiji Revolution and a very handsome red-headed man.(*_*) But that ends shortly (It's only a page long).

It then proceeds to the 11th year of the Meiji era, and the first time we meet Kaoru. She seems pushy throughout the book and it's debatable whether she's a weak fighter or a strong fighter, but the truth is she's very strong. After we see Kaoru, Watsuki introduces us to a handsome young swordsman (*_*) with no destination, a rurouni. At first, I was a little confused. I mean, why would a rurouni who just arrived have to do with a hitokiri (assassin)? After reading further, I saw why the poor rurouni was accused of being the hitokiri. (Stupid sword-banning act >_<). But I soon realized that there was something strange about this guy...he looked kinda...feminine in his facial features. (^_^);; Why I thought that, I don't know. Anyways, the rurouni reveals himself to Kaoru (after much pressuring, I should say) as Kenshin Himura. But I'm pretty much giving a book report here! (>_<)

Moving on now.

Kenshin was a good book. The fight sequences weren't drawn out like Silly Putty stretched between your fingers. Althought Kenshin's facial expressions are very adorable, he never broke into cute little boy mode during a fight. His fight to save Kaoru or whoever was his goal, not flirting with the girl or going into chibi-Kenshin.

A couple things that impressed me about Kenshin was that fact that he referred to Kaoru as Kaoru-dono...and that he did chores!!! There are a couple pages where he's out shopping with Kaoru or doing laundry. Who wouldn't love a handsome guy who does work around the house, eh? The Kaoru-dono thing got me because it showed that he had respect and humility toward her. He seems perfect...too perfect. Ah well. No need to look a gift horse in the mouth. Read this book if you haven't already. I promise, it won't be a waste of your time.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best manga I've ever read!!!! The story is very good. It's a little different than the anime series, but I like the manga better!!! I don't know why people are complaining about the translations though, if you're a tyical American that don't know Japanese it don't matter to you does it?!!! Anyway I'm just gonna' give you a little info on this manga, but don't worry I won't give away the whole book!!
This book starts out where, just like in the anime, Kamiya Kaoru attacks a rurouni (wanderer) because he's wielding a sword which is against the law, and also because a killer calling himself Hitokiri Battosai has been going on a murdering spree using Kaoru's family fighting style, Kamiya-Kashin-Ryu. 10 or 11 years ago in the bakamatsu, a warrior named Himura Battosai (nicknamed "Hitokiri" Battosai, because hitokiri is the Japanese word for assasin) killed people in the shadowy night for the Meiji government. It turns out the man Kaoru attacked was but a mere rurouni named Himura Kenshin (hmm). After finding out who the killer claiming himself to be Hitokiri Battosai is, Kenshin defeats him and his goons revealing himself to Kaoru as the real Hitokiri Battosai and uses the Battosai's signature fighting style Hiten-Mitsurugi-Ryu. Kaoru though, let's him stay at the dojo and he is known by Kaouru and his friends as Himura Kenshin.
After the first chapter which I just described Kenshin gets into more adventures involving an evil cop, a street thief, a fighter-for-hire, and more!!
To put in short, this book is very exciting, an excellent, story with excellent art, exellent fight scenes, and excellent humor. I advise you to buy it and buy all the other ones! It is most certainly worth every single penny!!!! ^_^
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a great original for Rurouni Kenshin. I ordered the first three volumes of the manga. Well....ordered 1 & 2 then pre-ordered 3. I haven't gotten #3 yet but have 1 & 2, I've read #1 and am now reading #2. Made before the animated series was released I'm sure, due to the fact that the book is slightly different from the series (which is cool because you don't know what is gonna happen next). There is blood ,of course, and a little gore when they show manslayer sceens or the Battousai sceens..nothing too bad though. Beautiful artwork and storyline gets you fixed on the story and the fights and comedic situations won't allow you to put the book down. This basically sums it up...(all except the translation which is excellent...only a few mistakes but everyone talks about the translation so I thought I would mention something new). I give it a 5 out of 5.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
Rurouni Kenshin is a fairly aged manga that officially ended in 1999, but that does not stop it from appealing to whatever generation of manga reader you may be. Beginning in 1994, the art style does carry a few aspects of 90's manga. It's hard to be articulate about what they are, but when comparing the art with a newer manga of later years, many differences arise. By the time the fifth volume rolls around though, the differences disappear and we get a very crisp-looking and extremely attractively drawn book.

Now, for the plot itself. RuroKen is an action/comedy/romance with a Meiji Era setting. As a historical fiction, the author, Nobuhiro Watsuki, does a fantastic job at linking fiction with reality and creating a very intruiguing story that can draw anyone in. Many of the earlier volumes plots carry a lesson to the young'uns sort of resolution, which is understandable for a manga aimed at teenagers. But, Nobuhiro did not hesitate to create deeper and darker plots later one down the road. Once again entwining history with fiction, Nobuhiro tells the timeless story of a murderous assassin turned pacifistic wanderer who simply cannot find peace wherever he goes. With 28 volumes and three main arcs, this manga is a must-buy.
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