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76 of 80 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2003
I bought an import DVD of this title after having fallen in love with the original version. The director's cut has had all of the section breaks removed, letting the story flow as a continuous two-hour movie.
If you've never seen this OVA before, brace yourself. Its look and tone are almost completely different from the "Rurouni Kenshin" tv series and movie, with frivolity stripped away to yield a stunning examination of what happens to idealism when it's used to justify any means used to achieve those ideals. This OVA is not kid's stuff. It's violent and heart-rending and subtle, and you will never look at Kenshin the same way again.
It's probably best appreciated after seeing the second season of the tv series, which introduces a number of characters who also appear here. And once you've grown accustomed to the way Kenshin behaves ten years after the war, it's truly eye-opening to see the way he was and how/why he changed to what he later became. However, it can also be watched on its own, without having seen any other RK at all.
Some new footage was added to bump the runtime back up, but most of it is in tiny snippets that don't add much, with the spectacular exception of a battle sequence near the end where Kenshin fights his way across a bridge toward an artillery-besieged town. (By contrast, much more footage was added to the director's cut of Seisouhen (Reflections), including Kaoru's wedding and early married life, but no US release date has been announced for that as yet.)
Buy it. Watch it. Never forget it.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2005
Known in America as Samurai X, the four-episode OVA prequel to Rurouni Kenshin is widely acknowledged as one of anime's crowning achievements. A gripping story heavily rooted in historical fact, the episodes feature dynamic characters, incredible animation, and an impressive musical score; the 1999 direct-to-video series has a noble theatrical quality often likened to Akira Kurosawa's cinematic masterpieces. Simply put, it deserved to be made as a movie. Eventually the four episodes were cut together, supplemented with new animation, and released theatrically in Japan as "Rurouni Kenshin: Reminiscence." It makes its US debut on DVD as "Samurai X: Trust & Betrayal Director's Cut," but short of seeing this in a theater, there is little reason for American fans to pick up this version over the OVAs.

In any incarnation the sheer brilliance of the production is obvious. Set ten years before the events of the Rurouni Kenshin television series, it trades up the cartoonish look and tone of its forerunner for harsh, uncompromising, realistic tragedy. The stylistic gap between the two series is immense; yet there is no feeling of inconsistency, as viewers of the TV series already know Kenshin's past was dark and violent. Not only does the prequel perfectly illuminate the history of an established protagonist, it is a fascinating and emotional character study in its own right. Kenshin goes from an idealistic youth to a cold-hearted killer, only to be redeemed through love lost and the realization that swinging his sword is destroying his own life as well as the lives of the people on the receiving end. His journey is at once tragic, uplifting, and totally convincing.

And the sword fights kick ass. Terribly bloody, they do not glamorize violence and portray the horror of warfare and murder for what it is. Yet they are beautiful works of art nonetheless. Fully-animated with an attention to detail to rival Disney, such a level of realism is seldom attained in animation. The gorgeous animation fuses with the equally beautiful storytelling in one of the few truly unforgettable anime viewing experiences.

But the new "director's cut" footage is a different story. The sequences made for the theatrical version are few and fleeting; most consist merely of an extra line of dialogue tacked onto a scene or an extra sword thrust in battle. Casual viewers of the OVA version will probably not notice any of them, and most will slip by even seasoned Kenshin fans. There are only two noteworthy additions. Kenshin's first fight against a member of the Shinsengumi has been fleshed out quite a bit; it is of course beautifully animated and adds even more power to an already dramatic scene. But an addendum to the closing moments of the film is less successful. Impressive as it is, Kenshin's lone charge over a heavily fortified bridge comes well past the emotional climax of the picture and slows down the ending. The new sequences are an exciting prospect, but much like the special editions of Star Wars or Beauty & the Beast they are ultimately extraneous. It's hard to improve upon perfection.

There are a few omissions as well--some of them necessary, some of them not. The picture of course had to be cropped to a theatrical aspect ratio, which often results in the tops of character's heads being cut out of the picture. The four individual episodes flow together quite nicely as they are, and only one new bridging sequence was needed; however the dramatic music from the closing moments of the first episode has been lost. This is an unfortunate but acceptable sacrifice for continuity's sake, but there are several other inexplicable musical omissions throughout the film. Taku Iwasaki's original score for the OVAs is just amazing and lends the productions much of its emotional impact. In the theatrical cut the menacing Battousai theme which sets the stage for Kenshin's fatal attack on Kiyosato is gone; the scene is not nearly as effective sans music and will leave a sour taste in the mouths of fans familiar with the original version.

Both the original Japanese and English cast members return to dub what precious few new lines of dialogue their characters have. J. Shannon Weaver does a good job with Kenshin and actually sounds very similar to Richard Hayworth, who performs Kenshin in Media Blasters' dub of the TV show. But ADV's dub of Samurai X plays loose with the translation, and the meanings of some crucial lines of dialogue are blurred. For example, in the Japanese version Kenshin explains his final mission to kill as something he simply must do; in English he specifically implies it is an act of vengeance. As series followers know, the word revenge is not in Kenshin's vocabulary, and diehard fans should stick to the subtitled version.

For a "director's cut" release, the DVD itself is pretty bare-bones. The picture quality is good enough but extra features are nonexistent. Even the historical notes, which provide valuable background information on the era for us gaijin, have been left off of this release. Just one more reason for fans to spend the extra money on picking up the two separate volumes of the OVA release versus the theatrical version.

Casual fans of Rurouni Kenshin, samurai action, or just plain good animation might as well save a few bucks and grab the Director's Cut. More serious devotees of Kenshin or specifically Samurai X will do better to pick up the individual installments of the OVA; you get the whole picture and all of that great music--much more valuable commodities than a few new snippets of animation. And if you already own the OVAs and just have to see the movie version. Trust me, a rental will do. Only the most anal-retentive fanboy need worry about owning both versions.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2003
"Samurai X-trust & betrayal" is essentially a prologue to the Rurouni Kenshin TV series. Or they call it an OVA or direct-to- video animation film. I suggest to newcomers, to watch first the samurai X TV series then watch this to fully comprehend and grasp who Rurouni Kenshin is,it's cast members, & the central setting & ideas of the series.
The film delves further to Kenshin early years or his past, before meeting Kauro, Sanosuke,etc. From a child, his name was Shinta, witnessing the murder of his parents, being adapted & raised by his mentor master Hiko, & up to being an eventual hired & ruthless assassin, thus,was christened as Battousai.This film comprises 4- 30 mins. episode and the movie characteristic story-elements itself are extremely dark & very depressing, talky, serious in tone & heavy,domestic, & the dramatic core story preceded the little action sequences, which is only a secondary emphasis.
This movie is one of my favorites & is one of my most cherished DVD. Though not action-oriented like it's predecessor on TV, this movie simply is very memorable and lasting, as the story,mainly, explores a geniune, true-to-life example of how two people live a life, as in exemplified by Kenshin & Tomoe. More than about Rurouni Kenshin further adventures, which it is,as this prologue served to tie up loose ends of Kenshin's past-- his past origin.
However, the film absolute high point is following the dramatic,day-to-day ,slice of life of Kenshin and his wife Tomoe,albeit rusely married.Kenshin & Tomoe living together as a virtual husband and wife thus, manifesting a true-to-life portrayal of a couple struggle to subsist on a daily basis.This side of Kenshin has never intensely delved before,his marital side. Though extremely hardcore in context to the film objective, this DVD ultimately proved a valuable souvenir, not solely because of Rurouni Kenshin but also this anime feature-lenght is rare, in terms of tackling such subject matter--heavy, marital relationship. Not to imply Rurouni Kenshin is a secondary importance to this DVD, which is not entirely correct, as this DVD is significant and a timeless collection of Rurouni Kenshin saga.
Be prepared to view this movie because it's simply not easy to watch. You need to be mentally & emotionally ready to ingest this film as the film is extremely heavy & seriously depressing. I especially see fit to recommend this to anime lovers and anime watchers.Though I believe, in fact it can be appreciated by everyone when given the opportunity.
But, for Rurouni Kenshin newcomers or tryers, it is more practical to watch first the actual TV series in contrast to this advanced DVD. That series shall served as your introduction to the world of "Samurai X" or "Rurouni Kenshini".The core story of Samurai X(Rurouni Kenshin), not only about learning its characters, but also explore into an era of samurai regime- such as it's setting in feudal Japan & the honor of being a samurai warrior.Some episodes are light-hearted and fun, some have good characterization piece, some episodes are subdued,poignant & talky as in the final TV episode & some if contain samurai fights,mostly are exciting, susepenseful & intellectually stimulating. If you are contemplating to sample, you need to start at Rurouni Kenshin DVD (the TV series)at least up to vol. l4, then return to this DVD for better comprehension and appreciation in regards to the casts of characters and story theme.
Highest possible recommendation.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2003
Samurai X Director's Cut gives both trust and betrayal in one DVD. However, certain scenes have been changed from the original. Music has been cut out of some very important scenes or has had different music put in. The director's cut is not as good as the original, but surely beats the price! A couple of changes have been set in but is still a great film. Those who already have trust and betrayal should not consider getting this for the extra scenes.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2004
Anime that doesn't focus on action packed futuristic melo-drama is rare. The Samurai X OVAs bring to screen true period depictions of life as a wandering swordsman caught between the hero versus anti-hero manner of the waning Tokugawa Shogunate and the emerging neo-colonialistic Meiji Era.

Packed with soul-renching scenes and dialog, Trust & Betrayal, embodies master story-crafting and animation. Fight scenes, blood and gore are matter of fact and skillfully woven into the story line without being obtusely "required" to add spice to an already rich tale.

Although this Director's cut draws from the origins of the widely popular Rouroni Kenshin TV series, it does not depict the typical slapsticized misadventures with which many are familiar. Trust & Betrayal portrays a serious meta-play of circumstance, chance, discipline, endurance, forgiveness, and love.

It isn't without flaw, however. English dubbing, though masterfully done, doesn't give justice to the emotion that can be detected within the original Japanese script. Setting an English dialog with English subtitles betrays the differences of translation loss, and in a few frames, the re-mastering of subtitles actually fails (some lines of original subtitles can be seen on film). These are minor imperfections, though, and forgivable given the breadth and scope of the story and art.

Trust & Betrayal is best watched in its original Japanese dub with English subtitles. The story flows without distraction, and the souls of a wandering swordmaster and of those around him are given center stage.

This is a masterful tale told with excellent artistic rendition that leaves a longing for more.

Highly recommended for audiences 13 above with parental guidance for swordplay and violence. An excellent buy.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
"Samurai X - Trust and Betrayal (Director's Cut)" is probably the best chambara anime that I have seen. Excellent story, top-notch animation, pathos and melodrama, over-the-top sword fighting...everything you want from sword-fight flicks. There is a big difference between good chambara and bad chambara, and there is far more bad chambara than good. This DVD is an overwhelmingly pleasant surprise.
Medieval Japan is on good display here, with an nice blend between fact and fantasy. Not exactly Kurosawa, and not exactly "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," the warriors perform some pretty amazing feats befitting the super samurai that they are. The blood is fairly fountain-like, but not silly.
This is my only experience with "Rurouni Kenshin," and to tell the truth, a friend had to force this DVD on me as I didn't want to see anything with the stupid name of "Samurai X." I am glad that I gave it a chance.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2003
Wow, I didn't actually think that ADV was going to release the directors cut in the USA. Basically its the same thing as Trust and betrayal, except that the two episodes are combined into one 2 hour movie, and put into "wide screen" (Top and bottom are just cut off). There are also a few extra scenes not included in the original version. If you already own Trust and Betrayal I suppose its up to you if you want to fork out another 30 bucks to see a couple extra scenes or not (the whole "wide screen" thing is pointless since they just cut the bottom and top off).
You might want to check your local video rental store first.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2004
This may be the most visually stunning film I've ever seen. It's like it was intended to be art, not entertainment. The story, though, is what earned this movie a special place in my heart. It's poetry, the kind of tale you carry around with you forever. It's a war story, a love story, and a story of sin and redemption. It made me want to cry, and, for some bizarre reason, arrange flowers. (Insert shrug here. Flowers, huh? Whatever.) Everything seemed more beautiful once this story had become a part of me (even my annoying little sister seemed beautiful). I'm a sucker for these kinds of stories.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2006
I'd like potential buyers to know that this particular version - the 2003 release "Samurai X - Trust & Betrayal (Director's Cut)" is completely missing the music track.

Both voice tracks as well as the sound effect track are present, but the key ommision of the music track is nontrivial.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2006
...Words do not do it justice. I bought this DVD (rather, the Director's Cut Package that contained "Reflection" as well) with a heap of other DVDs a few days ago. When I got home, I popped it in, not knowing anything about it save for the fact that it was a samurai anime.

I've watched plenty of anime in my time, and am a huge film buff as well. Which is why I was surprised that within the first ten minutes of the film, I was so overpowered by the images, music, and tone that I was almost brought to tears. Quentin Tarantino once said of "Chunking Express" that he cried, not because the film was sad, but because he was just so happy to love a movie so much. I've never had such an emotion. But that all changed the other night. I wept for such a reason.

For all my life I have been searching for a certain kind of anime. One that didn't contain ridiculous sweat beads, cavernous mouths, and the occasional goofy dialogue. It's the nature of the beast, and I've dealt with it, just hoping that at some point in my life one would fall into my lap that met these requirements. Sure, films like "Grave of the Fireflies" seemed to fit, but they were realistic tales that just happened to be animated. This film, this wonderous, amazing film is the one I've been waiting for. And oh, so much more.

The story, dialogue, action, music, editing, animation, it all flows so effortlessly. I have fallen in love with this beautiful tale of an assassin and his "sheath." I would reccommend it to anyone who understands human emotion, has a love of anime, or just a love of great storytelling. Those of you out there who require the in your face, John Woo, techno beat scored action of so many anime series and films out there will not find much to love in "Trust and Betrayal." It is a very cerebral film, where the action has place and meaning, and is built around the story. Not the other way around.
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