Samurai X - Betrayal (Rurouni Kenshin)
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Amazon.com The peace that reigns over the remote mountain village of Otsu contrasts sharply with the rapid-fire violence of the previous episodes ( Samurai X: Trust) set in Kyoto. Working as a farmer, growing crops and savoring the passage of the seasons, Kenshin comes to terms with the discontent festering in his soul. He regrets the death and suffering he has caused, and hopes to find a better life--with the mysterious Tomoe. A conventional story would end on this note of self-discovery and moral growth. But Samurai Xunfolds like a Kabuki tragedy: the desire for revenge remains strong, especially among the agents of the last Tokugawa Shogun, who are anxious to crush the nascent rebellion led by the Choshu clan. Kenshin was an important agent for the Choshu; Tomoe is just a pawn, but the outcome of a game may hinge on a strategically positioned pawn. Kenshin finally grasps the lessons his master, Hiko, attempted to teach him: the need for inner peace and the possibility of defending the weak without resorting to violence. The exquisitely detailed artwork evokes 19th century Japan, and director Kazuhiro Furuhashi depicts these understated inner conflicts as skillfully as the epic sword fights in the first episodes. Samurai X demonstrates the power of animation to present stories of great emotional depth, earning it a rightful place among the top anime series. Unrated; suitable for ages 18 and up for explicit violence. --Charles Solomon