Samurai X: Trust
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Amazon.com The four-episode Samurai X original animation video captures the mixture of swordplay and poetry that makes Japanese warrior culture so intriguing to viewers on both sides of the Pacific. The OAV series serves as a prequel to both Samurai X: The Movie and the more lighthearted TV series. The action unfolds in 1864, when a few clans began the revolt that would overthrow the military dictatorship of the Tokugawa Shogunate and return power to the Emperor in the Meiji Restoration of 1868. Shinta, a lonely orphan, is transformed by master swordsman Hiko into Kenshin Himura, an assassin in the service of Katsuga, one of the revolutionary leaders. Kenshin kills whomever Katsuga orders with consummate skill and unshatterable calm. He believes he is using his sword to bring about a better world, even as the intrigues and counter-intrigues escalate. But he becomes aware of unspoken doubts when he meets Tomoe, a mysterious girl whose beauty, like the iris, is seen to best advantage in cloudy weather. Director Kazuhiro Furuhashi choreographs the sword fights with a grace that infuses even scenes of extreme violence with an elegant sensuality: in one striking image, he focuses on the rain washing a spatter of blood from Tomoe's cheek. The dialogue in the English translation often sounds stilted, but the words are usually superfluous. Furuhashi's ability to present a story visually has made Samurai X a popular anime property in America and Japan. Unrated; suitable for ages 18 and up for explicit violence. --Charles Solomon