We saw a bit of the turnaround that Saito's character can do in the previous episode, and it's even more apparent here. One moment the meeker, self-effacing and acquiescent lackey, the next the lone wolf who has no equal. You've got to give credit to Suzuoki Hirotaka, the voice actor for Saito; not only does he have the different personalities down, but changing from one to another from one line to the next without batting an (animated) eye. Saito's character is thus rapidly taking form both through the story and the solid voice acting which has been happening thus far. Likewise, certain reactions which are much more in keeping for Saito's character sometimes peeks through Fujita's facade but often only through facial expression. If there is an audible reaction, it is easily downplayed through the script. Definitely one very interesting new character who is bound to have a lot of followers in this series.
Voice acting on the part of other incidentals however is a little weaker however, and the heavy use of comic relief is a bit detracting in this episode. As we approach the upcoming battle between Kenshin and Saito, having constant mood lighteners gets a touch tiresome. Kamiya Kaoru especially is often seen in this manner which makes scenes with her presence predictably lacking in seriousness and substance. However, the voice acting by Fujitani Miki is well done and does a good job in portraying Kaoru's mood swings. Akamatsu Arondo's character and depiction by Tanaka Kazuhiro on the otherhand is typical of a lackey who is overly confident in their own abilities, and serves only to further Saito's plans at keeping Kenshin off balance.
One noticeable aspect of the animation here is the point of view perspective when Saito returns to Kamiya dojo. The animation is drawn as though seen through the peep hole on a door; with the fishbowl warping effect that one has there. The actual purpose of this unusual perspective doesn't particularly add to the animation except perhaps to focus the viewers of the field of view and the difference between Saito and the individuals of Kamiya dojo.
More in propelling this episode is the story being developed as told by Saito when he and Kenshin finally meet. That and the inevitable sense of the battle to come between Saito and Kenshin holds the viewers riveted. Driven by an overall strong soundtrack which builds the overall atmosphere of the episode, we are driven to the closing climax. My one peeve with the soundtrack is in the battle between Kenshin and Akamatsu; the music is "noisier" than most of the soundtrack in the series. A bit different and a hint annoying in its difference.
- JYN, 00-06-26