High action and intense story keeps viewers glued to the third installment on this introduction to the new story of Shishio Makoto. The fight between Saito and Kenshin is supposed to represent the level of fighting which happened in the Bakumatsu period in Kyoto. Even so, while it doesn't entirely detract from the story being told, it's a little unrealistic seeing people launching themselves from walls and the ceiling. This aspect of the fight between the two is a hint detracting as it isn't entirely necessary to the action in this episode. Indeed the rest of the fight tries to portray the level of ferocity which is supposed to have happened then, and which is supposedly no longer present in Meiji period fighters as they grew up in a period of greater peace.
One other point of unrealistic fighting (which happens often throughout the whole series in fact) is when Kenshin strikes Saito at the back of the neck. Sakabatou, regular sword or even a bokutou would likely end up killing the person or at best seriously injuring them.
On the other hand, we do see some good animation in that when an injured Kenshin is thrown into the wall, there is definite blood left behind on the wall; moreover, it stays there in a subsequent follow-up scene later in the episode. A bit on the not so great side however, is the use of flashes and sudden jumps in order to depict high speeds and sudden moves. The different changes that happens in the way Kenshin is drawn, especially in the eyes, shows the progressive change from Himura Kenshin to Himura Battousai. This is further seen by the change in speech patterns of the more humble and polite forms used by Kenshin, to the more informal and confident Battousai. Suzukaze Mayo's depiction of the change from Kenshin to Battousai and the reverse again are well done with a subtle albeit clear difference in tone and speech pattern between the two.
The final showdown between Saito and Battousai is seen in near silence except for the background music. This along with a screaming Kaoru who is completely unheard illustrates most clearly how Saito and Kenshin are fighting in a world of their own; where the only voices which can reach the fighters would be from Bakumatsu Kyoto.
Again, after Saito and Kenshin's battle, we once again have the (predictable) use of comic relief in order to defuse the intensity and tension built throughout the battle. While reducing the intensity of action which has been built up would be expected, I find the ubiquitous use of the superdeformed style (or a variant thereof) for angry or annoyed characters a bit much. It isn't always necessary to depict characters in this fashion and using it here at this point was a bit distracting and decidedly unnecessary. However, the scene was quite dark and thus it's use was a bit less noticeable.
As we started the explanations, I found the timing of lines between Okubo's first statement and Sano's interjection to be a touch off. Had there been a hint of a longer silence, the complete lack of comprehension on the parts of the anime characters and the equal incomprehension by the audience would have had a chance to solidify thus allowing the audience to relate more with the characters. As it happened however, the audience is left thinking, 'Shishio...' when Sano jumps in and we're left going "now that you mention it...", rather than thinking "eh?" and a more "yeah, me too!" in identifying with Sano's response.
Despite the miss in timing with the delivery of that line however, overall the voice acting is solid, and the story itself continues to build solid viewer interest in the introduction to the new story being told. Time will tell how long they will be able to maintain the strong scripting and action...
- JYN, 00-06-28