Solid story telling and direction continue in this final introductory episode to the Kyoto story. From assassination to talking to people, decision making and leave taking, one must wonder at just how much time actually does pass in this one day. With so much story, it would be easy to get buried in all that happens, and yet, there is solid pacing of the various events allowing viewers to keep abreast of everything. Despite the overall seriousness of events that unfold, there is still space for minor comic relief to keep things from getting too serious too soon in this episode. (While cute, it doesn't really do much except attempt to lighten an otherwise seriously minded episode but it reflects the TV broadcasting roots of this series).
The strong points in this episode are many, especially in that the story ends the primary introductory part of this new story arc. From here, there will undoubtedly be greater exposition on background and actual development of what is to happen next; and in that sense, there is no question of Kenshin's decision at the end of this episode (let alone from the title itself). Most notable among the strong points here (outside of the story itself) were the voice acting and the music.
The background music is especially noteable in this episode being almost constantly present through the episode, seldom is there a scene which has no background music. The variety of melodies and their use throughout, truly worked to enhance the over atmosphere of the episode. Using a mix of piano melodies as well as strings and horns, there are a number of excellent melodies. The piece used during the final scene is nicely dramatic and minor in tone. I find that it is the melodies in the Kyoto arc where the soundtrack truly gets interesting for viewers.
The voice acting by the regular cast is also excellent in portraying their characters' emotions. Kenshin especially stands out as his character goes from decision making to leave taking. Likewise, the voice acting by the minor characters is well done all working together to build a truly excellent episode.
The animation uses a mix of standard animation, as well as a number of flashback stills to good effect. There is also good detail in the animation including blood spatter on the rebel fighters clothing after killing the driver of the carriage.
All in all an excellent ending to the introductory phase of the new story arc. These past four episode comprising the beginning of the Kyoto arc especially works to build a strong feeling of the epic story to come by delivering an incredibly tense, and exciting introduction to the story. Will the rest of the arc deliver in the same lines? Only time will tell. Onwards to the next episode and more story!
- JYN, 2001-10-03