Episode 80: Rurouni Kenshin

We here like Silly Kenshin

We here like Silly Kenshin

Continuing our look at anime based off Shonen Jump manga, we hit Rurouni Kenshin(sometimes called Samurai X). Once again, Kittyhawk joins us as Neil sits in silence. Don’t worry, Neil will have to watch it one day.

Topics Covered
The hero that doesn’t kill
How awesome Kaoru is
Watsuki’s unique artstyle
Watsuki’s love for Marvel Comics
Sandy Fox
Ranma Crossover? Not on my watch!
Why I hate the OVA’s
Rurouni Rex
The Upcoming Movie
Retelling the Same Story

13 thoughts on “Episode 80: Rurouni Kenshin

  1. Interesting ep. The only things I knew about Kenshin were stories from the first two volumes of the manga and an infamous movie… an infamous movie where I saw Kenshin die… of an illness. Japan and their love of sadness and inevitability, I swear…


    I must say this: SATAM is the lesser of three evils.

    It tried to be its own thing while Sonic X was a PBS show(at leas the 4kids dub seemed to be), and Adventures was way way too silly. ‘Tex Avery’ silly, in a time when the most popular cartoons with younger males were more like Batman TAS than the likes of Adventures. It had a charm of its own, no doubt, but its setting was chaotic, it had no ongoing plot, the art was abysmal, and it did not follow the games much at all. Even the Archie comics couldn’t properly tie in the Spinball game. I watched Animaniacs rather than watch the weekday Sonic in the afternoon and am a much better man for it.

    Yes, SATAM didn’t follow the games to heart either, but I would rather take something more concrete than something made of silly putty. The cast was interesting, Doctor Robotnik was actually menacing, the story was actually an ongoing story that had a further point, and the only thing I can really say that bothered me was that Sonic was a bit of a vapid jerk in many episodes. But much like a few heroes with that trope he was alright when it came time man up.(Booster Gold for example)

    Sonic X… they tried to set it in the real world rather than making their own and populate it with human characters from someone’s failed attempt at a kids show. Laziness at its peak.

    I understand that you guys like the whimsy of Adventures over any seriousness when it comes to a character as fun as Sonic once was, but in cartoon form it is hard to convey what makes him fun. If you want that sort of thing, this is a much better distillation of that era’s Sonic.


    Mostly, I have to side with the Nostalgia Critic and kind of put this next point forward.

    Adventures is my Teen Titans in comparison to SATAM as Young Justice. And the OVA simply trumps the others in animation and adherence to being closer to the characters in personality and game design.(Though that 90’s dub is quite wonky)

        • See, the problem I have is SatAM is obviously cribbing from terminator and The Borg. Its doing so by taking the game too literally, ie when sonic vanquishes a baddie, a cute woodland creature shows up.

          We condemn the live action Mario for being too literal with the game manual, yet SatAM does the same thing and gets a pass. Well, here’s a clue: satAM was not that well written and competantly animated. It has a strange place in Sonic history, like the Image Comics tmnt.

          And I hate the image tmnt.

          • The literal take is better in my eyes because it is played straight. And giving consequence and weight to something offhandedly thought of as just a gameplay gimmick is better than it offhandedly being thrown out. They fleshed out an idea. And that idea was very similar to your examples. Becoming a machine, someone’s slave, and losing your individuality. And the idea of fighting a massive force represented by the cold unfeeling faceless facade of machinery.

            Sounds a lot like Star Wars, old war stories from WW1 and WW2, Mass Effect, alien invasion stories, and quite a few anime.

            I recognize the flaws in SATAM’s writing and in its ending with a Deus Ex Machina powerup that got very little foreshadowing. The execution is where the show shines for those that liked it. This is not the greatest show in the world, but it wasn’t a hollow cash-in either.

            This is essentially boiling down to the dashed expectation war. Most folks expected an animated “Let’s Play” when looking for video game adaptation into another medium. The movie Doom tried that in one sequence and that one sequence was interesting. And that was it.

            Sonic had and still to a point has no official canon world to build on like Megaman X, Starcraft, Metal Gear, or even Ratchet and Clank. And because of that nebulous nature, the expectation is built up by the players into each having an individual idea of what “should” be.

            Yes, I get that you don’t want your image of the character tarnished by someone ramming the Conquering Empire/Brainwashed Enslavement angle down your throat. It’s been done for decades beforehand.

            Then again, Zorro + Sherlock Holmes = a certain Goddamned Somebody. But the execution of how that idea is used is what gives it its charm. (Nolan or Timm, not Adam West or Schumacher)

            Rocket boots and flamethrowers are someone trying to tie game logic into the real world. Robotization is keeping it in the same terms as the game, but putting a tragic face on it. It’s dark, but that darkness can be compelling as someone running at mach speed defying gravity.

            At least for me.

    • Well, Ben asked me to comment on this. But here’s what I saw…

      “I must say this: SATAM is the lesser of three evils.”

      That says to me, “SatAM sucks, but it sucks less than the other two.” To that I say…


      Personally, I wouldn’t actually recommend ANY of them, so I don’t care how you quantify it. I’m not going to get excited over this. I will provide some casual commentary, though.

      I can see where Ben is coming from on the “too literal” aspect, comparing it to the Super Mario Bros. movie. However, I think SMB is a special case, because it only took a very SMALL aspect of the game manual literally and extrapolated it in such a way as to make the final product, the movie, entirely foreign to the actual game. SatAM, for all of it’s bizarre interpretations, actually somewhat looks like Sonic The Hedgehog.

      The type of cribbing that Ben is talking about is far more analogous to other video game cartoon adaptations of the time, mostly by DiC. So it’s actually somewhat surprising to see that The Adventures of Sonic managed to not do this. …mostly. In that regard, I can’t help but agree that The Adventures is the less offensive of the two. It also lacks Sally Acorn, which is a bonus. And the style of the series was adapted into Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. Double bonus.

      But you know what? I’m not going to get bent out of shape if someone says that that SatAM is superior, because in my mind, that’s like saying it’s a piece of shit with an ice cream scoop on it.

      Oh, here’s something that’s going to irritate Ben. You know that post-apocalyptic setting from SatAM? Remember the bad future in Sonic CD?

      Meltdown in 3… 2…

      • I liked the Satam series because for it’s time it was so different than anything else that aired when it premiered in 1993 and took something that seemed unlikely to make a series out of and actually improved it, especially considering at the exact same time the same character had another series that also premiered at the same time and was 100% different from it in style and tone.

        Sonic Satam was the start of more mature aimed Saturday morning programing (93 was a sort of Renaissance for that since it’s also the year that X-Men also debuted and came out 6 months after Batman TAS made its debute). It had an animation style that stayed pretty consistent throughout it’s run and had characters that didn’t necessarily fit the standard ‘talking animal’ stereotypes that preceded it. Strong female character leads, popular voice casting (like him or not, at that time Jaleel White was a hot commodity in pop culture and for ABC, the network it aired on), and Robotnik was just darn creepy for kids in visuals and motivation. A bad guy that not only planned to wreck the environment (A PC message about pollution, which was common in that time, but not as in your face if you’re not thinking about it), but he also was taking living and breathing creatures and turning them into hard, cold machines. That’s pretty messed up.

        It also took things from the game (Sonic’s impatience, which you could see in the original game if you just let him stand there on screen and never move him, he’ll start tapping his feet and in anger) and created a full fleshed out personality for him. Which is ironic since the other show staring him at the same time seemed to totally ignore and turned him into a hedgehog version of Woody Woodpecker.

        It’s main problem was it’s final episode as the writers clearly thought they were going to be brought back for a new season in 1995, but that was not reupped in the fall of 95 as ABC was in it’s final works of being sold to Disney in 1996, who changed their whole Saturday morning line up to either live action shows or Disney themed shows which was all faded out completely, in the traditional Saturday morning toon line up, 3 years later.

        The series and it’s characters survived of course in the Pages of Sonic the Hedgehog by Archie Comics and has now become the longest video game property in comic form, over 200 issues, today with many spin-offs to it’s name. Not bad for a show starring a hypersonic fast blue hedgehog, voiced by the poster child of black nerds, based on a video game series that hasn’t been as popular as it’s animation in years, and with animation that still holds up today. (Funny thing, Disney XD is planning to air it’s …sorta spin off Sonic Underground starting this Monday at 10am. ), so I’d assume while Disney did not have the rights to any of the Sonic animated series prior (since ABC dropped it just before the Disney buy and Underground aired on UPN originally) maybe they have the rights to Sonic SATAM now? Who knows. Still. Good series and one of the best for it’s air date.

  2. This was a fun episode to listen to. I was surprised you didn’t have a slew of pictures, links, and other bits in the bottom like normal. Would it be possible to actually include the links and pictures that you are discussing and referencing during an episode for those listening in to ‘play along’ so to speak? This episode wasn’t too bad about it but earlier ones have been rife with bits where everyone is talking about sending links back and forth and comments without any real indicator for the audience being able to see what you are seeing… or having to pause and trial and error it till we get something hopefully in line before resuming the playback.

    I loved your take on Kenshin and the fact that you did reference the original material a good deal. It was fun to revel it in and the fact that you did point that the series did die off for the most part after the Kyoto arc.

    You really need to just to have Kittyhawk as one of your standard hosts. She makes any episode she is in better to be honest with her wild energy.

  3. Gee, I did not think that they also made English versions of the themes to Ruroni Kenshin. But, then again, I really liked the music from the series (from having watched my old fansubs). I popped in my copy of the Best Themes CD and the songs came back to me. Ah, those were the days! 😉

  4. Good episode. Can’t say I agree with your assessment of Sonic SatAM (the start source of the most popular and long lasting video game/animated themed comic series of all time in the U.S.), but your love for anime animation really comes through in this one. It’s clear you all are big anime fans and it comes through with the high level of accurate knowledge and positive energy this podcast exudes.

Leave a Reply to Blaine Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *