December 25, 2010

Kenshin - Samurai X: Trust & Betrayal

It started snowing here in Toronto just a couple weeks ago. I was of course indoor but one of the first things that came to mind was the snowy winter scenes from the latter part of the Trust & Betrayal OVA. So I re-watched it.

Many reviewers/ critics have suggested watching Kenshin the anime series before watching both Trust & Betrayal and Reflection but I didn’t actually read any of that prior so I watched both OVAs first. Both OVAs were produced after and were additions to the series because the manga presented the story quite differently integrating these stories as part of the bigger plot. I only read some of the manga so I can’t comment and write a full review on the manga series. So chronologically, the whole story should be Trust & Betrayal then the anime series follow by Reflection.

As I have mentioned in the past, OAV is a great way to find out if a series will be suitable for you before you commit hours and hours to a long series such as Kenshin with 95 episodes. However, OAVs can be quite different from the series in terms of the style visually and the overall tone, so never judge a series solely just by the OVA. Kenshin is one long series, therefore we’ll need a little more time to watch it again and a review will appear in a future posting.

So I first watch Trust & Betrayal gosh… may be 10 years ago… got a copy of it from Silent. I then ended up getting a copy of my own later.

Trust & Betrayal is actually what got me interested in watching the whole series 6 years ago when a friend lent me a copy of it that he owns in Cantonese. This OVA is Himura Kenshin’s origin story revealing his complex past, leading up to how he is in the series. It is a very compelling story. I found the style and mood in Trust & Betrayal were very serious, much darker and mature comparing to the series which is much lighter with more humour. This tone I found to be essential and appropriate not only to the whole warring environment but to contrast Sinta aka Kenshin from his past leading to his character in the series – more light hearted, less serious, more importantly, more human; generally a likeable character.

The OVA explains pretty much everything about Kenshin’s past, ethics and how he is in the series. It of course explains how he got the “X” scars. Trust & Betrayal also speaks to some of the politics and history of Japan during the warring period very loosely. It’s interesting and it is the same in the series as well. From this series, I learnt that Kyoto used to be the capital, quite similar to how Nanjing was the capital before Beijing in China.

Kenshin has everything you need in an anime – awesome fights, cool female and male characters, great story, romance, and friendship, really “good” and interesting villains. The anime series and the OVAs are definitely one of my top favourite animes in my personal list. So I would suggest any one who likes anime to watch it that is if you haven’t already. If you don’t have time for the whole series, like I’ve recommended, watch the OVAs first. I’m sure you will be hooked and check out the series afterwards.


  1. Awesome review. I also can't complain that my name came up lol. I would have to say that I too watched this series out of order. I ended up watching the Reflections, then the series, then Trust & Betrayal. Overall, the whole franchise is really well done. There certainly is a lot of deep emotion in the Samurai X saga. The balance between action and story is very well optimized.

    Any of the Samurai X films are a must watch. Everything that Super Ksian has put forward in this review I can completely stand behind. You won't be disappointed with this series.

  2. I LOVE KENSHIN! My husband got me to watch the series and even since then I've been hooked on anime and manga. Great show!

  3. It's always good to hear about the one anime that started it all for people.

    I can contribute my obsession with Gundam to Super Ksian after he introduced me to the original series about 10 years ago when we were still in high school.

  4. I will get into Kenshin the series later but what I really like about the series is that there is violence, romance and friendship but those elements don't overpower the story, the characters and visuals. Like I said will go more indepth into it later.

    Thanks Silent. We should do a "double feature" sooner rather than later on something Gundam related!

    Nicole, your husband is awesome!

  5. I'm up for a "double feature" post. Let's see if we can get one ready in the beginning of the New Year for our readers.