|Album Title:||Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan ~Seisouhen~ Original Soundtrack|
|Anime Title:||Rurouni Kenshin: Seisouhen|
|Release Date:||Jan 23, 2002|
|01. On The Pier||Taku Iwasaki||1:19|
|02. An Old Patriot||Taku Iwasaki||3:21|
|03. Regret||Taku Iwasaki||2:57|
|04. In The Sunset Glow||Taku Iwasaki||1:29|
|05. Indigo||Taku Iwasaki||1:00|
|06. Revenge of The Ghost||Taku Iwasaki||2:58|
|07. Labyrinth||Taku Iwasaki||3:13|
|08. Your Way||Taku Iwasaki||2:47|
|09. Living Sin||Taku Iwasaki||2:00|
|10. The Duel (in the name of love)||Taku Iwasaki||4:11|
|11. You By My Side||Taku Iwasaki||3:03|
|12. Faraway||Taku Iwasaki||2:46|
|13. Eclipse||Taku Iwasaki||4:46|
|14. One More Red Nightmare||Taku Iwasaki||3:49|
|15. Heart of The Sunrise||Taku Iwasaki||3:28|
|16. And You And I||Taku Iwasaki||2:35|
|17. Cord of Life||Taku Iwasaki||2:34|
|18. Pie Jesu||Taku Iwasaki||2:17|
Review: Rurouni Kenshin: Seisouhen, often translated as Rurouni Kenshin: Reflection, is a fitting translation given what the anime encompasses. The first episode highlights moments in which the life of Kenshin Himura, a wandering ronin, intertwines with that of Kaoru Kamiya’s, a woman who runs a dojo, while the specter of Tomoe, a woman he loved, hangs overhead. The second episode sees Kenshin as an older man who has settled down but is still grappling with the sins he’s committed and chooses to atone for it by wandering once more. We see Kenji, Kenshin’s son, struggling to escape his father’s shadow as well as his resentment towards his father’s many absences. But above all, we see Kaoru bravely shouldering a part of Kenshin’s burdens, knowing that it will ultimately kill her.
Amidst this backdrop of melancholia, anger, tragedy, and impassioned persistence, Taku Iwasaki succeeds in distilling the essence of those emotions. The opening track is beautifully contemplative. “On the Pier” strikes at the heart as it expresses a yearning for the return of a loved one. In its presentation, we hear the flute longingly call out, along with a stirring of warmth from the strings and oboe that reveals an eager heart, fortified by wonderful shared memories that brim up to the surface for all to see.
On the Pier
If “On the Pier” captures all the passions that roil about in the anime, “An Old Patriot” opens the door into Kenshin Himura’s past. Its moody introduction, heard through the solitary piano and the sinister backdrop, evokes Kenshin’s storied early years as an assassin during Japan’s turbulent Bakamatsu period. When the cellos come in, the atmosphere takes a heavy turn and the strings carry the somber air on, sprinkling a dash of hope that is all too ephemeral. By the time the oboe takes over, the piece will have moved on to convey the suffering that Kenshin endures in solitude, all through a motif that will become familiar by the time this album is over. This feeling is heightened in “Regret,” where the woodwinds meander aimlessly, as though in an emotional haze, while the piece on the whole throws us upon the edge of despair.
An Old Patriot
It’s not until “Indigo” that urgency and intensity begin to seep in. Its piano ostinato is outstanding in the way it raises our adrenaline, giving a foundation that the violins build upon to set the tone for the action to follow. “Revenge of the Ghost” takes that idea further, starting with a discordant introduction that drips with danger and dread. This suffocating feeling makes way for an intense battle theme that, while grim, is exciting in the way it lets the fury flow unimpeded. As the piece dies down, the oboe’s wails become cathartic as the anger dissipates, leaving only sadness left in its wake.
Revenge of the Ghost
But when it comes to action, “The Duel (in the name of love)” remains one of the best action pieces Iwasaki has ever composed. A lone French horn sounds out the theme to “On the Pier” providing this piece with a lofty air that rises magnificently. Then, the magnificence sidles off and the percussion takes over, stomping with abandon as the strings fire off their vicious melody. Throughout the percussive intensity, the piece captivates with its dynamism; we hear the tension growing thick with an anger and hatred begging to wreak vengeance upon a foe. Later on, the cello growls, signaling an impending doom that moves slowly and deliberately, until a closeted memory stays the killing blow. What follows is a melancholy oboe melody that brings the piece to a gentle close, providing a cathartic end to the battle and leaving us gratified.
The Duel (in the name of love)
As the battles come to a close, life goes on, but there’s a restlessness which remains. “You By My Side” is a thoughtful track that delivers a quiet, but emotionally heavy atmosphere to reflect the emotional turmoil that Kenshin undergoes as he struggles to come to terms with his past misdeeds. And yet, Iwasaki still makes room for a supportive romance to blossom poignantly. A few tracks after, “Heart of Sunrise” moves away from the melancholia with its stirring optimism. The piece’s progression conveys the eagerness and excitement related to the title event through the strings, which rush towards an epic finish. The middle section channels urgency, but once the trumpet makes its serene entrance, there’s a slow, triumphant close, indicating that the weight of guilt is lifted, and that the warrior who fought so hard for so long can finally be at peace.
Heart of Sunrise
And so, Iwasaki closes out the Rurouni Kenshin: Seisouhen soundtrack quietly. First, we have “Cord of Life,” which ties the music thematically through an introspective rendition of “On the Pier.” The calm ending then emerges through “Pie Jesu,” where the piano provides a wonderful introduction before the orchestra swells with delight. The feelings that bubble forth are enthralling as the ups and downs of Kenshin Himura’s life conclude in the warmth of a loved one’s arms, allowing two hearts, previously separated, to unite forevermore and leaving us satisfied with Iwasaki’s poignancy.