Posted by psgels on 24 February 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews


Tsuiokuhen, or Trust and Betrayal, is the prequel (although it was produced later) to the series Rurouni Kenshin. Don’t worry; you don’t need to have seen the series to enjoy this four-episode OVA. I haven’t seen it myself, nor am I planning to (my to-watch-list is already large enough without the addition of a ninety-episode series), but I was perfectly able to follow what was going on without feeling left out, unlike the two Patlabor-movies. The original series may be too large of a commitment, but this four-episode OVA is a must-watch.

Seriously, I’ve never seen anyone who didn’t like this after watching it. The story itself may have been done before, but the storytelling and characters more than make up for it. This is one anime that perfectly knows how to use its time with a great balance of building up and intense scenes. Sure, there are some very nice fights, but the two main characters really steal the show. The side-characters are also well-defined, and have their own clear roles to play and at the end, the storylines are all very neatly wrapped up.

Still, in terms of sword-fighting this series delivers as well. There may be fewer fights than you would expect, but right now I can’t remember having seen any other anime with more detail in its choreography than what I’ve seen in this OVA, even considering the epics of Shigurui and Seirei no Moribito. In addition to that, the background music is also stellar. The only thing I can name that gets close to a bad point is the fact that the main character may have been a bit too young to be such a masterful and unbeatable swordsman.

Still, after watching it, I totally understand why Tsuiokuhen is so popular and well-loved. If you’re into period-anime, this just has to sit on your watch-list, and this is another top-notch OVA. The people from Studio Deen have proven once again that even though they screw up at times, they can churn out a classic just as easily.

8 Responses

  1. qwaszx says:

    Great OVA, too bad they dont have boy girl romances like this anymore. This is a lot different than the series, as the series resembles bleach and naruto more than the ova.

  2. Solaris says:

    Well i have nothing to complain here. I’m looking for some point to whine, but i can’t find it… ¬_¬”

  3. Archer says:

    for me this is one of my top 5 favorite anime and the closest anime can get to be even called a piece of art,it’s got wonderful music,very good animation(too bad a good version is hard to find),good story,excellent characters in great situations,i think the samurai fights in this anime are the closest to reality , the love story was touching and tragic but it never felt exagerrated like in other animes with romance
    it is hard to say in words how good it really is,it just has to be watched

  4. Andrea says:

    Indeed this first Rurouni Kenshin OVA is a great story but it’s incomplete without the last OVA, that take place after the TV series: Rurouni Kenshin – Seisouhen.

    They (Tsuiokuhen + Seisouhen) complete each other and really are a masterpiece, probably the only OVA’s that made me cry..

    I’m strongly suggesting everyone to watch them togheter

  5. Darknives says:

    It’s no wonder this OVA is at the top of almost every anime ranking.
    The original series doesn’t really matter because this is a prequel. The other OVA (reminescence I think..) needs you to know the series, but only a general view.

  6. Saphatorael says:

    You really should watch the actual series, or at least the first two arcs. I consider the second arc one of the best anime stories ever (and Shishio as one of the best villains).
    And then the third, one of the worst.
    Should you decide to start watching the ‘original’ episodes, stop after 62. From episode 63 on, it’s just a collection of pointless fillers, and even though the first arc was slightly similar, at least that arc had character development.

  7. Animeguigas says:

    One of the best OVAs ever made. No matter how many times i rewatch it, i just can’t find anything to complain about (and i almost always find something to complain about, this anime is an exception).
    This is one of the few animes that earns the title of “masterpiece”.

  8. MCAL says:

    Might i suggest just limiting that to the first 62 episodes. In fact, for the sake of your soul, I’d pretend the episodes after that didn’t exist. It’s basically like watching Hunter x Hunter (1990s version). In fact, some people have compared it to such.

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  • prince
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 10:04 PM)
    I have commented on your Schwarzesmarken episode 4 review and also answered your questions so please check it out
  • wicked
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 07:26 PM)
    Fire dragon arc! Fire dragon dies in the 5th episode
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 04:06 PM)
    @Bam, Well the three games were originally supposed to be one. But it turned out that the first two were bundled together and Alternative was made a separate release.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 08:38 AM)
    Jesus I never expected that doing a myanimelist/letterboxd account thing would be so hard. I’ve seen a scarily higher amount than I thought, its insanely hard to remember everything to add.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:17 AM)
    It seems then that the future of the franchise’s anime adaptations rests a bit on Schwarzesmarken’s success, which looking at the buzz doesn’t seem favourable at all. I doubt it can regain the lost audiences.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:14 AM)
    That would suggest that the author(s) had the foresight of including seemingly useless stuff that will come into play later. That’d be impressive if they did, as these kinda series are make-it-as-you-go.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:59 AM)
    It’s difficult to put into words but essentially while the first game isn’t good, it does work as a tool for introducing and endearing you to the characters. Then Unlimited sets down the rules of the new world. And finally alternative proceeds to kick your ass into next Tuesday.
    That’s sort of why I don’t think it would have the same effect if it was an anime. VNs allow you to get a more personal connection with the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:55 AM)
    It’s not quite the same. It’s more like there are things in extra which seem insignificant but turn out to play an important role later. It wouldn’t really work the same if you did it in reverse order. Character history is a bit different too as each game is essentially an alternate universe. The character histories in extra are different from those in alternative.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:38 PM)
    And also remember how Darker Than Black had a big jump between the main series and Gemini of the Meteor. They later made a 4 episode OVA that covered the gap, and although you knew the outcome it was still entertaining; or at least more than the Gemini one. There’s merit to non-linear chronology and storytelling, but it is usually very hard to pull. The audience is intrigued by secrets that can later be uncovered, although in anime the pay-off is not always substantial.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:32 PM)
    I don’t know, the audience usually only needs very limited information to figure out dynamics and histories between the characters.

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