There are many names for the Rurouni Kenshin Original Video Animation(OVA), RK: Tsuiokuhen, RK: Remebrance/Recollection, or Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal.
Usually, I just refer to it as “perfection” or “the best damn anime ever made.”
It isn't very often that you watch something with the power to changes your life forever. For me, the Kenshin OVA had a profound impact on my life. The moment I saw the shocking opening scene, I was instantly drawn into this historical world of samurai and assassinations during the Bakumatsu.
The animation was top notch back in 1999, and still holds up well, even compared to today's CGI enhanced productions. The fluidity of the animation made every action scene a spectacle that could be watched over and over again. Despite being an animation, it still managed to capture so much realism that you really begin to get a feel of what Kyoto was like during those dark times.
The story was solid with unique and compelling characters. Characters are realistic in that people are just different shades of gray – everyone is fighting for something for different reasons. Kenshin is one of the most amazing characters in any story. Through him, we can see what drives a pure and innocent individual into becoming one of the most feared killers in history.
And then there's the music. My God… The music just blew me away! This is one of the best soundtracks made for any production. It's the main reason that many of the scenes are so powerful. Whether it's the peaceful sound of snow falling, or the glorious war of the last wolves, the music fits in perfectly.
All of these brilliant elements combine to create a visceral experience that transcends any other anime I've seen. Sometimes, I question whether or not it was a good thing that I watched the Kenshin OVA. Every single anime that I've seen has not been able to compare, leaving me disappointed. And so I just go back to watching Kenshin. Even after so many viewings throughout the years, watching the OVA still gives me goosebumps every time.
In North America, the Kenshin OVA is currently liscensed and published by ADV films. There are actually several versions on DVD. The normal version and the director's cut version, and a bunch of bundle versions. ADV refers to Rurouni Kenshin as Samurai X, i guess they thought it would be easier to say or something.
The normal version comes on two DVD's.
Since the OVA is 4 episodes long, there are 2 episodes on each disc. The first disc is called Trust, and the second disc is called Betrayal.
I believe this version is being discontinued now since it doesn't show up on the ADV site anymore.
There is also the director's cut, which comes on a single disc with all of the episodes from the OVA merged together to make it more like a movie. There are also a few seconds of addition of footage added, and I believe the image was cropped to make it widescreen. Also, some of the music has been re-arranged. I don't have this version, but I will pick it up next time I see it on sale, just to see exactly what they've changed. From what I've heard, I would recommend the original version over the director's cut. Since the animation was originally draw in a 4:3 aspect ration, cropping it into widescreen would mean that you are actually viewing less in this case.
There are also a bunch of bundle version where they throw in another OVA, which is called Reflection. Reflection takes place after the events of the TV show, and it really doesn't make any sense unless you've watched the Kenshin TV show or read the manga, where as Trust and Betrayal is a prequal to the TV series, and therefor stand-alone. The Reflection OVA is nowhere near as good as the Trust and Betrayal OVA, and it has had very mixed reviews. Even the original creator of Kenshin disapproved of the Reflection OVA, saying that it didn't end Kenshin the way he had envisioned.
ADV has released so many sets and re-releases that it is a headache trying to keep up with what content is in what set. "Samurai X: The Collection" comes in 3 Dvd's, with the original version of Trust and Betrayal, as well was the original version of Reflection. The "Director's Cut Collection" contains 2 DVD's, with the directors cut versions of both OVA's. The "Complete" set has both normal and director's cuts of both OVA's, as well as the Kenshin Motion Picture. To me, it just seems like ADV is releasing the same stuff over and over again without any new content. I just hope that when they're done milking the cash cow, they'll release a High Definition version of the OVA. That may be wishful thinking, but one can always dream...