Written by: Gabriel Castillo
Published on: December 23, 2021 at 17:00 PHT (GMT+8)
To the fans of Rurouni Kenshin, let’s admit it: at some point in our lives, we’ve probably tried to reenact some of Kenshin’s Hiten Mitsurugi-ryu forms because they looked ridiculously cool (if not his style, probably Saito’s then).
The television (TV) anime was adapted from Nobuhiro Watsuki’s manga and aired 95 episodes from 1996 to 1998 (25 years ago — wow that’s a working adult). This first series was produced by Studio Gallop, Studio Deen, and SPE Visual works with Kazuhiro Furuhashi directing. And, given the title’s success, a ton of media including highly successful live action films were produced after. Now, a recent announcement during Shueisha’s Jump Festa ’22 revealed that a revival anime was in the works by LIDEN films! Since there’s no release date yet, let’s look back at this fun series and reminisce (and maybe do some moves).
Brief Synopsis (AniRadio ReWrite)
Hitokiri Battousai, a legendary assassin who saw the end of the Bakumatsu era, suddenly vanished during the Japanese Revolution. Even after 10 years of absence, the name is still feared.
However, the previous master assassin Battousai has been trying to leave a peaceful life as Kenshin Himura, a happy wandering swordsman with a double-edged sword. In line with his new life, Kenshin vows to never kill again and instead protects the weak. He eventually meets Kaoru Kamiya, a young lady in need of help as her kendo dojo is in danger thanks to a man claiming to be Battousai. After helping out, the two stick together as the reformed killer continues his journey of atonement and change.
What Made it Interesting?
Blast from the Past
The series takes place in the Meiji Period which, historically, was a tumultuous time in Japan and the anime does a decent job of depicting such turbulent times. During this period, western influences were blending with Japan’s traditions and the design of Rurouni Kenshin’s world reflects this intriguing mashup of cultures from the way some characters dress, to demeanor, ideologies, etc. If you enjoy depictions of an older Japan, then this series is right up your alley. Although be mindful that the series was not created for historical accuracy.
The Reverse-Edged Sword
The story’s premise is quite interesting: the top assassin that helped usher in a new era for the nation suddenly turns his back on bloodshed and walks down a path of atonement in search of peace. It’s a good take on the “getting-out-of-the-game” dynamic that is all about leaving your past life behind and trying to start anew. But, as is expected, the past life can catch up. And Kenshin’s adventure is rife with reminders of his bloody, battle-filled past hindering steps forward toward a peaceful life.
If you’re into the ‘leaving your old life’ behind motif, then this story will pique your interests. Of course, there are struggles along the way, new and old friends show up, and battles — both internal and external — add excitement to the story.
Fun Characters (even villains)
Apart from Battosai himself, the rest of the cast adds decent amounts of flavor and color to the anime. Their dynamic together, whether friends or enemies, usually blends well and creates excellent interactions between characters. Kenshin’s gang of good friends are fun to watch but the anti-heroes and villains (like Saito Hajime, Shishio Makoto, Seta Sojiro, etc) attach a ton of coolness and badassery to the story.
The Kyoto Arc
If you try asking older anime fans to recall something about Rurouni Kenshin’s story, chances are they’ll mention Shishio Makoto’s masterclass performance in the Kyoto arc. As the main baddie of this arc, Shishio is out for revenge as his former employers, the Meiji Government, tried to burn him alive. Together with another iconic villain group, the Juppongatana (loosely translated: ten swords), he vows to set the nation ablaze (fan-favorite Seta Sojiro comes out here)!
Kenshin and a hand-picked crew band together and face the bandaged baddie’s squad of elite fighters throughout this epic arc filled with all kinds of ups and downs. And, thankfully, it felt like the studios in charge doubled-down on the budget to animate some of the fights in this eventful portion of the story.
Spawned a Ton of Media
The manga birthed a TV anime adaptation which later on spurred adaptations through all sorts of media like original video animations (OVAs), games, and giga successful live action films, more. Here’s a quick list of all the different Rurouni Kenshin media you can consume:
Rurouni Kenshin – Manga (1994 – 1999)
Rurouni Kenshin (aka Samurai X) – TV Anime (1994 – 1999)
Rurouni Kenshin: The Motion Picture – Film (1997)
Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal – OVA (1999)
Rurouni Kenshin: Reflection – OVA (2001 to 2002)
Rurouni Kenshin: New Kyoto Arc – OVA (2011 to 2012)
Five live action films
Rurouni Kenshin (2012)
Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno (2014)
Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends (2014)
Rurouni Kenshin: The Final (2021)
Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning (2021)
Rurouni Kenshin – TV anime revival (announced 2021)
It’s always exciting to hear about a new anime project for a relatively old title. Since the live action films were pretty big hits, we’re hoping the upcoming anime continues the hype and ushers in a new era of Rurouni Kenshin goodness! For now, you can add this series to your holiday binge list!