Rurouni Kenshin

Rurouni Kenshin is an anime series in the Rurouni Kenshin franchise
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It's 1878 in Japan, 11 years after the Meiji Restoration (see Oi! Ryoma), and most of the revolutionaries have become just as corrupt as the government they once opposed. "Weakening" foreign influences have become ever stronger, and samurai have lost many of their past rights. Kenshin Himura is a former member of the revolutionary Isshin Shishi group-a reformed assassin who now uses a reverse-bladed sword to avoid ever killing again. He falls for the beautiful Kaoru Kamiya, the impoverished daughter of a swordsmaster whose school has fallen on hard times in the modern age. Kenshin stays at Kaoru's dojo, cooking and cleaning, while also finding the time to deal with some old enemies and scare off local ruffians and disaffected former students of Kaoru's school.

RnK began as a 1994 manga in Shonen Jump by Nobuhiro Watsuki, inspired in part by the true-life story of Gensai Kawakami, a 19th-century killer whose good looks often distracted his foes from his cold-blooded nature. Kawakami was useful to Japan's revolutionaries during the pre-Restoration period of civil unrest, but, a danger to the new order, he was imprisoned and executed on trumped-up charges in 1871. To add to the drama, Watsuki threw in a love interest and two more characters, the bratty kid Yahiko (supposedly based on the author's younger self, who was picked last for his school kendo team), and the supertough Sanosuke (based on the semihistorical Sanosuke Harada, hero of Ryotaro Shiba's novel Burning Sword). The TV series adapts two major story arcs, beginning with the "Tokyo" sequence mentioned above, followed by the "Kyoto" plotline in which another former revolutionary, Makoto, takes up Kenshin's old job, and with it a certain bitterness that the revolution hasn't gone the way he wanted it. Consequently, he plots to return Japan to chaos, but is thwarted by the actions of Kenshin and his associates.

The final sequence from the manga, "Revenge" was unfinished at the time that the anime reached that point in the story. Consequently, the "Revenge" arc was not adapted for the screen; instead, episodes 63 through 95 (the final episode being video-only) of the series went their own way, largely with "filler" episodes that had nothing to do with the manga. It is the loss in quality of these filler episodes that is credited with the serial's removal from the air, although such a criticism seems churlish when the filler episodes alone run for longer than many of RnK's contemporaries.

Surprisingly popular in the U.S. in spite of featuring a hero who would have happily kicked Americans out of Japan, the Ruro TV series occasionally lapses into pointless comedy at the expense of its overall serious tone. The depiction of martial arts, however, while often not realistic, is respectful and detailed. Luckily this doesn't slow down the action; the battle sequences are well staged and directed. Attractive design and characterization, and the emotional and spiritual intensity of the main characters, make this an interesting and involving show. The RnK movie (1997, Ishin Kokorozashi Samurai eno Chinkonka, Requiem for Ishin's Knight, aka Samurai X: The Motion Picture) takes the characters to Yokohama, where Kenshin once more faces a figure from his past. He saves the life of a man being attacked by bandits and finds that he and Shigure have a link-in his old, violent life, he killed Shigure's friend. Now, Shigure is planning a coup against the Meiji Government, which he believes to be as corrupt as its precursor, but his revolt has been infiltrated by elements in the government seeking to advance their own position. It fails, and Shigure is killed after he has surrendered by one of his treacherous supporters. Kenshin faces the betrayer of his former enemy and tests his vow never to kill again.

The 1999 video series, released in English as Samurai X: Reflection (RnK: Tsuioku Hen), is a flashback to Kenshin's youth, detailing the story of how he got the distinctive cross-shaped scar on his cheek. Free of the restrictions of TV broadcast, it is much darker than the TV version. The video series also exists in a 125-minute "movie" edit, with a fake widescreen appearance and cast/crew interviews. During the serial's long run, crucial moments of the plot were rerun in three clip-shows (billed as TV "specials"), while two more compilations of previous footage were rerun as "summer holiday specials." There was also an eight-part video release, RnK: Popular Characters, that purported to portray fan-favorite moments, though one is tempted to point out that a "fan" would buy the episodes anyway. A two-part sequel, released in English as Samurai X: Trust & Betrayal (2001, RnK: Seiso Hen, RnK: Time Chapter), features an appearance by Kenshin's son. V
Series Credits
Person Name Episode Count
Kazuhiro Furuhashi
8
Noriyuki Asakura
8
Kazuchika Kise
1

To edit the cast, go to an episode page.

Original US Poster Art

General Information Edit
Name Rurouni Kenshin
Name: るろうに剣心 明治剣客浪漫譚
Romaji: Rurouni Kenshin Meiji Kenkaku Romantan
Publisher ?
Start Year 1996
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Aliases Sword of Ruro
Vagabond Sword
Kenshin the Wanderer
Kenshin the Ronin
Samurai X
Ruroni Kenshin
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