Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Who's afraid of the X-marked swordsman?

rurouni kenshin anime"The bluest sky is infinitely high and crystal clear..." - Gentatsu

Rurouni Kenshin -- If you're a fan of anime, that means you know what Rurouni Kenshin (Samurai X) is. I think almost everyone, fans or not, has seen Kenshin fight using his Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu technique. People have seen him encounter opponents that grow stronger with every episode like Saito Hajime of the Shinsengumi, Shinomori Aoshi of the Oniwabanshu and Shishio Makoto of the Juppongatana.

Er... If you have no idea what Rurouni Kenshin is, I'll give you a bit of an overview.

Rurouni Kenshin, also called Samurai X, is a manga series by Watsuki Nobuhiro that was animated in 1996. The story revolves around Himura Kenshin, a wanderer who is known as the greatest swordsman in Japan during the Edo period. He was an assassin of the bakufu (Japanese government) who wanted to atone for all the lives that he took. The anime (and manga) tells us what happens to Kenshin as he meets new friends and old enemies alike while trying to accept that his past is part of him.

There are also two Rurouni Kenshin OVAs: the "Tsuiokuhen" (Recollection) is about Kenshin's childhood
where he was found by his master, Hiko Seijuro, until he turns 18; the "Seisouhen" (Reflection) is about Kenshin and Kaoru's life years after the story of the series happens. A Rurouni Kenshin movie was also created called the "Ishin Shishi he no Requiem" (The Requiem of the Ishin Shishi) where Kenshin meets another samurai whose friend was slain by Kenshin when he was still an assassin. (I won't write about anything more than this because I might slip and give away spoilers.)

rurouni kenshin saitoRurouni Kenshin is a very good anime to watch if you're into Japanese history, well-drawn fight scenes, samurai, weapons, or just plain anime. I have to mention that the dialogues in Rurouni Kenshin are very deep and poetic and they reflect the period where the characters live in (an example being the quote I used to start this entry). Oh I also have to mention that most of the main characters in Rurouni Kenshin are based on real people who lived during the Edo period and not only the characters, but the historical events as well like the Shinsengumi, Saito, Okita, the Tokugawa era and the Meiji restoration among others.

Here's a list of my favorite Rurouni Kenshin characters:

  1. Saito Hajime - used to be part of the Shinsengumi and Kenshin's enemy; his character is based on a real Saito Hajime who was also part of the Shinsengumi
  2. Himura Kenshin - was known as "Hitokiri Battousai"; became a wanderer to try and atone for his sins
  3. Shinomori Aoshi - head of the Oniwabanshu who wanted to defeat Kenshin to gain the title of "strongest swordsman"
  4. Shishio Makoto - head of the Juppongatana; consumed with hatred for the government
  5. Hiko Seijuro - Kenshin's master; runs a sake business since he retired from being a Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu swordsman
  6. Soujiro Seta - one of Shishio's Juppongatana; learned how to keep smiling due to his past
  7. Muto Shougo - a Christian who claimed to be the second Messiah; knows Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu
Do watch Rurouni Kenshin. I've never heard of anyone not liking it even a bit. If you're going to watch it for the sake of watching it because you're an anime fan, then by all means, watch Rurouni Kenshin from episodes 1 to 98. However, if you're watching it because you want a brilliant anime to add to your list, I suggest you stop watching after the Kenshin and Amakusa Shougo episodes because the rest are bad fillers that, I admit, caused Rurouni Kenshin to be pulled out and discontinued. Despite this, it really is a great, great, great watch!