Rurouni Kenshin

From Academic Kids

Rurouni Kenshin manga, volume 1 ( version).
Rurouni Kenshin manga, volume 1 (English version).

Rurouni Kenshin (るろうに剣心) is a set of manga and anime series created by artist Nobuhiro Watsuki, set during the early years of the Meiji Era in Japan. The English-language releases of the OVAs are sold under the Samurai X name.

The series tells the story of Himura Kenshin, who ten years prior was known as the Battōsai (romanized as Battōsai in the English manga and as Battousai in the English anime), an assassin who helped bring about the downfall of the Tokugawa shogunate which ushered in the Meiji Era. As a result, he is highly prized by people who want to either hire him for his skills, or kill him for toppling the old power structure. Kenshin himself grieves for the lives he ended, and has vowed that he will never kill again.

The manga originally appeared in the Japanese Shonen Jump Weekly Anthology, and the completed work consists of 28 tankōbon volumes. The United States release of the manga is being handled by VIZ Media. Rurouni Kenshin is subtitled Wandering Samurai in some English releases. The name is sometimes abbreviated as "RuroKen".

In Brazil, Rurouni Kenshin was published by "Editora JBC" in 56 volumes (each volume is a half of the original tankōbon), maintaining its original Japanese manga reading format (from the top-right corner to the bottom-left corner of the book). Yahiko no Sakabatō was released by the same publisher in July 10th of 2004, during an event that gathers anime, manga and games fans from all over Brazil called "Anime Friends", which is held every year in So Paulo. Kenshin Kaden, a Rurouni Kenshin encyclopedia was also released by the same publisher in November of 2004.


The series

The series was and first appeared as a pair of separate short stories (both are titled Rurouni: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story) published in 1992 and 1993 in the manga magazine Weekly Shonen Jump Special. In 1994, Watsuki created a final ongoing version that was published in Shonen Jump until its conclusion in 1999, which the various anime series are based from. In 2000, it was followed up by Yahiko no Sakabatō ("Yahiko's Reversed-Edge Sword"). The manga consists of 28 tankōbon volumes (Yahiko no Sakabatō was never compiled). The storyline of Kenshin is divided into three storyline arcs: Tokyo, Kyoto, and the Jinchū (Revenge) arc. The Jinchū arc was not animated, save for the parts about Kenshin's background which formed one of the OVAs released (see below).

There are four animated Rurouni Kenshin series (るろうに剣心 "Rurouni" means "wanderer" according to the creator (the word is technically made-up) so the series could be translated as "Kenshin the Wanderer"):

  • The TV series, set during the early years of the Meiji Era and telling of the early romance between Himura Kenshin (known in Western order, Kenshin Himura, in the English anime) and Kamiya Kaoru (Kaoru Kamiya in the English anime). In the United States, Rurouni Kenshin was the second most popular cable TV show for ages 10-13, after Lizzie Maguire in 2003. The TV series was split into three approximate seasons, with the first 27 episodes generally following the Tokyo Arc, episodes 28-62 closely following the Kyoto Arc, and episodes 63-95 being "filler" non-manga based episodes designed to allow for the manga to get ahead a little. Unfortunately, the anime series slid from high popularity after the Kyoto Arc to eventual cancellation before the Jinchuu/Revenge Arc could be animated.
    • Note: There were also two "specials" that aired and were once considered a part of the TV series (making the total number of episodes to 97). However, when the show was dubbed and brought over to the states, those episodes were "left out" and have become somewhat of a legend/considered to be "lost" by some fans.
  • A movie (Rurouni Kenshin: Ishin Shishi no Requiem/Rurouni Kenshin: Requiem for the Ishin Patriots, called Samurai X: The Motion Picture in the English language release), which used a large amount of material from the TV series and re-told its story
  • The first OVA series (Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen/Rurouni Kenshin: Recollection, split apart as Samurai X: Trust and Samurai X: Betrayal in the English language releases), set during the downfall of the Tokugawa shogunate and telling of Kenshin's childhood and young adult life. Only a few characters from the TV series appear in this OVA, namely Kenshin, Kenshin's master, Hiko Seijūrō (Seijuro Hiko in the English anime), and Saitō Hajime (Hajime Saito in the English anime).
  • The second OVA series (Rurouni Kenshin: Seisōhen/Rurouni Kenshin: Time, called Samurai X: Reflection in the English language releases), set after the TV series and telling of Kenshin and Kaoru's later years, differs from the manga on many key plot points.

The OVA series -- which feature a number of historical characters -- attempts to be more realistic and accurate than the TV series, which begins as a romantic comedy but evolves into a period drama. The OVA made use of live footage spliced with animation cells giving the series a different feel than straight animation.

There is a good deal of debate regarding the authenticity of the second OVA. Most avid fans tend to completly ignore this OVA and disagree with the ending that was given in it. Creator Nobuhiro Watsuki also concurs with his fans and states that this OVA did not portray the ending he forsaw for Kenshin, stating that he enjoys happy ending best.

The animated series enjoys immense popularity worldwide, and although designed primarily for male fans, its detailed exploration of emotion and relationships (especially the romantic relationship that develops between Kenshin and Kaoru) attracts many female followers. Since the series ran for so long (95 episodes), each of the main characters was explored quite in depth. Together with the OVAs explaining Kenshin's past and future, this series is considered by many one of the most complete shows about the period and of the 'samurai' genre.



  • Kenshin's dialogue often contains archaic Japanese words which can cause problems in translation. Most of the time, he refers to himself with the extremely humble pronoun "sessha" (translated by Viz as "this one") and uses the formal verb "de gozaru" (conveyed by MediaBlasters with phrases like "...that it is"). He shares this vocabulary with some characters in other series, such as Goemon Ishikawa in Lupin III. He also addresses most women with an honorific that was generally reserved for feudal lords; the translation "Miss Kaoru" does not really express the same degree of extreme courtesy as "Kaoru-dono". He also uses the nonsense word 'oro' to express surprise or confusion (compare to Tama-chan from Love Hina, who says 'myuh' (myū) a lot). When in Battōsai persona, Kenshin stops being so polite; "de gozaru" disappears, and "sessha" is replaced with the more typical brash male pronoun "ore". Kaoru is quick to catch onto this fact as is demonstrated after the Saitō fight.
  • The word Battōsai (抜刀齋) translates into Master of Sword Drawing. Battō (抜刀術) is the action of drawing a sword; Sai is a suffix which has no literal meaning, but in this context, can refer to having mastered a set of skills or knowledge. The name directly indicates Kenshin's mastery of all forms of Battōjutsu. However, Kenshin did not give himself this name, nor does he value it.
  • The name Samurai X is used in ADV Films' English language releases, as Media Blasters, which had the TV series, owned the rights to the "Rurouni Kenshin" name. The name "Samurai X" was chosen presumably due to the X shaped scar on Kenshin's face, and most likely also the general "hipness" the word samurai has in English. This name is unpopular with fans of the series, who also point out that Kenshin was not technically a samurai to begin with. His use of a surname before the end of the Shogunate may mean that the Ishinshishi granted him a samurai-equivalent status although he was born into a family of peasant farmers (peasants were not permitted to have family names); technically, he might also be considered to have married into the rank.



The games

There were two Rurouni Kenshin games released for Playstation. The first was Rurouni Kenshin: Ishin Gekitouhen, released on November 29 1996 and released in the Playstation The Best lineup on August 6 1998. Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenyaku Romantan: Juuyuushi Inbou Hen was released on December 18 1997 and was re-released in the Playstation The Best lineup on November 5 1998.

Rurouni Kenshin: Ishin Gekitouhen is a typical fighter platformer. You can control several characters from the anime to fight against other characters. Both Kaoru and Saito are secret characters. Zanza (not to be confused with Sanosuke) is somewhat of a secret character in that you have to press select when highlight Sanosuke to use him. You progress though six fights, the final being against Shinomori Aoshi. The game follows the first encounter with Aoshi and his group. One of the highlights of the game is the many anime cutscenes throughout the game.

Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenyaku Romantan: Juuyuushi Inbou Hen is an RPG staring an male or female character, Hijiri or Hikaru. The story is unrelated to the manga or anime. During the story you will recuit various characters from Rurouni Kenshin including Kenshin himself. Both Saito and Aoshi are playable depending on which character you are playing as. Saito is playable in Hijiri's story and Aoshi is playable in Hikaru's. You journey with the Kenshin-gumi to discover the truth behind your past and defeat an evil group up to no good. Many characters from the anime make cameos during the game, including Kenshin's master Hiko and Misao.

The gameplay is a more complex version of rock-paper-scissors. Each attack can be blocked, parried or countered unless it is the character's unblockable. At first you can only predict a few of the enemy's moves but as you level up you will be able to predict more moves until you can predict all the moves they will do that turn.

The battles are not party-based. The first character in your party will be the first and only character to attack. They will fight until they are either defeated or replaced by another character. Other fights, usually boss fights, are one-on-one. Each character is paired with a boss. The battle sprites are highly animated with every character having their signature moves. If a character defeats an enemy with one of their specials, a short cutscene will play after battle.

Neither game has been translated into English.

Theme songs

  • Opening
    1. "Sobakasu" (Freckles) by Judy & Mary (Eps. 1-38)
    2. "" by Makoto Kawamoto (Eps. 39-82)
    3. "Kimi ni Fureru Dake de" (Just Touched By You) by Curio (Eps. 83-95)
    • Only Opening 1 is used in the Cartoon Network version.
  • Ending
    1. "Tactics" by The Yellow Monkey (Eps. 1-12)
    2. "Namida wa Shitte iru" (I Know Tears) by Mayo Suzukaze (Eps. 13-27)
    3. "Heart of Sword ~ Yoake Mae" by T.M. Revolution (Eps. 28-38, 43-49)
    4. "Fourth Avenue Cafe" by L'Arc~en~Ciel (Eps. 39-42)
    5. "It's Gonna Rain" by Bonnie Pink (Eps. 50-66)
    6. "1/3 no Junjō na Kanjō" (1/3 True Feelings) by Siam Shade (Eps. 67-82)
    7. "Dame!" (No!) by You Izumi (Eps. 83-95)
    • Only Ending 3 is used in the Cartoon Network version but with the footage from "Sobakasu."
    • Due to drug charges against L'Arc~en~Ciel, Sony pulled "Fourth Avenue Cafe" and re-used "Heart of Sword" with the 4th ending animation.

The opening theme to the RK movie (Ishin Shishi e no Requiem) is "Niji" performed by L'Arc~en~Ciel.

English Voice Actors

ADV's English dubs of the OVAs and movie were done at their Austin, TX-based studio, Monster Island (closed down as of spring 2005). Media Blasters hired a Los Angeles-based dub studio, Bang! Zoom! Entertainment for their dub of the TV series. As such, all of the voice actors are different.

External links

  • Let it Burn ( A site that has a RK Character guide and character information.
  • The Ultimate RK FAQ ( A site that has a FAQ page that tries to answer every question about Rurouni Kenshin that has ever been asked (anything from character ages, character translations, a list of OSTs, and whether or not nazis are in RK).
  • The Lost Rurouni Kenshin Specials ( A site that informs the public about two RK specials that never made it over to the states. However, Media Blasters has hinted at licensing them for an English-language X

de:Rurouni Kenshin es:Rurouni Kenshin fr:Kenshin le vagabond ja:るろうに剣心 ru:Rurouni Kenshin [[1] (] Great character profiles and a good image gallery worth a look at.


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