Rurouni Kenshin, Disc 1 – The Legendary Swordsman
***Special Guest Post by nichan***
Once upon a time, there was a battousai (a not-too-nice swordsman) with red hair and a cross-shaped scar. His name was Kenshin Himura. Perhaps you’ve heard of him?
Well, our dear site owner hasn’t actually seen “Rurouni Kenshin”. I have no idea how she’s managed to pull this off, but she has. So I’ve decided to attempt to nail my attention span down long enough to get her through as much of the series as I currently own… Which is six episodes of “Samurai X” and two box sets of “Rurouni Kenshin”. This could be a long journey for all involved.
Here’s a summary of Disc 1 – “The Legendary Swordsman”.
Episode 1 – “The Handsome Swordsman of Legend”
On one foggy evening, a girl named Kaoru Kamiya, who is after the legendary battousai, runs up to a man and demands he halts. She’s convinced this stranger is the fellow she’s tracking down, and she’s not going to let him get away.
The man insists he’s no more than a simple wanderer, which Kaoru finds hard to believe. As proof, he shows her his sword, which is a sakabato – a reverse blade. And who could possibly be a merciless swordsman with a reverse blade sword, right?
Anyhoo, Kaoru finds the man she’s been searching for and gets in a fight. I refrained from catching any images of this because “Rurouni Kenshin” has a lot of fights. A quick summary is that the battousai is about to kill her when the wanderer intervenes and saves her, much to her complete surprise.
Well, anyway, when she wakes back up, she’s neatly tucked in her own bed, back at her place. Her place, by the way, is a poor dojo. Her father is dead, she’s trying to run the joint on her own, and she barely has any students. …And what students she does have are quickly being chased off by a bad reputation: the battousai is killing people and claiming he’s doing it in the name of her sword fighting style.
So Kaoru is a smidge bit stressed at this point. And now she’s got this clumsy wanderer hanging around. Oh, sure, he saved her once, and, sure, he cooks better than she does, but, you know… Things happen when clumsy boys and stressed-out girls are chillaxin’ together.
The wanderer asks her a few questions about the battousai, and she starts to dream about her childhood, and suddenly she realizes who he is (the battousai, not the wanderer): a former student of her father’s who had veered from his teachings and had been punished and banished.
Just as she’s figuring this out, he shows up to attack her as an act of revenge. This dude? This dude holds a serious grudge.
In another feat of perfect timing, the wanderer appears right as the battousai is about to do some serious harm to Karou’s physical well-being.
It’s during this fight that the wanderer confesses that the battousai is absolutely not the battousai. And how does he know this? Because he is the battousai. This clumsy, ditzy, goofy, tiny, little man is the swordsman of legend. …You can kind’ve see it in his eyes when he gets all serious and stuff.
He proceeds to defeat the faux-battousai. The battle is won and his secret identity is out. The honor of Kaoru’s dojo can now be restored.
Kaoru asks the wanderer what his name is (it’s Kenshin Himura) and then invites him to stay at the dojo. It seems like she’s got a bit of a crush (why else would you punch a boy, anyway?), and he… Well, he’s kind’ve hard to read. But he gives her a sweet smile and agrees to hang around for awhile.
Episode 2 – “Kid Samurai”
In this episode, Kaoru seems to be losing her mind for lack of anything better to do. She doesn’t have any students, Kenshin won’t practice with her, and she doesn’t have any money.
In order to cheer herself up, she decides that Kenshin is going to take her out to dinner.
On the trip through town, Kenshin has a bit of a run-in with a pickpocket…
During dinner, Kaoru and Kenshin find out via the gossipy waitress that the pickpocket is actually Yahiko Myojin, a child who’s being forced to steal at the violent insistence of a yakuza syndicate. They both feel bad for the kid, and Kaoru decides to take matters into her own hands: she’s determined to rescue Yahiko from the bad guys.
Kenshin’s been suspiciously absent from this battle, but eventually arrives on the scene in one of his more serious moods. Not his most serious mood, but he’s still pretty touchy.
After “acquiring” Yahiko’s freedom from the syndicate, Kenshin scoops the kid up and carries him back to the dojo, much to Yahiko’s annoyance and shame. The kid’s super determined to make it on his own and prove himself, but it’s clear he’s not yet ready. Kenshin makes him feel a bit better about the whole thing by telling him that he can stay at the dojo and learn how to sword fight.
Yahiko’s actually rather thrilled at this prospect: Kenshin’s fighting style is something special. Kenshin, however, has other plans for him…
Yahiko is going to be taught by Kaoru.
Episode 3 – “Swordsman of Sorrow”
It’s a few days into Yahiko’s training under Kaoru…
…And things aren’t really going all that smoothly.
But thanks to various shenanigans, the plot plods on. And when I say “shenanigans”, I mean that the government is looking for Kenshin, the cops are picking fights with everybody, and people almost get killed. Kaoru has to struggle with some police in order to go find Yahiko, who’s gone off to find Kenshin but has, instead, gotten tied up and is about to get killed. Kenshin, meanwhile, picks a fight with the head bad guy police dude and wins. Blah, blah, blah.
Anyhoo, Kenshin defeats the bad guys, Yahiko is freed, and then the government catches up with them. Come to find out, they want Kenshin to join the military, but Kenshin refrains and says he just wants to live his life as a wanderer.
Things kinda turn into an after school special after that. Warm fuzzies are had all around. Yahiko learns an important lesson about something. Blah, blah, yadda, yadda.
“Rurouni Kenshin” occasionally has somewhat flat or pointless episodes. This episode wasn’t pointless, but it was flat. …Excuse me while I yawn.
Episode 4 – “Bad!”
One day, Kenshin and Friends decide to go out to dinner, but a group of drunken jerks are being annoying and sort’ve interrupt their good times.
Well, anyway, things quickly spiral out of control, dishes are thrown, and a waitress is slapped. Just when you expect Kaoru or Kenshin to get involved, it is, instead, this fellow who stands up and intervenes:
Sanosuke suggests they all go outside and brawl in the street.
After defeating the drunken idiots, Sano, Yahiko, Kaoru, and Kenshin all wind up chatting. Sano sportingly suggests he and Kenshin fight next, but Kenshin politely declines.
Even though Sanosuke tries to pick a fight with Kenshin, it comes across as more of a male bonding issue than an “I want to kick your butt” scenario. It seems that they have rather immediately become awfully close. They’re already giving off that vibe of being able to have whole conversations with mere glances and no words. They smile a lot at each other. A lot. A whole lot.
And then Sano walks away and the waitress suddenly realizes that he never paid his bill. So… That sort’ve breaks the bromantic mood.
So who is this Sanosuke Sagara fellow, and why’s he, like, fighty fighttastic? Well, come to find out, he’s a fighter for hire. He seems to like punching people and stuff, so he does it for money. And after seeing him battle the drunks in the street, he acquires a new patron: the guy from the first episode who had been seeking revenge against Kaoru.
It seems he’s no longer angry at Kaoru so much as Kenshin. Kaoru’s father had busted his right thumb with the idea that it’d prevent him from swinging a sword; Kenshin had to bust his left thumb to actually make that a reality. So he hires Sano to severely punish Kenshin.
Sanosuke is an independent sort of fellow, though, and decides to go about the process in his own special way: he heads over to visit Kenshin. It’s mainly to size him up so he can figure out how best to battle with him, but there are a lot of long, lingering smiles involved.
Almost like a mating ritual, Sano starts an introductory battle with Kenshin. He ultimately elects to refrain from continuing due to not wanting to fight in front of women and children, but they still manage to take a few swings at each other.
Oh, and the guy with the beard who’s hired Sanosuke to go after Kenshin? He’s lurking in the bushes and watching with great interest. Since Sano’s so independent, he finds this terribly annoying – he doesn’t particularly enjoy being micromanaged – and one of them (I can’t remember off the top of my head) slices through a tree limb so that it’ll land on the guy. …Neither Sano nor Kenshin seem to think this is a worrisome situation, although the guy with the beard obviously has a few complaints about it.
Then Sanosuke walks away, threatening to continue the fight at a later date.
This is clearly not the last Kenshin is going to see of him. But what will the next encounter be like, and when will it happen?
You’ll just have to wait for Disc 2 – “Battle in the Moonlight”!
nichan (aka “The Other Nicole,” “The Bad Nicole”)
i like cantonese music, japanese music, a dash of korean music, and our site owner has recently exposed me to mandarin music. — joey yung was my introduction to asian music.
i like manga and anime. — “sailor moon” was my introduction to anime, and my first manga obsession was “gravitation”.
i really like ancient chinese literature. — i believe “the tale of genji” was my introduction to asian literature, but i very quickly converted from japanese to chinese. i’m pretty sure my first chinese literature experience was “a dream of red mansions”.
i was a history major in college. i did my senior thesis on the comparison of yaoi and slash fan histories. when i got out of college, i still had a year left on my parents’ insurance, so i went back to the local college and did an independent study on learning world war i through “gundam wing”.
i like the occasional asian movie, but i don’t really have the attention span for movies…
i loves me some loligoth/gothloli.
the problem, you see, is that i’m way, way, way too cheap and lazy to bother getting new stuff, so i predict that all of my reviews will be on things i’ve already watched/read/heard, rather than new and up-to-date releases. don’t be expecting to see new titles and whatnot listed under my name… i buy from the bargain bin!