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?

Serious Kenshin

“Hi. My name is Kenshin, and I like long walks through fiery landscapes.”

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.

Enter Kaoru.

Kaoru’s packing a pair, and threatens the man with her wooden sword and her determimed attitude.

"Oro?!?"

The man has all of the features of the battousai… If you ignore his seeming lack of grace, skills, or intelligence.

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?

Safety sword.

Like safety scissors in elementary school…

"Don't run with scissors!"

Convinced that the man is not the battousai, Kaoru gives him a firm lecture to stop screwing around.

"Holy carp!"

Then Kaoru hears a police whistle, chucks the reverse blade sword, and takes back off on a run after the battousai.

Mood swing.

With Kaoru no longer looking, though, the man quite gracefully catches his sword and rather seriously looks off after her, clearly concerned about the situation…

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.

Cooperative fight scene.

The wanderer rescues Kaoru just in the nick of time, and then she blacks out. …That seems to be a problem for anime chicks. Must be something in the water, I guess?

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.

I think it was the Mariott in Goshen that was about this nice...

Things like Kaoru locking the wanderer in the shed, for instance.

"You stay in there and think about what I think you've done!"

…On purpose. She locks him in the shed on purpose.

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.

"You see those cobwebs up there, missy?"

Here’s the battousai, lifting Kaoru up by the collar and being all evil and stuff.

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.

Does he bring his own floodlights with him?

The wanderer has a knack for dramatic arrivals.

And yet another fight...

The wanderer picks a fight with the battousai and wins, much to the battousai’s (and Kaoru’s) complete surprise.

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.

"Oro?!?"

So, logically, Kaoru calls him a jerk. (Really. In the English version, she yells, “YOU JERK!!!”)

This conversation brought to you by a hard right to the jaw.

And then she sucker punches him.

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.

Manic Monday.

I feel like this every day before work. And during work. And right up until the end of work.

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…

Cash or credit...

The boy runs into Kenshin in order to grab his wallet.

Theft protection.

Kaoru knocks the kid over and starts to berate him for his bad behavior.

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.

Wooden sword to the face.

Kaoru breaks into the syndicate’s lair and winds up picking a fight with the yakuza.

"Itai!"

Yahiko isn’t keen on anybody interfering in his life, though, and kind’ve gets in a fight with everybody: he’s annoyed at Kaoru for intervening, he’s annoyed at the yakuza for trying to hurt Kaoru, and he’s annoyed at the yakuza for forcing him to be a pickpocket.

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.

Epic hair in the background, there.

You really don’t want to screw with Kenshin when his eyes are narrow…

"Stay."

…Which is rather amusingly displayed by what happens right here: he flicks the handle of his sword up into the chin of the guy with the big hair, and the guy flies up and gets his head stuck in the ceiling. Kenshin never so much as cracks a smile, but he does make a smart crack.

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.

"I slightly disagree with your decision."

Since Yahiko keeps calling Karou various degrading names, she’s less than thrilled at the prospect of taking him on as a student.

I feel like this at work, too.

Yahiko ain’t too terribly up for it, either.

Episode 3 – “Swordsman of Sorrow”

It’s a few days into Yahiko’s training under Kaoru…

Dead silence.

Conveniently small class sizes.

…And things aren’t really going all that smoothly.

That awkward moment when you get called on...

I don’t think he was listening.

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.

Blah, blah, blah.

Kenshin stands there while the bad guy cop points a sword at his face. Kenshin ends up winning, of course.

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.

Happy little family.

And then everybody lived happily ever after…

“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.

Drunken jerks.

You’ve been at this dinner. You know what’s happening.

That's an even fight.

And Yahiko, being the loudmouth that he is, winds up picking a fight with the drunks.

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:

He's the tall one, by the way.

Introducing the very dreamy Sanosuke Sagara!

Sanosuke suggests they all go outside and brawl in the street.

Somebody's gonna need some Tylenol.

Sano tells the one drunk guy to come and get him, so the drunk guy goes straight for his forehead with a dagger.

That's probably gonna bruise, dude.

Sano doesn’t need a mop, though: he proceeds to wipe the street clean with this dude.

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.

Yeaaaaaah...

Kaoru isn’t sure what to make of Sano, but Yahiko is clearly unimpressed.

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.

Warm fuzzies.

No, seriously: Long. Lingering. Smiles.

And then Sano walks away and the waitress suddenly realizes that he never paid his bill. So… That sort’ve breaks the bromantic mood.

"And he ordered the lobster, too!"

Sanosuke is notoriously cheap; it becomes a running joke.

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.

Hey, animators! That's an awfully awkward place to put a lamp!

Remember this dude? The one with the grudge issues?

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.

"So I was wondering if you want to maybe hang out... And engage in fisticuffs?"

Deeply voiced greeting, warm smile, and a HUGE FRIGGIN’ SWORD THING.

"Yes, let's."

Warm greeting, long and lingering eye contact, contented smile, and is that a reverse blade sword in your sheath, or are you just happy to see me?

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.

Is that what the kids are calling it these days?

“So how do you like the size of my weapon?”

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.

Swagger...

One last smile for the road…

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”!


About nichan:
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!

2 comments

  • LMAO. Ah, nichan. I really should watch this…It’s on my list of things to watch eventually. I might just have to bump it up since they are making the live action movie with Sato Takeru as Kenshin. I vaguely have an idea of the story and I love Sato Takeru, so that makes this movie a must watch for me.

  • it’s not hard at all to slam through the episodes… but the reviews take me forever to do.
    ;__________;

    my mom told me i’m banned from watching “samurai x” because it made me all emo, but… you know… if i actually follow-through with this, then i *must* watch it for the people! the people, they demand the “samurai x”! *lol*

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