Rurouni Kenshin, Disc 2 – Battle in the Moonlight

***Special guest post by nichan.***

Firefox really, really, really doesn’t want me to add a new update, but I’m doing it anyway!

This is disc 2 of “Rurouni Kenshin”, titled “Battle in the Moonlight”!

Power glomp!

There are a lot of questionable translations and moments on this disc; like this scene, which I suspect might bluntly contradict a later episode. …I’ll have to check that when I get that far!

Episode 5 – “The Reverse-Blade Sword vs. the Zanbatou”

Sanosuke is still contemplating how best to pick (and, more importantly, win!) a fight with Kenshin. The dude with the beard (I really should’ve written his name down, I guess) is getting on his nerves about it, but Sano’s a man to do things on his own time. And while he’s waiting for the perfect moment, he starts to recollect his past. (…They do that a lot in this series: daydream of times gone by. It’s like those stereotypical old people, sitting on rocking chairs, basking in the sun, and talking about the “good old days” when “kids weren’t so spoiled” and “we didn’t have any of this fancy indoor plumbing!!!”)

Little Sano

It’s almost like an emo dad and his punk son.

Come to find out, Sano was a member of the Sekihotai during his childhood – he even looked up to his captain as a father figure and asked to use his family name when he grew up. …And what’s the Sekihotai? Well, when Kaoru and Yahiko hear about Sano’s connection to the group via the local gossip grapevine, it’s decided that the Sekihotai were either hooligans or a false army which spread lies and confusion. So… Sano’s fancy little tromp back into his childhood maybe doesn’t sound so grand, after all.

Anyhoo, though! Sanosuke eventually calls Kenshin out for the battle, and they go to a small island and start dancing around and waving their swords about. This takes up a vast majority of the episode since Sano isn’t much of a slouch, and it takes Kenshin multiple attempts to get a good shot at him…

He's enjoying this a bit too much.

Don’t worry, Sano. I had two surgeries to try to get my eyes to open evenly, and they didn’t work, either.

Also during the fight, there’s yet more back story about the Sekihotai. Sanosuke’s version is that they were doing exactly what the imperialist government was telling them to do, but when the government could no longer follow through on its promises and whatnot, it was decided that the Sekihotai would be the official scapegoat. …Kaoru and Yahiko are doubtful of the validity of this claim until Kenshin backs Sano up.

This isn't going ot end pretty.

It’s a mini story of violence inside of the main story of violence! Like nesting dolls, only dudes with swords!

Oh! And remember beard guy? The dude who had paid Sanouske to fight Kenshin in the first place? Yah… He’s still lurking around, too. Not for much longer, though.

I bet he smells *fantastic*.

This dude took his Flinstones and ate his Wheaties.

Bye-bye.

Well, Sano smacks him to knock him over, and Kenshin finishes the job by sort’ve swooshing him off into the distance.

With the beard guy gone, and everybody not thinking so badly of Sanosuke anymore, it’s time to end the battle. It’s mostly psychological, but that doesn’t make for good screen captures. So, instead, let’s just say it mostly involves this:

Kapow!

All problems can be solved by a firm backhand!

So the battle is over and Kenshin has won. And with that, there’s a new member to the regular cast: Sanosuke Sagara. He’s cheap, he’s a mooch, he’s quick to punch somebody in the face, and he informs Kenshin that Kenshin’s not allowed to wander off without getting his approval, first. …And remember that last part, ’cause it’s going to come up again, later.

Episode 6 – “The Appearance of Kurogasa”

After a rather amusing opening centered on Kaoru’s terrible cooking (which shows that Sano’s a regular visitor of the dojo, now – and not afraid to invite himself over for food), the cops show up and inform Kenshin that Bad Things are afoot. …And aren’t they always?

Chillin' with the cops.

Kaoru is an absolute dolt in this episode and continually parrots the dialogue of other characters. It’s bloody annoying, but so is she.

Come to find out, another man slayer (remember: that’s what Kenshin used to be) has been killing members of the government over the past ten years, and the cops have decided to ask their newest acquaintance to pitch in on the effort to help stop the crimes. According to the cops, the bad guy kills his victims before they even have a chance to draw their weapons; the actual animation of the scenes that follow completely contradict that notion. …Kenshin and Sanouske both agree to attend the next expected date of attack, and find themselves in a room with a politician, twelve bodyguards, and the cop. The politician announces that whoever kills the man slayer can have as much money as he wants; he later changes that to “five times as much as I promised!”, which seems… an awkward claim at best. Also? One of the bodyguards says something like, “I’ll kill him ’til he’s dead!” So… So at least we know he’s hired people who are willing to follow through, I guess.

Anyhoo… The bad guy shows up. He has the ability to put people under spells that prevent them from moving. Sanosuke and Kenshin manage to break free of the spell, although Kenshin does it better and faster. …I guess that’s one of the benefits of being the main character!

Another dude with emo hair.

Introducing Jinei, former member of the Shinsengumi! …He really needs some eye drops if you happen to have any on you.

Kenshin can, apparently, defy gravity.

Kenshin and Jinei have a battle, and Jinei announces that he’s decided not to kill the politician, but is instead now focused on our ginger hero.

Jinei appears to be a superior fighter to Kenshin, but instead of finishing him off, he gives him twenty-four hours to get in the right mindset to have a proper row. Kenshin takes this as a sign that it’s time to leave the dojo and his friends behind so that he can focus all of his attention on putting the smack down on Jinei. (He goes to what seems to be a river full of Silk Chocolate Soymilk in order to think, but I couldn’t get a good shot of that to prove it.)

You go, girl.

Kaoru doesn’t take this well, whatsoever.

This is just one of the many fantastically awesome scenes on this disc...

She proceeds to scare the daylights out of Kenshin.

This also shows up in the out takes, by the way.

You remember how I said that it seems like Kaoru has a bit of a crush on Kenshin? Well, unable to bluntly state that she wants him to stay by her side and all of that, she instead lends him her favorite ribbon in an indirect attempt to hint to him that if he leaves, he has to promise to come back.

Kenshin and Kaoru have a bit of a discussion, and he agrees to come back as long as she agrees to leave him alone until he’s defeated Jinei. Just as she’s starting to walk away, who else but Jinei shows up! …He’s floating on a raft down the soymilk river, and he spots the blushing girl in her mushy moment and decides to take advantage of the situation.

Wow. Perfect timing, dude.

And, once again, Kaoru gets herself into trouble.

Episode 7 – “Deathmatch Under the Moon”

So Jinei has now successfully kidnapped Kaoru under the assumption that this will motivate Kenshin into becoming so angry that he lets go of the mentality of being a wanderer, and instead slips back into the role of the battousai. This is what Jinei wants, you see: he likes to have epic battles for kicks and giggles.

This is a rather pivotal episode, actually. Kaoru hasn’t fully realized up until this point how fragile Kenshin’s grip is over his own state of mind. She’s picked up on how his eyes change when he’s sliding into a more violent mode, but it’s not until he’s facing down Jinei that Kaoru actually grasps that that’s only the tip of the iceberg, and there are far bigger cracks under the ultra-thin surface of his “ordinary” personality.

Kenshin’s trying like all get out to hold on, though. His eyes are narrow, and his voice is different, but he hasn’t yet turned his reverse blade sword around.

Ouchiewawa!

Since Kenshin hasn’t completely succumbed to the battousai mindset, Jinei is still able to dominate the battle.

Annoyed with the fight’s progress, Jinei tries to think of yet another way to crack through Kenshin’s shell so that the battousai will come back out. He suddenly focuses his attention on Kaoru and puts her under a spell in which she can’t breathe.

Finally! She's shut up!

Jinei explains that Kaoru has five minutes to live. The only way for her to survive is either for her to break the spell with her own willpower (which he says is quite impossible), or for Kenshin to kill him.

Red eyes... Not a good sign!

Kenshin’s protective streak is inflamed, and the battousai starts to peek through from behind the wanderer mask.

Well, now Kenshin’s all kinds of fired-up, which is exactly what Jinei wanted. They start to fight rather intently, which scares the crud out of Kaoru, because she’s finally picking up on the fact that if Kenshin looses control, he’s never going to get it back.

OoooOoOoOOoooOooh!

Super epic: Kenshin flips his sword!!!

Just as he gets the upper hand and is about to kill Jinei – thus breaking every promise he’s ever made to himself, and also obliterating any chance he might have at continuing to live a peaceful life – Kaoru suddenly frees herself of the spell and calls out to him. It seems that her willpower has come not from her desire to save herself, but instead from her desire to save Kenshin.

He runs over to her and is incredibly thankful that she’s saved him at the last minute (although he fails to openly explain this to her). Jinei, meanwhile, is rather stumped that his spell has been overcome, and that Kenshin isn’t going to fight him, so he decides to kill himself. So… There’s that. (Before he dies, though, he tells Kenshin that a man slayer will always be a man slayer; that comment really haunts him.)

Oh! And remember the ribbon that Kaoru had loaned to Kenshin? Yah…

Time for some Shout!

It’s just a little blood! What’s the big deal?

Episode 8 – “A New Battle”

So, one day Sano and Kenshin are hanging out with Sano’s friends and participating in a little bit of illegal gambling over rounds of dice…

That doesn't look like dice...

Let the bromance be rekindled!

…And while everybody is chatting, it comes up in conversation that one of their group has recently died due to overdosing on opium. This puts Sanosuke in a rather foul mood, which is further exacerbated by this chick suddenly showing up:

Enter Megumi

Meet Megumi: She’s a schemer who sizes people up, determines how best to approach them to get what she wants, and she’s vampire-pale.

"Welcome! Have you tasted our delicious tatami mats?"

She’s being chased by some angry fellows, though she claims she has no idea why. Sano takes this as an excuse to start throwing fists left and right.

Not sure what else to do, Kenshin and Sanosuke quickly go after the men who had been chasing Megumi by punching and smacking them from the premises. (After two of Sano’s friends are hit with poison darts, I might add.) She won’t tell them what’s going on, but from context clues, it seems that she’s gotten on the wrong side of a shady entrepreneur named Kanryu – he’s got money, he’s got connections, and he’s got a bad reputation. It seems like Megumi’s unstated problems are going to be a handful for Kenshin…

So, of course, he takes her back to the dojo.

Hahaha. This isn't going to go down well at all.

…Where we learn that Megumi is a bit of a flirt.

And, yet again, she's showing Kenshin her love.

Insert five minutes of Kaoru not taking this well, whatsoever. Her jealousy is a bit, um… intense.

Anyhoo, while Kaoru is lurking around the dojo trying to figure out what’s going on between Kenshin and Megumi (since Megumi won’t stop flirting) (and since Sanosuke isn’t being very reassuring about Kenshin’s presumed innocence), Kenshin is trying to figure out what’s going on with his guest. She’s willing to tell him that Kanryu is after her, and that his people are very, very bad. She’s not really willing to tell him anything else, though.

And then this huge monster of a fellow (who breathes fire, by the way) shows up by crashing down the wall. True story: the other day I ran into a relative I hadn’t seen in about a billion years. The entire time I was talking to him, I was trying to figure out who he made me think of. Eventually I realized that he looked like this latest bad guy, only with light hair instead of dark. It was a rather amusing moment for me when I made the connection.

Quite the bellybutton that man has...

This is Hyottoko. He’s getting the beans beat out of him by Sanosuke.

Hyottoko is a member of the Oniwaban Group… You’re gonna wanna remember that: they come up a lot. I mean a lot. They’re practically half of the plot at certain stages of the series.

Anyway, the Oniwaban Group is currently being bankrolled by Kanryu, so obviously Hyottoko has come to claim Megumi. Thanks to Kenshin and Sanosuke, he gets the snot beat out of him and fails. …And remember my earlier mention of Sano’s friends getting nailed by poison darts? Well, they were thrown by a fellow Oniwaban Group member named Beshimi, and he’s there, too.

That probably stings a smidge.

Beshimi shoots a poison dart at Megumi, but Yahiko gets it instead.

Well, so now there are two problems, right? The first is that there are Oniwaban members running around the dojo, and the second is that Yahiko isn’t really doing all that well.

Hannya... He's an odd looking man, but we'll get to that later!

The first problem is solved when Hannya (also of the Oniwaban) shows up and collects his peeps. …Just remember these names, dude. They are gonna come up so friggin’ frequently from here on out!

Pushy broad.

Megumi suddenly snaps into action and begins barking out orders: lists of medications, demands for water and bandages, etc, etc, etc…

Well, this seems all well and good, except that Sanosuke has his doubts. Unbeknown to the rest of the crew, he’s discovered that she’s got opium on her. So… Opium, plus Kanryu sending people after her, plus her refusal to discuss what the problem is. Well… He’s starting to suspect that she’s the reason his friend died of an opium overdose, and he’s not particularly thrilled…

So what happens??? Who’s this Megumi chick? Does Yahiko survive? Why do I keep emphasizing how important it is to remember such groups as the Shinsengumi and Oniwaban?

Well! You’ll just have to wait for Disc 3 – “The Shadow Elite”!


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!

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