Rurouni Kenshin, Disc 3 – The Shadow Elite

***Special guest post by nichan**

So I kinda got way behind schedule on watching these thanks to being sick. But tonight I stuffed myself senseless with Chinese food and became one with the couch so that I’d get through another disc! Sheesh… What an attention span I have!

This is disc 3 of “Rurouni Kenshin”, titled “The Shadow Elite”!

Episode 9 – “The Strongest Group of Ninjas”

Thanks to Megumi’s efforts, Yahiko is on the road to a full recovery. But once the adults are no longer preoccupied with his survival, the topic of Megumi’s possession of opium becomes the focus of the conversation…

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Sanosuke demands to know why Megumi has opium on her, just as Kenshin and Kaoru come within earshot.

Kenshin is, like, some sort of early version of Google, because while Sanosuke is grilling Megumi over who she really is, and what her story is, Kenshin starts blurting out facts about her past. Come to find out, she’s the daughter of a long line of doctors, and everyone in her family was killed in the revolution, save her. So when she got away, she started to train under another doctor in an attempt to carry on the family tradition. But that doctor was involved with Kanryu, and she wound up getting roped into the opium trade against her will. Kenshin and Kaoru decide to befriend her and help her gain her freedom, but Sanouske is still angry over the death of his friend and storms out.

This is all just as fascinatingly interesting as I’m describing it. Yup. Edge of your seat stuff. Absolutely.

Okay… Honestly I was half passed out on the couch and patting my overly-full tummy and trying to stay awake. Whatever.

Anyway, though!

Kanryu still wants Megumi back, so one of the Oniwaban members casually strolls up to the edge of the dojo and chucks a knife at her. There’s a note attached to the knife instructing her to go out into the woods, which she decides to do, since, you know… knives are being chucked at her. Sanosuke just happens to see all of this, so he follows her out of curiosity.

There is just SO MUCH boring conversation in this episode!!!

Kanryu tells Megumi that if she doesn’t voluntarily start making opium for him again, he’ll trap everyone in the dojo and burn it to the ground. Nice fellow.

I spy with my little eye...

Sanosuke and Hannya (an Oniwaban member) play Hide and Seek while Kanryu sweet talks Megumi.

Nothing weird about a bunch of oddly dressed guys hanging out in the woods, right?

Kanryu, feeling that he’s sufficently scared the daylights out of Megumi, lets her walk away. When Hannya asks why, Kanryu explains that he wants it to seem like Megumi’s decided to come back to him on her own so that Kenshin will have no reason to come looking for her.

You see that guy in the foreground? That’s Aoshi. He’s the leader of the Oniwaban, and he’s… He’s pretty intense. And he’s gonna become way more important than just being a creepy guy in a trench coat lurking behind a tree. Keep an eye on this kid, ’cause he’s going places.

Well, anyway… After hearing all of this, Sanosuke comes around to Megumi’s side of things, and he follows her to Kanryu’s compound when she inevitably decides to go back.

Geeze, Sano! Calm down!

Of course, there’s a welcoming party. Fighting ensues!

Sano and another Oniwaban member get in a fight right at the edge of the compound, and while that’s all going on, yet another Oniwaban member grabs Megumi and takes her inside the gates. Kenshin ‘n’ crew show up just in time to not get involved in any manner, so they make the snap decision to go in and rescue Megumi and defeat Kanryu.

Look up, you dolts! UP.

This episode ends with the most stereotypical anime scene *ever*.

Episode 10 – “Aoshi”

Megumi is delivered directly to Kanryu, who is progressively proving himself to be one of those obnoxious stock villains who acts like a little kid, and by the time he gets done talking, you just wanna deny him dessert and send him to go sit in the corner. To show her gratitude for his warm welcome, Megumi tries to kill him.

Sexual harassment!

Certainly can’t blame her for trying… But, unfortunately, she fails.

Meanwhile, outside, Kenshin, Yahiko, Sanosuke, and Kaoru are battling their way through Kanryu’s bodyguards in an attempt to get to Megumi. This provides some much needed humor to what is otherwise an oddly dull run of episodes.

Go get 'em, Yahiko!

This is Sanosuke’s special move: The Yahiko Throw.

I prefixed “dull run of episodes” with “oddly” because… A whole lot of stuff happens and none of it is really interesting. But, you know what? Now that I’ve said that, I’m starting to realize that most of the Oniwaban-oriented stuff plays out like “Dragon Ball Z”… You know, where five minutes of plot are dragged out over twenty thousand scenes? Yah… That’s what’s going on here, and it’s annoying. The pacing, the animation… Everything about this whole arc is just… Ugh. “Dragon Ball Z” has its charms, but none of those charms belong in “Rurouni Kenshin”.

Anyway, Kenshin eventually closes in on Kanryu. Hannya tells Kanryu that he’s screwed, but Kanryu tries to weasel his way out of being on Kenshin’s bad side. It… It doesn’t really work: Kenshin kinda does some property damage in retaliation to Kanryu’s various comments.

There's just no privacy, anymore!

It’s just like “Romeo and Juliet”, except that it’s about a drug dealer and a former man slayer…

Neither one of these men can pull together an outfit...

Hannya and Kanryu don’t really see eye-to-eye over what to do with Kenshin. Relations between the Oniwaban and Kanryu start to fall apart rapidly at this point.

Kanryu turns out to be one of those little yappy dogs… He’s really, really, really peeved Kenshin off at this point, so he tells Hannya to go stop him, even though Hannya had been telling him to knock it off the whole time. Predictably, he’s not particularly impressed, so he kinda tells Kanryu to go suck it. Just as things are getting tense, Aoshi shows up, tells Hannya go to do what Kanryu has said, and then proceeds to also tell Kanryu to go suck it. …Things aren’t really going well between all of the bad guys in this episode.

WTF?

Um… Hannya is steam powered?

Just hang out and chill, Megumi.

After fighting with Kanryu, Aoshi locks Megumi up in a tiny room with a nice view.

Sanosuke and Yahiko stand by and casually watch Kenshin being mauled.

Meanwhile, Hannya and Kenshin are fighting in the entryway. …And you know what? Hannya’s kinda whoopin’ Kenshin’s butt.

Kenshin vs. the Emo Oniwaban

But Kenshin eventually realizes that the secret to Hannya’s power is his Hot Topic inspired undershirt. Once he figures this out, he’s able to win the fight.

Once Kenshin has defeated Hannya, he ‘n’ his peeps head off to where Aoshi is. (…How do the characters in these sorts of stories always know where to go?!?) Aoshi, however, isn’t just some ordinary bad guy: he knocks Sanosuke out right off the bat, and then stops Kenshin dead in his tracks with his short sword – a kodachi. (And I mention his kodachi because it’s just as important to him as the reverse blade sword is to Kenshin.)

Lots of awkward camera angles, here...

Yup. He fights in his trench coat…

Episode 11 – “Fare Well, the Strongest Man”

Quite the title, that…

Yahiko, Kaoru, and Sanosuke are all sitting by and watching Kenshin really struggle with Aoshi, because there’s just no point in them joining in: Aoshi isn’t the typical “I’m evil for the sake of being evil” sort of character, and he’s also wicked strong and talented. …Added bonus? I’m pretty sure his English VA also does Treize’s voice in “Gundam Wing”, so he’s totally got that whole “You have no idea what I’m capable of” vibe going on.

(Note: Google has totally destroyed what I just said. It looks like the VA for Aoshi is a completely different dude than the VA for Treize, even though they absolutely sound the same. I even looked up the VA for Zechs on a whim, but that got blown out of the water, too.)

K'so! Itai!

Kenshin only manages to gain the upper hand in the fight when he holds his own sword by the blade, then catches Aoshi’s sword by the blade. …And you think a *paper cut* hurts!

With Aoshi knocked to the ground, Kenshin ‘n’ crew decide to focus on finding Megumi. …The Oniwaban, however, have other plans.

Don't answer it!

Someone’s at the door, Yahiko.

tl;dr - There's a lot of guilt keeping these kids together.

And then comes the back story: After the revolution was complete, most of the Oniwaban members eventually succeeded in rejoining civilian life. These guys, however, weren’t able to do so because they’d modified their bodies to be living weapons. They’re sticking by Aoshi’s side because he turned his back on becoming a civilian in order to take care of them. Aoshi, meanwhile, refuses to become a civilian because he carries the guilt of having been the one who influenced them all into becoming incapable of living normally in the first place.

Kenshin asks why Aoshi is so determined to continue fighting with him, and Aoshi insists it’s for the honor of the Oniwaban. It seems a little deeper than that, but it’s hard to tell, ’cause Aoshi is one tough you-know-what.

What happens if you bring a Gatling gun to a sword fight?

Remember Kanryu? Yeah. This is all going on in his house, and he’s ready to wrap things up.

So, while all of this discussion has been going on, Kanryu’s been digging out his Gatling gun. He barges in on the discussion-heavy scene and just starts shooting everybody in sight: Kenshin ‘n’ crew and the Oniwaban.

Yet again, Aoshi proves to be more than the stock villain: he gets really emotional about all of this.

The Oniwaban members throw themselves in-between the gun and Aoshi in order to protect him to the end.

With the four Oniwaban members dead, and Aoshi severely wounded, Kanryu turns his attention to Kenshin.

"I am greatly displeased with your behavior!"

Kenshin totally clobbers him.

With nothing left to stop them, Kenshin, Yahiko, and Kaoru run to where Megumi is. Sanosuke gets there first, though, and just in the nick of time to stop her from killing herself.

Ouch, AGAIN.

Again with grabbing a sharp object by the *sharp* end! Sheesh!!!

After all of that, Kenshin turns Kanryu in to the police, gets Megumi out of trouble, and sets her up with an internship with Kaoru’s doctor.

Happy Megumi

Don’t people usually need therapy after they almost kill themselves…?

But there’s one nagging thing left that Yahiko points out: when the cops came to arrest Kanryu, there was no sign of the Oniwaban group, Aoshi included. And this is particularly worrisome, since Aoshi had vowed to keep coming after Kenshin until one of them was the ultimate victor.

I think we're gonna be seeing this guy again...

Aoshi did this weird *thing* after Kenshin had defeated Kanryu. And here we see him after he’s buried his comrades with his own two hands. Then he walks away on two legs with three bullets in them.

Kenshin says he hopes they never find out what really happened to Aoshi, but given what Aoshi’s proven himself capable of… Well… I don’t think Kenshin should hold his breath on this one.

Episode 12 – “The Birth of a Boy Swordsman”

With all of the drama concerning Megumi over, somebody got the bright idea to throw in an empty filler episode…

One day, a girl notices Yahiko, and they sort’ve start flirting back and forth a bit.

Sanosuke, Kaoru, and Kenshin are all watching this and giggling.

I kinda forgot to catch her name…

Come to find out, though, this girl is from a long line of servants for a particular samurai clan. And, since the revolution has put them out of business, the clan has taken up stealing.

Cooks, cleans, and picks locks.

And, since the girl is supposed to be their servant, they’re making her help them steal stuff.

The girl doesn’t want to do anything wrong, so she protests stealing; the clan doesn’t take to that too well, though, and they smack her around a bit. Yahiko decides to intervene… Not just because he likes her, but also because he’s from a samurai clan, and he’s managed to get himself out of the crime lifestyle and wants to protect the honor of all samurai clans, etc, etc. (He puts it a lot more eloquently than I just did, by the way.)

Ooh! Scary!

Yahiko to the rescue!

Well, anyway, Sanosuke, Kaoru, and Kenshin are all secretly watching this. Sanosuke and Kaoru want to rush out and help Yahiko, but Kenshin holds them back under the protest that they’ve all eventually got to let the kid grow up and fight his own battles.

Meanwhile, the clan members wander off, and the girl tells Yahiko that the robbery they were planning will happen on a certain night. Yahiko goes off to prepare to participate in his first solo battle in order to stop the crime and defend the girl, and Sanosuke and Kaoru stick to Kenshin’s plan of pretending like they know nothing about what’s going on. …Kenshin, however, comes across Yahiko practicing one day and “innocently” gives him some advice.

Anyway, the battle starts. Yahiko manages to chase off the first few bad guys on his own, but just when things are getting sticky, Kenshin and Sanosuke appear behind him (without his knowledge) and scare most of the rest of the bad guys off. When there’s only one bad guy left, they both settle comfortably into their hiding spots to watch. …It’s actually really cute: Kenshin and Sanosuke make for adorable bromance-oriented guardians.

Go, Yahiko, go!

Here’s Yahiko…

This dude's pretty fugly.

…and the nitwit he has to defeat.

Yahiko manages to win the fight, prevent the robbery, and save the girl. Kaoru sorta falls out of her hiding spot, which helps confirm his suspicions that Kenshin and Sanosuke had been there the whole time, too. He calls them out, and they kinda panic in their attempt to hide even more.

He's literally pulling his leg!

Sano and Kenshin both slide off the opposite side of the roof they’d been on, and then Kenshin slides off of Sano…

So! What happens next???

You’ll just have to wait for disc 4 – “False Prophet”!


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

  • Actually, the last episode happened in the manga; not filler, surprisingly.

  • i always watch this before work, and it puts me in *such* an odd mind set… i keep assuming everything needs to be drawn out and super epic rather than just drawn out…

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