Rurouni Kenshin, Disc 6 – Flames of the Revolution

I’d planned on wasting this afternoon watching one of the “Tenchi Muyo” movies, but my VCR was having none of it. So, instead, I finally got around to doing screen captures from all the “Rurouni Kenshin” episodes I watched between Monday and Tuesday…

This is disc 6, titled “Flames of the Revolution”!

Episode 23 – “Sanosuke’s Betrayal”

This is the first of a two episode arc that focuses on Sano and his past life, his current life, and his future life. He’s never really let go of his pride in the Sekihoutai, even though the government turned its back on his troop and slandered their reputation. He’s got friends who have known him as a fighter for hire, and who he hangs around with when he’s gambling, drinking, or just generally chilling out. He’s got Kaoru, Megumi, and Yahiko, who all hold him to a different standard and want better things for him, even if they don’t really expect much. …And, of course, there’s his bromance with Kenshin, the upkeep of which requires him to stay on the straight and narrow – or, at least, as straight and narrow as he can manage. These are two psychological episodes, really: there’s a plot, there’s fighting, but… There’s just a lot of emotional stuff. Boys working out their feelings and the rest, you know.

So one day Sanosuke goes to the caricature dealer in order to pick up a few prints for the waitresses at the local restaurant. Right after bumping into Kaoru (who thinks he’s there to buy the equivalent of a cheesecake pin-up, and then proceeds to imagine herself as the focus of his romantic daydreams) and Kenshin (who suggests that maybe Sano’s looking for something a little naughtier, which immediately makes Kaoru flip out in a panic that she’d never pose for such a picture), he stumbles over an image of Captain Sagara of the Sekihoutai, who had been his father figure, and who he had named himself after (Sanosuke Sagara, remember?). This catches his complete attention, and he asks who it was painted by. Come to find out, the artist is the currently popular caricaturist, Tsunan Tsukiokai, and that name appears to mean something to Sano. He demands to know where to find Tsunan, and then runs off.

Sano tracks down Tsunan, only to confirm his suspicions: he’s really Katsu, the other kid who’d been in the Sekihoutai. The two of them had grown up together under the guidance of Captain Sagara.

Snacks and stuff.

I dunno why, but this line always makes me giggle.

I hope he had a Tic Tac before he got that close...

Katsu turns out to be a little more, um, intense than Sano. He hasn’t yet let go of his rage at how the Sekihoutai were treated. He’s… He’s a bit tense.

Come to find out, Katsu’s been using his art money (and he has a bit of it, given his popularity) to stockpile bombs and make plans to bring down the Meiji government. Sano’s got a mixed reaction to that, but whatever might have happened on its own gets impeded by this:

These guys are gonna grow up to be Wall Street players, I think.

Robbers calling themselves the Sekihoutai start, you know, robbing stuff! Oh no!!!

Maybe it’s the translation, but this weird out-of-character moment happens at this point. The newspaper starts reporting on this new Sekihoutai group stealing everything in sight, and Yahiko and Kaoru start to wonder if maybe it’s Sano who’s behind it all.

I bet that fake newspaper is edited better than the one we get delivered to our house...

What?!? Why would you think that?!?

Sano, meanwhile, is furious that the name of the Sekihoutai is being slandered once again, so he goes on a quest to find out who’s behind it all.

I think that might be one of Sano's triggers.

Turns out it’s the guy on the left: Tatewaki Shindou, who had been the dude who’d given the original order to have Captain Sagara killed!

Peeping Kenshin

Kenshin is secretly hovering nearby, ready to help Sanosuke out during his fight…

Male bonding.

…But Katsu shows up and helps defeat the bad guys.

With the fake version of the Sekihoutai out of the way, Sano and Katsu find themselves together, staring out into the night, with a renewed friendship based on their memories of the past. In a fit of sentimentality, Sano decides to  honor who he’d once been by helping Katsu with his attempts to bring down the Meiji government.

Headbands are popular this year!

The problem with that is that in order to focus on supporting Katsu, he feels he must let go of every distraction. …And that means he has to break off his bromance with Kenshin.

Episode 24 – “Midnight Battle”

Unbeknown to everyone else, Sano’s decided he has to cut off all ties to his current friends so that he can put his full attention on Katsu. Therefore, it seems extra suspicious when he announces that he wants to throw a party. It’s secretly a goodbye party, but he claims it’s just for the sake of having a party. Even more suspiciously, he pays for the whole thing on his own. (Well, using Katsu’s money, of course – he’s still a complete mooch, anyway.)

Sake, sake everywhere!

This whole scene is fantastically hysterical.

Once the party is over, and everyone is asleep, the real story starts: Sano has to leave so that he and Katsu can begin bombing one of the government buildings. He sneaks out silently into the night…

Big dramatic moment starts here.

Sanosuke quietly says goodbye to everyone in the room before departing.

He's not one for lying down very often...

Kenshin wasn’t asleep, though…

Sano and Katsu run off to a government building. Using Katsu’s knowledge of bombs, they distract the guards and scale the wall to the compound.

Take it off, Sano! Take it off!

This whole thing takes place in the dark of night, but it’s still animated really bloody well.

He took the subway.

But guess who’s there, ready and waiting for them.

As you can see from Kenshin’s expression, he’s not there to assist Sanosuke in blowing up the building. Katsu tries to get Kenshin out of his way using bombs, but Sano tells him to knock it off: this battle is between him and our ginger haired hero. Things are pretty intense as Sano and Kenshin fight while having a rather emotionally charged discussion about life in the Meiji era. Sano even calls one of Kenshin’s moves before he makes it.

And you thought a papercut hurt!

In the last episode of the previous disc, Kenshin manages to chop through a pile of six huge logs with his reverse blade sword. But as you can see here, Sano manages to grab the blade without cutting his fingers off. …It slices, it dices, but it’s still safe on skin! Maybe Kenshin ought to sell it on the Home Shopping Network.

Is this the last throes of the bromance???

Kenshin eventually defeats Sano, but it’s not without a hefty emotional toll.

Ewwww: Sweaty!

Katsu swears he’ll defeat the Meiji government, once Sano’s better.

Sano comes-to just long enough to give a bit of a monologue explaining that Kenshin has helped them after all, by preventing them from violently attacking the Meiji government, and thus keeping them from sullying further the name of the Sekihoutai.

Katsu slowly realizes that Kenshin’s doing what he can to survive the era he’d helped create, even though he doesn’t approve of it, and that maybe that’s the best thing to do. So the next day, he buries all of his bombs, turns his back on terrorism, and begins a new life in which he tries to bring to light all the atrocities of modern life via the media.

And did Kenshin and Sano’s bromance survive a second fight? Did it survive Sano’s attempts to bring down the Meiji? Did it survive his temporary change from having Kenshin as his BFF in trade for having Katsu as his BFF?

Sano's seen better days, though.

Of course it did, silly!

I think he says something like, "It was quite the night!"

Kenshin even honors the brocode by not telling anybody what’s happened to Sano, even when Megumi recognizes that Sano’s sporting wounds from the reverse blade sword.

Episode 25 – “The Crimson Pirate”

This is the first of a three episode arc that wraps up the first season. It’s drawn in that style that just screams that it’s from the 90s. Even the music is trapped in the 90s. It’s sort’ve odd for “Kenshin”, honestly. But anyway, though…

Kaoru’s getting a bit sick of everybody freeloading off of her. Yahiko’s just a student, Kenshin doesn’t have an income, and Sano… Well, Sano’s just a blatant mooch of epic proportions.

Well... Not bacon so much as fish.

Kaoru shames the boys over lunch, because she’s the only one bringing home the bacon.

Old-fashioned job fair.

Just in the nick of time, a job offer comes by for the boys!

A dude with a boat and a shipment of goods is hiring security to run interference between his cargo and the local pirates. In order to earn, like, a gazillion bucks, all anybody has to do is help his ship get safely to port. It seems pretty simple, so Sano, Kenshin, and Yahiko all sign up immediately, leave a note for Kaoru, and hop on board.

Funny how often they all accidently wind up in the same place at the same time.

Come to find out, though, Kaoru’s already on board!

Kenshin’s immediately tense because now he’s not only defending the ship from pirates, but he also feels compelled to protect Kaoru, who’s come on-board as part of the kitchen staff in order to earn more money so that she can support the boys better. Yes, she signed up to earn money so that she could spoil the boys. Kaoru… Kaoru’s a bit of a modern girl! …Or a sucker. Not sure which, really.

Reliving "Titanic".

Kaoru calls Kenshin out on how protective he’s being of her, even though she’s no slouch with a sword.

So... Kenshin was right, after all.

But then: PIRATES! …And Kaoru gets nailed right in the shoulder!

The pirates are led by a woman named Shura, and she’s got quite the reputation: nobody ever survives her attentions, and she decides to go after Kenshin with extra vigor. What she doesn’t realize, though, is that one of her fellow pirates has just poisoned our ginger hero…

Yup. More fight scenes!

Kenshin still manages to win, and then promptly passes out. Shura is totally floored that she lost to a drugged up man.

This is drawn so fantastically old school. Like, *historical* old school, not *90s anime* old school.

The pirates collect all the loot and decide to leave when the Japanese Navy shows up.

These pirates are pretty friggin' hideous, by the way.

Much to Shura’s disapproval, one of her pirate underlings kidnaps Kaoru.

Girl pirate has a crush!

Kenshin pleads with Shura to trade his life for Kaoru’s, and she accepts.

Yah... I'd take Kenshin over Kaoru, too.

The other pirates are less-than-thrilled with Shura’s agreement, but reluctantly chuck Kaoru into a lifeboat, where she’s accompanied by Sano and Yahiko.

After that, the pirates depart. Kenshin goes with them, leaving Kaoru, Yahiko, and Sano behind.

Episode 26 – “Lightning Incarnate”

It seems like everything isn’t quite hunky-dory amongst all the pirates. Shura’s got a code of conduct she inherited from her father, and it involves not kidnapping chicks, not getting drunk, and not doing stereotypical pirate-type stuff. (…Actually, Shura appears to be the only female in the entire pirate community.) Shura thinks things are fine, but Kenshin realizes that she’s just barely holding on to her position as the leader.

Shura sends the other pirates away, and then unties Kenshin, demanding to know why he didn’t kill her when he had the chance. He starts to compare her to Kaoru, and then offers up his life to Shura since she’d allowed Kaoru to escape.

I wonder how bad a girl pirate smells?

Kenshin calmly closes his eyes and waits for death, but Shura can’t do it. There is just so much fantastic tension in this scene!

Meanwhile, the other pirates are plotting a coup. Amongst the loot they’d taken from the ship, they find guns and opium and tobacco, or something equally promising for bad guys to use. Shura would flip her lid if she found out, though…

So many man-panty shots!

Too bad none of the cargo had PANTS.

Typical business tactics.

They sneak away, track down the trader, and announce that he’s going to provide them a ship, weapons, and opium.

It's like "Nancy Drew" all of a sudden...

Kaoru, Yahiko, and Sanosuke just happen to be staying at a hotel nearby, and they catch wind of what’s happening.

The pirates (still without Shura’s knowledge) pile a whole bunch of opium and weapons and whatnot on their old pirate ship (which they don’t like, but which Shura refuses to get rid of since it’s her father’s), and begin to discuss how great it’ll be when they can get out from under that pesky code of ethics that’s barely been keeping them under control for the past few years.

Oh. My. God. Someone, please get that man some PANTS.

Sano, Yahiko, and Kaoru have snuck on to the ship in hopes of being taken to where Kenshin is.

Nothing crazy about that at all.

The pirates realize they’re there, though, so they blow up the ship, because that’s a completely reasonable reaction to any situation.

Meanwhile, Shura’s been talking to Kenshin. She seems to have quite a crush on him by now, and she’s asking about Kaoru since she’s not really capable of talking about him or her. Kaoru seems like a safe subject. …Or not a safe subject, but as close as she can get to what she really wants to talk about, I suppose.

When the explosion happens, she starts to run off towards the village, yelling that she’s the leader of the pirates and must go find out what’s happened. Kenshin hollers after her to stop, because he’s certain it’s a ploy to hurt her.

I like my thumbs where they are, thank you very much.

We interrupt this narrative for a split-second moment in which Kenshin mutters something like, “I’ll never get used to this, will I?” while dislocating his thumb so that he can free himself from being tied to a stake. This tiny little line is like a total break from everything else, and serves to remind you that Kenshin has a HUGE backstory, and very little of it has been exposed so far.

Anyway, though, Shura’s run down the path towards the village, only to find herself meeting resistance from some of the pirates. She’s totally floored that they’re no longer willing to conform to her rules and listen to her, and it takes an intervention on Kenshin’s behalf to snap her out of her shock. He tries to defend her, but the pirates have guns, and they manage to shoot Shura in the leg. Without much choice, then, Kenshin scoops her up and takes a flying leap off of the cliff and into the sea far below.

Episode 27 – “Burn, Island of Terror”

So at the beginning of this episode, it’s a mystery as to how anyone is doing: Yahiko, Kaoru, and Sanosuke were in the pirate ship when it was blown up, Shura’s been shot, and Kenshin’s leapt off a tall cliff and into the sea with her. It seems that the pirates have won!

And Yahiko's ready to kick some butt!

Not so fast! Sano, Yahiko, and Kaoru have survived!

You didn't think they were all gonna die, did'ja?

And with the help of one of Shura’s last remaining supporters, Kenshin manages to get the bullet out of her leg.

Yahiko and crew start to work their way to the pirate village. Kenshin, meanwhile, is trying to get Shura to safety. She’s not having any of it, though, and she sends Kenshin to one side of a bridge, and then cuts the bridge down so he supposedly can’t come help her.

Does NO ONE wear pants in this culture?!?

Shura walks straight into the village in order to pick a fight with the new rebel pirate leader.

She's like 50 Cent, I guess.

Kenshin can’t be stopped by a mere canyon, though, and follows her. He arrives just in the nick of time to save her butt, ’cause the new leader’s done went and stabbed her in her gunshot wound.

This guy needs to see a doctor.

In a fit of desperation, this jaundiced fellow chucks a GIGANTIC bomb at Kenshin and Shura…

Yahiko: king of the understatements.

…And subsequently blows up the whole village.

But what happened to Kenshin and Shura? She was wounded, and he was right in the middle of the explosion!

Kenshin Express!

Don’t worry, though: Kenshin can survive *anything*!

With, like, the entire population of pirates being burned alive, Kenshin and crew leave the island with Shura and her two remaining supporters. Kaoru invites Shura to come stay at the dojo until she’s better, but Shura decides to continue living on the water, and she departs…

Yahiko looks like he's one of those old guys who buys an expensive car...

I just now noticed how close Kaoru’s standing to Kenshin. Sheesh! Clingy, much?

And that’s it! That’s the end of season one of “Rurouni Kenshin”!

I suppose this is about the time I ought to dig out the first four episodes of “Samurai X”, because they’re going to come in pretty handy for season two…

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