Rurouni Kenshin, Samurai X – Betrayal
I meant to do this part of “Samurai x” the week after I did the last part. That was in… September. I, um, dropped the ball.
Anyway, though! I’m back, and I have “Betrayal”!
When last we left Kenshin and Tomoe, they’d been sent to Otsu to go into hiding while Katsura tried to get the Choshu Clan reorganized.
As the first act of “Betrayal” starts, their lives are quietly being lived in a small hut out in the countryside. Tomoe is a mystery, keeping to herself and writing in her journal. Kenshin is slowly working his demons out, having flashbacks to his fighting days while chopping wood, farming, or selling medicine.
So, anyway, most of the first act is incredibly slow, quiet, and just… there. It’s that kind of anime: where you just look, because there’s not much dragging you in. And yet, somehow, as these things tend to work out, this act has a lot going for it in that it establishes the growing relationship between Tomoe and Kenshin. More importantly for the main storyline in “Rurouni Kenshin”, it shows Kenshin’s gradual maturation. It’s really subtle, though. You’ve gotta keep your eye out for it.
But there is a plot!
Remember how the Shinshen Gumi had kept ambushing the Choshu Clan? Remember how there was a suspected spy giving away information? Yah… Guess who it was:
Come to find out, Iizuka’s been acting as a double-agent this whole time, and he’s been working on a plan: By isolating Kenshin, he’s able to control his grip on the reality of the revolution. By holing him up with Tomoe, he’s able to control his fighting spirit. So the idea is that the longer Kenshin’s tucked away in the hut, the weaker he gets, and the less willing to fight he gets. Tomoe, you see, is a pawn.
But Tomoe’s not entirely innocent, here…
At the beginning of “Samurai X”, Tomoe had been engaged to a man who Kenshin wound up killing. In a fit of blind fury, she’d joined up with the Shogunate and/or Shinsen Gumi (I had a hard time keeping that part straight) in order to exact her revenge on her fiancee’s killer. Problem is, though, she wound up being sent away with said killer to act as his wife, and she’s been slowly growing to maybe not hate him so much.
Iizuka, aware of this, sends her little brother to go remind her of her mission. She’s given a date and a location and a lecture. They want her to leave Kenshin – after that, he’ll undoubtedly be crushed, easily killed, and the Choshu Clan’s ultimate assassin will be out of the Shogunate’s way.
Things sort’ve take an odd “Forrest Gump” turn here…
Kenshin, completely crushed, is greeted the next day by Iizuka…
This is where the second act of “Betrayal” starts. Tomoe works her way to a hut in the woods. The plan is that Kenshin will try to find her, but to no avail: Iizuka’s managed to destroy him mentally, believes he’s weak physically, and has lined the trail with fighters.
Meanwhile, Tomoe’s having quite the mental battle, herself. She’s trapped between her loyalties to her dead fiancee, to the Shinsen Gumi, and… to Kenshin. It seems she’s fallen in love with him, and she tries to figure out what to do through a series of long, drawn-out scenes. …My mom was watching and kept muttering, “Oh, stop being so indecisive and do something already!!!”
Eventually, though, Kenshin battles his way through the woods to the hut where she’s located. He’s severely injured by now, and his mental state is such that he’s hallucinating. But he wants to find Tomoe and take her back to Otsu – it seems he’s willing to turn his back on the Choshu, and the revolution altogether, just so long as he can have her back.
As he closes in on her location, the last of the bad guys appears and challenges him. During the battle, Kenshin’s hallucinations grow worse. Because he’s only got one toe in reality by this stage, this winds up happening:
Meanwhile, Iizuka’s run off, with plans to escape Japan before what he’s done catches up to him. He doesn’t run fast enough, though…
While Iizuka’s being killed, Katsura comes to find Kenshin mourning Tomoe, hiding away in the hut in the countryside. They discuss Kenshin’s future, and Kenshin agrees to continue being an assassin, with the goal of eventually becoming the Kenshin we all know and love from “Rurouni Kenshin”.
After this, we’re back to the story of Kenshin as an assassin for the Choshu Clan. It’s choppy and broken, like Kenshin’s mental state. He’s fighting, but he doesn’t seem terribly invested. He’s closing in on becoming our ginger haired hero from the main storyline.
Finally, towards the end of the revolution, it’s revealed that Kenshin is haunted by Tomoe’s ghost. He’s been carrying her wrap around with him the entire time, and, well…
And then, things come to a full circle: Seijuro Hiko is walking his normal trail through the woods, and comes across the field that Shinta had turned into a graveyard. But this time it’s altered.
And that’s it! That’s all there is to the first four acts of “Samurai X”! After this, it’s all season 2 of “Rurouni Kenshin” until I figure out where the last two acts of “Samurai X” fit.
Maybe if I’m not a lazy bum, I’ll at least start season 2 before 2012!