Rurouni Kenshin, Season 2, Disc 2 – “Ice Blue Eyes”

**post by nichan**

The weather is getting nice, the sun’s been out, the air is warm… So of course I’ve been sitting inside and watching “Rurouni Kenshin” like it’s the early 2000s all over again and Toonami’s playing it every afternoon before school. Except now I’m watching it on DVD, and instead of school in the afternoon, it’s work in the afternoon. …Good to know my schedule and lazy habits haven’t changed that much over the years.

This is disc 2 of the second season: “Ice Blue Eyes”

Episode 32: “Change Tears to Courage: Kaoru Kamiya’s Choice

The timeline in this one seems a little screwed up. It’s been about two days since Kenshin left, but Sanouske and Megumi are only just now discovering that Kenshin’s left. They were so concerned in the previous episode, but managed to go whole days without checking in? …That’s a little weak.

But, anyway, Sano’s just found out, and he’s on a rampage:

I think his anger control issues are getting better, anyway.

Sano starts to kick apart everything in sight in fury that Kenshin’s left him behind.

Back in the first season, Sanouske  had forced Kenshin to promise that he wouldn’t wander off without asking him, first. But now Kenshin’s broken his promise. Sano is less than pleased, and vows to go after him, even if he has to walk all the way to Kyoto.

Kaoru, meanwhile…

Emo girl.

Kaoru’s been holed up in her room ever since Kenshin left, crying her eyes out.

But, anyway, back to Sano, because he’s way more interesting and way less whiny:

I think Katsu would be okay taking over for Kenshin's sudden lack in the bromance...

Sano goes to Katsu’s house and borrows some money for his trip to Kyoto.

Yahiko shows up at Katsu’s house, too, to find out where Sanouske is, and why he’s not helping try to drag Kaoru out of her bed. But there’s another visitor, too. One who followed Yahiko to Katsu’s house. One who is particularly uninvited.

"Hey, guys!"

Yup. It’s Hajime.

Hajime asks Sano what his plans are, and Sano explains that he’s going to Kyoto. Hajime tells him not to because he can’t possibly hold his own against Shishio’s men. Then he grinds a little salt into the wound and says that the whole reason Kenshin left him behind is that he’s a burden – that Kenshin would have been distracted protecting him because he’s so weak.

Hajime's kinda a butt-kicker.

So, of course, they get into another big fight.

Hajime mostly kicks Sano’s butt – while obviously holding back. This doesn’t dissuade Sanouske from going to Kyoto, though. It actually manages to motivate him all the more: now he wants to hunt Kenshin down and punch him in the neck for thinking he’s a burden. …Way to go, Hajime.

Back at the dojo, though, Kaoru’s still in a slump. Megumi shows up to shame her into snapping out of it. When that doesn’t work, she gets in a screaming match with her.

Too bad she didn't connect...

They even almost come to blows: Megumi throws not one, but two slaps at Kaoru.

Nothing really works until Kaoru yells that Megumi can’t possibly understand what it was like for her to have watched Kenshin walk away. …And Megumi points out that no, no she wouldn’t know: Kenshin didn’t say goodbye to anyone but Kaoru.

This is only the second time I’ve watched this season, and it had previously bothered the daylights out of me that Kaoru became such a whimpering wuss over Kenshin leaving. It finally clicked this time through, though: Kaoru has some serious abandonment issues. She does not take it well at all when people who are important to her leave. …And she’d already displayed her desperate need for Kenshin to stay put early on last season when she nearly broke down when he tried to wander off the first time. So… Yah.

Well, but anyway… Megumi and Yahiko eventually give Kaoru enough of a pep talk that she finally perks back up, gets out of bed, and agrees to go to Kyoto in an attempt to track down Kenshin and make him come back to Tokyo.

Episode 33 – For the Title of Strongest: Aoshi’s New Conflict

Don't let the Sierra Club know!

Sanouske’s lost, annoyed, and destroying the forest with his fists.

Kenshin’s decided to walk to Kyoto, hugging the Tokaido Road, but not necessarily following it.  He’s afraid that if he comes right out in the open, Shishio’s men will attack him and involve innocent people. That’s also why he’s lurking around with his sword out and trying to look scary: to keep people away so they won’t accidentally get hurt if anything happens.

I have this look on my face at work a lot.

There are a lot of amusing cracks made at Kenshin’s expense in this episode, too.

Because there aren’t enough plot threads going on right now (Kenshin going to Kyoto by way of the Tokaido, Sanouske being lost in the woods, Kaoru and Yahiko going via ship, Megumi staying back at the dojo, the threat of Shishio and his army, and Hajime’s random appearances), somebody decided to invite Aoshi back into the story.

What the heck is going on with that outfit?

Yup. Remember this guy? He shows back up at the dojo looking for Kenshin.

I thought this show was about Kenshin...?

And so does Hajime… Because it’d only been two seconds since the last time he was in a scene.

Hajime fills Aoshi in on what’s up with Kenshin, and Aoshi storms off doing his usual “strong and silent type” thing. …He’d probably be awesome if he didn’t dress like a dork.

I have to admit: I rather like Hajime.

Hajime sticks around long enough to rub Megumi the wrong way, too.

One of these days, I'm gonna catch this kid's name.

And guess who else was there, lurking in the trees…

So off Aoshi goes, back into the woods, back to where the graves of his fallen comrades are. Except, when he gets there, he’s got company: four of Shishio’s men are waiting for him.

Here we go with the goofy sized villains...

Four men with growth spurt issues.

"Please do not come back. Thanks."

Aoshi’s not much of an extrovert, though, and he cuts all four men down in one smooth motion.

What the heck?!? Does this kid have a car or something?!?

And guess who’s there…

Come to find out, Shishio had sent the four men as a test: he wants to recruit Aoshi. Aoshi tells the kid (who’s name I’ve yet to catch this time ’round) to bugger off, and then sets out on his own for Kyoto. Shishio decides to give Aoshi some space, figuring he’ll eventually come around on his own.

Get a GPS, kid.

Sano, meanwhile, is still hopelessly lost in the woods.

Kenshin’s been walking this whole time, and has found himself camped out in the wilderness all alone. …At least, he thinks he’s all alone. Come to find out, there’s a girl not too far away, and she’s surrounded by four thugs. They think they’re going to have their way with her, but that’s not part of her plan at all:

No. Really. This girl is absolutely obnoxious.

Meet Misao Makimachi – the character so annoying she makes Kaoru suddenly seem tolerable.

Misao’s arranged to have them steal money from the local town, and she proceeds to kick their butts so she can have all the gold to herself. It seems she’s a crafty little bandit.

Here comes Mr. Morality.

Too bad for her: Kenshin’s stumbled upon the scene.

Episode 34 – The Girl Bandit: Misao Makimachi’s Hidden Side

Kenshin figures out what Misao has done, and he tells her she ought to give the money back. She argues that she rightfully stole it. This goes back and forth a bit, and an amusing fight occurs, if by “fight” I mean that Misao tries in vain to even put a scratch on Kenshin’s head. The most she manages to do is wreck her own stuff.

Or not.

Since she can’t seem to get the money back from Kenshin, she decides to rob him, instead.

Oro?!?

The problem is, Kenshin’s not worth much… So Misao tries to take off with his sword.

After they get things settled (in that Kenshin gives Misao all of his money so that he can get his beloved reverse blade back), he marches back into the town and returns the money (while Misao tries to abscond with more). On the return trip to the forest, the local yakuza (headed by the four men Misao had tricked) surround them.

The best way to bond, I suppose.

Kenshin and Misao bond over a short-lived fight scene.

Yadda, yadda...

Once the bad guys are defeated, Misao sits down and starts to talk. Kenshin tries to sneak away while she’s distracted…

Misao reveals that she, too, is on her way to Kyoto after traveling to Tokyo. And why had she gone to Tokyo? Well… She’s a member of the Oniwaban, and she was in search of her leader: Aoshi.

That proves to stop Kenshin dead in his tracks.

OMG. SO ANNOYING.

Kenshin repeats Aoshi’s name in shock, and Misao perks up. After that, she starts outright stalking him in hopes he’ll give her clues as to how to find her beloved leader.

Misao follows Kenshin down the Tokaido, talking non-stop, telling never ending stories of her life in the Oniwaban. Every single member that had been killed in the previous season were all important men in Misao’s life – they’d raised her throughout her childhood. She’s not aware of their deaths, though, and Kenshin can’t figure out what to say. He’s at a total loss of whether it’s better to tell her the truth – that they’re dead, and that he and Aoshi don’t exactly get along – or whether he ought to let her have her hope. He elects on staying silent.

Anyway, one day they’re in the woods, and it starts to rain. They sit down under a tree, and Kenshin begins to stare off into space. …At the same time, Kaoru and Yahiko are on a boat on the way to Kyoto, and it’s also raining where they are. Kaoru, too, starts to stare into space.

Both Kaoru and Kenshin are lost in the same thought:

This is painfully forced.

The most forced “romantic” scene ever created.

It seems that one day the two of them were caught in the rain, and Kenshin had accidentally brushed his hand against Kaoru’s… Then he’d taken advantage of the brief moment’s privacy and held it. It’s animated really choppily, and it’s just awkward. It’s such a pivotal plot point – that maybe Kenshin feels as strongly about Kaoru as Kaoru feels about Kenshin – but they botched it so bad. …It really feels like somebody just chucked it in there as an afterthought.

The only part about it that feels real is when Misao asks Kenshin if he’ll tell her what he’s thinking about, and he says “no”. There’s something in the way that the voice actor nails it that’s believable. (If I haven’t mentioned it before, I watch this series in English, so I don’t know what the scene is like in Japanese…) Otherwise: yuk.

Episode 35 – Conquered Village: The Grasp of Shishio’s Hands

Even *he's* annoyed, now.

Misao’s still stalking Kenshin…

One day, Kenshin and Misao come across a man on the verge of death in the woods.

Nice place to die, I guess.

He’s been hacked to pieces by a sword.

This kid's gonna have some nightmares after this.

And he’s left behind his little brother.

They find out that Shishio has taken over the local village, and that the government has given up trying to get it back. The little boy’s brother (the now-dead guy) had snuck away to try and get help, only to come back and get killed. The little boy craves revenge, but Kenshin manages to stop him, puts Misao in charge of watching over him, and then goes into the village to track Shishio down.

"Welcome to our village..."

Instead of finding Shishio, though, Kenshin finds the little boy’s parents – now hanging corpses.

Misao and the little boy follow him, even though he’d told them not to, and the little boy totally freaks out when he sees his parents. His anguished cry alerts Shishio’s men that they’re there, and they come running out, looking for a fight.

Purple!

A fight starring a 1980s hair band rock singer…

"I'll Swiffer you to death!"

…welding a mop.

Easy peasy.

Of course, Kenshin makes quick lunch meat out of them.

Long time, no see.

And guess who happens to show up!

I think I forgot to previously clarify this point, but Hajime is a cop. He’d stopped at the village on the way to Kyoto to do cop stuff: It turns out that the little boy’s dead brother was actually one of his agents, and Hajime had come to the village to investigate the man’s reports. …Too late, Hajime.

I really like this guy, I have to admit.

Hajime makes the time to insult Misao.

So, anyway, skipping ahead a bit in the plot, Kenshin cuts the corpses down, and they pull them up into the hills to let the little boy bury his parents next to his dead brother. Kenshin and Hajime tell Misao and the little boy to stay put, and then head into the woods to find Shishio’s manor.

He's better at digging holes than I would be...

But the little boy isn’t ready to give up his quest for revenge quite that easily…

There's that kid again!

…And Shishio’s totally aware that Kenshin and Hajime are on their way.

So what happens next? Will the little boy get his revenge? Will Kenshin and Hajime ever catch up with Shishio? Will I ever remember to catch that creepy kid’s name? Will Misao ever shut the heck up? Will Sanouske ever find his way out of the woods? Will Kaoru and Yahiko find Kenshin in Kyoto?

Well! You’ll just have to wait for Disc 3 of Season 2: “Heart of the Sword”!

One comment

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