Rurouni Kenshin, Season 2, Disc 3 – “Heart of the Sword”

**post by nichan**

I had my mom dye my hair today. By complete coincidence, I realized that with the colour and the cut, I could totally cosplay as Kenshin right now… assuming I was any good with hair gel, that is. It really is the year of Kenshin, I guess!

But, more importantly, this is disc 3 of the second season: “The Heart of the Sword”.

Episode 36: “Across the Boundary Between Edo and Meiji: Kenshin and Shishio Face to Face!”

So when last we left off, Sojiro had been sent by Shishio to greet Kenshin and Hajime and lead them to his current location. And, yes, that is the kid’s name… I finally remembered to write it down!

The English VA for this kid also voices one of my fav anime characters. But this kid? This kid irks me to no end. (*sigh*)

And Misao and the little boy, meanwhile, had also decided to sneak into Shishio’s hideout.

This is the episode where the second season starts to derail into the absurd a bit. There’s going to be an irrationally sized and shaped bad guy, an infinitesimally large room to battle in, and a fight that’s dragged out for absolutely no reason. Things occasionally feel like “Dragon Ball Z” in season 2, and this is one of those times.

Hajime's got a point, dude.

Kenshin is just standing there rather than leaping across the room to fight Shishio. Hajime logically asks: “Hey, how can you just stand there like you’re confused?”

Well, granted, Hajime's not really lifting a finger himself, either...

Hajime continues: “If you were the Battousai, you would hop over there and slice at Shishio!”

How is it underhanded if you invited him in to where you are, knowing full-well why he's looking for you?

Sojiro replies: “Mr. Himura would never try something underhanded like an ambush…”

Anyway, instead of fighting, Kenshin stands there and listens to Shishio drone on for awhile. The usual anime stuff: a long, complex, drawn-out monologue on why he’s the bad guy. You’d think this would be the point where the good guy and the bad guy go after each other, but noooooooooo… That’d be too easy. Sheesh.

This just goes on and on and on...

Shishio drones on and on about why he’s an anarchist. Something to do with being lit on fire, and power, and chaos. I dunno. Whatever.

So then Shishio finally finishes his yammering, and it’s finally time for a fight, right? …But no. It’s not that easy. Instead of Kenshin fighting Shishio, Kenshin has to fight this guy, instead:

Gigantor cone head.

The entertaining thing about this sequence is that, in the English version, the voice actors for Faye, Spike, and Jet from “Cowboy Bebop” all show up…

Anyway, Hajime just stands by and narrates what’s probably going on in Kenshin’s head under the ruse of calmly talking to Sojiro. Eventually it’s revealed (via Hajime’s monologue) that Shishio’s watching the fight very closely to figure out Kenshin’s fighting methods, and that Hajime decides not to attack Sojiro because he’s not sure how he’ll react. Yah. Okay. (*yawn*)

Issues with upper management.

Oh, and the infiltration plot is going… somewhat well. I guess.

Episode 37: “Shock! Reverse Blade Sword Broken: Sojiro’s Tenken versus Kenshin”

After a bunch of repetitive footwork, Kenshin finally knocks the goofy-looking bad guy to the ground:

Boooorinnnnnng.

Looks like somebody needs to make a trip to Lowe’s this weekend for flooring…

Grand entrance.

Misao and the little boy finally make it into the room that’s been trashed by Kenshin and the cone head fellow.

Well, anyway, with the defeat of the goofy guy, you might get your hopes up that Kenshin and Shishio are about to go head-to-head, right? Yah… Not so much.

OMG, WTF, Y U NO GO AFTER HIM?!?

Shishio decides to leave, and nobody goes after him.

Shishio decides that, instead of fighting Kenshin personally, he’ll lend his sword to Sojiro and have him fight our ginger haired hero.

Trouble brewing...

This proves way more tricky for Kenshin than the previous guy, though…

That's not a good sign, is it?

Kenshin realizes he’s in trouble: Sojiro ain’t no slouch with a sword, it seems.

It slices, it dices!

The good news is that Kenshin manages to crack the living daylights out of Shishio’s sword that Sojiro’s using…

NOOO!!!

…The bad news is that the reverse blade sword is now in two pieces!

Hajime decides to call it a draw, and Sojiro accepts, then leaves. Kenshin is just frozen, staring blankly at his broken sword… The one that’d served him well over ten years of fighting without killing. Ahh, poor Kenshin! (*pout*)

Good point.

Hajime sums it up nicely: “And we let Shishio escape, too…”

Better point.

Though Misao has an excellent counterpoint: “It’s not like you have any right to say that!”

More blah, blah, blah...

The little boy, meanwhile, is still out for revenge. He decides to attack the goofy looking guy (who’s sprawled out on the floor because Kenshin had knocked him out). Hajime stops him, though, and Kenshin talks him out of it.

Sojiro’s caught up to Shishio by this point, and hands the busted sword back to him. Shishio inspects it and is impressed…

Now who's weak, punk?

Kenshin managed to destroy a particularly fancy sword with his reverse blade. Shishio realizes he really is quite the adversary to have after all.

So Kenshin, Misao, and Hajime drag the goofy looking bad guy back to the village that had been under his siege, and  the villagers celebrate. There’s just one problem left, and that’s what to do with the little boy. Deciding that leaving him behind isn’t the best idea (since his whole family’s been wiped out, and the villagers hadn’t been very supportive about the situation), Hajime makes the announcement that his wife will take care of the boy.

No way!

Kenshin and Misao are baffled that anyone would marry Hajime…

Episode 38: “Sanosuke’s Secret Training: The Challenge of Anji, the Destroyer”

This episode starts out with Misao and Kenshin only a day or so away from Kyoto. They’re on a pretty beach, with a forest in the background, and Misao’s yammering on like usual. Kenshin, meanwhile, slowly gets dragged into a rare fit of self-doubt: do Yahiko, Kaoru, Sano, and Megumi really care about him? Do they really miss him? Would they really be concerned if he were to die in Kyoto? It’s only a few seconds’ worth of scene, and only involves a few words, but it comes through pretty clear. …Totally felt bad for Kenshin, there, even if it was sort of his fault for leaving the way he did. (Even if he did it for a reason.)

Blunt therapy.

Misao doesn’t deal with emo Kenshin very long, though.

But this episode isn’t about Kenshin or Misao. It’s about Sanosuke. Hooray! (By the way, I think I keep changing the way I’m spelling his name. I wonder why…?)

Sano, you see, is still lost in the woods, trying to find his way to Kyoto. One day he comes across this guy who looks like he’s about a hundred years ahead of the goth movement:

That must come in handy...?

This is Anji. He’s can pulverize rocks with his knuckles.

Sano watches Anji turn a few stones to dust with his fingers, and decides he wants in on that. His whole reason for following Kenshin to Kyoto, anyway, is to prove he’s not a burden. The bromance was broken by Kenshin’s leaving and Hajime’s explanation, if you’ll recall. So Sano wants to power up. Smushing stones with his hands seems like an awesome bonus skill.

Couldn't you just use a hammer...?

After a ridiculously long discussion, Anji finally agrees (however reluctantly) to teach Sano how to break rocks with his hands. He says Sano can have a month to learn, but Sano, being the crazy whackjob he is, insists he’ll master it in seven days.

That's quite the grading curve, dude.

And why is the deadline important? Because Anji insists that failure equals instant death!

After a week, though, things are getting pretty dire: Sano hasn’t broken a rock, but he sure has done some damage to his knuckles. With only a few hours left until sudden power or sudden death, Sano gets a surprise visitor:

I think you need to lay off the rocks, Sano...

Captain Sagara, back from the dead!

Captain Sagara tells Sano to give up, but Sano counters with his own story about how much he needs to go find Kenshin and prove his worth. Like Megumi (I don’t think I covered this, but it happened), his life has been changed by Kenshin’s influence, and he can’t just let his bromantical partner take the world on by himself. So Captain Sagara fades away, and Sano becomes even more determined to succeed.

Comfy bed.

Morning comes, and Anji’s convinced that Sano has died.

Success!

But just as Anji’s about to say a prayer for him, he wakes up and busts the crap outta the rock he’d been sleeping on!

With his time up, and his ability to break rocks with his fingers confirmed, Sano heads off on the way to Kyoto (thanks to directions provided to him by Anji).

Sick sense of humor.

Sano departs with a surprised laugh when he discovers that the place where he’d found Anji was the same place where Captain Sagara had been back stabbed by the government.

And then, just as Sano walks away…

This kid must have killer frequent flier miles.

Sojiro shows up!

Come to find out, Anji is one of Shishio’s men! …Oh, the plot twists!

Episode 39: “The Creator of the Reverse Blade: Shakku Arai’s Final Swing”

Guess who’s finally made it to Kyoto?

Pushy lady.

Kenshin’s being kind of moody because he’s having very PTSD-style flashbacks; Misao refuses to tolerate such behavior.

Misao takes Kenshin to the restaurant where her makeshift family lives: an old man who acts as her grandfather, two women, and two men. They’re all members of the Oniwaban.

Welcome to the lion's den.

This is Nenji Kashiwazaki, aka: Okina, who is the head of the Oniwaban in Aoshi’s absence.

Misao runs off to take a bath, so Okina and Kenshin sit down to have a chat. Okina immediately calls Kenshin out on his identity and mission, and then suggests they join forces against Shishio. Kenshin’s reluctant, but realizes he’s not going to win, because Okina’s gonna help him out whether he wants it or not.

So Kenshin gives him the task of tracking down two men, one of whom is the creator of his now broken reverse blade sword. …After a few days, Okina comes back with the bad news that the original maker is now dead. The good news, however, is that he has a son who’s known for his ability to make knives.

Okina, Misao, and Kenshin go off to find Seiku, the knife maker, to see if he’ll create another reverse blade sword.

Oro?

But when they get there, they find quite a shock…

He started young.

…Because when they ask for Seiku, this is who shows up.

Eventually a woman shows up and explains that Seiku is her husband, and the little kid is her son. Feeling a bit better, Kenshin asks to try out a knife to see the quality of the blade.

Is that a daikon in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

And then proceeds to pull a daikon out of nowhere to chop up.

Eventually Seiku shows up, and though his wife realizes how powerful of a swordsman Kenshin is, he refuses to either make another sword, or to provide another pre-made sword.

Misao can't handle all this talking, either.

And then goes off on a long tangent about peace in the new time and some other blarney.

She's certainly a picture of tranquility, isn't she?

Kenshin calmly accepts that he won’t get a new sword; Misao isn’t so convinced.

The issue of Kenshin’s sword remains up in the air…

But, meanwhile, Shishio’s returned to Kyoto and his impenetrable and ill-lit fortress, full of dark and absurdly sized rooms, and chock full of minions (yet mysteriously totally empty of people). Yup… Shishio’s living the stereotypical bad guy lifestyle.

And all in matching suits, too!

See? Minions.

So now that he’s back, he starts chatting with his right hand man. Or… Maybe left hand man, I guess. It seems like Sojiro is his right hand man, so maybe Houji is his left hand man. Well, whatever… Point is, the guy’s always around from here on out. Shishio explains to him that he’s invited his Juppongatana to Kyoto: the best of the best of his army. Houji gets stupid excited about this. It means that big things are on the way.

One of the Juppongatana are already present:

I never really watched "Trigun", but I can't help but think of Vash when I see this guy.

Houji on the left, Chou on the right.

I've seen a few TV shows about people like Chou...

Chou likes swords.

Just as Chou, Houji, and Shishio are discussing plans, a report comes in that Kenshin is in Kyoto, and that Seiku refused to give him his father’s last sword. Chou lights up like Christmas to hear that the last sword of Shakku Arai is still out there, somewhere, and he gets all giddy to run off and collect it. Shishio tells him not to do anything stupid, but there’s really no stopping Chou when he wants a sword.

He paints quite the picture, doesn't he?

So Chou politely asks Seiku for Shakku’s last sword…

The early model of the Baby Bjorn.

…And when Seiku refuses, Chou hijacks the baby.

In a fit of desperation, Seiku’s wife blurts out that Shakku’s last sword had long since been donated to a nearby temple. Giddy with excitement, Chou heads off to collect it, baby in tow.

Misao, still determined that Kenshin’s going to get his reverse blade sword from Seiku, stumbles upon the scene and hears the story. She runs off to a carrier pigeon place and sends Okina a message explaining the whole situation.

Guilt complex.

Kenshin just totally flips out that a baby has been kidnapped over a sword that’d been kept secret until he came looking for it.

Still carryin' that baby.

And when Chou gets to the temple…

Welcome to your butt whoopin'.

…Guess who’s waiting in a fit of utter fury!

So what happens next??? What will Kenshin do with a broken reverse blade? And what will Chou do with the baby? And will anyone score Shakku Arai’s last sword? And will Sano ever make it to Kyoto? And what happened to Yahiko and Karou?

Well! You’ll just have to wait for Disc 4 of Season 2: “Between Life and Death”!

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