Rurouni Kenshin, Season 2, Disc 5 – “Faces of Evil”

**post by nichan**

I kinda stayed up until 6am, so instead of posting this, I ought to be taking a nap. …But no! I’ve powered up on Chinese take-out! I can do this! (*dramatic power pose*) (*dramatic yawn*)

This is disc 5 of the second season: “Faces of Evil”!

Episode 44: “A Decisive Battle like Violent Waters: The Strongest Troop, Juppongatana”

When last we left Kenshin, he’d just killed Seijuro as part of his training to learn the Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki. Of course, Kenshin doesn’t handle death very well these days, so… Well, he doesn’t just take this lying down. You didn’t really expect him to, did you?

Nyquil?

So Kenshin drags Seijuro’s body back to his house and pumps him full of medicine, hoping miracles will happen.

Meanwhile, there’s the matter of Sano and Hajime, right? Sano kept getting lost on the way to Kyoto, so instead of continuing to struggle, he’d just gotten himself arrested and dragged to the jail under the assumption that he’d eventually cross paths with Hajime. …It works, too! Kinda. Hajime arrives and stumbles over him – only to dryly insist he has no idea who Sano is.

And Hajime calmly lacks a reaction.

So Sano displays his skills with the Futae no Kiwami and busts out of his cell in a fit of annoyance.

Kenshin and Batman kind of have a few things in common...

Seeing that he’s not going to get rid of Sano, Hajime brings him along on the trip to interrogate Chou, who Kenshin had handed over to the police after the incident at the temple.

Violent battles: now displayed with chibis!

Sano and Chou immediately take a disliking to each other and start beating each other up. Hajime calmly stands back and lets them duke it out a bit until Sano proves he’s the stronger combatant.

Backing out of the fight before he gets hurt, Chou plays it off like he thinks fighting is “stupid”. Blah, blah, overly-dramatic anime speech… Chou eventually cracks and says what he knows about Shishio’s plans: he’s going to light Kyoto on fire and burn it to the ground. (It’s an idea that ties back to scenes from earlier in the season, and also from “Samurai X”, actually.)

Meanwhile, back at Shishio’s compound, all of the members of the Juppongatana have arrived, including this really creepy blind guy who compensates by covering himself in pictures of eyeballs. Because… Yah. That’s a great way to catch the ladies: eyeball fashion. Added bonus? He accessorizes with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cape.

I bet he smells fantastic, too.

His name is Usui, and he freaks some people out, annoys others, and keeps trying to kill Shishio.

The plot was missing a romantic rivalry since Megumi isn't around to torment Kaoru...

There’s also this guy, who’s name I forgot to write down. He has a bit of a competition going with Shishio’s girlfriend, as they’re both interested in crawling into Shishio’s pants.

Anyhoo, with the whole Juppongatana (sans Chou, that is) in one spot, Shishio announces that things are about to start happening. He sends most of his crew into Kyoto to burn it down, and rounds the rest up for a secret mission. Pep talks are given, cheers are had, the overly dramatic repeating of names occurs as though they don’t all know each other…

Shishio's Secret.

Sojiro slips a secret message to Shishio about the secret plans.

Meanwhile, back at Seijuro’s house…

Power glomp!

Seijuro’s fully recovered, though he insists it’s got nothing to do with the medicine, and everything to do with Kenshin’s sword and technique.

Facefault!

And he’s clearly feeling better, because he immediately manages to insult and abuse Kenshin…

Seijuro tells Kenshin to stop sitting around and get scooting. He’s got Big Important Things to do: stopping Shishio. Kenshin makes one last request of his master, asking that he look after Kaoru, Yahiko, Misao, and the rest. After sarcastically refusing, he finally indirectly agrees. Sort’ve.

Episode 45 – “As if to Fly: Stop the Launch of the Battleship Purgatory!”

It's not nearly as dramatic as it's drawn.

Kenshin arrives at the police station, where Hajime awaits his answer: Will he become the manslayer once more?

Kind've waiting for cheerleaders and the marching band at this point...

Meanwhile, Shishio’s crew are still giving each other dramatic pep talks.

Well, so, anyway… Hajime asks Kenshin if he’s ready to become the manslayer once again, and Kenshin replies something like, “We’ll just have to see.” It’s then that Hajime realizes something has changed – our ginger hero has gone through a dramatic transition.

Also, they pour over a map of Kyoto, trying to figure out what Shishio’s really up to. It seems suspicious that they’ve so easily kept possession of Chou, particularly since Chou’s been talking; Hajime finds it peculiar that Shishio hasn’t tried to either break Chou out of jail or kill him. This makes him suspect there’s more to the plot than just lighting stuff on fire. It’s too easy, man! It’s too easy!

Yadda, yadda, plot point, yadda...

And then they figure it out: Shishio’s going to sneak out of Kyoto in a boat and sail to Tokyo. (It makes sense within the context of their long, drawn-out discussion.)

This is how boys say "hi".

Oh! And then Sano shows up to say “hello” to Kenshin.

This is how boys hug.

So now Sano’s punched Kenshin so hard that he’s flopped over like a wet shirt. Will the bromance be rekindled???

D'awwww. How cute!

This gleeful little smile makes me think “Yes”.

After the boys are reunited and the spark of the bromance rekindled (though not entirely – there’s still some tension there), Sano, Kenshin, and Hajime discuss what they have to do to stop Shishio’s plot: put enough cops out in the streets to prevent the impending fires, then speed to Osaka to stop the ship from sailing to Tokyo. (I skimmed over it, but here’s the highlight: Perry had come to Tokyo in black ships and scared the daylights out of the locals; Shishio wants to do the same, then take power in the ensuing chaos.)

I could make a political joke, here...

For some odd reason, Sano isn’t allowed to sit inside of the carriage.

Standing around, doing ship stuff.

Meanwhile, Shishio and his closest buddies have boarded the battleship Purgatory.

Back in Kyoto, the general members of Shishio’s army who have been assigned the task of burning the town to the ground have run into problems. The Juppongatana who’ve remained behind split into two factions: one that decides to stand back and wait, and the other that decides to intervene. The Juppongatana, you see, aren’t really motivated and unified by a strong desire to help Shishio so much as a general agreement that anarchy is awesome. Heck, it seems like half of them want to outright kill Shishio, soooooo… Yah. (Except for the one guy: he doesn’t want to kill Shishio so much as plow him.)

Kenshin had sent them a text message earlier in the day...

Luckily for Kyoto, Misao and the Oniwaban are looking out for them, and help them keep anything from burning down.

Creepy dude!

Usui sneaks up behind Misao and decides to put an end to her interference.

Infighting!

Anji, then, sneaks up behind Usui and stops him from killing Misao. …They’re sort of the two characters chosen to represent the conflicts between the members of the Juppongatana.

But, back in Osaka…!

Quick! Get the Jetskis!

Kenshin, Hajime, and Sano have arrived at the dock, and find themselves staring out at the Purgatory.

I think we're supposed to be impressed, here.

The Purgatory!

Episode 46 – “Purgatory Bursts into Flames: The Destiny of Makoto Shishio”

After discussing how to get to the ship, the three heroes part ways: Hajime goes to one side, Kenshin to the other, and Sano’s left with the task of chucking Katsu’s bombs directly at the Purgatory.

Hey baby, how about me 'n' you go to the pub and have some wings tonight, eh?

So… The bromance, right? Kenshin’s giving Sano “the look”, but there’s still a bit of tension. Sano really is in over his head to some degree, and sometimes Kenshin has to take Hajime’s side against him. When he does, he gets this really stern voice that doesn’t lend itself to a bromance. But… Things are still coming along. I mean, look at those eyes!

Shishio orders a cannon be shot towards the three, and they use that as the signal to start their attack. So, even with an explosion…

Somebody's been using Herbal Essences!

Kenshin shows up on one side, Hajime on the other, and Sano… Well, Sano’s still trying to figure out what to do.

Dirty mouth? Clean it up!

Unrelated, but Shishio’s mouth kinda looks like a butt.

This seems likely.

Eventually, Sano makes it across the water to the edge of the boat and punches the water to repel bullets. Yup. I just said that because it happened.

Katsu's packin' a punch!

Then he throws Katsu’s bombs and realizes his friend doesn’t take bomb-building very lightly: the Purgatory starts to sink immediately.

Kenshin proceeds to do one of those weird Kenshin Things, and he and Shishio agree to having a duel at Shishio’s hideout rather than ending it right there on the boat. I suppose the director had something to do with this, because there’s still a bunch of episodes left to the season, and it wouldn’t work if Kenshin just up and killed off the protagonist too early. …So, much to Hajime and Sano’s annoyance, they let Shishio get away, and agree to meet him later at the manor.

After that, Hajime goes his own way to do police stuff, and Sano and Kenshin head back to Misao’s place to meet back up with everybody.

This is how boys kiss...

The dynamics of the bromance are getting back on track…

Yahiko is a typical teenager... (Actually, I think he's a kid, but he looks like a teenager here, right?)

Sano and Yahiko immediately get reacquainted…

I know how *I'm* interpreting it!

Then Kenshin makes googly eyes at Kaoru. But, they’re the same googly eyes he’d previously made at Sano, so you figure out how you want to interpret that.

Anyhoo, with everybody in the same place, Kenshin starts getting filled in on everything that’s been going on in his absence – mostly the fight between Aoshi and Okina, and the drama between Usui and Anji over Misao. (It’s then that Sano realizes he’s trained with a member of the Juppongatana…)

Girl needs some pills.

Misao acting calm, like usual.

Misao cries here. Boo-hoo.

Also, Okina’s woken up. He uses the opportunity of being conscious to assign Kenshin the task of killing Aoshi. Our ginger hero refuses, though, and says he’ll bring Aoshi back to recover from the dark place he’s found himself in.

I don't know about you, but I don't hang out on my roof...

Then everybody meets up on the roof in the middle of the night to have a last moment before the battle begins.

Up on the roof, Yahiko yells at Kaoru for not making a move on Kenshin; Kenshin assigns Yahiko the task of helping Kaoru, Misao, and the Oniwaban; Sano tries to con Kaoru and Yahiko into paying off his debts back in Tokyo; and the Oniwaban wish Kenshin and Sano good luck. …That’s a lot of stuff to do in the middle of the night on the roof, really.

Doing it with style.

And then Hajime comes to pick them up in the morning, and they walk off into the sunrise.

Episode 47 – “Crash! The Lethal Punch, Futae no Kiwami: The First of Sonosuke Screams!” (I hope they meant “The Fist of Sanosuke Screams”…)

So… The guy in the coat. I kinda forgot to write down his name, but he annoys me, so I keep trying to ignore him. Anyway, he plays a big part in the opening portion of this episode. He’s decided Shishio’s plan to duel with Kenshin is a weak one, and he insists that things be changed: he says that he himself, Shishio’s girlfriend, Usui, Anji, and Sojiro stay behind with Shishio to duel with Kenshin, and the rest of the Juppongatana be sent to fight the Oniwaban.

Shishio’s kind of a jerk, and he doesn’t take criticism very well…

I've seen these management skills practiced in person...

He makes up a tall tale to tell the crew, which sets them against the guy in the coat.

It's a really ugly coat, too.

Usui realizes this is just a case of Shishio screwing with a subordinate, and he tries to get the guy in the coat to spill the beans. When the guy in the coat doesn’t, Usui breaks his finger.

Very "1984" of him...

Unlike Usui, though, the guy in the coat is really all about Shishio, and he stabs his own hand to prove that what Shishio’s said (read: lied) is true.

After this, Shishio sends the Juppongatana off to do whatever it is they do, and then he praises the guy in the coat for taking the fall. He decides to change his plans to the ones the guy in the coat had suggested, and tells the guy in the coat he’s good people. Things feel very Dilbert right here.

Anyhoo, Shishio’s girlfriend is sent out to go collect Hajime, Sano, and Kenshin and lead them into the fortress. While they’re walking, things get very, I dunno, Dragon Ball Z in that they all agree to have one-on-one fights in large rooms with no furniture and no interference, and whoever wins just, you know, wins. It’s absurd.

In the first room waits Anji, and he’s just sitting there chilling out and doing his thing, waiting for whoever is going to battle him. And, predictably, Sano decides to take on the challenge. Hajime, Kenshin, and the girl all stand by and watch as Sano and Anji knock each other around… though Kenshin yells out advice, and Hajime yells out sarcastic remarks.

It almost looks like they're about to ballroom dance, doesn't it?

So, a lot of fighting, and a lot of annoying yammering, and a lot of Hajime’s amusing sarcasm…

Could it end this easily???

And then it almost seems like Sano’s won…

So! Does Sano beat Anji? Who will battle Usui and Sojiro? What will happen to the Oniwaban? Will the bromance between Sano and Kenshin ever fully recover? Will Kaoru ever take Yahiko’s advice and make a move? What ever happened to Aoshi? Will I actually get the next review up in a timely manner?

Well! You’ll just have to wait for Disc 6 of Season 2: “Blind Justice”!

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