The Meiji Era was one of great renewal for Japan, where swords and killing were outlawed. How-ever, many survivors from the time of Revolu-tion still lived, lurking in the shadows and waiting for a chance to use their kill... more »ing blades again. Only Kenshin Himura, formerly one of the most brutal of killers, hopes to keep his swordsman's honor and still live in the new era.« less
One of, if not, the best Anime TV series available
Chon-ny | 04/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Along with Neon Genesis Evangelion, Trigun and Cowboy Bebop, Rurouni Kenshin will make a great case for being the best anime series out there. The TV series explores the middle section of Himura Kenshin's life, with two excellent and highly recommended movies explaining his life before the TV series (Trust, Betrayal), and three more explaining what happens after (Samurai X, and the Seisou Hen OAVs). The basic TV plot involves Himura Kenshin, once the most feared Hitokiri (assassin) during the Bakumatsu, a bloody period of governmental chaos that produced some of the most skilled fighters, around. For reasons explained in the prelude OAVs, he decides to wander for ten years following the Bakumatsu, carrying a sakabatou, or a dull sword with the blade on the reverse side, to atone for his countless killings. He runs into Kamiya Kaoru, Sagara Sanosuke and Myojin Yahiko, his eventual gang that accompanies him throughout the series.This is a series that, as should most anime, be watched in Japanese, even if you struggle with subtitles. Kenshin's voice is given a more manly flavor in the dubbed version, but this dulls a very important effect later on. The main, driving issue in this series is much like the issues addressed in Ghost In The Shell, Jin-Roh: Wolf Brigade, Trigun and Neon Genesis and even Star Wars: how not to turn over to the dark side. Throughout the 95-episode series (which ends quite abruptly, and drops significantly in intensity after the Kyoto series), Kenshin fights the urge to return to his Hitokiri nature, constantly finding a way to defeat his highly-skilled opponents without killing them. Occassionally, however, something breaks within, and his wanderer's identity turns into the darker Hitokiri of the past. The Japanese version has a girlier version of Kenshin's voice, but the effect, along with the darkening of the mood, and the transformation of his eyes into the "killing eyes" of his Bakumatsu days, is dramatic when his voice turns low and is laced with cool hatred and confidence.The overexaggerated faces and voices (the phrases "de gozaru" and "oro" are Kenshin staples that can only be enjoyed when watched in Japanese) are welcome breaks from the more serious sub-topics and violent action. The fights are well done and Kenshin's true strength (which can only be unleashed once he completely returns to his Hitokiri self) is never displayed, but hinted at. Unlike Dragonball Z, it isn't just a matter of who's the strongest; it's a matter of strategy, skill and speed. Opponents are accorded the right amount of fight time: those less skilled are dispatched quickly and with little effort as are those who are strong, but generally not intelligent. Only true swordmasters can even come close to putting up a decent fight against his Hiten Mitsurugi sword style. This style relies heavily on analyzing your opponent's moves, emotions, fighting ki and on moving with godlike-speed. Kenshin is a particularly adept sword drawer, and has mastered the art of Battou-jutsu, drawing and killing the opponent in a single stroke, earning him the nickname Hitokiri Battousai.But it IS an extremely long series, well worth enduring the timid but important first season to get to the violent and tragic second season, which is unrivaled by any other series. The topics are brutal: child abuse, drug use, murderous betrayal and government ruthlessness. The series doesn't shy away from the killing or beating of children, women, and old people, or just flat out mass death. It doesn't present it in graphic or gratuitious fashion either; it's all part of the show's feel: how can you stand by and turn the other cheek when such atrocities are continuing? Nearly each character is well-developed, making the viewer find attachment to both hero and villain, particularly the boy assassin Soujiro, whose story is incredibly heartwrenching. Each character has incredibly deep emotional scars -- particularly the death of a loved one -- and nearly each episode connects and builds until the end of the climactic second season.Rurouni Kenshin is great, but not perfect. Once a silent and efficient killer (as shown in the OAVs), Kenshin now delivers long speeches about killing before and after he fights. It gets repetitive after a while, but adds some tension. There are the occassional flashback and comedy-break episodes that don't further the story, such as the one including the Sumo wrestler Toramaru (skip it). The third season ends abruptly, as it probably should have, the result of an extremely well-done second season that would surely overshadow any subsequent storylines. The music is a take it and leave it situation: the important parts have great music, the not so important parts do not. The soundtrack varies from classical sounds to synthesized beats, and creates some subconscious unrest.The new Seisou Hen set of OAVs actually does provide a sense of closure absent in many anime series (Neon Genesis, Trigun). The art is similar to the Trust and Betrayal set, and even features many fights from the TV series re-done in much more realistic animation. The new fights aren't as spectacular, but the emotion and the music are much stronger. These are must-haves...but only after viewing the TV series.This is a powerful series that takes a look at the struggle of man within. I recommend watching the TV series first, then the Samurai X movie, then watching the Trust and Betrayal OAVs, which reveal an incredible amount, then re-watching the TV series, then finishing with the Seisou Hen set. Watching Trust and Betrayal beforehand will ruin a lot for the viewer, so try and watch the series in the aformentioned order. A highly-recommended series and movie set with some factual basis in Japan's turbulent samurai era near the end of the Tokugawa Dynasty."
By far the best anime series ever
email@example.com | 05/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to admit I cannot think of a better series than Rurouni Kenshin. DBZ does not have the plot line nor the animation "quality" of this. Ranma is a different story all together. It is a story of a man tormented by his past. He has been living life for the past ten years as a "rurouni", or wandering swordsman, in the hopes that one day he will be able to make up for all of his killings. While the storyline and plot is intense, the story still gives people a view of everyday Japanese life in the late 1800s with all the comedy you could ask for. I dont know how to explain the feeling that one gets watching the series, but I can say it is well worth whatever they are asking. The only thing I fear is the american company that is doing the translating and dubbing. Media Blasters is a "pretty good" company in this respect. To combat this one must buy the subtitled version or the DVD that has both. If you are new to anime or if this is a "new series" you are getting interested in, this would be a purchase that will make you smile. I really cannot say enough about this anime. Well done on the animators part!"
If you Love Anime, you will LOVE Kenshin
S. Song | Seattle, WA United States | 07/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Himura Kenshin was a lengendary assassin (hitokiri) during the war in Japan that brough forth the Meiji Era. Near the end of the war, he disappeared. Kenshin decided to give up his killing ways and become a wonderer who protects people in order to atone for all his sins of killing. The story starts some years after the new government was in place and starts a story revolving around Kenshin that is grepping like no other series.The plot of the series is absolutely wonderful! No other anime series I know has a plot comparable to it (and believe me I watch a LOT of anime). Many apects of the story are taken from real life including certain characters, fight moves and historical events. The plots involves the clash of the old era and the new government, the clash in Kenshin's own mind between his killer side and his wonderer side, the people living in the new era who do not want to accept the new government and those people who want to protect and make the new era a wonderful one (aka Kenshin and others) - it is a tightly knitted story that absolutely takes your breath away. The characters in this series are believable and each has his/her own strong personality and depth of character. As far as the artwork is concerned, it is absolutely beautiful! The music is incredibly wonderful as well and extremely fitting to the various scenes. The first 4 espisodes contains introduction to various important characters. The first episode introduces Kenshin and another main character. It is a wonderful introduction like no other! The second episode introduces another main character. The 3rd espisode contains some politics with a little plot revoling around Kenshin - it develops Kenshin's character and give the viewer glimpses into his core character. The 4th episode is one cool introduction to yet another important character in the plot. It might sound boring that all there is are introductions but the introductions are embedded in a great plot and is not boring at all. Just these few episodes will be enough to get you hooked! Try out Kenshin :)!"
Himura Kehsin meets Karou Kamiya and their journey begins
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 06/19/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Immensely popular in Japan, "Ruroui Kenshin" is an anime series about the intrepid journeys of a masterless roving samurai named Himura Kehsin, an idealist whose sword is only sharpened on the backside so that it cannot kill anyone. Volume 1 contains the first four episodes in which the wandering Kenshin meets Karou Kamiya, the idealistic, passionate and fiery Assistant Master of the Kamiya School. She is looking for the man who is tarnishing the name of the fencing school founded by her father, while he appears to be something of a simpleton whose chief asset seems to be that he cooks better than she does. Of course, this is because the legendary swordsman is playing some of the bumbling simpleton, in the great tradition of the Scarlet Pimpernel, Zorro, and other similarly heroic figures. In these first four episodes, set during the Meiji Restoration, we essentially have an introduction to the main characters that become the core group of the series. Episode 1 "The Handsome Swordsman of Legend" brings the title character and Karou together and establishes that her school no longer has any students because a former student has been violating its tenets and using his skills to kill. At the end of the episode Himura Kehsin agrees to stay for a while and help rebuild the school. Episode 2 "Kid Samurai" introduces Yahiko Myolin, an orphaned pickpocket from a samurai family, who is rescued by our leading characters from the gang to which he belongs and who then becomes the first new student in the school. Episode 3 "Swordsman of Sorrow" provides more details on the backstory of our wandering samurai hero, while Episode 4 "Bad!" introduces Sanosuke Sagara, who has the biggest sword in Japan and whose deep hatred for Imperialists makes him challenge Kenshin Himura to a duel. "Ruroui Kenshin" is very much an intermediate anime, which helps younger viewers make the transition from the "Pokemon" type shows to the more adult samurai anime. They are still a lot of the "cute" elements associated with the former, but there is also the sense of historical fidelity we associate with the latter, and the show manages to bridge the two styles. Think of it as a samurai anime for beginners. The result is not great at this point, but the potential is there. Among the extras on this first DVD in the series you will find Liner Notes explain what Battousai means, how to play cho-han, and where the Satsuma is in Japan (the notes are not arranged alphabetically). But you also want to be sure that you check out the lyrics to the song in the original Japanese end credits ("When seeing those eyes of yours with that gleam, my heart skipped a beat that lazy afternoon...")."
Non Spoiler Review
Amused | 02/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First of all... As with all my other reviews, I dare not ruin this anime classic for you by telling you the main parts of the story that are found in this DVD, because REVIEWS SHOULD NOT BE SPOILERS. That being said, Kenshin falls under the genre of Action and Comedy. Many action-genre anime's tend to have superbly well drawn battle scenes, such as Ninja Scroll, but I think Kenshin really goes above and beyond almost all action anime's by incorporating so many things that make an anime great. The action is fluid, the battle scenes are awesome, and if you notice... the camera and viewing angles are really creative and brings out the best in these scenes. The storyline itself is original and truly well thought out, and much time and effort is spent on character development as well. Tying into this is also Kenshin's comedy aspect. You'll laugh and fall in love with the characters as the story progresses.Ninety nine percent of the people who watch this series think it's a classic and you really have to trust what the reviews and I say on this Anime; it's truly a legend and truly worth your time. Note: The anime is divided into four series; the first three series being the tv episodes and the fourth series being the OAV episodes The first episodes are from the "Wandering Samurai" collection. The second series is called the "Legend of Kyoto" and the third part is called "Tales of the Meiji Era." The fourth series, "Samurai X - Trust and Samurai X - Betrayal" dive into Kenshin's past. I highly recommend that you watch the Samurai X collection at least until after you have finished the Legend of Kyoto arc. I say this because much of the Kenshin TV series plays along on what went on in the mystical and enigmatic past of Kenshin's life before he arrives in Tokyo in episode one. Enjoy!~"