Sunday, November 4, 2001

Rurouni Kenshin Manga

Genre: Jidai Geki
Parental Guidance Recommended
Credits: Nobohiro Watsuki

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Thundersenshi' Description:
In a search for the villain who has tarnished the name of her dojo, Kamiya Kaoru stumbles upon a wanderer named Kenshin Himura. In Tokyo where swords are no longer permitted, Kenshin carries with him a reversed-edged blade that bears a principle forged by his past as an assassin. Kaoru hesitantly receives help from this stranger...blissfully unaware that behind the deceving facade is a sword skill unmatched by any other. For Kenshin Himura, the cross-scarred wanderer, is none other than the legendary assassin and swordsman, Hitokiri Battousai.

Sword action at its best...>>> by thundersenshi (11.04.2001)
I am a huge fan of jidai geki. So I guess it wouldn't surprise anyone when I say that I absolutely love Rurouni Kenshin. As a fact, I've declared Nobuhiro Watsuki (creator) a genius the moment I got hooked to this series.

To be quite honest, though, what got me into its original manga version was its televised version (as it usually is). At first, I couldn't quite decide which I liked better--that is, until both went further into the main storylines. RK the TV series is very good; I will admit that I even liked certain filler episodes. However, this case is perhaps the same with all anime I've seen--the original manga version is still much better, no matter how great the TV rendition is. You can bring up a handful of arguements to dispute this claim, but I've got two words to shut you up for certain: Jinchuu Arc.

I've always mourned that the TV version did not include this certain arc; it is so important to the series as a whole! With such detailed and historic background, it gives all of the major characters so much depth. It tells of Kenshin's past as Hitokiri Battousai, the foundation for the story of his battles, his present life and the way of his sword. I didn't see much point in the way they ended the TV series; it was so incomplete because of this missing arc. If you call yourself a RK fan, then most definitely you will have to know the real score and read the manga in its entirety (well...preferrably in its entirety, but you can get away with reading at least most of the parts that the TV/OAV version did not include).

Comparisons aside (for all I know, you might not have seen its TV version anyway), Rurouni Kenshin is a fantastic manga. Since the timeline was set ten years after the Meji era, there is a heavy touch of history. In my case, that only made it even more fascinating, and the plot more involving. The artwork is quite good, and you're never scrimped for the excellent swordfights. Characters are delightful. To date, this is perhaps the only series where I may not have a single, personal favorite character, but I LOVE almost every one of them, so you can understand why it's hard to choose! Watsuki takes great care in making his character sketches unique; he gives each of them careful detailing and definite personality. One may also find it interesting that he based many of their characteristics on both real people--several of which were historical figures--as well as other fictional characters (not exclusive to Japanese works, mind you).

Individual Rating: Art: 9; Story: 9; Characters: 10

Samurai fighting action at its finest>>> by Mark Poa (01.22.2004)

Rurouni Kenshin has been one of the most popular anime series in recent years. And, like a lot of anime series out there, it traces its roots to a manga series.

I read the Rurouni Kenshin manga series after I've seen the entire TV series, the two OAV series, and the movie. I know it's not fair to compare a shiny series with moving pictures to a static black and white manga, but I really can't help it.

There's no bad comparisons, though. The manga series is at par with, if not at times even better than, its animated brothers.

The basic story of Rurouni Kenshin is about the wanderer, Himura Kenshin, who found his way into staying at the Kamiya Dojo. Underneath his happy-go-lucky young-looking exterior, Kenshin is actually the famed Hitokiri Battousai, a feared assassin swordsman prior to the Restoration. We are introduced to the same cast as the TV series: Kaoru Kamiya, the headstrong expert of the Kamiya style which believes in using the sword to protect; Sanosuke Sagara, a.k.a. Zamza the gangster, the former Seikihou troop member and the fighter Kenshin trusts to guard his back; Yahiko Myoujin, the son of Tokyo Samurai and Kenshin's wannabe successor; and Megumi, the foxy doctor who has a yen for Kenshin.

The manga's storyline after the initial first introductory episodes can be broken down into the major story arcs--the Jin-E arc, the Raijuta arc, the Shishio arc, and the Jinchuu arc--with short side stories focusing on the different characters in between (such as Yahiko's first solo venture). I must admit, even though there are fewer stories than the TV series, the story arcs in the manga are the more interesting ones. Here, you could actually see the influence of events in one arc on the succeeding ones. Jin-E's arc, for instance, would be alluded to in the Shishio arc; whereas the fate of one of Shishio's Juppon Gatana, Iwanbo, was revealed during the Jinchuu arc.

For an animated version fan reading the manga, the manga might read like a "The Best of Rurouni Kenshin" comic book. While there are a lot of fun filler episodes in the TV series, you'll find only the meat of the series here. No bones about it. In fact, as many a reviewer have said before, the manga's main advantage over its animated counterpart is that it has the full Jinchuu (or Man's Justice) arc. This arc was only condensed within the second OAV series, which I'm sure disappointed a lot of RK manga readers. Without going into too detailed spoilers, the Jinchuu arc highlighted Kenshin's past, its effect on the present, and gives us a chance to see old favorites again (Saitou and Aoshi in action again after the Shishio battle... and on Kenshin's side! Excuse me while I mark out!). The fact that the TV series opted for the less interesting "Black Knights" story and "Feng Shui/Geomancer" arcs instead of just using this was a pity, really. I'm pretty certain I'd enjoy seeing Sanosuke's return to his family in an animated form. That was certainly a fun side story.

The artwork in this series is certainly topnotch. You would be amazed at how realistic the fighting gets, even when transposed into 2D still images. I was certainly spoiled by the animated counterpart when it comes to special effects in Kenshin's moves, but the manga artist is still able to convey the same intensity... as if I'm watching the action all over again, feeling every hit of the sword, every bruise made... powerful stuff.

I was also pleasantly surprised at some of the influences revealed while reading the original work. The influence of American comic books on the artist was pretty evident here. In fact, two of the Jinchuu villains looked like they were influenced by Apocalypse and Venom (from Marvel Comics). Hmmm... maybe this is why they only showed Enishi in the animated version?

Overall, any Rurouni Kenshin fan should give the manga a shot as well. I don't think it'd disappoint... well, except for being disappointed over the fact that we might never see the full Jinchuu arc in animated form...

Individual Rating: Art: 9; Story: 10; Characters: 9

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