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Rurouni Kenshin, Vol. 2
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on February 25, 2018
I watched and rewatched the anime when i was in my teens..10 years later, feeling nostalgic, i decided to start the manga. I just received vol. 1 today. I'm really glad I bought this. It's a wonderful story with a great main characters. He's just fantastic in my opinion. I've experienced many, many fictions in many forms...books, comics, manga, movies, tv shows, anime..and Kenshin Himura will always be among my favorite main characters. So powerful yet so kind, softhearted, and humble. A wonderful combination, and quite unique for the decade in which this was written...as well as today. The qualities and attributes Himura displays (after he leaves his title of Batosai), the qualities of goodness, kindness, modesty, patience, and humility combined with his courage, strength, and sense of justice, are excellent qualities for young readers (and older readers) to be exposed to and learn from.
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A few years ago, I began to start watching anime, and decided to try manga. Okay, to be honest, it wasn't entirely that way. I had thought of reading manga before as I had thought of watching anime before, but I just didn't know where to start reading first. A relative, who knows my tastes in fiction, and my beliefs, found a manga of a character that I could enjoy watching.

*Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story*, or plain-old *Rurouni Kenshin* (or *RuroKen* even more so) for short, is a manga about a wandering swordsman named Himura Kenshin, who rescues a young girl from a fight with a hulking killer who claims to be the legendary “Battousai”, the deadliest of a group of assassins (known as the Hitokiri) who fought during the recent war inaugurating the Meiji era in Japan.

The girl, a young heir to the dojo of her father, who was slain in the recent war, is named Kamiya Kaoru. She is grateful, though a tad peeved at Kenshin for his goofy ways. She also is a tad prejudiced against him for his “Rurouni” ways. Rurouni means “wanderer” (though it should be noted that is a fake word that the mangaka - Watsuki-sensei - made up), and that is what Kenshin has done lately. This is not exactly considered respectable. Eventually, the reason is revealed why, when she learns that he is, in fact, the *true* Hitokiri Battousai.

In guilt over his past as an assassin, as well as for other reasons, Himura has changed his path, and wanders around, doing good, with his reverse-bladed sword. With this peculiar blade, it is almost impossible to kill someone, which is just how he wants it to be. He can still do so, but prefers to avoid that irrevocable step. Eventually, a lonely and grateful Kaoru invites him to stay with her at her dojo as a boarder. At this point, it should be noted, nothing romantic occurs, he is just her friend.

This manga appealed to me for a number of reasons. First of all, it was unique compared to American comics. It was not filled with super-heroes, or some adaptation of a popular book or movie, for instance. In other words, it wasn't the typical “comic-book” fare. It was a historical drama. Granted the “history” was played with, as the author freely admits. That in itself, I will add, was quite refreshing. All too many authors try to pretend their stories are more accurate than they truly are. The author here does the opposite of this, freely admitting the story is largely fabricated. The premise is also interesting to me, as it centers on the adventures of a former warrior in late-19th century Japan who did his best to fight for justice. He also, as we see in later volumes, seeks to atone for his misdeeds and mistakes and struggles with self-worth. As a veteran, I empathize and identify with this character type.

The other part I liked was that his philosophy was one I agree with entirely. I freely admit that I enjoy it when the hero of a story shares my beliefs instead of trashing them. In this case, this is not beliefs of a religious nature. The author seems to have studiously left out religion for the most part, and, from what I have heard, when there are some Christian bad guys later on, they are made clear to not be typical Christians, but guys who are misusing their faith. In general, the author, Nobuhiro Watsuki, stays away from political and ideological issues of today. That is not to say that politics or religion are not dealt with, but that they are limited to those issues that the characters would have dealt with and discussed *at the time* when the story takes place. This does take the story into condemning later evils like imperialism beginning to rise.

Philosophically, Kenshin is someone who is mostly a pacifist, but *WILL* fight when the need arises. Even then, he will not kill normally, but he will do so if he has no other choice. He just tries to avoid each step of the way, and when he does have to do what he would rather not, he takes no pleasure in doing so.

The dynamic for the character is sort of similar to that for Superman in his stories, where there are some bad guys who can pose a physical threat to Big Blue, but it is much more a story of Superman's personal and moral struggles. Here too, few can defeat Kenshin, but there are enough people who are good enough to challenge him to the point that he has to fight hard enough that he risks killing them. It is the personal struggle at heart here that makes the tale so interesting.

Most people may not care for the philosophy quite as much as I do, because they might not share it, or might even find it weird and absurd. In our darker and edgier age of movies with guys that freely kill, a highly moralistic and extremely pacifistic character is not welcome to most, but he is to me. I can't recommend this enough.

You see, I can sympathize with Kenshin, because I feel the same way for similar reasons. I didn't assassinate folks like the fictional Kenshin (based, as all the characters are, *very loosely* on an actual historical figure) did, but I was affected by a recent war, and I do hate violence, but if it is necessary to be violent, I hate any and all sadistic enjoyment thereof. I am a lot like the character in that regard, though certainly not similar in actual fighting prowess (obviously!).

For those who also like insights into the author's thoughts, there are character sketches and tidbits from the author about the work in progress. This is an incredible manga and If really can't recommend it enough.
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Rurouni Kenshin has long been considered a classic Shonen Jump manga and after finally reading this volume I can see why.

The story tells the story of Kenshin, a samurai who wanders the countryside in a time where only those who are part of the government are aloud to have a sword. Kenshin' s life is changed when he meets Oro, a young woman who is trying her best to keep her family dojo alive. As a whole volume 1 does a nice job of introducing characters and the world of Kenshin. It has a nice mix of comedy and serious moments. With a nice cast of charming characters.

An odd note for the kindle version is in the last chapter, they accidentally added part of the first chapter in it. Which was a bit confusing at first. And a word of caution for those who care, Kenshin does get gory in a few times.
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on May 15, 2018
Out of Print as of writing (may 15th 2018). Fantastic series, Vizbig editions are always a treat with nice quality paper, 1 or 2 chapters in color per book and a nice condensed way to collect some of the longer manga series.

Art is clean crisp and easy to follow combat. Fun characters and despite it being about a samurai called "The Man Slayer" this series is family friendly as it isn't gory and is about him redeeming himself by vowing to never take another life and fighting with a reversed blade sword after the atrocities he had seen and committed in the war.

I would like to give a special acknowledgment to Seattle Goodwill, who sold it used "good" condition for 11 shipped (not the OoP prices some are asking) and it honestly looks "Like new" as any dmg (maybe a corner isnt 100% straight) is from it merely existing as a book for years. I am extremely happy with my order as they had quick turn around and shipped it out same business day. Would buy from them again :]
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on April 1, 2012
Warning: SPOILERS!!!!

The series revolves around Kenshin-he is the protagonist and his story takes center stage. But Sanosuke is my favorite character and one of my favorite characters of all time and he gets a lot of attention in this volume. To begin with, the first chapter detailing Saito's attack on Sano is in full-color. That's a little gruesome, as Sano is stabbed and left critically injured and there's a lot of blood, but Watsuki's artwork is, as always, gorgeous. There is a second full-color chapter dealing with Kenshin's meeting with Misao, but it's full-color Sanosuke that gets me.

It's also interesting to see that the anime followed Watsuki's work in this volume so closely. The shot of Sanosuke being found by his friends is exactly the same in the anime, down to the angles. Also the scene of him being treated by Megumi, with Kaoru and Yahiko assisting her, is very close in the anime. That's how good the artwork is-it even translated perfectly to the screen. There's another great section where Sanosuke confronts Saito after he's back on his feet, and the part where Sano meets with Monk Anji and learns the Futae no Kiwami, a powerful fighting technique. There's also a touching scene where the ghost of Captain Sagara, the man Sano admired the most and from whom he took his name, visits Sanosuke.

There's another color chapter towards the end where Kenshin reaches Kyoto, and we meet Makoto Shishio for the first time in this issue. As always, the VizBig edition is just that, BIG, with lots of room for the artwork. There are "Secret Life" sections on various villains and Hajime Saito, who was a real person and is not exactly a villain in Kenshin. Watsuki refers to him as someone who is allied with Kenshin but never becomes his friend. There's a cast of characters, a full table of contents, musings by Watsuki throughout the book, and a glossary at the end. There are also sections at the end with information about the Boshin War, the surrender of the Shogun, and the end and legacy of the Shinsengumi.
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on April 16, 2012
Warning: SPOILERS!!!!

This is the volume that opens the battle with Shishio on Mount Hiei and takes the reader up to Kenshin's fight with Seta Sojiro. There's some comedy in the beginning when the people at the Aoiya see Sanosuke for the first time and don't believe he's Kenshin's friend, and a nice interlude the night before Sanosuke, Kenshin, and Saito leave for Mount Hiei. Kenshin tries to spend some quiet time on the roof of the inn, only to be joined by all his friends, and it's good to see all the people, both present and in his memory, who are behind him. The volume covers Sanosuke's battle with Anji, Saito's sword fight with Usui, and Kenshin's challenge to Aoshi. There's a light touch when Shishio's girlfriend refuses to guide Kenshin's group farther into the maze and Sanosuke picks her up and carries her, and a really funny moment when Kenshin thinks he hears Kaoru's voice and Sanosuke and Yumi both feel his forehead to check for a fever. The volume ends in the middle of the fight between Kenshin and Sojiro.

As always, the edition is big, with lots of room for the beautiful artwork, a complete cast of characters in the beginning, and a full table of contents. There are two full-color chapters. The first is in the beginning of the book and is just a few pages dealing with Kenshin's return to the Aoiya. The second details the ultimate confrontation between Saito and Usui, and it is spectacular. Lots of secret life of characters and musings by Watsuki, a glossary at the end with more terms of the Meiji Restoration, and a section on religious belief in Japan.
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on July 18, 2017
This series gets better and better! I love the inclusion of colorized pages and the notes from the author! I feel like I am along for the ride as the series is getting released because of the notes, and it's really a unique experience to have with a series that at this point is quite old. Im already on the 5th VizBig book (volume 13,14,15 of the series) and I can't set it down!
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on June 25, 2013
This was best action packed I have ever read. What also makes it great is that the books are collected in VizBig books. There is a total of 28 single volumes and each VizBig book collects three volumes; in other words, there are 9 VIzBig books (volume 9 collects 4 books). I suggest purchasing the VizBigs. If you enjoy reading Shonen manga like Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, and others, you should add this in your collection. This also collects Nobuhiro Watsuki's character notes, color pages, and his special one shot, and side story. If like Watsuki's work, check out his reboot version of the story Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration, Gun Blaze West, and Buso Renkin. This manga is rated T+ due to blood violence, language, drugs and alcohol, suggestive themes, and violence on women.

*WARNING* If you plan on watching the anime first and read the manga later, it follows the same story but the director made some modifications (such as adding filler and characters) and left out the other half of the series. It is better to read the story and see the action on the anime.
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on May 16, 2016
I have been meaning to get all these volumes to collect them and read them to my hearts content and now I finally can. Going to need a bigger bookshelf but that's beside the point. I grew up watching the anime before I knew what anime was or that it was originally a manga. Now getting the opportunity to read through all these pages is like a dream come true. The story is solid with a great mix of seriousness and humor and the cast of characters is great, so much so that by the time you're done you can't help but feel like you're going separate ways. Also all the historical facts you get to learn and all the cultural aspects you learn as well make buying all these volumes the right choice.
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on May 24, 2017
I finally got it. It took a while to arrive 'cause apparently it got lost during shipment. But thankfully, it was re-shipped to me again for no additional price.

I love Rurouni Kenshin. Reading the final chapters again of this truly classic manga is just fully satisfying. It's good to see Kenshin have a happy ending here as opposed to the bitter-sweet ending in the OVA's. I love both endings though. And I'm happy I got the copy of the original.
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