One of My Favourite Mangas: Rurouni Kenshin (Part 1 of 2)Posted: 31 July 2012
This post may contain manga spoiler.
IT WAS MY BROTHER WHO INFLUENCED MY INTEREST IN MANGA. THE EARLIEST COMICS HE BOUGHT WERE THE COMICS FROM HONG KONG TRANSLATED INTO MALAY, NAMELY PEDANG SETIAWAN AND SUCH. THEN, HE DISCOVERED DRAGON BALL (MUTIARA NAGA) , DRAGON QUEST AND YU YU HAKUSHO AND STARTED BUYING THOSE MANGA TANKOBONS PUBLISHED BY COMIC HOUSE.
Comic House would change the mangas’ name into Malay, for example:
Flame of Recca = Bara Api Recca
Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo, Kindaichi Case Files= Penyiasat Remaja
One Piece= Budak Getah (lit. Rubber Boy)
Ueki no Hosoku, Law of Ueki= Peraturan Ueki
I would read them in secret because he got mad if I as much as touched his belongings. We were kids then, you know how brothers treat each other when they were younger. Sometimes we got along well, but most of the time we got on each other’s nerve. Now that we’re older, we’re friends.
Those three mangas were a huge part of my childhood. We would wait each Sunday at 9 a.m. to watch Dragon Ball on TV because it was so much cooler to watch the anime with moving pictures and dialogues and all. I like Dragon Quest because of the magic elements and Yu Yu Hakusho because of a character named Kurama. I really thought he was very cool. Kurama was also the real name of Kyuubi (Nine Tails) in the manga Naruto and I read somewhere that the name was a direct reference to Kurama in Yu Yu Hakusho. Kurama in Yu Yu Hakusho was originally a nine-tailed demon fox but he assumed human form after some incident. Kyuubi, as any Naruto’s fans know, is also a demon fox with nine tails. I was very excited to have known that reference the first time Kyuubi’s real name was revealed.
Of course, there were other mangas produced during that time,
But it was Rurouni Kenshin that I loved the most, I still do, even though the story has ended many years now. The manga was translated into Malay as Satria Pedang, literally meaning ‘Warrior of Sword’. It’s a story about a man wielding the legendary style of Hiten Misturugi with very dark past travelling with his reversed-edge katana. The man’s name was Himura Kenshin, formerly known as Hittokiri Battousai, because of his job as an exceptionally deadly assassin and his expertise in battou jutsu, the art of drawing katana, slashing enemies with the katana and then sheating the katana quickly and smoothly. The story was set in the Meiji era of Japan where carrying katana in public is prohibited. This in turn had given rise to funny occassions where he was chased around by police officer because of his reluctance to abide to the prohibition.
He would then meet Kaoru Kamiya, a girl inheriting a kendo dojo from his father, Sanosuke Sagara a raging teen who was quick to use his fist and Myojin Yahiko, a kid thief who eventually taken in by Kaoru into the dojo.He stayed at Kamiya dojo returning the favor to the dojo by doing laundry and household chores. His reversed-edge katana was an implementation of his oath to never kill again. Along the way, his reputation as an assassin finally caught up to him.
These are the highlights of the story that I think worth mentioning. To whom who has never read this manga, this is a spoiler.
Almost Breaking the Oath
Kenshin swore that he will never kill again.
As far as I know there were only two times where he almost turned back into the infamous and ruthless manslayer that he was so trying to bury in his past. The first was his fight with Zine Udo where Kaoru was held captive. With Kaoru almost choked to death by Zine’s technique, he turned the tide of the battle to his favor by turning into his old self. Thankfully, Kaoru with her willpower broke free from Zine’s techniques and stop Kenshin from breaking his oath. Another time was in his fight with Katanagari Chou. Kenshin was really in a pinch because of his broken sword but managed to dominate Chou easily. Chou, agitated with fact that Kenshin manage to gain advantage over him with a mere broken katana, tried to kill a baby he kidnapped earlier and it was then that Kenshin has no other choice but to use the katana thrown to him by the baby’s father. Knowing that he must stop Chou no matter what, he drew the katana and defeated Chou. Upon delivering the defeating final blow, his face started to turn to a face of a cold-blooded killer. He knew that if he uses the katana, he would definitely kill Chou, hence breaking his oath. Turned out the katana was a reversed-edge katana after all. He never broke his oath and as a bonus he got a brand new reversed-edge katana. Although Chou was not dead, he lost consciousness and was later arrested by the police.
Shinimori Aoshi as a Mad Man and as a Valuable Ally
Shinomori Aoshi is a very talented ninja belonging to Oniwabanshu, a group of undercover agent hired by the government. At a very young age he became the leader of the group. Come the Meiji era, he and his comrades worked for Kanryu Takeda, a corrupted business man who wanted Megumi Takani, a doctor to help him with his opium production. Inevitably, Kenshin who wanted to save Megumi crossed path with Aoshi and his group. After defeating the entire group member leaving Aoshi as the last one standing, Aoshi actually fought pretty well that he managed to punch Kenshin several times and cut Kenshin with his ultimate technique. But, Kenshin’s experience in battle proved to be life-saving as the ultimate technique’s damage was reduced due to a scabbard Kenshin used at the very last moment before the hits connected. With three huge cuts on his chest, Kenshin defeated Aoshi with the hilt of his katana. Seeing their defeat, Kanryu tried to kill Aoshi and his group together with Kenshin with a huge Gatling gun. Aoshi’s friend all died protecting him from the shot. With his friend dead, Aoshi disappeared and vowed to defeat Kenshin, the strongest swordsman in history as an honour of his dead comrades.
I think this vow of revenge was totally misdirected. It was not Kenshin who killed his comrades, it was Kanryu. Aoshi had always known the fact that Kenshin was the notorious manslayer who was also a legendary swordsman. In spite if that, he let his urge of becoming the strongest to meddle with his loyalty to his comrades.
Later, in Kyoto Arc Aoshi collaborated with Makoto Shishio, one of the biggest villains in the manga. He was then again defeated by Kenshin in Shishio’s hideout. Kenshin was confident at first that he was able to defeat Aoshi without drawing his katana, but he was proven wrong. Aoshi’ s training had enabled him to easily cut a book rack Kenshin pushed towards him and thus forcing Kenshin to draw his sword. Kenshin managed to knock some sense into Aoshi’s head, but Aoshi refused to accept it and determined to use his new ultimate techniques against Kenshin’s ultimate techniques to see who’s right and who’s wrong. Kenshin ultimately defeated him with very small advantage that could cost him his life.
In Kenshin’s final fight with Shishio, Aoshi helped Kenshin by buying some time before Kenshin could stand again after being defeated by Shishio. In Jinchu Arc, he was proven to be a valuable ally when he discovered that Kaoru was not dead, instead it was a doll that was made to look like her. This actually helped Kenshin to come into his sense after losing his will to live when he saw Kaoru was killed in front of him.
Shishio’s Revenge on the Country
After Kenshin left his assassin job, Makoto Shishio replaced him. However, he was betrayed by the ones who were hiring him and was burned to death. That’s what they thought, but Shishio actually survived the burn and started to plot against his betrayers who then works at Meiji government. The decision to eliminate him was based on the view that he was a sociopath and was a threat to the government despite his contribution as an assassin. Makoto gathered an army and form a team of best fighters called Juppon Gatana in order to take over Japan.
The government became aware of Shishio’s paln aand came to Kenshin for help. According to Saito, the government could not just send and army to deal with Shishio because any sign of internal wweaknes in the country will result in invasion of other country over Japan. Feeling responsible for Shishio’s action, Kenshin went to Kyoto to stop him. In the way, he met Makimachi Misao, got his katana broken after a fight with Soujiro Seta, a member of Juppon Gatana and in Kyoto, he obtained a new reversed-edge katana and learned the ultimate technique in Hiten Mitsurugi style from his master, Seijyuro Hiko.
Badly injured after fighting Shinomori Aoshi and Soujiro Seta who were both almost killed him with their ultimate techniques, Kenshin went to face Shishio. Soujiro Seta managed to uncover the secret of Kenshin’s ultimate technique and left the secret with katana as a final gift to Shishio. Despite all these, Kenshin still wanted to fight without using a real katana, in his effort to holding on to his oath.
But Shishio was not entirely at an advantage. His body could burst into flame if he fights for too long because the severe burn has destroyed his body’s ability of perspiration. His body could not regulate its temperature. He was also careless when he just let Kenshin to hit his body with the katana because he knew the katana is reversed-edged. He was strong enough to defeat Kenshin and knocked him into unconsciousness.
However, Kenshin stood again on his feet and defeated Shishio with his ultimate technique, Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki. Although Shishio knew the secret of the technique, he didn’t know that the technique had two strikes. When he blocked the first strike, he was very confident that he’d already won, but was sadly mistaken. When the second strike hit him, he was hit devastatedly.
But that was not the end of it, he stab Kenshin in his stomach through his girlfriend, Yumi. Kenshin was unable to dodge because his view was blocked by Yumi and was lying on the floor in his own pool of blood.
Shishio stood back up and let out his battle cry, showing that he can still fight. Kenshin was unable to fight as his body was already numb from the lost of blood. But, Shishio body could not take it anymore, so he burst into flame and died.
There was a heated argument about which one of them is stronger. Yes, Shishio stood up at the end but should Kenshin used real katana to deliver the ultimate technique. Shishio would have definitely defeated once and for all. But, Shishio was also holding back, or rather looking down on Kenshin. He could have just stab Kenshin in the throat the first time he grab Kenshin’s neck, but instead he chose to do it in style, by using the explosion of his glove.
Kenshin was holding back by using a reversed-edge katana and Shishio was too confident of himself. So it can be said they were equally strong.