Author Topic: Rurouni Kenshin  (Read 7830 times)

Dr. Ensatsu-ken

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Rurouni Kenshin
« on: January 31, 2012, 08:30:11 PM »
So, recently it just sunk in for me that we're getting a BRAND NEW LIVE-ACTION RUROUNI KENSHIN MOVIE! Yeah, I know the news is really old by now, and I knew it for a long time, but its only now that I just started getting excited about it. For starters, I do think that if handled right, RK can certainly be turned into a good live-action property, even if it'll be a bit over-the-top (but I'm used to seeing that from Asian action films, and in fact I kind of like it that way, so I have no complaints there). Also, while the trailer isn't necessarily much to go buy, I really like the look of the film so far and honestly I think it can work pretty well as long as its handled by a good director and good writers.

Anyways, putting my childish fanboyism aside, I obviously didn't create this thread to talk about the movie, but instead what its based off of which is the manga. If you don't know already, Rurouni Kenshin is hands down my personal favorite manga, and while I'm certainly far from any comic-book buff, I have at least read my fair share of manga and among those RK is by far the most enjoyable and consistently good series that I have ever read, really only being rivaled by the works of Naoki Urasawa, but he covers an entirely different genre so there's really no comparisons that I can make there.

To me, aside from being Nobuhiro Watsuki's best work by far (seriously, nothing else he's done since RK can even compare to it), its also the best shonen series that I have ever read, and of course my favorite manga, period. I think what works about it is that it takes all of the right elements of a good shonen series that work well for just about any audience, and not necessarily just shonen fans, while pretty much ignoring all of the bad tropes (well, most of them, at least) that plague most shonen series. Really, though, aside from the few shonen traditions that make it clear what genre it is, I wouldn't really consider it a shonen series otherwise, but just its own kind of story that isn't really bound by any single genre. Its just a really well told tale featuring a very memorable cast of characters. Really, Yahiko and Kaoru are pretty much the only characters who will remind you that this series is in fact from Shonen Jump, and even then they are still likable characters, IMO. Yeah, I know people like to say that Yahiko is annoying and initially he kind of is but by the Kyoto arc those types of complaints are completely unfounded as he evolves from being a little brat into being a more respectable kid-figure for the younger readers to look up to. I feel that he gets a bad reputation only because he's a kid in an otherwise adult cast (once again, very irregular for a shonen series of any kind), so he stands out and people just like to harp on him for that reason alone.

Well, at any rate putting minor niggles like that aside (if you even consider it a problem, which I personally don't), the rest of the cast is undeniably good. Sanosuke is admittedly also pretty close to a typical hot-headed character trope, but even he has more to him than just sticking to that role, and he ha proven that he can take more serious and meaningful action throughout the course of the story.

My favorite characters in the series would really be a tie between Kenshin and Saito, but both for very different reasons. Kenshin is a brilliant protagonist and pretty much an example of the right way to write a tragic hero (well at least his past is tragic). The way he is set up feels very appropriate for the type of story that RK is telling, since Kenshin is a character who I feel you would only see in a series of this sort featuring a very loose interpretation of Japanese history (and of course I mean it when I say "very loose" seeing as how this series is still mostly just fantasy when you really get down to it). He's not a character who would work in a typical modern shonen series or a western super-hero themed comic, but rather he's perfectly tailored to work within the fictional story set-up that Watsuki designed for Rurouni Kenshin, as a series. He's a character that I can easily take seriously and sympathize with, yet at the same time he's also really compelling and has a very bright personality to him most of the time that would make you care about him regardless of whether he had an interesting background or not.

As for Saito, he's awesome because he's just the perfect bad-ass. Everyone has their own defining criteria of what they consider bad-ass, and for me Saito is it. Admittedly his character is a bit more narrow in terms of scope and depth than other characters in the series, but its done in such a way in which you as a reader can understand that he is completely devoted to his own ideals and doesn't really have any room for development since he is already a fully developed character from the start of his very first appearance of the series all the way up until it ends. Honestly, he doesn't need much more characterization than what he gets within his first few appearances within the Kyoto arc, because he's already a very compelling figure in the manga by that point, and it easy to get drawn into any scene that features him.

Of course, besides the main characters being great which is the most important thing to me, Rurouni Kenshin also fully delivers on the villain front, and of course it proves with both the Kyoto arc as well as the Jinchuu arc that Watsuki was more than capable of crafting a compelling story as well. So, to me, RK is a manga that delivers on all fronts, and it also help that I personally love its particular art-style. It has that aesthetic of "cool" that you might associate with some anime without every coming close to looking generic in any way. This is something that I feel most modern manga in general try to achieve but end up failing at, either because they look like everything else out there or the look just looks completely wrong in general, and even if they can nail a good look most modern manga series that go for that sort of look often forget to actually back it up with good characterization and compelling story-telling as well, so whichever way you look at it they don't compare.

Well, at any rate I'll stop my fanboy rant for now, but I felt like saying a lot since I just got back into the series again and I'm currently in the process of re-reading the manga from start to finish. I just feel that its a shame that Watsuki was never able to release another piece anywhere close to this level after this series ended. Of course, even if this was the only great thing he ever did, its still enough to make him one of my personal favorite mangaka, because it jut that damn good (and to be fair its not like his other series are necessarily bad, but they just have high standards to compare to).

Dr. Ensatsu-ken

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Re: Rurouni Kenshin
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2012, 03:52:39 PM »
Right now I'm currently in the Kyoto arc portion of the manga, and that's when shit gets REALLY good. I mean before the manga was already good, but this is when it takes a step above just being a shonen series set in the Meiji era, and instead becomes a genuinely great piece of fiction that's very loosely based on a real time period of Japan. The story gets darker, characters start showing more depth and consequently become more interesting, and for once we get more insight into the villains and how they think. I also like how the other details of this manga improve. I mean I notice stuff like the artwork and the character designs getting a little better, but more than that the way the manga is paced and how the story unfolds seems a lot better thought out that in the first few arcs, and even stuff like the fights and the action scenes have a much more intense feeling to them, where as a reader you can really sense the danger level of the battles and the advanced skills of the characters fighting in them, whereas previously the fights were typical shonen-fair, in that they were entertaining enough to look at but felt more like padding than anything else.

From what I've been re-reading of the Kyoto arc so far, its easy to see why this is still my favorite manga.

Dr. Ensatsu-ken

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Re: Rurouni Kenshin
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2012, 11:36:26 PM »
So, I just finished reading through the Kyoto arc. Honestly I feel like the anime did a perfect adaptation of this arc, and its probably the only part of the anime that holds up really well today, but I really must commend the anime staff for being so faithful (for the most part) to the story with this arc as opposed to how many liberties they took with the Tokyo arc. Having read through all of this in the manga again, I realized just how closely it got adapted, and I'm grateful for that since it really is as close to perfect as any arc in a shonen series can get. It follows all of the tried and true shonen tropes well enough, but it executes them really well and is so expertly paced that it feels as though its in a class of its own.

I think that Shishio makes a really great villain. Sure, his Darwinist outlook on life is completely shallow, but just his sheer charisma and how he uses it to become such a commanding presence really makes him one of the most interesting villains that I have ever seen a shonen series pull off. Plus, he also serves as a great antagonist to completely counter with Kenshin's character and his beliefs. I love the whole theme of how they both walked the same path as Hitokiris but came to completely different outcomes after their years of fighting and wandering. I also like how they sort of play it as a responsibility of Kenshin to have to face his successor, and in essence he is facing down the old and aging ideals of an increasingly forgotten era of Samurai, whereas for Shishio facing Kenshin is the equivalent of facing down the modern Japanese political and societal structure that he has come to hate so much. In any other shonen series it would just be a good guy and a bad guy fighting with cool looking swords and attacks and not much substance behind that, but in Rurouni Kenshin I feel that Watsuki effectively utilizes the time period (and fictional and unrealistic as its portrayal is), setting, and characters to make the whole ordeal feel like it means a whole lot more than just a simple fight to save the day until the next big villain comes along.

I guess the reason I'm praising this so much, though, is just because I'm coming out of having been disappointed by the lack of creativity and overall dullness that has plagued the shonen fighting genre for quite a few years now. I guess re-reading RK for the first time in a long while just feels like such a breath of fresh air to me, now.

Anyways, I'm now starting on the Jinchuu arc which is easily my favorite arc in the series, and that's no small feat as you can tell by my praising of the Kyoto arc. To me this arc took everything that was great about Rurouni Kenshin itself, as a series, and  successfully combined all those elements into one awesome package. Perhaps my nostalgia may be getting the better of me, but I'm going to re-read it to see how well this arc really holds up.

Dr. Ensatsu-ken

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Re: Rurouni Kenshin
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2012, 01:42:56 PM »
As I was re-reading RK I just noticed this and had to post it:



Its worth noting that Eichiro Oda was in fact one of Nobuhiro Watsuki's assistants as he was working on Rurouni Kenshin's serialization. I just find little tid-bits like that pirate logo that eventually made its way into One Piece showing up on a bomb in this scene to be a really interesting piece of trivia. ;)

Dr. Ensatsu-ken

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Re: Rurouni Kenshin
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2012, 12:48:18 AM »
I finished the Remembrance flash-back arc. To me its easily the most well-written thing that Watsuki has ever done. Its no wonder that it got special treatment and got its own OVA (Trust and Betrayal) even though the rest of the Jinchuu arc got skimped in terms of getting a proper animated adaptation.

Also, I can't believe I just noticed it, but Watsuki totally ripped off Venom's character design from the Spider-Man comics for one of the villains. :P

Well, to be fair I hear that he was a huge fan of various Marvel super hero comics so its not strange to see him take inspiration from them, but that character design is basically the manga version of Venom.

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Re: Rurouni Kenshin
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2012, 12:54:22 AM »
OH YEAH! Now I remember that. The first time I read that, it popped into my head. Completely forgot to bring it up again since.

Such a weird oddity.
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Dr. Ensatsu-ken

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Re: Rurouni Kenshin
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2012, 01:02:27 AM »
Well, From what I've heard Watsuki himself did something similar. I recall him writing that a character design that he had helped create for a manga which he worked as an assistant on himself ended up making it into Rurouni Kenshin as an actual character. I'm not sure which manga exactly, though, but I've been noticing quite a few little nods or references to other works in Rurouni Kenshin now that I'm re-reading it. I wonder if Watsuki carried on that tradition with any of this other manga.

Dr. Ensatsu-ken

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Re: Rurouni Kenshin
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2012, 01:25:56 AM »
I'm nearing the end of the manga once again. I don't know why everybody seems to dislike the Jinchuu/Revenge arc so much. It has some pretty far-fetched plot points, I'll admit, but its honestly really entertaining and it has some of the best character moments in the entire series. Personally I think that while its inferior to the Kyoto-arc from a story standpoint, its far superior from a characterization standpoint. Kenshin's character is nearly broken by Enishi but its a really great feeling to see him snap out of his temporary emo-state (for lack of a better word for the slump he's in during the middle portion of the arc), Sanosuke manages to become a lot more bad-ass than he already was, Yahiko actually becomes pretty fucking awesome and honestly develops a lot more than any other character from that arc, Aoshi is out of his revenge-hungry douche-phase from the Kyoto arc and is actually really useful in this arc, and Saito is....well, still Saito, and personally I wouldn't have it any other way since his character is perfect just the way it is, as far as I'm concerned. :sly:

Admittedly Enishi is kind of a weaker villain that I remember him being. Putting nostalgia aside, he's pretty whiny and his obsessive love for his dead sister is actually kind of disturbing, but at the same time it IS actually still pretty easy to sympathize with him on some level, and he does still look really cool from a design stand-point. Also he should get bonus points for being the only villain to downright beat Kenshin in a fight. Even if he really isn't as strong as Shishio or the top-class swordsman from the series, he has pretty expert skills and uses a clever idea to avoid the after-affect of Kenshin's special attack. Its also worth mentioning that he flat-out would have killed Kenshin if he really wanted to when he managed to land his attack on him, but he purposely held back since of course he wanted him alive so that he could suffer instead of giving him a quick death.

Overall, though, I think the important thing is that this arc is successful enough at doing the most basic thing that any good shonen arc should do, and that's keeping me entertained. Its not some sophisticated and intelligent Urasawa-level story-telling or characterization, but its not mindless Hellsing-style action, either. Its just manga that's fun to read with a decent story and likable characters, but which just happens to personally strike a lot of the right notes with me, so I hold it in higher regard than most. Overall this is still easily my favorite shonen manga, BY FAR.

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Re: Rurouni Kenshin
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2012, 03:55:27 PM »
I don't know why everybody seems to dislike the Jinchuu/Revenge arc so much.
:srs:
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Dr. Ensatsu-ken

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Re: Rurouni Kenshin
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2012, 12:12:24 AM »
Does that serious face mean that you're in the crowd that hates it? I honestly can't tell....

Well, at any rate I just finished reading the interval where Sanosuke gets his own mini-arc to focus on his character, and I think its awesome. Sanosuke's dad would have been an interesting recurring character had he been introduced earlier in the series. The interactions between those 2 are just priceless.

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Re: Rurouni Kenshin
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2012, 05:51:13 PM »
That anyone could hate it is crazy. That arc is pretty much the entire point of the series. If you hate it, then what exactly do you even like about the series?
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Dr. Ensatsu-ken

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Re: Rurouni Kenshin
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2012, 06:22:35 PM »
Yeah, I agree. I mean, its pretty much the epitome of Kenshin's life choice to never kill again. I'm in the middle of re-reading his final battle with Enishi and can't help but feel that Watsuki managed to build up to this fight perfectly, with Kenshin delivering his speech about how after he was subjected to the living hell that Enishi set up he still came to the same conclusion that he had after wandering for 10 years. The best way to atone for his past crimes was basically to live the rest of his life out using his skills to fight for others, rather than to just kill himself and get it done with.

I think that the only reason people complain about this arc is just because its a more "personal" arc than the Shishio arc. That is to say that the Shishio arc could be claimed to be more epic and grander in scope in terms of what's at stake, but while that's true I like that the Jinchuu arc is much more focused in terms of expanding upon the purpose of Kenshin's character and the whole point of the series in general. Either way they are both great arcs, but I just don't see how there are people who dislike the Jinchuu arc, unless they are specifically talking about the half-assed portrayal of it in the Reflection OVA (but that doesn't even really count since it only covers the very end of that arc and nothing else about it).

Speaking of the Reflection OVA, THAT's something that I can actually jump on the hating bandwagon for. That's the exact opposite of the Jinchuu arc, in that if anything, it actually completely MISSES the point of series and completely contradicts Kenshin's character (hell, I think that EVERY character in the Reflection OVA acts disturbingly out of character). I hope that the live-action movie turns out to avoid going down that road when it comes out (and yes, I am still genuinely interested in seeing it).
« Last Edit: May 23, 2013, 01:49:00 AM by Ensatsu-ken »

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Re: Rurouni Kenshin
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2012, 07:21:20 PM »
Agreed. I'm glad Watsuki declared it non-canon, as it really flies in the face of the entire series.
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Dr. Ensatsu-ken

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Re: Rurouni Kenshin
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2012, 11:47:02 PM »
So, I finally finished reading Rurouni Kenshin. Man, the ending can be bitter-sweet, but it also reminds me of how few shonen I have read that have proper endings like this. I feel like so many shonen series that I read either go on for so long that I lose interest in them or they just plain haven't finished yet (its usually sort of both, since I'll read a long-running series then get bored of it, but find out years later that its still running and has no hint of an ending in site), or they have endings that are just an after-thought because the creator has clearly lost interest in the series by that point and just throws out whatever crap he wants to rush the ending so that they can be done with the series as soon as possible. Togashi is a big offender of this with YYH.

Rurouni Kenshin is one of the few shonen manga which I feel is an exception to this rule and it just had a flat-out genuinely satisfying conclusion. I know that Watsuki is supposed to serialize some short RK-related thing later on for a few weeks-months later on this year, but I have no idea what its supposed to be about (its probably just some small spin-off or something of the sort based on what I've heard about it). At any rate, I know that Watsuki had originally planned a Hokkaido arc after the Jinchuu arc, and while I'm not sure if he ended the series where he did because he wanted to or because it was losing popularity (I'm not even sure if it was), I'm honestly pretty glad that it left off where it did. The final arc pretty much fulfilled the point of the series, got each character to the height of their character development, and most importantly ended things before they had the chance to drag on and have a significant drop in quality. For that reason this is probably one of the most consistently good long-running shonen manga that I have personally read, which is saying a lot.

Just for the hell of it I may go on to re-read Busou Renkin or one of Watsuki's other later works soon enough (especially since they are all far shorter than RK), just to make a direct comparison in quality to see how far off he fell in quality after this series. To be fair its hard to come up with a better shonen series than this, even for him, but still, I felt like he used up all of his creativity and great writing-skills on RK alone. None of this other series even have the same feel to them (as in I'd have sworn that they were written by a completely different mangaka). They aren't bad or anything, but they just don't even begin to compare.

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Re: Rurouni Kenshin
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2012, 06:53:17 PM »
I finally read volume 1 of this series after having the first two volumes for weeks. I kind of held off starting the series in favor of reading other comics. :sweat:

So, I'll start by talking about the 2nd manga book I've ever read by saying a positive I love giving about comics: I loved the pacing and how so much happened in just one volume. Annnnddddd:

-Sweet, two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sightings. Just getting this one out of the way.

-Interesting have Hiruma's (forgot his first name) backstory or whatever is so different from the anime and how he had a brother.

-I liked how Yahiko finally decided to really train under Karou. Why they had that wooden cannon gang show up after Sano appeared and had them attack his friends is beyond me. Also that episode was one of the worst.

-Had no clue that Karou was just 17 and Sano was 19.

-So Kenshin really doesn't scream out his attack names all the time?

-So chi gets brought up early in the manga? Didn't know Kenshin could sense chi.

-I already like Sano's introduction better here.

Also, I liked the art.

P.S. Is Bleach's Byakuya based off of the main villain in the RK 'pilot'????
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