Japanese fiction holds life lesson

Thomas Garcia

Well, it has been a while since I talked about comics or anime so I am going to talk to you a little about Rurouni Kenshin, “Wandering Samurai.”

Kenshin, as he is called by his friends, is a Samurai who has vowed to protect the innocent. This vow which he has taken is compounded by his ultimate vow to himself never to kill again.

Kenshin was a skilled swordsman in the art of Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu, which he learned from his master, Hiko Seijuro. Kenshin did not complete his training and decided to join the revolution during the Bakumatsu war, which would eventually lead to the foundation of the Meiji Era in Japan.

Kenshin’s skills were noticed right away by a general and he was turned into an ultimate weapon. During the bloody years of the war he slayed many men with his sword, earning him the name “Hitokiri Battosai” or “The Man Slayer.”

Kenshin leaves that life behind him and begins to wonder the countryside, carrying a reversed-blade sword. In his travels, people learn of his identity and befriend him only to learn of his constant struggle to not become a man slayer once again.

During a battle to save an innocent, Kenshin’s reversed-blade sword is cracked and later breaks. In an effort to continue his work and prevent a coup to overthrow the Meiji government, Kenshin seeks out Arai Shatku, the maker of his reversed-blade sword.

He arrives only to learn of Shatku’s death and his son, Seiku Arai has sworn never to make swords and hates his father for making swords which killed so many. Kenshin was about to leave until Seiku tells him of his father’s final sword, which rests in a temple atop the mountain.

Before they can go for the sword, a rival swordsman, Sawagejou Chou, kidnaps Seiku’s son and forces Kenshin into a fight even though he has no sword to defend himself.

Seiku and Kenshin’s friends watch helplessly as Chou injures Kenshin, who is defenseless. Seiku decides to run to the temple, determined to give Kenshin his father’s final sword.

Seiku throws the sword to Kenshin, who grips it tightly in his hands in the battojutsu stance, but will not draw the sword. He cannot, for if he draws a sword which is not reversed bladed, he will return to what he fears the most — a man slayer.

Chou senses Kenshin’s pause and moves to attack the kidnapped child. Kenshin lets out a loud shout and with Godlike speed lunges towards Chou. Chou diverts his attention to Kenshin, his goal obtained to draw him in for a final kill shot. As Chou’s sword moves towards Kenshin, he deftly dodges the attack, much to his horror. Kenshin unleashes an attack called the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu Ken Sen Tsumuji.

Kenshin’s eyes have changed. They are no longer the caring eyes of a peaceful wanderer, but those of the Battousai. Kenshin looks down upon Chou’s body and he is overcome with a feeling of fear as the Battousai has returned.

Seiku yells at Kenshin to look at the sword. Kenshin’s eyes focus on the sword and they change as the sword has a reversed blade. He had not broken his vow.

Kenshin, a man who had come to love peace and had vowed never to kill again, found himself in a moral dilemma, a contradiction upon himself. If he did nothing an innocent would be killed. If he did react he would surely return to his former self, a man slayer whose hands were stained in blood.

In the end he made a decision to do what he must in order to protect the innocent and preserve life. It was not the easiest of choices, but in life those decisions which are the right ones are seldom the easiest to be made.

Thomas Garcia is a reporter for the Quay County Sun. Contact him at:

tgarcia@qcsunonline.com