Rurouni Kenshin (Volume 1) by Nobuhiro Watsuki

I have two friends whose tastes I completely trust and align with mine 99% of the time. To the first, Rurouni Kenshin is the manga closest to her heart – not just because it was a childhood favorite, but because it is a great manga full stop. To the second, it’s meh in general. A good manga, but forgettable. How could their assessments differ so? I had to investigate.

Rurouni Kenshin is remonikered Samurai X in Indonesia

Rurouni Kenshin is a historical fiction manga and follows Himura Kenshin. Kenshin was once a fearsome and feared assassin, but we enter at a point where Kenshin now traverses Japan as a humble wanderer.

The manga is set ten years after the start of the Meiji Restoration. We find out that Kenshin was a pivotal warrior during the bloody struggle between the shogun era and the Meiji Restoration. Most samurais who fought for the Meiji cause were honored with key offices in the new government. But why Kenshin chose to wander instead is a mystery that I’m 100% sure will be central to following volumes.

Volume 1 is standard shonen fare. Kenshin meets Kaoru, a dojo master who teaches the way of the sword to protect humanity, and immediately forges a connection with her. Along the way, they adopt a young orphaned boy named Yahiko as student. Volume 1 ends with the introduction of fighter Sagara Sanosuke as a fight brews between Kenshin and Sanosuke.

So: whose review of Rurouni Kenshin do I agree with more? Drumroll please!

I side with my first friend, who adores Rurouni Kenshin. The manga is promising so far and the characters likable. Something about Rurouni Kenshin feels slow and staid in a good way, perhaps it’s the thick historical atmosphere. I read the first three chapters very slowly not because it was boring, but because I was immersed in the setting and the art. The following chapters offer a faster pace.

I was happy to learn a bit more about Japan’s history through Rurouni Kenshin; I’ve been fascinated by Japan for a while now but know little about its history. My second friend, who finds Rurouni Kenshin average has said the historical richness won’t stick. The manga will become more general and focus on friendship as it progresses. That doesn’t sound like a bad place to be, though. I’m excited to soak myself more in the world of Rurouni Kenshin.

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4 thoughts on “Rurouni Kenshin (Volume 1) by Nobuhiro Watsuki

  1. I avoided Kenshin when this was a hit couple years ago just because I didn’t want to be mainstream 😀 I think I will just borrow from friends or library. Anyhow, did you enjoy the movies?

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    1. Hahaha, I was such a quiet, nerdy kid growing up that I didn’t realize the Kenshin phenomenon until AFTER the trend has passed. I’ve only watched one and although it is exactly like the manga, I like the manga more — the pace is slower and the story feels richer.

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