Himura Kenshin, originally called Himura Shinta and known as the legendaryhitokiride the Meiji revolution,Hitokiri Battōsai, is the main protagonist and titular character of the Rurouni Kenshin series . Kenshin spent ten years traveling around Japan as a rurouni in search of redemption, carrying a sakabatō with a vow to never kill again. In 1878, he arrived in Tokyo and took up residence at the Kamiya Dōjō , where his vow was put to the test as he fought to keep peace in the country.
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Kenshin is a light-skinned man of below average height, slim build, with an androgynous face. Although he is twenty-eight years old, he looks deceptively younger, appearing to be in his mid-teens. Because of this, Kenshin cuts a rather different figure than one might expect from the legendary Hitokiri Battōsai, but he is easily recognizable by his infamous distinguishing features: mid-back red hair tied in a thick ponytail and a cross-shaped sword scar on his left cheek.
Kenshin's hair is thick and lush, with all the shorter frontal hair falling over his face like bangs rather than in a ponytail on the back of his neck. During the Bakumatsu, Kenshin wore his ponytail on the back of his head. By the end of the manga, he has cut off the ponytail entirely (presumably to prevent his son from pulling on it) and wears his hair evenly at about chin length. Kenshin's eyes are also unusual, being a dark purple. In the anime, when Kenshin's eyes change to reflect his psychological return to Hitokiri Battōsai , their color changes from purple to gold.
The legendary scarKenshin's cross-shaped scar actually consists of two separate scars - a long one that runs diagonally down his face just below the outer corner of his left eye to above his chin and a slightly shorter one that runs diagonally across it in the other direction from just to the left of the bridge of his nose to his left jaw. According to his allies during his days in the Ishin Shishi, this scar bled constantly and never healed as the mark of a curse for killing an innocent person. In a redesign of the kanzenban, Kenshin's scar was modified so that the side scar was longer, extending across his nose just below the inner corner of his right eye.
Kenshin dresses simply, wearing a plain men's kimono of cheap, worn fabric with a white umanori hakama, zori and white tabi. In the animated series, Kenshin's kimono is almost always a soft burgundy like red, but also often appears to be pink or light purple (most likely to contrast better with his red hair). In the manga's colorful illustrations, his kimono alternates between red, purple and blue. His sakabatō is worn under his obi at his left hip in a black steel saya .
In the flashback scenes of the Bakumatsu anime, Kenshin wears a light blue kimono with a dark blue jacket and a brown hakama , as well as his sheathed katana and wakizashi next to his obi . In the OVA adaptation of Kenshin's past, he wears a navy blue kimono with a light grey hakama and brown hand guards, as well as the same two sheathed weapons on the side of his obi. In the manga, this outfit is more tattered. In the real action movies, Kenshin wears several kimonos in addition to his signature red.
Soft-spoken, serene and humble, Himura Kenshin's usual demeanor perfectly suits his effeminate appearance. Always willing to put others before himself, both in terms of well-being and social status, Kenshin usually refers to others with the lofty honorific of "-dono" while almost always referring to himself with the particularly humble pronoun "sessha" (translated by Viz Media as "this one") and ending his sentences with the formal verb "de gozaru" (translated by Media Blasters as phrases like "that it is" or "that I am"). He carries himself with an air of friendly temperance, conversing politely with people he meets and freely giving his meager services to those in need of a Kenshin does not hesitate to get in the way of evil to protect those around him and often attempts to defuse contentious situations with soft, soothing words and a somewhat clownish personality involving feigned clumsiness and his interjection "oro" (a single word pronunciation of "ara"). These traits lead those unfamiliar with Kenshin to view him as ineffectual or easily exploited, but more perceptive people soon realize that his gift for soothing eloquence and veiled redirection of unpleasant situations suggest a deep wisdom belied by his young, unassuming face.
Despite his behavior during the Meji era, Kenshin was a very complex man during the Bakumatsu. As a teenager, Kenshin was impertinent, idealistic and often easily embarrassed or confused. He often tried to maintain a certain image among his fellow Ishin Shishi, quickly becoming angry at taunts about his relationship with Tomoe during their time before hiding, as when he silently threatened Izuka with his sword for making remarks. about him and Tomoe. This tendency to be caught off guard or embarrassed in romantic or sexual affairs of women remained with him into his twenties. One such example was during the Jinchū Arc when Sano lied to Kaoru about what they were planning to do, telling him they would check out the red light district, embarrassing both Kenshin and Kaoru, and earning a blushing look of anger from the rurouni.
Tormented by his hitokiri past, Kenshin developed a keen appreciation for life and made a vow in his heart to never kill another person again and to do everything in his power to prevent people from being killed. This vow is the defining characteristic of Kenshin's personality and the main motivation for his transition to a rurouni. In spite of this, however, he holds his own existence cheaply and carries in his heart a serious guilt that prevents him from becoming emotionally close to the people around him and forces him into a life of humble service and selfless self-sacrifice. Even with his prodigious skill as a prolific swordsman, Kenshin refrains from using his great fighting strength for his own good, drawing his sword only for the welfare of others when words fail to soothe. While he does not want to simply be killed by independent attackers, Kenshin freely accepts that any grudge against his past is well deserved; he remembers the face of each person he has wronged asHitokiri Batōsaiand will face their hatred or judgment without complaint, believing that he does not deserve the same happiness as others. Spending much of his time alone quietly contemplating his past misdeeds and future retribution, Kenshin often ponders the proper path to redemption and laments each life lost due to his weakness. As such, he tends to try to solve problems on his own and alienate potential allies with secrecy in order to keep them from getting involved in his risky ventures. Having lived his own life with heavy regrets, Kenshin is reluctant to judge others for their personal actions, beliefs, or mistakes and always offers hopeful encouragement so that those who have stumbled on the wrong path can redeem themselves in the future. However,
But when his strength as a rurouni is insufficient to defend himself against a particularly threatening enemy, or when the most depraved and horrific acts of evil push him to his patience and the limits of his moral outrage, Kenshin's restraint falters and his personality reverts to that of his days as Hitokiri Battōsai. Born of countless unintentional homicides and to arm himself with the weight and guilt of slaughtering other human beings like himself, such a personality is born in the face of becoming the tool of death without a word to say and the ignorant folly of denying the truth of reality of the act of murder, embellishing such horrific acts as an exceptional and undeniably justified need despite its ultimately sinister and miserably cruel nature. In turn, while this allows him to take life without hesitation, so does throwing himself into that darker half of himself, that selfishly justified wickedness, and viewing the lives of his enemies as worthless leads to the tainted and corrupting terrain of thought that approaches. the idea that life too is nihilistic and meaningless, and for Kenshin, the idea that his own life is also worthless.
He immediately abandons his serene humility, reverting from sessha to the more abrasive pronoun "ore" while abandoning de gozaru and orode his speech. Kenshin's normally warm nature becomes cold and distant, allowing him to contemplate taking his opponent's life and even making vicious and bloodthirsty threats. In combat, Kenshin's fighting prowess and abilities are greatly increased as his inhibitions are loosened from his moral considerations, but this also pushes him into more pragmatic, ruthless, and even vicious tactics, including uncontrolled and maiming blows to his greatest power without discrimination, and the possibility that he will use the reverse blade end of his sword at any time, the very things that dare to risk breaking his vow to preserve the lives of all, good or bad, and never to take the lives of other men ever. This side of his personality is the one that Kenshin has trouble suppressing despite the fact that it keeps emerging when he is under great stress and needs more strength. His greatest fear is that one day he will become himself again and become a hitokiri.
Over time, however, Kenshin learns to trust the people around him with the truth about himself as well as with some of the burden he carries, understanding that his life is also human and that his friends and allies would suffer greatly if he were to die.
Despite Kenshin's very unimposing appearance in all respects, he easily ranks among the most powerful warriors in the series, surpassed only by his master Hiko Seijūrō XIII . His skill during the revolution was essential in ending the war and beginning the Meji era. He is a living legend well known throughout Japan for his surreal mastery of the sword, able to effortlessly cut through steel, and one of the few master swordsmen of the Meiji capable of performing the act of modoshigiri, in which an accomplished sword wielder wielding the best blades are able to cut so cleanly, the target can be reattached as if it had never been cut. Having inherited the Hiten Mitsurugi-ryūstyle sword, Kenshin's skills at age 14 allowed him to become an elite assassin for the government. The focal point of his style allows him to move at "divine speed" to the max, hitting and running at such immense and sudden speeds that he routinely outpaces the human eye and dodges even Gatling shots. His signature talent in combat is Battōjutsu , where his mastery of this skill and reputation for defeating his enemies with a single blow has earned him the nickname Battōsai. In the unlikely event that his first strike misses his enemies, Kenshin also adapts to dual sword combat, using his scabbard as a secondary weapon, able to use his ambidextrous swordplay to instantly unleash a secondary strike from his scabbard, making it nearly impossible. defeat him once he takes the battojutsu stance.
If Battōjutsu fails, Kenshin proves capable of engaging in prolonged battles, using a variety of techniques, allowing him to combat virtually any assault. With his slim and light frame, he is remarkably agile, able to use his surroundings to his advantage, turning and jumping off the ground to confuse his enemy and find an opening, even running through walls. He is also well known for his remarkable combat instincts, able to instinctively adapt to his opponent's style, allowing him to see through their true nature and read their attack patterns. This allows him to effectively counter an enemy's attack after seeing it once, if not completely neutralize the threat. While specializing in swordplay, Kenshin also shows notable prowess in hand-to-hand combat, able to calmly fend off a large group of enemies with jujitsu and aikido maneuvers (though not to the extent of Sanosuke's hand-to-hand skills). Since his alliance with the Kamiya Dōjō, Kenshin gradually learned hisKamiya Kasshin-ryū , employing many of its techniques in his style. Eventually, he mastered the style himself, helping his second wife teach it to students.
Aside from Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū, Kenshin has shown independent sword techniques that demonstrate his own acquired skills: Kenshin, in keeping with his gentle nature, is quite good at domestic work as many residents of the Kamiya dojo comment favorably on his cooking ( especially compared to Kaoru) and he is frequently seen performing tasks such as cleaning the dojo's groceries. Kenshin is also an outstanding speaker, capable of turning eloquence or humor into casual commentary and prone to making grand and moving speeches from the top of his head. While keeping his cool, he is rather adept at philosophical arguments, quickly seeing the flaws in any opponent's logic without missing a beat in the conversation.
Development and reception
He is the main protagonist of the series, which has become a media franchise. consisting of a series of manga, anime, original video animations (OVA), films, soundtracks, video games and other collectibles. When Kenshin was created, Nobuhiro Watsuki designed him to be the physical opposite of Hiko Seijūrō, a character who appears in Watsuki's first one-shot manga, Crescent Moon in the Warring States , and later in Rurouni Kenshin as a fencing teacher.
The character of Kenshin was well received by fans, occupying the top spot in all reader popularity surveys for the series. Critics of the series have praised his personality, although some have complained about his development during the animated OVA series, which differs from the manga. A variety of collectibles based around Kenshin have been created, including figurines, keychains, plush toys, and replicas of his sword sakabatō . Watsuki discovered and used the story of Kawakami Gensai, a hitokiriexecuted by the Meiji government. According to Watsuki, when he discovered that Kawakami maintained a duty to his dead comrades, he decided to create the main character. Since Watsuki's first work contained a tall, black-haired man in "flashy" armor, the creator wanted to make a character "completely opposite" to the first character and the new character ended up "coming out like a girl." According to Watsuki, he used "no real design" when creating Kenshin and placed a cross-shaped scar when he "didn't know what else to do."
At the end of the series, Kenshin appears with short hair. Initially, Watsuki had planned to shorten his hair before the end, however, he found that it resembled the character Multi of To Heart. Watsuki based most of Kenshin's abilities on a real swordsman from the Tokugawa period named Matsubayashi Henyasai, who was skilled in acrobatic techniques. During the Kyoto arc, Kenshin received a new sword with a wooden sheath. Watsuki decided to redesign the sword to make it look like the first one Kenshin had in the series, although it was more difficult to draw. During the development of Rurouni, Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story, Watsuki and his editor argued over the speech patterns of Kenshin; they settled on a "slang" pattern. For the final version of the first Romantic Story, Watsuki adjusted the dialogue; in his opinion, he made Kenshin sound "more like I like him now".
Watsuki added Kenshin's "oro" mark as a placeholder to be an expression of the disfluency of the English word "huh". Watsuki notes that he was surprised at how well it took and how much he ended up asking Kenshin to use the sound during the series. Watsuki also planned to make Kenshin over 30 years old; his editor commented that it was strange for the main character of a teenage manga to be so old, so he made Kenshin 28. In the first Rurouni Kenshin kanzenban, published in Japan in July 2006, Watsuki included a draft page featuring a redesign of the Kenshin character. To make his cross-shaped scar more noticeable, Watsuki made it long enough to cross his nose. Kenshin's hair is tied in two tails, flowing to make him look younger, but shorter, to be less androgynous. Watsuki also added a habaki to Kenshin's sword to make it easier to draw by simplifying its structure, while emphasizing strength. Kenshin's hitokiri look was also slightly redesigned, making his clothes more damaged and giving him the scarf of his first wife Tomoe. In the animated adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin , Watsuki's designs were combined with the vocal talents of Mayo Suzukaze, a female seiyū .
Producing the English dubbed version of the series, Media Blasters considered doing the same, with Mona Marshall considered a finalist for voicing Kenshin. Richard Cansino was eventually selected for the role, giving the character of Kenshin a more masculine voice in the English adaptation. Marshall was instead chosen to voice the young Kenshin during flashback scenes. Cansino had previously voiced Kenshin in Sony's dubbing of the series, which was released outside of North America under the title Samurai X (the same title ADV Films would use for their dubbing of the OVAs and the anime film). Clark Cheng, author of the Media Blasters dubbing script, noted that localizing Kenshin's unusual speech was a difficult process. His use of "de gozaru" and "oro" were not only character marks that indicated Kenshin's state of mind, but important elements of the story. However, neither of them is directly translatable into English, and at the end, the company chose to replace "de gozaru" with "that I did" and "that I am". Kenshin's signature "oro" was replaced with "huah" to simulate that it was a "funny sound" that had no real meaning.
Appearances in other media
Kenshin first appears in two chapters of Rurouni, Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story , in which he arrives in Tokyo and defeats several groups of villains attacking families. In these stories, Kenshin is given a personality similar to the one he has in the series, but his name is not mentioned.
In the animated film Rurouni Kenshin: Requiem for the Ishin Patriots , Kenshin meets a samurai named Takimi Shigure , the leader of an underground resistance whose ranks include samurai loyal to the Tokugawa Bafuku, including the dissatisfied factions and descendants of Aizu and the Shōgitai. He was a member of the Shōgitai, who tried to overthrow the Meiji government and avenge the death of his family during the Bakumatsu. Since his dark past as Hitokiri Battōsai is also connected to Shigure's time of the Bakumatsu, Kenshin is needed to stop Shigure before his actions plunge Japan into turmoil again.
In the OVAs, Kenshin has a more humanized design and a different personality. Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal is a highly acclaimed prequel to the series and an adaptation of chapters 165-179 of the manga, which covers the story of Kenshin's past as a Battōsai during the Meiji Revolution and his relationship with Tomoe.
Rurouni Kenshin: Reflection is a more controversial "epilogue" to the series that did not appear in the manga. Taking place long after the end of the series, the OVA develops a summary of the series from Kaoru's point of view of the events and the future of a battle-weary Kenshin, ravaged by a potentially fatal disease. Many consider this OVA's depiction of Kenshin's future to be non-canon, including Nobuhiro Watsuki himself, mainly due to Watsuki's lack of creative input and his objections to the way Kenshin has been treated overall.
Rurouni Kenshin: New Kyoto Arc is a compressed story of the Kyoto Arc and was the most recent animated media appearance of Kenshin in over a decade. For the English dubbing of each of the aforementioned OVAs, as well as for the animated film, Kenshin was voiced by J. Shannon Weaver.
Kenshin is a playable character in all Rurouni Kenshin video games, as well as Jump Super Stars and its sequels ( Jump Ultimate Stars , J-Stars Victory Vs and Jump Force ) in which Kenshin shares the spotlight with other popular manga/anime characters that include Goku from the Dragon Ball franchise , Luffy from One Piece , Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh! Yusuke from Yu Yu Hakusho, and the titular character from Naruto. Tokiko Tsumura, one of the main characters of Buso Renkin , another series created by Watsuki, is based on the design of Kenshin as hitokiri. Watsuki commented that Tokiko is the female version of Hitokiri Battōsai when he drew her face.
Kenshin has been very popular with the Rurouni Kenshin reader base, having ranked first in every Shōnen Jump popularity poll for the series, always with more than double the votes of the second place winner. Watsuki received letters from fans describing Megumi Ogata's audio theater voice as a "good choice" for Kenshin. Watsuki stated that he imagined Kenshin's voice to be "more neutral." A plethora of merchandise has been launched in Kenshin's image, including keychains, action figures and plush dolls. Since the manga was published, non-functional and functional sakabatō have been produced for purchase by collectors and fans.
Several manga, anime, video game and other media publications have praised and criticized the character. AnimeOnDVD.com notes that Kenshin has a "smart" attitude in a review of volume 8; while they noted that it is a common attitude in the anime that makes him seem out of character. Anime News Network praises Kenshin for being a character that everyone loves to watch because of his comedy scenes. SciFi.com noted that "Kenshin's schizoid personal conflict between his ruthless killer side and his country-clown side" was an ideal way to develop good stories. Kenshin's development in the OVA series received negative reviews from many publications. Anime News Network also adds that in Reflectionil continues to be his old mopey self and criticizes that he never says "oro", while IGN cited that some moments of the relationship between Kenshin and Kaoru were depressing. However, some critics noted that Kenshin's personality in the OVAs was one of the most complex ever animated, noting the fact that he can not forget his bloody past, despite having a peaceful life. A large number of video game characters were based on the character of Kenshin such as Keiichiro Washizuka from The Last Blade and Shizumaru Hisame from the Samurai Shodown series. Kenshin's personality was also to be used in the character Kakashi Hatake from Naruto, but the idea was considered a failure. In an interview with Mayo Suzukaze, who is the seiyūfor the character, she says that she began to feel similar to Kenshin after years of working as the voice, and comments that giving the voice to the character was one of her best experiences.
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