Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #15 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Release Date: Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Translated by:Kenichiro Yagi
What They Say
At the madman Shishio Makoto's headquarters, the long-delayed duel between Kenshin and Shinomori Aoshi concludes, while at Aoi-Ya, those left behind wage their own, desperate battle against Shishio's Juppongatana. The strength of one swordsman in particular seems monstrous, and defeat imminent... that is, until Kenshin's former Hiten Mitsurugi master, Hiko Seijûrô, takes the field. Will the respect of one warrior for another succeed where all else has failed? Elsewhere, Kenshin and Sôjirô cross swords at last. Although well-matched, Kenshin's victory is by no means certain...
The fight shifts back to the Aoiya for a good part of this volume and the reviewer has just dissolved in a mush of Hiko-worship drool.
We're still using the original tankoubon art with a new background, and this time it is Kenshin and Kaoru. A pensive, partly-shirtless Kaoru is in the background while a determined Kenshin is in the foreground. It really reflects what is going on in this book and what Kenshin is fighting for. The back features a nice shot of Aoshi, though I figure that Hiko would be more appropriate for this book. Extras include the typical glossary and ads for other Viz Media releases.
Watsuki has come a long way from the beginning of the series and one of the things that Viz has done with it is to preserve the integrity of the battle scenes. Watsuki began to integrate more and more complex kanji into the battle scenes when the attacks are called that are tightly meshed with the art of the battle itself. Viz chose to not touch this artwork and left the kanji/fight scene intact and provides a translation of the kanji in a small box nearby.
The grammatical errors seem to be a thing of the past as there is a very solid translation throughout the book.
Content (may contain spoilers):
The battle front shifts to the Aoiya as Kaoru, Yahiko, Misao and the rest of the Oniwabanshu prepare to face those that Shishio, urged by Hoji, has sent after them as a distraction for Kenshin. It's here that Yahiko faces his first true fight as a swordsman and Kaoru finally utilizes Kamiya Kasshin Ryu in a serious battle situation. They win, but by the skin of their teeth - too exhausted and injured to fight the sudden appearance of a monster - Saizuchi and the giant beast of a man under his control, appropriately named Fuji.
Things look bleak for the Aoiya - until the appearance of another giant of a man, Hiko Seijuuro. He would had been here earlier if Kenshin had bothered to give him directions, he pointed out. Hiko himself takes on Fuji, giving the giant a degree of respect that no one has ever given him before. It is here that we see truly what a great swordsman that Hiko is and how that has rubbed off on Kenshin.
Speakings of Kenshin, he does get a page or two out of the volume as he begins the long-awaited rematch with Sojiro. Unlike the fight with Aoshi, which was simply a rehash of the first fight, we get to see more of Sojiro as he begins to unleash his true powers. These powers supposedly can defeat Kenshin, but something is wrong with Shishio's right-hand man.
This volume illustrates one of my loves about this series and it's that the side characters aren't abandoned. This is a very well-rounded volume with only Sanosuke not getting much here. We see Kaoru's principles in action and they match up quite well with Kamatari's. The raunchy humor surrounding Kamatari's sexuality is hilarious and Misao gets quite the education about the male genitalia that she never quite got in the anime.
We also get our glimpse at just how good Yahiko will become as a swordsman. For the first time, you can really see that he has the potential to be Kenshin's equal. It'll be interesting to see the impact that watching Hiko has had on Yahiko as well.
I felt sorry for Kamatari. Having him face off against Kaoru is a good match, with Misao as backup. They were both doing this out of support for the men that they love and so they can understand the other's feelings. Kaoru also looks past Kamatari's sexual preferences, while the others tended to poke fun at it.
Then there's the Hiko fight. I don't drool at very many guys in anime or manga. Occasionally folks like Miroku from Inuyasha and Gourry Gabriev from Slayers grab my attention and are pretty to look at. But Hiko is truly just...there is no words to describe the greatness of this man. He is just very, very, very pretty to look at. Watsuki knows this as well and reduces Omasu from the Oniwabanshu to the roles of Hiko's fangirl in this volume (my favorite line is Omasu going, "Take me now!" as she swoons)
Hiko's very powerful and the fight against Fuji is another well-matched one. He gives the giant the respect that he never gotten, and it's that respect that allows Hiko to take the upper hand. One Kuzu Ryu Sen later and it's over. But it's how he gets there that is awesome. You start to see the true power of Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu here and its potentials once it's unleashed. We also get another demonstration that the art is very much psychological and not just physical. Then we shift back to the Kenshin/Soujiro fight. But the bulk of that won't come until the next volume.
Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left