Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #02 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 7.95
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 1-59116-249-1
  • Size: Tall B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #02

By Megan Lavey     April 05, 2004
Release Date: November 01, 2003

Rurouni Kenshin Vol.#02
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Nobuhiro Watsuki
Translated by:Kenichiro Yagi
Adapted by:

What They Say
Things are settling down at the Kamiya dojo. Former "fight merchant" Sanosuke has come to grips with his past, realizing that things may not be quite as black and white as he thought, that good men may serve bad causes, and vice versa. Yahiko, the angry-fisted young man, is learning to relax. And Kenshin is enjoying Kaoru's cooking. But even in these strange early days of modern Japan, there is such a thing as pure evil.

Udo Jin-e, black-hatted, crazy-eyed former assassin, is still chasing the scent of blood, his mad thirst for vengeance felling the innocent and guilty alike. If a man kills too many, for too long, as Kenshin says, he loses his original purpose, and succumbs to the spell of blood. When hitokiri faces hitokiri, can Kensin withstand the hypnotic power of Jin-e?

The Review
This book picks up where book one leaves off and covers episodes 5 through the first half of episode 8 in the anime.

Packaging: This is the original cover for Volume 2 of the manga. I do not care for the replacement used on this book, mainly because the artwork used was produced after the end of the Rurouni Kenshin series. If you want to see how Watsuki art changes from the beginning of the series to the end, the picture of Kenshin is what you're in store for. That shot of Kenshin comes from the cover of the second art book, Kenshin Kaden, released sometime in 2000 (I can't find the copyright info in my copy of the Kaden.) A picture of Kaoru in a fighting stance is used on the back cover.

Artwork: Still gorgeous. You can see a refinement in the way Kenshin and Kaoru look - neither of them have quite as poofy hairdos as they did at the beginning of the series - and the scenes are still are still highly graphic and detailed, especially during the battles.

Orientation/SFX: Unflipped and translated. The translated SFX is integrated into the artwork well and I believe even those fans who did not want translated SFX will be pleased. And, as an extra bonus, there is a glossary of terms used in the back of the book, so if you didn't pick up on the footnotes or were confused about some things explained during the course of the story, just flip to the back and check it out.

Text: Another excellent translation. This time we see how Viz handled Kenshin's sword techniques. To giddy fans everywhere, I'm pleased to say they kept all of Kenshin's attacks in the original Japanese with a small footnote the first time the attack is used saying what the English translation is. This was very, very good to see. The flip-flop between "Battosai" and "Battousai" seems to have disappeared since I couldn't spot any of the later used in the book. The Seikihoutai is renamed to the Seikiho Army, which is not surprising. All of Watsuki's character biographies and ramblings are translated, which are always a fun read. This volume's ramblings give insight into the Kenshin CD drama, which covers the first four chapters of the manga. Oogata Megumi voiced Kenshin in these. This is something I would eventually love to hear.

One quick note regarding the author's notes. In them, you'll see Watsuki being referred to in the third person. That's how he originally wrote these notes is by referring to himself in the third person. A bit odd, but it's accurate.

Kenshin defeats Sanosuke and in the process learns that Sano was once part of the Seikiho Army, a volunteer army that went ahead of the Imperial one and announced tax breaks in order to lure farmers into enlisting. When the Imperialists decide they didn't want to give the tax break after all, they named the Seikiho Army as a false one and killed them. The conclusion to this, especially with Sano's memories of Captain Sagara, isn't as romanticized as in the anime.

The majority of the book is taken with the Kurogasa incident. Udo Jin-e, a former Shinsengumi turned Hitokiri, is going around slaying government officials. When Kenshin tries to stop him, he becomes his target. Jin-e wants to lure the Battosai out of Kenshin and does this by kidnapping Kaoru. The end of the book witnesses the arrival of a woman named Megumi, who offers Kenshin and Sano opium to protect her.

Once again, there is further character development as the motives behind Sanosuke's attack on Kenshin is revealed. Sano does not come across as the blockhead he seems to be in the anime at times. Out of the four in the Kenshin group, he seems to be the most realistic about certain situations and is the first to point out that Kaoru's feelings toward Kenshin is more than friendship and his might be the same.

The first impression of Megumi is also a bit different. The key reason why she is running from Kanryu is revealed right away instead of further into the story.

Yahiko seems to be along for the ride, but Kenshin and Kaoru are fleshed out more. Kaoru has a deep fear of loneliness and it shows in her actions toward Kenshin. It adds a deeper feel to what may seem like a schoolgirl crush on him. Kenshin himself is still proving to be more of a smart aleck than in the anime and it's a change I like. He doesn't come across quite as naive and it's a refreshing look at him.

There are many clues littered throughout this volume pointing to future events that by the time the manga reaches the Kyoto arc, you'll be able to go back and see the buildup. This layering of events is one of the reasons why I love Rurouni Kenshin so much. You can go back at a later part of the series, look back to the beginning and see that things you thought were unimportant are significant. There is enough difference from the anime counterpart that reading these chapters is like delving into the series again for the first time. I am definitely enjoying the ride and look forward to volume 3.


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