Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #07 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 7.95
  • Pages: 220
  • ISBN: 1-59116-357-9
  • Size: Tall B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #07

By Megan Lavey     October 27, 2004
Release Date: September 01, 2004


Rurouni Kenshin Vol.#07
© Viz Media


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

What They Say
The Shinsengumi - fearsome and formidable protectors of the Shogunate. Kenshin knows them well, having done battle with them during the final days of the Meiji Restoration. One man in particular - Saito Hajime, captain of the third unit - lingers in Kenshin's mind. Now an officer of the law and known as "Fujita Goro," Saito arrives on the steps of the Kamiya Dojo, challenging Kenshin to a duel that will force a reawakening of Kenshin's own past. But the confrontation with Saito is just the beginning of something much larger, something that will involve the future of the new Japan...

The Review
Packaging:
In a repackaging of the original Japanese cover, we get Kenshin from his latter days as Battousai with Saito, blood dripping from his katana, looming over his shoulder. It's a decent picture, but not one of my favorites, as Saito is cropped in way too closely. But, it's the same crop that's on the original Japanese cover as well. Viz has fallen out of the habit of using the original spines (which had different characters on them, as they did through a good bit of the Tokyo Arc) and instead has a mug of Kenshin (it should be Saito on this volume.) The back cover has a picture of Yahiko from the cover of the second Kenshin artbook, Kenshin Kaiden. It makes me wonder if Viz has the rights to the two Kenshin manga artbooks. If so, I hope they make an appearance sometime in the future.

Artwork:
Watsuki has settled into the art style that will carry us through most of the series. t. One of the unique things about Kenshin is that it heavily incorporates people's reactions to the battles into the battle scene itself - instead of just having fight, then reaction. The layout is a bit complex to navigate at times, but that's only during the battles.

Text:
This is the first month that Kenshin is being released as a monthly product, which is a relatively new thing for Viz. But, it's gotten off to a poor start with several grammatical errors that cause Kaoru and the others to sound like complete idiots, the loss of a lot of honorfics and a translation error regarding the timing of events on May 14 itself. On his way to the meetings on May 14, Okubo thinks that he won't be able to reach the Kamiya Dojo until after dawn. The time is suppose to be after dusk. It's a small slip, but extremely important in determining the sequence of events that happened on that day. If this is a preview of things to come translation-wise because of the ramped up schedule, it makes me nervous. The volume was printed in September - alongside Inuyasha #19 and right after Maison Ikkoku #6, both volumes which had unusual and major translation and copy editor glitches. With three pretty high-profile releases from Viz having these noticeable mistakes, I hope that their editorial department takes note and measures to correct future printings and prevent similiar mistakes.

Content: (May contain spoilers)
As many fans what the high spot of Rurouni Kenshin, and if they've seen the anime, then they'll usually reply the Kyoto Arc.

And the high spot of the high spot? The fight between Himura Kenshin and Saito Hajime at the Kamiya Dojo.

Volume 7 of Rurouni Kenshin starts the famous Kyoto Arc, and if you're familiar with the anime, you know what happens here. Just a few months after arriving at the Kamiya Dojo, Kenshin starts having dreams of being a hitokiri during the Bakamatsu. Meanwhile, he is the target of the subject of those dreams, Saito Hajime. Saito visits the Kamiya Dojo and injures Sanosuke, leading to a series of events that culiminates in a battle with Saito and the last surviving leader of the Bakamatsu - Okubo Toshimichi - begging Kenshin to go to Kyoto and murder the man who succeeded him as hitokiri, Shishio Makoto.

Shishio has gathered an army of supporters around him, threatening revenge against the Meiji government for attempting to assassinate him 10 years earlier. Okubo realizes that Shishio must be stopped before he can fully spearhead a second revolution. But Kenshin's friends are reluctant to let him go, and Kenshin grapples with the tough decision of possibly having to go back on his vow. But fate decides to play its own hand and forces Kenshin to make the final decision that leads him down the road to Kyoto.

Having seen the anime for this arc on numerous occassions, the main thing that got me here was the speed at which all the action passes by. For instance, the book opens with Kenshin's flashbacks to the Bakamatsu. The scene is more drawn out in the anime, with padding and music to add to the intensity of the moment. The result, when making the jump from anime to manga, is a rushed feeling. Once you get used to the faster pacing of the manga, you can definitely see the advantages.

One of the constant praises I have for the manga is that Kenshin is not portrayed as a complete idiot, as he sometimes is in the anime. He's somewhat of a smart aleck and a bit more open about himself. After he has the dream, Kenshin talks freely about it with Kaoru and Yahiko. While they acknowledge that it is unusual for him to do so, it doesn't sound like Kenshin is trying to hide it either.

Megumi is more of a comic relief character here, and she actually provides a good bit of levity to the serious situation. After Sanosuke is injured by Saito, she goes around bopping on his head in an attempt to rouse him out of his coma. It provided a much needed laugh. She also doesn't come off as desperate to snag Kenshin as she does in the anime. She mainly is causing mischief and she does it well.

Kaoru is also a lot wiser than her anime counterpart. It's clear in both instances that she has very strong feelings for Kenshin, but the manga explains her resistance to the Kenshin/Saito fight a bit better, especially her reactions throughout it as she plays off Yahiko. She knows that if Kenshin becomes the Hitokiri Battousai once more that he most likely would never be able to resume his rurouni persona again, and that deep down inside, Kenshin doesn't want that. Both Kaoru and Kenshin also handle the final scene between them in a slightly different manner. While the end result is the same, Kaoru is a bit firmer in her convinctions while Kenshin clearly explains why he turned Battousai in his fight against Saito.

One of the things that I love about Rurouni Kenshin was Watsuki's creative use of an actual historic incident in order to base the Kyoto Arc around. Watsuki's notes about Okubo explain a lot about the real Okubo and how he's been misportrayed in Japanese history. Okubo was really assassinated on May 14, 1878, by Shimada Ichiro and his followers while traveling to Tokyo. The assassination was the result of his opposal of Saigo Takamori and the Satsuma Rebellion, which took place in 1877. This was the war that Kaoru's father presumably passed away during.

Comments
The first six volumes of this series is the direct lead-in to the beginning of the Kyoto Arc, and we discover that the events Kenshin was involved in during the Tokyo Arc do have a lot of meaning, and that they do come back to haunt him. With an excellent blend of fighting and storytelling, combined with a pretty big cliffhanger (for those not familiar with the series) at the end of the volume, it makes me glad that Rurouni Kenshin is on a monthly schedule. But will the copy-editing fairies do Kenshin in before he manages to get to Shishio?

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