Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #09 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 7.95
  • Pages: 196
  • ISBN: 1-59116-669-1
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #09

By Megan Lavey     December 21, 2004
Release Date: November 01, 2004


Rurouni Kenshin Vol.#09
© Viz Media


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

What They Say
A glimpse of the new Japan if the mad ambitions of Shishio Makoto should succeed is revealed when Kenshin arrives in Kyoto and meets him at last ... although the epic battle between them will have to wait. Pitted against Shishio's soldiers, Kenshin's reversed-edged sakabatô is broken - can it be reforged? Should it be reforged? For time has once again begun to flow and violence once more washes over the land. Although Kenshin has abandoned the ways of the hitokiri and has sworn to take life no longer, a new assassin has now arisen - one whose taste for blood and thirst for power knows know bounds...

The Review
Packaging:
This cover resembles the cover of volume 8. Kenshin is the prominent feature here with smaller shots of Kaoru, Yahiko, Sano, Saito, Aoshi and Misao behind him, all set against a blue-patterned background. Megumi is featured on the back and the spine of the book, which is very amusing since she doesn't play a part in this book at all. It looks like the writers have run out of things to say as the summary reads almost like the summary for book eight.

Artwork:
Watsuki has settled into the art style that will carry us through most of the series. 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:
Viz's excellent translation of Rurouni Kenshin continues with this volume. Honorifics and attack names are kept, and even obscure references. A glossary for terms used and ads for other Viz products are in the back of the book.

Content (may contain spoilers):
We pick back up in Shingetsu village with Kenshin and Saito taking down the last of Senkaku's henchmen and prepare to face Senkaku himself. First, they must deal with Eiji's parents, much to the annoyance of the villagers. The bigger picture here shows what life would be like in Japan if Shishio gets his way and takes over the country - depicting a life full of fear for ordinary people. It also reveals the shallowness of the Meiji government and their reluctance to take an active role in preventing Shishio from taking over.

This culminates in a meeting between Kenshin and Shishio. They swap philosophies and Kenshin fights Senkaku. However, Shishio declines to fight at this time and leaves Sojiro to do so in his place. Sojiro and Kenshin go at each other, but the fight is soon halted when Kenshin's sakabatô breaks and Sojiro's sword is rendered useless. Sojiro advises Kenshin that he needs another sword and also leaves, allowing Kenshin and Misao to continue on their journey to Kyoto.

Then, we diverge off into a side arc with Sanosuke (who has pulled a Ryouga Hibiki and is extremely lost) meeting Anji, a fallen priest who teaches him a new technique. The encounter ends with an unusual twist, and one that I won't spoil for people who are new to the series.

Once they arrive, we meet Misao's family, who are a bunch of fruitcakes. But Misao's grandfather, Okina, quickly latches onto the fact that Kenshin is also Battosai and invites him into the Aoi-ya, their inn. Meanwhile, Kaoru and Yahiko have arrived in Kyoto themselves. There's a little bit of expansion on the anime plot here, as we get an amusing moment of Yahiko being a tourist. But, instead of seeing Kenshin, the two notice Aoshi walking down the street. Yahiko recognizes Aoshi but Kaoru doesn't (which is consistent with Kaoru not being part of the first Aoshi fight in the manga, but she was in the anime. Therefore when this scene happened in the anime, she recognized him there.)

Kenshin, Okina and Misao head out the next day in search of Arai Shakku's son, Seiku, to forge a new sakabatô while Kaoru and Yahiko meet Tae's twin, Sae, and settle in at the Shirobeko. But Kenshin's group is turned away when Seiku refuses to forge a new sword.

Comments
I found myself skimming through a lot of the book, partly because my prior knowledge of the series lets me know what's going to happen and also because it's not very exciting and sort of repetitive. The battle with Senkaku is rather ordinary and doesn't tell us anything that we don't already know about Kenshin or Shishio. The battle between Kenshin and Sojiro only serves to introduce the breaking of the sakabatô plot. We do get clarification on exactly why the Meiji government isn't getting involved with the Shishio matter and we also get further clarification on Shisho's philosophies. This is one of those cases where the anime does win out over the manga, simply because all the fighting is conveyed a lot better on the screen than in the book. We have some amusing character moments, some great growth for Sanosuke and Misao's family is just as crazy as she is. But, like volume eight, this book is mainly a setup for further actions in the Kyoto Arc.

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