Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #11 -

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Mania Grade: A

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 7.95
  • Pages: 196
  • ISBN: 1-59116-709-4
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #11

By Megan Lavey     February 12, 2005
Release Date: January 29, 2005

Rurouni Kenshin Vol.#11
© Viz Media

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

What They Say
With Misao's help, Kaoru finally manages to locate Kenshin in Kyoto - at the home of Hiko Seijuro, his master in the school of Hiten Mitsurugi. Having convince his master to resume (complete) his training, Kenshin assumes the role of pupil once more, while elsewhere in Kyoto, other forces come together. There is the arrival of Shinomori Aoshi, soon approached by the men of Shishio Makoto to join their cause; there is also the arrival of Saitô Hajime, who comes to free Sano from jail and also to join him in questioning "Ten Swords" member Chô. The truth of Shishio's plan for Japan is beginning to be unveiled...

The Review
Like previous covers, this volume of Rurouni Kenshin retains the original image from the Japanese tankoubon with a different background. This image is a gorgeous shot of Kenshin, his eyes golden as if he's in Battosai mode. The combinations of blues and purples here really makes the gold stand out and it's my favorite cover out of the series to date. The spine features a smaller version of Kenshin from the cover while the back has a red-toned image of Kenshin and Kaoru.

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 with the exception of one line that is mangled at the beginning. Hiko tells Kenshin that he can't leave Shishio as the only Mitsurugi student. It should be that Hiko doesn't have time to find another Mitsurugi student in case Kenshin is defeated. But it's the only mistake I saw out of the book, which is a lot better than a few volumes ago.

Content (may contain spoilers):
After nearly three volumes (when you consider that the books contain 9-10 weeks worth of chapters, that means close to half a year), Kenshin and Kaoru finally reunite in a very touching and poignant scene. While Kenshin and Kaoru themselves are not quite sure how to handle seeing each other, Misao, Yahiko and Hiko all provide some great humor here. We see Hiko boss around Kenshin and Misao and Yahiko tagteam to discover some great information - such as Hiko being only 43 though he looks no older than his early- to mid-20s.

The arrival of the trio provides a needed breakthrough for Kenshin. It's Kaoru, Yahiko and Misao's testimony of how he's helped people through the past decade that causes Hiko to decide to pass down the school's ougi to Kenshin. It's here that there's a shift in the story focus.

One of the strengths of volume 8 was that the majority of the volume was dedicated to the secondary cast. This happens once again in this volume as Aoshi, Okina and the Oniwabanshuu take up the majority of the action here while Kenshin is off training with Hiko. Aoshi arrives in Kyoto and encounters Okina, who tells him to keep away from Kenshin. Aoshi agrees to meet with Shishio after Sojiro talks him into it. As a symbol of allowing Aoshi to work alone to defeat Kenshin, Hoji orders that the Aoi-ya be attacked. However Okina and the other surviving Oniwabanshuu defeat the assassins.

Okina decides to face Aoshi on his own and Misao discovers almost too late about the fight after Kaoru and Yahiko tell her the truth about what happened to Aoshi's group back in volume 4. She rushes and gets there in time to see Aoshi to deliver what appears to be a mortal injury to Okina. Aoshi tells Misao he never wants to see her again and leaves her to deal with a dying Okina.

With Okina out of commission, Misao decides to take the role of okashira of the Oniwabanshuu upon her own shoulders - a decision that shocks everyone else, including Kaoru and Yahiko. Then we shift to prison, where Sano decides the best way to meet Saitô is to get himself locked up. This works and also leads to Sano meeting Chô and Chô squealing about Shishio's plans to burn down Kyoto to the two while Usui, the last of the Juppongatana, reaches Shishio's stronghold.

One of my favorite scenes in the series appears in this volume and it is stunning once you go back and read the lyrics to the opening theme used in the Kyoto Arc, "Half." Hoji wavers slightly about his loyality to Shishio and Shishio uncovers his hand and grips Hoji by the forehead, burning him. Shishio revels how he lives in the fires of Hell because he can't regulate his body temperature through sweating. The lyrics to that song around the time Hoji appears in the opening refer to that moment and it's really powerful.

Another interesting thing to note is a historical reference that may not be picked up easily if you don't know Japanese history. Shishio has built his stronghold into the side of Mt. Hiei, a fact that isn't known in the anime. Mt. Hiei was known as a Buddhist stronghold for centuries and housed the Tendai Buddhism sect, a very powerful one politically. In 1571, Oda Nobunaga decided to defeat these monks and did so by charging up the mountain and killing more than 3,000 men, women and children - many refugees from Nobunaga's "tenka fubu," or uniting Japan under one sword. The parallels between Nobunaga and Shishio are interesting to look at.

There is a lot packed into this volume and the amazing thing is that Kenshin really only has a handful of pages dedicated to himself - one chapter and part of another. Rereading through it, I'm amazed at how much stuff happens and what's been revealed. If you're solely interested in Kenshin, you won't like this volume. If you enjoy the secondary characters, you will love it.


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