Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #08 -

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Mania Grade: A

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 7.95
  • Pages: 196
  • ISBN: 1-59116-563-6
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Rurouni Kenshin Vol. #08

By Megan Lavey     December 18, 2004
Release Date: October 01, 2004

Rurouni Kenshin Vol.#08
© Viz Media

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

What They Say
In the 11th year of Meiji, on the day marked in the Western calendar as May 14th, time once again begins to flow. The shocking midday murder of Department of Internal Affairs Chief Okubo a fait accompli, Kenshin leaves for Kyoto, scene of chaos and bloodshed - against the wishes of nearly everyone who knows him as the gentle "rurouni." Awaiting him there is Shishio Makoto, the hitokiri who replaced the cold-eyed assassin Himura Battosai who forswore further killing and took up the reversed-blade sakabato. But does Kenshin go to Kyoto for a duel ... or for a death-match?!

The Review
We move into a series of gorgeous covers that incorporate the newest addition to the series with the existing cast. Once again, this is a slightly altered version of the original tankoubon cover with the original picture, but a different background. Kenshin and Misao are featured in action mode with Sanosuke, Kaoru and Yahiko sharing a single frame split into three different windows underneath them. The logo runs along the lower half of Kenshin and Misao's bodies, and isn't very intrusive at all. The spine features Misao while the back has a shot of Sanosuke preparing to punch someone (more like Saito.)

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.

In volume 7, I noted problems with the copy editing of this volume. These errors come on the heels of some other mistakes in Viz manga that are due to lack of basic copy editing. I am pleased to note that with this volume, the style of editing has returned to the high quality that was seen in the Tokyo Arc (vol. 1-6) of the series. I'm glad that the editorial department at Viz has appeared to tighten up its quality control. The volume features the glossary of terms used during the volume and ads for other Viz works.

Content (may contain spoilers):
After the intensity of action in the previous volume, things settle down for the first half of this book. One of the things that I have pointed out in the past about the Kenshin series is that it just doesn't document everything from Kenshin's point of view. Instead, for the first few chapters here, we get his friends reaction to his leaving for Kyoto. Sano is angry, Kaoru is depressed and Yahiko trying to be the strong one. Some pretty nice depth is given to all of the supporting characters in the series as they cope with Kenshin's decision and one by one decide their own path. This involves Sano, Kaoru and Yahiko making the decision to leave for Kyoto on their own (Sano heading a different, Ryouga-type route to Kyoto while Kaoru and Yahiko go by sea) and Megumi deciding to stay behind.

This propels Megumi into an unplanned meeting with Shinomori Aoshi, who's decided it's time to give Kenshin a battle. But Saito (fresh off his battle with Sano) intercepts him and sets Aoshi on the trail to Kyoto as well. Aoshi heads off and is the first of the group to run into Shishio's men as Shishio uses Sojiro to try and recruit Aoshi.

After all of this, we finally meet back up with Kenshin, who is making his way on foot to Kyoto. As Watsuki explains in his author's notes, he felt that he needed to pair Kenshin up with someone for the time being. So, he took Kaoru, added a good bit of Yahiko and then poured in about 100 pounds worth of overly cheerful energy. The result is Machimaki Misao, a girl who had been taken under the wing of the Oniwabanshuu and is on the search for Aoshi.

Kenshin's attitude here is one that shocked me when I first saw the Kyoto Arc. He's known for being a smartass in the manga, but this aspect of his personality did not come out until the scenes after he first met Misao in the anime (and just then alone.) I thought it was out of character. Otherwise, if you've seen the anime, this volume feels like a replay of episodes 32-35 with the book ending with the side arc taking Kenshin and Misao into a village held by Shishio and encountering a boy, Eiji, whose family was killed by Shishio's henchmen.

After a lot of buildup in the previous volume, this book steps back and takes a breather as Watsuki allows his characters (and the reader) to react to Kenshin's departure and allows them the necessary growth needed to make their next move. It's still a fun trip and there's just moments here that make you break out laughing (such as Tae lamenting over Kaoru's rejection of her precious pictures.) There is still a lot of action woven throughout the storyline, with Sano facing off against Saito once more, Aoshi, Kenshin and Misao and finally the trip into Eiji's village. Misao provides a lot of comedic relief when it's needed, though her obsession with Aoshi borderlines on scary. It's a good breather in the plot and one that is needed.


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