“Democracy and peace come at a high cost.”
Rurouni Kenshin depicts the struggles of a man named Kenshin, who carries the burden of his past on his shoulders.
Is it right for a man who killed indiscriminately to find peace? Can he truly attain the redemption he so desperately seeks? Questions like these are emphasized throughout the stories as the ghosts of Kenshin’s dark past try to tempt him back to his old ways.
Rurouni Kenshin is not a generic anime. It uses heavy symbolism and historical themes to describe the effects of a revolutionary war on all of its characters.
On the one hand, the show tackles serious themes like traumatized warriors with bloodlust and, on the other, a light hearted comedic lifestyle that the characters try to maintain.
If you enjoy historical Shounen anime, Rurouni Kenshin is a must watch!
To better understand of the story of Rurouni Kenshin, it is important to know a bit about Japanese history.
The Sengoku era or the Age of Warring States was a period when Japan was constantly engaged in civil wars, social upheaval, and political intrigue for almost 150 years.
The Edo period soon followed where Japan was under the rule of Tokugawa Shogunate (basically dictatorship), which headed 300 daimyos (feudal lords). Samurai, a class of skilled swordsmen, used to be hired by a daimyo to protect them. The emperor in the Shogunate was just a nominal head and had little to no powers.
After the involvement of the west, the emperor started gaining more power and overthrew the Shogunate to establish democracy. During the Meiji era, samurai lost their masters, status, and weapons and turned into masterless ronin.
Rurouni Kenshin takes place in Bakumatsu or the final years of the Edo period. The protagonist, Himura Kenshin, was an assassin for the Meiji government and tries to find peace within a time of turmoil.
2. Release Order
I. TV Series
- Rurouni Kenshin: Season 1 (1996)
- Rurouni Kenshin: Season 2 (1996-97)
- Rurouni Kenshin: Season 3 (1997-98)
- Samurai X: The Motion Picture (1997)
- Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal (1999)
- Samurai X: Reflection (2001)
- Samurai X Recap (1997)
- Samurai X Special (1998)
3. Chronological Order
- Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal (OVA)
- Rurouni Kenshin: Season 1
- Rurouni Kenshin: Season 2
- Rurouni Kenshin: Season 3
- Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal
- Samurai X: Reflections (OVA)
The recommended order to watch Rurouni Kenshin is the chronological order.
The OVA, Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal, is a perfect reflection of what the anime is about and will help you decide if you want to watch the series.
Specials are optional and can be skipped.
5. About Rurouni Kenshin
It is a Japanese manga series penned and illustrated by Nobuhiro Watsuki. It was serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine from 1994 to 1999. A TV anime adaptation was also broadcast to 1996 to 1998, and it even has an anime film along with numerous video projects.
The English manga version was published by Viz Media, and the English anime version was released by Media Blasters.
The story revolves around a former assassin who, after going against the feudal government, changed his name to Himura Kenshin and changed into a wandering swordsman who protects the people of Japan. He made a vow to never take another life.