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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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02/03/2005 Archived Entry: "Manga review: Rurouni Kenshin, vol. 10"

Rurouni Kenshin, vol. 10
by Nobuhiro Watsuki
Publisher: VIZ

The title of this manga means "Wandering Kenshin," and "Kenshin" is the main character's name. In Japanese his name is written with the character ken meaning "sword" and the character shin meaning "heart/mind/will." So the title also alludes to the idea of a wandering swordsman. And when written with a different set of characters, the word "kenshin" can also mean "devotion."

Though Kenshin is not technically a samurai, the plot resembles that of a typical samurai story, except that it is set in the Meiji period, a time when Japan was becoming Westernized and the era of the samurai was ending. The story is fictional, but the surrounding events are based on real Japanese history. If this sounds a lot like Vagabond, it is actually quite different. Where Vagabond is dark, gritty, and realistic, Rurouni Kenshin has a more playful feel, with a romantic sub-plot, some fantasy elements, and many humorous interludes.

Kenshin, an ex-assassin who has given up killing, now carries a "reversed" sword (meaning that the dull edge is where the sharp edge should be) called a sakabato. This is only one of many unusual swords to be found in this episode. Another character owns a double-bladed sword and a sword with a blade so thin that it functions more like a whip (or like Ivy's sword in Soul Calibur 2). In this episode, Kenshin searches for a new sakabato to replace his broken one. Of course, being an ex-assassin he still has many enemies, so there is plenty of conflict and suspense.

Rurouni Kenshin is a complex story, and includes some untranslated Japanese words. Luckily, there is a glossary in the back that defines many key terms, and other information about Japanese History is available online. This is a very entertaining manga, and I would recommend it.

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