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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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01/09/2007 Archived Entry: "Book review: Rurouni Kenshin: Voyage to the Moon World"

Rurouni Kenshin: Voyage to the Moon World
Original Concept by Nobuhiro Watsuki
Written by Kaoru Shizuka

Review by Tom Good

This novel based on the Rurouni Kenshin manga actually consists of two separate stories, each involving a different work of art. In the first story, the swordsman Kenshin and his friends try to recover a stolen copy of Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon, and in the second the plot revolves around a woodblock print called a nishiki-e. Both tie into the history and politics of Japan. Both are also new stories, not rewritten episodes from the manga, which ended its run last summer.

I liked the use of the Jules Verne novel and the characters' reactions to it, especially their discussions about the feasibility of a trip to the moon. Many stories about Japanese history either ignore the rest of the world at the time, or consider only the military and technological influx from the West. It was refreshing to think about the influence of European science fiction on the people of 19th century Japan.

The Rurouni Kenshin manga was full of action, visual style, and impressive fight scenes. This gives the novel a lot of expectations to live up to, and for the most part the prose is up to the task. One memorable scene, a showdown between Japanese swordsmanship and Western-style fencing, will keep martial arts fans captivated.

But there are also some stiff transitions where the story shifts gears into explaining historical background. The facts are interesting and the background helps the reader make sense of the plot, but it still feels a bit like a history textbook. Because the material did not seem to be related from the characters' perspective, it felt like a break from the story, not part of it.

Despite this small shortcoming, this book still was a fun, quick read. I hope it will be the first of many Rurouni Kenshin novels.

See also:

Rurouni Kenshin, vol. 10 review by Tom Good
Rurouni Kenshin, vol. 11 review by Tom Good
Rurouni Kenshin, vol. 15 review by Tom Good
Rurouni Kenshin, vol. 17 & 18 review by Kelly S. Taylor

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