The Nostalgic Book Review Tag was created by the beautiful Read Think Ponder and I was tagged by her. This is my second time doing this tag (check out my first nostalgic book review here) but I loved doing it so much that I needed to do it again! But this time, instead of reviewing a book, I decided to review my favourite manga of all time.
The idea of this tag is that you choose a book you read over 3 years ago and review it from memory without looking up a summary of it.
Here is my summary of the guidelines:
- Summary: Provide a summary of the book, including approximately when you read it, without consulting Google or the book itself.
- Thoughts: Share your thoughts on the book, from memory
- Epilogue: Look up a summary of the book and share your thoughts on what you did or didn’t remember/current feelings about the book.
- Please link back to Read Think Ponder’s post, so that the original rules are always accessible to anyone who is curious and wants to participate!
- Do not look up the book when writing its summary and your thoughts.
- Acknowledge the person who tagged you in your post.
- Tag your friends and fellow bloggers – it’s up to you how many!
RUROUNI KENSHIN BY NOBUHIRO WATSUKI
Rurouni Kenshin (you might know it as Samurai X) is my favourite manga of all time! It’s a historical manga set in the Meiji era (1868-1912) in Japan. It’s a 28 volume manga but Viz has also released a ‘Viz Big’ version, where you can get 9 big bind-up volumes instead (I own the Big version, but I’m hoping to one day collect the individual volumes either in English or Japanese). I read this manga back in high school, probably around 2007, and I fell in love with the story and all of the characters.
This manga follows our main character, Kenshin, who was an assassin during the Bakumatsu, which is the end of the Edo era (you can think of this as the feudal era with samurai and everything). Because this was an era with lots of war, a group of revolutionists came together to try to bring about an era of peace and industrialization. Kenshin, as a teenage boy, was one of the key assassins for the revolutionists. However, after they won the war and the Meiji era began, he disappeared and became kind of a legend around Japan.
The manga begins 10 years into the Meiji era in Tokyo. In this new era of peace, swords and killing are banned. We meet our female protagonist, Kaoru, who is an orphan and runs a kendo/fencing dojo that was left to her by her deceased father. Her dojo operates by the motto of ‘the sword invigorates life’. However, she finds herself in a bit of trouble when murders start occurring around her village, done by a killer who claims to be part of her fencing school. She tries to find out who is tarnishing the name of her school and the memory of her father, and runs into Kenshin who has just arrived in Tokyo. Because he carries a sword, she suspects that he might be the murderer. But it turns out that he carries a sakabatou or ‘reverse-blade sword’, which has the sharp edge on the wrong side. She quickly discovers that he isn’t the culprit because the sword isn’t capable of killing and Kenshin, who is intrigued by her philosophy, decides to join her.
This manga is pretty much about their adventures together, and the misfits that end up befriending them and joining them. Of course, being a famous assassin means that trouble just gravitates towards Kenshin, and they find themselves having to fight their way out of trouble.
When I read this manga, I fell in love with it straight away. I read the whole thing in about 5 days. I didn’t really like history at that time but this manga made me very interested in the Meiji era and it made me start to read other historical mangas, especially those set in Meiji. I was enamoured by the culture during that period. The people were still traditional and wore kimonos and yukatas, but Japan was also becoming more westernized. I loved being able to see the fusion and intermixing of traditional and western culture. So this manga definitely inspired my love for Japanese history.
What I loved most about Rurouni Kenshin were the characters. I was obsessed with their background stories and they were so endearing to me. Of course, Kenshin was my favourite character. I loved that he was almost unbeatable when it came to sword fighting and it was entertaining just to watch him kick everyone’s butt. But I loved his personality and his gentleness the most. He carries around a lot of guilt about killing all the people he did, so he tries to atone for that by helping out people in need. He’s made a vow never to kill again (hence the reverse blade), and I loved how he went about making sure that his enemies would never kill again, without killing them himself. He’s just a great character who inspires people to be more loyal and to just be better people. I was also very attached to all the other characters that appeared in the manga. The characters were definitely the stand-out for me, with the plot being a close second.
This whole manga is very action-packed and entertaining. There is a very, very small amount of romance in it but I liked that the manga was more about the action and the friendships between characters than romance. I thought the art style was great and it was successful in portraying the action in each scene. The characters were all unique-looking and very recognisable. Also, the chibis of each of the characters were SO adorable!
I don’t know if I would feel any different about this manga if I read it now. I’d probably enjoy it just as much as I did when I read it the first time. It’s a story that has burrowed so deep inside of me that I don’t go a month without thinking about it. If I read it again now, I would probably appreciate the friendships and interactions between the characters a little bit more. But I’d 100% still love it and rate it as my favourite manga of all time.
Packed with action, romance and historical intrigue, Rurouni Kenshin is one of the most beloved and popular manga series worldwide. Set against the backdrop of the Meiji Restoration, it tells the saga of Himura Kenshin, once an assassin of ferocious power, now a humble rurouni, a wandering swordsman fighting to protect the honor of those in need.
A hundred and fifty years ago in Kyoto, amid the flames of revolution, there arose a warrior, an assassin of such ferocious power he was given the title Hitokiri: Manslayer. With his bloodstained blade, Hitokiri Battosai helped close the turbulent Bakumatsu period and end the reign of the shoguns, slashing open the way toward the progressive Meiji Era. Then he vanished, and with the flow of years became legend.
In the 11th year of Meiji, in the middle of Tokyo, the tale begins. Himura Kenshin, a humble rurouni, or wandering swordsman, comes to the aid of Kamiya Kaoru, a young woman struggling to defend her father’s school of swordsmanship against attacks by the infamous Hitokiri Battosai. But neither Kenshin nor Battosai are quite what they seem…
That’s the official description from Viz Media. I think my summary of the manga was pretty spot on. But what I neglected to mention was that I had watched the live action films last year so it wasn’t really from over three years ago… sorry, I cheated. But not that sorry because I love this manga.
In addition to being my favourite manga of all time, the Rurouni Kenshin anime is my favourite anime of all time and the three live action movies are my favourite and most watched Japanese movies (or maybe just favourite and most watched overall). The live action movies deviate quite a bit from the original manga but they’ve got such great cinematography and an amazing soundtrack. Plus, the actor who plays Kenshin is one of my top 5 favourite Japanese actors.
A crucial fact that I didn’t mention in my summary section was that Kenshin has been given the name Hitokiri Battosai. Hitokiri literally translates to man-cutter, so it means manslayer. Battosai refers to the style of sword fighting he practices. The murderer that Kaoru is looking for at the beginning of the manga claims to be the Hitokiri Battosai. One important event that occurs in the manga is Kaoru finding out that Kenshin is the real Hitokiri Battosai, and how Kenshin reacts to her and others finding out that he wasn’t a good person before.
Another thing that I forgot to mention in the thoughts section was the story arc. The first couple of chapters in the manga (and the first couple of episodes in the anime) are separate and largely unrelated episodes, where you start encountering the different characters. So there would be a villain in each chapter and Kenshin just comes and defeats them all with ease. After the first couple of chapters, we get to see longer stories that span over a couple of chapters. And eventually we get to see story arcs that span over multiple volumes.
So if you’re not into it after the first couple of chapters, I say just stick with it because it’s definitely worth it! Plus it makes sense that the first few chapters are disjointed because they’re almost like pilot chapters to see how well received it is by the public. If you don’t really enjoy reading manga, I’d recommend watching the anime! It’s a lot of fun and it also is quite faithful to the manga for the first 50 or so episodes. But if you do watch the anime, I insist that you watch the English subtitled version and not the dubbed version!
I would absolutely reread this manga again. In fact, I’ll probably reread it sometime this month. This manga gave me so many feels. It had hilarious scenes that made me laugh, devastating scenes that made me cry, and great action scenes that left me feeling so exhilarated. I highly, highly, highly recommend Rurouni Kenshin, regardless of which medium you choose.
Here’s a scene from the first movie to highlight how good it is!
If you’ve read Rurouni Kenshin in the past, or will be reading it, please let me know! I’d love to discuss this with you!! Of course, this is available for free on sites like mangafox, but please try to support the manga artist by buying a physical or electronic copy. It’s available on kindle!
This time I’m going to tag some of my newest followers. Thank you for following me!