Closing old wounds.
Story/Art: Nobuhiro Watsuki
Translation: Joe Yamazaki
What They Say
During the violent upheaval of the Bakumatsu era, Hitokiri Battosai was a feared and ruthless assassin. But now that the Meiji Restoration has begun to heal the wounds of civil war, Battosai has taken up a new name… and a new calling! He is now Himura Kenshin, a rurouni wanderer who has vowed to only draw his sword to protect those in need. But now a recent enemy has recruited a ruthless assassin to bring down Kenshin and steal the Kamiya dojo! Can Kenshin maintain his oath to never shed blood again and protect his new friends?!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Though the gang heads out together for a nice meal at Akabeko, before they can dig in Saito appears and leads Kenshin off for a private conversation. They discuss the difference in era, and though Kenshin holds to his convictions, Saito simply calls him naïve. Meanwhile, Yahiko ends up encountering Tsubame, an old friend who is now working at Akabeko. The next group of assassins steps up to go after Kenshin, but before they can do so the ruthless madman Jin-e takes them down himself, jumping in line in his own unique way.
Though the threat of Jin-e looms overhead, things seem to return to normal until Kanryu secretly approaches Yahiko, telling him that Tsubame’s family has fallen into a debt that will destroy her, at least unless he decides to cooperate. Things take a turn for the worse when Kaoru leaves the dojo alone in order to teach lessons, and Kanryu jumps on the moment to go on the offensive. Yahiko turns down Kanryu’s offer, but Banjin and Gein appear to act as back up. Intense fights erupt between Sanosuke and Banjin, Gein and Saito, and Yahiko and Kanryu of all people. Meanwhile, Kenshin rushes off in order to save Kaoru from the danger presented by Jin-e, who has now taken her hostage.
When faced with a truly brutal opponent like Jin-e, will Kenshin be able to hold to his morals, or will he be forced to return to his old, blood-laden path?
Though it’s still a reworking of old content, this volume manages to grab a little bit more of an identity for itself. It really manages to condense the idea of Kenshin’s struggle of ideals versus the power needed to defend those around him into a single volume. Furthermore, Yahiko gets a surprisingly fun fight, as well as a good bit of character development. Add in two more rather nice fight sequences and a few more comedic bits, and you have something that manages to feel fresh even if it’s retreading old ground. It may not be perfect, but it makes for an action packed and enjoyable read, and allows the reboot to go out on a strong note.
Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: January 6th, 2014