Characters: Rurouni Kenshin Rivals And Villains
Hiruma Gohei and Hiruma Kihei
The first villains in the series. In the manga, Hiruma Kihei wanted to sell the land that the Kamiya dojo sits on and tried to worm his way into becoming Kaoru's caretaker and used his brother Gohei to aid him in his goals. In the anime, Gohei is a Composite Character
of the two and is instead a bitter ex-student of Kaoru's father who want revenge. Regardless of the motivation, Gohei impersonates the legendary Hitokiri Battousai while claiming to use the swordsmanship of Kamiya Kasshin Ryu
to stain Kaoru's family name. He might have actually slain Kaoru and taken her home as Hitokiri Battousai if the real deal
himself didn't blunder into Tokyo on that misty afternoon...
- Beard of Evil: Gohei
- Blood Knight: This is what got him kicked out by Kaoru's father in the anime.
- Brains and Brawn: Kihei is the brains and Gohei is the muscle, though Kihei seems to be losing brain cells with each appearance.
- Butt Monkey: Any real threat either iteration may have held in their first appearance plummets with each appearance, especially in the manga, where the brothers' only purpose in the Jinchuu arc is for Sanosuke to hand them their asses.
- Composite Character: The Gohei in the anime is essentially Gohei with a bit of Kihei's brain.
- Deceptive Disciple: In the anime, Gohei only wanted Kaoru's father's dojo in order to get the authority that comes along with it
- Dirty Coward: Once a real warrior shows up, these are the true colors the brothers will show.
- Dumb Muscle: Gohei,especially in the manga.
- Game-Breaking Injury: Kaoru's dad broke his right thumb in the anime. He trained in the following years to perfect left-handed swordsmanship to get revenge. Kenshin broke his left fingers in response. When he took Kaoru and Yahiko hostage during Ken's fight with Sanosuke, Sanosuke broke his right leg.
- Obviously Evil: Makes you wonder why Kaoru's father even let Gohei set foot on the dojo grounds much less take him in as a student in the anime.
- Smug Snake: Especially Kihei, Gohei inherits some of these traits for the anime
- Starter Villain: The hilarious incompetence of Gohei swordsmanhip demonstrates just how powerful the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu tradition is in comparison to "normal" Kenjutsu.
- Token Motivational Nemesis: To Kaoru. It was the Hiruma's brothers' plot that disgraced the Kamiya Dojo and drove it into financial destitute for the entire franchise, but once ran out of town by Kenshin, they are never mentioned again, outside of one pathetic reappearance in the Jinchuu arc. The anime version of Hiruma Gohei fares no better with his last appearance being on the receiving end of a Groin Attack.
Kurogasa / Udo Jin-e
Portrayed by: Koji Kikkawa (Live Action)
A hitokiri during the Revolution, and there is evidence he continued killing people well after the end of the Revolution. A master of the Nikaidō Heihō technique, attacked high-ranking Imperialist officials of the Meiji government (leading some to believe he fought for the Tokugawa shogunate during the war, since he did state that he was a member of the Shinsengumi, though his thirst for blood led him to killing members of his own squad), killing anyone who stood in his way.
- Anachronism Stew: The full-body black suit he's wearing.
- Arc Villain: The first enemy to last longer than a Monster of the Week and the first true threat to Kenshin
- Ax-Crazy: Even as a Shinsengumi, he was psychotic
- Badass: Anyone who can force Kenshin to be the Battosai is this
- Dragon-in-Chief: of the Live Action movie
- Black Eyes of Evil/Black Eyes of Crazy: Inverted when he activates the Magical Eye on himself, he gains normal looking eyes. He normally has Black Eyes of Crazy for some reason.
- Blood Knight: All he cares about is a fight
- Combat Sadomasochist: He thought the feeling of him stabbing himself was "sweet." Pleasant.
- Composite Character: Not in characterization, mind you, but for the live-action film's plot purpose he takes the role of the "fake Battousai" from Hiruma Gohei.
- Deadly Gaze: His secret technique allows him to channel his battle aura through his eyes, allowing him to paralyze anyone who gets caught. It doesn't work on people with a strong will though.
- Evil Albino: Has white hair and is very psychotic
- Evil Counterpart: A fellow Hitokiri, he's stated to be Kenshin's evil opposite as someone who has continued killing for fun and refuses to let go of the Bakumatsu
- Evil Laugh: An epic one.
- Expy: He's physically very similar to Remy Le-Beau aka Comic Book/Gambit.
- Giggling Villain: He snickers constantly, showing how unstable he is
- Kick the Dog: First, he kidnap Kaoru just to piss Kenshin off. Then, to make sure he's turned back to "Battosai" he uses his eye power to completely paralyze Kaoru, breath included.
- In the film, he takes the trope to it's literal extreme by kicking a bound Kaoru down the stone steps.
- Knight of Cerebus: The moment he appears is when the series takes its turn, as the first person to make Kenshin revert to Battousai.
- Large Ham: Especially in the sub
- Nice Hat
- One-Winged Angel: Use the secret technique on himself, growing tons of muscles and augmenting his strength. Useless as Kenshin broke his elbow and sinew with his sword's scabbard.
- Psycho for Hire: In his backstory.
- Scarf of Asskicking
- Serial Killer: Specifically, of high-ranking government officials who fought on the side of the Meiji movement during the war, though really anybody was game for him. It's later revealed he was hired to commit those political killings by the same corrupt politician who hired Saito.
- Start of Darkness: In the manga and anime canon, he has always been characterized as a bloodthirsty asshole formerly working for the Shinsengumi. In the film, however, he seems like a warrior driven to madness by the general violence of the Meiji Revolution, with him picking up Kenshin-as-Battousai's abandoned katana supposedly giving him a "new" purpose in life: to truly accomplish what the symbol of "Battousai" means for him.
- Starter Villain: A proper example, as the first character to force out the Battousai, which proves to be his undoing.
The genius young leader of the Oniwabanshū onmitsu. Known to his followers as the "Okashira", Aoshi's skills in combat, stealth and information gathering are without parallel, but having missed his chance to gain glory for the Oniwabanshū during the bakumatsu, he led a group of his men in serving as enforcers for the wealthy industrialist and opium dealer Takeda Kanryū in the hopes of finding a new battlefield in the Meiji era.
When Kanryū made himself the enemy of the legendary Hitokiri Battōsai, Aoshi believed that his long-missed chance to prove the superiority of the Oniwabanshū had finally come. Unfortunately, Kanryū's wicked deception and greed cost Aoshi's men their lives and the shame of being defeated and then rescued by Battōsai drove the Okashira to a new vow: he would defeat Battōsai at any cost in order to gain the title of "the strongest" and offer that title at his comrades' graves.
- A Father to His Men: Cares quite a bit about his Quirky Miniboss Squad, and desires to give them the chance to become great that they never got in the Revolution. He would die for any of them. When they die for him instead, he... doesn't take it well.
- Aloof Big Brother: To Misao.
- The Atoner
- Badass Longcoat: One of the iconic badass longcoats of anime; has inspired countless imitators.
- Bare-Fisted Monk: While primarily a swordsman, he's also a Kenpo master and relied on it for his offense before getting two kodachi.
- Berserk Button: It is never wise to desecrate the graves of his men. Four of Shishio's Elite Mooks learned this the hard way.
- Blood Knight: Becomes this after Kanryuu kills the Oniwabanshu, who die protecting him. Kenshin is able to talk him out of it.
- Broken Ace: His abilities could have easily gained him a job as a government official, but he sought not to abandon his comrades. However, this ended up making them underlings for Kanryuu. Becomes even worse after Kanryuu kills the Oniwabanshuu
- The Comically Serious: During the Jinchuu arc, his scenes (at least when Misao is present) usually put him in this role.
- Death Seeker: He becomes much more obsessed with defeating Kenshin after Kanryuu kills his menand is willing to throw his life away for it
- Deceptive Disciple: To Okina.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Though it takes a second fight to do the trick.
- Dragon-in-Chief: To Kanryu. This leads to some friction between them.
- Dual Wielding
- Expy: Based on Hijikata Toshizo in design.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: With Misao. She comes up to his waist.
- The Leader: Of the Oniwabanshu.
- Magnetic Hero: Well respected by the members of the Oniwabanshuu, he's attracted a number of strong individuals
- Master Swordsman: Of two kodachi. Subverted in his first appearance, where his kodachi was mostly a tool to parry sword blows while he worked his opponent over with his martial arts.
- Mr. Fanservice
- My God, What Have I Done?
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: Runs one before they die.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: To Kenshin.
- The Rival: One of Kenshin's two.
- Rival Turned Evil: After the Kanryu estate. He gets better.
- Sixth Ranger: To two different Five Man/Five Bad Bands.
- Sixth Ranger Traitor: Aoshi eventually betrays his Five-Bad Band.
- Shadow Archetype: A young, talented individual(around Kenshin's age) who mirrors Kenshin in prodigious ability and respect from his peers. However, they end up in opposite positions. While Kenshin received unwanted renown for being the Battousai, Aoshi desired glory from the Revolution he was unable to participate in. Both had Death Seeker tendencies, but while Kenshin was trying to atone, Aoshi merely sought more fights, especially after his underlings sacrifice themselves.
- Shout-Out: His coat is based on the one worn by Remy Le Beau/Gambit.
- The Stoic
- Tall, Dark and Handsome
- Tranquil Fury: When he gets angry enough, his blades express what his face doesn't.
- Worthy Opponent: To Kenshin.
The four members of Aoshi's squad serving Kanryu Takeda. They all follow Aoshi with loyal devotion. The members are Hannya the spy, Beshimi, Hyottoko and Shikijo. After being defeated by out heroes, they all die performing an heroic sacrifice to save Aoshi from Kanryuu's gatling gun. Their heads are buried near a dark wood by Aoshi himself.
- Affably Evil: Shikijo in the manga.
- Alas, Poor Yorick: When the others die, Aoshi beheads them to give them an honorable burial.
- Badass Crew
- Bare-Fisted Monk: Hannya.
- Berserk Button: Hyottoko lose his cool when Kenshin likens his fire-spitting technique to a circus trick.
- Body Horror: Shikijo's completely covered in scars. And let's not talk about Hannya, who burned his lips, chopped off his ears, saw his nose and crushed his cheekbones in order to become a perfect spy.
- Breath Weapon: Hyottoko has a large oil bag inside his belly, with the nozzle in his mouth. Add a pair of flintstone teeth and you have a fire-breathing apparatus.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Ugly at best, monstrous at worst, you will nevertheless be hard-pressed to find warriors braver and friends more loyal then these five men.
- Epic Flail: Shikijo's main weapon, soon discarded in exchange for a one on one unarmed battle against Sanosuke.
- Expy: Hannya is based on The Elephant Man.
- Shikijo was modeled(in role, not appearance) after Sanosuke as a boisterous power fighter
- Facial Horror: Hannya's face.
- Five-Bad Band
- Fragile Speedster: Beshimi.
- Glass Cannon: Hannya. Strong and fast enough to deal some good damage to Kenshin, but still falls rather quickly once Kenshin sees through his trick.
- Gonk: Hyottoko and Shikijo, while Beshimi, who's not a looker, is still described as "cute" by some fans. Played for tragedy with Hannya's self inflicted scars.
- Hard Head: Shikijo tries to smash Sano's skulls with headbutts. He also claims that after his first one, Sano will be unable to react immediatly, as his brain is still shaken.
- Heroic Sacrifice: All of them end up performing a rather tragic and tearjerking one against Kanryuu's gatling gun in order to save Aoshi.
- Hidden Depths: Despite being introduced as mere mooks, we get to see that they are fully developed characters... right before they're horribly killed by the gatling gun.
- Improbable Weapon User: Beshimi's only gimmick involves small poisoned darts which he can throw with his thumb.
- Kevlard: Hyottoko's fat. Subverted in that he still feels Sanosuke's fists.
- Lightning Bruiser: Shikijo. Aoshi in a slight degree, being fast enough to catch Kenshin off guard and powerful enough to bat him around quite easily.
- Mask Power: In Hannya's case, literally: as Kenshin points out, he can't anticipate Hannya's attacks by looking at his face.
- Meaningful Name: Hannya and Hyottoko are both named after a Noh mask. The former is a demon showing wrath and envy, the latter is a humorous mask of a man blowing on the fire.
- Mighty Glacier: Hyottokko.
- The Napoleon: Beshimi is very small.
- Number Two: While Shikijo seems to be the last physical challenge before Aoshi, Hannya is generally agreed to be Aoshi's right hand man (and quite-possibly Best Friend).
- Ninjas: Though only Hannya and maybe Beshimi properly qualify for being such.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad
- Taking the Bullet: Shikijo ends up using his massive, well-muscled body to shield Aoshi from the Gatling Gun.
- True Companions/Villainous Valor: Yes, even if they are bad guys they're shown to be really decent people after all.
- Undying Loyalty: Played tragically (and triumphantly) straight to its logical conclusion.
- Wolverine Claws: Hannya's trump weapon, should his iron gloves not be enough.
Portrayed by: Teruyuki Kagawa (Live Action)
A cunning money-minded industrialist and opium dealer. He hired Shinomori Aoshi and his Oniwanbanshu, as well as numerous lesser warriors, as personal bodyguards and hitmen.
The leader and founder of the Shinko-ryū "school" of kenjutsu - an organization whose purpose is to revitalize Japanese kenjutsu through force.
- Arc Villain
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy
- Big Ol' Eyebrows
- Calling Your Attacks: In the manga he shouts "Nun!" before each and every strike.
- Evil Gloating: He does this during his fight against Kenshin. It's more jarring in the manga than in the anime, as only it serves to prove just how weak he really is as a fighter.
- Informed Ability: Claims his Izuna technique is the "ultimate killing technique." Kenshin proves him very, very wrong.
- Averted with his kenjutsu skills. He is quite strong with his technique (though not as powerful as Kenshin).
- Large and in Charge: He's a giant of a man and is in charge of the Shinko Dojo.
- Manipulative Bastard: He utilizes Yutaro's hero-worship of him to his own advantage, pretending to be the boy's sword instructor while accessing Yutaro's family fortune for his own ends.
- Nice Hat: Wears a large japanese hat. All his disciples wear one.
- Razor Wind: How is technique Izuna and Tobi Izuna works. Kenshin even refers to the Kamaitachi while describing this attack.
- Straw Hypocrite: In the manga, Kenshin (correctly) guesses that despite Raijuta's ambition to restore the "killing sword" philosophy and his claims of Izuna being the "ultimate killing technique," Raijuta himself has never actually killed anybody. The fact that Raijuta celebrates at being able to nick Kenshin on the wrist with said technique, instead of expressing disappointment that the blow wasn't a fatal one, cements the point. In the anime, however, he somewhat makes good of this claim by being ruthless enough to kill useless henchmen. Although being promoted from Sissy Villain to Smug Snake isn't really much.
- Villainous Breakdown: In the manga, following a "The Reason You Suck" Speech from Kenshin.
- The Worf Effect: He fights Kenshin in one-on-one combat following the Kick the Dog scenario above. It goes about as well for him as you'd expect (totally one-sided against him in the manga).
- Would Hurt a Child: Uses the Izuna to wound Yutaro, severing his muscles. In the manga, the wound is so deep you can actually see the bones in his arm!.
An arrogant and overly-confident warrior sent to kill Kenshin along with Saitou, but fails. Wields a kusarigama and hidden chains.
Saito Hajime (aka Fujita Goro)
Most badass interpretation of Saito Hajime ever
Portrayed by: Eguchi Yosuke (Live Action)
The former captain of the third unit of the Shinsengumi and currently a special agent for the Meiji Government's Department of Internal Affairs. Having a long-standing rivalry with Himura Kenshin since their days on opposite sides of the Bakumatsu, Saitō nevertheless holds a begrudging respect for the rurouni and has come to his aid on assignment more than once, acting as a ruthless ally and the voice of cynical reason in the Kenshin-gumi's major battles.
- Addiction Displacement: Kind of implied. Unlike his historical counterpart who remained The Alcoholic, this Saito gave up drinking, but is a chain smoker.
- Of course, there is also the possibility that he was lying about the drinking... he did say that it makes him want to kill, and he was sitting across from a guy he couldn't kill until Saito finished an undercover investigation of him...
- Aloof Ally
- Always Someone Better: Serves as this for Sanosuke, who had considered himself Kenshin's strongest ally before Saitou appeared; not only as skilled as Kenshin in swordsmanship, but more skilled in Hand-to-Hand combat than Sanosuke which ultimately drives Sanosuke to improve himself.
- Animal Motifs: The wolf.
- Anti-Hero: Saito is the very epitome of this trope. He is an Unscrupulous Hero with his very own Pay Evil unto Evil code to boot.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: One of the most observant characters, he tends to serve as the most insightful battle commentator, seeing through his opponents techniques and reading into their psyche.
- Badass: Pretty much is Kenshin's equal in combat, and nigh undefeatable except for Shishio, who honestly took advantage of his wounds and was prepared beforehand. Word of God states that in a straight up fight, Saitou would win, while Kenshin would win if he was protecting someone.
- Boring but Practical: The Shinsengumi (according to the manga) each mastered one killing blow, then polished it to perfection. Bruce Lee's quote on the page explains.
- Broken Ace: A skilled fighter who can take down nearly any opponent whose not Kenshin, as well as an excellent policeman who seems to have adjusted remarkably well in the Meiji Era. But regardless, he's working for the people and government who were his sworn enemies during the Bakumatsu(and likely killed many of his comrades) and nevertheless holds some bitterness about the changing times.
- Clothing Combat: After losing his sword, he uses his own belt to fight Kenshin and almost wins by strangling him.
- Combat Pragmatist: Uses almost any dirty tactics to win. Justified since he knows his fights are unmerciful affairs.
- The Comically Serious: At times.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Even Jerks Have Standards: Though he's far from the nicest character in the series, even he was shocked by Shishio killing Yumi.
- Foil: His devotion to justice and slaying evil is just as strong as Kenshin's non-killing vow. In that way, the two are remarkably similar men of their time
- Genius Bruiser
- Good Is Not Nice
- Guile Hero/Magnificent Bastard: Dependent on how you look at him. More obvious in Shin Kyoto Hen where he intimidates Chō by his mere reputation as a no-holds barred Shinsengumi torturer/interrogator to spill the beans on the whole of Shishio's plans.
- During the battle at Mount Hiei Saitou reveals to Aoshi that he already had rough knowledge of the base's interior and was using the battles as distractions to mask his imminent sneak attack on Shishio.
- Happily Married: His wife, Tokio, is never shown on screen, though the others speculate that she must be like a goddess.
- Historical-Domain Character
- Historical Hero Upgrade: Though more of an Anti-Hero.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Kenshin notes that despite his rough exterior, he truly and purely values justice no matter what side he happens to be on.
- Jack of All Trades: He's extremely versatile in many areas; as a fighter he's a a capable swordsman and hand-to-hand combat specialist, and also serving as the Smart Guy of Kenshin's group
- The Lancer: Being one of Kenshin's main rivals, he serves as this role along with Sanosuke. He often warns Kenshin on the dangers of his non-killing vow and often goes for the most pragmatic route.
- Last Name Basis: "Hajime" is his given name.
- Master Swordsman
- Noble Demon
- Obfuscating Stupidity: His Fujita Goro persona, complete with winning smile and polite, friendly speech. Unlike Kenshin, this is just to disguise his true nature.
- Pet the Dog: He casually adopts a little boy who was the only survivor of a village massacred by Shishio's men.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Frequently. Combines it with the Breaking Speech during his battle with Usui.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: He's the Blue Oni to Kenshin's Red Oni.
- Red Baron: The Wolf Of Mibu.
- The Rival: Was the only character to fight on even terms with Kenshin's Battousai personality, and was one of Kenshin's main rivals during the Bakumatsu, along with Okita. However he eventually buries the hatchet.
- Rule of Cool: The Gatotsu may sound like a boring technique, but Saito's pose as he sets the move up, his right arm stretched out and cradling the tip of his sword between this thumb and finger, and 'targeting' his opponent between his fingers is pretty damn awesome. He also attacks with a speed that is equal to Kenshin's fastest technique, so you underestimate him at your own risk.
- The Smart Guy: When he teams up with the Kenshin-gumi, he pretty much takes this role, tending to be more observant than most other characters
- Sixth Ranger: While not an official member of the Kenshingumi, he fights alongside them throughout the Kyoto arc.
- Smoking Is Cool
- Tall, Dark and Snarky: Tall? Check. Dark? Check. Snarky? Major check.
- The Shinsengumi
- When All You Have Is a Hammer: The only sword techniques he uses is Gatotsu, a powerful left-handed thrust, and variations of it to suit the occasion. Unlike most other examples, he's talented enough to learn other techniques. He simply doesn't bother because he doesn't need them.
- Xanatos Gambit: Can be seen using these in a few instances
- In Shishio's headquarters, he's shown operating independently and covertly, and it's implied that whether Kenshin or Shishio wins, he will strike the weakened Shishio in their fight. Doesn't work too well, since Shishio effortlessly defeats him, leaving Kenshin to take up the reins.
- His harsh criticism and defeats of Sanosuke could either break Sano's spirit enough to stay out of the fight, or force him to become stronger and more helpful. Luckily, the latter resulted.
One of Shishio's henchmen, but not a member of the Ten Swords. Is a huge man with an oddly shaped head who boasts about his speed and the 99 men he murdered. He rules over the Shingetsu village with an iron fist. Is defeated by Kenshin who uses his own speed against him and arrested.
- An Axe to Grind/Power Fist: His weapons looks like a hybrid of axe and knuckleduster.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy
- Bald of Evil
- The Brute
- Flash Step: Despite his immense bulk, he's very fast. Eventually, lots of flash steps in a row leads to his defeat.
- Gonk: Has a cone-shaped head, is overly muscled and wears a tiny, veeery tight body suit...
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Despite being as fast as Kenshin, he's a lot heavier, and so after a while his legs break after performing one last Flash Step.
- Lightning Bruiser: Deconstructed.
- Muscles Are Meaningless: Averted. They make him heavier, which cause his downfall.
- Oh Crap: The first one when his legs breaks. Then, when Shishio threaten to dispose of him should he lose without forcing Kenshin to show at least one attack.
- What Could Have Been: Originally was going to be a member of the Juppon Gatana, and a speechless, beast-like brute.