Characters / Rurouni Kenshin Rivals And Villains

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    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 wanted 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...

  • Adaptational Badass: Gohei, of sorts, in the anime. Because he isn't the Dumb Muscle his manga counterpart is, he's treated more seriously. This is especially shown when Sanosuke comments that Gohei looks fairly strong in the anime. Sano is nowhere near as impressed with Gohei in the manga.
    Sano (Anime): Well, from where I see, you don't look like an unworthy opponent yourself.
    Sano (Manga): Fool! Killing you ten thousand times wouldn't be proof of anything!
  • Adaptational Intelligence: In addition to his more competent and villainous portrayal in the TV series, due to being a composite character Gohei does much of the scheming that Kihei did in the original manga and on top of that his final appearance in the TV series shows he had become a successful businessman after Kenshin permanently put him out. In the manga he merely remains a bodyguard working for random thugs with Kihei doing all the planning.
  • Adaptational Villainy: While not above injuring people and possibly murdering for his criminal goals, the Gohei of the manga was originally a comic relief Dumb Muscle. Whereas in the manga hurting Kaoru was simply an means to an ends for his criminal enterprises and something he preferred to avoid, the anime puts his conflict with the Kamiya dojo as a personal vendetta because of an injury Kaoru's father gave him. Even before turning to criminal enterprises, he was already shown as being a blood-thirsty student of the Kamiya style who spat on its philosophies and enjoyed hurting other students with live blades. When he attacked Kaoru's dojo, he ripped out Kaoru's uppersleeves and was offering his men to to do whatever they pleased to her. In addition he does several more attempts to get revenge on Kenshin after his duel with Sano and its implied he went into shady business after being permanently injured.
  • Beard of Evil: Gohei sports a massive one.
  • Blood Knight: In the anime, he was a blood-thirsty student and had maimed at least one of his fellow students with a live blade before Kaoru's father broke his right thumb. He never loses his blood-lust, which is compounded by having a vendetta towards Kaoru and eventually Kenshin.
  • Brains and Brawn: In the manga, Kihei does all the scheming while the much larger Gohei provides the muscle.
  • 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. In turn, the anime version is fused with Jin-e Udo in the live action films.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Gohei has the misfortune of being the receiving end of every fight he takes part in. In the anime, he attacked Kaoru's father with a real sword, and his teacher beat with a single blow to the hand that permanently broke his thumb, and he was only using a bokken. His fight with Kenshin ends with every finger on his left hand broken.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: In the Anime, after losing his sword abilities and failing to kill Kenshin again, Gohei apparently goes into business as a merchant and makes quite a bit of money. He even remarks that he's surprised he didn't think of this sooner, but after a fashion he goes back to his plans to kill Kenshin by sinking his newly acquired fortune into it.
  • 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. In the anime, Gohei is an unsuccessful Manipulative Bastard and Evil Genius.
  • Evil Is Bigger: Gohei, on top of being evil, is a significantly large man, dwarfing much of the cast.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Kihei.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Kaoru's dad broke Gohei's 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 Kenshin's fight with Sanosuke, Sanosuke broke his right leg. And to top it all off, his final appearance in a filler episode ends with him crawling on the ground after Yahiko broke his nuts.
  • Groin Attack: His final appearance ends with him on the receiving end of one courtesy of Yahiko. It is followed up by an Overly Long Gag that involves images of various round shapes being broken to give the audience a good idea of the pain he's going through.
  • Murderers Are Rapists: Gohei picks up Kaoru and asks his men, "Whose sword would like to be the first to get a taste of her flesh?" (All the men are leering at Kaoru and beg to be first.) It never actually happens, though it is heavily implied. This also is an anime-only scene; it doesn't show up in the manga.
  • Obviously Evil: Between the villainous appearance (especially his Beard of Evil) and his rather open thirst for drawing blood, it 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 in the anime.
  • Starter Villain: The hilarious incompetence of Gohei's swordsmanship demonstrates just how powerful the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu style 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 ruin for the entire series, but once ran out of town by Kenshin, they are never mentioned again outside of one pathetic reappearance in the Jinchuu arc where they easily beaten down twice by Sanosuke. The anime version of Hiruma Gohei fares no better with his last appearance being on the receiving end of a Groin Attack thanks to Yahiko.
  • Villain Decay: Gohei in the Anime. While in the Manga Gohei was more inept (and comical), in the anime he's introduced as a ruthless fighter, with a personal grudge against Kaoru. He was a Cop Killer and very nearly killed Kaoru and destroyed her families reputation. Even after Kenshin crippled his hands, he was still able to use underhanded tactics during his next appearance, though the seeds of this trope were already planted as he was comically shown up by Sanosuke. His third appearance cements him as this as the once ruthless murderer is now reduced to a weenie cowering from real opponents, enacting zany schemes, fighting a kid with an umbrella, and getting kicked in the crotch so hard a montage of cracked balls and nuts starts rolling.
  • The Worf Effect: They're frequently used to show how much stronger Kenshin and Sanosuke are when they appear.

    Kurogasa/Udo Jin-e
Voiced by: Akio Ohtsuka (JP), Dave Mallow (EN)
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 Longcoat: Forced Kenshin into Battousai mode.
  • Black Eyes of Evil/Black Eyes of Crazy: Inverted when he activates the Magical Eye on himself, he gains normal looking eyes. For some reason, he normally has Black Eyes of Crazy.
  • Blood Knight: All he cares about is a fight.
  • Body Horror: In the Restoration manga he was stabbed in the arms during the war leaving two long holes in them. He uses them to hold his blades in the present era.
  • 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.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Is either dishing it or receiving it. Kenshin is no match for him in their first encounter, and even after Jin-e kidnapped Kaoru, Kenshin is still no match him. The tables are turned when Kenshin does revert back to his Battousai and breaks Jin-e' nose. Even when Jin-e goes full out, Kenshin breaks his arm, with his scabbard, before he can land a single blow.
  • Deadly Gaze: His secret technique, Shin no Ippo, 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.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Of the first live action movie. Kanryuu may be orchestrating the Opium trade but it's clear that Kenshin's biggest threat in the film is him.
  • Dragon Their Feet: In the film. It is only after Kanryu is defeated that Kenshin realizes he forgot one of his opponents.
  • Driven to Suicide: In both the mangas and the film, he kills himself after being defeated by Kenshin. Preferring death to being shown mercy by his enemy. As he states "Live by the sword, die by the sword."
  • 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:
  • Expy: Physically, he's very similar to Remy Le Beau aka Gambit.
  • Final Boss: Of the Restoration manga.
  • Gamebreaking Injury: Kenshin broke his arm in their rematch.
  • Giggling Villain: He snickers constantly, showing how unstable he is
  • Kick the Dog:
    • First, he kidnaps Kaoru just to piss Kenshin off. Then, to make sure he's turned back to the "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 doing all of that plus 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
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: When he uses the Shin no Ippo on himself, he gets increased muscle mass and strength to go with it, being able to turn a boulder into dust in a few swings. Yet, in spite of that, all it took was one good swing of Kenshin's scabbard to permanently cripple him.
  • Nice Hat: Doesn't match, though.
  • One-Winged Angel: His Hyouki technique is essentially this, using the hypnotic suggestion of the Shin no Ippo on himself to make him stronger. By doing this, he gets increased muscle mass and removes his Black Eyes of Crazy.
  • Psycho for Hire: He was hired to kill high-ranking officials for a corrupt politician in the original manga, who would later go on to hire Saito. The film and the Restoration changes his employer to Kanryu.
  • 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.
  • Starter Villain: A proper example, as the first character to force out the Battousai, which proves to be his undoing.
  • 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.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: A very powerful one. Now only does he prove too much for Kenshin without his Battousai persona, he also proved stronger than any of Kenshin's subsequent opponents until Saito appeared.

    Takeda Kanryuu
Voiced by: Nobuo Tobita (JP), John Snyder (EN)
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.
  • Adaptational Badass: Badass might be too strong a word, but he doesn't cry for his life in the live action film. For comparison, when Megumi pins him down to stab him in the live action film, his first reaction is to yell at his subordinates for not doing anything whereas in the anime, his reaction to shriek (to add insult to injury, Megumi doesn't even pin him down in the anime). Much of his cowardice seems to have instead been transferred to his army of Yes Men.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Downplayed. He was easily one of the most evil villains in the original Manga, but the film ups his villainy. He's the one who hired Jin-E, so the dozens of police officers killed was his doing, and he later has the water supply to the village poisoned so he could lure out Megumi, which in turn nearly kills a number of people. With that said, his biggest Kick the Dog moment killing the Oniwaba group via gatling gun has been removed due to the characters in question being Adapted Out and the scene has a slightly more comical tone to it than in the original.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Inverted—he's the Oniwabanshu's boss during the Kanryuu Arc, but he's a major weakling physically.
  • Big Bad: Of the first live-action movie as well as the Restoration manga. In the original manga and anime, he and Aoshi share the role.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Participates in shady businesses (opium and weapon trade) and won't hesitate to have people slaughtered if it will allow to continue making money. The live action movie expands on this, showing snub his nose at the authorities whenever they try question him.
  • Depraved Homosexual: The real Kanryu Takeda was this (see "Historical Domain Character"). Nobuhiro Watsuki tried to work this trait in, but couldn't see how it would fit with the story, and so left out any explicit references to Takeda's sexuality. (He did mention in his side-panel notes in the manga that he wondered What Could Have Been if he did manage to find a way to work that in, however.)
  • Dirty Coward: He throws his weight around, acting like nothing can hurt him. When someone comes around that can, watch him crumple into a crying mess.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: He fails to understand why Kenshin would come to rescue Megumi when there's no financial reward in it for him. This leads to him trying to bribe Kenshin with money and a job offer as his personal bodyguard, which only serves to aggravate Kenshin further.
  • Evil Gloating: He loves doing this, but only when he has someone more powerful backing him.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Taken Up to 11 in his more recent depictions. His depiction in the Restoration manga deserves special mention, where he describes his love of money while he practically dances with his Gatling Gun.
  • Evil Is Petty: Tries to kill Aoshi just because he's fed up with his disrespect.
  • Eviler Than Thou: When two of his guards and Beshimi report a failure to capture Megumi, Kanryuu executes the pair as a show of strength and he is mildly disappointed that Aoshi doesn't do the same to Beshimi.
  • Expy: Between his modified hairstyle and extra hammy personality, his Restoration incarnation seems to have taken a few pages from Papillon.
  • Gatling Good: When cornered, he wields a Gatling gun.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: He's of the evil variety, casually smoking a cigar while shooting his Gatling gun at the protagonists.
  • Hate Sink: The single most despicable character in the series who will do anything for money from selling drugs to weapons, and is petty Dirty Coward to boot.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Yes, there really was a Kanryu Takeda. And yes, he really was an all-around bad guy.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Him being this only serves to piss Kenshin off after he tries to bribe the former manslayer.
  • Jerk Ass: The single most unpleasant character in the entire series.
    • Taken Up to 11 in the first live action movie.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Towards Megumi.
  • Money Is Not Power: As stated below, he boasts that having so much money makes him stronger than warriors like Kenshin and Aoshi, but he finds out this trope is in play the hard way when Kenshin beats the stuffing out of him.
    • In the Restoration manga, it goes a lot more literally as he uses a money purse in the final battles. It's Yahiko who ultimately kicks his ass. Counts as Laser-Guided Karma as well considering how his mistreated and mocked him.
  • Rich Bitch: Male version.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: He plays it utterly straight with his declaration that money is the greatest power in the world, and his having so much of it makes him stronger than Kenshin or Aoshi. Too bad his money can't save him from Kenshin's wrath.
  • Sharp Dressed Man
  • Sissy Villain
  • Smug Snake: Acts cool and collected when in control of a situation, such as when he's using his gatling gun, but the minute he's at Kenshin's mercy, he's left pathetically begging for his life.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Kanryu vs. Kanryuu.
  • The Tooth Hurts: Kenshin breaks his jaw and knocks out one of his teeth.
  • Would Hit a Girl: He doesn't just hit Megumi, he batters her bloody after she returns to his mansion and makes an attempt on his life with a dagger that is nabbed away by Aoshi.
  • Yes-Man: Has an army of them at his beck and call in the live action film, usually seen fanning him at a moment's notice. They are even more spineless than him.

    Isurugi Raijuta
Voiced by: Ryunosuke Obayashi (JP), Richard Epcar (EN)

The leader and founder of the Shinko-ryū "school" of kenjutsu - an organization whose purpose is to revitalize Japanese kenjutsu through force.

  • Adaptational Badass: In the manga he easily gets curbstomped by a wounded Kenshin (who got his right arm disabled in an earlier ambush before the main fight) WITHOUT Kenshin even using the blade of his sakabatou. He doesn't even go down fighting but LOSES because of a psychological breakdown from a lecture by Kenshin about real lethal swordsmanship. In the TV series, not only does he give a hell of a fight and go down KO'd (after giving Kenshin several wounds) but he WIPES OUT an entire battalion of an elite Imperial Army platoon of riflemen with one swing. He's also shown adept with commanding small squads to execute ambushes and other military tactics.
  • Adaptational Villainy: While he's certainly a conniving scum who manipulates and uses patrons in the original manga, his primary goal was to merely preserve Japanese sword arts in their original form and to make his philosophy of swordsmanship of Shink Ryu dominant in the Meiji era. In the anime, his Shinko Ryu group has been in existence before the Revolution as an elite group of Samurai and his intention from the very start was to use his school to recruit swordsman so he can lead a revolt against the Meiji government and create his own small sovereign Kingdom in which the rigid Tokugawa caste system will be the status quo and that thrives around a Social Darwinist sort of lifestyle. As oppose to his manga counterpart (who never killed a single person in his life),his TV series , however, he's vicious enough to kill his own henchmen.
  • Adapted Out: Doesn't appear in the live action films.
  • Arc Villain
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Though to be honest he is a powerful kendoka, he gloats too much about his skills as a killer despite being not one.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • He's even worse in the anime. There he gained Yutaro's worship by saving him from a group of bandits hoping to hold him for ransom. Later it turns out that Raijuta was the one who hired them in them in the first place, just so he could set up the rescue to earn Yutaro's trust.
  • 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.
  • 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!.

    Arundo Akamatsu 
An arrogant and overly-confident warrior sent to kill Kenshin along with Saitou, but fails. Wields a kusarigama and hidden chains.

  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy
  • Bullying a Dragon: All without realizing that Saito is actually manipulating him for his plans.
  • Dirty Coward: Beg for forgiveness when Kenshin disarms him.
  • Epic Flail: His kusarigama, along with some flails hidden in his armlets.
  • Expy: Of Omega Red. His surname (Aka means Red and Matsu End) and weapons makes this clear.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Has badly sewn scars on his forehead and cheeks.
  • Off with His Head!: Beheaded by Saito.
  • Oh, Crap!: Several, as when he realize that Kenshin disarmed him and later when he's about to land the finishing hit.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Once he finds out about Ookubo, he decides to quit. But is killed by Saito before he can do anything.

    Saito Hajime (aka Fujita Goro)
Voiced by: Hirotaka Suzuoki (JP -Anime), Ken Narita (JP - 2011 OVA), Kirk Thornton (EN)
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.
  • The Ace: 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. Sanosuke(no fan of Saitou) notes during the Jinchuu arc that he has "no intention of losing to anyone other than Kenshin".
    • Kenshin himself has said that Saitou is far more than just the Gatotsu. It's the intellect, the ruthlessness, and the iron-clad sense of justice behind that move that you need to worry about even more.
  • Adaptational Heroism: His Jerkassness is downplayed considerably in the live action films.
  • Addiction Displacement: Kind of implied. Unlike his historical counterpart who remained The Alcoholic, this Saito claims that he gave up drinking and is now a chain smoker.
  • Aloof Ally: Is the only fighter to never join Kenshin's group on social events. Even Aoshi socializes more than him.
  • Always Someone Better: Serves as this for Sanosuke, who had considered himself Kenshin's strongest ally before Saitou appeared; not only is Saitou as skilled as Kenshin in swordsmanship, but he's stronger, faster and better than Sanosuke in hand-to-hand brawling, which ultimately drives Sanosuke to improve himself.
  • Animal Motifs: The wolf. He explicitly draws this in contrast to a dog, who is mindlessly loyal.
  • Anti-Hero: As police officer (sort of) he works to bring down criminals like Shishio, but he has a very cold and ruthless manner of doing so.
  • A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: His "Fujita Gorou" persona is pleasant, unassuming, and literally forehead-to-the-floor humble. In reality he's a Good Is Not Nice Jerkass. The interesting thing is that it's not just for his undercover work; that's his civilian identity as well.
  • 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 Creed: Aku. Soku. Zan. (Roughly "Kill those who are evil immediately")
  • Boring, but Practical: The Shinsengumi (according to the manga) each mastered one killing blow, then polished it to perfection. Saitou's is a simple, straight, left handed thrust, delivered with enough force to break steel doors and punch through armor like cardboard. One could say that the artwork of his badass pose elevates this to Simple, yet Awesome.
  • Boxing Battler: When unarmed, he fights with boxing-style moves. This proves to outmatch Sanosuke's Good Old Fisticuffs fighting style.
  • Broken Ace: A skilled fighter who can take down nearly any opponent who's 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 using his own jacket to strangle him.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Uses almost any dirty tactics to win. Justified since he knows his fights are unmerciful affairs.
  • The Comically Serious: At times.
  • Conspicuous Gloves: His white gloves are very note worthy and get a lot of focus. Whenever he lines up his Gatotsu his gloves are on clear display, when he fights Sannosuke and his sleeves are shredded, his gloves accentuate his arms, and when Saitou's put into the opening credits, he's putting on those gloves.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: As powerful as the Gatotsu and its variations are, there have been several fights where his over-reliance on one move has gotten him into trouble against those who are able to properly evade or defend against it. His key weakness is his unguarded right side and tunnel-vision when he charges to strike.
    • Averted, as although many of his opponents comment/mock him for it, it's most likely he doesn't care that he's being exploited. As Kenshin himself stated, if defeating Saitou was only about defeating his signature move, their duel would have ended long ago. Shishio is the only true exception in the entire series.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Dishes out one to Sano in his first appearance. He was initially prepared to walk away when the stress of the Gatotsu broke the concealable sword he was carrying. Sano still tried to fight him when was barehanded, only to find out Saito was always his superior in unarmed combat.
    • His fight with Usui. While Saito takes some damage, he dominates the fight emotionally. Saito winning with the Gatotsu Zero Style shows he could have ended the fight anytime he wanted.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He always has a cutting remark, especially for Sanosuke.
  • Death by Irony: After Shishio defeats his signature move in the third of the live-action films, he tries to force Saito to cut himself to death with his own sword in a matter not dissimilar from what Saito did to Kenshin in the first movie. He's only saved from this trope by the timely (and comical) intervention of Sanosuke.
  • Deus Exit Machina: As a rival/ally who is Kenshin's equal, the story often has him take more of an investigator role rather than directly helping Kenshin (as well as the fact that he's an Aloof Ally).
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Briefly was one to Shibumi, who believed he was the one in control. Once it turned out that he was working for Okubo, he tried to flee.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Though he's far from the nicest character in the series, even he was surprised by Shishio killing Yumi. Perhaps justified in that Saitou himself is a married man (see Happily Married entry below).
  • Eyes Always Shut: Saito himself averts this, but when he's in his Fujita Goro persona he plays the trope straight as it makes him look a lot less threatening. He also utilized this trope when impersonating a medicine man which Sanosuke commented on.
  • Foil: His devotion to 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: He's one of the best fighters in the series(the equal to Kenshin), as well as a highly analytical observer and policeman.
  • Good Is Not Nice: He's abrasive and pragmatic when dealing with his opponents and shows no hesitation in killing his opponents if he feels it necessary.
  • Guile Hero: 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 to put up with Saito. Watsuki felt the need to put a note in the panel explaining that Saitou being married is historical fact.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Saito Hajime was a real person, though one presumes not nearly the superhuman badass he is in this series.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Though more of an Anti-Hero.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: No, literally and historically. Saitou is not left-handed. He just prefers to use a left-handed thrust because he doesn't need any other move.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: He's abrasive and cutting but Kenshin considers him one of the most principled and honorable men in the series. He cannot be bribed, placated, or threatened from his path of justice. Kenshin also notes that if Okubo was truly corrupt, Saitou would've slain him long ago.
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: He's extremely versatile in many areas; as a fighter he's a capable swordsman and hand-to-hand combat specialist, as a policeman, he's got connections and political know-how, and he also serves as the Smart Guy of Kenshin's group.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Saitou favors his katanas in a fight. It's even lampshaded with Yahiko noting how odd it is for a police officer to be carrying a Katana rather than the Sabers that Uramura and the others use. Saitou himself firmly believes that the katana is a superior weapon and had to request clearance to use it. When the concealed sword he uses for a sneak attack snaps in half, he laments its poor quality.
  • 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: He's as skilled with the blade as Kenshin is, and according to Word of God, he could have defeated Shishio in a straight fight.
  • Noble Demon: Despite being perhaps the most ruthless and terrifying of Kenshin's rivals who is not above cheating in battle and using coercion, he is also easily the most principled. To the point even after his nightmarish Batman Gambit at the Kamiya dojo (in which Kenshin criticizes him as having turned rotten over the past decade), Kenshin assures Sanosuke that Okubo could be trusted because if he was corrupt, Saitou would have assassinated him already. Despite holding contempt for Kenshin's philosophy, Saitou even refused their planned final duel partially out of respect for Kenshin because he sacrificed so much for justice and due to his virtuous personality.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The point of his credo: Aku Soku Zan.
  • Pet the Dog: He casually adopts a little boy who was the only survivor of a massacred family in a village terrorized 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 his thumb and finger, and 'targeting' his opponent between his fingers is for sure sicker. He also attacks with a speed that is equal to Kenshin's fastest technique, so you underestimate him at your own risk.
  • Sixth Ranger: While not an official member of the Kenshingumi, he fights alongside them throughout the Kyoto arc.
  • The Smart Guy: When he teams up with the Kenshin-gumi, he takes this role, tending to be more observant than most other characters
  • Smoking Is Cool: He even walks into the final battle of the second Live Action movie while smoking a cigarette, but he eventually tosses it away after it's all used up.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": You have your choice of "Saito", "Saitou", or "Saitoh".
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Tall? Check. Dark? Check. Snarky? Major check.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: The only sword technique he uses is the 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.
  • Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: His Fujita Goro persona is humble and nonthreatening, complete with winning smile and polite, friendly speech. Unlike Kenshin, this is just to disguise his true nature.
  • World's Best Warrior: As someone who is at the very least Kenshin's equal, he's certainly a contender for this. Within the Kenshin universe, he may have been the strongest of the Shinsengumi.
  • Worthy Opponent: Although he is critical towards most of his opponents (Sanosuke, Usui, Kenshin as a wanderer), he genuinely respects Kenshin's skills as Battousai.
  • 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. 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.

    Abukuma's Four Priests 
Four warrior priests serving under Shishio Makoto, who're sent to hire Aoshi Shinomori when he visits the tombs of his fallen comrades, but are eventually provoked by Aoshi and killed.
  • An Axe to Grind: Their weapon of choice.
  • Bald of Evil: All four of them.
  • Berserk Button: As soon as Aoshi disrespects Shishio they suddenly decide that he's worth Hell and prepare to chop him in half.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: They don't last long against Aoshi.
  • Elite Mook: What they are, essentially.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Aoshi literally cut them all up to pieces with his kodachi.
  • Faux Affably Evil: They appear to be friendly at first, but they're really just scumbags.
  • Gonk: All of them, each in a different way.
  • Nun Too Holy: These men embody the concept of the japanese "fallen priest"; despite referring to themselves as "nyuudo", in their first appearence they're shown eating meat and drinking liquor on a burial ground while talking about a woman they had sex with. They're also quick to resort to violence.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: They believe they are Shishio's best fighters. They aren't even close, and their deaths don't even phase him.
  • Undying Loyalty: For Shishio.
  • Warrior Monk: All of them, though not as powerful as Anji.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: They don't last past the chapter they appear in.
  • Wolfpack Boss: Non-videogame example, they all fight together in a technique known as "Four Bodies as One".

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.

  • Adapted Out: Doesn't appear in the live action films. A nameless Mook Lieutenant fills in his role at the village while his murders are implied to be performed by Shishio.
  • An Axe to Grind/Power Fist: His weapons looks like a hybrid of axe and knuckleduster.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Boasts a lot about his skills and the number of people he massacred in the past.
  • Bald of Evil: His baldness really emphasizes his freaky conical head, and that oddity makes him look that much more threatening.
  • 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...
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Thanks to Kenshin willingly using one of his techniques so that Senkaku would be spared, Senkaku is grateful for Kenshin's mercy and is very much at peace. Then he gets killed by Soujirou...
  • Heel Realization: Though a temporary one. In the anime after he is defeated, Kenshin's merciful act to wound him and thus spare him from Shishio's wrath makes him rethink his violent survival of the fittest mentality. Senkaku was never able to comprehend such an act of altruism and upon seeing it his belief in Shishio's vision falters.
  • 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. His greater size places a significantly greater strain on his body than Kenshin's comparatively lighter frame does, so going long enough causes severe injuries.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Averted. They make him heavier, which cause his downfall.
  • Not Worth Killing: How Shishio viewed him after his escape. Senkaku was an unimportant henchmen who didn't know anything valuable, so he was spared any orders to be executed after his escape. Instead Senkaku explaining his Heel Realization to Soujirou gets him killed.
  • 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.
  • Top-Heavy Guy: Leads to his defeat.

A group of five ninja-like warriors from the Bakumatsu period, they tried to kill Battosai Himura hiring Tomoe so that she could become a bait for Kenshin, and were also in cahoots with Iizuka. They were all killed by Kenshin, except for Yatsume Mumyoi. Most of their members have something to do with the Six Comrades in the present, as Tatsumi was Inui's master and Nakajo was Otowa's buddy. For Yatsume Mumyoi, see The Six Comrades.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: The Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy demeanor is dropped entirely in the first OVA for all of them. None of Yaminobu members except for Tatsumi talk, letting their stealth and skill do the talking. As for Tatsumi, he's portrayed as a crafty and disciplined Old Master.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Nakajo has both his arms chopped by Kenshin. Sumita loses his legs instead.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: All of them, most noticeably Tatsumi, member of the Invincible Jusshiki style and Inui's master.
  • An Axe to Grind: Sumita's weapon. His axe is very large and with a long pole, and he uses it to chop up trees and throw the logs at his opponent.
  • Beard of Evil: Tatsumi.
  • Blood Knight/Axe-Crazy: Nakajo. He and Otowa used to make bets to see how many men they could kill in a single night.
  • The Combat Pragmatist: Nakajo is a user of hidden weapons, Sumita uses his axe to lob massive logs from afar and Yatsume is proud of sneak attacks. Tatsumi is also an avid practictioner of this style. To cup it all they challenge Kenshin in their native training ground, the Kekkai Forest, where the sixth sense doesn't work because of the eerie location.
    • Tatsumi to a masterful degree. In most other cases he probably wouldn't stand a chance against Kenshin, but by the point they fought he already had to go through the rest of Tatsumi's men to reach him. Kenshin was so exhausted (and heartbroken, not to mention practically blind, deaf, and unfeeling) that Tatsumi was able to nearly kill Kenshin with just his bare hands.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Murakami, Nakajo and Sumita were hit the worst of these out of the five:
    • Murakami was virtually split in half while lunging at Battosai.
    • Nakajo, in the manga, had his hands chopped off by Kenshin. Then he blows himself up.
    • Sumita had the misfortune of Kenshin slicing both of his feet off in battle. Then he also blows himself up.
  • Dual Wielding: Murakami's Chained Swords, aka two katana connected by their pommels with a very long chain, working as an Epic Flail. He mostly uses the chain and a sinle pinned sword to block the opponent as he attacks with the other blade.
  • Evil Old Folks: Tatsumi is the oldest of the group.
  • Knight Templar: Possibly even more so than The Shinsengumi—at least in the OVA. Tatsumi spells out that they have chosen to brutally suppress and kill any potential threats to the Shogunate, because they believe that the Shogunate is the only government that has provided stability to the country for the past centuries.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Tatsumi manipulated both Tomoe and Enishi into doing his bidding to kill Battousai.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: Murakami, Nakajo and Sumita wear masks that hide the underside of their faces.
  • Oh, Crap!: Nakajo as Kenshin manages to overcome his attack with ease.
  • Posthumous Character: Since they all appear in Kenshin's flashback.
  • Taking You with Me: Nakajo and Sumita, after being mortally wounded by Kenshin, "become Kekkai" by blowing up some explosive barrels that hinders Kenshin's sense of hearing and sight. By the time he's reached Tatsumi, Kenshin's senses of perception, hearing, sight and even touch are severely reduced.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Murakami is the first Yaminobu to appear, and the one who gets less screentime.
  • The Worf Effect: Members of the Yaminobu appear in the Restoration as part of the group Kanryuu hires to try and kill Kenshin. They are all killed by Jin-E and the scene goes to show just how crazy and dangerous Jin-E is.