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Headscratchers: Rurouni Kenshin
  • The first episode of the anime. Kenshin saves Kaoru from thugs that invaded her dojo. He then turns around and says he is leaving, but opts to stay. They have a conversation about how he may peak at her in a bath. Kaoru knocks him out immediately after. What about all the thugs who are in the same room? Are they being good boys while Kenshin is incapatacitated? Why? At least they could escape. At worst, they could take revenge for their defeat.
    • Notice that, Kenshin didn't just "defeated" those thugs. He owned them. As in, send them to the hospital before they could even land a blow. I guess they're too scared of him by now. As for their masterminds, the Hiruma Brothers, they try to take their revenge by hiring Sanosuke later. (in the Manga, there's only one Hiruma, the large one, but the overall plot is the same.)
  • The first fight with Aoshi: It's the first time we see an opponent even stand up to Kenshin, let alone slap him around the way he did. Kenshin only really lands a good blow due to desperation tactics (which took their own toll). But then once that blow was struck, Kenshin owned Aoshi (at least until Aoshi's psycho patron showed up with the Gatling Gun). It was one blow. And not even the type of K.O. shot we saw from Kenshin before then. WTF?
    • Kenshin hit Aoshi right in the throat, twice. That sort of thing takes a toll on the poor guy on the receiving end. And Kenshin wasn't owning Aoshi, he would have been killed by Aoshi's Kaiten Kenbu if he didn't partially block it with his scabbard. Besides, we saw Aoshi easily block all of the attacks that KO'd previous opponents, so there's that too.
      • This may be an instance of misremembering the scene: I clearly remember Kenshin nailing Aoshi with a single gut shot, at which point the tide turned completely. Admitedly, it's been a while.
      • In the manga, at least, it was definitely the throat, twice. After the first hit, Aoshi started using his Kaiten Kenbu. Kenshin grabbed his sword with his bare hands and hit him in the throat with it. Even after that, Aoshi still managed one punch.

  • How come Seijuro never told Kenshin to go work out, since his sword style will kill you if you aren't muscular enough?
    • Kenshin ran away to fight in the war. Its possible that he ran away before reaching the "bulking up" phase of his training, and by the time he returned in the Kyoto arc, Hiko was too pissed at Kenshin and didn't really care enough anymore about his idiot student to warn him.
      • Kenshin left when he was in the middle of his teenage years. From a purely biological perspective, as a teenager the body is still growing and it is incredibly difficult to bulk up when all available nutrition is being used to lengthen limbs and increase brain size and activity. Once the body has settled around the early to mid twenties, then it becomes relatively easy to gain bulk.
      • On the contrary, intense physical activity during the teenage years helps to better 'guide' the body in developing a robust physique. which makes it easier to keep in shape for the rest of your life. Many of the best warriors of old were people who trained from childhood to adulthood, and even today it's noted that teenagers who undergo rigorous physical activity grow a couple inches taller by the time they reach their twenties.
    • That's what I thought. Both Kenshin and Hiko act like he walked out in the middle of his training, but when they resume we find he'd already learnt everything except the final techniques. And even that took only a day. What exactly did he miss out on by quitting his training? Methinks it had something to do with building muscle mass so that he wouldn't end up crippled in his later years. We know from real life examples that even small guys can really pack on the muscle if they train hard enough(check out Bruce Lee).
      • I always got the impression that the crucial part of his training that Kenshin missed out on was developing the depth of insight necessary to be a true swordmaster. A master of Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu should be (judging by Hiko's example) beholden to no one, serving no earthly power. Kenshin, as a teenager, sees the world in a very simple terms: if he kills enough of the right people (or wrong people?) that he can make the world a better place. This is essentially why he runs away and joins the Imperialists in the first place, little suspecting that the main reason Hiko keeps himself apart from the world at large is because the danger of being corrupted, or being used by corrupt men for corrupt ends, is too great when one is aligned with a cause. Better to be a lone warrior righting the wrongs one comes across than to be the unthinking tool of others. Performing the final moves might very well be the sign that one has attained mastery of the fighting style, but it was the deeper lessons that Kenshin failed to learn until much later in his life that cause Hiko to constantly denigrate him.
    • He did try to pass on the weighted robe that marks someone as the successor to Hiten Mitsurugi-ryu, so maybe that's how someone bulks up. Especially since, assuming Kenshin hadn't run off to war, he probably would have become Hiko Seijuro XIV almost a decade before the manga starts, giving him time to gain muscle.
    • That and Hiko's just kind of an asshole, and considering how often he calls Kenshin "my stupid apprentice" it's entirely possible that Kenshin either A.) didn't listen or B.) Hiko didn't think he'd listen. And given Kenshin's frame it's possible he'd reach a point where he couldn't get any more muscle on him.
    • One last thing. It's not the Hiten Mitsurugi that kills him, it's the disease he got from his travels(and even that's only in the OVA). In the manga his body does deteriorate and he can't use the Hiten Mitsurugi anymore but he's still healthy enough to keep using a sword. After giving Yahiko the sakabato he's shown carrying a bokken.
    • In the manga, it's shown that in order to become a master of the Hiten Mitsurugi style, the apprentice has to overcome a technique that specifically makes use of the masters superior height and weight. Once becoming a master, then the bulking up process begins. It would be stupid for Seijuro to allow Kenshin to gain bulk because then Kenshin could surpass the succession technique on his own rather than have to learn the ultimate technique to overcome it.
    • Also, Hiko may not have known about it. Medical knowledge evolves all the time. Perhaps the cape tradition started only so that a practitioner could always stay strong, and nondeterioration was unintended benefit which wasn't discovered until the final master of the art chose not to wear it.
    • It's possible he would be unaware. It was tradition to kill your master once you learned the final technique, which Hiko probably did, so Kenshin was probably one of the first to master the technique and not kill their master. Because every master (who may or may not have been the same size as Hiko) has died after finishing training, then there just might not have been any knowledge of the technique draining strength. If Kenshin's training had gone as was expected, he would have killed Hiko at about age 14-15, Making Hiko about 30. If the strength begins to wane from overuse at around 30, it might be a form of killing off the master before he becomes unable to continue fighting. However, Hiko is such a large man, he can take on the brunt of the technique and never sensed anything wrong. But if he was about Kenshin's size and finished training Kenshin at about the age of 30, when his strength was starting to vanish, Kenshin would have killed him and continued the practice.

  • For all Kenshin preaches about not killing, you'd think someone would stop and call him out on the fact that smacking someone at 200+ miles per hour with a blunt sword is just as likely to kill them as slicing them in two at that same strike with a normal katana (and be a Hell of a lot more painful and slow about it). Are they really that stupid?
    • Which is why Kenshin mostly tries to avoid fights, you know? And, far more importantly, there's both a chance of patching them up and a chance that they won't die. Sure, it's not ideal, but it beats the hell out of cutting their throat or something.
      • I think it was mentioned somewhere in the dialogue that he's always holding back his full strength with the sakabato. At the start of the series he's already been using it for ten years, so he's probably learnt from experience how to control the force of his swings so that he doesn't end up killing or crippling someone. Note that he rarely aims for the head or neck(possibility of lethal fractures) and he also avoids stabbing techniques(the sakabato has a pointed tip).
      • It makes sense, that it does.
      • Except he hits Saito right in the back of the neck during their duel near the beginning of the Kyoto arc, and Saito's only reaction is to basically say, "All right, time for round two."
      • You seem to forget that he was in his 'Battousai' state at the time. Likewise when he slashed Jin'ei across the face. In both cases he was aiming to kill; his opponents survived because he hit them with a blunt edge and they were durable enough to withstand it.
      • And if you have any doubts about his avoidance of stabbing techniques, when he uses the Ryu Tsui Sen he substitutes the final blow by jabbing his opponent's chest with the hilt of his sword rather than the tip. And when he finally uses a tsuki(sword thrust) in the Jinchuu arc he makes sure to aim for his opponent's arm to try and stop him without endangering his life.
      • Also note that blunt trauma being as bad as sword wounds is a modern phenomenon, brought about by good sanitation and the routine use of surgery. In Meji-era Japan, as in other primitive societies, there was a highly developed body of medical knowledge of bonesetting and the treatment of blunt trauma, but not a terrific amount of effective ways to treat lacerations and other open wounds- infection being a constant danger with any open wound, wounds that they had no idea how to close safely.
      • This Troper agrees with the above that stated he likely holds back, as seen when he TAKES OUT A BRIDGE in one swing in the manga.
      • Kenshin made a vow not to kill, he never said anything about not hurting, hell he's gone as far as to effectively crippling his oponents: First that guy who's hand he broke so he could never again wield a sword, also the who had a cannon-hand, and many others I can't remember.
    • Look, it's a shounen action series. All sorts of crazy things happen. Sano takes a dagger to the forehead not long after Kenshin and company meet him, and the only result is that the guy who tried to stab him breaks his finger. This is the kind of show wherein the ability to punch down trees at a single blow just isn't badass enough to really feel included with the main group of heroes. Generally speaking, it seems like the class of fighter Kenshin most often tangles with is the sort of person who has superhuman strength/speed/endurance/etc. similar to Kenshin's own. The context of the show seems to be that if you're in that class of ability, you can just take the blunt edge of a katana to the back of the neck and shrug it off. This is one of many series that essentially feature martial arts (in this case, the art of the sword) as a means to achieving some kind of Charles Atlas Superpower.


  • Is a sakabatou actually a feasible weapon, the way Kenshin uses it? As I understand, the strength of the katana is in it having a hardened cutting edge, while its backside is softer to absorb the shock from the blade striking other hard surfaces. If you turn it around though, you would be hitting your opponent's sword (assuming you are blocked) with the soft side of your own sword. This sounds like a good way to break your weapon. If it's built in the opposite way, i.e. with its soft side sharpened, that side would be dulled pretty soon since Kenshin still uses it a lot for cutting other things.
    • Depends on how it's used. If Kenshin is blocking with the dull part of the blade (I can't for the life of me remember whether he does and I don't have the manga on hand to see) then it should be fine, but it would take a lot of retraining to block with the correct part of the sword - Kenshin would have been trained to block with the dull side of a normal katana, but he probably would have realized the problem and trained himself so he wouldn't break the sword. Also, blocking usually involves the flat of the blade as well so the blade won't break or suffer too much damage.
    • It is possible to employ differential hardening on both sides of the blade in order to reinforce the blunt edge of the sakabatou in the same manner as the cutting edge. The techniques used by Japanese swordsmiths originated from the forging methods for swords like the Chinese jian, which is a double-edged weapon. That said, it would take some serious skill to manage that with a katana and have it come out still shaped like a katana, which is probably why only Arai Shakku was able to actually manage such a creation.


So, in the much-maligned (grr) OVA sequel, Kaoru begs Kenshin to give her his gross skin disease, and he does, through sex. She never got it from him before, so it seems as if the gross skin disease was acquired through, you know, bonking. Which begs the question, how did KENSHIN get it?

  • Tomoe. (Who got it from the first man she loved?) The disease was just, er, in remission for 10 years. And then flared up immediately in Kaoru. Yeah. That makes sense.
  • Say, that's not bad, actually. Although it was hinted that he got it through his "work" with other sick people. Umm. But yeah. Tomoe, that ho. ;)
  • I always thought she never got it from him before because he was always away. If that was the case, I would guess he just used sex to transmit it to be...I dunno, thorough? Like, it wasn't the sex itself that transmitted it, but just close contact with a highly contagious person...or something.
    • Gross skin disease could be leprosy, which indeed would be transmitted through close contact, sexual or not. Sex would almost guarantee transmission, though, because of the full body contact.
  • This troper's friends and him got to the conclusion that Kenshin most likely got it from an infected wound, or from the blood of an enemy. When you're always waist deep in blood, the odds that you're gonna get something nasty are rather good.

—-
  • The whole "reverse blade" trope. Since when does an oval guard have a front or a back?
    • ...What? The sword is curved since it's, you know, a katana. It has a clear front.


What the Hell does "Oro" mean?
  • It's Spanish for gold, but I get the feeling that that's probably not the answer.
  • It's basicaly the Japanese equlivent to "huh"
    • It's one idiosyncratic version of "oh" (others include "ara", as in Kasumi's "ara ara" and Jotaro's "yare yare")


When people are fighting Kenshin to prove their superiority, why doesn't it ever occur to them that they've lost the second Kenshin lands a hit with his sakabatou? When Kenshin struck and knocked down Sanosuke in their first fight, Sano promptly stands up and says something to the effect of "in a swordfight, it is the one who has the most stamina and endurance who will win." No, Sano, no it isn't!!!. The winner is the first person to land a disabling or lethal blow on the other. Even if he did pull it out after that point, the only reason he won would have been because his opponent watered down his own ability by using a blunt-edged blade, not because of anything he did. Jin'ei and Saitou would have had their heads lopped in half. Aoshi, in the second fight, would have lost to a Ryutsuisen long before the Hirameki. Shishio, for all his Social Darwinist ranting, would have been chopped up several times before his combustion.
  • It's all a difference in outlook. Sanosuke has always relied on his toughness to power through attacks that would have ended the fight for normal people. This is what gave him the belief that the man who can power through any attack will always take the day. Lack of experience means he has not learned there are attacks that nobody could just shake off. The others fighters, however, are highly trained with extensive experience with powerful opponents. They learned that it's best to dodge or block in attack, and still be able to take some hits when an enemy gets past your defense. Notice, all the opponents you mentioned were able to take several hits from Kenshin, who uses a style specifically tailored to taking down an enemy with one strike.
    • With one strike using a normal katana. With the sakabatou what would have been a killing blow merely bruises or, at the most, breaks a bone, which is what makes it possible to continue the fight.
  • It's the OP. I had a Fridge Logic moment. Jin'ei just wanted an awesome fight. When he was hit in the face, his thought process wasn't so much "Oh, I guess I'm not truly the greatest" as "Luckily it was a sakabatou, so we get to have more awesome fighting! (evil laugh)" Saito wasn't fighting at his strongest at the point he was struck by Kenshin, so getting hit proved nothing. I think, after getting out of the hole he left in the wall, he says "Now I'm actually gonna kill you." and "Now I'll show you the true form of the Gatotsu." Had he wanted to, Saito could have killed Kenshin before he reverted into Battousai. Shishio probably included (or rationalized) "Strong, then chose to make himself weak" into the definition of "Weak", so that, had he won after being hit, it would have been because he was the strongest. And Aoshi ... beat ... can go die in a fire.
  • Personally, I suppose that the other fighters think that, if Kenshin wants to fight giving himself a handicap, it's not their fault. Or perhaps they just see him as a weak fighter who hasn't killer instincts and so has to use a blunt weapon instead of a true blade; then is absolutely logical that being hit by the sakabatou doesn't mean that he's better. He could have been better, if he was a ruthless killer, but he is not, so let's kick slash some more redhaired butt. No Ho Yay intended.
    • Plus, all those guys are aware that Kenshin uses a blunt sword, and likely factor that in to the way they fight him. If you're Made of Iron the way Shishio is, and you can get up after the hit from the blunt sword, then of course you're going to let him hit you, then cut him while he's open. It's entirely possible that if Kenshin was using a blade we'd see a lot more blocking from his opponents, and he would hit them less often.
      • If I recall correctly, when Kenshin got the first half of his scar people went "holy shit someone managed to actually touch Battousai in a fight", Hitten Mitsurugi is based on one-hit KO's at insane speeds, Kenshin oponent's simply wanted the title of "killer of Battousai" regardless of the huge handicap (actually, I personally believe that they all knew Kenshin was stronger than them but trusted the Sakabatou handicap was enough to make up for the difference in skills).
      • Emphasis on one-hit KO's. The Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryu was designed to be able to fight(and kill) multiple opponents at any given time. To that end just one successful strike with a real sword would be enough to put an opponent out of commission(either by killing them or removing one or more limbs). Note his fights with the Bakufu ninjas in the Remembrance arc: Each and every one of them lost the second Kenshin struck them with his blade, so their main strategy was to gradually disable his five senses so that he ultimately couldn't land a blow on the one leader who's left standing.
    • I mean I understand people as stupid as Sanosuke, battle crazy as Ji'en, Enisi didn't care about any of that other than his death, same as Shishio since he even made him fight opponents before him, and Saito didn't wanted to fight once he accepted Kenshin was never going to try and fight like before again. But what about Aoshi, he was all about beating Kenshin to restore honor to the Oniwabansho, or what about Shishio's partner, the one who went crazy when he died, Kenshin had to use his ultimate technique to make him be defeated with honor but he was beaten before blunt blade and all, and Shishion was hit with every.single.technique.in.a.row. that means that would had been death more than 10 times. I mean it's actually a good thing he's sword is blunt, otherwise he would had killed everyone except Saito in 15 chapters.
    • Maybe, when they talk about how strong a fighter someone is, they're factoring in emotional/psychological strength as well. And if you're a raging Blood Knight, you're likely to consider a refusal to kill people as a psychological weakness. Like how we'd probably consider someone a weak swordfighter if they fainted at the sight of blood, regardless of how awesome their skills are otherwise.


  • Why does Kenshin re-sheath his sword in the middle of fights? I get that battojutsu is his speciality, but friction from the sheath should only slow the sword down. Whatever speed/power he can manage in a quick draw he should be able to get from a regular sword slash.
    • It's explained at least in the manga. The insides of the scabbard push it out giving the swing 2-3 times more speed and power. IIRC, this is an actual technique in kendo.
    • As I understand it, the sheath does provide resistance on drawing it from that angle. Which means that a swordsman pulls on it harder in order to get the sword out faster—until the sword is free of the sheath, but is still being pulled with the higher degree of force. It's kinda like if you're playing tug of war with someone, and then the other person lets go.
    • Which still makes no sense. A katana's sheath is made of two pieces of hollowed-out wood held together by a small coat of rice glue. Doing that either slices the sheath (and by extension Kenshin's hand) in two, or it would severely damage the sword. The sword is never supposed to contact the interior of the sheath.
      • Fridge Brilliance- Kenshin's sword has a reverse blade. The part of the sword that's contacting the inside of the sheath is BLUNT. Alternatively, I seem to recall a point in the manga where he states that his sakabatou's scabbard is made of iron(no pun intended). Although I agree that it wouldn't be very good for the sword in that case.
    • Flick something with your finger, go on, try it. Done? Good. You didn't do it by wiggling your finger, did you? No, you pressed the tip against your thumb. Note the resistance, and the different result not only in the speed of the flick, but the power produced? That's what a drawing cut is like, you add a lot of speed and force to the swing. Slower to begin doesn't mean anything, if you're starting the move sooner. Batou-jutsu is commonly known as Iaido in real life, and is an actual technique.

  • What exactly are the limits of Kenshin's non-killing vow? Not killing in his own fights is an understandable heroic trait, but Kenshin seems to have a habit of interfering in fights as well to prevent people from killing their opponents(the case with Yatsume and Wu Heishin). Against Senkaku, he had no guarantee that Shishio wouldn't kill him, and used his technique anyway. And while he mourned Shishio's death a bit, he didn't really seem to feel that broken from it.
    • Kenshin probably tries to save everyone he thinks he can save. I dont think he considers morality and ability to change in the equation since he saved Senkaku (Shishio's underling) and Wu Heishin but he does tend to believe everyone is innately good. For Shishio, he was bleeding out and near death. Hard to care about the villain when you yourself are also near death.

  • I noticed that Kenshin has a something of a habit of telling his spared opponents "they can challenge him any time", almost like he's asking them to kill him. I initially thought this attributed to his self-sacrificing nature, and that it was portrayed as a bad thing due to the whole "have to will to live for people you care about". Yet he seems to do it with some later(after Kyoto Arc) opponents like Yatsume, and it seemed like he was willing to fight to the death with Saitou until the latter called it off at the end of the series. How does this make sense? In the Aoshi case it's shown to be bad to throw your life away, so why is Kenshin still letting people challenge him like this?
    • Kenshin figures the people who want to fight him will do whatever they have to in order to get him angry enough to fight, including hurting others. He wants to avoid that. And for some of them, I think Kenshin's pretty confident of his skill relative to theirs.

  • After Enishi abducts Kaoru, Iím assuming he takes off her kendo clothes and has them put on the dummy, because Kaoru wakes up in the island in a bathrobe. Funny thing is, in the middle of the dojo battle, Enishi actually makes time to get Kaoruís favorite kimono (the one with the sakura design) and bring it with him to the island. He gives back the kimono to Kaoru later on (neatly wrapped!), and she wears it during the beach battle scene. How thoughtful.

    • (Bit of fridge horror as well. Enishi undressed Kaoru! Or maybe Gein or one of his henchmen did. Still, itís pretty traumatic addition to the whole kidnapping spectacle.)

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