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    Kenshin Himura
Voiced by: Mayo Suzukaze (JP, 1996 TV series), Megumi Ogata (JP, drama CD); Soma Saito (JP, 2023 TV series); Richard Cansino (EN, TV series), J. Shanon Weaver (EN, OVA), Micah Solusod (EN, live-action); Nacho de Porrata (SP, first dub of the TV series, Reflections OVA), Carlos Lladó (SP, second dub of the TV series, Trust & Betrayal OVA, movie), Alexander Páez (LA, TV series), Óscar Flores (LA, OVA), Alejandro Graue (LA, movie)
Child Kenshin: Masami Suzuki (JP); Mona Marshall (EN, TV series), Katherine Catmull (EN, OVA)
Portrayed by: Takeru Satoh (live-action)

"A sword is a weapon, and swordsmanship is learning how to kill. That is the truth. What Mistress Kaoru says is play-talk that only those that have never stained their hands can say. However, this one prefers Mistress Kaoru's play-talk more than the truth. And this one wishes that in the world to come, her play talk shall become the truth."

The titular protagonist of the series. He is a wanderer formerly known as Hitokiri Battousai, a deadly man-slayer who slaughtered many men in the war before the Meiji Era. note 

Kenshin's fighting style is Hiten Mitsurugi-ryu, now an ancient study. With this dangerous sword style, he uses his sakabatou (a sword with a reversed edge) to restrain himself from killing anyone ever again and renounces the title Hitokiri.

His birth name is Shinta, but Hiko changed it to "Kenshin" after adopting him.

Has his own page.

    Kamiya Kaoru
Voiced by: Miki Fujitani (JP, 1996 TV series), Tomo Sakurai (JP, drama CD); Rie Takahashi (JP, 2023 TV Series); Dorothy Elias-Fahn (EN, TV series), Kara Bliss (EN, The Motion Picture), Katherine Catmull (EN, OVA), Amanda Hanawa (EN, New Kyoto arc), Alexis Tipton (EN, live-action); Carmen Ambrós (SP, TV series and OVA), María Rosa Guillén (SP, movie), Vilma Vera (LA, TV Series), Rebeca Gómez (LA, OVA)
Portrayed by: Emi Takei (live-action)

A seventeen-year-old dojo instructor. Kaoru is a teacher of the Kamiya Kasshin-ryu style, a swords style used to protect people, and not harm others. Since her father was killed in the war, responsibility for running the family dojo fell to young Kaoru. After defending Kaoru from the fake Battōsai and his allies, Kenshin is invited to live at the dojo. Kaoru quickly develops a crush on Kenshin, soon falling in love with him, although she tends to violently deny it.

  • Action Girl: Her fight with Kamatari in the Kyoto arc is the only time she gets a proper fight with any of the villains, and she (with a little help from Misao) unleashes a Curb-Stomp Battle on him.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: The Reflections OVA portrays as very mopey compared to how she's usually portrayed in the series. One particularly major change is her anguish over being Kenshin's Second Love. In the manga, while certainly shocked, she's nowhere near as angsty about it with Megumi being rather surprised at her understanding Tomoe's situation pretty well.
  • Adaptational Badass: The live action films added to her skill set by making her capable of using a naginata, and the animated TV series shows her teaching Yahiko unarmed Jujitsu techniques. The TV series also has her fighting in story arcs she originally wasn't part of, such as the Oniwaban arc where she fends off over 20 men along with Yahiko.
  • Age-Gap Romance: There's an 11-year age difference between her (17) and Kenshin (28).
  • Alliterative Name: Kamiya Kaoru.
  • Animal Motifs: The tanuki.
  • Babies Ever After: She and Kenshin have a son named Kenji in the Manga's Distant Finale.
  • Badass Adorable: She's cute as a button and about as skilled as a national kendo champion.
  • Badass Teacher:
    • To Yahiko. Can't Catch Up below notwithstanding, she did take on several Yakuza by herself and could've beaten The Dragon of that clan if he weren't a Combat Pragmatist with a disguised sword. Granted that only happened in the anime, but both the anime and the original manga had her take down one of the ten best warriors of the Meiji era (with help, but still). Plus, while she doesn't have as many victories, there's no doubting her teaching abilities when looking at the progress of her students. Yahiko develops into a warrior capable of taking on foes more than double his age and Yutaro goes from being unable to hold a sword properly to rivaling Yahiko in a matter of days. She even taught a sumo wrestler by figuring out which parts of kendo training were applicable in his case.
    • She's become this full-time in the Hokkaido arc manga, set five years after the end of the manga since the Kamiya dojo has flourished under her care.
  • Bare-Handed Blade Block: Played for laughs when Yahiko gets fed up with her pessimism and takes a swing at her with his wooden sword. She catches it in much the same pose as this trope usually has, and seeing as its made of wood (and swung with the force a child-like Yahiko can muster regardless of skill) this ends up as a more realistic example than most.
  • Bathing Beauty: More so in the anime than in the manga, though it's not done for Fanservice in particular. Nothing pleases Kaoru more than taking a nice bath in the furo after a long day of training at dojo, so Kenshin always makes sure to prepare it for her beforehand.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: The reason Kaoru fell for Kenshin? Because of his constant expressed hope that Kaoru's philosophy of katsujinken would someday become the reality for all Japanese swordsmen.
  • Betty and Veronica: The Betty (nice girl dojo heir) to Megumi's Veronica (broken bird former opium maker).
  • Can't Catch Up: Kaoru would be an impressive fighter if she weren't outclassed by the overpowered freaks of nature that run rampant in this show. Do bear in mind, however, she is still one of the five warriors to hold the honor of having defeated a Juppongata (namely Kamatari the Great-Scythe), one of the Ten Greatest Warriors in Meiji Japan, in personal combat. She did this with a wooden sword; a broken wooden sword, at that. It also doesn't help that her Ultimate Technique is completely useless against Kamatari due to the nature of his weapon. That still doesn't stop her from winning. During the Raijuta arc, she's also shown to be highly respected by other Dojo. Word of God states that she'd be a national level Kendo champion in Real Life.
  • Character Development: Kaoru transforms more over the series than any other character. In the beginning, she is a clingy, snappy, naive, and immature girl with a childish crush on Kenshin; by the end she is far more emotionally mature, being more even-tempered, holding ideals that are grounded in reality (without being cynical) and harboring a sincere love for Kenshin and desire to support him.
  • The Chick: The only girl in the group, serving as the emotional core of the team and the love interest of The Hero.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Played for Laughs whenever Megumi's teasing was directed at Kenshin and it set her off but dropped thanks to Character Development.
  • Color Motifs: All of her kimonos are colored purple.
  • Death Faked for You: Enishi kidnaps Kaoru, replaces her with a doll, and impales the mannequin to a wall with his sword before he leaves it for Kenshin to find, sending Kenshin into a severe Heroic BSoD.
  • Defiant Captive: Refuses to be cowed in the Jinchuu arc even after her faked death and kidnapping by Enishi.
  • Designated Girl Fight: The only time she ever beats a non-mook villain is when she teams up with another girl to fight a crossdresser.
  • First Girl Wins: First girl introduced in the main narrative but second in the timeline; one could say that she was the first in round two.
  • Happily Married: To Kenshin in the Manga's Distant Finale.
  • Heir to the Dojo: Kaoru inherited the Kamiya Dojo from her father Koushijirou, believed to have died in the Satsuma war.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Gender inverted; the black-haired Kaoru falls in love with the redheaded Kenshin.
  • I Will Find You: The Hokkaido arc manga has her taking this decision regarding her Disappeared Dad, since she and Kenshin have found evidence that he's still alive in Hokkaido.
  • The Lady's Favour: Kaoru gives Kenshin her favorite hair ribbon before he sets off to find Jin'e because she's afraid he'll either die or leave and tells him to give it back to her after the fight.
  • Lethal Chef: Whenever she makes riceballs, someone comments they taste like mud. Kenshin is the one wearing the apron in the family, though the end of Ashitaro Zenka Ari implies that she improved with time (at least enough to make riceballs that both Alan and Ashitaro find genuinely good.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Becomes one to Kenshin over the course of the series. Her apparent death sent him into a major Heroic BSoD.
  • Morality Chain: Kaoru's presence during Kenshin's duels with everyone prior to Saitou was what kept him from falling all the way back into the ways of the Hitokiri.
  • Official Couple: With Kenshin.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: She's a very competent kendoka and would be a challenge for any normal person to fight. The problem is that the story is populated by freaks of nature rather than "normal people" - it's not too dissimilar to someone trying to be a Badass Normal in an X-Men comic (which was a major influence on RK). Any time Kaoru gets a chance to square off against comparatively normal humans (with the TV show and LA movies giving her more such moments), she manages to make quite a showing for herself.
  • Plucky Girl: On a good day. In fact, she manages to break through Jin-e's brainwashing (which he says paralyzes her lungs and will eventually make her suffocate) by sheer willpower alone.
  • Replacement Goldfish: She winds up taking this role to Enishi as a stand-in for Tomoe.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: The Energetic Girl (a Tsundere kendo teacher) to Kenshin's Savvy Guy (mellow, Obfuscating Stupidity samurai).
  • Second Love: For Kenshin after he came to terms with accidentally killing his first wife, Tomoe.
  • Shipper on Deck: For Yahiko/Tsubame, as she smugly notes that the former only has eyes for the latter.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Kaoru didn't fall in love with Battousai the Manslayer. She fell in love with Kenshin, a kind and selfless wanderer who helped save her dojo from bandits when he didn't have to.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The only girl in the Kenshin-gumi.
  • Targeted to Hurt the Hero: Stabbed through the heart by Enishi, has an X-shaped scar carved onto her left cheek, and left nailed to the dojo wall in a pool of her own blood. The gruesome display was meant to send Kenshin over the edge with grief, knowing that he failed to save his Second Love. It works really well. She ain't dead after all.
  • Team Mom: By the time when Ashitaro Zenka Ari and Hokkaido arc begin she has become not just a popular kendo teacher and a birth mom, but a Parental Substitute to three teenagers in need: Ashitaro, Alan and Asahi.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: A kendo teacher who has a thing for romances and cute kimono.
  • Tomboyish Ponytail: Sports one since she's a kendo teacher.
  • Tsundere: Her Image Song is even titled, It's Not Like I Like You or Anything. Kind of ironic, considering she's in fact a textbook Type B.
  • Tuckerization: Kaoru shares her given name with Kurosaki Kaoru, the wife of Watsuki Nobuhiro.
  • Twice Shy: With Kenshin — He feels he doesn't deserve and she's too shy.
  • Volleying Insults: With Sanosuke and Yahiko.
  • Wet Blanket Wife: She doesn't become Kenshin's wife until later, but she does spend a lot of time each arc lamenting and lecturing about the problems of violence. Unfortunately for her, violence usually is the only means they have of defeating their opponent.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Believes quite firmly in the Katsujinken, that is, "the sword that gives life". She never loses this ideal, but she does adapt it to be more realistic. Also doubles as a Shown Their Work, in that the philosophy is an actual philosophy of the Real Life Yagyu-Shinkage Ryu sword school.
  • Wooden Katanas Are Even Better: She beats Kamatari and his Sinister Scythe with her broken bokken.
  • The Worf Effect: Her status as Kenshin's Morality Chain undergoes this. We see her snap Kenshin out of his "Battosai" personality, in the fight with Jin-e. During Kenshin's confrontation with Saitou, however, nothing she does gets to him; proof that Kenshin cannot merely suppress his inner demons forever. As a standard example, she's easily subdued at the start of the series by Hiruma Gohei, requiring Kenshin to step in and demonstrate how he outclasses them both.

    Sagara Sanosuke
Voiced by: Yuji Ueda (JP, TV series), Tomokazu Seki (JP, drama CD); Lex Lang (EN, TV series), Gray G. Haddock (EN, OVA), Eric Vale (EN, live-action); Mark Ullod (SP, first dub of the TV series and OVA), Tasio Alonso (SP, second dub of the TV series), unknown (SP, movie), Eleazar Osorio (LA, TV Series), Luis Tenorio (LA, OVA)
Child Sanosuke: Yuriko Fuchizaki (JP, TV series), Hiro Yuki (JP, drama CD); Brianne Siddall (EN)
Portrayed by: Aoki Munetaka (live-action)

A street fighter who befriends Kenshin early in the series. As a youth, Sanosuke ran away from home to join the Sekiho Army, a group of farmers and merchants who fought for the Ishin Shishi during the Meiji Revolution. When the Sekiho was betrayed and executed by the other revolutionaries, Sanosuke escaped and becomes a fighter-for-hire to vent his anger. He is hired to attack Kenshin, a former Ishin Shishi, but when Sanosuke is defeated he becomes Kenshin's best friend and fighting partner. His real name is Higashidani Sanosuke.

  • Above Good and Evil: Claims to be this after the Sekihoutai was branded "evil" by the Meiji Government, and wears the character for "Evil" on his back to show his disregard for such labels. His true nature is that of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • In the manga, he vehemently refuses to rescue Megumi because of her (forced) help in making opium that led to his friend's death and only joins in the rescue when Kenshin chews him out. In the anime adaptation, he goes off on his own to prevent Megumi from taking up Kanryuu's offer to return to him after eavesdropping on them, telling her that what she's doing will not make up for his friend's death.
    • Also his hot temper is mellowed out in comparison in the movies. In the anime, he had a tendency to break objects including random property in the streets when he loses his temper and he's often eager to look for a fight to take his rage out on. Here he rants of yelling in a rather comedic manner.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Sanosuke in the manga is a valuable ally who wins the vast majority of his fights, but in the anime, he's subjected to The Worf Effect by filler villains and constantly has to be saved by Kenshin.
  • Adapted Out: His tragic backstory has only been alluded to in the live-action films, and he doesn't learn the Futae No Kiwami.
  • Alliterative Name: Sagara Sanosuke.
  • Animal Motifs: The rooster, partly due to his hairstyle. Anji and Saitou also both compare him to a fledgling at certain points due to his inexperience as a fighter.
  • Anti-Hero: Not the nicest hero, but still a straightforward person with good intentions.
  • Badass Baritone: He has the deepest voice of the main cast by far, and is a legendary street fighter.
  • Bash Brothers: With Kenshin — they usually fight back-to-back and have a brotherly relationship.
  • Berserk Button: Most prominently is anything regarding the Isshin-Shishi (as he considers them hypocrites) or the Sekihoutai being insulted. Being considered Kenshin's weakness is also one.
  • BFS: Sano wielded a massive zanbato as his trademark weapon when he made his first appearance. Deconstructed (literally) by Kenshin, who notes that the zanbato's size makes it impossible to wield effectively and limits its usage to horizontal and overhead swings.
  • Big Brother Mentor: To Yahiko. Captain Sagara Souzou was one to him; Sanosuke would take his surname out of respect.
  • The Big Guy: Fulfils most aspects, from being the tallest of the gang, his unnatural strength right down to being a Boisterous Bruiser. He even wielded a BFS. It's especially pronounced when Saitou joins the cast as a proper Lancer, allow Sano to be even more The Big Guy in group dynamics rather than wearing both hats.
  • Blood Knight: He finds great enjoyment in fighting strong opponents.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Sanosuke is as quick with insults as he is with his fists.
  • Butt-Monkey: While mostly from Saitou, characters are either not particularly fond of him or have some disparaging comment about his intelligence.
  • Characterization Marches On: Was always rather Hot-Blooded, but originally could be fairly mature and knowledgeable (had the planning to research Kenshin before their first fight, and tended to offer battle commentary). Once characters like Saitou and Aoshi join Kenshin, he comes off as much more meat-headed and reckless in comparison.
  • Charles Atlas Super Power: Even before learning Futae No Kiwami, his monstrous strength and endurance were notable; capable of knocking someone out with two fingers or sending people flying with punches. His introduction includes the training he submitted himself to in order to build this strength.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Sano's zanbatou is broken in his debut battle with Kenshin and is never seen again... until the Jinchuu arc comes around and Sano breaks it out again to knock one of Kujiranami's cannon shells right back at him.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The Futae No Kiwami is Sanosuke's only technique that strikes at a target twice in rapid succession. The man who taught him this technique could use it throughout his entire body, but Sano can only use it with his right hand. Since this is a technique that can shatter rocks, overusing it causes Sano's own hand to shatter instead, and he needs to find a workaround before he becomes permanently crippled.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Mastery of the Two Layers becomes this after overusing it causes Sano to break his hand, and every subsequent usage re-breaks it. It is subverted in that Sano eventually devises an alternate version that uses both hands to reduce the attack's backlash.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: His experiences in the Sekihoutai have hardened him quite a bit, at least compared to Yahiko or Kaoru.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Particularly in the manga. Usually when Saitou isn't around.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: One of two examples in the series.
  • Determinator: Sanosuke is too stubborn to give up in a fight.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: In his interactions with Saitou.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Sanosuke admits that despite his disagreements with various antagonists and rivals (ranging from Saitou, Shishio, to Anji), they were at least people he could respect. Inui Banjin on the other hand, was merely an arrogant Blood Knight.
  • Finishing Move: In the manga it's the Futae no Kiwami (and Sanjou no Kiwami one time). In the films, it's a high angle German suplex.
  • Generation Xerox: Just look at his dad... The biological one, Higashidane Kamishimoemon. Not the adoptive one, Sagara Souzou from the Sekihoutai.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Shishio sees him as this when he comes in to help Kenshin and Saito during the final battle of the third live-action movie and he just keeps getting in the way.
  • Glacier Waif: A relative example - compared to other bruisers in the series, he's nowhere near as muscular or large, but his strength and endurance are still undeniable.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Sano's choice of fighting technique after the zanbatou breaks. Certain really skilled characters can crush him without much problem, but if they aren't at Kenshin's or Saito's level, no amount of martial arts mastery or pressure point knowledge will do anything to put him down.
  • Hot-Blooded: One of the most exuberant members of Kenshin's team.
  • Idiot Hero: Most of the time his priorities lay in fighting or eating, and not much else. However, he occasionally shows fairly sharp insight.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Claims to be Above Good and Evil, and spends most of his time fighting for pay or freeloading, but actually resolves to protect the weak and reserves his hatred for hypocrites.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: He explicitly states in a few instances that he's "not as trusting or nice" as Kenshin and is quite cynical about the Meiji Government, but at heart, he's a friend of the weak.
  • The Lancer: He's Kenshin's main fighting partner and best friend, contrasts him by using his fists instead of swords, and generally has a more hot-blooded disposition to Kenshin.
  • Made of Iron: The first character in the series to take one of Kenshin's attacks and stand up again; this was practically his trademark ability for the entire series. Also a source of several Crowning Moments Of Awesome, usually when a Villain of the Week hits him with their strongest attack only for Sano to nonchalantly brush it off; if they were particularly powerful Villains Of The Week, they might give him a bruise or two before Sano demolished them with Good Old Fisticuffs.
    Sano: "What's this? You thought you could kill things with this?"
  • Megaton Punch: The Futae no Kiwami ("Mastery of the Two Layers") is a rare serious use of this trope, as well as Sano's only named technique and his other trademark ability after he learned it from Anji.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Spends most of his time walking around bare-chested save for his bandages and jacket.
  • New Media Are Evil: In the anime. He's terrified and superstitious of photography, believing the camera steals people's souls. To be fair, it is documented that some Japanese during the late Tokugawa and early Meiji period held these superstitions, even when Japanese photographers were already being trained in the craft.
  • Noble Male, Roguish Male: The reckless, wild Roguish to Kenshin's gentlemanly, polite Noble.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond:
    • Sanosuke is first introduced as one of the strongest fighters in Tokyo. However, even the Hiruma brothers who hire him are aware that he is outclassed by Kenshin who is supposed to be Japan's best swordsman.
    • Saitou spells out this trope for him when they fight; he's a strong fighter relative to the peaceful Meiji era but would be outclassed in a period like the Bakumatsu. The gap in power makes Sano realize that he needs to get stronger.
  • No-Sell: Played for Laughs. Usually, whenever Kaoru (or Yahiko to a lesser extent) get's into some comical anger and physical blows, Sanosuke reacts non-plussed to their hits.
  • No Sense of Direction: Gets lost even when he has a map and compass handy.
  • No Shirt, Long Jacket: His go to look.
  • One-Man Army: Took down 200 thugs in a single night.
  • Oral Fixation: Always seen chewing something (his namesake, Harada Sanosuke of The Shinsengumi, is portrayed the same way in the flashback chapter); usually it's a fish spine.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Suffers this during the Kyoto arc. Although a powerful fighter in his own right, Sanosuke is still quite inexperienced compared Kenshin and Saitou. Although he doesn't quite make up the gap in power or experience, he eventually shows that he's capable of holding his own and that Kenshin doesn't have to worry about him.
  • Psycho Supporter: Despite his loyalty and admiration of Kenshin's beliefs, he doesn't necessarily shy away from killing. When Kenshin fights Aoshi again he notes that with the current state of mind his opponent is in, it's either "kill or be killed" (something he also notes after Saitou manages to draw the old Battousai to the forefront of Kenshin's mind as they fight). Against Shishio, he resolved to take him down himself if Kenshin failed or died. Finally, prior to Kenshin's second fight with Enishi, he admonishes Yahiko for threatening to kill Enishi if he didn't bring out Kaoru since he's supposed to uphold the non-killing values of the Kamiya Kasshin style. Luckily, Sano isn't bound by such values so he offers to tear apart Enishi for him.
  • Razor Wind: Gains one during the Shimabara arc of the anime, performed by swiping very quickly with claw-hand attacks to generate short-ranged gusts of slicing wind. He doesn't use it in subsequent anime-only arcs though.
  • Red Baron: "Zanza", short for "Sanosuke of the Zanbato".
  • The Reliable One: Kenshin considers him as such; may not be the smartest, but is a stalwart ally of Kenshin in terms of strength and loyalty.
  • Right Makes Might: While an explicit philosophy of most of the heroes, Sanosuke uses this trope quite well in his fight against Anji by proving why his way of salvation was wrong. Kenshin even notes that while Anji outclasses Sano in power, Sano's determination made him the winner.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: He's the Manly Man (brash, a Blood Knight, and quite uncouth) to Kenshin's Sensitive Guy (soft-spoken, prefers nonviolence, and is In Touch with His Feminine Side).
  • Shipper on Deck: Before he leaves for good, he jokingly encourages Kenshin and Kaoru to have some kids.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Mostly absent during the tense build-up of the second Live Action movie's middle and only shows up during the final battle. This is made all the more bizarre by virtue of him leaving for Kyoto a little earlier than Kaoru and Yahiko did and he still reenters the story much later than the two of them.
  • Simple-Minded Wisdom: At times. In the 12th episode of season 3 the artist they all meet goes on a long-winded rant about the search for "true art" and how he defines beauty. All the other characters are confused, save Sanosuke who simply, and correctly, guesses he met an attractive woman.
  • Spanner in the Works: During the Kyoto arc, Shishio watches Kenshin, Saitou, and Sano from the deck of his ironclad battleship, the Rengoku (that he had sunk about 3/5ths of his finances into acquiring) and dismisses Sano as a mere tagalong. Sano then does him the favor of throwing a few bombs that his friend Katsu had given him right before leaving Kyoto at the Rengoku, which sinks pretty shortly afterward.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: He has his moments.
  • Taught by Experience: While most of the cast received formal training in powerful sword styles, or simply had natural talent, Sanosuke gained his Charles Atlas Superpower from countless street fights.
  • Time-Passage Beard: When Sano returns in the Hokkaido arc, he comes in with a full beard not unlike Okubo, which made him unrecognizable to Kenshin. Despite the new facial hair, he's still smashing in people's faces with ease, though he shaves it not long after reuniting with Kenshin.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Sano undergoing the Training from Hell to learn his ultimate technique. His mentor even notes Sano's almost overnight maturity.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: He's a tough and persistent fighter, but lacks the skill and experience of Kenshin or Saitou.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Due to his abrasive nature, he tends to have this relationship with most characters, especially Saitou.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Spec-ed up with a sarashi.
  • Walking the Earth: At the end of the series, he is still wandering.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer…: His fighting skills ultimately boil down to tanking hits, and hitting hard. Later, Futae no Kiwami enables him to hit even harder.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Terrified of trains and photographs in the anime. The scene where these fears are revealed and Kaoru fails to dispel them is a Funny Moment. Truth in Television, in that a lot of Japanese were still a bit creeped out of said Western implements after the Bakumatsu, even with Japanese-trained photographers in regards to cameras.
  • The Worf Barrage: Futae No Kiwami is introduced as one of the most destructive techniques in the series. With it, Sanosuke easily demolishes rocks and jail cells. In actual fights, it's used to highlight how durable the opponent is: Anji and Sanosuke himself manage to tank the attacks repeatedly, while Shishio tanks it with ease while Sanosuke breaks his hand.
  • The Worf Effect: Sanosuke was introduced as Kenshin's first challenging opponent due to his impressive durability. Every other opponent before Sanosuke was defeated instantly due to Kenshin's sword style. Thus, various opponents displayed their threat level by first wounding or defeating Sanosuke in a fight to show that only Kenshin can defeat them. This really only happens with Saitou and Shishio in the manga, and even then the latter was a case of Worf Had the Flu as mentioned below; it happens a lot more in anime filler.
  • Worf Had the Flu: His loss to Shishio, while inevitable given that the latter was Made of Iron, makes a lot of sense considering the condition he was in. Nobody's ready to fight a master swordsman after trading hits with someone like Monk Anji, a fact that was actually pointed out by Shishio himself - he kept Monk Anji as the first line specifically because, in his words, nobody could walk away from him unscathed. Given the way Monk Anji fought, it's very likely he would have crippled Kenshin or Saito, who are both more skilled than Sanosuke but can't just stand there and tank hits.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Sanosuke left home after his mother's death, and came back much later. His dad was the only one who recognized him, as his siblings were too young back then. But after dealing a brutal beating to criminals ruling the region where they lived, he decided to leave again forever so they wouldn't be targeted. At the end of the series, this ends up extending to Japan as a whole as one of the criminals he beat up was a high-ranking official, turning him into a wanted man. After saying farewell to the Kenshin-gumi, he leaves Japan by boat and is last seen wandering around China.
  • Younger Than He Looks: He looks to be around Kenshin's age (though admittedly Kenshin looks pretty young) or at least somewhere in his 20s, especially since he's over a head taller than Kenshin. He's actually 19, nearly a decade younger than Kenshin. It's why in the flashbacks Kenshin fought in the war as an adult, whilst Sano was a fairly young child.

    Myojin Yahiko
Voiced by: Mina Tominaga (JP, TV series), Minami Takayama (JP, drama CD); Wendee Lee (EN), Derek Wade (EN, OVA and The Motion Picture), Blake Shepard (EN, New Kyoto arc), Alison Viktorin (EN, live-action), Casey Mongillo (EN, The Final); David García González (SP, first dub of the TV series), Ariadna Jiménez (SP, second dub of the TV series), Ana Orra (SP, OVA, child), Eduardo Díez (SP, OVA, adult), Carmen Calvell (SP, movie), Carlos Alberto Ramírez (LA, TV Series), Víctor Ugarte (LA, OVA)
Portrayed by: Taketo Tanaka (2012 film), Kaito Ōyagi (Kyoto Inferno & The Legend Ends), Riku Ōnishi (The Final)

A young boy at ten years old and the son of a samurai. When he was younger, both of his parents died, and he was taken in by the Yakuza, who forced him to live as a pickpocket. Once he meets up with Kenshin and Kaoru, he decides to stand up to the Yakuza, and escapes with Kenshin's help. He joins Kaoru's dojo to become a stronger swordsman, becoming the first graduate of Kamiya Kasshin-ryū. Over the course of the series, he becomes a strong warrior.

  • Adaptational Nice Guy: His pick-pocketing Street Urchin backstory is Adapted Out in the live-action films. Instead, he immediately starts off as Kaoru's student.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: In the anime, he seems slightly more interested in girls than in the manga. In episode 12 the manner in which he meets Tsubame is different; she helps tie his broken sandal and he seems smitten at first sight with her and even gives her flowers in episode 66, but in the manga he initially had no interest in her, having simply seen her as a coworker at the Akabeko where he was working temporarily to earn money to buy a sakabato. He also developed a crush on a girl named Marimo in episode 17.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Unlike the manga, he never gets to challenge, much less defeat any of the skilled swordsmen throughout the film franchise.
  • Adorably Precocious Child: He fits this trope excellently, insisting that he is the descendant of a proud samurai lineage and berating anyone who comments on his age.
  • Always Second Best: Yahiko notes that even five years after retiring from swordsmanship and his own skills increasing exponentially, he barely manages to tie with Kenshin whose health was rapidly deteriorating from overuse of the Hiten Mitsurugi-ryu. Nevertheless, this earns him Kenshin's respect and his sakabatou.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Acts as a surrogate one to Team Kenshin, especially Kaoru.
  • The Apprentice: To Kaoru, and later Kenshin. He does progress, although rather slowly over the course of the many volumes of the manga and accompanying TV series. At the beginning of the series, Yahiko is most useful to the heroes as a thrown weapon (it happens). At the end of the series he has become a master swordsman in his own right.
  • The Atoner: After giving up his thieving ways, Yahiko would later on want to put his previous life behind him.
  • Author Avatar: Apparently based on Watsuki's own bratty boyhood self in the Junior High Kendo Team. Watsuki considers himself most like Yahiko in his admiration of Kenshin.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: With his keen eye and talent for swordsmanship, Yahiko becomes able to deconstruct the basics of certain attacks and twist them to suit his own style without compromising their efficiency, even managing to mimic certain moves of the Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū without instruction and master the Hadome and Hawatari techniques of Kamiya Kasshin-ryū to the extent that they become his own personal signature.
  • Babies Ever After: He and Tsubame will eventually have a son as confirmed by Word of God.
  • Badass Adorable: He's a cute 10-year-old who idolizes Kenshin. At the same time, Yahiko's swordsmanship skills continue to advance.
  • Badass in Distress: His combat against Kujiranami during the Jinchuu arc. Yahiko ends up biting waaaaaaay more than he can chew, not that that stops him from trying even in the face of certain death, and ends up being saved by Kenshin.
  • Bare-Handed Blade Block: His specialty. At the end of the manga, he becomes known as "The Man Who Caught A Thousand Blades" - bare-handed nothing, he demonstrates by catching a blade with his knuckles!
  • Battle Aura: Briefly unlocks it towards the end of the manga, shown by a falling leaf crumpling next to his head as he gets ready for battle.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Disrespecting his deceased parents, and especially his mother, will earn the offender a kick to the groin.
    • It's best to not add the suffix "-chan" to his name. In general, any insinuation at him being Just a Kid will earn his rage.
    • According to Hokkaido arc, any dude who flirts with Tsubame should do so at his own risk.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Becomes this for Kenji.
  • The Big Guy: He may be tiny, but he can take one hell of a beating.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: At first, he was a mouthy, immature brat. However, he was aware of his bratty nature and wanted to mature into a proper hero.
  • Brutal Honesty: As a teenager, he doesn't shy from pointing out the fact that if the students of a dojo he was visiting were better, they wouldn't have been taken hostage. He subsequently puts them through Training from Hell to remedy this, as non-stop screams were heard for the entire month he was there. Not even Kenshin and Kaoru are immune as he scolds both of them for their lack of financial responsibility in the Hokkaido arc.
  • Can't Catch Up: Experiences this in the last arc of the manga, as he becomes more frustrated at his inability to keep up with Kenshin or Sanosuke.
  • Character Development: As Yahiko becomes a master swordsman, he also grows into a level-headed, contemplative, and caring young man.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Yahiko and Tsubame meet when they're 11 (both anime and manga), are more or less dating at age 15 (as seen in the new Hokkaido arc), and will eventually marry and have a kid.
  • Child Prodigy: Despite the Can't Catch Up trope above, it's frequently mentioned throughout the series that he is extremely advanced in swordsmanship for someone his age. Keep in mind, he's a 10-year old trying to keep pace with adults who have experienced war. By the Epilogue, at age 15 he's already considered a Master Swordsman.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: By the time the Hokkaido arc hits, his 15-16 year old self does NOT take it well when someone flirts with his girlfriend Tsubame. Alan learns it painfully.
  • Cute Bruiser: Yahiko is a cute 10-year-old boy...who happens to be a prodigy in swordsmanship.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Yahiko's father died in the war and before his mother's death, she forced herself into prostitution to support her son. Afterward, he was taken by a group of thugs who would force him to steal for them, and beat him if he didn't make enough.
  • Demoted to Extra: He is relegated as Kaoru's Kid Sidekick in the live-action films.
  • Determinator: Remains standing against vastly superior opponents and even after suffering severe injuries, all through willpower alone.
  • Face of a Thug: When he gets older, he becomes a Perpetual Frowner and that, in combination with his reputation scares people shitless before he even begins to fight.
  • Hero-Worshipper: He admires Kenshin's strength, and later on, learns to admire his strength in character.
  • Hidden Depths: Despite his rude countenance and admittedly limited intelligence, Yahiko is quite astute, being able to see inconsistencies and incongruities in the words and actions of other people and point them out bluntly. He is also a prodigal swordsman once properly trained and is able to pick apart and adapt techniques by sight alone.
  • Hot-Blooded: The other more exuberant member of Kenshin's team, aside from Sanosuke.
  • I Got Bigger: At 15, Yahiko has grown noticeably taller with a longer, more mature face.
  • Jack of All Stats: He can't match up to Kenshin, Sanosuke, Saitou, or Kaoru as a child, but he learns from all four and has a pretty well-rounded fighting style. Evolves to The Ace as an adult, utilizing Kenshin's attitude, taking Kaoru's sword style to a new level, and keeping just a hint of Sanosuke in his personality.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: As much of a brat as he is early on, he's perceptive enough to tell that two of Kaoru's former students have alcohol on their breath, and thus they'd drunkenly picked a fight with some thugs.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Yahiko is a mouthy brat with a noble heart.
  • Kid Samurai: Declares himself to be "son of a Tokyo samurai" in his earliest introduction.
  • Morality Chain: He briefly functioned as this during Kenshin's Curb-Stomp Battle with Raijuta — he told Raijuta that the fact that he was still alive (ie; Raijuta hadn't killed Yahiko) was the only thing stopping Kenshin from murdering the man.
  • Not so Above It All: According to the anime OVA Requiem to the Isshin Patriots, his father fought for the losing side of the Shogunate, and was a part of the Shogitai, an elite unit handpicked personally by the Shogunate. When he befriends a fellow samurai orphan whose father was also in the Shogitai, Musashino, he immediately finds camaraderie and solace to the point that he visits Musashino and stays at the home of new Kenshingumi group friend Shigure Takimi out in Yokohama for extended periods just to practice and train with him. Eventually, this friendship and union leads him into going into nightly meetings of theirs regarding restoring the Shogunate again to power, and Yahiko follows through, even hoping to join them on their undivulged excursion of the assassination of a British prime minister to mark their rise to power. Though he is luckily knocked out by Shigure because of how young he is and out of what horrors of war will do to the boy, though Ashitaro Hasegawa was the apprentice of Shishio Makoto, Yahiko was about to jump off the slippery slope headfirst nosediving into antagonism. It's only through being witness to the aftermath of the failed coup de tate that he gets a taste of what Kenshin and Sanosuke went through during the Bakumatsu's worst wars, and he eventually comes to find Musashino's body as a shocking heartbreaking deterrent of how War Is Hell and how the worst aspects of his pride as a samurai child nearly lead him to a worse place than pickpocketing.
  • Official Couple: The Hokkaido arc pretty much confirms that he's going out with Tsubame.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Kaoru notes that Yahiko is already quite strong for his age: at the same age, Kenshin wouldn't have started his training, while Sanosuke would've just left the Sekiho Army. However, it's not good enough for Yahiko who feels like he's trailing behind Kenshin and Sanosuke.
  • Percussive Pickpocket: Tries to do this to Kenshin, but gets caught. However, this skill does help the team later on.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Yahiko's an extremely straight example, taking on minibosses regularly after the Kyoto arc, especially after he learns the Kamiya Kasshin-Ryu Succession Techniques.
  • Reformed Criminal: He gave up his thieving ways to practice swordsmanship.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Kaoru smugly notes in the series epilogue that he only has eyes for Tsubame.
  • Son of a Whore: His Missing Mom was a sickly prostitute, widowed in the war. It should be noted that, unlike many examples of the trope, Yahiko actually cherishes his mom's memory and even takes pride on her doing what she could to raise him, seeing it as a noble sacrifice and using that to his favor when a bad guy tries giving him a Breaking Speech.
  • Street Urchin: Following the death of his parents, he grew up on the streets and was forced into a gang to become their pickpocket.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Throughout the Kyoto and Jinchuu arcs, and especially at the end of the manga. In as little as six months' time, Yahiko advances from a novice to a level his astonished sensei equates with being "the strongest child swordsman in Japan". By the age of fifteen, Yahiko has become a national champion level swordsman feared and revered in Tokyo as "The Catcher of a Thousand Blades" and at that time he is a master of the Kamiya Kasshin-ryū.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Learning from Kenshin, Yahiko was able to develop into this. He's small and physically weaker than most of his opponents but makes up for it by keenly analyzing until he discovers a weakness.
  • Wooden Katanas Are Even Better: He beats several rivals armed with real katanas and even explosives just with his shinai.

    Shinomori Aoshi
Voiced by: Yoshito Yasuhara (JP); Terrence Stone (EN, TV series), John Gremillion (EN, New Kyoto arc), Alex Organ (EN, live-action; original trilogy), Alan Lee (EN, The Final)
Portrayed by: Yusuke Iseya (live-action)

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.

  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: In the live action films, he is grieving his fallen comrades for a decade instead of half or roughly a year.
  • Adaptational Villainy: He is much more menacing, cutthroat and unstable in the live action films, desperately wanting to fight Kenshin. Even after his Heel–Face Turn, he is portrayed as a standard rival with a strong The Only One Allowed to Defeat You mentality contrasting his Friendly Rivalry/Worthy Opponent one in the manga/anime.
  • Adaptational Wimp: His climactic fight with Kenshin was a brutal one with Kenshin himself being worn down by Aoshi's all out attack. In the Shin Kyoto Hen OVA, Aoshi fights a gravely wounded Kenshin (who has a sword sticking out of his shoulder) in a quick fight wherein Kenshin knocks him out with his sheath.
  • Aloof Big Brother: To Misao.
  • Always Someone Better: Although the rivalry doesn't get personal until later, he sees Kenshin as this: He believes Kenshin will allow him to prove the superiority of the Oniwabanshu during the Bakumatsu.
  • The Atoner
  • BFS: Averted when he returns in the Kyoto Arc. His sheathe actually has two openings and his second kodachi has no guard with the hilt resembling the end of a sheath. When it and his first kodachi (which has a normal guard and hilt) are sheathed, it gives the illusion that he's carrying a long tachi blade. This ends up tricking Abukuma's Four Priests, who pay for their mistake with their lives.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Wears one on top of his long coat in the epilogue. Man got style.
  • Badass Longcoat: One of the iconic badass long coats 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. Word of God says he creates his own martial arts style.
  • 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 died 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.
  • Composite Character/Decomposite Character: In the live action films, he has traits fused with Han'nya and Gein (who wears his manga outfit) while also appearing as a separate character (wearing his anime outfit).
  • Death Seeker: He becomes much more obsessed with defeating Kenshin after Kanryuu kills his men and is willing to throw his life away for it
  • Deceptive Disciple: To Okina.
  • Doppelgänger Spin: His Ryusui no Ugoki, which involves alternating his speed to make illusions of himself appear to psych out his opponent.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Though it takes a second fight to do the trick.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: After his defeat at the hands of Kenshin in the Kyoto arc, Aoshi starts becoming a little more sociable and friendly, even if he doesn't visibly show it often.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: To Kanryu. This leads to some friction between them.
  • Dual Wielding: When he starts wielding two kodachi.
  • Expy: Based on Hijikata Toshizo in design.
  • 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.
  • Foil: 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.
  • Heroic BSoD: Suffers this when he witnesses his men being gunned down right in front of him, courtesy of Kanryuu.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: With Misao. She comes up to his waist.
  • Kill It with Fire: How he killed Gein during the Jinchuu arc: by burning him and his diamond-laced puppet strings while hiding in the buried carrier that housed Kaoru's fake corpse.
  • 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?
  • Ninja: Best shown during the Jinchuu arc, where he notices Gein's expertise on puppetry as a form of kagemusha, or a body double, then builds an intricate trap to interrogate about Kaoru's whereabouts and kill the poor old man.
  • 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.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: The stoic Savvy Guy to Misao's genki Energetic Girl.
  • Sixth Ranger: To two different teams.
  • Sixth Ranger Traitor: Aoshi eventually betrays his Five-Man Band.
  • Skyward Scream: Though it may be silent, Aoshi does this after Kanryuu guns down his men.
  • Shout-Out: His coat is based on the one worn by Remy Le Beau/Gambit.
  • The Stoic
  • Sword and Fist: A master of both martial arts and swordsmanship, and he will use both in a fight to destroy an opponent.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome
  • The Men First: The reason he ends up as a bodyguard for a drug dealer. While he had numerous more honorable job offerings after the war, they were for him alone, and he felt that he could not in good conscience accept a position for himself until all his men were settled. Unfortunately, four of his soldiers were unemployable for various reasons, and Kanryu was the only one willing to hire them in order to get Aoshi.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: His Onmyo Hasshi involves him throwing both kodachi in a straight line towards the opponent. The trick is that one of the kodachi is thrown directly behind the other (specificaly, the kodachi with the guard in front to cover the guardless kodachi) so that his opponent is vulnerable should he parry the attack.
  • Tranquil Fury: When he gets angry enough, his blades express what his face doesn't.
  • Worthy Opponent: To Kenshin.

    Takani Megumi
Voiced by: Mika Doi (JP, TV series); Mari Devon (EN, TV series), Rebecca Robinson (EN, OVA), Trina Nishimura (EN, live-action), Mayte Supervía (SP, Reflections OVA), Nancy Cortés (LA, TV series)
Portrayed by: Yu Aoi (live-action)

A woman from Aizu, the daughter of a famous doctor who died in the war. She was left all alone and started working in Tokyo, but her boss was killed by an industrialist; Megumi was then kidnapped and forced to make opium for him. With Kenshin and Sanosuke's support and encouragement, she becomes a doctor to atone for her past misdeeds.

  • Adaptational Badass: While she has her moments in the manga, for the most part Megumi is a Combat Medic who barely appears for much of the story. In the anime, in addition to being put into harm's way more frequently, she is also far more physically involved, using her wits to take out mooks in violent situation.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The anime practically has her in almost every episode including arcs she never participated. The films too extend her role enough that she's a major part of the cast.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Imposing, dark-haired with pale skin. In her initial appearances, she is very distant.
  • Animal Motifs: The fox.
  • The Atoner: Is haunted by her past as Kanryuu Takeda's assistant.
  • Badass Bookworm: Megumi is a skilled doctor.
  • Betty and Veronica: The Veronica (broken bird former opium maker) to Kaoru's Betty (nice girl dojo heir) though Kenshin never really expresses any genuine interest in Megumi and she eventually concedes that Kaoru and Kenshin are a more suitable couple.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Shades of it with Sanosuke. Emphasis on the belligerent. While they constantly bicker and argue, Megumi is often the one looking after Sano when he gets (frequently)injured. While she is a doctor, she takes it more personal rather than a cold clinical "Stitches are done. See you later." She's also constantly getting pissed that he keeps getting injured and telling him not to overdo it. However, in spite of his rough exterior and brashness, Megumi genuinely cares for Sanosuke as a straightforward, honorable, and decent guy. Conversely, Sano ends up caring a good deal about Megumi. He often asks how she's feeling if it's clear that she's not OK. Tries to make her feel better about "losing" to Kaoru is Kenishin's love and seems the most comfortable and at ease around Megumi.
  • Blatant Lies: After Kanryuu threatens her into returning to him, she leaves behind a letter claiming that Kanryuu gave up and she went home to Aizu. Kenshin, realizing that there is no one left for Megumi to go home to in Aizu, doesn't believe her for a minute.
  • Broken Bird: Her first appearance. Megumi was forced to work for Kanryuu and it got so horrible that she often attempted suicide.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: At first, she was willing to get in between Kaoru and Kenshin, but after learning the Kenshin was only romantically interested in Kaoru, she respectfully backed off. She even gave advice to Kaoru on her relationship with Kenshin.
  • Dr. Jerk: Has a tendency to be blunt or sarcastic, not helped by her traumatic backstory.
  • Driven to Suicide: Twice, one time implied and the other interrupted. The first one happened in past: She has the typical wrist-cutting vertical scars and mentions having tried to kill herself (likely a Bath Suicide). The second attempt comes in when Megumi's re-captured by Kanryuu and believes that Kenshin and his friends have died fighting Aoshi and his group; she tries to cut her own throat, but Sanosuke arrives in time to stop her.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Has romantic affections for Kenshin.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Megumi truly fell in love with Kenshin, but realized that his love for her only went to family/friendship levels and that he was falling in love with Kaoru.
  • Hospital Hottie: Medically-trained and acknowledged to be good-looking by the other characters.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Megumi realizes soon enough that Kenshin chose Kaoru over her. As a result of her strong feelings, Megumi tells Kaoru to ensure that Kenshin doesn't overexert himself because all the injuries he accumulated and will accumulate will add up and take their toll on his body, leading to premature death.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Can be quite condescending, especially towards Kaoru, especially in regards to Kenshin. But, she later proves to full of wisdom and will do anything for her friends and patients.
  • Last of Her Kind: The last survivor of her clan.
  • Master Poisoner: In her Dark and Troubled Past.
  • The Medic: The only member of Kenshin's team without any fighting ability, her main role is to keep the rest of them patched up between fights. Especially Sanosuke, the resident punching bag.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Her reaction, upon discovering that the opium she produced wasn't being used for medicinal purposes.
  • Noblewoman's Laugh: Often seen delivering one, befitting her previous status as a member of a prestigious family.
  • Out of Focus: With the onset of the Kyoto Arc she falls into this, being the one main character who stays back in Tokyo while everyone else goes to Kyoto. Megumi gets the least screen time of all the main characters, and in the anime her role in the story as one of the group is taken over by Misao.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: In the manga her relationship with Sanosuke was a purely Platonic friendship. The TV series shows Sanosuke giving her gestures of affection and while her primary man of interest is Kenshin, she is fully aware of Sano's attraction and appreciates it even if she doesn't give it back directly. Once she confirms Kenshin's true one is Kaoru, she begins to show affection towards Sanosuke especially in the filler Tales of the Meiji Arc. Even while admitting Megumi was a beauty, Sanosuke never showed the level of attraction towards her as he did in the anime and was too busy with his own personal business to attempt to get with her in a few social activities as the anime filler did.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Has both, and is considered attractive in accordance with the standards of Japanese beauty at the time.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Megumi took an instant liking to Kenshin. The source of her affection is revealed when she says that it was Kenshin's life-affirming words that led her to become a doctor to atone for the lives she took as an opium producer.
  • Team Mom: Plays one to the rest of Kenshin's party most of the time, especially when Yahiko, Kaoru and/or Sanosuke are being particularly rambunctious or quarrelsome.

    Saito Hajime (aka Fujita Goro)
Voiced by: Hirotaka Suzuoki (JP, most media), Ken Narita (JP, New Kyoto arc); Kirk Thornton (EN, TV series), Ken Webster (EN, The Motion Picture and OVA), John Swasey (EN, New Kyoto arc), Robert McCollum (EN, live-action)
Portrayed by: Yosuke Eguchi (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 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 a police officer (sort of) he works to bring down criminals like Shishio, but he has a very cold and ruthless manner of doing so.
  • 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. He can have very weird imaginations of people, such as when he asked who Misao was, Saito thinks about Kaoru associated with a tanuki, Megumi associated with a vixen, so by that logic, he associates Misao with a weasel.
  • 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 Sanosuke 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. Of course, as Kenshin himself stated, if defeating Saitou was only about defeating his signature move, their duel would have ended long ago...
  • 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 he 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.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Saito May technically be one of the good guys, but Kenshin and his friends don’t like associating with him.
    Kenshin: Meaning he’s not exactly someone we’d be friends with.
    Yahiko: Well duh!
    Sanosuke: You said it...
    Kaoru: I hates him!
    Saito: (at a restaurant and suddenly sneezed four times in a row)
  • 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, Takagi 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 a historical fact.
    • Which makes it funnier when you realize that the historical Saitou got married two times (while both had some political and familial reasons behind them, sources, especially from the Fujita family records themselves, showed that Saitou loved both women but only got separated from his first because of the political tumult surrounding her family).
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Saito is so abrasive you can tell he goes out of his way to piss people off. He's a loner by nature and his strict code means that he isn't good at making friends. He is, however, Happily Married, has acted altruistically when he had no reason to do so (like taking in Eiji when Shishio's people killed his family) and has been considerate of the feelings of others in his own way. It may just be that for all he's been through and will probably continue to go through, it's just easier to put up a wall and keep people away rather than make personal connections and leave himself vulnerable.
  • 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.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Saito’s preferred way of slaying his enemies with his Gatotsu technique, a super-powered charging stab.
  • 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.
    "You can tame a dog with food. You can tame a man with money. But nothing can ever tame the Wolf of Mibu."
  • 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.
  • Jerkass: The guy goes out of his way to piss people off and even takes the time to figure out most irritating way to insult people.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: It's in there but you have to dig way, way, way down in order to find it what with Saito's outlook, attitude, personal issues, and unwavering sense of honor and duty.
  • 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. Later in the Hokkaido Arc, he's forced to use his opponent's hook sword after his katana is shattered. Despite being able to successfully perform the Gatotsu with it, shattering his opponent's swords and dealing a debilitating blow, he laments that it was not enough kill his target due to the weighted hooked tip of the sword throwing off his balance.
  • Knight of Cerebus: An Anti-Heroic example. His introduction serves as the beginning of when the series shed its action-comedy tone from the Tokyo Arc and entered the Darker and Edgier Kyoto Arc where things became more serialized and the stakes became much higher. Threat-level-wise, he's also this. While Jin-e and Aoshi were tough opponents for Kenshin in the past, Jin-e went down quickly the minute Kenshin entered Battousai mode and even though Aoshi was powerful in his own right, Kenshin didn't even need to enter Battousai mode and eventually defeated him after seeing through his techniques. Saitou, on the other hand, was beating Kenshin in his normal state and even after Kenshin becomes Battousai again, Saitou can still fight on par with him and doesn't go down easy at all. While the battle ending inconclusively, it's presented as one of the few moments Kenshin could potentially have been defeated, even in his Battousai state.
  • The Lancer: Being one of Kenshin's main rivals, he serves in 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, is the merciless execution of those who are evil. It translates to "kill evil instantly".
  • 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 because he is a much colder and pragmatic indvidual.
  • 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.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Saito isn't exactly a pleasant person to be around, but he is technically one of the good guys due to his position as a policeman, though others don't really like associating with him, especially Sanosuke. Kaoru even lampshades this.
    Saito: Don't expect me to help if something goes wrong.
    Kaoru: Of course not. You're half Kenshin's enemy, after all.
    Saito: More than half. Get it right.
  • 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. As a side note and a bit of Irony, his historical self was trained in two different styles, consisting of Itto Ryu and Mugai Ryu.
  • Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: His Fujita Goro persona is humble and nonthreatening, complete with a 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.
  • Wrecked Weapon: For all of Saito's claims of the katana being better and more durable than other swords, his blades end up broken far more often than any of the other swordsman in the series, especially in the Hokkaido Arc where it gets shattered twice.
  • 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 down 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.

    Makimachi Misao
Voiced by: Tomo Sakurai (JP); Philece Sampler (EN, TV series), Meg Bauman (EN, New Kyoto arc), Brittney Karbowski (EN, live-action)
Portrayed by: Tao Tsuchiya (live-action)

A kunoichi who was raised by the Oniwabanshū. She appears in the story after Kenshin leaves Kaoru and his friends and goes to Kyoto alone. She goes on to play a major role in that arc, comes along again for the Jinchuu arc in the manga, and also comes along for the various other adventures in the TV series.

  • Action Girl: A bit like Kaoru, she tries her best but she's a competent-at-best ninja who is being thrown up against absurdly overpowered freaks. She does manage to make some good showings for herself in each arc she appears in, though. And as noted below, she's much more obviously an Action Girl in the live-action films.
  • A-Cup Angst: She's not all that happy about her lack of curves.
  • Adaptational Badass: While her action scenes are few and far between in the manga and anime, she manages to take down dozens of Shishio's men during the second live-action film. In The Final, she defeats one of the Six Comrades (Mumyoi), and even executes her own version of Kaiten Kenbu Rokuren.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Like Kenshin and Kaoru, Aoshi is 10 years apart from her (he's 26, she's 16).
  • Alliterative Name: Misao Makimachi.
  • Animal Motifs: The weasel. (She is not amused by this association.)
  • Berserk Button:
    • Do not mistake her for a little girl.
    • Do not call her "weasel girl".
  • Beta Couple: While Aoshi isn't completely comfortable with the idea, in general, their relationship provides a nice contrast to Kenshin and Kaoru's relationship in the sense that Misao is far more capable of expressing her feelings.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: The moment when she witnesses Aoshi almost murdering Okina in the Shin Kyoto Hen OVA leaves her splattered with the latter's blood. Much creepiness and sadness ensues.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: She has an exuberant personality and is a top-notch fighter to boot.
  • Bokukko: She always uses "boku" when referring to herself because she is a tomboyish girl.
  • Breakout Character: Really, you could make an argument for her being included on the main cast page; while she only really joins the cast during the second major arc of the story, she's a major character in Kyoto, and due to her popularity at the time found her way into the Jinchuu arc and also came along for several of the TV-exclusive adventures.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Watsuki confirmed that she and Aoshi are Happily Married in the epilogue.
  • Establishing Character Moment: She is introduced defeating four bandits and stealing their goods.
  • Genki Girl: Sure she's a bit of a Tsundere but often enough she's just excited and spends most of her time with a pleasant upbeat attitude.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: She goes from calm to extremely angry at even the slightest provocation, but this is typically Played for Laughs.
  • Kawaiiko: Not that she's proud of it. The epilogue chapter has her crying for barely growing at all; she arguably looks younger.
  • Large Ham: She can be very loud and theatrical.
  • Ninja: She's a younger member of the Oniwabanshū who specializes in intelligence gathering.
  • Older Than She Looks: "LITTLE GIRL!! I'm a beautiful sixteen-year-old maiden, thank you very much!!" Doesn't help that, in the Epilogue, which is a 5-year later Time Skip, she looks exactly the same at 21, to the point that a 15-year old Yahiko even looks older than her.
  • Plucky Girl: She isn't immune to becoming distraught, especially after Okina is critically injured, but she keeps her head held high for most of the Shishio conflict and even briefly assumes leadership of the Oniwabanshū.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: The genki Energetic Girl to Aoshi's stoic Savvy Guy.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Wears a Western dress once in the anime. Sano doesn't recognize her.
  • Shorttank: A tomboyish Genki Girl who argues with Kenshin (and most other male characters, actually) and whose preferred fighting clothes are shorts and a sleeveless shirt. Even her "civilian" clothes involve shorts.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Heavily implied toward Aoshi. She's loved him (one way or another) since her early childhood and is still very focused on him even in the manga's final arc. Of the series's four female major characters, Misao alone never expresses interest in Kenshin (though she admits that Enishi is "finer of face than she expected" in the Jinchuu arc). In the epilogue, they get married.
  • Tsundere: Type A. She's brash, impetuous, and has a temper, but once she's on your side, she'll do everything to keep your spirits up, even to a preciously annoying extent. Her dere side seems mostly reserved for her Aoshi-sama.