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Swordsmen is a Highlander/Rurouni Kenshin Crossover fan-fic saga written by author L. Mouse. First written in 2006, it consists of four stories, three of which are completed and one ongoing.

The saga begins when Duncan McLeod and Richie chase after a car thief who's swiped Duncan's Thunderbird motorcar. They manage to catch up to the thief, but he gives Duncan a swift Curb-Stomp Battle and flees. Luckily, despite the thief having delivered a sword-blow to Duncan's neck, Duncan is still very much alive...and then his attacker shows up at his garage a week later to return the car.

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It turns out that the thief is Kenshin Himura, now an Immortal after having been awakened during the Meiji period, and he had stolen the car in order to chase after Heather Sagara, a descendant of his old friend Sanosuke, who had run away from home sometime prior. He eventually accepts the offer of help from Duncan and Richie to find the girl...but that sets off a chain of events in which the convoluted back-story behind Kenshin's current mission to see to the welfare of his Meiji-era friends' descendants comes to the fore, and the ramifications of his refusal to play The Game due to his oath never to take a life come to confront him.

Swordsmen, the first story in the saga, is followed by two sequels. The first sequel, Walk Not Alone, has the group hunting an evil Immortal named Marshall, who has had a profound impact on the pasts of both Kenshin and one of his former friends, and who has kidnapped Soujiro's adopted daughter Carrie. The second sequel, A Rurouni Goes to College, has Kenshin going to college so he can keep an eye on the now 20-year-old Carrie at Soujiro's request.

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There is also a prequel, A Life Lived, which focuses on Kenshin's first awakening as an Immortal during the Meiji era and how the rest of the Kenshin cast reacts to it.

Not related in any way to the film Swordsmen.

(Note: At this time, the trope-list for "A Life Lived" is incomplete.)

    Swordsmen and its sequels 
  • Abusive Parents:
    • Akane/Heather's parents, of the neglect and verbal variety. By her recollection, her mother spent more time drunk than not, and her father couldn't speak a word to her without being overly critical.
    • Morgan's parents also qualify. Her father outright hates her, as the only reason he married her mother was because her mother was pregnant with her. In addition to which, both of them verbally abuse her, with her mother having outright called her a slut on one occasion. Her mother also forced her to get an abortion the first time she got pregnant, with the alternative being that she'd be thrown out on the street if she didn't comply.
  • Action Girl: Carrie, and it helps that Soujiro's her father and trainer. There's also Chiyoko, Kenshin's longtime acquaintance and fellow Immortal, and of course there's Amanda from the main Highlander series.
  • Action Survivor: Atsuko, a photojournalist by profession, has learned enough necessary skills to be able to take care of herself. In fact, during her very first assignment as a war correspondent, she'd been taken captive by enemy forces, necessitating Kenshin to save her; however, she wound up saving him despite having taken a bayonet to the leg, by grabbing a soldier's shotgun and killing three combatants.
  • Adorkable: Sandy Thomas, Kenshin's dorm roommate in College. He's there for the school's medical program, and he stumbles all over himself when meeting Carrie in that story's first chapter.
  • Affably Evil: Soujiro.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Morgan expresses non-verbal interest in Danny, who's quite muscular, sports tattoos and gives off a rough vibe. Kenshin's quite cautious about this when he sees it, not because Danny's a bad character per se—Danny's more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold—but because he suspects Morgan is much too sexually-minded for her own good.
  • Armoured Closet Gay: Shannon.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: Happens in College moments after Kenshin's group has been run off the road by a bullying SUV driver.
    Kenshin: Everyone okay?
    Shannon: F*cking stupid question.
  • The Atoner: Kenshin, natch. However, Duncan believe that while it's an honest reason for Kenshin not to actively participate in The Game, it's not a realistic reason to abstain from taking heads, something that's vital for an Immortal's survival.
  • Attempted Rape: Marshall tried this with Kenshin way back in his early life as an Immortal.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Kenshin, as in canon, relies on reading his opponent's moves to counter them. However, that gets tested and critiqued against Duncan's Combat Pragmatist style during a spar.
  • Bad Liar: George, by Kenshin's mental analysis. Kenshin notes that it's just a matter of knowing what questions to ask to pry secrets out of the old man.
  • Badass Normal: Atsuko can easily hold her own in a fight. It helps that she's one of Sanosuke's descendants.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Kenshin himself proves to be one for Methos, whose family Kenshin killed back when he was Hitokiri Battousai.
    • Carrie really does not like being teased about sex or sexual situations. When she was in high school, her response to such provocation was to beat up the kids responsible, which unfortunately got her arrested several times. Her volatile reaction is due to being kidnapped by Marshall when she was younger.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Kenshin, full-stop, as the situation under Bring My Brown Pants illustrates.
    Soujiro: Anyone ever tell you that you're one scary bastard, Kenshin?
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Most of Sanosuke's descendants fall into this category; Akane and her parents are only the latest generation of screwed-up, given their bad dynamics with each other. Morgan Trevor's family is even worse, given that her parents hate each other (they only got married because her mother was pregnant with her), her father hates her, and her uncle Toby is a money-grubbing opportunist.
  • Big "WHAT?!": In College, this is Shannon's response to seeing Carrie's Immortal status coming into effect after her first death from their having been run off the road and over a ravine moments earlier.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: In Swordsmen, the gun-toting junkie Shark is reduced to pissing himself when Kenshin, who he'd only recently shot and left for dead, shows up in front of him with angry amber eyes for Shark's abuse of Kenshin's adopted niece Heather. In College, Michael likewise pisses himself when Chiyoko threatens him at sword-point after he and his friends run Kenshin and company off the road.
  • Broken Bird: Poor Morgan. She's a young teenager who's witnessed a murder and is being sought by assassins because of it, her parents practically hate her, she's pregnant with her dead boyfriend's child, she'd previously been pregnant and was forced by her mother to have an abortion...little wonder she's got such an acidic personality when we first meet her.
  • Calling the Old Man Out:
    • Kenshin pulls this on Toshio near the end of Swordsmen, over the other man's treatment of his daughter Heather.
    Kenshin: Take note that she is your daughter and she loathes you. What kind of father are you if your daughter cannot even stand to speak to you on the phone? You love her, yet you do not show it. With your harsh and cruel words you have made her hate the thought of even talking to you. Think about that!
    Nicky: You! It's always about you. I don't even like to talk to you, because you only want to talk about what you're doing. You are always trying to be the center of attention! You're not happy unless you're getting something from someone. I hate you. You never give back!
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Kenshin can't last long after drinking two imported beers over the course of an hour and a half. That doesn't sound like a lot, but keep in mind that Kenshin is a short man when compared to Duncan or Richie.
  • Cassandra Truth: Yukio, as a prisoner of the British and being tortured by them, recognized George as his nephew and tried to inform him. George, believing him to be a delusional traitor, rejected the claim. Only afterward did George realize it wasn't a lie.
  • Chekhov's Gun: During the first few chapters of College, it's established that Kenshin needs help with his written assignments because his grasp of English grammar is poor. It comes back to aid him near the end of the story, as a close examination of the e-mail he supposedly sent to Carrie to break up with her is too grammatically correct for him to have written it—it was actually done by Morgan out of spite toward Kenshin's relationship with Carrie.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Duncan, by his own admission. Kenshin likewise acknowledges that he and Richie are the same way.
    Kenshin: Why do you help people?
    Duncan: Because I'm not evil. Because I couldn't live with myself if I didn't help.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: During the Bakumatsu, as revenge for Kenshin killing his stepsons, Methos—known at that time as Adam Pierson—tortured Kenshin's commanding officer to make him give up Kenshin's location. The torture was so terrible that Kenshin was forced to perform a Mercy Kill on his commander, to spare him further agony.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Duncan uses a few dirty tricks during a spar with Kenshin, including throwing dirt into his opponent's eyes, while mentally noting that he normally doesn't need to use dirty tricks because he's skilled enough not to require them, but also noting that anyone who fights a Master Swordsman like Kenshin will HAVE to use these.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: Kenshin quotes this trope while arguing with Soujiro about the need for Immortals to use their powers in a manner that will be for the good of others. However, Soujiro's not acceding to that line of thought.
    Soujiro: You're holding yourself to a standard far higher than you would for anyone else in the whole world!
  • Cool Old Folks: Ikuko Yushida, one of Misao's descendants, has her ancestor's perky attitude despite being in her 80s. George Trevor, Kenji's grandson, is also one of the adopted family members Kenshin actually enjoys hanging out with.
  • Covered in Scars: Kenshin, due to his experiences as a hitokiri and all the battles he'd been in prior to his awakening. In particular, he still carries the marks from where Shishio bit him on the shoulder during their fight.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The very first fight of the very first chapter of Swordsmen has Kenshin deliver one of these to Duncan, ending their brief skirmish by flipping behind Duncan and whacking him into a dumpster with his sakabatou. Not too surprising, given that Kenshin was the infamous Hitokiri Battousai at one time.
  • Daddy's Girl: Carrie, for Soujiro.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Carrie. She'd escaped from a group home at the age of four, rummaging through garbage just to survive...and, as it turned out, she'd escaped from a situation where the children were beaten, underfed and dirty, and the "foster parents" both had criminal records.
  • Dark Is Evil: Marshall is shown wearing black from head to foot when he first appears in person.
  • Death Glare: Kenshin is capable of giving a very scary one.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: According to Connor, Kenshin has developed a reputation for pulling this with a number of formerly evil Immortals, resulting in many a Heel–Face Turn over the decades.
    Connor: I swear to God, Mac, there's at least a couple formerly evil Immortals who've taken up the priesthood because of that guy.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Implied with Troy Dall in College, as he makes a veiled threat to do this during his torture session on Kenshin.
    Kenshin: F*ck you.
    Dall: Oh, we'll get to that eventually. It's actually a rather inefficient method for breaking someone, but it is entertaining.
  • Deuteragonist: Carrie gets as much focus and development during College as does Kenshin, not least because she's coming to terms with the events of her kidnapping by Marshall in the previous story and because this is where she becomes a full-blown Immortal.
  • Dirty Old Man: Kenshin sees himself as this for having noticed Carrie's, ahem, development.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Heather, who is Japanese by birth and was originally named Akane, dislikes being addressed by her actual name due to friction with her father. She'd actually gone as far as to change her name the moment she came to the United States specifically because of said friction.
  • Does Not Like Men: Carrie says as much to Kenshin in College, and she gets visibly upset whenever her roommate Margaret tries to set her up on dates. By her recollection, on one occasion when she did agree to a date, the guy didn't back down when she refused a kiss, and she had a massive Freak Out! as a result. The fact that she was set up to be groomed by the pedophile Marshall years earlier may have quite a bit to do with it.
    Carrie: Men scare me, Kenshin.
  • Dope Slap: When Sandy's brother Brandon persists in flirting with Kenshin, despite well understanding that Kenshin is straight, this is Sandy's response to Brandon.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Averted, as Kenshin lets Carrie know in no uncertain terms that he won't tolerate her hitting him whenever she's angry. Heather would often get verbally abusive with Soujiro when drunk or high, but he wasn't about to take it and walked out on her. This event forced her to get clean and sober.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Chiyoko has NO respect for traffic regulations.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Carrie does this near the end of College after Morgan tricks her into thinking Kenshin has broken up with her.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Kenshin, so very much. Richie actually initially mistakes him for a woman during their first meeting.
  • Electric Torture: Troy Dall utilizes this on Kenshin to get the location of Morgan Trevor on behalf of his employers.
  • Erotic Eating: Amanda can do things with a grape that immediately get Duncan's imagination working...
  • Escalating War: Kenshin recalls how Yahiko and Misao wound up in an ever-increasing prank war with each other as they'd grown older.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Kenshin, likely due to his being such a pretty-looking guy.
  • Evil Uncle: To say that Morgan's uncle Toby is not a pleasant man would be a gross understatement.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Duncan's reaction on realizing Kenshin is the Hitokiri Battousai.
    Duncan: I thought the Battousai would be taller.
  • Fantastic Racism: Yukio had been badly treated in America, which caused him to become resentful and suspicious of Westerners. It didn't help that this happened around the time of World War II.
  • Fatal Flaw: By Kenshin's recollection, his son Yukio's flaw was pride, nationalistic pride to be exact. Yukio sided with Japan during World War II, and it was his stubbornness that led to the argument between him and Kenshin which led to him leaving home.
  • Forced Kiss: Two examples, referenced during a conversation between Kenshin and Carrie.
    • Carrie lost her first kiss to a Jerkass who teased her about her inhibitions concerning sex, then pretended to be sorry, and then planted one on her when she foolishly accepted the apology. Her response was to break his nose.
    • Kenshin got forcibly kissed by a man while he was in France and both of them were drunk. Kenshin's reaction was much the same as Carrie's, above, and by his admission, he's still persona non grata in France after being deported because of it.
  • Freak Out!: Kenshin has an EPIC one in College when Carrie tries to force herself onto him. He comes this close to committing a beheading as a result.
  • Freudian Excuse: Morgan's extremely selfish and anti-social behavior, including angrily lashing out at others and extreme defiance against authority, comes largely from her own poor relationship with her parents. Among other things, her father belittles her and her mother once called her a slut and forced her to have an abortion.
  • Friend to All Children: Kenshin is like this, of course. It helps that many of his children's descendants are young enough that he can babysit them as needed.
  • Friendly Enemy: Kenshin and Soujiro have this vibe with each other. One minute Soujiro's declaring that he's going to take Duncan's head, with objections from Kenshin being the result; the next, they're walking side by side along a sunny street and commenting on a street-side busker's musical talent.
  • Fridge Logic: In-universe example, when Atsuko briefly wonders why Kenshin bothers to keep the sharp side of his sakabatou sharpened. This after Duncan, using the sakabatou in an attempt to behead Soujiro, forgets which side is the sharp side and, in swinging it back, accidentally catches Heather with the sharp end when she's running up to stop the fight.
  • Generation Xerox: Heather Sagara is as rebellious as her multiple-times-great-grandfather Sanosuke.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: While attending college, Carrie has a stuffed puppy-dog plushie sitting on her bed which she hugs when sleeping at night; it's a source of embarrassment for her to even think of Kenshin finding out that latter detail. She later gets a stuffed dragon as a gift from Kenshin.
  • Good Bad Girl: Deconstructed with Heather; she's had a loooooong string of boyfriends who've been of questionable character, but that's treated as a symptom of how damaged she is from her bad relationship with her family.
  • Hates Being Touched: Kenshin isn't too keen on physical interaction that comes uninvited.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: How Kenshin first met Duncan and Richie—he stole Duncan's car right out of the garage.
  • Heroic BSoD:
  • Hopeless with Tech: Soujiro has trouble retrieving a voice-mail from his cell-phone.
  • I Will Find You: During their years of married life, even though Kaoru insisted that Kenshin should seek out a fellow Immortal to share his life with, Kenshin declared that, no matter how long it would take after her inevitable death, he would scour the globe to find her reincarnation and be with her again. Both eventually get their wishes fulfilled through Carrie, the Immortal modern incarnation of Kaoru.
  • It's All About Me: Morgan, to the extent that she's even willing to give up her child for adoption purely because having to care for the baby would rob her of doing the things she wants to do.
    Kenshin: The thing is, she's not thinking of the baby's interests. She's thinking of hers.
  • It's Personal: Kenshin and Methos have no love lost between them, and them just seeing each other results in them dropping their usual MO's for The Game and attacking each other. Kenshin killed Methos's stepsons; Methos in turn tortured Kenshin's commanding officer, forcing Kenshin to perform a Mercy Kill on the man.
  • Jerkass:
    • Toshio. Quoth Kenshin: "He gives orders expecting them to be followed and rages when they are not. He does not realize the resentment that he has created, this he certainly does not."
    • Michael, a minor character in College, and Brandon's former roommate, harrasses and outright assaults Brandon for being gay. It culminates in him and his buddies running Kenshin and company off the road and into a ravine.
  • Jerk Jock: Shannon.
  • Just Friends: Kenshin insists this about himself and Carrie in College. Sandy isn't convinced.
    Sandy: That's what they all say. Right before falling passionately in love.
  • Knife Nut: Kenshin carries a fairly impressive collection of knives for self-defense, but as noted by Duncan, they're not of much use in an actual life-or-death fight.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Carrie considers Sandy to be like the little brother she never had.
  • Little Miss Badass: Chiyoko.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Apparently, nobody in Heather's family who knew about Kenshin being an Immortal ever bothered to tell her, hence her Freak Out! after Kenshin gets shot by her junkie boyfriend.
  • Love Epiphany: In Swordsmen, while lecturing Soujiro on what it really means to love and trust people, Kenshin comes a startling revelation about himself: he's truly in love with Atsuko.
  • The Mafia: The people who want Morgan dead, evidently. As it turns out, she was babysitting the grandson of a Mafia don, and she'd witnessed the man's son being murdered by a rival Mafia leader, which is why they want to kill her before she can testify at the impending trial. She was also sleeping with both the murdered son and the rival.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Mafia Don Garret, having a Big Fancy House in London, and the house itself being stylishly decorated.
  • May–December Romance: Kenshin's marriage with Kaoru turned into this in more ways than one—while she physically aged, he did not, which over time gave the impression to those who didn't know them that he was young enough to be her grandson. He eventually marries Atsuko, who appears older than him at her 60 years of age, but technically he's WAY older at a century-plus despite looking younger. After Atsuko's death, Kenshin proposes to Carrie, who is 20 to his 100-plus.
  • Meaningful Name: Bowie, Shark's brother, so-named because he carries two large bowie knives for melee combat.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Tammy the waitress assumes Duncan and Richie might be an item. Poor Kenshin also gets this from Shannon and Margaret during his respective first meetings with them in College.
  • Moment Killer: Kenshin is having a tender heart-to-heart moment with Carrie, admitting that he has feelings for her but isn't sure how to act on them, and then they have an Almost Kiss moment...aaaaaaand then Chiyoko shows up to inform Kenshin that somebody's knifed one of the tires on his truck.
  • Mouthy Kid: Carrie, during Walk Not Alone.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Morgan's ex Reynold killed her current number Jeffery so that he could get the chance to marry Morgan and potentially get hold of the trust fund her unborn child stood to inherit.
  • Mutilation Interrogation: Troy Dall specializes in this.
  • My Greatest Failure: The incident that caused George to abandon speaking Japanese. It took place during World War II and involved the torture of a man by the British, back when George was working for them as a translator; the man had been suspected of being a traitor because, despite being Japanese, he spoke flawless English, but had been captured near Japanese-occupied Indian territory. The man in question was his uncle Yukio, and the last thing George had said to him, in Japanese, was that he did not have an uncle who was a traitor, despite Yukio's frantic pleas about his identity.
  • Near-Death Experience: Each time he (temporarily) dies, Kenshin finds himself somewhere bordering life and death, where he gets to talk with various loved ones from his previous years, most often Kaoru. He sometimes deliberately triggers this by committing suicide, most particularly during a stressful period in Walk Not Alone. During her first Immortal-triggering death, Carrie gets to talk to Hiko this way, and it's during that conversation that she learns she's basically Kaoru's modern incarnation.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: The last conversation Kenshin had had with his youngest adopted son, Yukio, was in the form of an argument during which Yukio heatedly said he'd never speak to Kenshin again. Yukio left the family shortly afterward and never returned. In the present day, Kenshin bitterly regrets it.
  • Offing the Offspring: Don Garret was perfectly willing to murder his son Jeffery's pregnant girlfriend in order to gain access to the trust fund his son left behind; with Jeffery dead, if he had no heirs to whom the money would go, the fund would then pass to Don Garret himself. Kenshin is absolutely disgusted that the man would willingly kill his own grandchild over money.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Duncan and Chiyoko both share a moment in Chapter 7 of Walk Not Alone when they realize what will happen if Kenshin, who's fighting Marshall at that moment, puts aside his no-kill oath and claims Marshall's Quickening. Because of the level of evil in Marshall, it's going to be a Dark Quickening, which, combined with Kenshin's already-considerable level of skill, will make him unstoppable but will also make him a monster.
    • Kenshin, Richie and George all share a moment in Chapter 29 of College when Morgan's uncle Toby, who's in the know about Kenshin's Immortal status, spitefully reveals the secret to Morgan's father Sebastian, who previously was not—an act Kenshin had made Toby promise never to commit some years before.
  • Older Than They Look: Kenshin, not unlike his canon counterpart in the main Kenshin universe; here, it's as a result of him being awakened as an Immortal at a young age, resulting in him eventually being Really 700 Years Old while being able to pass for 19 in College. On a more realistic level, Atsuko is 45 years old, but the first time he sees her Duncan mistakes her for being 20.
  • Out of Character Is Serious Business: Methos is not known for actively seeking out, much less challenging, other Immortals on his own initiative, preferring to stay as much out of The Game unless he's directly sought out; due to that, Duncan takes notice when Methos, on meeting Kenshin, declares in no uncertain terms and with absolute malice that he's going to kill the redhead. It's because Kenshin killed Methos's two stepsons during the Meiji revolution, back when Kenshin was Hitokiri Battousai and Methos was posing as Western diplomat Dr. Adam Pierson.
    • Kenshin is so well noted for his Thou Shalt Not Kill stance that, any time he expresses regret at not having killed someone or actually makes an attempt to kill someone, it REALLY stands out. Case in point, he comes this close to taking Methos's head when they meet in Walk Not Alone, and admits he was sorely tempted to make an exception to his vow in relation to Marshall, a depraved pedophile Immortal who pulled nasty stunts with Kenshin's only Immortal student, who was 14 at the time.
  • Out, Damned Spot!: Kenshin, while in the shower not long after taking Marshall's head.
  • Overprotective Dad: Following the incident with Marshall, Soujiro has become this for Carrie, much to her irritation.
  • Pædo Hunt: The search for Marshall, the Big Bad of Walk Not Alone, becomes this when it's established that he has a pattern of seeking out young pre-Immortal girls, killing them, waiting for them to have their awakening, and then molesting them for years afterward in their now-permanently young states.
  • Papa Wolf: Kenshin, for the children of his friends' descendants. Soujiro, for his adopted daughter Carrie.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Kenshin, in contrast to the much taller Duncan.
  • Precision F-Strike: All over the place. For just one example, here's a reaction from Duncan when Kenshin emphatically says he will not break his no-kill vow:
    Duncan: You're a f*cking fool, Kenshin.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Kenshin employs this with Toshio near the end of Swordsmen, during an argument over Heather.
    Kenshin: Toshio, I. Am. Not. Your. Dog!
  • Rape as Backstory: Kenshin himself suffered this when he was a child. He still has nightmares about it, and it's the reason he Hates Being Touched.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Par for the course with Immortals, but Duncan is surprised to learn that Kenshin, who looks like he's in his 20s, was born in the 1840s.
  • Reincarnation: Comes up for discussion in the narration from time to time, with regard to Kenshin's friends from the Meiji era. At times Kenshin suspects that Sanosuke's been reincarnated as Richie, given that the two share similar mannerisms; the story indicates often that, yes, this is indeed the case. There's also a hint that Richie's friend Danny might be a reincarnation of Yahiko and also that Tammy the waitress is an incarnation of Tomoe; and it's certain that Carrie is Kaoru's reincarnation. In College, Kenshin is certain that Carrie's friend Margaret Yazzi is the reincarnation of Megumi, and acquaintance Brandon is determined to be that of Victorian-era associate Byron, who like his modern counterpart was gay. Kenshin also recognizes Brandon's brother Sandy as the modern version of Kenji.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Inverted with Kenshin and his canonical son Kenji, in this universe. According to the author, since Immortals can't reproduce, he made Kenji into a child Kenshin and Kaoru adopted.
  • Rescue Romance: Soujiro's relationship with Heather starts after he rescues her from an attempted murder-by-drowning courtesy of Shark's brother.
  • The Resenter: Morgan becomes steadily more jealous of Carrie over the course of College, mainly because she sees Carrie as having what she herself doesn't. Specifically, Carrie has Kenshin, while Morgan witnessed her own boyfriend being murdered by her ex and now feels she'll never have anyone meant just for her ever again.
  • Ret Irony: Atsuko dies in a plane crash the day after she resigns from her war-correspondence job.
  • Secretly Wealthy: Kenshin's amassed quite a sizeable fortune over the past few centuries, which he keeps under the management of an accountant, but he tries not to let it be known that he has any such wealth or how he's amassed it.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: In College, George calls on Kenshin to assist a grand-niece, Morgan, who witnessed a murder and is to testify in six months' time; the perpetrator, who has threatened to have her killed before then, is rich enough to employ this trope both to accomplish the threat and to stall the case via his lawyers.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Tammy was a young cancer patient when Kenshin first met her in Swordsmen; come 13 years later in Walk Not Alone, she's a beautiful young woman working in a coffee shop. Then there's Carrie, having grown from a pre-teen to a fully-figured 20-year-old by the time of College.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: George Trevor, Kenshin's great-grandson by his adopted son Kenji, was hired as a translator during World War II for his ability to speak Japanese. He would later come back from the war unwilling to even speak the language, even managing to forget how to speak it.
  • Shipper on Deck: Kenshin eagerly encourages a relationship between Richie and the waitress Tammy.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: Chiyoko, a century-old Immortal with the appearance of a young teenage girl, does not waste any time when she engages in Challenges, resulting in her fights becoming this. Given she was Kenshin's student, it's no surprise.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: A rather sad example in Morgan. She was attracted to Jeffery, not for his money or his brains (plenty of the former but not much of the latter due to being developmentally challenged), but because he was, in her words, "kind and gentle and fun to be around." What makes it so sad is that Jeffery was 25 and Morgan was at least a decade younger than that.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot:
    • Carrie was Little Miss Swears-a-Lot when Soujiro adopted her, and up to the time of Walk Not Alone it's still an issue. Given the background she was coming from, though, it's fairly understandable.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: With regard to The Game, Kenshin's very idealistic in his stance that there need not be any killing; other Immortals, like Duncan, are much more cynical that Taking A Third Option exists for them.
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: Kenshin thinks this might be the case with Shannon.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Richie, who was killed by Duncan in a moment of Murder by Mistake in canon.
  • Spock Speak: Kenshin, by virtue of English not being his first language.
  • Straight Gay: Brandon, Sandy's brother.
  • Super Speed: Soujiro, of course, like his canon counterpart. It's part of the reason he's managed to take as many heads as he has in his (relatively) short time as an Immortal.
  • Supreme Chef: Kenshin's picked up quite a few techniques in cooking over the years.
  • The Tease: Atsuko. Amanda too. And Margaret. Brandon is a male example, but it causes him problems since he's gay and it makes others uncomfortable.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Kenshin, as always, although since becoming an Immortal he's amended his no-kill vow to include "not permanently" when it comes to other Immortals. The fact that he still holds to this principle earns him some criticism from the more hardened and jaded Duncan.
  • Torture Technician: Troy Dall, the Immortal hired to retrieve Morgan in College.
    Dall: I've had five hundred years to perfect the art of making people talk.
  • Training from Hell: As we all know from the canon Kenshin series, Hiko subjected Kenshin to quite a bit of this. In College, Kenshin recalls specifically how Hiko taught him to fight by throwing him into a waterfall, and how he often got knocked out from vicious falls, got his elbows and knees scraped and bruises, and had to train using actual katanas.
    Kenshin: These days, Hiko would be arrested for child abuse.
    • Carrie got sword training from her adopted father Soujiro, and has scars on her back from those sessions. When he first sees the scars, Kenshin mentally notes that he probably wouldn't have trained her any differently, considering she's a pre-Immortal and needs the skills to stay alive.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: In College, Kenshin emphatically does not want to wind up doing this.
    I've never tackled a global problem. Don't want to start. I'm not Superman.
  • Walking the Earth: Kenshin does this during Walk Not Alone to deal with a number of issues, chief among them the effect Marshall's Dark Quickening has been having on him.
  • War Is Hell: Kenshin, himself a veteran, knows this all too well, and mentally notes it while George talks about how he himself lied about his age (he was 15) to enlist in World War II.
    In a war, adulthood comes early and hard.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Toshio, Heather's father, is overly critical despite his daughter's desperation for even a word of approval from him.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • In Chapter 19 of Swordsman, Kenshin reads Duncan the riot act for acting without having all the facts when he assumed that Soujiro was intending to rape Heather at the pier, when in fact he was struggling to stop the stoned Heather from falling off the pier. Duncan's rash actions following that assumption led to him accidentally wounding Heather with the sharp end of Kenshin's sword right when he was about to kill Soujiro.
    • In Chapter 19 of College, Kenshin gives a harsh and merciless lecture to Carrie because she tried to force herself on him, which dredged up some very bad memories and almost caused him to behead her on instinct. He caps it off with one word, "trust," basically telling her she's violated his by what she did.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Discussed on a few occasions. Kenshin sums up the problem he has with immortality in Chapter 2 of Swordsmen.
    Kenshin: One of the dangers of being as old as I am is that one has time to accumulate many sad memories.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Marshall, and in the vilest way possible too.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Part of the reason Heather gets committed to the psych ward of the hospital in Swordsmen is because she keeps insisting that her junkie boyfriend Shark shot and killed Kenshin. True, Kenshin was shot, but (1) he's Immortal, (2) the blood was cleaned up shortly afterward and there was no evidence of a shooting, which is why the police didn't believe Heather.
  • Your Cheating Heart: The reason Chiyoko wants to kill Marshall is because, during one of their on-again periods, he cheated on her with a 17-year-old girl. The girl herself was cheating on Marshall, which he found out pretty quickly when she got pregnant, since Immortals can't have children, and he killed her for it.

    The A Life Lived Prequel 
  • All Gays Are Pedophiles: Basil clearly has this view regrding his cousin Byron, as he accuses Byron (who had his first sexual experience with another boy at age 15) of having unwholesome intentions toward a young stable-boy because Byron was reportedly watching the boy for several minutes longer than he should have. Byron himself is horrified at the very idea, though, since the stable-boy in question was clearly underage.
    Byron: He's just a little boy, why would anyone find a little boy like that...you disgust me more than 'I'' disgust me, Basil!
  • Blade Catch: Kenshin attempts this during his first encounter with an Immortal who's come for his head, since he's unarmed. Unfortunately for him, the attacker's sword-strike is far too fast for Kenshin's attempted blade-grab.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Kenshin is initially afflicted by this when he's trying to propose to Kaoru, after she tells him she's getting tired of waiting for him. Unfortunately, his initial hesitant response of "Then don't..." while intended to mean that she won't have to wait because he's going to propose to her there and then, is instead interpreted by her to mean that she should go find someone else. Kenshin subsequently kicks himself and has to work hard to explain himself.
  • Dead Man Writing: Sanosuke leaves a letter for Kenshin with a set of last requests to fulfill in Chapter 36, after succumbing to injuries sustained while protecting the Kamiya dojo from would-be assassins.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: While on board a ship where some of the passengers are suffering the effects of cholera, Kenshin recalls how, when he was a child, his mother died in his arms as a result of the same disease.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Byron Trevor has a withered leg and walks with a cane because of it, but he still will not tolerate people showing him any pity for it.
  • Groin Attack: Kenshin slams his sakabatou in between the legs of a racist cop who had earlier sought to assault Kaoru, while rescuing his son Yukio from being killed by the cop and his partner. It's not the only example of this trope in the prequel, but it is the most karmic.
  • Happily Adopted: Kenji, who isn't Kenshin's and Kaoru's biological child in this universe, is adopted by them after his birth parents both die from disease. A year later, he has adapted rather quickly to having the two of them as his new parents.
  • Handicapped Badass: Byron might have a withered leg, but give him a sufficiently strong leg-brace, add in the swordsmanship training that Kenshin's son Kenji and Yahiko's son Shinya give him, and he becomes capable enough to hold his own in a fight with a bunch of street toughs.
  • Lethal Chef: The passage of time has not improved Kaoru's cooking skills. In fact, all of her adopted children panic if they hear that it's her turn to cook that day.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Kenshin, natch. However, he himself notes that having long hair would be a major disadvantage in battle if an opponent managed to grab hold of his hair, thus making it easier to restrain him; and with his looks, he's had too many proposal for liaisons from both genders.
  • Mood Whiplash: Chapter 19 opens with one of these. Kaoru hears Kenshin talking in his sleep, and she recounts that on past occasions she's held humorous conversations with him while he's been in this state, one of the more recent ones being a time when he dreamed that Saito was doing laundry (and then Kenshin had to do the laundry a second time because it smelled of cigarette smoke). On this occasion, however, Kenshin's dream turns out to be anything but funny: he's recounting how he was sold into sexual slavery.
  • Murder by Mistake: Chiyoko slashes through Basil when he surprises her and Marshall during a drunken tryst and attempts to shoot Marshall—the mistake being that she acted purely on instinct from her Hiten Mitsurugi training and only realized after the fact that the would-be assailant was not an Immortal. Kenshin considers this, and the subsequent fallout from it, his biggest failure where she is concerned.
  • Never Gets Drunk: During his first dinner meeting with Richard Marshall, Kenshin notes that the man has drunk enough liquor that would've gotten Hiko pickled, yet he's not drunk (though he is a bit tipsy).
  • No Dead Body Poops: Averted in one instance when Kenshin (temporarily) kills another Immortal who's gunning for his head by slashing the man in the chest. The man's arm is dismembered from the force of the blow, his torso is cleaved nearly in half, and his bowels are all over the floor...including the contents of said bowels.
  • Shrinking Violet: Chiyoko, in a far cry from what the chronologically later trilogy will portray of her. It's an understandable case, though, as when she's first introduced, her entire family had just been slain by bandits and then she'd had her Awakening while on the funeral pyre, necessitating Saito to rescue her from the ensuing panic of the townspeople; as a result, she's scared out of her mind to the point of deferential shyness.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Kaoru and Yahiko, of course. One example coming from Chapter 23:
    Kaoru: Yahiko, your manners are incredibly bad. One would think you were raised by monkeys.
    Yahiko: No, just by a woman who looks like one. (avoids getting swatted by Kaoru)
  • Stepford Smiler: Kenshin gets this way at times, especially in Chapter 19 while talking with Kaoru about how he was sold into sexual slavery as a child.
  • Time Abyss: While all Immortals are this, the prequel explores in some detail how Kenshin and his loved ones have to deal with the ramifications of the trope. As a fairly early example, they're forced to leave Japan for a period of time when the suspicions of their neighbors are aroused by the fact that Kenshin's not physically aging despite significant time having elapsed. Darius, an Immortal who's living as a priest in England when Kenshin meets him during the early 20th century, warns him that he'll have to periodically relocate elsewhere anytime people start noticing that he's still retaining the same youthful look after many years.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Kaoru reacts rather well to seeing Kenshin alive and on his feet after he'd been seemingly killed by a random swordsman (actually his first encounter with an Immortal who'd been hunting his head), instead being angry that Kenshin was planning to disappear without saying goodbye after the fact. Of course, they had had the benefit of having met Connor McLeod and been told that Kenshin was Immortal several years earlier, though then they'd dismissed that story as an insane joke.
    Kaoru: You are not allowed to come back from the dead and then leave me.
  • Your Soul Is Mine: Among the many rumors being spread by Kenshin's neighbors in relation to his unchanging appearance after his Awakening is that he and his family are stealing the souls of Kaoru's students to maintain his youth. That rumor is strengthened by the death of one of the Kamiya Kasshin students (as a result of a childhood illness).
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