Approval of God: As noted on the main page, Watsuki approved of Samurai X as the series' Western title, being a huge X-Men fan and having based most of his characters on them.
Fandom Life Cycle: The series sits between Stage 6b and 6c. Its fandom peaked in the 1990s and early 2000s and has slowly dwindled since then. Due to scandal involving the mangaka, the fandom is dipped from a 6a as many are reluctant to get into the series.
Fanon: For fans who read fan fiction, it's an accepted phenomenon that Kaoru's favorite scent is Jasmine (and to a lesser extent, Kenshin is often associated with sandalwood, or something), even though the only character in the ENTIRE series to have a scent associated with them was Tomoe and her plum blossoms.
Lying Creator: Watsuki has admitted (in the sidebars titled "Watsuki is a Liar"), among other things, that "rurouni" is a word he made up.
On a different note, the word itself can also be read as a play to the more common term "Ronin", so, considering what Kenshin had been doing up to the series' story, he's not entirely wrong.
Or at least a variant of it, involving associated musicians. L'arc-en-Ciel's "Fourth Avenue Cafe" was used as the fourth ending song for four episodes, but when the band's former drummer got busted for drugs, the resulting controversy caused the producers to pull the song and switch back to the third ending for another seven episodes.
In October 2017, Watsuki himself was charged with possession of child pornography with the news of this released a month later. This led to the publisher Shueisha putting the then-ongoing Hokkaido arc on a hiatus for 6 months before letting him continue it after he paid the fine and apologized for his actions.
Narrowly averted by Kaoru's actress: after shooting Kyoto Inferno and The Legend Ends, Emi Takei got pregnant and subsequently married to her then-boyfriend, singer TAKAHIRO (of boybands Exile and Ace of Spades fame) in 2017 and was almost replaced for the Jinchuu Arc adaptation. Some industry insiders noted if actresses got pregnant and/or married (or any conduct that can be considered bad for PR), it would mean that they are counted as breaching their contract's terms with the companies they got hired at and unable to reprise their roles (partly justified in this series' case as Kaoru hasn't gotten hitched until the epilogue of the original manga). Takei and her agency later worked out on new terms so that she will still be able to continue her role for the final two film sequels.
Amusingly, Takeru Satoh later remarked on this matter during the Road to Kenshin press tour interview, where he said that at the end of the film, Kaoru hasn't become a mother yet, but Takei already is.
Perhaps none of the film crew hit it harder than Yusuke Iseya, who was forced to end his role as Aoshi during filming because he was arrested for drug possession. As a result, a major portion of his fight with Mumyoi was cut (the original planning was supposed to be longer with Aoshi tag-teaming with Misao to finish Mumyoi with Kaiten Kenbu Rokuren as part of their buddingrelationship like in the manga, but that part was done with Misao alone in the final version).
For the English dub of the films, Yahiko's dub actress, Alison Viktorin, was effectively removed from participating in The Final and all dubbing in general after considerable negative feedback due to tweeting support of the 2021 capitol attacks. Yahiko was instead dubbed in The Final by Casey Mongillo.
The author originally intended for Usui to be a Terminator-style manhunter, pursuing Kenshin relentlessly through darkened city streets. Instead, he was largely an Anti-Climax Boss.
Henya was originally going to be introduced as a villainous character during the Kanryu arc; also, he was originally going to be in an aerial battle with Kenshin, but Watsuki changed this because he felt Kenshin would have been too strong an opponent.
According to Watsuki, Raijuta was originally supposed to be as imposing as he looked, but Villain Decay quickly set in.
Senkaku (Shishio's henchman and villain of the Shingetsu village mini-arc) originally was going to be a member of the Juppongatana, and a speechless, beast-like brute.
The manga was originally going to be much shorter than it turned out to be, revolving around the Jinchuu arc.
It was originally going to be revealed that Hannya had been stepped on in the womb like the The Elephant Man, explaining his featureless death-mask of a face. Watsuki realized the Unfortunate Implications of that idea, and altered the backstory to Hannya having intentionally mutilated his face so that he could easily disguise himself as just about anything.
There was a pilot chapter in which Megumi (a rather weak-willed woman barely holding the family together), Kaoru (a tomboy Tsundere serving as the acting dojo-master), and Yahiko (a brat of a kid who feels like he has to be the man of the family since his father died) are siblings.
There's also a proto-story of Kenshin meeting Damsel in Distress Chizuru, who gifts him a ribbon to tie his hair back up when he loses his original ponytail tie in a fight. Chizuru lives on in cameo form at the end of the controversial Reflections OVA, as the girlfriend of Kenshin and Kaoru's son Kenji.
Watsuki mentioned in his notes his concept for a fourth arc of the story which would revolve around Kenji competing against Yahiko and Tsubame's son to inherit the reverse blade. Interestingly, Kenji Himura would most likely been the antagonist of the arc, from what Watsuki had stated about his concept. That, plus the fact that the story would have been set at the beginning of Japan's move towards nationalism and militarization makes one wonder what the story would have looked like...
Originally, Fuji was going to actually take on Okina in battle. However, Watsuki thought that a battle of old codgers wouldn't have been interesting.
Kanryu Takeda was going to be homosexual like his historical counterpart, but Watsuki decided that would "unnecessarily complicate things".
Watsuki stated that he heavily debated with himself whether or not to actually kill Kaoru in the Jinchuu arc. He acknowledges that it would have made for a simpler, more straightforward story, and would have hammered home the theme of vengeance not being acceptable, but he also felt that a shonen series should have a happy ending, and he felt there was no real way to give Kenshin a truly happy ending after everything he's been through if Kaoru was dead. So he went with the path that he did for the final product.
Word of God: Watsuki himself has said that the series ended the way it did specifically because it was a shonen series.
Manga and Anime-specific
Celebrity Voice Actor: Kenshin Himura is voiced by Takarazuka actress Mayo Suzukaze, Kaoru Kamiya is voiced by film actress Miki Fujitani, Shura is voiced by actress Kazue Itoh, Makoto Shishio is voiced by actor and singer Masanori Ikeda, and Yumi Hijikata is voiced by actress Kanako Irie.
Channel Hop: In Latin America, the series was originally broadcast on Cartoon Network from 2001 to 2007. This broadcast was criticized by fans due to heavy censorship made to the episodes despite being aired at midnight. In 2008, one year after the show was removed from Cartoon Network, newcomer channel Animax bough the rights and they started to broadcast the series completly uncut at a much more accessible timeslot. This is when fans discovered that the dub was always uncut and that all the previous censorship was made by Cartoon Network.
Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: A frequent victim of this, even in media that focus on anime and manga. Kenshin is not and was never a samurai, as that was a distinct social class one had to be born into. One of the English dubs even gets it wrong with the title itself. A similar problem exists for attribution of the theme "Sobakasu", as "Judy and Mary" was the name of the band, not anybody in it. (The singer is Yuki Isoya, who goes by "YUKI" in all-caps).
Creator Backlash: Watsuki has expressed regret at creating Raijuta. He's often cited as saying that Raijuta is his least favorite character.
Richard Cansino, the English voice of Kenshin for both the Sony and Media Blasters dubs of the TV series, says that he didn't enjoy his time working on the latter version due to Kenshin's dialect being hard to match with the lip flaps as compared to the Sony dub where more liberties were taken.
Creator Cameo: English ADR scriptwriter Eric P. Sherman was the first voice for the doomed older brother of Eiji Mishima, Eiichiro.
Curiously averted in the Colombian Spanish dub, as all the characters are voiced by people of their respective genders, including kids.
Dueling Dubs: The TV series has two complete* (except for the direct-to-video Episode 95) English dubs Animax's "Samurai X" dub which was distributed in Asia and Europe, and BangZoom's "Rurouni Kenshin" dub which saw official release in North America. Oddly, both dubs were recorded in Los Angeles and cast Richard Cansino as Kenshin. The difference between them is that, while both dubs are uncut for time, the "Samurai X" dub is a more-toned-down looser adaptation geared to a much younger audience. For streaming, Crackle used the Animax dub* (understandable since Sony owns both) while Netflix got the BangZoom dub. Fans generally prefer the BangZoom dub, especially in North America, where the Animax dub did not see release until 2010.
In Spain, the TV series was first dubbed in 1999 and broadcast on Canal Plus the same year. In 2005, Canal Buzz got the rights of the series and decided to record a new dub of the series due to the original dub being inacurrate to the original japanese version (since it was translated from the english scripts made for the Animax dub). While the new dub was much more faithful to the original japanese version, the new voice actors and their performances were heavily critized by spaniard fans and the dub was never broadcast outside Canal Buzz (it didn't help that around this time, the series was available on DVD with the original dub). Due to all this factors, the re-dub falled into obscurity and it's now considerate lost media, with the only proof of it's exstience being a commercial recorded from Canal Buzz that was uploaded to Youtube in 2013 and some forum post from 2005 critizing Canal Buzz for the re-dub.
Executive Meddling: In his original conception, Kenshin was supposed to be at least 30, but Nobuhiro Watsuki was told that "30 is too old for a primary protagonist in Shonen Jump." So, Watsuki dropped Kenshin's age to 28. (Thus keeping the concept of a more seasoned protagonist than the typical of the Shounen demographic, but also making Kenshin young enough to be "acceptable".) Lampshaded in series, when Kaoru tells Kenshin he "can't possibly be 28". Kenshin asks "Would 30 make you happier?" Kaoru replies that it would not.
No Dub for You: The Latin American Netflix feed does not include the controversial Colombian Spanish dub, partly due to the quality of that dub and partly because the last episode was never dubbed.
The Drama CD cast was replaced in its entirety for the anime. In volume 10, Watsuki mentioned that he was disappointed about this decision because he liked the performance of many of the voice actors (such as Megumi Ogata and Tomokazu Seki) as his characters, although he felt the anime cast "worked out" as well. One reason he cited about the change was that, since the anime production committee was bigger than a Drama CD production team (as it involves more companies and sponsors), the "industry power-structure" affected the series. That said, a fair amount of the actors from the CD dramas got to appear in the show as different characters:
In English, the TV series and OVA's dubs were recorded in completely different areas (LA vs. Austin, Texas), so naturally they use completely different casts. Fans tend to dislike the OVA dub due to some questionable casting choices and a too-liberal script (though the script for Reflections is much tighter; fans dislike that due to its content).
Why did this happen? Because, back in 2000, no North American company could afford all of Kenshin* (except maybe Viz, but they were too busy working on Ranma ½ at the time), so Sony split the license into two: Media Blasters got the TV series and restored the Japanese title, while ADV got the OVA's and kept the "Samurai X" title* (amusingly, when ADV did a rerelease years later, they included reversible DVD covers one side with their "Samurai X" logo and the other with Viz's "Kenshin" logo so fans could choose which side they wanted to display).
As mentioned in Dueling Dubs above, the TV series was dubbed twice for different markets. While several voice actors show up in both dubs, Richard Cansino (Kenshin) is the only one who plays the same role in both.
The Media Blasters dub, while mostly consistent, did have a few changes. Most prominent of all would be Sojiro, who was voiced by three different actresses during his screentime. At first, Tara Sands provided his voice but after she returned to New York (for the time). Lynn Fischer replaced her as Sojiro for a couple of episodes before she was replaced by Melissa Fahn for the battle with Kenshin and the Dark and Troubled Past flashback. Bizarrely, Tara still voiced Masukami for her appearances during the Aoiya battle even after giving up Sojiro. For the aftermath of the Shishio battle and her cameo in the Christian arc, Masukami was voiced by Michelle Ruff (Tae and Tsubame). Plus, in one of the last episodes of Season Three, Dina Sherman filled in for her.
Han'nya was mainly voiced by Tom Wyner but in Aoshi's flashback in episode 42, he was voiced by Paul St. Peter. Later still when his ghost appeared before Misao during the Aoiya battle, his voice was done by Dan Lorge (already the voice of Henya and Shirojo).
For the same flashback mentioned above, Shikijo's one line was performed by Lorge instead of his original actor Dean Wein.
Aritomo Yamagata was voiced by Simon Prescott in Season One but after Prescott was no longer available to continue the dub he was replaced by Crispin Freeman for his Season Three appearances. In the Japanese version, similarly, stage actor Seiji Mizutani provided the voice of Yamagata in Season One and for the front half of Season Three. In the latter half of Season Three, plus the movie and the OVA, Mizutani was replaced by Hari Kaneko.
Toshiyoshi Kawaji, Okubo's protege, was voiced by Joe Ochman in Season Two but in Season Three Doug Stone took over the part (who ironically played Okubo back when Joe was voicing Kawaji).
Omine, one of the four minor Oniwabanshu members, was voiced by Bridget Hoffman for most of her appearances, but in two different episodes Dina Sherman (voice of Ayame) and Melodee Spevack (Kamatari) filled in. Her last appearance in the third season had her being voiced by Mona Marshall (Suzume's actress).
Kamatari was filled in for Episode 54 by Lara Cody instead of his main actress, Melodee Spevack.
Minor characters weren't exempt from changes either. Sakata, Yutaro's servant, was voiced by Robert Axelrod for Episodes 19 and 21 while Lex Lang (Sanosuke) filled in for episode 20. Eiji's older brother Eichiro was voiced by the dub producer Eric P. Sherman for his introduction (and death) in episode 35 while in episode 37 Steve Staley (voice of Captain Sagara) took over.
In the Christian arc, Kaiou's followers, Jacob and Miguel, were voiced by Michael McConnohie and Derek Stephen Prince in episode 69. When they reappeared in episode 73, however, they were replaced by Doug Stone and Tom Wyner respectively.
In the first episode of the Feng Shui arc, Jinpu's voice was supplied by Michael McConnohie but for the remainder of the story, Jamieson Price took over (he'd previously voiced Usui and Kaiou).
The OVA and film cast from ADV also went through a couple of changes between projects. Kaoru was voiced by Kara Bliss in the movie but Katherine Catmull replaced her for the second OVA. Hiko was also shared by a couple actors in the OVA; Joe York for Trust and Betrayal and J. Hudson Brownlee in Reflection.
When the New Kyoto Arc was dubbed years later by Sentai Filmworks, only Kenshin and Sanosuke's actors, J. Shannon Weaver and Gray G. Haddock respectively, returned to their parts* Except for Lowell Bartholomee and Charlie Campbell who voiced and directed on the previous projects and Meg Bauman who had previously voiced Tsubame and had returned as Misao. All the rest of the returning characters from the previous works dubbed by the now-defunct ADV Films were recast:
Kaoru: Kara Bliss and Katherine Catmull —> Amanda Hanawa
Hiko: Joe Yorknote Passed away in August 2007 and J. Hudson Brownlee —> Andrew Love
Hirotaka Suzuoki, the original Japanese voice of Saitō, had passed away years prior to the making of New Kyoto Arc, so Ken Narita replaced him for that and the PSP games.
On the same note, Okina's TV actor, Koichi Kitamura, passed in 2007, so Tamio Oki replaced him for New Kyoto Arc.
The Other Marty: Mona Marshall was to originally voice the adult Kenshin Himura in Media Blasters' dub of the series.note Following along the pattern of the original Japanese version, where he was voiced by a woman. However, the dubbing team felt that her voice wasn't working out for the character, and the role was recast with Richard Cansino.note Who had also voiced Kenshin in Sony's alternate Samurai X dub.
Coupled with the largely Ryomaden-affiliated cast of the series (as noted below), perhaps it is most remarkable that Fukuyama Masaharu was cast as Hiko Seijuro, Kenshin's mentor, considering that they played a quite similar relationship (as Sakamoto Ryoma [Fukuyama] and Okada Izo [Sato]) in Ryomaden.
Dawson Casting: Played straight in the live-action films. Munetaka Aoki was 12 whole years older than his character Sanosuke during the first film shot. Saitou also follows suit, as Yosuke Eguchi was 45 playing the 34-year-old Shinsengumi captain-turned-police-officer. This continued on to the sequels: Aoshi is 25, yet his actor Yusuke Iseya is 38 during filming. The girls almost subvert this: 17-year-old Kaoru is played by 19-year-old Emi Takei in the first film, and Tao Tsuchiya was 18 when she took the role as Misao in Kyoto Inferno and The Legend Ends.
Zig-zagged with Kasumi Arimura, who is 27 during filming of The Final and The Beginning, playing the 18-year-old Tomoe in the flashback and presumably a what-if 33-year-old version in the images of Kenshin's vision. 26-year-old Mackenkyu almost hits the mark playing the 23-year-old Enishi.
The main character himself is an inversion for most of the films (as noted below). Takeru Satoh, however, plays this straight while portraying him in Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning, as Kenshin/Battosai was supposed to be 15.
Played With in the English dub The Final. While Bang Zoom! Entertainment handled the dub like with the original anime, the cast was comprised of the Live-Action films' voice cast, with the exceptions of Yahiko being voiced by Casey Mongillo instead of Alison Viktorinnote The latter was forced into retirement over some politically controversial comments on Twitter and Aoshi being voiced by Alan Lee instead of Alex Organnote Organ retired from voice over to focus on theater work.
Playing Gertrude: A male example in the live-action films. Kenshin is 28 years old at the start of the manga, substantially older than Kaoru and the other main characters, but his actor Takeru Satoh was only 22 at the time of the first film's release. (Then again, in the manga Kenshin looks the same age as everybody.) Averted with his nemesis, Shishio, who seems to be in his thirties and is aptly played by the 32-year-old Tatsuya Fujiwara in the second and third films.
The Jinchuu arc films finally avert this, as Satoh was 28 years old during filming.
Production Posse: Many of the principal actors for the live-action film are NHK Taiga Drama alumni, in particular the Keishi Otomo-directed and ran 2010 Ryomaden (it helps that Kenshin is set in the same time period as Ryomaden). Notable highlights are Takeru Sato (Kenshin), Munetaka Aoki (Sanosuke), Yu Aoi (Megumi), and Teruyuki Kagawa (Kanryuu).
Yosuke Eguchi (Saito) and Tatsuya Fujiwara (Shishio), in turn, also served time in the 2004 NHK Taiga drama Shinsengumi!. Hilariously, in that series, Eguchi was playing Sakamoto Ryoma (the rebel) while Fujiwara was playing Okita Soji (the Shinsengumi captain).
On the other hand, Emi Takei (Kaoru) and Ryonosuke Kamiki (Sojiro) came fresh out of the 2012 drama Taira no Kiyomori.
Enticingly, the Kyoto arc sequels cut the middleman and cast Masaharu Fukuyama (the titular Sakamoto Ryoma in Ryomaden) himself as Hiko Seijuro (doubles as Actor Allusion), in addition to Tao Tsuchiya (Misao), Yusuke Iseya (Aoshi), and Min Tanaka (Okina).
A number of supporting actors cast in The Legend Ends, The Final and The Beginning are themselves Taiga veterans from older shows, such as Yukiyoshi Ozawa (Ito Hirobumi), Issey Takahashi (Katsura Kogoro), Shingo Tsurumi (Chief Uramura), Kazuki Kitamura (Tatsumi), Takahiro Fujimoto (Kondo Isami) and Mansaku Ikeuchi (Katagai).
Release Date Change: The Saishusho duology of films (Rurouni Kenshin Saishusho the Beginning and Rurouni Kenshin Saishusho the Final) were scheduled for August 7th, 2020 and July 3rd, 2020, respectively. They were pushed back to April 23th and June 4th, 2021 in the wake of a certain viral pandemic.
Woolseyism: When Kenshin first confronts Shishio, he simply uses the latter's surname without adding the honorific suffix "-kun", which is meant to be used when speaking to someone of a lower social rank. Shishio calls him out on this, demanding that he use the honorific so as to not insult him. Due to the English language not having an equivalent phrase by which to address those of a lower status, the subtitles have Kenshin referring to Shishio by his surname, to which the latter responds: "At least say 'Mr.', even if you had the job first."
Alternative Title(s):Rurouni Kenshin Kyoto Inferno, Rurouni Kenshin The Legend Ends, Rurouni Kenshin The Final, Rurouni Kenshin The Beginning