Accidental Innuendo: Noticing that Tomoe's calming influence on the harsh young Kenshin, Katsura asks Tomoe to be the sheath to Kenshin's sword. Apparently, Katsura is unaware that swords and phallic imagery go hand-in-hand.
Kenshin's vision of Shishio in Hell during the Jinchuu arc. Is it a hallucination brought on from his failure to protect Kaoru or did Shishio really succeed in taking over Hell and is visiting Kenshin to taunt him over his failure?
Americans Hate Tingle: Emphatically does not apply to the show - RuroKen hit pretty big in America - but rather the Animax dub. Due to various issues, North America originally got its own English dub commissioned by Media Blasters (this is the one aired on Toonami and available on DVD). This dub is much more faithful to the Japanese and has no name changes. It's also widely considered to be much better acted (with the one exception being that there is a sizable contingent who really like then-rookie Derek Stephen Prince's take on Sanosuke, especially as he grows into the role starting in Kyoto and the show makes Sano more comedic). American fans who are aware of both dubs' existence universally hate the Animax dub. Amusingly, Richard Cansino plays Kenshin in both dubs.
Raijuta: He's a big, muscular man who appears to be a genuine threat when he first appears, but as the story progresses he's eventually shown up for the weakling he really is compared to Kenshin. This is even more obvious in the manga; in the anime, he at least had an imposing force of samurai warriors backing him up and actually is skilled enough to wipe out a corps of Meiji soldiers with a swipe.
Usui: Gets a huge build up, but is defeated by Saito in the space of less than ten minutes screen time.
Yatsume: Again, he's a victim of the "Saito effect".
The Su Shen: The author even admitted that they're only there to keep Saito, Aoshi, Sano and Yahiko occupied.
Anvilicious: Considering Kenshin's non-killing vow, the series does have shades of this, with Kenshin often saving his enemies in almost any circumstance despite the often intense enmity to him.
Audience-Alienating Premise: The Christian filler arc isn't necessarily a bad arc and is certainly one of the better arcs of the much despised third season, but it's kind of hard to convince anyone when the villain is a Christian who somehow learned the Hiten Mitsurugi Style.
Author's Saving Throw: Kenshin, Sano, and Yahiko all run off to rescue Megumi from Takeda Kanryuu, leaving Kaoru, who is a nationally ranked kendo instructor in her own right, to tend house and prep breakfast for them all when they get back. To remedy this, in the Kyoto arc she travels to Kyoto to find Kenshin (having fallen in love with him), and defeats Honjou Kamatari in single combat during the Aoi-Ya battle. The anime adaptation of the opium arc also has her join the fray at Takeda's mansion instead of staying home.
Awesome Ego: Hiko may be arrogant, but he has every right to be.
Awesome Music: The TV show soundtrack, composed by Noriyuki Asakura, is still considered an all-time classic. It's particularly worth noting that at first it was kinda upbeat and lighthearted, but when the Kyoto arc started, Asakura changed to a Darker and Edgier approach. Both styles were memorable, but the latter is the one that most people consider to be the best. Here some examples:
However, because it was such a new thing at the time, Watsuki kept getting in trouble with his editors, who demanded he make the series more male-targeted (observing the strict gender segregation shonen manga had at the time). Several times in early volumes, Watsuki apologizes for the series being more popular with girls than boys.
The big plot twist in the Jinchuu arc involving Kaoru's death and the subsequent reveal that her death was faked. Some felt that faking out Kaoru's death was an Ass Pull and that the story could have been more interesting if she remained dead. Others agreed with Watsuki's sentiment that the series should end on a high note for Kenshin, which could not be done with Kaoru dead, and that the events that follow, with most of the main characters getting some major Character Development, and the ending itself more than make up for it. Others agree with the latter sentiment, but felt that trying to kill off Kaoru was nothing more than a Shocking Swerve that otherwise harmed the narrative.
The Reflections OVA. It's either a good, if not bittersweet alternate, non-canon ending to a series or it's an In Name Only mess that was a slap in the face.
The Shin Kyoto Hen OVAs. These are usually what people talk about when arguments about the OVA quality pop up. Some find them to be "good for the fans" in that they provide an interesting, though not outsider-friendly, retelling of the Kyoto arc with new nice animation and a more serious tone. The story changes in enough places to add further intrigue so that some of the scenes and interactions can be fresh. Detractors feel that the story's a mess and that the Adaptation Distillation just doesn't work here; and further feel that the Darker and Edgier feel is to the story's detriment (especially in the case of Kenshin who some argue underwent Adaptational Villainy). The series is often compared to the live-action films as both are Pragmatic Adaptations with detractors arguing that the live-action movies handled it much better.
And, of course, one can imagine what happened once Watsuki's crimes came to light. Many fans wish to disown the work entirely and feel Watsuki's actions irreversibly taint the work, some say that RK is far more than just Watsuki and his actions alone don't necessarily invalidate it, a few hold forth that all of RK's positive messages and examination of revenge and obsession show that there's far more to Watsuki than simply his own crimes. And after Watsuki paid the fine and "expressed regret" for his actions letting his publisher return him to work, the fandom is divided on whether to continue to support his work or not.
Jin-E Udo is a remorseless Blood Knight and Serial Killer who lives for murder. In the era of peace, Jin-E makes his living as an assassin who goes out of his way to slaughter as many human beings as possible for the fun involved. When he encounters Kenshin Himura again, Jin-E becomes obsessed with turning Kenshin into a killer like him and kidnaps his Love Interest Kaoru Kamiya. When Kenshin arrives, Jin-E uses his powers of hypnosis to freeze her in place and force Kenshin to break his vow to never take another life as the hypnosis will be lifted only if Jin-E dies and Kaoru's body will shut down within minutes.
Draco in Leather Pants: Most of the major antagonists are sympathetic (and quite Bishōnen to boot) and rank consistently in the top ten during character polls. Watsuki later attempted to avert this by making the antagonists of the Jinchuu Arc Complete Monsters. It didn't necessarily work.
Ensemble Dark Horse: The best example is probably Soujirou, a minor villain in the Kyoto arc who stole every appearance he made. Word of God is that he intended to bring Soujirou back at some point because he felt underused for all the fans he had, but he never did.
Also Okita Souji, who ranked decently in the first character popularity poll (something like 7th place?) despite having only appeared in two or three panels in a flashback at that point. Interestingly, Watsuki based Soujirou on Okita Souji (they're practically twins), and notes in Soujirou's profile that Okita has always been incredibly popular among Shinsengumi fans. He credits this for Okita coming in so high on the poll.
Evil Is Cool: Shishio to the point of being one of (if not the!) most popular villain, all owning to his cool fighting style.
Faux Symbolism: The cross-shaped scar (a mark) on a character who is Walking the Earth after committing murder brings to mind the Biblical story of Cain. Also, the cross is a symbol of redemption, and Kenshin is trying to make up for his checkered past. The fact that it is probably Kenshin's "cross to bear" is made more obvious in the Shimabara/Christian Revolt filler arc, as well as the accompanying ED "1/3 Junjou na Kanjou." However, the real reason why Watsuki added it? He thought Kenshin looked too feminine. But to be fair, he made the best of it to create an awesome story during the Jinchu arc, specially the flashback episodes.
Foe Yay: Every one of Kenshin's rivals has this to some degree.
Sanosuke X Saito might as well be canon. It doesn't help that Sano acts verytsun towards Saito, and his reaction to seeing Saito alive again after Saito had disappeared in the collapsing enemy lair...
Besides Kenshin, what's the most popular ship with Kaoru? Enishi. It helps that Enishi cannot bring himself or anyone else to harm Kaoru and Kaoru is willing to cook for him during her stay with him. And that's not getting into the discussion of how Enishi got Kaoru out of her training uniform and into a robe...
A criticism of the Hokkaido Arc is the number of returning characters and plot points surfacing from previous arcs. While the Kyoto and Jinchuu Arcs had notable characters previous arcs make a return, they were either woven into the plot with a proper story arc (Aoshi) or were a fun Continuity Nod that didn't otherwise harm the narrative (Chou). The Hokkaido Arc, however, has a lot more returning characters and plot points show up and aren't as properly woven in, resulting in the arc feeling bloated and unfocused.
Filler episodes in the anime get a bad reputation in general, particularly the ones post-Kyoto. However, during the first season, filler episodes weren't trashed quite as badly since many of them were decisively resolved towards the end and even slightly longer original stories involving the Jinpuu squad and the pirate captain Shura didn't last longer than two or three episodes. Many of them were also interwoven with actual canon stories from the manga and didn't feel too out of place. And a few filler episodes like Run Yahiko! did give valuable character development to Yahiko by teaching him the values of patience and humility. However, once the third season began and the anime turned into nothing but filler, even for long-running story arcs, that became the point when many people completely soured on filler episodes due to a sense of both Arc Fatigue combined with perceived Seasonal Rot. Furthermore, whereas the filler episodes of the first season were weaved in with adaptations of the Tokyo arc chapters and was followed up with the second season's Kyoto Arc, the unpopularity of the third season led to the cancellation of the series as a whole, leaving the aforementioned Jinchuu Arc without an adaptation (minus the Memories Arc and parts of the final confrontation with Enishi in the OVAs). The result is that while the first season filler is regarded as enjoyable at best or forgettable at worst and doesn't otherwise harm the series, the third season's filler is blamed for the Jinchuu Arc never getting a proper adaptation.
Misao's relationship (i.e., outright physical romantic attraction) with Aoshi raised some eyebrows, but back then, it was mostly played for laughs. It became less funny when a comment that Watsuki made when he was arrested for child pornography possession regarding the age range of the types of girls he's attracted to was released.
Kenshin himself is a Friend to All Children. In 2017 series creator Nobuhiro Watsuki was charged with possession of child pornography. Eerier still, a year before that, the writer of the manga's English translation, Gerard Jones, was charged for the same reason.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The Sony/Animax dub is surprisingly popular overseas. This is in spite of a few name changes to the primary cast (Kaoru —> Kaori and Yahiko —> Yoshi); the dub in question does start to grow a small beard around the time the Kyoto arc kicks off, though, with a particularly solid performance from Shishio himself.
The series got immensely popular all over the world. Some famous examples are Latin America, a big chunk of Europe (specially France, Spain, Italy and, to a lesser degree, Germany) and Eastern Asia. In all of those places, the series is considered an all-time classic, and it still has reruns and re-prints. This, arguably, contributed to the substantial global hype that demanded the 2012 live-action film be released theatrically in other countries too (see below).
One of the most iconic cases is Spain. The series arrived there in the summer of 1998 under the name "The Samurai Warrior" ("El guerrero samurai" in Spanish) and became the most watched program of the station it was in. It became an instant classic for Spaniard anime geeks, which is specially surprising when you consider it was broadcast on Saturday mornings (luckily, with no censorship). The manga came one year later and rights were acquired by the Spanish branch of Glénat, a French publisher. That branch was at the brink of bankruptcy when they started to publish it, but the success of the manga was so big that practically single-handedly made Glénat the biggest manga publisher in Spain for over a decade. Thanks to that success, Glénat could acquire other big hits for over a decade, like Love Hina, Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, and many more. Plus, in 2010 they started a special reprint (the same one started in Japan that same year) and still managed to top the manga charts in Spain until the branch's ultimate demise in 2012note The story is quite long, but essentially, due to some poor business decisions in other sides of the branch, the French headquarters decided to sell it, which was then bought by the head of Glénat Spain, Joan Navarro. But after that and a change of brand, Sueisha ended up cancelling all the licenses they had given to them, which completely doomed the endeavour.
Latin America gives Spain a run for its money. Under the name Samurai X it was dubbed and shown uncut and gave many kids their first taste of anime.
In Argentina the manga was published and it's considered a quasi essential manga for any Argentinian fan.
And needless to say, the Spanish-speaking fanbases might have taken the news of Watsuki's misconduct harder than any other worldwide...
For fans, it was soul crushing to learn about Watsuki's crimes but, after he expressed remorsenote (which we'll assume is sincere, if only for the sake of argument), it gets an additional layer of tragic irony, since it makes his life now have some serious uncanny parallels with Kenshin's at the beginning of the story. Just like Kenshin, Watsuki is now someone who, although he achieved greatness in his youth, shows remorse for his past crimes, and he must work to make up for it, despite the fact that many people are unwilling to forgive him.
Seeing how disheveled Kenshin's clothes are, Misao asks if his wife left him... sort of?
In The Motion Picture, the animated movie, after seeing yet another battle before his eyes, Kenshin nearly cries and states that he thought he fought in "the war to end all wars" 10 years prior. In reality, 1868, when the war Kenshin fought in ended, was just 46 years before World War I, also known as "The Great War" or "The War to End All Wars" because of how terrible it was.
Hilarious in Hindsight: Watsuki-san noted in his character profiles that he based Kurogasa/Udo Jin-e on the historical assassin Okada Izo. Fast forward today where (as detailed above) Takeru Satoh, who played Izo in Ryomaden, plays Kenshin. This comes full circle when the film incarnation of Jin-e, who was based originally on Izo, claims to be a more genuine assassin than Kenshin-as-Battousai. Trippy? You bet.
Back in Kamen Rider Den-O, Takeru Satoh played Ryotaro, who is the nominal Kamen Rider, a living anomaly referred to as a Singularity Point. How does one mark a point? With an X.
He was known for saying "henshin", now he goes by Kenshin. Not hilarious but definitely silly.
Shishio, voiced by Steve Blum in the American English dub by Media Blasters, occasionally compares himself to being a demon (granted he believes that he is right) and expects to go to Hell when he dies and, following his death via internal combustion, is shown along with Yumi and Houji in the underworld with the ambition of taking it over. Later in 2010, Blum would provide the voice of Satan himself in Dante's Inferno: An Animated Epic who in turn has an ambitious goal of his own in ruling all three realms (Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven) of the afterlife.
In both English dubs Richard Casino voices Kenshin, a hero with an infamous reputation that strictly adheres to Thou Shall Not Kill. In the English dub of the Trigun anime Casino voices Legato Bluesummers, a major antagonist to another Thou Shall Not Kill hero with an infamous reputation- Vash the Stampede. Even more hilarious, Legato bears a passing resemblance to Aoshi, one of Kenshin's major opponents. note They're both tall, good looking guys with short, dark hair that wear white trench coats
Kenshin to Sano, most obviously in the anime: the adaptation adds one last duel between them not present in the manga, and when Sano collapses from pain, Kenshin catches him and lets out a rather tender smile.
One of the prototype one-shots had Kenshin see this between Megumi and Kaoru (he says something to the effect of "Oooh, so that's why she doesn't want to get married."). They were sisters in that universe.
Enishi. Yeah, he did go through lots of heartbreak, but he also left others completely broken.
For some fans, Sadoshima Houji becomes this after he kills himself. Also an in-story example, as Kenshin expresses pity for him once he's told about that.
Amakusa's Start of Darkness comes when he's a child and both his parents and his whole Christian village is slaughtered, with only him and little Sayo as survivors. Doesn't necessarily mean he was less of a bastard as an adult.
Kenji in Seisouhen had a horrible childhood with a constantly absent father and a mother dying of a grief and skin disease she caught from said father, but it doesn't make him any less of a brat, when he refuses to come back and let both of his parents say goodbye to him before they die, and runs away to Hiko to find "real strength".
Like You Would Really Do It: In the Hokkaido arc, Eiji shows Kenshin the broken blade of Saito Hajime, implying that he may be dead. However, many point to him historically living up to his 70s as proof that he's not dead. The following chapter shows that while Saito's sword did not survive the battle, Saito himself makes it out with an injured left arm thanks to Eiji.
Love to Hate: Shishio Makoto is a brutal Social Darwinist who causes many atrocities in the series, yet his odd sense of honor makes him the perfect adversary to Kenshin due to his genuine desire to make Japan strong. The author Watsuki even considers him his favorite villain of the series.
Magnificent Bastard: Shishio Makoto was once the feared Hitokiri of the Shadows during the Bakumatsu. Betrayed by the government and left for dead, Shishio survived and by virtue of his overwhelming power and charisma creates a powerful organization consisting of loyal soldiers he effortlessly manipulates, with one named Usui even ostensibly wanting revenge against Shishio for blinding him, unaware Shishio is well aware he's lost all hope of vengeance and is just manipulating him by using his pride. Shishio then sets up a complex plan to burn Kyoto, only for it to be revealed that this is a ruse as he attacks Tokyo by sea instead. Despite being foiled here, Shishio proceeds to have the heroes fight his men in single matches, all for the purposes of weakening or eliminating them before they face Shishio himself when he gains greater understanding of their abilities through the fights. Even after his defeat and death, Shishio shows no sign of complaint and instantly sets off with his deceased lover and most loyal follower to begin conquering Hell itself.
Futae no Kiwami, ah! (フタエノキワミ、アッー! or KYM as the argotic shorthand)Explanation Rurouni Kenshin's infamous meme where Sanosuke's voice actor (Lex Lang), in the Bang Zoom! English dub, emits an extremely loud yelling noise in the recap of episode 58 (episode 59) in the anime adaptation, after calling out his ultimate technique. Since then, the Japanese took a well-received liking to the infamous scene, and several other scenes; including but not limited to the Kyoto arc. So much so in fact that it is also responsible for the Validation Series (検証シリーズ) tag on niconico. A scene in media played and repeated in different languages (including redubs). Combine all of this with soramimi or mondegreen, the meme has a tightly knit fanbase. However, it faced mass deletion in its inception due to copyright violations. The original scenes posted on niconico that are intact are hand-drawn or are edited (e.g. shortened scenes with cuts or having the scenes pixelated to be nearly unrecognizable).
...oro? note Kenshin's signature saying upon confusion
Hatarakitakunai degozaru! Zettai ni hatarakitakunai degozaru!!" (働きたくないでござる！絶対に働きたくないでござる！！; I will not work, there is no way I will work!) A Japanese meme that heavily implies Kenshin's status as a NEET.
"Kenshin's left foot," lampshading that his ultimate ability is made possible simply by leading with his other foot.
The Colombian Spanish dub is pretty infamous for this, partly due to the odd pronunciation of many of the names of the charactersnote This is a side-effect of how Colombian Spanish works, as the Colombian dialect has problems pronouncing the sh cluster and in Colombia this is pronounced as ch, causing many Japanese words and names being pronounced as "Kenchin" for Kenshin, "Geicha", "Suchi" for sushi, etc. Kenshin's nickname Hitokiri Battousai is translated in Colombian (and also Argentinian Spanish in the live-action films) Spanish as Battousai El Destajador (Battousai the Butcher), when in other dialects Destajador is normally translated as Destazador, being this the most controversial change in that dub. and due of the uneven quality of the acting. The most notorious example of this is Kenshin's Colombian voice actor, as he uses the same voice tone for both his regular form and his Battousai mode, making him sound like he was bored all the time.
The final arc in the anime where Kenshin goes up against Feng Shui wizards. While the series had its share of "super-human" powers this one was really pushing it with the Feng Shui users basically having magic at their disposal and said magic being Feng Shui of all things. It gets especially cringeworthy when the anime starts arguing that the Opium Wars in China were a result of the Chinese abandoning Feng Shui.
The Hitokiri Battousai killing Gentatsu in the opening scene of the Ishinshishi e no Requiem movie is indeed a very important scene that would set up the eventual conflict between Kenshin and Shigure. By the third time the scene is replayed, however, it begins to lose its impact and would be replayed several more times throughout the movie.
Overshadowed by Controversy: Watsuki's charges for possession of child pornography in 2017 cast an inescapable shadow over the entire franchise. If this were any other author or any other franchise it wouldn't have hit as hard since many anime/manga know about the cultural differences in Japan and the west specially regarding child psychology, but the work always preached for a moral improvement. This coming out in the way it did, instead of let's say the author himself admitting it makes it hard for fans to rewatch the series without feeling hypocritical. And despite Watsuki expressing regrets for his actions, paying the fine and returning to work in April 2018, the damage is already done and fans are mixed whether to support his work or not. There's also the publisher Shueisha letting him continue to work after six months since the charges which many people felt that it's too soon since the controversy is still fresh in the people's minds.
Seasonal Rot: Both the manga and anime had this after the Kyoto Arc, albeit in different ways:
The anime had no overarching story after the Kyoto arc was resolved, having a third season that was nothing but filler.
The manga followed with the Jinchuu arc. While it was generally better received than the anime, it was still criticized on a number of points, including heavily derivative character designs and some very controversial plot developments. The author has expressed regret over how the arc turned out.
That fish they're eating in Episode 81? The one that's been cut into little bits and arranged neatly on a plate? It's still alive.
Strawman Has a Point: When first confronting Kenshin, Saito suggests that his refusal to kill his sworn enemies could indirectly endanger the innocent people he cares about, and in fact already has multiple times. This is supposed to be Saito's Hannibal Lecture, but many fans think he not only makes a damn good point, but exposes the critical flaw in Kenshin's philosophy. Several times throughout the series before and after this point, Kenshin's friends are at the mercy of enemies he formerly refused to kill, and survive by getting lucky.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: The Media Blasters dub is very well liked so this was naturally the reaction to many of the future Kenshin projects, most notably the OVAs, which had to recast the actors; especially since most of the Japanese cast reprised their roles. Shin Kyoto Hen especially had a number of critics lambast the dub for sounding flat and having much less personality than the original anime's cast.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Saitou's wife Tokio is mentioned once, with Misao and Kenshin utterly dumbfounded that someone like him could ever have married somebody and Kenshin himself wondering if she had the patience of Buddha. It's a shame she never appears onscreen as it could have made for some interesting interactions with Saitou.
The Kyoto Arc is the most well regarded arc of Rurouni Kenshin. The themes, fights, and character development all really hit their stride in this arc. The anime got an animation bump, Saitou was introduced, Kaoru and Yahiko each got their own major fights, and Shishio is seen as the best villain to come out of the series. What followed inevitably fell into the Kyoto arc's shadow. Many argue that the anime went under Seasonal Rot after the arc was concluded, and while the Jinchuu arc in the manga has its fans, it also has a few detractors and many who feel that it just couldn't surpass the Kyoto arc.
The Trust and Betrayal OVA, an adaptation of the Jinchu arc story showing Kenshin's time as a manslayer, has received universal praise from fans and critics due to the darker and more mature animation and story. However, when it came time to adapt some of the "Rurouni" storylines with the same Darker and Edgier tone, fans didn't appreciate this. As a result, the OVAs that followed, Reflections and Shin Kyoto Hen, failed to gain the same praise their predecessor did.
The series itself is this in relation to Watsuki's later works, with works such as Gun Blaze West and Buso Renkin not quite reaching the same level of popularity as Rurouni Kenshin.
Ugly Cute: Beshimi is very odd looking and mousy, but not as physically out there as the rest of the Oniwaba group. The author was surprised at having received fanmail gushing about how cute he was.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Shura stresses a strict code of ethics as a pirate; she only steals from the rich and the corrupt to aid her starving village and she doesn't want women and children harmed. It's rather jarring how much of her underlings' behavior she tolerates though, not blinking an eye as they mercilessly slaughter crews full of unarmed fleeing sailors. Her no-kill rule especially seems odd as she does nothing while Yahiko and Kaoru are being attacked and nearly killed, and she only objects when Kaoru is taken prisoner.
Values Resonance: The series places a lot of emphasis on the theme of trying to find a new way forward in a world that has changed dramatically in a very short amount of time. Kaoru's father was killed in action fighting against the Satsuma Rebellion, and many of the villains whom the Kenshin-gumi fight are unemployed ex-samurai or reactionaries seeking to reverse the social changes of the Meiji Restoration. These are fairly timeless themes.
Viewer Gender Confusion: Kenshin. Not helped by being voiced by women in Japanese versions: ex-Takarazuka actress Mayo Suzukaze in the anime, Megumi Ogata in the CD dramas. There's also a story that he inspired the character Baiken in Guilty Gear when the character designer for the game mistook Kenshin for a woman.
Wangst: Kaoru's reaction to Kenshin's farewell in the beginning of the Kyoto arc. While the scene itself was very sad (especially with the addition of the fireflies in the anime), her becoming incredibly mopey and chewing out Megumi for trying to get her to snap out of it hasn't gone over with RK fans, both Kaoru haters (often citing this moment as the reason why they hate her) and Kaoru fans (who felt that it was overdone) alike. Watsuki later apologized for it and Kaoru feels very ashamed when Tsubame brings it up in the Jinchuu arc (off-handedly saying that the fans would never forgive her if she decided to do something like that again).
What Measure Is a Non-Badass?: The Kaoru bashers LOVE to apply this to her, calling her "whiny bitch" and "useless whore" for being emotional and outspoken and sometimes prone to Tender Tears. It reaches gross extremes when they systematically deny anything good she ever has done in the series and demand her TO DIE.
In volume six of the manga, it is revealed that she is one of the top six dojo masters in Japan and has earned the nickname Kenjutsu Princess—many boys at the Maekawa dojo only show up on days Kaoru instructs. Word of God also states that Kaoru is a very powerful fighter, but she often gets overshadowed by Kenshin and Sano.
Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: In the big battle of The Movie, Sanosuke goes against The Brute for an awfully-drawn-out battle... leading to him calling a timeout. They both stop. And eat. Until the Brute turns out to be a vegetarian who doesn't take kindly to Sanosuke tearing into that roast chicken. He has no problem sharing the booze, though...
Kanryu Takeda likes to pass himself off as a successful businessman and an example of what the Japanese can accomplish in the new era of the Meiji. However, he is an oppressive drug lord who takes glee in finding, then murdering, police informants and putting them in the open so people could find. He also directly murders, through Jin-E, a department of the police while chasing after MegumiTakani who he had forced to make his brand new opium. To test the new opium as well he kidnapped users off the street, locked them in his secret room in his office, and saw how far they degraded while under his new drug, all with a smile on his face. However, his worst act is when he learns Megumi is taking shelter in the Kamiya Dojo and, after Kenshin refused to be bought by him, he poisons a district all around the Kamiya Dojo. If it weren't for Megumi, there'd be hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths directly on his hands.
Jin-E Udo seems like a normal Psycho for Hire, but he doesn't murder and kill for profit; he just likes to kill. When he pulled himself out of the mountain of corpses he accumulated in the Battle of Toba Fushimi, he took up Kenshin's killing sword as his own. For ten years, he's committed murders in Kenshin's name, calling himself Hitokiri Battosai to strike fear into people. When he storms the police department on the trail of Megumi Takani, he could have easily just evaded the officers but instead purposely started a horrific attack on the station and left a gory tapestry of death, even messing with one officer with his "Shino Ippo" to force him to stand still as Jin-E impaled him slowly to savor it. In the last act of the film, he kidnapped Kaoru while Kenshin was saving Megumi from Kanryu. When Kenshin showed up, he first kicked Kaoru down a stone staircase to make sure she'd hit every step just to piss Kenshin off, and then paralyzed her lungs using the Shino Ippo. When Kaoru broke through it with her own spirit and after Kenshin had shattered his elbow, Jin-E has the last laugh by stabbing himself just to spite Kenshin and spit on his Thou Shall Not Kill code.
Love to Hate: Kanryu was always one of the most hatable villains across all of Rurouni Kenshin's adaptations, but Teruyuki Kagawa manages to replace Kanryu's sliminess with pure ungodly ham. Much of Kanryu's whiny cowardice is downplayed and his jackassery cranked Up to Eleven. When he's firing the gatling gun, he's smoking a fat cigar and having the time of his life.
Moral Event Horizon: Kanryu ordering the water in Kaoru's neighborhood to be poisoned. A good number of children would have died. All just to flush out Megumi.
Narm: Although the movie is usually fairly realistic with a few tasteful flying leaps, Saito's Gatotsu falls under this: after an impressive buildup, he simply zooms into the air without even seeming to jump. The Special Effects Failure turns what should be an awesome moment into a silly one.