The historical series that is Rurouni Kenshin is set in the late 1800's in Japan. It is a time just after the samurai and the class system are abolished in favor of a new more equal and quickly modernized Japan. The show features not only battles between strong warriors and ideologies but also the battles within one's self and motivations to carry on. Equal parts comedy and bloodshed, Rurouni Kenshin is a well written and robust series filled with a vivid cast of characters. So take a look at the people that make this series so wonderful.
Team Kenshin and their allies
The main character of the series. He is a wandering swordsman during the Meiji era of Japan who is driven to solve problems and help people, all while trying not to kill anyone or severely hurt them. He first meets Kaoru when she accuses him of being the fabled Battousai the Manslayer since he happens to be carrying a sword. He denies the accusation but ends up saving Kaoru's life when a man claiming to be Battousai tries to kill her. Kaoru ends up having the wanderer stay with her at her family's dojo, beginning their long adventures together.
Once he ends up meeting Kaoru, it doesn't take long for his past to be revealed of him being the infamous Battousai the Manslayer, the feared warrior fighting for the imperialists during the revolution. The cross-shaped scar he bares on his face is a constant reminder of the terrible things he did during the war, including accidentally killing his first wife. This incident sent him off alone as a wanderer who never wanted to kill another person again and protect people to atone for all those he killed during that era ten years before.
Kenshin is a man of two different personalities. He is normally very kind and helpful to people if a little silly and clumsy. He greets nearly everyone with a smile and a warm greeting. He has an almost poetic and formal way of speaking, finishing his sentences with phrases like "that he does" or "that I do". Kenshin is great with children, especially the two young girls Kaoru calls her sisters. He is very humble and doesn't like to draw attention to himself.
On the other hand, beneath his soft and kind exterior lies a true warrior and swordsman. If faced with real danger, he will become very serious and will not back down from anyone. He will use his immense skills to defeat even an army of people if he has to. On the rare occasion he is pushed enough, he reaches the brink of taking another life, but is usually stopped just before he makes that final blow.
Kenshin's weapon of choice is a reverse blade sword. Just carrying the weapon is illegal in Meiji-era Japan so he gets noticed a lot just by having it. He will point out that his sword has the blade on the inside of the curve and making it difficult to kill anyone with it. When faced with a battle, he uses the blunt side of the blade to serve as his weapon by incapacitating his foes, rather than slicing through them. He also will utilize the sword's scabbard as a weapon or for defense. He is trained in the Hiten-Mitsurugi style of sword fighting, meaning he can move at incredible speeds.
Kenshin is a true protector. He cares most about other people and deeply for those friends around him. He has sworn to protect Kaoru and look after his friends, no matter what dangers may come to him for it. He has a noble heart and will use that to try and change the lives of everyone he meets.
The 17-year-old Kamiya Kenshin master and teacher of the style at her family dojo. She is the daughter of Koshiro Kamiya, who taught her in the ways of using a wooden sword (either a kendo blade or shinai) instead of a metal sword to protect people.
Her father passed away during the war leaving the dojo to her. After the death of her father, she became an instructor, taking on students and teaching the ways of her family's style of nonlethal martial arts. She is looked after by the long time family medic, Dr. Gensai, along with his two granddaughters that she calls her sisters, although they are not related by blood.
Up until the start of the series, Kaoru made her living as a dojo master and instructor. However when an ex-student claimed to be the Battousai and that he was trained her father's technique as he went around murdering people, all her remaining students quit due to the negative word of mouth. Even after his defeat, she found that the students did not come back, much to her frustration. Slowly, as the series goes on, friends she meets end up becoming her students during the series.
Kaoru's weapon of choice is a wooden kendo sword. While she is very good at handling it, it usually doesn't measure up to the metal blades used by those trained to kill. She has also shown herself to be formidable with a shinai, able to take out an averagely skilled adversary with the practice kendo sword. Even if she doesn't have the skills of someone like Kenshin or Sanosuke, she is no push over and can take care if herself if need be. She is far from a stone cold killer who uses her training and talent to hunt down people, and often is the one who keeps Kenshin from going back to his old ways as the Battousai.
Outside of combat, Kaoru is a friendly and kindhearted girl. She is a dreadful cook but accepts that. She can be pushy and persuasive, even violent at times when tested, but she tends to save that mostly for Kenshin, who just takes it in his stride and doesn't put up much of a fight. She has shown confidence in herself, her father, and the style of martial arts he taught her. Meanwhile, she also carries a fondness for nice clothes and colors. She does get teased a lot by Kaoru, Sanosuke, and even Megumi, but she can dish it right back at them.
Although not the obsessed love sick puppy that has become cliché in a lot of other anime, Kaoru takes to Kenshin almost immediately. Over time, she grows closer to him and fills a void in Kenshin's life he had since his wife died. She also acts as a motherly figure in ways to her little "sisters" looking after them as well.
A strong and independent spirit, Kaoru is a character that is far more than just a prop for Kenshin's story. She has a character, motivations, and abilities to make her stand on her own. She can match the swordsman step for step and can handle her problems as she sees fit. She is wise beyond her years, but at the same time shows some of her youth in her personality.
A young orphaned boy who ends up becoming a pickpocket for a local yakuza clan. He is witnessed by Kenshin picking the pocket of an older man, just to give the wallet back to that he could buy something for his grandson.
Yahiko is the strong-willed son of a samurai who perished during the war. He was raised by his mother, who then fell ill and died, leaving him an orphan. Supposedly his mother's medical bills were paid by the yakuza, having Yahiko working to steal money to pay back the debt. This turns out to be a lie. Kenshin and Kaoru both take pity on him after meeting him and upon hearing his story, Kaoru goes to try and free him from the yakuza, only to get caught herself. Kenshin comes in to save the day, bringing him back to the Kamiya dojo to start training so that he can become strong.
Yahiko is very independently minded. He fully believes he can handle things all by himself without help. He hates being thought of as a kid. He can be courageous even to a fault as a result of his pride in what his father was. Being a young boy, however, he has more pride than actual ability, but a belief in himself, as well as training from Kaoru, drives him to be the strong man he wishes to become. As the story advances you see Yahiko grow and become more capable as a fighter.
Yahiko, with his strong will, can also be a brat. He has a hard time taking orders from anyone and can be a handful to control. He doesn't think too highly of the Kamiya style as it is to use swords to protect people while he'd rather learn how to beat people up and defeat them like Kenshin does. However, Kenshin refuses to pass along his technique, much to Yahiko's frustration. Eventually, he learns to embrace the style more and becomes skilled in his own right in protecting people with his wooden swords.
However, this spirit of independence makes him think quickly, even if he doesn't act with a lot of forethought he will throw himself into a situation if he thinks someone is being wronged. He can be helpful in this way, but many times ends up being a victim.
Yahiko makes for quite a foil for Kenshin. The brash pride and emotions in diving into a situation plays a good opposite for Kenshin's calm demeanor even in battle. While Yahiko lacks trained skill and often swings for the fences in any kind of attack, Kenshin will strike as little as possible. It is obvious Kenshin is everything Yahiko wants to be, but Kenshin will always remember what he is trying to escape and wants Yahiko to become strong not only in a better way but on his own, following his father's example.
Yahiko also has someone very special in his life as he soon falls for the waitress at the Akebeko restaurant, Tsubume Sanjo. He helps free her from her struggles and the two become closer as the story is told, especially in the manga. Yahiko also finds a similar spirit in Misao, as the two often work together and see things through similar eyes.
Yahiko represents the struggles of youth in the series and as the events take place, he grows just a little more, all the while staying the stubborn bullheaded warrior that he is. Although crude and sarcastic, he wants to help people as much as Kenshin does, even if he has yet to gain the former warrior's skill.
The fighter for hire known as Zanza. He is an extremely skilled and strong fighter who wanders the lands being hired to fight other people's battles for them.
Sanosuke lives off the thrill of the fight. He charges those who hire him based on how much "fun" he has during his battles. He has immense power, able to floor opponents with just a flick of his finger. However much of a "gangster" he makes himself out to be, he does have a strong moral code as well and doesn't like those who abuse people weaker than they are.
Sanosuke enters Kenshin's life when he is hired to take out the Battousai by Gohei Harumi. Zanza is enticed by the challenge, especially since he is very anti-imperialist. Kenshin defeats him with some ease, even with Sanosuke's strength. After that, he joins Kenshin on many of his battles and stays at the dojo.
Sano starts off in the series carrying his large blade, his zanbato, like it was a regular blade. However in meeting Kenshin, the blade is destroyed and from then on he mostly uses his hands to fight and is very effective with them.
Sanosuke is very anti-imperialist as he spent his younger days under Captain Sagara of the Sekihotai, a militia-style army of farmers. They worked for the imperialist government until the government double-crossed the group to cover their own failures and executed them, right in front of Sanosuke's eyes. He looks up to the memory of Captain Sagara, taking on his last name in tribute to him.
He doesn't have the patience and skill in observation that Kenshin has, often charging full-speed into a fight and giving it all he has, much like Yahiko. We find out later he has taken after his father, who is always up for a fight. He also is very cheap with his money as he has amassed a huge tab at the Akebeko restaurant and is always up for a free meal. He doesn't take to new technology either as he thinks steam trains are rolling death traps and that cameras steal your soul.
Sanosuke makes a good companion for Kenshin during his adventures. In contrast to Kenshin's cool, observant fighting style, Sanosuke's headstrong charge into a fight makes him a good partner. A friendly and plain-spoken young man, Sano can be very much the hero that Kenshin is to those around him.
Dr. Gensai Ogumi, Ayume and Suzume Ogumi
The longtime medic for the Kamiya family. He took on a fatherly role to Kaoru after the death of her father left her alone at the Kamiya dojo.
Dr. Gensai is a friendly elderly man who always seems to have a smile on his face. He not only helps Kaoru, but also serves the people of the local area, taking care of everything from battle wounds to child delivery. He is very skilled as a man of medicine and is willing to help people however he can. Although not the fighter that Kenshin and many of the others are, he still is able to dish out advice and save people in his own way. He eventually gains an assistant in the talented Megumi Takini, who is a master of medicine and chemical compounds. He sometimes has his hands full with her as she will fall into her own thoughts and lose concentration in what she is doing when she is helping patients.
Along with the good doctor are his two small granddaughters, The older Ayume and the younger Suzume. Both small children are the light of Dr. Gensai's eye and are treated like Kaoru's little sisters. Ayume is a very observant young girl who seems to instantly notice if someone is sad or upset and tries to make them feel better. Suzune is always tagging along with her big sister and will often repeat with she says. Both girls get along very well with Kenshin and the others that board the Kamiya Dojo, calling the wanderer "uncle Kenny" and often seen playing with him or helping him with chores. Although both girls look up to their "big sister" Kaoru, being so young, it is not clear if they have a real interest in becoming martial artists like her.
All three are a welcome sight at the dojo and they bring a peace and tranquility into the lives of those living there. Trying to keep them out of any struggles they have, the family gives Kenshin and his friends time to enjoy more pleasant things and take a break from what can be a very stressful adventure.
A bitter rival of Kenshin's dating back over a decade to the war. Although he is now part of the police, he also works as an assassin for hire.
During the war, Saito was the captain of the third unit of the Shinsengumi, a collection of masterless samurai opposing the imperialists. Considered a master swordsman, Saito leads his squad during many death-filled missions. It was during the later part of the war that his squad met with the Battousai after a raid on a hotel. The manslayer slew almost all the members with little trouble before facing Saito. The battle never had a decisive ending and both men went their separate ways.
Saito comes back into Kenshin's life when he stops by the Kamiya Dojo posing as a medicine salesman. Sanosuke quickly deduces that he is not who he says and in the ensuing fight, defeats Sano quickly, breaking off a sword in stabbing him. It turns out he was hired by the corrupt Shibumi who wants to eliminate the former Battousai.
Saito poses as a member of the sword-bearing police under an assumed name. While Kenshin is off fighting another of Sibumi's men, Saito enters the dojo under the guise of being a protector from the police. He surprises Kenshin when he returns, leading to a battle between the two. After nearly killing each other, the fight is stopped by Okubo Toshimishi, who had sent Saito only to test Kenshin's abilities so that he may recruit him for the government. Saito leaves and returns to Shibumi, killing him.
Saito is powerful not only with a sword, but he also augments his sword ability with hand to hand combat as well. He makes for a real challenge to anyone that crosses him, and most times they don't survive.
Saito is the absolute opposite of Kenshin, even if they are on the same side. He doesn't mind taking lives of those that deserve it, in fact, he often enjoys it. They butt heads, but still fight for a similar goal, even if they take divergent paths to get there. Saito tends to be very blunt in his ways and has little of the caring heart that Kenshin has, but at the same time he makes for a strong ally in their adventures.
A medic and chemist who is a master of medicines and mixing chemicals. She first ran into Kenshin and Sanosuke as she was trying to escape the clutches of The Obiwaban group that was keeping her enslaved as an opium maker.
Megumi comes from a long line of medical doctors. During the war her father disappeared and her mother and the rest of the family were wiped out, leaving Megumi the only survivor. She ended up in the clutches of Kanryu, who for 5 years made her produce opium that would over time kill people, counter to all of Megumi's training. She ends up under Kenshin's protection after she fled Kanryu and his organization when she is forced to make a new form of opium that is very deadly. She gains her freedom when the Obiwaban group that been protecting Kanryu turn on him and the merchant of death is defeated.
Once free of her enslavement she uses her skills to become a medic again under Dr. Gensai, to make up for all she had done making opium. She becomes an ally to Kenshin and his friends, helping treat their injuries and sicknesses.
Megumi is a very flirtatious woman. She has eyes for Kenshin and will make comments about snagging him for her own, much to Kaoru's jealousy. She doesn't mind taking jabs at Kaoru, much like Sano and Yahiko, but eventually comes to terms that Kenshin loves Kaoru and tells Kaoru to take care of him.
A source of some frustration to Kaoru, a friend to the others, Megumi is a good friend to those around her and is a driven medic who will do all she can to make up for the deaths she caused as a slave. While she may let her imagination get away with her when thinking of the wandering swordsman, she turns very focused and serious when she needs to help save a life or ease someone's pain.
The leader of the Obiwaban group. Initially, he leads the group to act as bodyguards and enforcers for Kanryu. However when faced with a chance to fight the Battousai, his priorities change.
Aoshi is very quick and has incredible striking power. However his motivations are not money or an urge to kill, but recognition. During the war, his group never got the chance to face the main battles against the imperialists, as they were based in Edo where the main battles were in Kyoto. Aoshi wished to have his group be recognized as the best fighters of the war, and having to battle the Battousai is the perfect way for that to happen for him and his followers. After the war, he and his men were used as enforcers and bodyguards, but the desire for the Obiwaban name to be considered the greatest in the world never left him.
When the opportunity to face the famed Battousai arrives while working for Kanryu, he leads his men to take the battle to Kenshin, largely ignoring Kanryu after that and leaving the industrialist on his own. The evil businessman takes his revenge with the use of a Gatling gun that takes out the remaining members of the group, sacrificing their lives to make sure that Kenshin and their leader survive. After this incident, Aoshi falls into depression and vows to defeat Kenshin so he may lay the title of "World's Strongest" on their graves. Aoshi joins with Shishio's men for a brief time and finally gets the fight he is looking for, only to be defeated by Kenshin. However, Kenshin is able to talk sense into Aoshi and the genius fighter joins his side in his battles once he figures that Shishio was just using him.
Aoshi is not one to show lots of emotion. His cold demeanor belies that he is always scaling the scene around him in case trouble arrives. However suppressed he keeps his expression, he was very passionate about his team members and wanted to give them glory, not just himself. With their death, Aoshi sunk into deep depression and hoped to be able to give his loyal men the glory he thought they deserved.
He is gifted beyond most others in the field of battle. He is gifted in both stealth and attack. His weapon of choice is a kodachi, a blade shorter than a sword but longer than a dagger. He later employs two of these blades to enhance his fighting abilities. His cold analytical look at battle makes him a very strong fighter and someone that is tough to handle.
Aoshi may not be friendly to many, and isn't as expressive as Kenshin or the others, but he is a deeply motivated man, even if his motivations change as the story is told. He is fiercely loyal to those who fight alongside him and isn't interested in glory for himself. Although he spends part of the story as a strong enemy, he becomes just as strong an ally for Kenshin and his friends.
A female ninja Kenshin first meets in the mountains on his way to Kyoto. Much like Yahiko, she is young and brash but is still very skilled.
Kenshin first runs into Misao on his way to Kyoto and Shishio. He ends up finding her as she suckers in a bunch of bandits, defeats them, and steals the money they just stole themselves. She tries to take Kenshin's blade from him, even though it's a "worthless" reverse blade sword. Kenshin and Misao then go and return the money to the original source, where she reveals that she too is trying to get to Kyoto. She eventually mentions that she is trying to find Aoshi and the remaining members of the Obiwaban Group, and seeing that Kenshin knows something about them, she ends up following him trying to get more info out of him.
Misao was raised by Aoshi and was a member of the group, but was eventually sent to live with an elderly man in Kyoto so that she could live her life as a normal girl. She rejects the idea and wanders around, looking for her Aoshi once again.
Misao is a trained ninja, employing many sneaky tricks and secret weapons at her disposal, such as kunai and smoke bombs. Although young, she can take care of herself against normal adversaries, but up against those of Kenshin's level she would not have much of a chance.
Unlike the emotionless man she desires so much, the 16-year-old is very loud and brash. She is constantly yelling and isn't afraid to tell anyone off. Much like Yahiko, she doesn't like being called a kid or being underestimated, as well as running into situations that are way over her head and skill level. She and Yahiko end up working together quite a bit and make a good if naive and chaotic team.
Misao may be an energetic chatterbox and a cause for some frustration to the others of Kenshin's friends, but she is still a good part of the team. Much like Yahiko, she represents youthful enthusiasm while most of the other represent the coolness that comes with age. She is not to be underestimated and is a handful to all that cross her.
Hiko Seijūrō XIII
Kenshin's master and the one who taught Kenshin his sword technique.
The most skilled swordsman of the series, Hiko is the 13th descendant to the Hiten-Mitsurugi style of sword fighting. He first met Kenshin when Kenshin was a boy. Kenshin and his group were attacked by bandits in the woods and Hiko was able to save him, but none of the others. Hiko was surprised to find that Kenshin had buried the dead, who turned out to be slavers and that his parents had died of cholera. Hiko is impressed at the inner strength of the boy and took him in as an apprentice, giving him the name Kenshin, since the master felt the boy's given name of Shinta was not a strong enough a name for a boy like him.
However, the two split once the war began. Hiko believed that his style shouldn't be attached to any group, since it would assure them victory no matter what their stance was. Kenshin, on the other hand, felt it was his duty to go into the war and try to save as many people as possible, causing Kenshin to leave his master when he was still a teenager. Years later Hiko found the freshly dug grave of someone (Tomoe) with Kenshin's scarf on it and figured that his student learned the lesson that Hiko had tried to teach him. Eventually when going to fight Shishio, Kenshin returns to his master to finish his training proper, with Hiko refusing. It took the help of Kenshin's friends literally kicking the door down and yelling at him to make him change his mind, saying that it would be easier to train Kenshin that go after Shishio himself.
Hiko is a very powerful person. He can easily avoid his student and pretty much everyone else with his speed, and is able to block attacks from anyone. He wears a massively weighted cloak that hides his true power under 200 pounds of pressure, so he is constantly training himself. Without the weights on his back, he has the ability to kill anyone.
Hiko is conceited, anti-social, and sarcastic. He will mention that he is better than everyone else and a genius in anything he does. He retreated to the mountains and became a potter so that he could still make a living without having to deal with people. Ultimately he decides to train Kenshin in the final techniques of the Hiten-Mitsurugi style because he doesn't have time to train a new student and doesn't want to face Shishio himself. During the final training, he always calls Kenshin his foolish student and makes embarrassing remarks about him. When Kenshin goes off to fight, he is left to watch over Kaoru the others, making him grumble and complain.
Hiko makes a tough teacher, but his style is no cakewalk to begin with. Unlike many of the swordsman that Kenshin meets, Hiko has no desire to show off or defeat people to prove himself. He knows how good he is. He'd rather be left alone and only have to fight anyone unless he absolutely has too, much like his disciple. He does not hate Kenshin for what he did but isn't one to ignore the decisions of his student either.
Kenshin's deceased wife and the one who turns him into the wanderer that he has become.
Tomoe's story is a sad one. She is the daughter of a former samurai and tasked with being the mother figure to her younger brother, Enishi after their mother died giving birth to him. She is to be wed to her childhood friend Akira, only for him to be slain by the Battousai, but not before leaving a deep scar down his cheek. She vows revenge and sets out to find the killer of her love, and joined that Yaminobu as their spy in an effort to take down the feared swordsman.
She eventually meets him and gets close to him, trying to discover his weakness that she could pass along back to her leader, Tatsumi. However, after she discovers his softer side and finds he is not just a cold-hearted killer, she begins to fall in love with him for real. They eventually marry, with her being 18 years old and he only 15, and she abandons her mission and her plans to have him slaughtered.
But it was not long before the Yaminobu makes their move in a snow-swept forest. Kenshin barely survives the attack of each of the group's members, having been stabbed and blown up twice, rendered nearly deaf and close to being blinded before he faces Tatsumi himself. As they went for the final deathblows to kill each other, Tomoe steps in the way to prevent Tatsumi from killing him, but sacrificing herself to do it. Before she dies, she creates the second half of the scar on Kenshin's face and leaving Kenshin vowing to never take another life again.
Tomoe was a sad and nearly emotionless girl after the death of her first fiancée. She seemed to always be sad, only showing emotions towards her younger brother. Eventually, she was able to regain some positive emotions with the love of Kenshin.
Although she set out to kill Kenshin, she doesn't seem to have any kind of training, even from her former samurai father. Ultimately she is the one that wounds Kenshin the most in his young life. He bares the scars, literally, of losing her and it takes many years for him to truly recover from her death, albeit it accidentally, from his own hands.
The manager of the Akebeko sukiyaki restaurant that Kenshin and his friends frequent during their time in Tokyo.
Tae became a friend to Kaoru and her friends as they are frequent customers at her restaurant. She is a kind and usually seen smiling as she runs her own business, much like her twin sister Sae who owns a restaurant in Kyoto. Tae seems to know the goings on around the area and will often help Kenshin and his friends with anything they need to know around Tokyo. She tends to hold Sanosuke's staggering debt to the restaurant over his head, but she is often more concerned with the budding relationship between Kenshin and the lonely Kaoru. Since she is single herself, Kaoru will sometimes bring up that point when the restaurateur gets too involved in bringing them together.
She has more than just a friendly customer/manager relationship towards Kenshin, Kaoru, and their friends. She truly worries about Kenshin and the others when they set out for dangerous ventures and missions and is willing to help Kaoru. Enishi finds out about this later in the series and has the Akebeko blown up, but no one was inside at the time. Tae rebuilds the restaurant, making it more into a maid cafe than the hot pot place it was before.
While not a major player in the series or in the lives of Kenshin or Kaoru, she is a friendly face and someone whom they can turn to during the events of the series. Kaoru obviously feels comfortable enough with her to share some of their activities without her spilling information to people who may threaten either of them. She cares about her friends and whenever they stop by for a bubbling pot of sukiyaki, she will be happy to bring them in, even with Sanosuke's ever growing debt to the business manager.
The waitress at the Akebeko and Tae's employee.
Tsubame is a shy 14-year-old girl who serves as a waitress for the Akebeko restaurant in Tokyo that Kaoru, Kenshin, and their friends frequent during the duration of the series. Her family served as servants to a much wealthier family, and when the Meiji era began this type of indentured servitude was ended, Tsubume's "master" still uses the girl to get the mold of the keys to the Akebeko so that he can come in and steal all its money. Yahiko, who had been secretly doing odd jobs for the Akebeko, steps in to defend the girl and after getting beaten down, he gets some advice (and a small bit of help) from Kenshin and the others, and defeats them, all the while with Tsubume watching.
As a waitress for the popular restaurant, she gets to know Kaoru, Kenshin, and the others very closely, being able to help them as she can. She, like her boss Tae, wants to see Kenshin and Kaoru together, but doesn't seem quite as pushy to see them together as the older Tae is.
She cares deeply for Yahiko, calling him Yahiko-chan, must to his frustration. She tries to help him whenever possible and is there to support him, especially during some of his more dangerous adventures. She is by his side in the later storylines as Yahiko goes off for battle and try to bring a severely depressed Kenshin back from his living hell. She is there to nurse an injured Yahiko and is by his side as much as she can.
Tsubume is a kindhearted sweetheart for the young Yahiko and someone that looks up to him the way that Kaoru looks to Kenshin. Although not a strong-willed or fighting trained girl, she still is able to motivate Yahiko as he goes into dangerous battles and to be there with a relieved smile when he returns to the restaurant.
The local police chief of the area around the Kamiya dojo who will come to Kenshin and his friends for help. He is known as Uramura in the manga but is named Muraki in the anime.
Chief Uramura leads a battalion of Police officers in the Tokyo area when the series begins. Initially, he views Kenshin as a wanted dangerous criminal, least of which of his offences is carrying a sword in public. He goes after Kenshin and then Kaoru for housing such a wanted man. He changes his mind after the fake Battousai incident and finds that Kenshin was one of the main reasons the imperialists won.
In knowing who Kenshin really is, and the ability he has, The chief will come to him with issues the police can not be able to handle on their own. He asks for Kenshin and Sano's help when Jinei is going around killing high-ranking officials, and also heads Kenshin's words when Raijuta and his men have a battle with the police that Kenshin stops, so there is no more bloodshed.
In the later chapters of the manga, he becomes a target of Enishi, who wants to go after things that are close to Kenshin. His house and family are attacked, but thanks to Kenshin, they escape to safety. The Chief, in turn, leads the police force away from Sanosuke who had stormed the mansion of the corrupt official who was helping bully his family and beating him senseless.
Uramura is a competent officer and leads his men fairly, but he realizes that he needs help sometimes with extremely tough cases, especially against overpowering enemies. He isn't a frequent visitor to the Kamiya dojo, but will turn there when he has no other options within the police force.
A long haired old man that Kenshin meets in the later chapters of the manga.
After he thinks that Kaoru was killed and that he failed to protect her, Kenshin has become very depressed, failing to accomplish what he had promised for the second time in his life. He ends up in a fallen village in Rakuninmura.
Near where Kenshin is, Yahiko and Misao arrive looking for him. They run into trouble with a large group of locals, but a long-bearded old man wards off the villagers with a large bag of cigarettes, before leading the young twosome to where Kenshin is located. They tell him he needs to get up and get revenge for Kaoru's death and that he was not solving anything sitting there. Kenshin sends them off.
While Kenshin sits silently in the wasted area, the Geezer just sits down next to him for a while before meeting up with Yahiko and Misao again. After the mention of practicing Yahiko's art, The geezer tells them that he was once a samurai, but he was weak since he lost both his daughter and his son.
He eventually gets Kenshin to react by opening a bottle of pungent perfume, said to calm nerves. It is actually the same perfume that his daughter, Tomoe, wore when she was alive. Eventually, after Sanjo begs him to help Yahiko, the Geezer tells Kenshin that his truth is not in revenge. That truth is not something you can throw away. After the speech, Kenshin gets up and leaves.
Although the locals think of him as a crazy old man who wanders around, in truth he is Enishi and Tomoe's father. He knows full well who Kenshin is and reveals it to the locals after Kenshin leaves. He then decides it was time to visit his daughter's grave and leaves.
Since he knows who Kenshin is, he doesn't hold any hostile will towards him for the death of his daughter. He may act foolishly, but he is wise and seems to blame himself for what happened to both of his children. He is calm and patient, although he acts a little crazy around others, he is serious in his thoughts towards Kenshin and his friends. Seemingly making up for his failure to protect his children, he ends up meeting his son (who doesn't realize who the old man is) and giving him much the same advice he gave Kenshin before the battle.
A wealthy young boy who wants to be a strong warrior and live up to the family name.
Yutaro is a spoiled and rich child who lives in a large estate that employs a big staff, including Dr. Gensai's sister. Kenshin and his friends arrive to see that Yutaro is determined to become a strong warrior and swordsman. In the anime series, he wishes to do this because his father was a great samurai and he wants to be like his late father. The manga version of the story has it that Yutaro's father has ended his samurai ways and now makes money selling swords and blades to wealthy European tourists.
To help him become the warrior he sets out to be, Yutaro enlists the help of wandering swordsman Raijuta Isurugi. Raijuta however is not nearly the gallant warrior the boy makes him out to be, as he is a conman looking to start a bloody revolution against the Meiji government. Despite the fact that Raijuta never teaches the boy any lessons, the impressionable Yutaro still believes him to be his master and a gallant hero. This belief ends up getting the boy hurt very badly with a crushed wrist and forearm.
Yutaro, being sheltered and pampered, is both naive and idealistic. He throws himself to Raijuta's feet based on lies and idolism of the warrior, even as things are not going the way it should be. Despite thinking Raijuta is making him into a greater and powerful warrior, Yahiko easily defeats him with an "inferior" wooden shinai, pointing out that Raijuta hadn't taught Yutaro one lesson since he had arrived and was just using his large mansion and money to get what he wanted. He blindly follows Raijuta, even when his "master" made no attempt to save his life after he fell off a cliff into a river. It is only when Raijuta uses one of his powerful attacks and makes Yutaro unable to use his right arm does the boy finally see what is going on.
But Yutaro shows us he really does have the resolve of becoming a warrior. As he leaves Japan to get medical treatment for his arm, he and Yahiko have words, and Yutaro vows that he will come back to Japan and train at the Kamiya dojo to be able to defeat Yahiko some day, even if he has to do it with only his left hand being able to hold a sword.
So while Yutaro is easily fooled and naive, he shows a great determination and resolve to better himself and be the warrior he wants so desperately to be.
He is a popular woodblock print artist that grew up with Sano.
When Tae asks Sano to go into town to but some portraits by a famous artist, Sano is surprised to find a portrait done of Capt. Sagara of the Sekihotai for sale. The portrait also features two young boys with the Captain, one of them being a younger Sano. The fighter begs the seller to tell him where the artist lives, and despite being told that Tsukioka Tsunan is a recluse, Sano goes to find him anyway. His suspicions of who this artist really is is quickly confirmed as he is met with his childhood friend Katsu, who was the same age as Sano when they were kids following along with the Sekihotai and Capt. Sagara. They were the only survivors of the government's massacre of the group over a decade before.
In the anime version of events, Tsukioka asks Sano to join him in an attack on the government in revenge for killing his friends. Tsukioka had been secretly making bombs for years and wants Sano to help in the planned assault. Sanosuke turns him down feeling that wasn't Sagara's way. Meanwhile, a group of bandits claiming to be the new Sekihotai run amuck in the town using supposed revolution as a cover to loot and steal from people. Sano looks to investigate, fearing his friend was the cause of the trouble. When Sano confronts the group using his dead friend's name, Tsukioka joins Sano in taking down the false army. The whole scam was set up by Tatewaki Shindo, the man who ordered the death of the original clan to cover up Meiji government failures. After defeating the bandits, Tsukioka gives up his revolution ideas.
In the manga version of events, Sano is reluctant to go along with his old friend's idea, but eventually decides to join him. Before the night of the planned assault, Sano puts together a party with Tsukioka, Kenshin, and all their friends. After hours of drinking sake, only Tsukioka and Sano are left awake. They set off to start the assault on the government building, only to be met by Kenshin. Kenshin defuses Tsukioka's bombs and while distracting the artist, Sano punches him on the face and knocks him out. When he wakes up the next morning in his apartment, Kenshin has taken all the explosives and buried them. Sano then explains that while Captain Sagara had done some nasty things, he was looking for a time when all men were equal and that time was realized. Tsukioka then gives up being an artist and decides to publish an illustrated newsletter pointing out the faults of the government instead. He makes one last print of Captain Sagara for Sano as a gift.
In both versions of the story, Tsukioka took his knowledge of explosives and gunpowder he gained from his time as a member of the Sekihotai and became an expert bomb maker. He wears metal rings on his fingers that he can quickly rub together to produce a spark during battle. He is able to make different bombs that have different potency and wait time before they explode, making him even more dangerous.
Tsukioka is like many in the Kenshin series, having held a grudge against the government in the years after the war, much like Sanosuke did. Sano was able to change his mind, at least to a non violent nature in his disdain for the government that killed all his friends.
A small boy whose family is killed thanks to Shishio's henchmen.
While traveling on their way to Kyoto, Kenshin and Misao find a man bleeding severely and quickly dyeing. In his arms is a much younger boy, his little brother. With his last breathes the man tells Kenshin to look after him and protect him from what was going on in their village. When Kenshin, Misao, and Eiji take a look at the village, they find Eiji's parents had been tortured and killed, their bodies left hanging out for people to see. Kenshin is not pleased to see what happened and makes his way into the village, being confronted by a group of Shishio's men who say that it was a rule to execute any outsiders. The gang attack Kenshin and Misao, only to be fended off when Saito arrives to the village as well.
When the fight is over, Kenshin and his friends go to take the bodies down and give them a respectful burial, but a group of the villagers tell them not to or else the man in charge of the village, Shishio's lackey Senkaku, would punish them. Kenshin takes the bodies down and tells them he would put an end to it.
After burying the bodies, Saito reveals that Eiji's older brother was actually a spy for the police and was probably hunted down when Senkaku's men found out. Eiji's brother was trying to get Eiji away from Shishio's men and protect him from any kind of reprisals against his family for what he did. Kenshin and Saito go to confront Shishio while Eiji plans on extracting his own revenge. Misao follows him and tries to convince him to do otherwise, but the boy doesn't listen to her. They sneak into the mansion of Shishio just in time to see Kenshin destroy Senkaku. Finding the man who killed his family disabled but not dead, Eiji goes to kill him before Saito stops him, saying that Senkaku will end up being tortured and executed for what he has done. When Kenshin talks him out of staining his brother's sword with blood, Saito ends up deciding that his wife Tokio would look after the boy, much to the surprise of Kenshin and Misao.
Eiji is a young boy who can't be blamed for the rage that fills him. His brother died protecting him and he witness the dead bodies of his parents hung out for the entire village to see. This makes him very head strong and vengeful. Being on the brink of staining his brother's sword with blood, it takes a lot of convincing from others to make sure he didn't end up having a death on his hands at such a young age. Eventually, much like others Kenshin comes across, he sees a new way of thinking, to the betterment of his life.
Captain Sōzō Sagara
The captain of the Sekihotai and the major influence on the young lives of Sanosuke and Tsukioka.
Sozo was the captain of the first squad of the Sekihotai, a militia of farmers and civilians that fought for the imperialists during the war. They helped protect people from the pro-shogunate forces and also helped spread the word of the changes that the imperialists were planning for after the war, the biggest being the cutting of overblown taxes. This turned out to lead to their demise as the new Imperialist government found that they had overspent themselves and weren't able to cut the taxes. To cover their tracks, the government turned on the Sekihotai. They labeled them as traitors spreading false information and had them brutally massacred, using Captain Sagara's decapitated head as a trophy. After the squad was eliminated, the secrets of what happened and all the good things the squad did to help win the war were buried along with their bodies.
Sozo was actually born Shiro Kojima, he became a scion of the Sagara family when he was young, taking the family's name. The Sagara family were wealthy and growing up in such privilege made Sozo dislike not only the high and mighty attitude of the wealthy but also develop a disdain for the separation of the classes as well. When the war begins, he leaves behind a wife and children and becomes a member of the Sekihotai, rising in rank to become the captain.
Seen only in flashbacks from Sano, we don't get to see a lot of Captain Sagara's fighting style. But it can be surmised that being the captain of such a group meant that he was very skilled not only in combat as a swordsman but also a good leader and strategist as well. He inspired loyalty from his men, even the young Sano and Tsukioka, that can be seen even in the modern time from his former followers. He dreamed that the efforts of himself and his men would bring about a new world where everyone would be treated equally and that the class system would be eliminated, a reality he never got to see.
The family of the one who created Kenshin's blade.
Shakku Arai was a blacksmith and sword maker, considered one of the best in Japan. During the time of the war, he created many swords, some more unusual than a standard katana. It is said that he didn't make swords that slice, but he made swords that kill. After the war ended he was the one who created Kenshin's reverse blade sword and gave it to him as a gift to see if Kenshin was true to his promise to never kill again after the death of his wife.
In the series' present day, Kenshin and Misao are in Kyoto, staying with the man who raised her. Kenshin tries to find Shakku, since his own reverse blade sword is broken, only to find that the blade maker had since died. Kenshin learns that Shakku had passed on his secrets to his son Seiku. In meeting him however, Kenshin finds that Seiku hated his father's crafting of weapons that killed people and does not made blades, instead making things like kitchen knives and other everyday tools to support his wife and young son Iori. Kenshin doesn't want to force Seiku to break his vow and leaves.
Shishio, through his network of spies, spots Kenshin at Seiku's house and sent Chou, a member of Shishio's group who not only thrives on killing with his katanas, but also has a couple of Shakku's blades as well. Chou hears of Shakku's final blade being hidden and visits the family, threatening to kill Seku's son Iori until they tell him where it is. Iori's mother tells Chou that the sword was presented to a local temple as a gift to Kami and they don't have it. In response Chou takes the small child, to teach them about lying to people and heads to the temple. He finds Kenshin waiting for him.
In the battle, Kenshin tries to fight without his broken blade while Chou not only uses a double-bladed sword but a long thin bladed sword that acts more like a whip than a blade. Both made by Shakku himself. Seiku and Misao arrive and find that with Iori's life on the line, Kenshin is teetering on the edge of becoming the Battousai again. Kenshin talks of how the blade does not make an era, but the people do. Touched by this, Seiku runs into the temple and retrieves the final blade of his father. Kenshin uses it, and the others think he had killed Chou, only to find the final blade was also a reverse blade sword, in fact it was the "pure" form of the blade given to Kenshin long ago. When the handle shatters, it is inscribed with a prayer from Shakku realizing the same feeling that Kenshin had.
While Shakku spent most of his life as a maker of weapons that kill, eventually he started to have similar feelings to Kenshin. It is said that Shakku's final blade was not for the son that resented his ways, but for the grandson that would live in a peaceful world where a killing blade would not be needed.
Sanosuke's family that he left behind to go fight with Captain Sagara in the Sekihotai as a kid.
After leaving the Kamiya dojo, Sanosuke ends up going back to where he was born. The small village he left over a decade before to join the Sekihotai had changed a lot. Where once was just a small rural village surrounded by farms, now stood government buildings and businesses. With the mounting stress of what been going on with Kenshin and his friends, Sano takes a time out in a spa, only to be interrupted by a fight with some yakuza and a little girl. He chases off the yakuza but ends up kicking the girl's little brother for hiding while she was in danger.
He meets a large former sumo wrestler named Fudosawa who is the yakuza controlling the town. Sanosuke disposes of some of his men, including the hired Harumi brothers who recognize him immediately. Fudosawa likes what he sees in Sanosuke and offers him a job to take care of a nuisance in the town, an elderly man who seems to be stronger than any of his men, in his attempt to control the town's silk production and way station. Sano sends a challenge letter to the old man, and when he arrives for the challenge, Sanosuke finds that it is his own father, Kamishimoemon. That doesn't stop them from beating each other senseless before Kamishimoemon explains that the radish farm that Sano grew up with is gone, largely thanks to Fudosawa and that to keep the kids out of poverty, they make hats out of straw. Sano realizes what is really going on and instantly sides with his family and the abused villagers. Sano also figures out that the girl he met earlier was his littler sister Uki, and that the young boy he kicked was his little brother Ota, whom he had never met. Despite this, neither he or his father mention that to the two kids.
After Sanosuke stands up to the yakuza, Fudosawa sends a large group of men to burn down the Higashidani farm. The villagers rally around the father and son, wanting to save the town from Fudosawa and his uncle Tani. Tani is fearful that if Sanosuke's friend the Battousai gets involved, that they are done for. After having thrown a rallying party, Sanosuke gets in a fight and knocks out his already drunk father, facing the group alone. However, Ota takes Sano's earlier words to heart and begins loading up on weapons before setting out alone to join the fight with his father.
Sanosuke and Fudosawa get into a fight where the sumo wrestler has no chance of winning and Sanosuke defeats him easily, breaking his ribs and knocking him out, defeating him in only 3 strikes. He then defeats all 200 of Fudosawa's men, much to his father and little brother's surprise.
After taking care of Fudosawa, Sano's father explains that when his oldest child left all those years before, his little sister, Uki, cried for days, and then cried again when word got back that the Sekihotai had been assassinated. He also explains how the girl became very protective of her little brother after their mother died giving birth to them, giving reason to why she was as she was. Sanosuke gives an encouraging talk to his weak little brother Ota, telling him to be stronger and a good little brother to Uki and when he gets older, to come train at the Kamiya dojo. Sanosuke leaves to fulfill his mission, while Ota has Uki sew a similar "bad" pattern on his clothes like Sano has, making Uki wonder if the stranger was in fact her brother.
The family is strong and bullheaded like Sano. His father has some age and wisdom, but he is also itching to fight, much like his son. Uki is overprotective of her little brother, scarred from Sano leaving and her mother passing away. She isn't afraid of telling people, especially her own father, what is what. She isn't afraid of anyone, even standing up to Fudosawa at one point. While Ota may be meek and not say much, in his young age he shows that he has the sense to help people and be strong like the others in his family, absorbing the words that the older brother he didn't know about said to him.
The 3 Noblemen
The 3 Noblemen, Ōkubo Toshimichi, Katsura Kogorō, and Takasugi Shinsaku were the leaders of the Meiji restoration in Japanese history. Since the series is set during that time, all 3 make appearances in the show/manga series.
Okubo was a statesman and samurai who took part in the overthrow of the Tokugawa Shogunate when he helped lead a takeover of the Imperial palace in Kyoto in January of 1868. Okubo was deemed the Home lord, who had control over the police force and all political appointments. He used his power within the new government to help modernize Japan by building roads, bridges, ports and such, in direct contrast to the former ruling government. Okubo was assassinated in 1878 after commanding the army against a rebellion force against modernization.
In the Rurouni Kenshin series, Okubo turns to Kenshin for help against the threat posed from Shishio, to which Kenshin refuses. Okubo gives him until May 14th to make up his mind with a final answer. Okubo is on his way to meet Kenshin for his final decision when he is killed by Seta Sojiro on orders from Shishio.
Katsura Kogorō who went by many names in his life was a radical thinker and military expert. Serving the Meiji restoration as a politician who drafted many of the government policies of the era. He also was an educator to the younger Emperor Meiji. He passed away from a longtime illness in 1877.
In the series, he is the one to recruit Kenshin to fight for the Imperialists. He is portrayed as more moderate and compassionate, whereas his real life descriptions were more radical and willing to sacrifice men to achieve his goal.
Takasugi Shinsaku was a young military leader who helped create militia style armies of mixed classes, whereas normally only samurai were able to do such things. He would lead his armies and was a big factor in the Meiji restoration. However, he died at the age of 28 before the full fruits of his work could be seen.
In the Kenshin series, he is portrayed as Katsura's friend who is against having the young Kenshin be stained with the blood of his heart.
Although not very large in the Kenshin story, they were major factors in the real life events that the series takes its cues from.
Villains and Ne're-do-wells
A former student of the Kamiya dojo who had plotted to try and take the dojo for himself.
In the anime telling of the story, Gohei was a student of the Kamiya dojo when Kaoru was very young. Gohei's view of fighting did not fit the Kamiya style as he used metal blade swords instead of wooden kendo blades. He was more interested in intimidating and killing people than he was protecting anyone with his blade. Kaoru's father got wind of this and challenged the rouge student, in which Kaoru's father crushed Gohei's left thumb, making him unable to use a sword with that hand.
Gohei returns to the dojo many years later as he was claiming to be the Battousai and using the Kamiya style as he murdered people. After his first run-in with Kenshin, His right hand in mangled, making him unable to use a sword ever again. He tries to get revenge by hiring Sanosuke to fight Kenshin for him, but that plan fails as well.
In the manga story, Gohei is the "wilder" of the Harumi brothers, along with his older brother Kihei. The manga has the older brother Kihei being the plotting mind while Gohei is the muscle. They both plot to take over the Kamiya dojo together and nearly kill Kaoru in the process when she discovers what is going on. When their plans to get the dojo fail, they first hire Sanosuke to take care of Kenshin and then are employed as bodyguards for the yakuza. Both plans end very badly for the brothers.
Gohei is a brute of a man who doesn't care much for anyone else. While his size and strength may overpower most normal people, he is barely a challenge for either Kaoru's father, Sano, or Kenshin himself. He is the first villain Kenshin comes across but was hardly the toughest. Although the anime series portrayed him as smarter than his manga version, he comes across as a bumbling oaf who doesn't stand up to those more skilled warriors in Kenshin's world. It is his insistence to go after Kaoru that brings out the more serious and protective side of Kenshin and sets off Kenshin and Kaoru's relationship for the rest of the series.
A dark assassin and killer left over from the war who becomes a hired killer.
Jinei fought for the anti-imperial forces during the war, but even after the war ended, his thirst for blood never stopped. He is hired by Shibumi and soon starts systematically killing off high ranking Meiji officials. He used his powers so that he could kill anyone before they even had a chance to defend themselves.
Jinei runs into both Kenshin as well as Sanosuke when he goes after a local government official named Tani who is desperate not to end up slaughtered like the others. Although Tani hired many men, only Sanosuke and Kenshin are really able to fight the killer. Soon we find out that Jinei uses his battle chi to hypnotize people through his eyes, leaving them unable to move and leaving them defenseless. Sanosuke has his problems, but Kenshin quickly figures out how to break the spell with his own strong fighting chi. Defeated, but not finished, Jinei wants to take out the famed Battousai the Manslayer, so he kidnaps Kaoru to bring out the former killer instinct in Kenshin. In the ensuing fight, he uses his ability on her, rendering her unable to breathe and telling Kenshin time is running out to kill him. He even uses his power on himself to make him even stronger, but Kenshin is still able to defeat him.
Jinei is a ruthless murderer who has no concern for the lives of others. He still holds his thirst for blood and hatred of the imperialist regime since his time during the war. Although insanely powerful against regular fighters, he struggled when faced with Kenshin, and ultimately is outmatched by the swordsman. Probably the evilest and most ruthless of Kenshin's foes, even willing to kill Kaoru just to get his battle with the Battousai, his powers and attacks are fairly easy for Kenshin to overcome since he had a strong fighting spirit and superior skills.
Jinei provides the first real challenge to Kenshin after he arrives at the Kamiya dojo. He is the first opponent to really bring out Kenshin's dark side and show just what Kenshin is really capable of. However, Kaoru was able to overcome Jinei's spell and stop Kenshin from killing him, a reoccurring theme in the series.
An unscrupulous industrialist who forced Megumi to produce deadly opium to fund his organization.
Kanryu is driven by money and power. He will do whatever it takes to make sure he is on top and has the funds to do it. He kept both Megumi's teacher and then Megumi herself captive and producing a deadly potent and addictive formula of opium for quick profit. Since he is not a fighter, he hires not only his own private army to support him, but the remaining members of the Obiwaban Group to act as bodyguards. His end goal of his operation is to use the money from his drug empire to become an arms dealer, using weapons from the west like guns and cannons.
Kenshin arrives after the Obiwaban Group kidnap Megumi and holds her hostage in Kanryu's mansion. Megumi wounds Kanryu in an attempt to kill him, but she is attacked and taken away. Kenshin and his friends storm the mansion, easily defeating the hired security. Knowing that Kenshin is the Battousai and he is who they had been looking to defeat, the Obiwaban Group abandons Kanryu and look to defeat Kenshin for themselves, not caring what happens to the crime boss or Megumi after that. When things get out of hand for him, he employs a large gatling gun as part of his new venture as an arms dealer to solve his issues and murder the members of the group trying to protect their leader.
Kanryu is both a very powerful person and a very weak man. He has a lot of influence both with his drug trade and with the Obiwaban Group behind him. With his resources, he has a lot of power and could take whatever he wanted, even people. However, once his warriors leave him behind, he is very weak-willed and knows that warriors on the level of Kenshin would be able to destroy him if they wished. Once he is out of bullets and no one is there to fight for him anymore, Kanryu is easy pickings for the swordsman.
A drug pusher, murderer, arms dealer and kidnapper, Kanryu is at the bottom of the barrel of filth in the Tokyo area. With his greed, lack of conscience, selfishness, and lack of compassion for a human life other than his own, he has nothing redeeming or worthy of redemption. Kenshin and his friends viewed him as the scum that he really was and he didn't put up that much of a fighting to Kenshin at all.
A kenjutsu trained swordsman and an aspiring revolutionary.
Isurugi is a person leading the way to bring kenjutsu back and does not care for anyone who stands in his way. He does not like the peaceful times Japan is in and wants to start his own kingdom based in Eizo for himself and his followers. He views the locals in the area as inevitable sacrifices in a new war against the government.
He ends up finding his way into the graces of the rich and young Yutaro, who is looking for someone to teach him how to be a swordsman. Raijuta plays along, wanting to use the family's mansion as his base and eventually use their money to fund an uprising. He doesn't care much for the boy, having not taught him a single lesson, only telling him that wooden swords are for the weak and metal swords hold all the power. When it looks like the boy dies, he doesn't bat an eye and keeps going in the preparations to attack the Meiji government.
When the army arrives to quell their plans, he eagerly leads his swordsmen into a battle with the army that leaves many dead on both sides. He ends up facing off with Kenshin, and in their stand-off, Yutaro gets hit with one of Raijuta's attacks, leaving him with a severely damaged right hand and arm, finally making the boy realize that the swordsman was a fraud. Left on his own, Kenshin easily squashes Raijuta and hands him over to the police.
Raijuta's power comes from his swordsmanship. His slices create enough force for long range attacks and don't have to actually cut into an opponent to do damage to them. He can create a force that can split the ground, let alone anything else in its way. We never get to see him in close range combat to really see how good he can be without distance to strengthen his blows.
Raijuta, for all his boasts and talk of how strong he is, proved to be little challenge to Kenshin. Not only did Kenshin avoid all of Raijuta's attacks, but he also directly countered them. It only took one blow to defeat the large swordsman and end the rebellion. It is not the attacks that made him a foe for Kenshin, but those he hurt while trying to execute his grand plan. Kenshin's defeating him was about avenging the deaths of the army, the swordsman, and the injury he inflicted on someone who saw him not only as a teacher but a second father. So while Raijuta may not have been much of a fight for Kenshin, the damage he was able to cause was enough to draw Kenshin's ire and quell the rebellion of an overconfident blowhard.
A dangerous mercenary for Shibumi who is tasked with killing Kenshin.
Akamatsu is another one of Shibumi's hired thugs. After Jinei is killed, Shibumi brings in Saito to try and finish off the former Battousai. Akamatsu doesn't care much for Saito, thinking the man is too slow in his work. Saito offers that they work together to kill Kenshin and split the money. It turns out Saito was just using him as a pawn to test the strength of Kenshin and get the assassin out of his way.
Akamatsu's main weapon of attack is his chains. He uses weighted chains to not only strike his opponents but also tie them up and throw them around as well. He is not above using small blades as well mixed in with his chain attacks to try and kill opponents. These attacks may work well with bandits and the like, but Kenshin has no problem with them, using his superior speed. Akamatsu's attacks and treachery only worked when Kenshin allowed them to.
Akamatsu's downfall is that not only is he impatient, but easily duped as well. Not only by Saito for putting him up to the fight but by Kenshin. Having been told that Akamatsu would not reveal his plan unless it was over Kenshin's grave, Kenshin simply played dead, letting the man's chain attack appear to have broken his neck. Akamatsu, in his own words is an "honest killer", keeps his vow and explains the entire plan to Kenshin without hesitation as the Battousai lay on the ground not moving. Once he gets the information about Saito, Kenshin simply pops up and finishes Akamatsu off in one strike. Having lost, he flees the country and cuts off ties with Shibumi, only to fall into the hands of Saito himself.
Akamatsu proves to only be a minor inconvenience for Kenshin. While strong, his attacks were nothing to Kenshin, as the former manslayer was just literally toying with him to get out the information he needed. When all was said and done, Akamatsu was shown to be easily manipulated by those he ran into and ultimately paid the price.
A former freedom fighter for the Imperialists who turns into a power hungry politician.
Shibumi is a former samurai who was on the side of the Imperialists during the war. In the days since the fighting ended and the Meiji Restoration began, he turns in his sword and became a high-ranking government official, become the president of the senate.
He becomes more power hungry and begins to secretly hire assassins to take out political opponents and threats. He personally hires Jinei to eliminate government officials before the killer is stopped by Kenshin. When the corrupt man learns that the former Battousai is in town, he hires Saito and Akamatsu to try and take care of him.
Shibumi's plans fall apart when it turns out Saito is a spy for the police and was just testing Kenshin's abilities. Akamatsu is set up by Saito to fight Kenshin and then killed by Saito himself afterwards. Shibumi than plans on bribing Saito to spill government secrets so he can get the higher rank of chairman of internal affairs, but Saito slaughters him as well to end his bid for power.
Shibumi is the first of many characters in the series that are obsessed with attaining rank and power, but are weak when left to their own devices. Although a source of pain for Kenshin, it is Saito who ends up dealing with him in a way that Kenshin would have never used.
A corrupt politician that appears a few times in the series.
Tani is a former member of the revolution who became a politician in the area around the Kamiya dojo. He is a short, portly man who uses his influence as a show of power but has no fighting ability of his own. He is first brought to the attention of Kenshin and Sanosuke as he is being targeted by Jinei early in the story. He hires a bunch of men and promises a lot of money to anyone who could kill the assassin. It is Kenshin who defeats him, but he does not accept any money from the power-hungry man. Sano has an even less opinion of Tani, thinking he resembles a pig.
Later in the series, Sanosuke runs into him again when Tani's nephew Fudosawa is giving his family grief. Fudosawa threatens the entire town with "powerful backing" and it is revealed that Tani is the sumo wrestler's uncle and letting the yakuza get away with things in the town. Sano takes a moment to recognize the official and calls him a fat pig of a politician. After seeing Sano, Tani worries that this would lead to the involvement of Kenshin, the powerful former Battousai since the swordsman could wipe out every one of his men and an entire army.
Sano ends up doing that very thing as he wipes out Fudosawa's forces by himself. After making peace with his father, Sano leaves the town, but on his travels he slams his way through Tani's security at his mansion and crushes the fat politician, sending Tani to the hospital screaming about the evil coming to get him and sending the police after Sano.
Tani is like most of the other government officials in the series. He is corrupt, has ties to the yakuza, and while he was once a freedom fighter, took the opportunity of the revolution to acquire power for himself. He is blinded by money and influence as a sign of power and eventually he pays for what he has done.
A Yakuza boss that has the misfortune of getting on Sanosuke's bad side after messing with his family.
Fudosawa is a former sumo wrestler who never quite made it in the sport, despite the influence of his uncle, the politician Tani Jūsanrō. He instead sets his sights on being a yakuza boss in a small rural town. He amasses an army of 200 men and with the backing of his uncle, takes over the small farming town, known for its silk.
He then takes over the silk trade for the town and forces the impoverished local residents to work for him. He runs up against a stubborn old man named Kamishimoemon Higashidani who isn't going to bow to the large man's political pressure. Fudosawa first hires the Harumi brothers and then hires Sano to take care of the problem, since doing so himself would bring legal ramifications for not only himself but for his uncle as well.
As it turns out, Sano is Kamishimoemon's eldest son and quickly takes sides with his family. In the final showdown, Sano takes his father's place, crushing the sumo wrestler in just 3 strikes, one that broke six of the former wrestler's ribs, and the final blow that Sano struck through a large rock to put Fudosawa down. Sano then goes on the crush all 200 of Fudosawa's men.
Fudosawa is actually capable of fighting for himself, unlike many of the other characters in the series that are in similar positions of power. Fudosawa is very large an intimidating, but is egotistical thinking that mere size alone, not only of himself, but of his army as well, was enough. However, like others that try to use their power and influence to bully others, Sano puts a quick end to him with little effort.
A group of pro-shogunate assassins that were tasked with killing the Battousai during the first year after the war. Their battles with Kenshin are what set him off as the wanderer and lead much to the events nine years later in the series. Each one is dangerous with their unique abilities.
The group conspires to killed Kenshin within a heavily wooded area known as The Binding Forrest. The group trains in that area to give itself a tactical advantage and makes sure Kenshin is set up to be defeated in battle.
The members are:
Mirakami: The scout and the initial member of the group to try and fight Kenshin in battle. He follows Kenshin around secretly for a long while to find Kenshin's patterns and usual routes as he travels. Eventually, he makes his strike on Kenshin outside of a bar. After killing two innocents in the process, he tries taking out Kenshin with his weapon of a katana attached to a wakizashi with a chain. He ties up the Battousai but is killed when he is stabbed by his own blade.
I'izuka: A spy within the local ninja clan where Kenshin is located. Although competent as a swordsman, his job is to recover bodies of the people the clan assassinates. He doesn't take part in fighting Kenshin in the Binding Forest, and goes off on his own after the battle. Later, he is caught and killed by Shishio, an act that would make him the next Battousai.
Nakajo: A man that was known to use secret weapons and the first to fight Kenshin in the Binding Forest attack. He is able to weaken the Battousai by hitting him with a dart of poison. However, Kenshin cuts off both arms of the fighter at the elbow. He flees into a cave he has rigged with explosives and sets them off. He is killed in the process and renders Kenshin nearly deaf as a result. His death is what inspires Hyoko Otawa to seek revenge on Kenshin in the Six Comrades, and he is the one who gave Hyoko his secret weapons to fight with.
Sumita: A large ninja assassin with a soft-spoken voice. After Nakajo's death, he is the next to attack a weakened Battousai, although Kenshin has little trouble in defeating him. The ninja has his legs cut off at the knees and is left to die in the forest. Still alive, Sumita distracts Kenshin long enough so that Mumyoi can set off another explosion that nearly blinds Kenshin, but also kills the defeated Sumita.
Mumyoi Yatsume: A former gold miner who comes from a secretive family that forcefully elongates their arms and legs to be better miners. He attacks Kenshin in the Binding Forest and stabs the Battousai in the shoulder, but gets taken down when Kenshin drives a sword through his hand. He survives the battle by fleeing, only to come back nearly a decade later as a member of the Six Comrades.
Tatsumi: The leader of the group. A master strategist as much as a fighter. He sends Tomoe to the Battousai as a spy and uses her to create a weakness in him. He is the last to fight Kenshin of the group, and while Kenshin is weakened and injured from the others, he goes in to finish Kenshin off. Kenshin goes to kill him but Tomoe steps in between them to keep the leader from killing Kenshin, causing Kenshin to kill them both with his strike.
Although Kenshin is able to defeat them, the battle takes its toll on the young fighter, both mentally and physically. It is this battle that changes everything for Kenshin and is the dividing point between Battousai the Manslayer and the wandering protector that Kenshin would become.
The Six Comrades
The group of warriors founded by Enishi Yukishiro in his attempt to kill Kenshin as revenge over the death of his sister. The group consists of three mercenaries and three looking for specific revenge against Kenshin for deeds done when he was the Battousai.
The group consists of:
Enishi Yukishiro: The leader and the brother of Kenshin's late wife Tomoe whom Kenshin accidentally killed in the battle with the Yaminobu. A great warrior that causes a lot of problems for Kenshin and his friends. For more information, read his entry below.
Kujiranami Hyōgo: A former swordsman during the war. He faced off against the Battousai and lost an arm in the battle. Despite his pleas for the manslayer to end his life, Kenshin spared his. A decade later he joins the Six Comrades where Enishi builds him guns and cannons that attach where his arm was cut off. He is a very large man and very strong, nearly taking out an entire police force, nearly killing Yahiko, and destroying a number of buildings.
Gein: An old man who is a genius at making puppets that he uses to fight. He first meets Kenshin as the massive Iwanbo puppet before revealing his true self. He creates not only a second and third version of Iwanbo but also a "corpse doll" of Kaoru, to make Kenshin believe she is dead and make him depressed. He is driven by the beauty of his dolls and the mechanics within them.
Hyoko Otawa: A man who appears and dresses like a woman. A sadistic man who enjoys killing, and does not care if it is a man, woman, or child. Although he carries a sword, he uses numerous concealed weapons as his strength. Although dangerous, is actually a coward in a battle with a stronger opponent. Supposedly joins Enishi over Kenshin killing his partner, but really just enjoys ending people's lives.
Mumyoi Yatsume: A former gold miner from a family that would stretch out their limbs to mine better. When gold dried up, he became an assassin. He was the only survivor of Kenshin's battle with the Yaminobu nine years before and looking to settle the score. He is very secretive as his old clan believed that if they were spotted by outsiders, they would be killed.
Inui Banjin: A camouflage-wearing man lacking in intelligence. Inui is a large man who doesn't use weapons, preferring hand to hand combat. Very boastful, he claims that he joined the group for revenge from Kenshin killing his master, but in reality he just wants to show everyone how strong he is and that his master thought of him as stupid. Probably the weakest of the six.
The Six Comrades all join in to attack the Kamiya dojo and the surrounding area to varying degrees of success against the Battousai. Like their leader, they do not appear in the anime as a group but provide opposition to Kenshin in the final story arc of the manga series.
A drug lord from Hong Kong that was Enishi Yukishiro's second in command during the latter's time in the Chinese mafia. He is the one who provides Enishi with the resources to extract his revenge on Kenshin, and in return when Kenshin is dead, Enishi would hand everything over the Woo.
Woo commands an army, including his own strong set of bodyguards, named The Four Stars, that always surround him. He has a horrible high and mighty attitude, considering he himself is not really a warrior, and that attitude drives Enishi bonkers. Woo would rather kill Kenshin and his friends before they reach the island that Enishi uses as his base using such things as artillery shells and sea-born explosive mines to sink their ships, to the irritation of Enishi.
Enishi tells Woo and his army to leave or he would obliterate them all during a battle with Kenshin and his friends. Woo and his bodyguards decide to "retreat", walking right up to Kenshin as he has just arrived. Calling his friends such things as cannon fodder, Kenshin's friends step up and face Woo's bodyguards. As the four large guardians are defeated, Woo tries to flee back to the house, only to run right into Enishi's fist and be knocked out.
Woo, much like Kanryu, lets others do the fighting for him. When those bigger and stronger than he is can't fight for him anymore, he loses control and in turn loses the fight.
To say Woo is an overblown, big talking, pain in the ass is not an overstatement. He is a man looking for power without becoming stronger. He annoyed both Enishi and Kenshin and when push came to shove, he couldn't really stand up to either of them, taking a regular punch to the face by Enishi to put him down.
Shishio's top man and one of the darker enemies in the Kenshin universe.
Seta is a young boy who comes from a very abusive home where his family treat him horribly and even try to kill him. As a result of this treatment, Seta has a warped sense of emotion. He learns that if he smiled, his family would back off their abuse in confusion. Since then he suppresses any real emotion and is usually found with a smile on his face and a cheerful disposition, even as he is killing people.
He first meets a burned Shishio as the former warrior is in hiding after he survived his execution. The boy doesn't seem afraid of him, and even gives him food and new bandages. When the boy's family finds out, they look to kill the boy and turn Shishio into the police. Shishio repays the boy's help by giving him a wakizashi, which Seta uses to slaughter his entire family with. After that, Shishio trains him to be a skilled warrior and assassin.
Since then he has become a follower of Shishio and his philosophy of "the strong shall survive and the weak shall die." He gleefully does whatever Shishio commands him to do including killing enemies, observation, and sending messages to Kenshin.
Eventually, he faces Kenshin one on one as a prelude to fighting Shishio. When faced with a losing battle with someone stronger than him, Seta's damaged mind begins to break down. The battle with Kenshin wears away at his emotions to the point where he can't take it anymore. When the battle is over and the boy is beaten, he collects the weapon that Shishio first gave him and leaves. He spends his days on the run from the police, looking for his own way after the death of his master.
Sojiro is probably the most damaged person in the Kenshin universe, at least mentally. The abuse and brutality he suffered from his family, him slaughtering all of them, and Shishio's influence leaves him an emotionally warped boy who holds little value in human life and will kill without a second thought if his lord wished him too. But even in his state, Kenshin was still able to get through to him and set him off to find his own way and purpose in life.
The one-time successor to Kenshin as the Battousai and the major villain in the first half of the manga series, and the main villain in the anime series.
After the battle in the Binding Forest and the death of Tomoe, Kenshin is relieved of his duties as an assassin and demoted to more open fighting (that he doesn't do anyway). Shishio earns the title of Battousai after tracking down one of the surviving members of The Yaminobu, the spy I'izuka, and killing him. The Imperialist forces keep him under wraps even more than they did Kenshin, even from their own allies.
With the Meiji government firmly established, they find that it would be for the best of Shishio is eliminated. While Kenshin had been idealistic about saving lives and protecting people, Shishio is more a power-hungry sociopath that would use the government's own secrets against them and sacrifice the entire country's peace in a bid for more power. Shishio is then knocked out and burned alive. He survives this near-fatal burning, but his skin is left charred and he is forced to wear bandages to cover it.
He soon builds an army of the best warriors in Japan called the Ten Swords. Using them, he tries to overthrow the Meiji government and take hold of the country for himself, believing that the strong would eliminate the weak. Kenshin and Saito find out about Sishio's plan to burn down Kyoto, only to find that this was just a diversion to his master plan of attacking Tokyo with a metal battleship instead, leading to the final battle between the former Battousai.
Being nearly burned to a crisp changed his body chemistry as he becomes hyperthermic, using his own rising body heat as a weapon against people. This ability makes his slight touch be able to burn people deeply, even kill them. His weakness is that he can only fight for 15 minutes in battle or else his body heat would grow so much it would vaporize his blood and sweat and set his own body on fire from within.
Despite his limited time to battle and his burned state, Shishio is extremely powerful, having defeated Saito, Kenshin, and Sano at one point with no damage to himself. His skills as the Battousai have not diminished much and even takes a straight shot by Sanosuke right to the face without being weakened.
Shishio is easily the most powerful of Kenshin's enemies, especially in the anime version of the series. He takes Kenshin to his absolute limit and is only failed by his own body. He and his followers make for a great enemy that faces Kenshin and his friends, and makes a large impact on the series.
The devoted brother of Kenshin's late wife and someone who is filled with revenge towards the man who ended her life.
Enishi was Tomoe's little brother. After the death of their mother, Tomoe treated him as much of a son as he was a little brother, so he was completely devoted to her. He was the only one who could make her smile, especially after the death of her fiancé at Kenshin's hands. When she is accidentally killed by Kenshin, Enishi's hair turns white from the shock and he still has visions of his sister that haunt his mind.
In the nine years since, he has vowed revenge on Kenshin for what was done. In the aftermath of that, he leaves Japan and goes to China. Sick from his journey, he is taken in by a wealthy family, who he then slaughters. He trains himself as a swordsman and hooks up with the Chinese mafia, where he is first introduced to his second in command, Woo Heisin. He uses Woo's resources to help fund a plan of revenge against the man who killed Tomoe and brings together others in his cause, forming the Six Comrades to help in his revenge.
Although he is seen as friendly to some, the only person he cared about in life was his sister. He uses his nature to try and gain trust in people only to advance his goals of killing Kenshin. Unlike most of the others that Kenshin faced in the series, he is not out for power or glory in defeating the Battousai, or in some ideological difference left over from the war. He even has a chance to kill Kenshin and all his friends as they arrive on the island Enishi is keeping the captured Kaoru but chooses not to as he wants a one on one fight so he may personally extract all his hatred on the former Battousai.
Even though he does not get a chance to appear in the anime series, only appearing in a few OAV specials, Enishi's story arc is a very important part in ending the manga. It ties into one of the biggest plot points in the entire series of what made Kenshin into who he is now as the wanderer and trying to end his days as Battousai the manslayer.
As you have read, the Rurouni Kenshin universe is filled with many interesting and diverse characters. Be they friend or foe they all have something to offer in this wonderful, historical series that is filled with laughs and tears. From the strongest warriors, the most corrupt of officials, the most peaceful of pacifists, to the most deranged of killers, this series has a diversity to always keep you on your toes and is worth checking out.