Rurouni Kenshin has been getting a strong revival recently. The manga ended in 1999, and other than the slightly infamous Reflection OVA, the series was fairly dormant until last year. Then a PSP fighting game and the Kyoto Arc movies heralded a Renaissance for the series ushering in the upcoming live action film. Even more surprisingly than any of that is the newly re-imagined manga of the original series. Seeing that the Kenshin name still has a good deal of cache with western fans Shonen Jump Alpha announced that Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration (aka Rurouni Kenshin -Cinema-ban-) would be the one of the titles they used to replace the recently finished Bakuman manga.
Like any good reboot Restoration is immediately familiar yet feels new at the same time. Clearly Nobuhiro Watsuki has changed and improved his art style since he last worked on Kenshin. But at the same time it ins unmistakably Kenshin.If you have ever seen the character redesigns for the covers of the Rurouni Kenshin Kanzenban reprints then you have a good idea of what to expect.
The first story combines the original introduction of Kenshin, Karou, and Yahiko with elements of the first Aoshi story. Like the art the story feels familiar but it is still its own beast. It starts during Bakumatsu with flashes of some iconic battles between Kenshin, Jin-e, and Saito. It then moves forward to the relative calm of the Meiji era and Kenshin once again gets mixed up with Kaoru trying keep her dojo from unsavory scoundrels. It is a quick little story that unites the main trio and shows off Kenshin’s skills. The chapter end with some cameos of villains from throughout the original series including Sanosuke, Saito, and Inui Banjin. A good introduction to the cold-hearted assassin of the revolution who becomes a pacifist who carries a revered blade sword so he can defend the weak without killing. But at the same time it reminds you that there is still a bit of the beast still in Kenshin.
It is an interesting trip back to the story of Himura Kenshin. I think it has the distinct ability to draw in new fans while reminding older fans what they liked about the original. I am curious if they are going to make Kaoru anything more that a damsel in distress most of the time. This would be a good chance for her to live up to the initial promise she had in the original series.
I myself am mostly just sitting back and waiting for Misao to be reintroduced.
I wasn’t really all the interested in the online magazine Shonen Jump Alpha. I had nothing against it, I just wasn’t keeping up to date with any of their offerings. But then they announced Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration and I folded. So here I am, reading a comic
weekly monthly which I don’t think I’ve ever done before. I’m pretty excited!
From first glance I was happy with what I saw. The art is top-notch, very sharp and crisp. The action is swift and bold.
We start with bloody battles featuring Kenshin as Battosai and then jump forward to the period after the war. This set-up works, you don’t know too much about Kenshin and his abilities but you know enough to be aware of his badass status. He makes it pretty freakin’ clear to a lot of people that he is indeed Battosai from the first chapter. It feels more aggressive, instead of trying to live out a humble life, Kenshin is ready to jump in the fray for a purpose. He hasn’t lost the rejection of unnecessary violence, but he also isn’t hiding from who he was. At least, that’s how it seemed in this chapter.
I wasn’t really kidding when not too long ago I joked that if they were redoing Kenshin they should have forgotten about Karou. Blessedly, she is already not nearly as annoying. I believe this can continue!