Rurouni Kenshin is well-known for its epic sword fights, and we have the opportunity to watch one of the best. Few people can consider themselves a “rival” to the battosai, and Aoshi more than earns this right. This is the first time in the series that Kenshin is genuinely pushed back without the use of tricks or hostages. Rurouni Kenshin, Episode 12 is certain to have fans on the edge of their seats. Let’s see how this legendary duel compares to its original adaptation. The Han’nya and Shikijo fights were epic in their own right, so let’s have hope.
Episode 12 — Okashira・Aoshi Shinomori
Rurouni Kenshin: Past and Present — Kenshin vs. Aoshi Pt. 1
Just as before, Kaoru’s absence means that her exposition is handed off to someone else. Here, it’s Kenshin who explains the characteristics of a kodachi. The Yahiko of 1996 recognized Aoshi’s sword as a kodachi, whereas his 2023 iteration mistook it for a wakizashi. Yahiko was just so much more able, and given more opportunities to prove why he was a member of Kenshingumi, back in 1996.
Another key difference between then and now lies with Sanosuke. Shikijo had been defeated outside of Kanryu’s gate in 1996. The battle was so fast, Sanosuke simply walked it off and kept going. He was there when Kenshin encountered Aoshi. He underestimated the Oniwabanshu leader and charged forward. Aoshi proceeded to dodge every hit and toss Sanosuke like a ragdoll across the room. This tense scene proved ahead of time how strong Aoshi was.
Aoshi’s initial kempo barrage had different effects between then and now. Kenshin was only able to block it towards the end back in 1996, and his legs buckled under him when the effect truly hit. Aoshi’s eye glowed as well. The Kenshin of 2023 blocked the entire strike, and he stayed on his feet.
Rurouni Kenshin: Past and Present — Kaoru’s Lesson
As we discussed before, Kaoru stayed home while the men marched to war. I’d prefer it if she had gone with Kenshin, Sanosuke, and Yahiko like she did back in 1996, but we discussed that before, too. At this rate, she’s going to become the next “Where’s Dr. Gensai?!” of these reviews. We might have to if they keep leaving Kaoru behind.
Here in 2023, Yahiko has a brief flashback to one of Kaoru’s lessons where she explains the concept of “reach.” This follows Kenshin’s explanation of how he was able to land a hit on Aoshi. Nothing like this scene played out in 1996. Kenshin gave his exposition after nailing Aoshi in the throat with the pommel of his sword.
Rurouni Kenshin: Past and Present — Kenshin vs. Aoshi Pt. 2
Rurouni Kenshin in 2023 has a habit of not calling out sword techniques. The same remains true for Aoshi’s floaty Jissen-kenbu. Fans who never read the manga or saw the previous adaptation will only know the name Kaiten-kenbu.
There’s no difference here, but I just wanted to highlight Yahiko’s reaction to watching Kenshin fall after getting hit by Aoshi’s Kaiten-kenbu. Everyone thought that Kenshin of all people had been taken down. Yahiko gets angry and draws his wooden sword to take down Aoshi. He had been scared before, but pure rage and sadness kept him going. It’s a great scene regardless of adaptation. If I must point out a difference, the type of wooden sword is different between adaptations.
Rurouni Kenshin: Past and Present — Kanryu’s Gambit
After Kenshin defeated Aoshi with a sword hilt to the throat from the side in 2023, and from the front in 1996, the two of them have a brief chat. In 1996, their chat was interrupted by the rest of the Oniwabanshu, just in time to hear their shared backstory. In 2023 however, Kanryu and his gatling made an appearance first. He just couldn’t wait, could he? Sanosuke and the rest of the Oniwabanshu are shown getting up from their fights to rejoin Kenshin and Aoshi after hearing the Gatling gun. As before, the first one to fall before the Gatling gun is Shikijo.
Rurouni Kenshin Ep. 13: Battle’s End
For all his sins, Kanryu proves the age-old lesson: never bring a sword to a Gatling gun fight. The next episode will see just how far a greedy criminal like Kanryu will go with a machine gun.
Kenshin really should learn how to handle guns, though. Good thing J-List has the St. Louis 1/7 Figure Heavy Equipment Ver. for purchase from the Azur Lane section. If he can block her bullets, Kanryu wouldn’t stand a chance.
What did you think of this week’s episode? How did Kenshin’s fight with Aoshi compare to the previous version? How cool was Yahiko when he challenged Aoshi? Let us know in the comments below.