Jin-e’s demand for a proper duel happens by moonlight. He’s taken Kaoru hostage to enflame Kenshin’s rage and turn him back into a hitokiri. Let’s see how well one of the best duels in the history of Rurouni Kenshin plays out in 2023.
Episode 7 — The Two Hitokiri
Rurouni Kenshin: Past and Present — Title Sequences
Maybe it’s a bit late to touch upon this, but the title sequences in the 2023 iteration just bore me. White text on black background greets viewers at the start and the end. There’s no narration, either. As seen above, the 1996 version has stylized portraits of Kenshin or Kaoru at the beginning to announce far better-sounding episode titles. Granted, Kenshin declares the title names at the end of the 2023 episodes, but it’s not the same. The endings for the 1996 episodes have Kaoru narrate the plot of the following episode, with white text over a still frame from that episode.
Rurouni Kenshin: Past and Present — Jin-e’s Past
The first difference between the classic and modern happens at the start of Episode 7. Kaoru is tied up in a shrine and berates Jin-e. No fear in that one: it’s why she’s the Best Girl. Jin-e explains his past dealings with Kenshin. In the 1996 version, Jin-e faces the consequences of his actions when Shinsengumi members try to execute him. He cuts them down and explains that he’d heard rumors of Kenshin’s actions because they were both in Kyoto then.
In the 2023 version, Kenshin appears and cuts down those members of the Shinsengumi. Whether or not they were trying to execute Jin-e is unclear. He left Jin-e alive to pass a message along to Shinsengumi leadership. Additionally, the locations were different. In 1996, they were in a river at sunset, while in 2023, they were in an alley at night.
Rurouni Kenshin: Past and Present — A Midnight Duel
The duel itself plays out mostly the same between iterations. However, the 2023 version leaves Yahiko and Sanosuke out of the prep stage. Kenshin leaves behind a note informing them of Kaoru’s abduction and his duel to save her. They’re understandably concerned and rush out to help. The part where Kenshin approaches the shrine is also missing from his perspective.
Jin-e’s counterattack plays out differently from classic to modern. In the 1996 version, Jin-e cuts Kenshin’s arm in passing, and Kenshin stumbles onto the ground. The 2023 version doesn’t look bad because Jin-e stabbed Kenshin in the arm, but he stays on his feet.
The scene where Kaoru succumbs to Jin-e’s Shin no Ippo sounds far more severe in the 2023 version. She also has less time to survive it; two minutes in 2023 and five minutes in 1996.
As discussed last week, Kenshin shows no visible changes when he enters his hitokiri state in 2023. In the 1996 version, his eyes change to reddish color to highlight how lethal he has become. That doesn’t happen in 2023. Similarly, Jin-e’s eyes don’t change color after he uses Shin no Ippo on himself for a power boost in 2023. In the past, his red eyes changed to a blueish hue. But in 2023, they remain red.
The climax of the duel largely remains the same, Kenshin declares that he will become a hitokiri again, and Kaoru fears for his soul. However, the scene slightly differs between versions. In 1996, he proclaimed he would kill again with his full chest, and his colors shifted for impact. In 2023, he makes his fateful declaration in a quiet tone. Kaoru’s vision plays out differently, too. In 1996, she sat on the floor of her dojo in her kendo uniform. In 2023, Kaoru isn’t inside her vision. It’s not a notable change, but I prefer the older scene.
Rurouni Kenshin: Past and Present — Kurogasa No More
Jin-e’s death scene plays out differently in this new iteration. In the past, he merely spoke about how a “hitokiri is only that until he dies,” so his words rattled Kenshin a bit. The modern version has some exposition where Jin-e explains a government official hired him to pick off specific targets and that a power struggle similar to the Bakumatsu is playing out behind the scenes. He still gets the line where he will “watch Kenshin from the edge of hell,” so not much changes between iterations.
Yahiko and Sanosuke don’t show up in this scene, so we don’t get the comedic bit where they fall into the mud and argue about following the wrong tracks. We don’t see them until the end, and they don’t even get speaking roles. They only serve as comedic foils to an otherwise heavy episode, but it was played so well in 1996 that they didn’t break the tension. Still, I can understand why they were missing, even if I didn’t like it.
No Crouching Moron, All Hidden Badass
Yeah, this entire episode was a duel to the death. Maybe Kenshin was a bit silly when he tried to return Kaoru’s ribbon to her at the end, and it was covered in blood, prompting him to run from her fury. However, that was the only funny Kenshin part. Moving on.
Rurouni Kenshin Ep. 8: Beauty on the Run
The next episode will introduce Megumi Takani, the beautiful doctor with a troubled past. You know, Dr. Gensai appears in Chapter 19 of the manga. We get Megumi’s backstory from him. So maybe, just maybe, we might see him in the anime. We will likely also see Kanryu Takeda, the Oniwabanshu, and their leader, Aoshi Shinomori.
This isn’t a fantasy match-up, but I wonder how Kenshin would react to meeting this girl. The Sakura Kinomoto 1/7 ARTFX J Figure -SAKURA CARD- from the Card Captor Sakura section is now up for pre-order. I bet he would get a kick out of her costume and magic.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Are you looking forward to seeing Megumi and Aoshi come to Rurouni Kenshin? Do you suppose Dr. Gensai might appear after all this time? Let us know in the comments below.