Rurouni Kenshin (roughly translated as "Wandering Swordsman Kenshin") is the story of the master swordsman Himura Kenshin. Once a lethal assassin feared throughout Japan as the Hitokiri Battousai, he fought for the Ishin Shishi to bring about the new Meiji Era. After killing countless men to achieve the goals he believed in, Kenshin decided to leave behind the life of the Hitokiri. He gave up his katana for a sakabatou -- a reverse-bladed sword incapable of killing. Kenshin chose the path of the Rurouni, sworn to use his sword only to protect innocent people as best he can. No one knew where the deadly Hitokiri Battousai had vanished to, but his name became legendary among the people...
Rurouni Kenshin was originally created by Watsuki Nobuhiro. It is currently running in Japan in two forms: a manga appearing in Shonen Jump and a weekly anime series currently in its third season. With great characters, a deep storyline, a perfect mix of drama and humor, beautiful artwork and truly awe-inspiring battle scenes, it should come as no surprise that RK is so immensely popular. The series has developed a huge following -- especially in Japan, but also in countries all over the world.
Rurouni Kenshin is based (somewhat loosely) on actual events in Japanese history, at the beginning of the Meiji Era. The story begins in the year of Meiji 11 (1878 by the American calendar). Kenshin is travelling through Tokyo when he is confronted by the Kamiya Kaoru, a beautiful young Kendo master who is searching for a murderer. Seeing Kenshin's sword, she believes that he is the man dishonouring her dojo in the name of the Hitokiri Battousai, but she quickly finds out otherwise. After Kenshin protects her from the true killer, Kaoru offers him a home at the Kamiya Dojo... They are soon joined by Myojin Yahiko, the proud 10 year-old son of a samurai family, and the very cool ex-gangster (and self-proclaimed 'bad-ass' ^_^x) Sagara Sanosuke. Together, these four form a new family that would not easily be torn apart...
The Tokyo chapter (first season of the anime) begins the story of Kenshin, as he meets Kaoru, Yahiko, Sano, and Megumi Takani, all of whom will play important roles in his life. Kenshin endeavours to protect his new-found friends from villains like the Kurogasa (Udou Jin'e, a dangerous assassin from his past), Takeda Kanryuu (a dealer in illegal drugs and arms), the Oniwa-Banshuu (a ninja group) and their leader, Shinomori Aoshi... In the anime, the first season also contained many 'made-for-tv' episodes, which weren't in Watsuki-sensei's original story. These filler eps vary in quality, but for the most part just don't deliver the true Rurouni Kenshin experience...
The Kyoto chapter (second season of the anime), however, is where things really start to get good. ^_^ Kenshin meets up with Saitoh Hajime (an ex-Shinsen Gumi captain) who was Kenshin's greatest rival ten years previously and now works for the government. From here, the series focuses on Kenshin's journey to Kyoto to battle against Shishio Makoto -- an evil warlord determined to rule Japan -- and his elite mercenary group, the Juppon-Gatana (Ten Swords). Starting from here, the story becomes very involved and intense...
The current storyline is the Revenge chapter, which is being told in the manga currently running in Shonen Jump. The focus is mainly on Kenshin's past -- and how it's coming back to haunt him. Yukishiro Tomoe married the Battousai ten years ago, and was killed by him under mysterious circumstances. Now, her brother Enishi has returned from Shangai to take revenge. Naturally, he has also assembled a group of comrades who also want Kenshin dead...
Himura Kenshin -main character-
He was orphaned at a very young age when his parents died of cholera, and ended up being taken as a servant by a wandering band of slavers. En route to their destination, however, the slavers are ambushed by bandits and are killed. Only Kenshin is saved by a wandering swordsman named Seijuro Hiko. Hiko turns out to be the great Master of the Hiten Mitsurugi style of fighting, and ends up training Kenshin to be his successor.
She was the young woman who let Kenshin stay with her at her dojo. She is an adjutant master of the Kamiya Kashiin Dojo and is actually quite the swordsman herself.
A lot of people think she's weak, but she's actually quite strong. It's just that, compared to Kenshin and Sanosuke, she's bound to come up short.
He used to be a member of the Sekihoutai group before the Ishin turned on them and had them all killed. He was just a boy when he watched the Captain of the Sekihoutai, Sagara Souzou and the
rest of his soldiers murdered, and he grew up with a lot of misgivings against the Ishin. When he first met Kenshin, he knew him only as the Battousai and thus challenged him to a duel.
At first, Kenshin refused, but after a certain series of events ensued, they finally battled. Obviously, Kenshin was the victor and he and Sanosuke eventually become friends. Sano is very loyal and very protective of his friends, and often bites off more trouble than he can chew. He is also quite stubborn and a bit slow on the uptake sometimes, but makes up for it with brute strength and bulkhead determination.
As the best and only student of the Kamiya Kashiin Dojo, Myojin Yahiko is a young boy who met Kenshin and Kaoru when he tried to pickpocket them. A quick learner and versatile student, Yahiko proves to be everything Kaoru wished for in a student and every thing she hated in a charge. Though they don't much show it, the two developed a certain student-teacher, parent-child closeness that is uniquely their own. Yahiko also looks up to Kenshin as a sort of father-figure, and has quite a bit of respect for his strength and kindness. Another character that Yahiko shows a fondness for is the young Tsubame, who works with him at the Akabeko. He is often very gentle with the girl, and makes an effort to be on his best behavior with her. Sano and Yahiko, on the other hand, behave like squabbling siblings whenever they are together, and can often be heard hurling insults (and furniture) at each other.
She's one of the finest doctors in the Tokyo area. Though she generally has a good heart, she is constantly butting heads with the enigmatic Kaoru when it comes to vying for Kenshin's attention.
Both women are in love with Kenshin, but with Megumi it's more for show. She also argues constantly with Sagara Sanosuke and more often than not ends up being paired with him.
She is really not a fighter, preferring to give medical aid rather than another sword arm during battles.This doesn't make her weak, though, because emotionally, she's quite strong. A member of the Aizu Takanis, Megumi managed to survive through the burning of her house and the loss of her parents and siblings.
Abused by adoptive parents at a very young age, Seta Soujiro became a master at suppressing his emotions. When he met up with Shishio Makoto, a known criminal and Hitokiri, he
managed to survive the encounter only because Shishio saw the potential he had and spared his life. He is always smiling and never lets his emotions surface. Known as Soujiro the Prodigy, he served as a member of the Jupon Gatan and as Shishio's right hand. When Himura Kenshin defeated him, he realized that the truths Shishio had impressed on him, namely that 'the flesh of the weak is the food of the strong', were all lies. He learned that as a swordsman with exceptional skill, he had the power to help others. After this, he left the Jupon Gatana and decided to wander as a Rurouni until he found his answers and some peace.
Aoshi is the okashira of a group called Oniwabanshuu, protectors of the Edo castle. He has a cold attitude and the cunning fighting style to match. He's not a bad sort in general, just reserved and with a massive dark side.