Book Review: Rurouni Kenshin Volume 18

March 28, 2014


Well, this more surprising than early fulfillment of pre-orders.

A while back Barnes & Noble notified me of being eligible for store credit because of a settlement reached in the lawsuit against five of the six biggest publishers in the US for colluding with Apple in fixing eBook prices, according to the Attorneys General and Class Settlement website, and I got that credit quicker than I had thought.

With that credit, I got two new books.

Today, I will be reviewing one of those titles, which is called Rurouni Kenshin Volume 18 by Nobuhiro Watsuki.

After experiencing a civil war that resulted in the overthrow of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Japan is returning to peace.

Unfortunately, there are those that still face struggles.

Kenshin Himura, a former assassin that went by the name Battosai, is one such individual, who has taken an oath not to kill and wanders around Japan, seeking redemption.

However, when Kenshin arrives in Tokyo, things start happening that will make Kenshin’s internal struggle with the past much more difficult.

With Shishio and the Juppongatana defeated, Kenshin and his friends decide to head back to Tokyo.

However, after Kenshin meets a familiar face at the Akabeko, he realizes that the past that has haunted him for quite some time has finally caught to him.

Now, Kenshin must prepare for another battle with faces from the past, in order to protect those he cares about.

I really enjoyed this book. Even though it has been some time since I have seen the Rurouni Kenshin anime, including the two OVAs known as Trust & Betrayal and Reflection, I did not feel lost by the events that were happening. Of course, that could be because the volume started at the conclusion of the Kyoto arc, which in of itself is a nice thing because I have not read any of the earlier volumes like I have for Detective Conan. This makes it really for those that have seen the anime to easily transition into the manga, unlike series like Detective Conan where there so many changes made in the anime that it would just make more sense to start right off with the first volume. I wish that more series were like this, since there are anime out there, such as Inuyasha, before the Final Act series aired, that end without any real conclusion. Unfortunately, even if the series was something that one could easily transition from one medium to another, people would still need to do research to find out what volume they need to pick up in order to continue on with the series, which I had to do here myself because Rurouni Kenshin’s final arc was longer than I thought. I liked how the main cast seem have grown from their experiences during the Shishio. For example, Sanosuke, who had lost to Saito, wanted to be able to beat Saito, but with Saito’s supposed death, Sanosuke decided that he had to go beyond Saito in more than just strength. People go through times when they want to be better than somebody at something in our society as well, but people who realize that improving themselves and going beyond their rival in matters other than what they were beaten in is important turn out to be better people overall. Unfortunately, there are people that never do learn that fact and turn into criminals. I also liked how Kenshin seemed to have overcome the bitter memories of Kyoto, where he had once slain many. After all, according to Kenshin’s master, it had been some time since he visited the grave of the person it belonged to, though we never really found out who it belonged to in the anime or the OVAs, aside from the fact that it was somebody that died because of Kenshin. On the bright side, we do kind of find out in this volume, because Kenshin’s new enemy visits the same grave and mentions a grudge held by his sister against Kenshin. While I do somewhat know the truth, I wonder what that grudge is that he is talking about. Another thing that was surprising was that Iwanbo was actually a very knowledgeable person. Then again, the appearance he has had throughout the Kyoto arc has allowed him to gather information, so I guess it worked out for him. It was also surprising that Iwanbo was just a guise for the real ally of the new enemy, which makes me wonder if this new enemy had planted the spy knowing that Kenshin would become involved or if it was a coincidence. The thing that I think I liked the most though was the usage of Japanese honorifics. Not only did it feel more natural than how honorifics were used in The Seven Deadly Sins Volume 1, but I was also surprised that Viz even put them in. Now, I have not read every title released by Viz Media, but out of the ones I have read, Viz practically uses little, if any, honorifics. Too bad they do not do this in every time, since they have at least one other title that takes place in Japan. Then again, if Viz suddenly started putting more honorifics in their Detective Conan translations, it might sound weird. Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I liked without repeating myself. The fact that there are a lot of mysteries surrounding the new enemy and the grave and I did not feel lost, despite having not seen or read the previous events for quite a while, as well as the fact that the honorifics actually felt natural, made this book pretty decent.

Although I liked the volume, there are some issues. However, aside from page orientation issues in a couple spot, which will only affect the enjoyment of those reading the ebook releases, there was only one thing that really bugged me. Within the pages of the book, there are various little extras, such as a glossary for terms used and words from the author. However, while most of them are well placed, there was one that seemed to have been misplaced. Before the start of the penultimate chapter of the volume, which is part of the Jinchū arc, we are presented with words from the author just rambling on and then he starts talking about plans for Rurouni Kenshin to end on a happy note and finally talks about the next volume. However, the last of page with words from the author, which was after the Kyoto arc finally came to an end, talked about a bit about the last chapter of the Kyoto arc, as well as the arc itself, before he starts rambling about other stuff. That was placed pretty well, because it did not interrupt the flow and it talked about things that already happened. One presented before the penultimate chapter, on the other hand, seemed to break the flow that was actually making me excited about reading this technically manga exclusive arc, seeing as only one of many fights that supposedly happen in this arc got animated. If Viz wanted to keep the two pages separately, I think that particular extra should have been placed at the very end, either before or after the glossary, because the things it contains really seems like a perfect way to end the volume. Unfortunately, it was placed right before the penultimate chapter and ruined the flow because it was in the middle of an arc that seemed to have a very great start. Now, I am not sure if the Japanese volumes have this problem too, but Viz, as a company that has released many titles, should have people that can determine things that can actually make things better by not affecting the flow of a book. After all, other books in the world seem to feature words from the author at either the beginning of a book, which may have made this issue worse, or at the end, because that is where words from the author have the least impact on the book itself. At least Viz did not make mistakes as bad as their release of Nisekoi, which in addition to mistake made by Naoshi Komi made me not want to continue on with the series. While the misplacement was not the worse mistake made by Viz, or Japan, if they are at fault for it, it did hurt the quality of the book itself a bit because it did affect the flow of the content.

Despite the fact that an extra felt like it was misplaced, this was definitely worth reading. I only recommend this to fans of Rurouni Kenshin, especially those who want to know how the series really ends after watching the anime, because the series is easier to transition to the manga than another series I like and not enough has happened to yet to know who else will like it.

What are your thoughts on Rurouni Kenshin Volume 18? If you started reading the manga at this point after watching the anime, did you feel like it was easy to follow like I did? Do you have anything to add to what was already said? Feel free to comment.

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