Rurouni Kenshin -Restoration- by Nobuhiro Watsuki (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

May 25, 2013 by  


With the release of the live-action “Rurouni Kenshin” film, manga series creator Nobuhiro Watsuki has decided to come back and give fans of the live-action film, something new to read and familiarize them with the primary characters of the series.  But to also add new elements for longtime fans as well!    “Rurouni Kenshin -Restoration-” is recommended!

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Image courtesy of © Rurouni Kenshin 1994 by Nobuhiro Watsuki All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: Rurouni Kenshin -Restoration- Vol. 1

STORY AND ART BY: Nobuhiro Watsuki (和月 伸宏)


PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shonen Jump Manga

RATED: T for Teen

RELEASE DATE: June 4, 2013

During the violent upheaval of the Bakumatsu era, Hitokiri Battosai was a feared and ruthless assassin. But now that the Meiji Restoration has begun to heal the wounds of civil war, Battosai has taken up a new name… and a new calling! He is now Himura Kenshin, a rurouni wanderer who has vowed to only draw his sword to protect those in need. But not everyone is pleased with Kenshin’s new direction, and enemies from his dark past have vowed to bring him down!


A condensed retelling of the original Rurouni Kenshin series.

“Rurouni Kenshin”, the popular Japanese manga that was created by Nobuhiro Watsuki back in 199, which led to an anime adaptation which last from 1996-1998, until the manga series concluded in 1999.

Suffice to say, “Rurouni Kenshin” became one of the most popular manga and anime series in Japan that would reach international acclaim.

From light novels to video games and even several animated films, Watsuki’s “Rurouni Kenshin” manga had sold over 55 million copies as of 2012 and the anime series has been voted one of the 100 most watched anime series of all time.

And for most mangaka, when your story has been told, you end it on a high note which Watsuki did in 1999.

But with the “Rurouni Kenshin” live action film having been released in 2012 and the film receiving a lot of attention worldwide from fans, Watsuki was offered a chance to create a manga series, may it be a sequel or anything he saw fit.  And despite telling his fans that he would never write a “Rurouni Kenshi” manga again, he decided to lift the ban because of his appreciation towards longtime readers and the potential to attract new readers through a one shot.

So, “Rurouni Kenshin -Restoration” is a quick catch-up manga that introduces how Himura Kenshin met Kamiya Kaoru, Sagara Sanosuke and Myojin Yahiko.   But also adds new story elements such as introducing Elder as , a Western medic as Nobuhiro Watsuki had wanted to include a Western character to the series and also introduce a Western villain named Espiral.

What is “Rurouni Kenshin -Restoration-” all about?

“Rurouni Kenshin” is a series that was set in the early Meiji era and focused on a former assassin named Kenshin Himura , who was feared by many as he held the title of “Hitokiri Battosai”.  No longer wanting to kill or become an assassin, Kenshin has become a wanderer who would offer protection to people in order to atone for the murders he has committed.


He eventually makes friends wih Kaoru Kamiya (who he becomes very close with); orphan Yahiko Myojin ;  former Sekiho army member, Sanosuke Sagara.  Meanwhile dealing rivals and foes which include Oniwabanshu’s Aoshi Shinomori and the Shinsengumi leader Hajime Saito .

I have to admit that I was surprised to read online that Watsuki was creating “Rurouni Kenshin – Restoration-” as the original “Rurouni Kenshin” is so beloved and has become a fan favorite, why mess with something that ended on a high note?

But I can understand Nobuhiro Watsuki wanting to get back into writing the series.  From the live-action film to the appeal of writing a one-shot for a newer generation who may not be familiar with “Rurouni Kenshin”, I’m sure that the thought of creating a new series has crossed his mind many times but it took the live-action film to see how there was interest in the characters and that fans were wanting to see a new “Rurouni Kenshin” storyline but if anything, it’s that over a decade has past and with the opportunity and the interest in “Rurouni Kenshin” pretty high thanks to the live-action film, now’s the time!

“Rurouni Kenshin – Restoration-” is interesting to see Kenshin drawn in a different style, some different additions to the retelling of the story but also to see Watsuki incorporate elements that he had wanted and that is to feature the westerners visiting Japan.  And to feature western characters in a brand new storyline.

So, while this manga can be seen as a shortened primer to a few of the primary characters for newer fans who enjoyed the live-action film but also for longtime readers who wanted something new.   For Watsuki, his primary motivation to doing this one-shot is to make sure that current “Weekly Shonen Jump” readers who never read “Rurouni Kenshin” would enjoy it, existing readers would enjoy it, to fill in the gaps of one element that he missed, include an element that he never included before and last, to make sure the ending ties into the First Act.

And the answer of why Kenshin stop becoming a wanderer is explained by the introduction of the western character.  And everything ties together to the series quite well.

Of course, for those who want the full experience of “Rurouni Kenshin”, you can still purchase the manga or even watch the anime series.  But for fans just getting into “Rurouni Kenshin” or fans familiar with the series wanting to see something new and also old, will enjoy “Rurouni Kenshin – Restoration”.  It may not be the sequel that fans have wanted but for Watsuki to come back once again to continue Kenshin, even for a one-shot, should bring joy to new and longtime fans.

“Rurouni Kenshin -Restoration-” is recommended!

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