Authored by Nobuhiro Watsuki, the setting of Rurouni Kenshin is Japan during the ‘Meiji’ era. The protagonist in this story is a wandering samurai on a quest to atone for his bloody and sinful past. During his travels he meets different kinds of friends and foes who all bring about a change in Kenshin’s World.
The protagonist, Himura Kenshin throws away his life of Hitokiri (Assassin) becoming a nomad, helping people in the best of his abilities to atone for the lives he took in the past. In his travels he meets a young Kamiya Kaoru in Tokyo, who accuses Himura to be the ‘Hitokiri Battousai’(legendary manslayer) and that he is tarnishing the name of her family’s style of swordsmanship to kill people for pleasure. Himura is the exact opposite of what she believes him to be, i.e he is simple, peace loving and polite; he tries convincing her otherwise and is interrupted by the fake Battousai. As things play out Himura is dragged into it and ends up staying with Kaoru at her Dojo abandoning his nomadic ways.
The storytelling is impressive. This manga is based on events that transpired in the transitional stage of Edo into Meiji era. During this time the country was undergoing modernization and they opened up to western culture. In this transition of eras, the sword ban rule was passed which prohibited the samurais and general populace from carrying a sword in public. But there were still a bunch of samurais resistant to change and unable to adapt to the new ways of life; and they still believed in the value of dying in battle rather than live pathetically in the new era.
The supporting characters are lovable especially Yahiko Myojin, the kid from a samurai descent but is used by the local mob to pickpocket his living. But upon meeting Kenshin he finally finds his purpose in life and joins the dojo. Another notable Character is Sagara Sanouske who is a brawler who wants to fight Kenshin because of Kenshin’s title of the “Strongest” and also has the same ideals as Kenshin does and he too ends up joining the gang after getting defeated by Kenshin. Siato Hajime, Kenshin’s nemesis during the Revolution & now works for the Police Force. The beautiful Megumi Takani who makes opium for a local business tycoon because of her superb knowledge in medicine from her Family traits, Dr. Genryusai, the adorable little Suzume Chan and Ayame Chan, all of them will hold a very special place in your heart once you finish this manga.
The antagonists in this manga are the best ones out there, period. The way the growth of the characters along with Kenshin’s growth is very much visible as you read on. The manga has its comical moments, and they are pretty spontaneous and hilariously drawn.
The manga has an Angular Style of Drawing. Thick Clean lines and Heavy contrast just makes each fight scene look so amazing. In the initial issues you can see that the drawing is not as good it is later on, as the story progresses and the characters evolve with the background art. There are many panels where there is no background artwork at all and only characters are overlapped, which would have been great if there was more conversation. At certain parts where there is a back story without Kenshin, it does seem a bit bleak, however in the large majority the entire story is centered around Kenshin .
This manga began publication way back in 1994 and was adapted into an anime in 1996, even so the story or the artwork don’t feel dated one bit. A live Action movie was also released in 2012. Now this manga is worth a read, I would recommend this for almost all teens and young adults.