[RK Rewatch] Episode 3: Swordsman of Sorrow - The Man Who Slays his Past

Monday, May 16, 2011 Laura Fitzgerald

Brief Summary: While off on an errand Kenshin runs afoul of the Police Swordsmen, an elite and corrupt group of lawmen who are the only people who are legally authorized by the Meiji government to carry a sword in public.  Meanwhile, a squad of city policemen show up at the Kamiya Dojo ready to arrest the Hitokiri Battousai whom they've learned is currently in residence.

My Thoughts:  I can still remember my reaction to this episode on my first watch of the series.  This was the episode where I knew I was hooked. It's the first really satisfying fight of the show. In this fight we see Kenshin's soft exterior slip and get our first glimpse at how the Hitokiri Battousai must have fought.

Kenshin unsheathes the sakabatou and within moments all but the leader of the Police Swordsmen are down while Kenshin stands over the bodies looking very unlike the wide-eyed rurouni we're used to.  The reversed blade sword is nestled in the crook of his arm and his posture is still and relaxed; however, there is no mistaking his demeanor for anything other than deadly and confident.  It's not a defensive stance.  It's not an offensive stance.  It's not even a neutral stance!  Kenshin's stance says that he doesn't respect his opponents swordsmanship enough to take this fight seriously. The police swordsmen are no threat to him. It is definitely a cool moment, but a strange one for a peace-loving rurouni.  Kenshin is baiting his opponent almost like he's toying with him, and it works.  The captain of the Police Swordsmen flies into a rage and attacks with his signature strike to no avail.

At the conclusion of the duel the city police rush in to arrest the Battousai, but an old friend and comrade from Kenshin's revolutionary days, Aritomo Yamagata, steps in to stop them.  (Fun fact: Aritomo Yamagata actually existed; was the leader of the Japanese army during the Meiji Era; and had quite the handsome mustache!)  It was Yamagata that issued the warrant for Kenshin's arrest in hopes of driving him into the open again.  Yamagata had been searching for Kenshin for some time now and wanted to offer him a position in the new government, but Kenshin refuses Yamagata stating that he has no desire to be rewarded for manslaughter. Yamagata calls him out one more time trying to force him to accept the position and takes a stab at the futility of Kenshin's position as a single swordsman trying to find a purpose in the modern age, but Kenshin rejects him again with characteristic politeness. 

The episode strikes home how hard it must be for Kenshin to carry on in the Meiji Era.  We still don't know his reasons for disappearing after the revolution ended or why Kenshin refuses to kill again.  We are are told that Kenshin fought alongside the Imperialists for a better world, but ten years later appears that corruption has replaced corruption. 

A Particularly Ominous Line: "Even if it's only the handful of people that I meet on the street, I can still protect them with just one sword, that I can." ~ Kenshin Himura

You seem pretty confident about that, Kenshin.  Let's test this theory over the next 92 episodes, shall we?

Go Team Kaoru Moment:  Kaoru totally unleashes a can of Judo-whop-ass on the city policemen as she tries to make her escape in order to go warn Kenshin.


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