[RK Rewatch] Episode 4: One word: Evil! The Fighter for Hire

Monday, May 23, 2011 Laura Fitzgerald

Summary:  Yay! Another new character is introduced, Sanousuke Sagara, and an old (and annoying) villain returns, Gohei Hiruma - the false Battousai. Boo.

Angry at the Battousai for humiliating him and disabling his sword hand permanently, Gohei turns to Tokyo's underworld to find a fighter strong enough to defeat Kenshin Himura.  He finds a thug named Zanza aka Sanousuke Sagara, a tall and overly eager brawler who conveniently carries a major grudge against the Imperialist government and hires him to defeat and kill the Battousai.

My Thoughts:  This episode opens with the residents of the Kamiya dojo trying to justify the expense of a fancy beef pot at the Akabekko once again, leaving me hungry as usual and wanting to know just what the hell is in that beef pot!  Opium?!

At the inn the situation gets a little heated when a group of drunk patriots supporting Democracy in Japan start causing trouble, but for once Kenshin doesn't end up resolving it.  After one of the waitresses gets involved in the fight, Sanousuke steps in and takes the men outside.  He defeats the ruffians with ease and a minor assist from Kenshin when one of the men draws a concealed sword.

I did notice some not-so-subtle attitude towards the policies of certain *cough, cough* democratic nations in this episode. Example: "Somehow I always thought that Democracy existed for the weak or is it that the Democracy that you fools preach is the freedom to get drunk and give innocent folks a hard time with your big mouths." ~ Sanousuke.

It does make a lot of sense given what was happening historically.  In 1853 and American fleet lead by Commodore Matthew Perry sailed into a Japanese harbor and negotiated/demanded that Japan open itself up to free trade with the West. Prior to that the Tokugawa Shogunate enforced an isolationist policy that lasted for over 350 years designed to avoid trade with foreigners and keep the Japanese spirit and culture pure from their influence and invasion.  It seems that the Shogunate was right to be afraid of the threat that foreign influence and modern ideals posed to their sovereignty because sure enough, it wasn't long before the flames of revolution ignited after the first Black Ships arrived in Edo Bay. However, the revolution itself caused a lot of problems and heartache for many low-born and high-born families alike.  There was still a lot of resistance to the new world order and those that did not want to see the old, right ways disappear. So it is logical that the attitude towards Democracy and the West was less than favorable among some folks.  Perry and the other new Westerners certainly could be viewed as bullies from a certain perspective.

But enough about government for now, this episode marks a change in the show that becomes the new norm eventually.  We're moving into the episodes where the villains become increasingly more-and-more superhuman in their abilities and endurance.  For instance: Sanousuke takes a DAGGER to his HEAD and remains uninjured. Not only does the dagger fail to cave his head in like a melon, Sanousuke breaks his opponent's arm by STANDING THERE.  I guess it was his thick head and the strength of his fighter's spirit that shattered bone. This kind of thing requires complete suspension of disbelief, but it is somehwat necessary to further the action of the series.  The caliber of Kenshin's enemies until now has been very so we've not gotten to see the rurouni really let loose.  Since Kenshin is one of those superhuman characters himself, Nobuhiro Watsuki - the creator of the series, had to start providing him with enemies that could challenge his abilities and test the strength of his moral code.  Because if Kenshin can defeat every enemy in a single blow, it's just not that interesting is it?

After the fight at the Akabeko, Sanousuke is hired by Gohei who reveals the truth behind Kenshin's identity. The fighter-for-hire arrives at the Kamiya Dojo anxious to fight the strongest fighter of the Imperialist Army in order to fulfill some personal vendetta against the Imperialists; however, the fight is interrupted when they are discovered by Ayane and Suzume - the two adorable children whom hang out at the Dojo and have adopted Kenshin as an uncle.  It is agreed by the fighters that their match will have to wait because the children shouldn't be exposed to such violence. (Aww, isn't that sweet of them, but I wanted to see some fighting, darnit!!!)

This episode ends before anything really get's started, and was over before I even realized that we were coming to the end.

I'm going to save my rant about the Zanbatou for next time.  The what, you ask? Check out the above photo. No, that is not a surf board that Sanousuke is trying to bludgeon Kenshin with.  That is a sword and perhaps the most ridiculous weapon ever created  next to Cloud's busterblade or Squall's gunblade. For now, just have a good long LOL.


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