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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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09/02/2005 Archived Entry: "Manga review: Rurouni Kenshin Vol. 15"

Rurouni Kenshin Vol. 15
by Nobuhiro Watsuki
English Adaptation by Gerard Jones
Translation by Kenichiro Yagi
Published by VIZ Media

Review by Tom Good

A book made almost entirely of fight scenes risks falling into a boring, repetitive rhythm, but this volume of Rurouni Kenshin sidesteps that problem by bringing out a great mixture of characters, weapons, and styles of combat. Kenshin's friend Myojin Yahiko does battle with the freakish Henya, a skeletally thin man who throws sticks of dynamite, and with each explosion he soars into the air using wings strapped to his back. The art in this sequence emphasizes sharp angles and brute force. Then when pretty Kaoru and Misao take on the effeminate young man called Kamatari "The Scythe," the fight seems more elegant. The weapons move in graceful arcs, especially the swirling chain attached to Kamatari's scythe.

Things change yet again when Kenshin's teacher Hiko Seijuro faces the monstrous giant "Fuji." Against this immense opponent, Hiko uses a combination of swordsmanship and psychological manipulation. And finally, in a battle that hinges on speed, Kenshin faces Seta Sojiro. Sojiro's blindingly fast footwork seems to give him the advantage, but of course Kenshin is not about to give up.

So this book demonstrates how an artist can line up a series of battles one after another, but make them all feel completely different. Rurouni Kenshin is a clever, consistently good action series. Newcomers to the series should probably start off with an earlier book, because this one has little plot or explanation, but otherwise this is well done.

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