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Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story, Vol. 1
by Nobuhiro Watsuki
4 out of 5

A mysterious warrior named Hitokiri Battôsai arose in Kyoto 140 years ago. A fiercesome warrior, he slew countless men, his efforts helping bring to a close the Bakumatsu era and bringing in the age of the Meiji.

Then he disappeared.

In the 11th year of the Meiji, a rurouni—a vagabond—named Himura Kenshin surfaces in Tokyo and befriends the spunky Kaoru, the owner of a student-less dojo.

With the aid of young new friend Yahiko, a boy wanting to be a samurai himself, Kenshin and Kaoru must ward off those looking to kill them.

And so the story begins . . .

Despite its label being a “romantic comedy,” this is by far the most serious out of the manga I read. Nobuhiro Watsuki has crafted an incredible tale, an important story, one that had captured my full attention the second Kenshin showed up in Tokyo (which is pretty much the first page of the book).

His art is stellar. The detail is astounding (even after the first 22 pages when the art goes from ultra detailed to “just” super detailed). His rendering of Japan from 140 years ago is believable, each panel transporting you directly to the past.

The big deal about this book is the fight sequences, each chapter in this volume containing at least one battle. I’ve never seen action like this before—so huge, so intense, so detailed, so explosive, with speed-lines everywhere—AMAZING!

This volumes also includes a special bonus story that was originally published about a year before the now-complete-twenty-eight-volume series began.

This is a great opening story to what is sure to be a fantastic saga this reviewer looks forward to finishing. (I’m also now eager to check out the anime for this.)