It’s been mentioned by many fans that Ushio and Tora must make its way to Toonami (a sentiment I would co-sign). It has been a very enjoyable series to watch since 2015 and has quite the sizable episode count as well. It’s getting close to ending its run, which means Sentai Filmworks will finally be able to begin the process of dubbing it (I’m predicting it will receive a dub). What I found out about Ushio and Tora when the new series was previewed, was that there were 10 previous OVA’s released back in the early 90’s that were licensed by ADV Films. Having an older series like that return argues the point that not matter how old it is, if a series is popular and well liked,  it can still receive a reboot.

For those who might believe that 90’s anime is perfect the way it is, I certainly wouldn’t mind a few shows getting an upgrade from its earlier series. That isn’t to say that the 90’s anime I watched were horrible, because for the most part I enjoyed it back when they first aired. However, upgrading the visuals and action sequences for a few shows would be a treat for fans to see (as well as myself). And having a more faithful adaptation or complete story would be a great bonus in addition to simply adding new animation. When I think of a 90’s anime that I want to see rebooted, I look squarely at Rurouni Kenshin.

Now I know what some might think of my suggestion to reboot this series. The show was already amazing, with its compelling story and cool fights, so why mess with perfection? I can’t say I completely disagree, since Rurouni Kenshin was one of my favorite series ever on Toonami. But while I do remember this series fondly, I think that after watching it as I’ve aged, there are a few things I would like to see done to give Kenshin the respect it so richly deserves.

Fans were given 95 episodes during the original series, which felt like a masterpiece from start to finish, or at least it did when it aired on Toonami (more about the episodes that aired later). The story was a gripping tale of redemption of the highest order as we watched Kenshin try to live in peace and never kill again after murdering many enemies during the revolution for the Meiji government. He has had his fair share of slayings and wants to leave that life behind him for good. It’s why he carries a reverse blade sword (a sword not meant for killing), and why he stayed at Kaoru Kamiya’s dojo since Kenshin enjoyed peaceful times there. Staying at that dojo and looking at Ayume and Suzume who were growing up at the time gave Kenshin the feeling that all of his earlier hardships were worth the trouble. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a series if he was simply able to relax during what was a tumultuous time in Japan. We see Kenshin pulled back into violence time and time again, engaging in massive battles, sometimes at the behest of the new Meiji Government. So you have old enemies, new wannabe slayers, and his own government regularly pulling Kenshin into combat, when he’d rather laugh with children. It made the story more dramatic, with violence never fully out of his purview.

It was the story of Rurouni Kenshin that grabbed me. Kenshin is just oozing with pathos because he doesn’t want to kill anymore. Old war veterans either try to kill him or force him to fight, as we see in the “final arc” that aired on Toonami. Fans rooted for Kenshin to win, but to win without killing which reminded me of Batman. I rooted for the “man-slayer” to win so he could return to a peaceful life. I felt bad for the protagonist, since he never really wanted to fight the war. However, Kenshin himself realized that to defeat Shishio he had to return to the battlefield. It certainly made the series dramatic, since generally Kenshin would rather avoid action. The story was enjoyable from start to finish, and many viewers look at this series as a real Toonami favorite.

So with all the praise I have showered on Rurouni Kenshin, what makes me want to see it be rebooted? For starters, I want to see the series receive a full adaptation of the original manga. Surprisingly, I found out that Rurouni Kenshin’s anime series didn’t show the complete story of Kenshin Himura, which saddens me, as Kenshin was one of my favorite protagonists. So instead of believing that his battle with Shishio was how it ended, which would have been fine, those who did not read the manga are left with confusion as to how it all ended. Adding to that, the third season of Rurouni Kenshin didn’t even air on Toonami. The series ended at episode 62, plus 33 other episodes didn’t air on television. Although those episodes were filler, I wouldn’t have been upset seeing them, and I’m sure others would have been fine with it, too.

So yes, after the Kyoto arc, the rest of the series is filler as the anime was coming close to where the manga left off back then. Production companies typically add filler arcs to give the author time to write more chapters (for example, One Piece, Bleach, Naruto, etc.). Sadly, the interest in this series died during the third season, and it was left ending prematurely instead of having more arcs written (seems similar to how Bleach ended). To the surprise of some, the wandering Samurai couldn’t keep enough interest to keep the show running for as long as others have.

There were a few OVA’s that were released as well, to try and finish up where the anime left out. However, the ending received negative reviews because it ended differently than the original author intended. Samurai X: Reflections has a very tragic ending for our hero, which wasn’t how Nobuhiro Watsuki planned to conclude the manga series. So Kenshin really hasn’t had the appropriate ending that makes the most sense for him and the series.

Considering how popular this series was, why shouldn’t a studio look into remaking it and more faithfully follow the original? Like Hunter x Hunter, Madhouse had a ton of source material to create 148 episodes, with only two of them filler. Since Rurouni Kenshin is complete, the studio can go at any pace they want to provide a completely faithful adaptation that I think fans of the franchise would love to see. The biggest problem stopping that from happening is the franchise’s overall popularity. While I’m sure older fans of Toonami would love for Rurouni Kenshin to get a second chance at stardom, I don’t think newer fans care if it’s adapted or not. As with Ushio and Tora, my life would be okay even if it didn’t get a brand new adaptation. It isn’t something that needs to be done right away.

Of course, other series have had hiatuses that are now receiving new content. I can point to two older series that are getting new continuations: D.Gray-man and Berserk. The difference as to why those particular franchises are getting new episodes unlike Rurouni Kenshin is that both of those mangas are still ongoing. There may be a ton of breaks with these two, but they are still considered incomplete, thus leaving fans wanting more content. Or for a marketing standpoint these series can help promote sales of the manga series. Rurouni Kenshin has finished, so for those who would like to know how it ended, the manga is available through Viz Media. A reboot does depend on whether a studio believes that the series would be profitable and therefore worth the trouble to make as many episodes as it takes to finish the whole story.

I would love for a studio to give Rurouni Kenshin a “facelift” so that the action scenes weren’t just Japanese letters/phrases that pop up, and then show Kenshin in a stance after slicing the enemy. It would be nice to see the if wandering Samurai could get the ending the original author intended as he helped create one of the most recognizable protagonists in the 90’s (or 2000’s for fans in the West). It’s a story that fans can get behind. After all, who doesn’t like a good redemption tale? People love seeing that, it’s just like those sports redemption stories that are run over and over again. I think it would be a fun reboot to have, but I do wonder if it’s still enough demand for a complete animated adaptation. That can be said for a lot of reboots, but I think this would be one of the better series to revive.

C.J Maffris is an editorial writer for Toonamifaithful.com. He would love to see a completed adaptation of the wandering Samurai. Feel free to talk all things Rurouni Kenshin with him on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris.

1 COMMENT

  1. This show and the manga created a lift for a generation that would go on to create many different shows/manga in the future. This is a series that needs to be taken serious, the movie didn’t have the impact, but was not terrible. The live action was a hit; this is Toonami’s gem that deserves to have a re-boot, but it has to be done right.

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