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May 28, 2012

Shonen Jump Alpha Review: Rurouni Kenshin Restoration

Rurouni Kenshin Restoration
Publisher: Viz Media (in Shonen Jump Alpha)
Story and Art: Nobuhiro Watsuki

In this previous week’s Shonen Jump Alpha, Rurouni Kenshin Restoration, the reboot of the Rurouni Kenshin manga, rolled out to American fans’ delight. The first big chapter is packed full of period sword play and action, and is a great start to this reboot.

We start off in the 11th year of the Meiji Era in Japan. Wandering Kenshin quickly gets pulled into a public sword battle with people thinking he is the great warrior Himura Battosai, against beautiful female samurai Kamiya Kaoru. However, Kenshin won’t play along, to the crowd’s dismay, which leads to the real Hitokiri Battosai and the wealthy Takeda Kanryu, who is running the event, appearing in order to calm the crowd. Later, in private with Kaoru and the young Yahiko, Kenshin finds out the real reason for them all being there. Kaoru is being forced to perform for money because she is being blackmailed, or else her father’s dojo and land will be Takeda’s thanks to a twisted bank deal. Late at night, Kaoru is called with a group of samurai for a final bout, while Kenshin goes off and crosses swords with Battosai. What Kenshin discovers is that Kanryu is actually an evil arms dealer who amuses himself by having samurai face off against his weapons, like giant gatling guns; a situation which, to much horror, Kaoru finds herself in.

There is a solid ending, but I don’t want to give away here how it all wraps up.

Nobuhiro Watsuki’s art is great, and he is certainly a pro at drawing sword play. Rurouni Kenshin Restoration is a nice addition to Shonen Jump Alpha, replacing the recently ended Bakuman. Released in Japan as Rurouni Kenshin-Cinema-Ban in Jump Square, as a reboot to tie into the new live action movie coming out in Japan in August, Rurouni Kenshin Restoration will appear here once a month as it does in Japan, just one week after its release there. The only other question Shonen Jump Alpha readers may have, is what will run the other three weeks a month, since Bakuman ran four weeks a month, and this new manga just runs one week a month. Seems like they’re getting shorted. [Editor’s note: Viz is adding Kōhei Horikoshi’s Sensei no Baruji (as Barrage) to the line up.] This week a preview of the latest in the the line of Yu-Gi-Oh titles is running, but who knows what the future holds? Hopefully Shonen Jump Alpha will find something more steady to run in the three weeks before new Rurouni Kenshin Restoration installments. Back to the case of the new Rurouni Kenshin Restoration, as mentioned it’s great. I never read the original Rurouni Kenshin, so I don’t know how it compares, but this a great jumping point for new readers to start from a point one. If you don’t want to wait for the collected editions, get a subscription to Shonen Jump Alpha.

Drew McCabe
drew@comicattack.net

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