Description by Viz:
During the violent upheaval of the Bakumatsu era, Hitokiri Battosai was a feared and ruthless assassin. But now that the Meiji Restoration has begun to heal the wounds of civil war, Battosai has taken up a new name…and a new calling! He is now Himura Kenshin , a rurouni wanderer who has vowed to only draw his sword to protect those in need. But not everyone is pleased with Kenshin’s new direction, and enemies from his dark past have vowed to bring him down!
Nobuhiro Watsuki, creator of Rurouni Kenshin, returns for this special “retelling” version of his classic hit titled “Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration.” Before you read this manga, let me point out some facts for you. The manga is NOT a sequel to the original series. More or less, Restoration serves as a “parallel” retelling of the original story. The manga is actually 2 volumes short. Some of the characters have been changed in appearance but still retain their quirks. With that out of the way, let’s begin the spoiler-free review!
Just like the description says, the story begins with the introduction of the Hitokiri Battosai Kenshin Himura and his days of killer during the Bakumatsu. Kenshin was a man who killed his foes with his deadly godlike speed, the Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryu. After the violent era, Kenshin disappears and wanders the world for peace.
As years pass and a new era has begun, Kenshin returns and sees peace. However, after he meets the key characters Kaoru and Yahiko, he realizes that there evil in the world when he encounters the greedy merchant Takeda Kanryu. Kanryu wants to buy off Kaoru’s dojo for trade but he meets Kenshin, he sees that a man like Kenshin won’t easily be persuaded with money.
As Kenshin helps Kaoru and Yahiko, he will meet new allies and old foes from his past that wants to challenge him like Saito Hajime and Udo Jin-e.
I remember reading the manga from the classic version and after reading this manga, I like how Watsuki kept the key contents of Rurouni Kenshin. We got the “violent past”, we get the funny introductions of Kenshin meeting Kaoru and the friends, and we got the same tension when he meets his enemies; in short, everything you remembered from the original story is back for this new one. They may not be exactly like the original series but it is modified to the point where it still retains the same familiarity. For example, Kenshin meeting Kaoru is still funny and Kenshin does fight Jin-e in a life and death battle. To be honest, I actually got into reading the classic manga later in my life after reading Restoration. Like I mentioned earlier, Restoration is more of “retelling” of the original series but also being new. Old fans will get nostalgia feelings when they see these epic moments again in a different version. New fans will instantly get hooked on the action and comedy that they will be curious to see the original story. The manga is crafted in a new original story while retaining what is true to original story.
As much as I enjoyed the serious, this manga had some areas where it fails. The most obvious flaw is the story length. Mentioned earlier, this manga is only 2 volumes long. The ending of the story leaves you a cliffhanger as if there is more to come for Kenshin and his new adventures. In each chapter, it does pretty well on the pacing and length, but sometimes even the pacing can be fast in action scenes.
This manga also has prequel chapter to the original story (not Restoration). In the prequel chapter, Kenshin meets a doctor and he learns about how to do deal with “scars” in life.
The original characters are back in this new story and that’s one of the key elements in Rurouni Kenshin. Waksuki, updates the character’s appearance with his years of drawing the characters and making them look smoother. He also did some minor additions to each character. For example, Kenshin now wears scarf, Sano is usally seen with a fishtail bone in his mouth, and Saito is mostly seen with a cigarette. The villains also go through changes compared to the original story. The sadistic killer Jin-e returns but he more insane in this story. After getting his hands pierced through, he inserts blades through and making them like “hand blades”. The villain merchant “Kanryu” is more invloved with doing dirty work like killing. With these changes, Watsuki reminds the readers that the still the same characters as before but more modified.
The main downside to the characters is that they could have added more characters. There was no characters from Shishio’s or any of the villains from the Kyoto arc. Don’t expect to see Shishio or any his henchmen. The Oniwabanshu are mentioned but don’t make a major appearances. In the end, if the story was more expanded on, we could have our favorite characters.
Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration is an excellent new story that can easily be followed in terms of characters and story. The characters can be quite likeable and the same as being dislikeable. Whether you are a new or old fan, this story is quite enjoyable. As much as this manga being good, this story could have been expanded to a new series. The lack of characters was a huge downer and it could have been better. If the story was more than 2 volumes, we could have a new Kenshion story. Still, I would recommend this manga. It’s pretty short and easy to follow, and if you like this manga, go check out Watsuki’s original Rurouni Kenshin.
Have seen this manga? What do you think? Comment below if there was anything I missed on this review? Or comment down on your thoughts.