At last, after two years, we've come down to the final two episodes of Rurouni Kenshin that will be shown at CJAS. Shishio has been slain, having ignited like a demonic bonfire, and everything's come to an end. Or rather, it will have after tonight. Yup, that's right. The Kyoto story arc is so big that they needed two episodes to wrap everything up and get everything settled. And settled it is.
And yes, we are cutting Kenshin short. In total, the series is 95 TV episodes (the final one was unaired), a two-hour movie, and the four OAVs that will be shown in the marathon. And honestly speaking, you're not missing out on much. Episodes 63-94 are tied up in four different story arcs, only two of which are worth watching (though many people would say one or none of them). Kenshin, unfortunately, is a series that steadily gets worse as it goes on (after Kyoto), and the last two story arcs could easily be described as being: pathetic, god-awful, cheesy, stupid, lame, a mockery of the rest of the series, and grounds for the execution of the entire development staff. Trust me, they're bad.
On the other hand, there are a number of real gems in post-Kyoto Kenshin: the one-shots. With one or two possible exceptions, these episodes are hilarious, well thought-out, well executed, and simply perfect. I mean, how could you not like the episode where Kenshin accidentally proposes to Kaoru, or where the Kenshin-gumi come across a red-haired man bearing the cross-scars and calling himself the Hitokiri Battousai? Now granted, he wears his (scars) on his left arm... And I don't even need to mention the bathhouse episode, or the ladies' day out.
In addition to the one-shot episodes, there are other reasons to watch post-Kyoto, and those are the openings and the endings. The eighth ending in particular is just great, and my second favorite Kenshin ending, losing only to Bonnie Pink's "It's Gonna Rain".
As for the movie, it's not bad. It really isn't. It's not bad, but it just isn't as cool as the Kyoto story arc. Like Kyoto, and most of the rest of the series, it involves new characters who fought in and survived the Bakamatsu. Unlike much of post-Kyoto Kenshin, here the creators made little attempt to create an enemy more powerful than Shishio, and the plot works so much better because of it.
In case you're wondering about the manga and how it relates to the TV series, it doesn't. Or at least, not after the Kyoto story arc. The manga continues on with the Remembrance and Revenge story arcs (Remembrance was later adapted into the Kenshin OAV series by the same people who made the Nadesico movie) in which Kenshin's past as the Hitokiri Battousai is revealed. The Revenge story arc is the final bit of Kenshin that Watsuki wrote, and it is a story arc comparable in length to Kyoto, if not a bit longer. Characters are introduced, both new and old, and a lot of emotion, drama, and amazingly cool fight scenes occur. What can I say, it is a really cool story arc. You even see a bit more into the pasts of other main characters as well, like when Kaoru teaches Yahiko the Ougi (succession technique) of Kamiya Kashin Ryu, or when Sanosuke returns to visit his hometown. And unlike many other manga/anime series out there, Watsuki ends Kenshin solidly, leaving no grounds for bad fanfic sequels. And what a solid ending it is. Check it out if you get the chance.
As a final note, if you've been so awed by the series that you want to pick it up on your own, Media Blasters has picked up the distribution rights for the series, and it will be released in America in July on DVD and VHS. And contrary to all rumors and threats, the show will not be called Samurai X or Slasher. YES!!!!
And with this, my string of Rurouni Kenshin articles finally comes to and end. Tonight, all matters will be settled and everything will be put at rest. Including this weary writer. So I bid you all adieu.