Rurouni Kenshin (TV)
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The main character, Kenshin Himura, is loosely based on Gensai Kawakami (1834-1871†), an assassin who worked for the Choushu Clan. It is said he could be mistaken for a girl at first glance but was the most terrible of the four great Hitokiri (assassins) of the Bakumatsu.
The character of Hajime Saitou was actually a real historical figure (c.1844-1915). As in Rurouni Kenshin, he was the captain of the third unit of the Shinsengumi, and was hailed as a very skilled swordsman, specializing in a left-handed thrusting attack (not the Gatotsu, however). Also serving as something of an executioner, he assassinated many corrupted higher-ups within the Shinsengumi at the request of his superiors (most notably military advisor Kashitarou Itou and fifth unit captain Kanryuusai Takeda). Following the conflicts which gave rise to the Meiji government, Saitou joined the police force circa 1877 under the name Goro Fujita, and was given special permission to wield a katana. He was married to Tokio Takagi in the 6th year of the Meiji (1873), fathered three sons, and was a notorious drinker (eventually dying of a stomach ulcer because of it).
Several Rurouni Kenshin characters were based (to varying degrees) on prominent Shinsengumi members. These included Makoto Shishio (former captain Kamo Serizawa), Aoshi Shinomori (vice-captain Toshizo Hijikata), Soujiro Seta (first unit captain Souji Okita), arms dealer Kanryuu (fifth unit captain Kanryuusai Takeda), and Sanosuke Sagara (tenth unit captain Sanosuke Harada).
"Rurouni" (wanderer) is in fact not a real Japanese word. It is a neologism by the original creator of the Rurouni Kenshin manga.
The anime follows the manga closely until the end of Kyoto Arc (episode 62). Here the manga continued and finished with the Revenge Arc, and the anime followed several smaller Arcs, such as the Christian Arc. The reason for this was simply because the anime had caught up with the manga in the end of Kyoto Arc, but the fans wanted more so the series didn't wait for the writer to finish the manga.
"Rurouni" comes from two words, "Ru" which means to wander and "Ronin" which means masterless samurai.
Rurouni Kenshin aired in Japan on Thursday evenings at 7:30 PM on public broadcasting.
In chapter 43 "Between Life and Death," in the scene where Kenshin and his master charge one another, the base line of the background music is awfully close to the main theme music for The Magnificent Seven, an American movie based on the Japanese classic Seven Samurai.
You may have noticed that the 4th ending theme song, "Fourth Avenue Cafe" was used for 4 episodes only. That was because L'Arc~en~Ciel, the band that sang the song, faced drug charges against them while the song was used in Rurouni Kenshin. Because of this, Sony pulled "Fourth Avenue Cafe" and re-used the 3rd ending theme song, "Heart of Sword", with the 4th ending animation.
The second ending theme, sung by Kenshin's seiyuu Suzukaze Mayo, was actually a CD single as recorded on Mayo's album. It had no connection with the anime when it was written and performed.
Sanosuke Sagara's real surname is actually Higashidani, although he would never use it himself.
The symbol on the back of Sanosuke's jacket is the Japanese kanji "Aku", which means "evil". He bears this symbol as a mark of his loyalty towards his past in the Sekihoutai Army.
The entire Rurouni Kenshin story is made up of 255 chapters in 28 volumes of manga; 94 episodes aired on TV, plus one included only in the video release; two separate OAV series consisting respectively of 4 and 2 episodes; and a 90 minute movie.
Megumi and Kaoru have the nicknames Kitsune (Fox) and Tanuki (Raccoon Dog). In Japanese folklore, the Kitsune and Tanuki are thought of as "dangerous spirits". The Kitsune is said to often take on the form of a bewitching woman who seduces and tricks unworthy men, whilst protecting and rewarding deserving people. These are the two very different attitudes Megumi holds towards Sanosuke and Kenshin. The Tanuki, on the other hand, is said to also take on the form of a woman, but is regarded as much more playful and mischievous than the judgmental Kitsune.
Animation goof: During the fifth closing animation ("It's Gonna Rain!") Sanosuke's headband inexplicably changes color from red to purple.
Classical Music in Rourouni Kenshin (not included in official soundtrack) : "Intermezzo" taken from "Cavalleria Rusticana" of Mascagni is used in the last episode of Kyoto arc (ep.62) as well when Kenshin says goodbye to Kaoru and leaves to Kyoto, before the start of the same arc. "Adagio" from Sonata Pathetique of Beethoven is used in ep.60 when Shishio stabs Yumi as well as Kenshin.
The sakabatou(reverse-blade sword) and zanbatou are fictional weapons.
The Kanji used for Kenshin literally mean "sword-heart". Kenshin's original name, Shinta, could have been written in Kanji, having the meaning "big/great heart".
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