I have of late been enthralled in quite a lot of reading that takes place – gasp – outside of the internet.
Foremost among these has been the Rurouni Kenshin manga.
First I should explain my history with Kenshin – I started watching the anime series some four years ago, in the midst of college. I got my friends into the series, and we made the mistake of getting too many people interested in watching it.
We got through the second season – the Kyoto arc, the real highlight of the series – in a reasonable amount of time. But the rest of the series… well, we had heard it wasn’t as great as what had come before. And it’s true, most certainly – it isn’t that it was bad, but that it was simply not great.
But we wanted to watch it anyway. To finish the series. We knew going into it that it was nothing more than fun little filler, but as long as we knew that, we wouldn’t be let down.
Unfortunately, we had some friends graduating. Others growing busy with various jobs, schoolwork, and other concerns. The long and short of it?
It took two and a half years to finish watching the series – to finish that one final season.
But we did it. A couple months ago we gathered back together, arranging a break from our jobs and our lives, and watched the final episodes, and it was a good feeling to complete that experience in the company of friends.
But for myself, that wasn’t quite the end of the Kenshin saga. The manga, you see, was being released in English.
While watching the Kenshin series had been a communal thing, reading the manga was, predictably, a bit more solitary. I was impressed by how closely the series mirrored the comic (at least for the first two seasons). I was more impressed by the fact that, unlike a lot of manga I had read before, I was able to easily follow the artwork, the story, and pretty much everything going on.
And, damn, but it was a good story – and when it diverged from the series, and continued its own plot, it only got better.
But like all things, it came to an end. The last volumes were released, purchased and read. It was a powerful conclusion to an excellent series.
And, like any time that a work of fiction I was embroiled in came to an end, the end was bittersweet. As fitting as the conclusion might be, as necessary as the ending might be, it is still hard to let go of well-loved characters.
So this is my shout-out to Kenshin. An awesome anime, an awesome manga, an awesome story. It might be old news to folks in the community, but that doesn’t make it any less great.