「津南と錦絵」 (Tsunan to Nishiki-e)
“Tsunan & Nishiki Paintings”
Even the most ardent supporters of the 1996 anime, despite they may disagree on its merits, I doubt they would contest that this adaptation is more true to the original. However, by no means is this Rurouni Kenshin remake a panel-for-panel adaptation. It’s interjecting a few creative scenes here and there, most of which, I would think, work well. An instance of this may be seen in this post-credits sequence, where the Meiji bureaucrats reasonably wondered what the heck was making all the noise on their lawn. It was the first time one of the genuinely legendary characters from Ruroken was mentioned, and even though we haven’t seen him yet, I believe this alludes to the fact that the anime is most likely going to be much more than these two first courses.
I don’t think Furuhashi’s best work with Rurouni Kenshin is this arc or the Raijuuta arc (he did a fantastic job adapting the Oniwabanshu, though). I believe this is the case since the topics of Watsuki’s manga, which didn’t particularly appeal to Furuhashi, are what drive both of them. In a way, Raijuuta and Katsu are both paper tigers, which makes them less engaging adversaries. The 1996 adaptation, in my opinion, paid more attention to RK’s military aspects while mostly disregarding the sociopolitical undertones that were central to the manga.
Like practically everything from this section of the manga, I don’t think Raijuuta and Katsu were intended to be stand-alone characters; rather, I think they’re meant to be a part of a bigger picture that Watsuki is painting. Of disappointment, deceit, corruption, and the burden of guilt. If Raijuuta and Katsu appear pitiful, it’s because Watsuki purposefully made them such. They stand for aspects of a lost society, torn between the values of their upbringing and the invading contemporary world. On the other hand, I believe the ’96 series to be nothing more than pitiful.
In light of all of that, there isn’t much tension over Kenshin’s involvement or the possible outcomes. Bombs or not, Katsu cannot compete with the Battousai. The true question, in my opinion, is whether Sano was secretly attempting to entice Kenshin to become involved from the beginning. He was fully aware that this was a pointless endeavor, and he doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would like being associated with terrorism. Sano is free to do as he pleases, according to Kenshin, and it is not his place to pass judgment. However, he will take action when crimes are committed and people are slain.
When it becomes impossible to ignore the stark disparity in ability, Sano ends things rather fast. While Sanosuke is left in charge of Katsu, Kenshin seizes the bombs. To raise awareness for the cause, Katsu’s first idea is to perform seppuku in front of the government building, but Sano has seen too much of the world to think that kind of action would actually be beneficial. When you hear Katsu defend his behavior, it actually sounds a lot like Aoshi. Despite all that he says about the principles his commander upheld, this is primarily about reputation.
Nevertheless, Sano won’t abandon Katsu to waste his life because the two remaining members of the Sekiho Army have a strong kinship. The main point he makes is that, because he was a part of its creation, Kenshin feels the hurt caused by the corruption in the government much more than they do. There are a lot of ways that Kenshin could have expressed his displeasure with the world and his place in it, and his opponents serve, in part, to personify those various ways. Naturally, though, they are all actually only a precursor to the main event, which will depict what may have occurred if someone with Kenshin’s extraordinary abilities had taken a different course.