One of the cornerstones of 1990s anime and responsible for bringing a new generation into the medium, Rurouni Kenshin is definitely a series worth talking about. It is legendary for appealing to audiences beyond the usual age and gender barriers, and is quite possibly the most famous historical anime, being set in an era of early modern Japanese history. In this article we’ll take a look at some of Rurouni Kenshin's historical elements in the hopes of educating fans of this wonderful show.
Nobuhiro Watsuki, the mangaka (author and artist) behind Rurouni Kenshin.
Himura Kenshin and his iconic reverse-blade sword.
The historical Kawakami Gensai, inspiration behind Himura Kenshin, also known as Battousai the Manslayer. Gensai was often mistaken for a woman due to his soft features.
Saitō Hajime as seen in Rurouni Kenshin. Notice the Shinsengumi uniform he's wearing as his younger self, which contrasts with his low-profile modern clothes.
The Oniwaban as seen in Rurouni Kenshin. Notice the ninja garb they are wearing, a common depiction of the Oniwaban in modern Japanese media.
These are some of the more notable historical elements of Rurouni Kenshin. The series is so accurate to the early Meiji history of Japan (minus all the physics-defying fight scenes, of course) that it would be quicker to list the inaccuracies instead. There are many other historical events strewn throughout the series that forms the background of numerous characters and events, such as the assassination of nationalist leader Ōkubo Toshimichi or the purge of Buddhist temples that inspired Anji’s character. Suffice it to say, Rurouni Kenshin is an important work for the education of Japanese history, in addition to just being a well-written story with beloved characters and timeless themes.