Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Kenshin OAV – Interpreting Motions of the Hand

I just had an evil thought: Opening a restaurant across the street from Shinsengumi’s called Roshigumi.

OK, I lied again. I’ll write about my thoughts on yin/yang and the arts later.

OK, I lied. I’ve been having difficulty concentrating lately. Maybe writing will help. This originally was going to be a post about just the first Kenshin OAV, but I think I’m going to extend it to other thoughts I’ve been having lately.

Anyway, Kenshin. I’ve been having the urge to watch the first Kenshin OAV again (there’s a second set that I wouldn’t really recommend). It’s one of my favorite animes. I don’t really watch anime anymore, since I find a lot of it to be unoriginal, or really just full of bullshit, but the Kenshin OAV has managed to be one of those timeless classics for me. So I found this clip on Youtube showing the extended version of the ending and noticed something interesting. Maybe someone can shed some light on it? If you haven’t seen Kenshin OAV, please skip the next few paragraphs. I don’t want to spoil anything.

Or, if you just don’t care, here’s a bit of background. Skip if you’ve already seen the anime or are familiar with this time period in Japan. It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure blog! Hey…now that’s an idea…maybe later.

The first Kenshin OAV takes place around the Meiji Restoration. At the time, working to restore the emperor, imperial (Meiji) forces fought against shogunate forces (the Tokugawan government). The boys in blue, the Shinsengumi, a special police force (though I could argue they were practically a gang) allied themselves with the shogunate. For local folks, this is why I kind of find the local Shinsengumi restaurant to be amusing. In this anime, they are portrayed as the enemy, but in other Japanese works, they’re portrayed as heroes. It’s all about perspective, huh? Next time you read in the news about rebels, ask, are they rebels, or freedom fighters?

So anyway, the first OAV is about the origin of Kenshin, an expert swordsman-become-assassin. He starts off as a pure boy who just wants to protect the weak, but when he is older, he rationalizes that he must kill the few, without question, in order to protect the many. He has chosen to support imperial forces.

Pardon me, my Japanese is super rusty, in fact, it’s pretty much mostly gone, but starting at 17 seconds:

“Sumanai, Himura.” [I'm sorry, Himura. (he's the guy who gave boy-Kenshin the role of assassin)]

“Tomoe…ja, ittekuruyo.” [Tomoe...I'm leaving then (she's Kenshin's first love. His actions have caused the unfortunate)]

And then the interesting part. Look at how he reaches for his sword at 29 seconds. What say you?

Anyway, that is all. The rest won’t make any sense unless you’ve seen the beginning.

I could be flatly wrong, but I love how it’s open to interpretation. I just can’t stand stuff where everything is spelled out for you.

I’m suddenly reminded of when I first saw Evangelion (it’s about a boy suffering massive teen angst. You really have to try hard to not want to slap him). There’s this scene that I didn’t really understand at the time, but I was a young lad then. “Huh? What is going on?” A later second viewing lead to a “Ooooooooh, I see.” Innocent Katherine refused to believe it. =p The scene is of Ikari standing over a hospitalized Asuka. Her breasts become revealed somehow (and no! that’s not what the anime is about!). The scene then cut away, and then I heard some strange sounds, and then something about loathing oneself. Actually. Why not just see it for yourself.

I remember thinking how bizarre it was after putting two and two. I’m an adult now. While I wouldn’t say it’s not bizarre today, it does make more sense now from a humanist point of view, considering the anime is about a fucked-up-in-the-head boy’s development, and I should hope that adult females would understand, too. He sees some boobies on his crush (that he himself isn’t even aware of), and schwing! I just realized this scene fits with the title even more. Ha.

Oh and, here’s the first ep of the Kenshin OAV if anyone’s curious, renamed Samurai X stateside. It’s pretty old now. Damn 9 years. It also can be pretty bloody.

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