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  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Sadoshima Houji. A lot more honorable than his master, so much that he throws a fight rather than resort to fighting dirty. Kenshin says he feels very sorry for him when he learns about his death.
    • Uonuma Usui was a bastard, but the nature of his death is both pathetic and strangely sad. It's hard not to feel at least some sympathy for him as he says his Famous Last Words (see character sheet).
  • And the Fandom Rejoiced:
    • Sweet! Rurouni Kenshin is getting a fighting game for the PSP! Is there any way they can make this better--OH MY GOD! ENISHI IS GOING TO BE IN THE GAME!?
    • This just in: KENSHIN IS TO GET A NEW ANIME SERIES! We may get our Jinchuu Arc animated after all!!
      • Sadly, it's just a retelling of the Kyoto Arc and from the POV of Misao.
    • That's not all: there's also going to be a live-action movie!
  • Badass Decay - Raijuta was supposed to be a bigger threat until Watsuki remembered that Kenshin had already demonstrated the ability to dodge bullets.
  • Bishonen Jump Syndrome - RuroKen was one of the first Shonen Jump series to cater to this, since many female fans were first attracted to the series because of the attractive male cast.
  • Broken Base - The manga versus the anime versus the OVAs. Fans of each rarely overlap (although the anime and OVAs have some overlap, for obvious reasons).
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Nearly every battle, which is one of the strikes "against" the series.
  • Crazy Awesome: Shishio is a villainous example.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Taku Iwasaki's score to the Trust and Betrayal OAV series is remarkable, especially "In Memories: KO-TO-WA-RI."
  • Draco in Leather Pants
    • Most of the major antagonists are sympathetic (and quite Bishonen to boot) and rank consistently in the top ten during character polls. Watsuki later attempted to avert this by making the antagonists of the Jinchuu Arc, such as Shishio, Complete Monsters. It didn't necessarily work.
    • A specific example: Enishi's back story is tragic, but that doesn't excuse his illegal activities and outright sadism.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse
    • Best example is probably Soujirou, a minor villain in the Kyoto-arc who stole every appearance he made. Word of God is that he intended to bring Soujirou back at some point because he felt underused for all the fans he had, but he never did.
    • Also of note is Okita Souji, who ranked decently in the first character popularity poll (something like 7th place?) despite having only appeared in two or three panels in a flashback at that point. Interestingly, Watsuki based Soujirou on Okita Souji (they're practically twins), and notes in Soujirou's profile that Okita has always been incredibly popular among Shinsengumi fans. He credits this for Okita coming in so high on the poll.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Yumi, often by way of Kimono Fanservice.
  • Fashion Victim Villain: Enishi. What's with the blue muscle shirt, Chinese pants and Lennon Specs? Does he dress in the dark?
  • Foe Yay
    • Every one of Kenshin's rivals has this to some degree.
    • Sanosuke X Saito might as well be canon... (it doesn't help that Sano acts very tsun towards Saito, and his reaction to seeing Saito alive again after Saito had disappeared in the collapsing enemy lair...)
  • Historical Hero Upgrade - Saito again, for certain values of hero. While the man was indeed Badass, we know very little about him otherwise. In the manga, he claims to have given up on drinking, while in actual history he died of a stomach tumor from said drinking.
  • Ho Yay
    • Kenshin to Sano, most obviously in the anime: the adaptation adds one last duel between them not present in the manga, and when Sano collapses from pain, Kenshin catches him and lets out a rather tender smile.
    • Saito and Sano have a nice case of Belligerent Sexual Tension.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Enishi. Yeah, he did go through lots of heartbreak, but he also made others completely broken.
    • For some fans, Sadoshima Houji becomes this after he kills himself. Also an in-story example, as Kenshin expresses pity for him once he's told about that.
    • Amakusa's Start of Darkness comes when he's a child and both his parents and his whole Christian village is slaughtered, with only him and little Sayo as survivors. Doesn't necessarily mean he was less of a bastard as an adult.
    • Kenji had a horrible childhood with a constantly absent father and a mother dying of a grief and skin disease she caught from said father, but it doesn't make him any less of a brat, when he refuses to come back and let both of his parents say goodbye to him before they die, and runs away to Hiko to find "real strenght."
  • Magnificent Bastard: Shishio, When he's sane.
  • Non-Japanese Love Samurai X: The Columbia Pictures Television dub is surprisingly popular overseas. This is in spite of a few name changes to the primary cast (Kaoru->Kaori and Yahiko -> Yoshi); the dub in question does start to grow a small beard around the time the Shishio arc kicks off, though, with a particularly solid performance from Shishio himself.
Kiwami

The frame most associated with the yelling.

  • Memetic Mutation
    • Futae no Kiwami, ah! (フタエノキワミ、アッー! or KYM; argotic)
      • An infamous Rurouni Kenshin meme where Sagara Sanosuke's voice actor (Lex Lang), in the Bang Zoom! English dub, emits an extremely loud yelling noise in the very beginning of episode 59 in the anime adaptation, after calling out his recently learned ultimate technique. Since then, the Japanese took a well-received liking to the infamous scene, and several other scenes; including but not limited to the Kyoto arc. So much so in fact that it is also responsible for the Validation Series (検証シリーズ) tag on niconico. A scene in media played and then repeated after in different languages (including redubs) each. Combine all of this with soramimi or mondegreen, the meme has a well established fanbase and even a wiki. However, it faced mass deletion in its inception due to copyright violations. The original scenes posted on niconico that are intact are hand-drawn or are edited (e.g. shortened scenes with cuts or having the scenes pixelated to be nearly unrecognizable). Japanese supplementary reading here: CCOpedia.
    • ...oro?
  • Moe Moe:
    • Kaoru.
    • Sanjou Tsubame, so much.
    • Misao.
    • Seta Soujirou.
    • Honjou Kamatari.
    • Toki Takatsuki.
    • Kenshin.
  • Motive Decay
    • Raijuuta is a bad enough case of this that Watsuki himself complains about it in an after word.
    • Also, the Band of Six are initially introduced as a group of men with a legitimate bone to pick with Kenshin. By the end of the Jinchu Arc, all of them but Enishi have either had a Heel Face Turn or been reduced to two-dimensional Ax Crazy villains so that Kenshin and company don't have to feel bad about beating the crap out of them (one of them is even revealed to not have any connection to Kenshin at ALL). Again, Watsuki himself admits that it was probably a bad idea to include the group at all and it would've been better to send Enishi alone on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
        • The Band of Six are probably a subversion- we gradually discovered that they either had no real grudge against Kenshin, or had a pitiful one that was undermined by them being a Complete Monster (save Kujirinami, who had Noble Demon qualities). Only Enishi and Kujirinami have any motive that doesn't qualify as Evil Is Petty, and both of them ultimately realize that they were in the wrong anyway. Its probably in part to help Kenshin move on with his life- he spent most of the manga reluctant to settle down because of all the enemies he has made and pain he has caused....but when it seemed like his past had finally caught up to him, he found out that the only old foes out to get him either weren't old foes at all, or weren't really high on the list of people he thought deserved it. His enemies have moved on, and so should he.
  • Narm Charm: The Colombian Spanish dub for Latin America was bad but in an ultimately hilarious and kinda endearing way, and some LA fans remember it fondly. The decision to NOT include it when the series was uploaded to Netflix caused the pouts of many people.
  • Seasonal Rot: Anime only - everything after the Kyoto Arc was filler and, save for the So Okay It's Average Shimabara arc, widely agreed to be incredibly inferior to the rest of the series.
  • Squick: Gein makes puppets out of dead people.
  • Straw Man Has a Point - When first confronting Kenshin, Saito suggests that his refusal to kill his sworn enemies could indirectly endanger the innocent people he cares about, and in fact already has multiple times. This is supposed to be Saito's Hannibal Lecture, but many fans think he not only makes a damn good point, but exposes the critical flaw in Kenshin's philosophy. Several times throughout the series before and after this point, Kenshin's friends are at the mercy of enemies he formerly refused to kill, and survive basically by getting lucky.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Kenshin. Not helped by being voiced by women in that Japanese version: ex-Takarazuka actress Mayo Suzukaze in the anime, Megumi Ogata in the CD dramas. There's also a story that he inspired the character Baiken in Guilty Gear when the character designer for the game mistook Kenshin for a woman.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Badass?: The Kaoru bashers LOVE to apply this to her, calling her "whiny bitch" and "useless whore" for being emotional and outspoken and sometimes prone to Tender Tears. It reaches gross extremes when they systematically deny anything good she ever has done in the series.
  • The Woobie:
    • Soujirou and Enishi especially make you want to cuddle them and make them all better (it helps that they're good-looking pretty boys), but lots of the other characters are quite sympathetic as well:
    • Sanjou Tsubame.
    • Akira Kiyosato.
    • Shigure Takimi.
    • Toki Takatsuki.
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