Rurouni Kenshin: Reflection

Rurouni Kenshin: Reflection

Cover for Rurouni Kenshin: Reflection's Blu-ray release, featuring Himura Kenshin and Kamiya Kaoru
(Rurouni Kenshin: Seisōhen)
Genre Action, Historical Drama, Romance
Original video animation
Directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi
Produced by Ena Kriyama
Hisashi Sasaki
Keiichi Matsuda
Masana Takahashi
Written by Reiko Yoshida
Music by Taku Iwasaki
Studio Studio Deen
Licensed by
Released December 12, 2001
Episodes 2

Rurouni Kenshin: Reflection, known as Rurouni Kenshin: Seisōhen (星霜編 Time) in Japan, is the second OVA series of the Rurouni Kenshin anime television series, acting as its sequel. It was directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi and written by Reiko Yoshida, and was released in Japan in 2001.

The OVA series is set both during and after the timeline of the television series and tells of Kenshin and Kaoru's later days, much of which is not derived from the Rurouni Kenshin manga. It is mostly told from the point of view of Kamiya Kaoru.[1][2] The story follows Himura Kenshin as he attempts searching for ways to atone for those who died at his hands, while Kaoru waits for Kenshin to return home. Kenshin's actions, however, alienate him from his estranged son, Kenji.

Reflection was originally released in North America as Samurai X: Reflection while it was being licensed by ADV Films. Rurouni Kenshin: Reflection is now licensed by Aniplex of America for English-language releases. Reflection was released in the United States by ADV Films on DVD on March 25, 2003, while a Director's Cut edition was later released.[3][4] Rurouni Kenshin: Reflection was released on Blu-ray Disc by Aniplex of America on September 21, 2011.

Rurouni Kenshin: Reflection has received mixed reviews upon its release. Critics have praised the art, animation and music of the series but have criticised its story and character development.


Unlike the first 4-part OVA series which was a prequel to the TV series (and was addressed in flashbacks during the manga), Reflection is based in part on the final arc of the manga, usually called the "Revenge" arc. It follows after the Kyoto arc that ended in volume 18 which included Shishio Makoto and the Juppongatana. In this sense, the OVA adaptations are the reverse of the manga because the manga told the prequel as a flashback and the final arc in real time, but the OVAs tell the prequel in real time and the final arc as a flashback.

In the manga, the prequel flashback took place in the midst of encounters with "The Six Comrades". It initiates in volumes 18 and ends with the manga at volume 28. The prequel with Tomoe was based on the 14-part "Remembrance" (which ran between 165 and 179) in volumes 19-21. It is essential to understand the final arc, and thus the first OVAs are essential (much as the TV series is) to understanding OVAs 5 and 6 which compose Reflection, for those who have not read the manga.

Reflection is a very condensed version, as it focuses only on Kenshin's battle with Enishi, and it does not feature the Six Comrades or Kenshin's teammates' confrontations with them. The Kyoto and Revenge arcs are the same length (10 volumes) in the manga, and the television adaptation of the Kyoto arc took 35 episodes. While the Tomoe flashback was very detailed and of comparable size (4 OVAs to condense under 2 volumes of material) the rest of the final arc (the actual sequel to the Kyoto arc) was shortened to an extreme degree. This may be that what we are seeing is simply limited amounts of what Kaoru is able to remember, from her perspective, rather than a first person witnessing of things which is the context that the television series, movie and first 4 OVAs took.


The OVA starts out as a montage of singular events surrounding the life of Kenshin Himura, told from the point of view of Kaoru Kamiya. Then the remainder of it involves Kenshin, who becomes tortured anew by the guilt of leading a happy life after such a destructive past. He makes the decision to wander again, and Kaoru strongly supports him, promising to welcome him home with a smile and their child. For fifteen years, he wanders, returning every once in a while.

However, this leads his son, Kenji Himura to hold resentment towards Kenshin for leaving them. Now in his adolescence, he leaves for Kyoto hoping to learn Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryu from Seijuro Hiko, hoping to be as strong as his father, and create his own legend. Soon however, Yahiko Myojin tracks him down at the request of Kaoru. He wears the mark of evil on his back, too. Yahiko duels him to show him the delusions of achieving his father's greatness. Yahiko admits that he is a genius and has natural talent as a swordsman. However, he knew that neither passion, discipline, nor skill would make Kenji superior to his father. So, in a one final strike, Yahiko lets Kenji experience the full brunt of Kenshin's Sakabatou; allowing Kenji to experience the strength of his father's philosophy firsthand. Falling to his knee, Yahiko presented Kenji with the Sakabatō as a late genpuku gift, hoping that now he'd realize that Kenshin's strength lay not in his ability to kill, but in his appreciation of life, his devotion and self-sacrifice to those in need.

Meanwhile, Kenshin eventually becomes ravaged by an unknown disease that is much like leprosy (the writers have admitted there is no medical explanation for Kenshin's condition). To share his pain, Kaoru convinces Kenshin to infect her with the disease through sexual intercourse. Kenshin then leaves to go assist in the First Sino-Japanese War (primarily over control of Korea) as he had promised the Meiji Government, not fighting and killing, but instead helping people.

After the war's end, Sanosuke discovers a very ill Kenshin sometime after he had fallen overboard on a ship. Sanosuke arranges Kenshin's return to Tokyo by boat. Upon arriving, a bed-ridden Kaoru, almost on instinct, gets up to walk outside the dojo on the cherry blossom path, seeing her husband struggling with each step to meet her.

The two finally meet, and Kenshin collapses into her arms as he clutches her to him. Kenshin tells Kaoru that he returned for her, and Kaoru quietly greets him with his old name, Shinta, for he had asked it before he left the last time. Soon, they end up beneath a cherry blossom tree, where Kaoru tells him that they will invite everyone for a cherry blossom viewing, and continue to gather in the years to come. With the silence growing stronger, Kaoru realizes that Kenshin has died quietly in her arms. Upon brushing his hair off his left cheek, Kaoru notices Kenshin's scar has faded away, signifying that his journey of atonement is finally over. In the final scene before the credits, she holds his head in her arms and weeps.

After the credits finish rolling, there is a scene which shows Kenshin and Kaoru's son, Kenji, walking with a young girl, Chizuru, beneath the cherry blossoms, saying that they will live happily together.



Although Samurai X: Reflection was not written by Watsuki, he stated that he "checked in on the script."[5] Watsuki mentioned not having input in it, and let the director "run wild with it." In response to Kenshin's death in comparison to the happy ending in the manga version, he felt that his own work eventually would have reached Kenshin's death had he continued writing. He had not wished to pursue that line because "Kenshin went through so much crap and deserved a happy ending." He felt that neither version was better than the other because "it's a personal taste thing."[5]

Mike Crandol of Anime News Network gave different opinions about the OVA series. On one hand, Crandal said that the OVA series were some of the best animation ever to come out of Japan, rivaling the American masters in fluidity of motion and with a musical score to match. On the other hand, Crandol says that fans of the original story will be disappointed as there are not many fight scenes and that the character Kenshin Himura is very different from his original version; for instance, he never uses his trademark idiomatic phrase "oro?", and it is thought he never gives a "true" smile.[6] Crandol also comments about a "tedious and depressing melodrama".[7]


  1. るろうに剣心 -明治剣客浪漫譚- 星霜編 ~上巻~ (in Japanese). Retrieved May 25, 2009.
  2. るろうに剣心 -明治剣客浪漫譚- 星霜編 ~下巻~ (in Japanese). Retrieved May 25, 2009.
  3. "Samurai X: Reflection (DVD)". Retrieved July 10, 2009.
  4. "Samurai X: Reflection - Director's Cut (DVD)". Retrieved July 10, 2009.
  5. 1 2 "Watsuki interview at AnimeOnDVD". Retrieved 2007-06-02.
  6. Crandol, Mike. "Ruroni Kenshin second OAV series Seisouhen, part 1." Anime News Network. January 21, 2002. Retrieved on July 12, 2009.
  7. Crandol, Mike. "Rurouni Kenshin second OAV series Seisouhen, part 2." Anime News Network. April 5, 2002. Retrieved on July 12, 2009.
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