I LOVE LOVE LOVE Kenshin, and when I learned that there was a new release, it was a no-brainer pickup for me. But I was confused as to what it actually was. Advertised as a “condensed retelling,” I was expecting a shortened form of the original story. That’s not the case.
THE PLOT: This is a “reboot” in the way that the new Star Trek movies are a reboot. Or, as the author describes it, a “parallel story.” This means that the same characters are introduced in different ways and have somewhat different relationships from those in the original story. As an introduction, Kenshin is pulled by Yahiko into a show put on by Kanryu Takeda. Yahiko, who works for Kanryu, “mistakes” Kenshin for the Battosai, who is supposed to battle Kaoru in the show. Kanryu now owns the Kamiya dojo, and Kaoru puts on this show in an attempt to pay back the debt and get the dojo back. Weird. Sanosuke and Saito also seem to work for Kanryu as they draw straws to see who gets to kill Kenshin. Just wrong. Sano becomes friends with the group anyway, but he’s introduced as already knowing the “mastery of the two layers.”
MY TWO CENTS: I know Watsuki is helping generate interest in the live-action movie(s) with this new release, but I wish he had done it some other way. I would much rather he had done the sequel with Kenshin’s son Kenji and Yahiko’s son. Since the movie is based off the original stories, I think anyone picking this up would just be confused. Also, the art seems strange. I understand that an artist’s style may change over time, but I don’t prefer this version of Kenshin. He looks more like the New Kyoto Arc Kenshin, or the OVAs Kenshin, than the original or anime Kenshin, which I prefer.
TEACUP RATING: With greatest apologies to Kenshin and Watsuki, I give this only two-and-a-half teacups out of five. However, I STRONGLY recommend that people check out the original manga and the anime series.