"Rurouni Kenshin" was an animated show that ran from 1996 to 1999. It's commonly listed among the top anime of the 1990s. It tells the story of a wandering Ronin named Himura Kenshin and his friends.
The very beginning of the story, although starting over a decade before the actual events of the show, takes place in the violent closing years of Edo-Era Japan, known as the Bakumatsu, when Japan’s leadership shifted from the feudal Togugawa shogunate to a mercantilist empire known as the Meiji government. Kenshin was in his late teenage years and had a strong interest in the revolution, siding with the Meiji fighters. He became an assassin and was a ferocious killer. In just six months, he killed over 100 Togugawa supporters, which earned him the infamous title “Battosai the Manslayer” across the country. Dissatisfied with the direction of the new government, Kenshin then began to realize that all of his killing hadn’t brought about a new era of peace, but, rather, had only caused a significant amount of bloodshed that was slowly driving him insane. Once the Bakumatsu ended and the Meiji government took power, Kenshin left the ranks of assassins and became a wanderer, devoting himself to protecting people from danger. He pledges to never take another life and decides from there on to wield a reverse-blade sword that can only wound his opponents.
10 years after he began his wandering, Kenshin arrives in Tokyo where he meets a woman named Kaoru, a young boy named Yahiko, and a former enemy turned friend named Sanosuke. Kaoru is the assistant master of a struggling dojo. A menacing swordsman claiming to be the infamous Battosai used her dojo’s fighting style and tarnished its reputation as a result. Yahiko is a tenacious young boy who is training to become a swordsman. Sanosuke is a former member of a clan who was largely wiped out by pro-Meiji forces. He’s torn between his strong desire for revenge against the Meiji government and having stability with his new friends. Through their personal struggles, they find themselves in the middle of clashes between supporters of the old government and Meiji officials, anti-Meiji fighters seeking revenge for Kenshin’s past actions, and competing clans of the old feudal system.
In general, this show develops solid relationships between rich characters. For those who favor seeing lots of action, there are plenty of well-crafted fight scenes, as "Rurouni Kenshin" depicts the confrontational early period of the Meiji Era. One troubling aspect of this show is the clear contrast between the very dark, brutishly violent backstory and the relatively lighthearted series. Although one could argue that it shows how peaceful Kenshin has become, the anime may have been more interesting if it had a darker feel and if Kenshin had a much greater struggle with his inner demons. While, yes, their outward opponents serve as a primary source of conflict, the series could have depicted Kenshin’s inner struggle more emphatically like the original manga. Overall, Kenshin’s steadfast devotion to peace, his rejection of being a killer, his defense of others, and his masterful swordsmanship make this anime a highly enjoyable experience.