A red-haired man with a cross-shaped scar on his cheek draws his sword against a group of armed thugs. That looks simple. But if there’s one thing in common with everyone he has fought, it’s that they all wonder why Kenshin Himura, a legendary manslayer during the dying days of the Tokugawa, would fight them with a reverse-edged blade that doesn’t kill?

The principle of Kenshin Himura is simple: to protect the weak without taking another life.

His sword’s (ken) heart (shin)

This is the driving story of Rurouni Kenshin. The reverse-edged sword represents the promise of non-lethal violence. Whether he’s facing a private army or a man using a gatling gun, he never strikes an opponent with the sharp end. It’s a principle that has caused him harm, especially against skilled swordsmen who know his past. But despite the wounds he gets, whether from his enemies’ blades or his own, he stood by his principle.

In the first live film, Saito Hajime, a swordsman-turned-police officer, ridicules Kenshin for using a reversed-edged sword. Fighting with such a weapon means that the sharp edge is always facing the user. The Latter drives this point home by pressing down on his sword as the main character tries to defend himself. Watch the clip below.

But has that changed Kenshin’s resolve? No. Despite the pain, Kenshin will stick to his sword and what it means, whatever it takes.

Does a broken blade mean a broken promise?

There is one time, however, where Kenshin’s eccentric sword breaks and he seeks the weapon’s maker for a new one, only to find out that he is already dead. A series of events brings him to a situation where a child’s life is in clear danger, and he is armed with a sword that he’s hesitant to draw. Watch the clip below.

There are many fictional swordsmen whose strengths are often measured with how deadly they are. Kenshin Himura is on a different level. He uses a style of swordsmanship meant for killing, hiten mitsurugi ryu, to protect those who are harmed while standing up to those will slay anyone they deem weaker. It is confronting threats with enough force, with no intention to kill, but to merely to stop an opponent. The odds are always stacked against him, but it is always impressive to watch Kenshin try to win every time, whether it is from pages to animated scenes to live action films.

While the final two movies of Kenshin’s big-screen adventures have been delayed, it is still exciting to see how his promise came to be. These two stories present a younger Kenshin that doesn’t hesitate to kill, show how he got the scar, and reveal the events that made him vow never to kill again.

Rurouni Kenshin The Final/The Beginning have been rescheduled for 2021.

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