During the Tokugawa Era, under the blue moon, a group of men approached a huge mansion. Once their leader gave the signal, all of them attacked the tenants of the mansion. The bodyguards of the tenants fought back and blood flew like petals in the wind. In the midst of the battle, a red haired swordsman appeared – Hitokiri Battousai. The leader of the group attacked him and the fight between them carried on into a bamboo forest. The leader swung his sword only to slice down some bamboo trees. Hitokiri Battousai seemed to have disappeared. He looked up and sees Hitokiri Battousai flying down from the night sky above.
A moment of silence passed.
A sword broke and blood spurts out from the leader and covered Hitokiri Battousai’s face. Hitokiri Battousai merely got up, shook the blood off his sword, put it into his sheath and walked away into the darkness…
11 years later (now the Meiji Era), Hitokiri Battousai (also known as Kenshin Himura) and his friends (Karou, Yahiko and Sanosuke) took a steam-powered train to Yokohama for a holiday trip. While they were sightseeing, they came across a group of drunken foreign sailors making a complete nuisance of themselves. A lady named Toki spoke up and told them to leave. The sailors ignored her and intended to have fun with her. A handsome swordsman appeared and came to her rescue. The sailors pretended to comply but attacked the swordsman. Kaoru, watching this, wanted to help the swordsman but Kenshin stopped her. After all, the swordsman had an excellent skill in sword fighting.
Kenshin’s sharp eyes caught one of the sailors getting a rifle. He proceeded to stop him. The sound of the rifle rang through the ears of everybody who was present at the scene. Sanosuke ran over to check on Kenshin and found an unconscious sailor and a cheerful Kenshin. Kenshin returned to where Sanosuke was standing and placed his reverse-edged sword (sakabato) into his sheath. The sword caught the attention of the swordsman.
Soon, the police came. Everybody fled except Sanosuke who stayed around to have more fun with the drunken sailors.
At another place, the swordsman thanked Kenshin for his help and asked about his reverse-edged sword. Kenshin replied that he made an oath never to kill anyone again. The swordsman seemed to understand Kenshin’s oath and talked around the changes that Japan was going through after the end of the Tokugawa Era. Before he left, he introduced himself as Shigure Takimi.
While Kenshin is returning to where Kaoru and the others would be waiting for him, he met Saitou Hajime (a former member of the Shinsen-gumi during the Tokugawa Era), who warned him not to get too close to Shigure.
After catching up with Kaoru & the others, the group proceeded to walk along the market street. Yahiko and Sanosuke were in ‘deep conversation’ about Toki Takatsuki, one of the few remaining survivors of the Aizu Clan that was nearly wiped out in the Tokugawa Era. Upon hearing the word ‘Aizu’, Kenshin had memories of killing an Aizu swordsman in Suzuyu.
At a British building, a group of rebels led by a man named Kajiki attacked the place. Explosions were heard and clouds of smoke were seen, drawing in a huge crowd (including Kenshin and the others). The military (led by their commanding officer, Tamono) arrived and the rebels fled.
Evening came and Yahiko, Sanosuke and Kaoru were discussing about the past events that had happened in Yokohama. Throughout, Kenshin was in deep in his thoughts.
Back at Tokyo, children were leaving school, which was coincidently run by Toki Takatsuki. Inside, Shigure Takimi was looking at a small tree plant. One of its red flowers fell to the ground. Bitterness instantly filled Shigure’s face.
Later, Shigure and Toki were kneeling in front of an altar that was dedicated to Toki’s older brother, Gentatsu who died 14 years ago when Toki was 4 years old. Toki was grateful that Shigure was been looking after her since Gentatsu’ death. Their conversation was interrupted by Kajiki, who came to report the attack on the British building at Yakohama. He also reported that the British Embassy was coming to Tokyo within 6 days and asked Shigure to be the leader of the operation. Shigure agreed and felt that the operation would avenge Gentatsu’s untimely death.
Shigure recalled that during the night Gentatsu died, the Aizu clan held a secret meeting. It was discovered that there was an alliance meeting between Saigo from Satsuma clan & Katsura from Choshu. However, they were unable to determine where location of the meeting. Gentatsu felt that Suzuyu was the place despite its secluded surroundings. However, Shigure felt that Minoda was the place and ordered his men to move out.
Gentatsu, still feeling strongly about Suzuyu, told Shigure he would check out the place just to make sure. Shigure ordered some men to accompany him. Later, Shigure discovered that Gentatsu could be correct about Suzuyu. He rushed over and found his dead comrades lying about in the courtyard. He heard the sound of sword fighting in the bamboo forest. Shigure ran as fast as he could but was unable to rescue Gentatsu. The last thing he could remember was seeing a red haired swordsman flying down from the sky above.
By the time he arrived, Gentatsu was already dead, covered in blood. All he could do was to cry over the loss of his best friend.
Shigure strongly blamed himself for Gentatsu’s death and the following consequences – the Aizu War and the Byakkotai tragedy. If he had listen to Gentatsu, all of these events would not have happened and they would be in power instead of the Meiji Government.
At the Kamiya dojo, Kaoru was sweeping away the leaves from the courtyard when Toki came to pay a visit. Her main purpose was to see Kenshin (much to Sanosuke and Yahiko’s disappointment). Since Kenshin was away to buy tofu, Toki volunteered to cook dinner while waiting for his return.
During his talk with Toki, Kenshin learnt that the Aizu swordsman that he had killed in Suzuyu was indeed Toki’s older brother, Gentatsu Takatsuki, one of the Kanuma San. Toki requested Kenshin to talk to Shigure (who seemed to have respect for Kenshin for his swordsmanship) on her behalf as she was getting worried about his unusual behaviour. Furthermore, Shigure was unwilling to tell her anything. Kenshin promised Toki that he would have a talk with Shigure
Later, Yahiko escorted Toki back to her place where Shigure was waiting. Toki introduced Yahiko to Shigure, who discovered that Yahiko’s parents were members of the Shogitai of the Tukugawa Era. He immediately told Yahiko that he was invited to his place anytime and introduced him to one of his men, Musashino whose parents were also members of the Shogitai. Instantly, Musashino and Yahiko became fast friends.
At night, Kenshin was sitting on the porch, recalling his fight with Gentatsu again (This scene was repeated very times in the movie.) Sanosuke appeared. He too felt that Shigure was more than what he appeared to be.
In the morning, Yahiko skipped his house chores to have kendo lessons with Musashino (much to Kaoru’s annoyance). Meanwhile, Kenshin paid a visit to Toki’s schoolhouse and told her to pass a message to Shigure for him.
At a military building, Tamono purposed to reinforce the security for the parade, which was arranged to honour a British guest who would be coming to Tokyo within a few days’ time. Minister Yamagata and Chief Police Kawaji both agreed to the proposal.
At nightfall, Kajiki and his men were transporting weapons like cannons and rifles to a nearby temple. Shigure thanked them for their hard work and told them to bid farewell to their loved ones before the day of the Restoration. He returned home and finds Toki waiting for him. He asked her if she would to join him for a meal. While they were eating, Shigure told Toki that he would be away for a long journey and won’t be able to eat her cooking for a very long time.
Meanwhile, a spy (who disguised himself as a peddler outside the temple where Shigure’s men often seen hanging out) informed Saitou Hajime that Shigure’s men were becoming active for the past few days. At the same time, Musashino indirectly said his goodbyes to Yahiko.
Shigure left his house and went to bridge where Kenshin was waiting. (Remember the message that Kenshin requested Toki to pass on to Shigure). He quietly told Kenshin to take care of Toki while he’s away and left. During which, a reporter friend told Sanosuke that most of Shigure’s men were survivors of the Shogitai, Aizu and Hakodata Wars. Shigure often paid visits to their families and aid them financially in return for their service.
It was snowing and Yahiko was walking home, pondering over what Musashino had said to him. Then, he saw a group of men cloaked in black, among them was Musashino. Yahiko followed them to a temple.
Inside the temple, Shigure gave a speech about the corrupted Meiji government and the need to overthrow them. A New Restoration would begin in Japan tomorrow. In the midst of his speech, Kajiki caught Yahiko and accused him of being a spy. Yahiko went down on his knees and begged Shigure to let him join the Restoration. Shigure was reluctant at first but Musashino’s persuasion changed his mind.
Kenshin sensed that Shigure was up to something and rushed over to his place. Sanosuke was there also and informed Kenshin about the survivors of the Shogitai, Aizu and Hakodata Wars. Kenshin was about to knock upon the door when Toki opened. She too, was deeply concerned for Shigure after finding his note on Gentatsu’s altar. Kaoru appeared too, and said that Yahiko hadn’t returned home and she thought that he would be at Shigure’s place. Kenshin and Sanosuke decided to look for Yahiko, as he would be most likely with Shigure.
Saitou went to the temple to check up on the spy but found him dead. He lit a cigarette (the official trademark of Saitou Hajime) and thought of the next target that Shigure might attack next.
Shigure and his men were at the riverbanks, transporting their artillery. As soon as they were completed, Shigure thanked Yahiko for his help, apologized and punched him in the stomach. Yahiko lost conscious. Shigure explained to Musashino that Yahiko was still a child and if anything were to happen to him, he would not be able to explain it to Kenshin. Then, he gave orders to leave. Kajiki volunteered to stay behind and tied up some trivial loose ends of the operations. However, Kajiki’s real intention was to meet Tamono at artillery warehouse, as Tamono was the one who supplied the military artillery. He wanted Shigure’s men to kill the British guest so that Minister Yamagata would be disgraced and forced to resign. Thus, enabling Tamono to take over his position. In return, Kajiki would be given a government post. Unfortunately, Shigure was totally clueless of the deal made between Tomono and Kajiki.
For the entire morning, Kenshin, Sanosuke, Kaoru and Toki spent a fruitless night searching for Yahiko. They returned back to Shigure’s place and surprisingly found Yahiko. Kaoru slapped Yahiko before breaking down in tears of relief. She told him never to do such a thing again. Both Kenshin and Sanosuke questioned Yahiko about Shigure’s whereabouts but Yahiko had no idea where they would be. The desperate Toki begged Yahiko to recall because Shigure was the love of her life and she wouldn’t know what to do if anything happen to him. Yahiko vaguely remembered Shigure mentioning a state guest. Sanosuke instantly remembered the newspapers announcing that a state guest would be coming to Tokyo and there would be a parade to honour his presence. Toki instantly begged Kenshin to stop Shigure before he did anything foolish.
During the parade, Saitou and his men had their eyes peeled open for Shigure’s men. The parade went on smoothly until the British guest reached the military building. Opposite the military building were Shigure’s men, hiding in the apartments. Once given the signal, they attacked in full force. Soon, there chaos and bloodshed (during which, Tamono hid himself). Shigure was in the heat of the battle; his sword skills lifted the spirits of his men. He was about to kill the British guest when Kenshin stepped in just in time.
Shigure warned Kenshin to stay out but Kenshin refused, forcing Shigure to fight. More soldiers swarmed the area, shooting down the rebels like flies. Kenshin and Shigure continued their fight to the point where Shigure recognized one of Kenshin’s fighting techniques as one of the techniques that the red-haired Hitokiri Battousai used to kill Gentatsu at Suzuyu. Then, Shigure heard the sound of loaded rifles behind him. He turned around and sees bullets flying towards to him. Musashino appeared (from somewhere), used his body as a shield and gets shot to death. He died, with his last words to Shigure, who vowed to have a rematch with Kenshin. More reinforcements arrived, forcing Shigure and his men to retreat.
Evening came and Yahiko, Kaoru & Toki arrived at the military building only to be greeted by dead bodies scattering all over the field. Toki dropped to her knees and cried. Yahiko bluntly walked across the field and stumbled over a body – it was Musashino. While Yahiko grieved for Musashino, Kenshin had flashes of the countless scenes of death that he had during his days of Hitokiri Battousai. The sole reason that Gentatsu and he fought was for the peace and stability of Japan so that younger generations wouldn’t need to sacrifice their lives anymore. He promised Gentatsu that he would end all of this.
Chief Police Kawaji & Minister Yamagata examined the military artillery that the Shigure’s men had left behind. They both wondered how they were able to obtain much weapons from the military warehouses. A man came and reported that they had tracked down the rebels at Ueno Mountain, the last defense that the Shogitai had used. Tamono volunteered to crush them to pieces. Minister Yamagata gave his consent during which Kenshin appeared and requested Yamagata to delay the attack, as he would like to try to persuade Shigure into surrendering. Yamagata agreed but warned him that he had a time limit. (Spoiler: Minister Yamagata knew Kenshin for a very long time and even spent years tracking Kenshin down after the Tokugawa Era just to offer him a government post but Kenshin turned him down. See the beginning episodes of Kenshin the TV series to catch that scene!)
On his way to Ueno Mountain, Kenshin promised Toki he would bring Shigure back. Before he left, he told Kaoru that he was the one who caused Gentatsu’s death, which eventually led to the attempted assassination of the state guest. In other words, Kenshin was responsible for everything that had happened.
Nightfall was upon Ueno Mountain and Kajiki was ordering the remaining men to build barricades. Deep down, Kajiki believed that Shigure was imitating the Shogitai’s downfall. If that should ever happened, Kajiki would blackmail Tamono as his last resort.
Kenshin arrived (together with Sanosuke) at Ueno Mountain where Tamono reluctantly let them pass. Despite the thick barrier that Shigure’s men had built within a short period of time, Sanosuke broke it down with one punch. A mini fight proceeded after the intrusion.
Shigure appeared and commanded his men not to interfere during his duel with Kenshin. He told Kenshin that he knew that Kenshin was Hitokiri Battousai, the one who killed Gentatsu. He discovered this during their fight at the military building. The oncoming fight was not for revenge but for restoration. Kenshin’s ‘victory’ had brought the corrupted Meiji Government to rule Japan. Such government simply disgraced and made the deaths of many men in vain. He, Shigure, would make a new Era for Japan.
Without further delay, Shigure placed himself into his fighting position. Then, he formally introduced himself as Takimi Shigure of the Aizu Clan, Seki Kanuma Style. Kenshin complied by introducing himself with his fighting style – the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu (This is a common formality in every sword fighting animations, rather cool, don’t you think?) Both men stood still, composed. Kenshin was mentally anticipating Shigure’s moves. When Shigure made the first move, Kenshin used Ryutsuisen but Shigure avoided it. That was the technique that killed Gentatsu and Shigure spent years studying the speed, distance and the timing for it. There was no way for Kenshin to defeat him with that technique.
While the 2 men were fighting, Kaoru prayed for Kenshin’s safety. When Kaoru turned her head to say something to Toki, she was already missing.
During the duel, Kenshin was injured.
Shigure wanted Kenshin to use the sharp edge of his sakabatou (reverse-edged
sword) but Kenshin refused. He jumped up to the sky. So did Shigure. Sanosuke
saw the similarity of Kenshin’s move as the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu Ama
Kakeru Ryuu No Hirameki and
yet was baffled by it.
fell to the ground, bleeding all over while Kenshin landed properly, composed as
ever. Sanosuke was too stunned at the new move that Kenshin made that he named
it the Kenshin’s Ama
Kakeru Ryuu No Hirameki.
Shigure asked why did Kenshin spare him. The reply was Kenshin had made a vow
never to kill anyone again. It was a vow made to honour those that he had
killed. That was the only way to repay them. Shigure wanted to continue to fight
when Toki appeared. She held him tightly and cried, pleading Shigure to stop.
Shigure felt her tears upon his bloody hands. Kenshin asked Shigure to think how
Gentatsu would feel if he sees Toki crying. Would he like that?
then remembers one occasion that Gentatsu was unable to sleep properly because
he felt a sense of guilt over the men that he had killed. They too had families
and loved ones who were waiting for their return. But they were now dead because
of him. Gentatsu switched topic and
asked about Shigure’s family. Shigure replied that his father was chronically
ill but Shigure felt that that wasn’t the right time to think about it.
Gentatsu told Shigure he was wrong to say such things. They should expressed
concerns for their family though in times of peril. This would motivate them to
fight for their country to have a better future where bloodshed no longer
seeing the mistake of his actions and Shigure begged Gentatsu for his
foolishness. He let go of his sword and fell into Toki’s arms.
Saitou Hajime informed Police Chief Kawaji that Tomono was the one who provided
Shigure’s men with the military artillery. Saitou was able to obtain the
information from a man, who was in charge of guarding the artillery warehouses (How
did Saitou manage to squeeze the information from him? Don’t ask!)
Both Kenshin and Sanosuke were relieved that the fight was over and Shigure was ready to surrender to the police. Unfortunately, with a cruel twist of fate, Tamono appeared with rifle-armed soliders. They attacked, shooting down the Restoration men like flies, during which Shigure used his body as shield for Toki. Kenshin rushed towards the couple and turned the dying Shigure over. Shigure died, with his last words – the bluest sky is infinitely high and crystal clear. Toki screamed and Kenshin becomes very angry.
Tamono wasted no time in his second assault. The enraged Kenshin (with his luminous red hair and yellow eyes) dodged the bullets and attacked Tomono, causing him to be unconscious. Minister Yamagata stepped in time and ordered the firing to cease. He too, felt that there was enough bloodshed. Swiftly, he ordered medicinal service to be provided for the wounded and Tamono’s arrest.
the Forest of Ueno Mountain, the traitor, Kajiki was seen running for his life
(somehow, he managed to sneak out during the assault) after realizing Tamono had
played him out. In the midst, he was interceded by Saitou Hajime, who finished
him off within seconds. (Don’t forget that the warehouse guard gave away both Tamono &
Kajiki during his ‘friendly’ interrogation with Saitou Hajime.
Days after the Ueno Mountain incident, Kenshin paid Toki a visit. He confessed to Toki that he was the one who killed Gentatsu. Toki quietly told him that Shigure always told her that during the Tokugawa Era, there was chaos and men fought for what they believe in. There were no rights and there were no wrongs. Indirectly, she forgave Kenshin.
Toki decided to bury Shigure’s ashes next to Gentatsu’s grave in Aizu. She hoped for a peaceful society that Shigure and Gentatsu had always wished for. While Kaoru, Yahiko and Sanosuke bade Toki farewell, Kenshin was looking up at the clear blue sky…
The bluest sky is infinitely high and
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