Samurai X

Season 2 Episode 16

Between Life and Death

Aired Saturday 10:30 PM Jun 27, 2003 on Cartoon Network
out of 10
User Rating
34 votes

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Episode Summary

Kenshin’s training with Master Hiko is finally coming to its conclusion as he prepares to learn the ultimate attack of the Hiten Mitsurugi Style. However, his life is in danger even as he draws this close to his goal. There can only be one Master of the Hiten Mitsurugi Style, and in the final teaching of the Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki either teacher or student must lose their life. With just one night in hand, will Kenshin be able to come to terms with his own inner demons and learn the ultimate attack before it’s too late?moreless

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  • Kenshin has learned the final technique, at the cost of his master's life.

    This was a little boring at the beggining, but it was really good towards the end. I loved learning about Kenshin's childhood, like his birthname was Shinta(wow) and Kenshin is the name Hiko gave him. Interesting. I feel sorry for him because he experienced tragic death at such a young age, when people sarcrified their lives for him. The ending struck gold seeing Sanosuke in jail and Saito seeing him, then Kenshin realizing what he is missing and afterwards killing Hiko to learn the final technique. That must've hurt, how cruel. I guess that was the last death Kenshin will ever deliver, we'll see. Poor Hiko, he was really cool with his mind games on Kenshin floating on the cloud. So, it was a good episode.moreless
  • This episode sees a turning point in Kenshin's journey of self discovery and in his battle with his own dark side. A must see, and a pivotal moment in the stunning Kyoto Arc.moreless

    Kenshin's training with Seijuro Hiko comes to a head in this episode, as the time finally comes for him to learn the ultimate attack of the Hiten Mitsurugi Style - the Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki. However, even as Hiko is about to administer the final test, he lowers his sword and turns away. He declares that Kenshin as he is now will never be able to master the final technique. He gives his old apprentice one night to realise just what he's been missing. The next morning, master and student must fight, and although Hiko doesn't tell him so, he knows that only one of them will walk away alive.

    All through the series up to this point, one of the major sub plots has been Kenshin's battle with himself, suppressing the Battousi side to his nature. Whenever he's tested beyond his limits as a Rurouni he risks reverting to being the merciless Battousai, a state from which he may never return. This is was has been Kaoru's permanent worry, and her major reason why Kenshin shouldn't risk going to Kyoto. Now, in this episode, that ongoing sub plot is finally brought to its conclusion. To master the ultimate technique of the Hiten Mitsurugi style, Kenshin must learn that it isn't willingness to sacrifice himself or a lack of fear of death that he needs, but rather a love of life, and a desire to keep living for those who he loves, and who love him.

    This is a powerful message, and it comes across all the clearer for the fact that Kenshin has to realise it for himself. It's revealed through a series of flashbacks to Kenshin's dark past, and in part through an insightful comment from Kaoru as she waits anxiously for Kenshin to return.

    I found this episode to be a moving example of Rurouni Kenshin's character development at its best. We see Kenshin come to his full potential after years of incompleteness, and it is a wonderful thing to witness. Every character has a brief moment, even Dr. Gensai and Megumi back in Tokyo, and it really pulls together everything that has happened in the series so far in terms of character building. It is from this key stepping off point that we move into the true battles of the Kyoto Arc, and what a place it is to begin.

    My only complaint about the episode, and the reason I gave it 9.5 instead of a nice round 10 is that it is a little too talky. With a little less talk and a little more action I think the balance would have been perfect. However, as an example of introspective personal discovery, this episode still rates highly in my book. Recommended.moreless
Philece Sampler

Philece Sampler

Misao Makimachi

Kirk Thornton

Kirk Thornton

Hajime Saito

Wendee Lee

Wendee Lee

Yumi Komagata/Yahiko Myojin

Derek Stephen Prince

Derek Stephen Prince

Beshimi, Gekki, Cho Sawahimojo

Lex Lang

Lex Lang

Sanosuke Sagara

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn

Shura/Soba Waitress (English)

Philece Sampler

Philece Sampler


Guest Star

Richard Epcar

Richard Epcar

Seijuro Hiko

Guest Star

Bridget Hoffman

Bridget Hoffman


Guest Star

Steve Kramer

Steve Kramer

Assassin/Dr. Gensai

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

  • QUOTES (11)

    • Seijuro: I guess he lost faith in the world and killed himself on the spot. But, it's not like that doesn't happen often.

    • Seijuro: I'll give you one night. Search carefully within your soul, and find the things that you're missing. If you can't, not only will you be throwing away the final secret...
      Kenshin: But I'll be throwing my life away as well.

    • (Kenshin sheathes his sword and flips the scabbard.)
      Kenshin: Kuzu Ryu Sen can't be blocked or dodged. So there's no way to break it, except to strike before it does!
      Seijuro: Good thinking, Kenshin. Battoujitsu, which surpasses god-like speed; that's what Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki is. But, do you really believe you can surpass god-like speed with a reverse-blade sword which isn't designed for battoujitsu?

    • Seijuro: (Towards Kenshin) If you can't land a single blow in the next attack, forget about learning the final secret.

    • Seijuro: Hey, how long are you planning on sleeping? Get up already!
      (Kenshin tries to sit up but plops back down in pain, breathing heavily.)
      Seijuro: If you're not going to get up, I'll just have to keep reminiscing about the past. Let's see… I seem to recall the last time you wet your bed. (Kenshin immediately gets up and stares at Seijuro) It was a bright autumn day when you were eight years old. (Kenshin struggles to hold down the cup that Seijuro is trying to drink.) Or how about the time you were starving and you ate those funny mushrooms? That sure brings back memories. (opens eyes) Oh! So you're up! I'm still reminiscing, so rest some more if you want.

    • Kenshin: The successor to the Hiten Mitsurugi Style, Seijuro Hiko the Thirteenth. His skill is without a doubt the best. But there's something wrong with his personality!
      Seijuro: Hey.
      Kenshin: Crude.
      Seijuro: Hey.
      Kenshin: Antisocial.
      Seijuro: Hey!
      Kenshin: So vindictive that he remembers more embarrassing things about people than the actual people themselves!
      Seijuro: What are talking about? I've been retraining the stupid apprentice who abandoned me 15 years ago. There isn't a more forgiving master around!

    • Kaoru: Kenshin always tries to pile everyone's problems on his own shoulders. I'm afraid he'll end up sacrificing himself. If he masters a more powerful attack I'm pretty sure that the fight against Shishio will become a lot easier, but the war between the manslayer and the pacifist inside Kenshin's heart is a different story!

    • Seijuro: If there existed an attack that could defeat the Kuzu Ryu Sen it would be this one, the ultimate attack of the Hiten Mitsurugi Style : Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki!

    • Seijuro: Yes, that's it. Because you've slain so many people, you've taken life for granted, even your own. That's what allows the manslayer's heart, which lies deep within your true heart, to take over your soul. Even if you used the power of the manslayer for a self-sacrificing purpose such as to protect those you love, or the weak, it's simply one tiny pebble in the never-ending river of time. Live on, Kenshin. That way you'll be able to use the Amakakeru Ryu No Hirameki as you please. And you'll never again lose to the manslayer inside you.
      (Seijuro grunts briefly. Kenshin gasps.)
      Seijuro: Please don't worry. This is the fate of all who learn the Mitusrugi style. When I mastered the Amakakeru Ryu No Hirameki, it was also my master who paid the ultimate price. Think of this as something that happened outside your vow to never kill again.

    • Seijuro: Hey. Hey! Stop standing there and give it a try.
      (Kenshin quickly turns around.)
      Kenshin: (stunned face) Uh? You want me to do it just like that?
      Seijuro: (sighs) Are you daydreaming or what, Kenshin?
      Kenshin: But, master!
      Seijuro: Techniques that are only shown to you are completely useless. It's only when you experience 'em yourself that you can learn how to use and execute them effectively. That's how our training's always been done.
      (Kenshin remembers jumping to Ryu Shou Sen, getting hit on the head by Ryu Tsui Sen, and spinning with Ryu Kan Sen)
      Kenshin: (squatting with spirits around his head) I can't believe I lived through all that.
      Seijuro: That's only a testament to my skill and how fine my control of my sword is. (laughs)

    • Kenshin: (Battousai voice) You think I fear death, now that the ultimate attack is mine now?
      Seijuro: (Sighs) Forget it. You cannot use it, as you are now.

  • NOTES (10)

    • The full title of this episode that appears on screen is: Between Life and Death: Master the Ultimate Technique, Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki!

    • The beginning of this episode shows how Kenshin met Hiko.

    • For those who want to know how heavy the cape Hiko wears is (to bring down his "attack power"), it is 10 Kan, which is equal to 37.5 kg, or 80 lbs.

    • Note that Seijuro Hiko's cape is an homage to Spawn's cape. Nobuhiro Watsuki was supposedly influenced quite a bit by American comics.

    • The first note is slightly wrong. The techniques of the Hiten Mitsurugi Style are already performed at godlike speed. The Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki is performed at beyond godlike speed.

    • The cape that Hiko attempts to pass down to Kenshin has a little known purpose. Not only does it look cool, but it's designed to add significant weight to the user's shoulders, therefore keeping the incredible power of Hiten Mitsurugi subdued, and in check.

    • In Hiko Seijuro's (The 13th) case, the tradition of Ama Kakeru no Hirameki slaying the master is broken. Due to Kenshin's sakabatou, (reverse blade sword) Hiko manages to survive the attack, barely.

    • "Ama Kakeru no Hirameki" (The succession technique of Hiten Mitsurugi) is the only attack that can counter the "Kuzu Ryu Sen". It is designed, when taught, to slay the master once the student uses the technique, therefore passing on the mastership of Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu.

    • Kenshin's birth name is Shinta. As Seijuro put it, the name was to gentle for a boy who would be a swordsman. Seijuro renamed him Kenshin.

    • Kenshin masters the final attack of Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu, the Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki. As Seijuro described it, it's battoujutsu at godlike speed.