Samurai X

Season 2 Episode 16

Between Life and Death

Aired Saturday 10:30 PM Jun 27, 2003 on Cartoon Network

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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out of 10
34 votes
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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.
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