Rurouni Kenshin episode 12: Kenshin vs Aoshi concludes as Kanryu Takeda makes a shocking move
Rurouni Kenshin episode 12 was released on Friday, September 22, 2023, bringing with it the exciting continuation of Team Kenshin’s fight against Kanryu Takeda and his Oniwabanshu. Likewise, with Han’nya and Shikijo having been defeated by Kenshin Himura and Sanosuke Sagara, respectively, all that remains is for Kenshin to deal with Aoshi Shinomori.
With the highly anticipated fight between Kenshin and Aoshi finally set to begin, fans are unsure of what to expect outside of excellent animation from production studio LIDEN FILMS. However, fans are more concerned with what Aoshi’s ultimate fate will be, especially considering his apparent past connection to Kenshin from a bygone era.
Rurouni Kenshin episode 12 sees final battle between Kenshin and Aoshi commence
Brief episode recap
Rurouni Kenshin episode 12 began with Aoshi refusing Kenshin’s request to settle things peacefully. Yahiko got upset about Aoshi’s choice of weapon, believing his using a short blade to be an insult. Kenshin and Aoshi then told Yahiko to get back, prompting Kenshin to reveal that Aoshi’s blade is actually a kodachi, which can be difficult to deal with.
Aoshi hit Kenshin with a kick, resulting in Kenshin realizing that Aoshi is also a kenpo master. Kenshin deduced that Aoshi’s attack style is to use the kodachi for defense and the kenpo for offense. Aoshi confirms that he taught Han’nya kenpo, as Kenshin feels the full impact of his prior attacks.
Rurouni Kenshin episode 12 then sees Aoshi reveal that he wants to kill Kenshin due to his former role as an Imperialist, revealing himself to have been part of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Aoshi then discussed how the former Tokugawa Shogunate acted at a certain battle, revealing that they abandoned 10,000 soldiers and left them to die. He then surrendered without bloodshed, to which Aoshi says his regret about that fact is that he couldn’t fight.
He asserts that if they had fought back then, the Tokugawa Shogunate would’ve won the war. He reveals their plan to light Edo on fire and kill Imperial army officers, allowing the Shogunate’s army to crush the leaderless Imperialist army. Aoshi then says that doing something like that now is meaningless, saying that proof of his group’s superiority in the war is all that matters now, clearly meaning he’ll prove it by beating Kenshin.
Rurouni Kenshin episode 12 sees Kenshin respond that neither side was right or wrong, with both simply concerned for the country’s future and the people’s happiness. Kenshin then says that Aoshi has none of that, filled with only competitiveness. Kenshin then says that as a Revolutionary warrior, he can’t sit there and let Aoshi spout such nonsense.
Kenshin then rushes at Aoshi, who blocks his attack easily. Perspective then shifts to Kanryu Takeda, who is cursing being disrespected by both Aoshi and Megumi Takani. Takeda then tries to think of a way to eliminate both Kenshin and Aoshi in one fell swoop, being inspired by his subordinate who asks him about the test of “you-know-what.”
Rurouni Kenshin episode 12 then sees Aoshi easily block yet another of Kenshin’s attacks, with even Yahiko realizing that Kenshin is struggling. However, Kenshin then reveals that he has a plan to get through Aoshi’s defense. Kenshin grabs his sword by the bottom of the blade, saying that Aoshi controls the battle with his kodachi via its reach.
Yahiko remembers Kaoru Kamiya teaching him that fighting inside one’s own reach is key for combat at a high-level. In the present, Kenshin reveals that Aoshi is attacking the blindspot in Kenshin’s form, so he decided to also switch to a kodachi length blade to eliminate that blindspot.
Rurouni Kenshin episode 12 then sees an impressed Aoshi use a new technique of his own, which Kenshin calls a sword dance. Aoshi then lands a seemingly devastating hit on Kenshin, causing him to collapse. Aoshi calls the technique Kaiten Kenbu, while a shocked Yahiko calls out to Kenshin.
Aoshi asserts that Kenshin is dead, prompting Yahiko to say he’ll take on Aoshi now. However, Kenshin then arises, ready to continue fighting and revealing that he used his metal sheath to lessen the attack’s impact. Aoshi uses the Kaiten Kenbu again, confident in his coming victory. However, Kenshin blocks the attack, grabbing Aoshi’s kodachi after he knocks Kenshin’s katana away.
Rurouni Kenshin episode 12 then sees Kenshin say he doesn’t care about this contest for the title of the strongest, landing a devastating blow to Aoshi’s throat. However, Aoshi fiercely strikes back, sending Kenshin flying across the room before he falls unconscious. However, Aoshi stands back up shortly thereafter, asking why Kenshin won’t kill him.
Kenshin says he’s no longer a hitokiri, before asking Aoshi why he decided to align himself with Takeda. He says that since his subordinates didn't get officer opportunities like he did, he couldn’t live with himself if he performed a betrayal like the Tokugawa Shogunate did to him. Aoshi even recognizes the difference in their situations, but still asserts that he wouldn’t make the same choice.
Rurouni Kenshin episode 12 then sees Aoshi beg for death, saying he won’t stop coming for Kenshin otherwise. Takeda then enters, revealing a Gatling gun which he begins firing at the trio of Kenshin, Aoshi, and Yahiko. Megumi, Sanosuke, Shikijo, and Han’nya hear the noise, intent on heading to the source of the sound to check on their respective allies. Hyottoko and Beshimi are also revealed to have heard the noise, deciding to go check it out.
Meanwhile, Kenshin and co. are dodging Takeda’s bullets for the time being, but Aoshi is eventually hit by one. Takeda then reveals that his goal is to become the most profitable black market arms dealer in the world, with his opium trade simply being a means to an end. Rurouni Kenshin episode 12 then ends with the others arriving, seeing Shikijo use himself as a human shield for the bullets Takeda is firing at the now immobile Aoshi.
Rurouni Kenshin episode 12 makes for a fantastic closure to Team Kenshin’s struggle against the Oniwabanshu. Via Sanosuke’s conversation with Han’nya and Kenshin’s with Aoshi throughout their fight, it becomes clear that everyone involved is truly just doing what they think is right, as Kenshin states himself in the episode. With this in mind, it does recontextualize the Oniwabanshu’s allegiances, and explains why Aoshi has chosen honor over Takeda’s orders.
Rurouni Kenshin episode 12's fight scene between Kenshin and Aoshi is also wonderfully animated, living up to the expectations fans had. With the Oniwabanshu and Team Kenshin now united against a common enemy, it sets up a great end to their conflict by having the two groups team up. This also appears to sow the seeds for at least some of the Oniwabanshu to join Team Kenshin, which is certainly a welcome (albeit surprising) apparent development.
While Rurouni Kenshin episode 12 doesn’t quite bring the Oniwabanshu arc to a close, it does a great job of setting up a spectacular finale in the coming installment. The episode also justifies leaving this loose thread hanging by spending a great amount of time on Aoshi and Kenshin’s fight, which certainly rivals that of Kenshin and Udo’s for best in the series so far.