Rurouni Kenshin episode 18: Sanosuke's old ally ensnares him and Kenshin in a web of hate

Rurouni Kenshin episode 18:  (Image via Sportskeeda)
Rurouni Kenshin episode 18: Sanosuke's old ally ensnares him and Kenshin in a web of hate (Image via Sportskeeda)

Rurouni Kenshin episode 18 was released on Friday, November 3, 2023, bringing with it the exciting continuation of the anime’s events, this time focused on Sanosuke Sagara. While the episode does primarily focus on Sanosuke, a secondary focus is also given to Kenshin Himura by nature of how exactly the episode focuses on Sanosuke.

Rurouni Kenshin episode 18 achieves this by reintroducing an old ally of Sanosuke’s and establishing him as having a very serious grudge against the current Japanese government. With Sanosuke seemingly ensnared in this hatred by the installment’s end, exactly what he chooses in coming releases will be of great focus and significance.


Rurouni Kenshin episode 18 gives Sanosuke significant character development via an old ally’s reappearance

Brief episode recap

Sanosuke's origins serve as the backbone of Rurouni Kenshin episode 18's focus (Image via LIDEN FILMS)
Sanosuke's origins serve as the backbone of Rurouni Kenshin episode 18's focus (Image via LIDEN FILMS)

Rurouni Kenshin episode 18 began with a focus on Sanosuke Sagara, recounting his origins as previously revealed in prior episodes. The episode then sees Sanosuke being asked to go buy some Nishiki paintings by the waitress at the restaurant Yahiko Myojin and Tsubame work at. She asks him to buy a specific painting for him, with Tsubame wanting to say something but deciding not to.

However, Sanosuke can tell that she wants a copy of the painting as well, saying he’ll get it for her. The two men Sanosuke was eating with then reminisced about how he used to be before meeting Kenshin Himura. The narrator then explained what the Nishiki paintings were, as well as their lasting legacy as representations of the Meiji era.

Rurouni Kenshin episode 18 then saw Kenshin and Kaoru Kamiya run into Sanosuke at the Nishiki painting stand, where he was able to get the last two of the paintings he needed. Sanosuke then found a picture of Sozo Sagara, his former captain from the Sekiho army. Sanosuke then wanted to meet Tsunan Tsukioka, the painter, after learning he always draws Sozo.

Sanosuke's running an errand leads to a major discovery regarding his former Sekiho army allies (Image via LIDEN FILMS)
Sanosuke's running an errand leads to a major discovery regarding his former Sekiho army allies (Image via LIDEN FILMS)

Sanosuke then learned Tsukioka was in the next town over, saying there’s no way he would refuse to see him. It’s then revealed that Tsukioka is Sanosuke’s former comrade from the Sekiho army, with Kenshin and Kaoru deciding to go home after realizing there’s no issue for Sanosuke. The two former comrades then reminisced and discussed their lives since the army.

Rurouni Kenshin episode 18 then saw Tsukioka claim he has experienced no fun or joy in the last 10 years, holding a grudge against those who brought down the Sekiho army and Sozo. Tsukioka then revealed he has finished his “preparations,” asking Sanosuke to recreate the Sekiho army again and crush the Revolutionary government that framed them.

Tsukioka shared his intent to crush the Meiji government in order to create an equal society, as the Sekiho army had once dreamed. He revealed he intends to attack the center of Japan, meaning Tokyo and the Home Ministry building, which oversees key governmental affairs. He then revealed dozens of bombs underneath the floorboard of his home, revealing it’s all he’s done for the past ten years.

Rurouni Kenshin episode 18 sees Tsukioka reveal his plan to use the bombs to burn down the Home Ministry building, which will then incite people to riot out of disorganization. After once again stating his goal of creating an equal society and clearing Sozo and the Sekiho army’s name, he once again asks Sanosuke for his help, saying he will do it alone if he has to.

Sanosuke questions the reality of Tsukioka’s plan on the walk home, asserting that he’s overestimating how weak the Meiji government will be. Sanosuke claims his former friend can’t see the present due to having lost ten years of his life to his hatred. Tsukioka, meanwhile, drinks alone when he senses someone at his door. Seemingly mistaken, he looks back to his painting of Sozo and thinks back to their time together in the Sekiho army.

Rurouni Kenshin episode 18 reveals that Sozo once told Tsukioka to learn to let go of war and embrace the era of knowledge and learning that will come. He also told Tsukioka that he and Sanosuke need to protect each other and be there for each other, creating the “new Sekiho army” in the future. Sozo claims that he’ll understand what he means in the future, and in the present, Tsukioka admits he still doesn’t get it, but he’ll nevertheless remake the Sekiho army.

Sanosuke then shared the news of who Tsukioka is with Kenshin, Kaoru, and Yahiko the next day, asking if he could use the dojo for a party to celebrate their reunion. Sanosuke said he’d come up with the money for the party, saying to invite Tae (the waitress from earlier) and Tsubame as well. Kaoru asserts that Sanosuke is sick or not feeling well due to his saying he’ll handle the money, while Kenshin seems suspicious of Sanosuke’s intentions.

Rurouni Kenshin episode 18 then reveals that he had Tsukioka pay for the party, who said he didn’t mind at all. Megumi Takani was also revealed to be present, where she and some of Sanosuke's friends who disliked her made up. The party then kicked off in full swing, with everyone laughing, eating, drinking, and having a good time.

Some of Sanosuke’s friends then asked Tsukioka what he was like as a kid, to which he said the current Sanosuke is no different than he was back then. He also emphasizes that Sanosuke was always reliable when the times called for it. Tsukioka then drew Kenshin in another room, asking him how he knew Sanosuke. Tsukioka then asked Kenshin what he was doing before becoming a rurouni, realizing that he was a Revolutionary warrior.

Rurouni Kenshin episode 18 saw Tsukioka seemingly take issue with this but continue painting Kenshin. However, he drew him with no face, saying he simply drew what he saw and that he can’t see what lies beyond Kenshin’s scar from his time as a Revolutionary warrior. The party ended shortly thereafter, with Sanosuke saying goodbye to everyone who left. Several others were shown to have fallen asleep, seemingly including Kenshin.

Tsukioka then thanked Sanosuke for choosing the Sekiho army over the present, apologizing to his sleeping friends before he departed. He then told Kenshin that he doesn’t mind dying by his hand the next time they meet, as it’s revealed Kenshin has been awake this whole time. The episode then ends with Tsukioka and Sanosuke arriving at their target with stern looks on their faces.


In review

The concurrent character development of Kenshin, Sanosuke, and Tsukioka is arguably Rurouni Kenshin episode 18's most impressive aspect (Image via LIDEN FILMS)
The concurrent character development of Kenshin, Sanosuke, and Tsukioka is arguably Rurouni Kenshin episode 18's most impressive aspect (Image via LIDEN FILMS)

While not quite the new arc fans were expecting, Rurouni Kenshin episode 18 is nevertheless an enthralling installment that adds further depth to Sanosuke and Kenshin’s characters. The reappearance of Tsukioka provides a visible choice in life path for Sanosuke, who can either be consumed by hatred like his childhood friend or move forward in life like Kenshin.

The emphasis on Sanosuke’s vagabond status throughout the episode further supports this interpretation, all but saying he must do something to move forward in his life once more. With Sanosuke also clearly pained by the decision, it makes for an incredibly engaging episode, which should result in an exciting follow-up next week.


In summation

Rurouni Kenshin episode 18 chooses to forego its usual story arc formula in order to focus on Sanosuke’s character development, which is done with great effect. Likewise, given his and Kenshin’s similar origins, this also translates into further character development for the titular character. While this is all done at the expense of action for the episode, this latest installment is nevertheless an enthralling one in every sense of the word.


Be sure to keep up with all Rurouni Kenshin anime and manga news, as well as general anime, manga, film, and live-action news as 2023 progresses.

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