Rurouni Kenshin episode 22: Kenshin's old rival appears and puts Kaoru and co's lives in danger

Rurouni Kenshin episode 22: Kenshin
Rurouni Kenshin episode 22: Kenshin's old rival appears and puts Kaoru and co's lives in danger (Image via LIDEN FILMS)

Rurouni Kenshin episode 22 was released on Friday, December 1, 2023, bringing with it the exciting continuation of the final leg of the anime’s first season. Likewise, despite how few episodes are left in the smash-hit anime’s first season, it seems that a major storyline is set to begin and be concluded in the time remaining.

Rurouni Kenshin episode 22 sees one of the scariest skeletons in the titular character’s closet return in the form of former Third Unit Captain of the Shinsengumi, Hajime Saito. With Kenshin’s friends already caught in the crossfire by the episode’s end, it’s a race against time for Kenshin to deal with his past before it deals with his present.


Rurouni Kenshin episode 22 sets up Kenshin’s biggest fight yet in the series

Brief episode recap

Kenshin's dream of his past as Hitokiri Battosai is seemingly a warning for future events in Rurouni Kenshin episode 22 (Image via LIDEN FILMS)
Kenshin's dream of his past as Hitokiri Battosai is seemingly a warning for future events in Rurouni Kenshin episode 22 (Image via LIDEN FILMS)

Rurouni Kenshin episode 22 began with a look at Kenshin’s past, where he faced off against Captain Hajime Saito of the Shinsengumi’s Third Unit after slaughtering several members. Just as they clashed, the episode returned to the present, where Kaoru Kamiya was called out to the sleeping Kenshin.

She and Yahiko Myojin yell at him for being so spaced out before dragging him out of the dojo they’re in to head back home. Kenshin explains his dream to the two and the origins of the Shinsengumi group. He adds that due to the influx of modern weaponry, they faded into history but were likely the greatest, strongest, and final group of swordsmen in Japanese history.

Rurouni Kenshin episode 22 then saw Kaoru point out their unfair tactics, but Kenshin excused this due to their goal of protecting Kyoto. Kenshin then praised the First, Second, and Third unit captains for their specific individual strength. He claims he fought each of them many times but was never able to settle the score officially.

Hajime Saito's alias allows him to get the drop on Sanosuke in Rurouni Kenshin episode 22 (Image via LIDEN FILMS)
Hajime Saito's alias allows him to get the drop on Sanosuke in Rurouni Kenshin episode 22 (Image via LIDEN FILMS)

Kenshin adds that while they were his enemies, he feels no personal grudge towards them and even feels closer to them than the so-called Revolutionaries in government posts now. Kenshin then muses to himself on how long it has been since he’s had a dream about that era, questioning why it’s happening now of all times.

Rurouni Kenshin episode 22 then cut back to Kaoru’s dojo, where Sanosuke Sagara was lamenting their not being there so he could get free food. An alleged medicine vendor from Tama named Goro Fujita then appears to be trying to sell Sanosuke a miracle drug. Sanosuke comments on how narrow the man’s eyes are before pointing out how the calluses on his hands are from swordsmanship.

Goro Fujita then comments on how perceptive Sanosuke is before realizing Hitokiri Battosai isn’t home, drawing a sword from his back after saying so. Sanosuke then throws a punch at the man, but he’s seemingly unfazed by the attack. The man speaks of Kyoto during the Bakumatsu era, suggesting that he is a former member of the Shinsengumi that Kenshin was dreaming about.

Kenshin and co's fateful meeting with Megumi Takani in Rurouni Kenshin episode 22 saves Sanosuke's life (Image via LIDEN FILMS)
Kenshin and co's fateful meeting with Megumi Takani in Rurouni Kenshin episode 22 saves Sanosuke's life (Image via LIDEN FILMS)

Rurouni Kenshin episode 22 then sees Megumi Takani meet up with Kenshin and co by chance, wanting to hang out with them since she’s off from work today and tomorrow. When she asks Kenshin directly if that’s okay, she comments on how he’s lacking spirit. Kenshin then thinks he should stop worrying about his dream when he and the others return to the dojo to find a hole in the wall and the smell of blood.

Heading inside, they find an unconscious Sanosuke stabbed through the shoulder with the blade snapped off in his body. The episode then cuts to a restaurant, revealing that the attacker was none other than Hajime Saito of the Shinsengumi. The businessman making a deal with Saito is revealed to be Senate Secretary Shibumi and is also credited with orchestrating the Jine Udo events from earlier in the season.

Rurouni Kenshin episode 22 sees Saito ask who wants Kenshin assassinated, apologizing for prying into things that aren’t his business. Shibumi excuses this and says they should celebrate, but Saito says he has to get to his main job before his absence becomes suspicious. He’s revealed to be an Assistant Inspector for the police under the alias Goro Fujita.

Sanosuke is seemingly unable to fight in the coming battle with Saito by the end of Rurouni Kenshin episode 22 (Image via LIDEN FILMS)
Sanosuke is seemingly unable to fight in the coming battle with Saito by the end of Rurouni Kenshin episode 22 (Image via LIDEN FILMS)

The episode then cuts to Megumi’s treatment of Sanosuke, who is still alive but in a bad way. Kenshin inspects the scene of the attack while the others help with treatment, seemingly realizing who is responsible after investigating. It is then revealed that Megumi and co are still watching over Sanosuke’s treatment three days later, with Kenshin also having sat by the hole in the wall for that time.

Rurouni Kenshin episode 22 then sees Kenshin explain all the aspects of the attack, which makes it clear that Hajime Saito of the Shinsengumi is behind this attack. Kenshin wonders if he can defeat Saito with just his sakabato while keeping his refusal to kill. The episode cuts to the next day, where Saito is seen eating lunch as Akamatsu, Shibumi’s associate, approaches him.

It’s revealed that the job was originally meant for Akamatsu, prompting him to lecture Saito to hurry up and get beaten already. Saito laughs and offers to cooperate with Akamatsu if he wants, explaining how Kenshin has surely realized who is behind the attack thanks to the evidence he left. Saito suggests that he set up Akamatsu to finish off the job now that Kenshin is convinced Saito is responsible.

In episode 22 of Rurouni Kenshin, Saito says he doesn’t really care about Kenshin despite what he said to Shibumi. Akamatsu smiles and agrees, warning Saito to remember that he is the most adept in their organization, a claim Saito criticizes after he walks away. Kenshin tells Yahiko that he has an errand to run and to lock up in case he comes home late, seemingly having received Saito’s letter.

However, Arundo Akamatsu appears as planned, using a sickle and chain weapon to attack Kenshin. Kenshin asks Akamatsu what his reason for attacking Kenshin is, which Akamatsu refuses to answer. However, Kenshin gets serious and instantly defeats Akamatsu, destroying his weapon and asking him how he’s related to Saito.

Rurouni Kenshin episode 22 then sees Akamatsu claim Saito threatened him into doing this while apologizing. However, as Kenshin turns his back on Akamatsu, he reveals two more chains hidden in his gauntlets. He slams the now-restrained Kenshin into the ground several times, as it’s revealed Saito is at the dojo with Yahiko and co in the episode’s final moments.


In review

While the installment move slowly at first, it picks up pace dramatically at the start of its second act and refuses to stop from there. In the midst of this pickup, the episode also does a great job of subtly dropping some key worldbuilding info, such as a government official being responsible for the Jine Udo incident earlier this season.

Rurouni Kenshin episode 22 also does a great job of emphasizing why Kenshin is so scared of the return of Saito and any of his Shinsengumi comrades. This is also a credit to how Saito is introduced as a character, giving him a memorable first appearance, which appropriately establishes him as the equal to Kenshin he needs to be.


In summation

Overall, the latest installment for the anime series does a fantastic job of setting up what’s to come in the first season's final episodes. With Sanosuke also down for the count thanks to his initial meeting with Saito, the stakes are higher than ever for Kenshin, who now needs to defeat Akamatsu and rush home to save his friends from Saito.


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.