During more violent times, there was the tale of a legendary manslayer, the Battousai. However, this assassin suddenly disappeared at the beginning of the Meiji Era, but his legend is still well-known. Ten years later, unbeknownst to the people, the Battousai has abandoned his blood-stained ways and began living as a wanderer known as Kenshin, a goofball and pacifist that has vowed to never kill again. After saving a sword dojo ran by a woman from an imposter posing as the Battousai, this wanderer stops his travel to temporarily stay.
Older anime fans will likely remember Rurouni Kenshin and its run on Toonami as their first introduction to samurai anime. It has since risen to classic status, although it still spawns live-action movies. If you want something more than nostalgia, give these anime recommendations a go.
For Fans of Badasses Turn Silly Bastards
After aliens invade Japan, they put a prohibition on swords. However, Gintoki Sakata still possesses the heart of a samurai. Taking on odd jobs alongside of his friends, Gintama follows Gintoki during his chaotic life as an errand boy.
While it is hard to give a proper synopsis for Gintama, both shows are about excessively goofy samurai that like to have fun, but also have a serious side. Both Gintama and Rurouni Kenshin have their serious arcs while they also have their fun arcs.
Vash the Stampede is a heinous criminal with a huge bounty on his head. Known as the “Human Typhoon,” he brings destruction wherever he goes. However, when two insurance agents finally meet him, they find out that Vash is not quite the villain so much as he is a light-hearted buffoon.
Although Trigun is a space western and Rurouni Kenshin is set in the Meiji Era, there is no denying how similar the main characters are. While Vash was never what you would call “bad,” he, like Kenshin has a dark past which they cover up with a silly personality.
Seven Deadly Sins
In this feudal world, the realm is protected from those who seek to spread their evil by the Holy Knights. However, in the kingdom of Liones, a small group of Holy Knights known as the Seven Deadly Sins sought to overthrow the king only to be driven off. Now, ten years later, the world hunts for the Seven Deadly Sins, but the Holy Knights have now turned their blades on the king and taken control of the kingdom. Now it is up to his third daughter, Elizabeth, to find the Sins and help them take back control.
Like all shounen series, the main characters in Rurouni Kenshin and Seven Deadly Sins are super powerful. However, both shows acknowledge that rather than make it seem like a surprise. Both series also excel in providing humorous characters that also possess a serious side.
For Fans of Samurai
Samurai Deeper Kyou
There is a tale told of the battle between two men at the Battle of Sekigahara. The tale tells of a battle so fierce between Kyoushirou Mibu and Demon Eyes Kyou that a meteor fell on them and they both vanished. Four years after the battle, a bounty hunter named Yuya Shina tracks down Kyoushirou who has become a perverted medicine man. However, it seems that Demon Eyes Kyou is also trapped within his body.
Samurai Deeper Kyou is pretty much the overlooked Rurouni Kenshin, most likely because it never got ran on a major network. It is actually a similar story as well. You have a silly samurai, that has a dark and murderous side that threatens to come out when things get serious. However, Samurai Deeper Kyou is just a touch more supernatural.
After being traumatized by the murder of his parents, Ichimura Tetsunosuke has a thirst for revenge. Fueled by it, he seeks to join the Shinsengumi, but lacks the skill. Now he trains to learn just what it means to be part of this historic group.
Both shows are set in the same era and feature the Shinsengumi. However, in Rurouni Kenshin, the Shinsengumi are side characters / antagonistic while they are the star of the show in Peacemaker Kurogane. Watching both series is actually a great way of getting different viewpoints on this historic group.
Kazemakase Tsukikage Ran
Ran is a wandering female samurai during the Edo Period of Japan. Her skill with a blade is matched only for her thirst for sake. Joined by her companion, Lady Meow of the Iron Cat Fist, this is the tale of her adventures.
Although episodic and much more comedic in nature, both Ran and Rurouni Kenshin tell the tale of wandering samurai that can be both serious and comedic. However, Kazemakase Tsukikage Ran feels like a less fleshed out Rurouni Kenshin.
For Fans of Heroes Protecting Heroines
Yato is a minor deity that dreams of having thousands of worshippers, but without a single shrine to his name, things look bleak. He spends his days doing odd jobs until his weapon partner abandons him. In his depression, he gets his life saved by a human, and offers to help her get her soul back in her body in thanks. Unfortunately he needs a new weapon to do it. As he looks for one, he finds his luck may just turn around.
If you look at both shows in their most basic plots, they are actually the same. You have a character that was once murderous, but was tamed. They get even softer when they find a girl they like, but if she is put in danger, their murderous side threatens to come out.
Kagome’s normal life came to an end one day when a demon dragged her down into a well at the shrine where she lived. When she next woke, Kagome finds herself 500 years in the past in Japan’s feudal area, a time in history fraught with both war and demons. It is there she learns that she is a reincarnation of a priestess tasked with guarding the Shikon Jewel. With the jewel returned to the world with her, Kagome must fight off the demons that want to gain its power, including Inuyasha, a half-demon that was once a lover of her past self right up until she sealed him to a tree.
If you fancied Rurouni Kenshin because of the interactions between Kaoru and Kenshin, then Inuyasha will probably be your next favorite show. Both shows features a decent split between fighting, romance, and comedy that made them alluring to such a wide audience.
It is said that a widespread drought is coming to the Shin Yogo Empire and in order to avoid famine, that the reincarnation of the water spirit must be sacrificed to prevent it. However, the water spirit is the emperor’s own son. However, his mother spirits the boy away with a mysterious female mercenary in order to save his life.
Moribito takes the whole “man protecting the woman” trope in Kenshin and turns it on its head. Immediately upon seeing Balsa, she reminds you of Kenshin, but with a spear and a more serious attitude. While Kenshin has more fights, Moribito’s fights are well done which makes the lack of them acceptable.
Did we miss some other crucial recommendation that captures the spirit of Rurouni Kenshin? Tell us in the comments section below.