Synopsis: Kenshin Himura is a wandering samurai with a dark past... for he is also the man known as Battousai the Manslayer. Having annihilated countless people, his sword skills are second to none. His name alone is enough to strike fear into the hearts of citizens who've heard of his legendary abilities. But Kenshin is determined never to kill again, and he now uses his sword to protect people instead. As he roams Japan, he comes across the passionate Kendo instructor Kaoru Kamiya. Kaoru is immediately attracted to the wanderer, and Kenshin decides to stay for a bit to help Kaoru rebuild her father's dojo. But there are still elements beyond his control that threaten to pull him back to his blood-stained past. Can Kenshin truly leave it all behind for a peaceful and normal life?
Review: Rurouni Kenshin is a truly excellent series. What makes it stand out from other samurai, ninja, or action series is the fact that Rurouni Kenshin is firmly rooted on a highly memorable succession of events that make up its plot. There's always a good reason why any form of violence takes place. Sometimes it's political, other times it's just personal.
The action is extremely detailed. The different sword and martial arts techniques are given a lot of emphasis and are explained very well. Rurouni Kenshin creator Nobuhiro Watsuki really knows his stuff and he dazzles the audience with this knowledge. Characterization is superb. Kenshin Himura is one of the best characters I've encountered. He's wise beyond his years (albeit too lecture-y at times), and yet at the same time he's a fun and funny guy. Kenshin's sword skills are mesmerizing to behold. I'm not really into action but I love watching him fight! His humility and down-to-earth personality also make him a very likeable hero. The supporting characters and villains are just as well-developed. Virtually everyone has their own in-depth history, which in turn explains their motives and actions. The series is actually propelled more by the characters rather than the plot. Rurouni Kenshin has its fair share of light and comical moments as well.
The art and animation are very good and quite consistent in quality. The soundtrack is also worth checking out (I have some RK CDs myself). The only major gripe I have about Rurouni Kenshin is the absolute lameness of the last two arcs, episode 70-something onwards (specifically the German and the Feng Sui arcs). They put in two totally worthless subplots instead of giving us the real ending. Rurouni Kenshin could've been a 5-star anime had they stayed completely faithful to Mr. Watsuki's work. The English dubbing is generally okay, Kenshin's English voice is actually better than his original Japanese voice. It's so obvious that a female seiyuu was doing Kenshin's Japanese voice, and even the kid Yahiko sounds more masculine than Kenshin ever does.
Anyhow despite a few minor shortcomings, Rurouni Kenshin is definitely one of the best anime series out there.
Miscellanies: The best part of the anime series is definitely the Shishio arc. Rurouni Kenshin is more accurately translated as "Kenshin the Wanderer" or "Wandering Kenshin". "Wandering Samurai" is the official English title. Kenshin's mysterious past is given light in the OAV series.