A group of assassins are killing corrupt politicians. This is a problem because if the group isn’t stopped, there won’t be any politicians left. Seriously though, as Sanosuke notes, people are dying.
While the assassins are capable, whoever is heading up the movement knows that Kenshin will become a hindrance and orders Toma, the lead assassin, to find someone who is capable of taking the swordsman in a fight.
Said someone is a teacher named Sasaki, who just happened to arrive at the dojo looking for a doctor to help one of his sick students. It’s strange how everyone who shows up is in some kind of trouble. To Sasaki’s credit, he isn’t made aware of the trouble until later, but the timing is dang peculiar.
As it turns out, Sasaki has a history very similar to Kenshin. He too was a great warrior who decided to embrace a more peaceful life. While the parallels are obvious, the episode is surprisingly good about not beating you over the head with the comparison. Sanosuke mentions it once and that’s about it.
The fact that Sasaki once fought Kenshin is a bit of a stretch, but Kenshin did note that he looked familiar and it’s a much more acceptable reason than his cover about seeing him while walking Sanosuke home.
Apparently, Sasaki maintaining his life as a teacher is of utmost importance to Sanosuke, and he doesn’t take kindly to it when the assassins try to press-gang the teacher back into the killer lifestyle by threatening the lives of his students.
Considering how capable Sasaki is, I’m surprised they were so quick to hand him a sword. I was expecting the teacher to turn on his captors once he had the weapon in his hands, but even that is unacceptable to Sanosuke as he barges in before anything can happen and challenges the assassins himself.
He actually does fairly well, especially considering he’s just punching them and they’re armed with blades. However, some do escape while he is occupied. Of course, this is where Kenshin steps in. He stops those who flee and challenges Toma.
The two have a good fight, but it is interrupted by the authorities. Oddly, Toma’s declaration that they’ll meet again comes off as less vengeful and more sporting. Sure, their fight will be to the death, but he seems like he’s going to enjoy the challenge. It was an interesting bit of development for the character.
Stranger still is the revelation that Toma managed to nick Kenshin’s throat. There’s no blood, implying it didn’t penetrate the skin, but it still looked like a serious slice. I guess you could chalk it up to Kenshin’s speed, but he was really lucky as that would have killed him if the blade were any closer.
The episode is a mixed bag. Parts worked, some of the jokes landed and there were some solid character moments, but it still got corny at points. I’m also unsure why Sanosuke is so invested in Sasaki’s pacifism. Even Kenshin gets into fights on a regular basis, but still helps people. I’m not sure why Sasaki couldn’t operate in that capacity as well. If anything, it would work in their favor having another legendary fighter out there helping the innocent and what not. It might be covered in later episodes, so we’ll just have to see.