Set against the backdrop of the Meiji era in Japan, Rurouni Kenshin weaves a tale of redemption, love, and thrilling swordplay. With its compelling characters, intricate plotlines, and a protagonist who’s both a wandering swordsman and a beacon of hope, Rurouni Kenshin has solidified its place in the annals of anime greatness. Its enduring popularity has led to multiple adaptations, including TV episodes, OVAs, and films. For newcomers and longtime fans alike, navigating through its expansive content can be a bit daunting. That’s where our guide comes in. Dive into the definitive Rurouni Kenshin Watch Order and embark on an unforgettable journey through the life of Himura Kenshin.
Before we talk about the watch order, let’s quickly go over the plot of the series.
Rurouni Kenshin Plot:
Rurouni Kenshin, also known as Samurai X, is a captivating tale set in the early Meiji period of Japan, a time when the samurai era was coming to an end and the country was rapidly modernizing. The story revolves around Himura Kenshin, a former legendary assassin known as Hitokiri Battōsai. Having played a pivotal role in the Bakumatsu war, Kenshin becomes disillusioned with his life as a killer. Vowing never to take another life, he adopts a new identity as a wandering rurouni (wanderer) and wields a sakabatō, a reverse-blade sword, symbolizing his oath.
As Kenshin roams the country, he arrives in Tokyo and encounters Kamiya Kaoru, a young woman who runs a kendo dojo. She initially mistakes him for the fake Battōsai, who has been tarnishing the name of her dojo. However, after clearing the misunderstanding, Kenshin decides to stay at her dojo, and they form a close bond.
Throughout the series, Kenshin confronts various adversaries from his past and new foes who challenge his vow of non-violence. Along the way, he gathers a group of loyal friends, including the fierce fighter Sagara Sanosuke, the kind-hearted soul Kaoru Kamiya, and the young samurai Myōjin Yahiko.
At its core, Rurouni Kenshin is a story of redemption, as Kenshin seeks to atone for his past sins and find a purpose in a world where the way of the samurai is fading. The series delves deep into themes of morality, the weight of one’s past, and the struggle to move forward.
Rurouni Kenshin Watch Order
1. Rurouni Kenshin (1996-1998)
This is the original anime series and consists of 94 episodes.
2. Rurouni Kenshin Review Special (1997)
This is a recap and overview of the Kyoto Arc of the series.
3. Rurouni Kenshin Special Techniques (1997)
This special episode goes over the techniques used in the anime series.
4. Rurouni Kenshin: The Motion Picture (1997)
This is standalone film that shows a new adventure of our favorite cast of characters from the show.
5. Rurouni Kenshin Special (1998)
This is the 95th and final episode of Rurouni Kenshin.
6. Rurouni Kenshin: Reminiscence (1999)
Rurouni Kenshin: Reminiscence is a special prequel series that tells us the origin story of our favorite hero.
7. Rurouni Kenshin: Seisouhen (2001-2002)
This special OVA has 2 episodes and covers the final arc of the show.
8. Rurouni Kenshin Special Ending (2007)
In 2007, this special was released with the DVD-Box box of the series and it follows the ending of the original manga.
9. Rurouni Kenshin: New Kyoto Arc (2011-2012)
This is a remake of the Kyoto Arc with modern animation, but it was not as well-received as the original show.
10. Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan (2023)
This is a complete remake of the entire series with modern animation and art style. The anime is still airing in the Summer season of 2023, and fans of the series are loving it so far.
1. Rurouni Kenshin: Reminiscence (1999)
When trying to watch the series in Chronological order, fans need to start with this 4-episode OVA series that tells us the origin story of Kenshin Himura. The art style and animation techniques used are a little outdated, but it is still a must-watch classic.
2. Rurouni Kenshin (1996-1998) OR Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan (2023)
Next, you could either watch the 1996 series, or if the animation quality is not doing it for you, then you can try watching the 2023 on-going series. Both cover the original manga in their own unique ways.
While we don’t usually talk about live-action because of its bad reputation, the Rurouni Kenshin films are definitely worth mentioning. Widely considered some of the best live-action anime adaptions, there are 5 films in total and they follow the story of the manga while also introducing some new elements.
1. Rurouni Kenshin Part I: Origins (2012)
The start of the movie trilogy that covers the tail of one of the greatest swordsmen of all time.
2. Rurouni Kenshin Part II: Kyoto Inferno (2014)
The second film covers the Kyoto arc.
3. Rurouni Kenshin Part III: The Legend Ends (2014)
The final movie in the trilogy that features Kenshin training with his old master.
4. Rurouni Kenshin: The Final (2021)
Years later, in 2021, this final sequel based on the events of the manga was released. It features Kenshin facing off against his former brother-in-law.
5. Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning (2021)
The latest movie in the series is a prequel story that introduces Kenshin as a fearsome assassin known as Battosai.
Where to Watch Rurouni Kenshin
Crunchyroll is definitely one of the best places to watch anime online. The site also lets you watch Rurouni Kenshin. However, you can only watch the 2023 remake of the series that is airing right now.
The anime is available in both Japanese and English, and you can even watch it for free by opting for a free trial.
Netflix only let’s you watch the live-action movies of the series. Even if you don’t usually watch live-action, I’d definitely recommend checking these movies out. While Netflix is paid, you can try a free trial as well. The movies are only available in certain regions, so you might need a VPN. Here’s how you can bypass the region restrictions:
How to Watch Rurouni Kenshin on Netflix Anywhere in the World
This method works on both desktop PCs and mobile phones or tablets.
- Purchase (or start a free trial) of a VPN. I can confirm that NordVPN works for this purpose.
- In the settings, choose America as your location.
- Fire up the VPN and wait for it to do its magic.
- Once you’re connected, navigate to Netflix (browser or app).
- Search “Rurouni Kenshin” in the Netflix search bar and you should see the anime pop up.
Enjoy! Please note that if your Netflix library doesn’t update to reflect the country you selected in your VPN, you may have to clear the Netflix cache first and try again.
To do this on mobile, go to settings -> apps -> Netflix -> clear cache. To do this on PC, you have to clear the cache in your web browser.
I’ve had no trouble using this method and I still use NordVPN to watch anime from various Netflix country libraries daily.
If you really want to watch the original 1996 series, then Hulu is your only option. All episodes of the original anime are available here in both English and Japanese.
While Hulu is paid, a free trial is also available. Sadly, the cheapest subscription on Hulu still has ads.
Want to know about the 5 best places to watch anime for free online? Click here!