This post is my tribute to choosing life and heeding the wisdom of one’s elders. The featured scene is from Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends (2014). I will only speak about Kenshin and his teacher here, and then no more, except what is relevant to this post.
Kenshin was the best assassin of the past government. He had since sworn to not kill anymore, carrying a sword that has the sharp egde at the wrong side.
The new government has asked for his help to kill a rampaging ex-assassin, who is threatening the safety of the land.
Aware of his weakness after a recent duel, Kenshin asks his teacher (also called “master”) to teach him the ultimate sword tehnique of their school so that he can defeat the enemy.
His teacher agrees. They fight-train —physically, mentally, emotionally— a holistic approach.
Teacher tosses a real sword to Kenshin. It is a real fight with real swords today.
He’s figured out that he’s afraid of neither his teacher nor of death.
But his teacher has warned him that if he cannot figure out what’s wrong with him, then he will not be able to defeat the villain. Moreover, he might even die in today’s training-duel, without having learned the final technique at all.
He resolves that he will not die just yet, and fights back. After some time, he eventually slashes at Teacher and scores a point!
His guilt has made his fighting resolve distorted. His guilt has numbed his positive purpose for fighting, which was why he was defeated recently — his sword broken, and was not able to rescue Kamiya Kaoru also.
His fierceness in fighting will not return if he continues to be weighed down by the guilt of having killed so many people before.
He has to embrace his guilt, forgive himself, and be positively fierce again in order to defeat his enemy, who is also the enemy of the people whom Kenshin is trying to protect.
(This has something to do with his failing to rescue Kaoru. She was shouting at him to look after himself, to fight fiercely but to stay alive, but he was distracted by his fear for her safety . So, Teacher seemed to be saying that being on the defensive position, on the side of the helpless people, has somehow weakened Kenshin’s fighting prowess).
(I wish I can understand Japanese!) Teacher seemed to be saying that Kenshin has denied his life-loving fighting self—his innate positive personality, and his life’s discipline and upbringing with his Teacher—ever since he resolved not to kill anymore. Indeed, his Teacher never trained him for the purpose of killing, but so that he can protect people. However, he made choices that led him astray and caused him to kill even defenseless people. The senselessness of his deeds caused him to gamble with his life many times—fighting fiercely without regard to his own life. So now, if he can resolve his guilt and embrace again the purpose of his life’s training, then he can fight the villain and live to tell about it.
Teacher’s important lesson: YOUR LIFE IS AS WORTH AS OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES.
Hitokiri Battousai the famous assassin passes away from existence, and in his place stands a very alive Kenshin, the life-loving defender of the weak.
Himura Kenshin and I learned something very valuable from Master today.
Domo arigato gozaimashita. (That’s a very respectful ‘thank you very much.’)