Hiko Seijūrō

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For the character in Crescent Moon in the Warring States, see Crescent Moon in the Warring States.
In this Japanese name, the family name is "Hiko".
Hiko Seijūrō XIII
Rurouni Kenshin character
HikoSeijuro.PNG
Hiko Seijūrō on the cover of Rurouni Kenshin Kanzenban Volume 9
Created by Nobuhiro Watsuki
Voiced by Japanese
Shūichi Ikeda
English
Lex Lang (anime(sony dub))
Richard Epcar (anime)
Joe York (Trust & Betrayal)
James Brownlee (Reflection)
Andrew Love (New Kyoto Arc)
Profile
Aliases Ni'itsu Kakunoshin (新津 覚之進?)
Title Master of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū

Hiko Seijūrō XIII (比古 清十郎 十三代 Hiko Seijūrō Jūsandai?) is a fictional character from the Rurouni Kenshin universe created by Nobuhiro Watsuki. He is Himura Kenshin's kenjutsu teacher, master of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū style. As a potter, he uses the assumed name of Niitsu Kakunoshin (新津 覚之進 Niitsu Kakunoshin?).[2] His Japanese voice actor is Shūichi Ikeda, and his English voice actor is Richard Epcar. In the live action Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno, Masaharu Fukuyama was revealed as Hiko Seijuro at the film's end. Fukuyama will return for the final film in the trilogy, Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends.

Development[edit]

Watsuki had no design model for Hiko; when Watsuki imagined who the "Master" would be, the character initially became "this arrogant, twisted guy." The main design model for the Hiko in Rurouni Kenshin is the Hiko Seijūrō in his short story "Crescent Moon of the Warring States." Watsuki added some design influences from "Hiken Majin Hajerun" from the comic Arabian Lamp Lamp by Takeshi Obata. When Hiko was placed in Rurouni Kenshin, Watsuki simplified the design, such as redesigning the hair to make it easier to draw. Watsuki said that Hiko's body became "more macho" because Hiko was a different kind of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū swordsman and because of the addition of "manliness." The cloak originates from the American comic book series Spawn. Watsuki created scenes showing Hiko drinking alcohol alone, while not becoming drunk, because Watsuki has a high tolerance for alcohol and because he sees the act as having "manliness"; Watsuki said that he is fascinated by images of "manliness" and that Hiko is one of the first characters to reflect the fascination.[3]

Watsuki received questions about whether Hiko is related to the Hiko in "Crescent Moon in the Warring States." Since Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū is passed by ability instead of blood, the Hiko in Rurouni Kenshin is not biologically related to the Hiko in "Crescent Moon of the Warring States." Watsuki added that he wanted to use Hiko more often in Rurouni Kenshin, but Hiko is more powerful than Kenshin. Watsuki's editor stated, "(The Master) is like the joker in a card deck." Hiko is, in Watsuki's words, "just too powerful," and so it would be difficult to find a place to use him in the story.[3] Watsuki described Hiko as "the original RuroKen wildcard."[4]

Personality[edit]

Hiko is shown to be very sarcastic, egotistical and a punishing taskmaster, often referring to Kenshin as "My idiot apprentice,"[5] and bringing up embarrassing incidents from Kenshin's past to provoke him into training harder. Despite this rough exterior, he has a deep sense of responsibility to Kenshin and those he protects, in the rare cases when he does get involved in a situation (usually at his own will). He has also been shown to be highly respectful and polite towards those he considers to be a true warrior, while at the same time condescending on those he considers to be weak. He loves sake, himself, and teasing Kenshin, although this is a testament to his excellent skill and powerful body. Master and student frequently have bouts of slapstick conflict between them. He dislikes socialization, and in order to avoid having to work with people, he makes his living as a potter.

History[edit]

The thirteenth successor to the sword art of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū, Hiko Seijūrō, born October 1836 in Kyoto, saved young Shinta from marauding bandits who killed his companions.[1] Hiko then took care of Shinta, and renamed him Kenshin ("Heart of Sword") after claiming that Shinta was not a good name for a swordsman.[1] Hiko would then train Kenshin in Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū for the next six years. He became angry and disappointed with Kenshin, because he ran away to join the rebellion against the Tokugawa regime at age 14,[1] knowing that although Kenshin displays extraordinary skill in swordsmanship, he was not prepared in mind and spirit for dealing with the conflicts of the outside world. Hiko isolates himself from the rest of the world, reasoning that he does not have to deal with the ills of society by living as a hermit/potter in a forest near Kyoto.

Plot overview[edit]

During the events of the Kyoto Arc, Kenshin visited Hiko to master the last remaining principles of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū.[1] Hiko would evaluate his pupil's growth, both as a swordsman and as a person, over the past fifteen years of separation and pass on the Ogi or Succession Technique, Amakakeru Ryū No Hirameki to his pupil, nearly dying in the process. Afterwards Hiko Seijūrō appears when he assists the Kyoto branch of Oniwabanshū by defeating the giant Fuji as a last favour for Kenshin. After Shishio's defeat, Hiko met Kenshin at Tomoe's grave in Kyoto, and discussed with him how his paradoxal desire to save people by killing others destroyed the thing that Kenshin loved above all else. He is last seen in the anime during the Shougo Amakusa arc, where he advises Kenshin about Amakusa's past and capabilities.

In the OVA Samurai X: Reflection (Rurouni Kenshin: Seisōhen), which was not created by Rurouni Kenshin author Nobuhiro Watsuki, Hiko also realizes that the Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū no longer seems relevant in the changing world, as he remarks to Yahiko: "The only thing that doesn't seem to change is the moon."

Techniques[edit]

Hiko's appearance in the anime.

Hiko, a master of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū. After fifteen years, master and student meet once more. It is then that Kenshin will complete his training. Even though Hiko is 42 years old, he looks as if he were in his late twenties, and has remained such since the flashback shown where he took young Shinta in and renamed him to Kenshin, teaching him the arts of the Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū for the next four years. When Hiko told Yahiko and Misao his real age, the two were shocked and pondered if Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū is some sort of fountain of youth (Kenshin looks as if he were in his late teens. In the episode in which Hiko's age is revealed, Yahiko exclaims that Kenshin is 28 years old.).

Hiko's skills can be seen in the actions portrayed in the manga and the anime. He does not hold back when he fights, is supremely analytical in combat, understands the nature of his opponents, and is at peak physical condition. Kamiya Kaoru stated that a master swordsman of Hiko's caliber makes his sword a barrier of sorts, overstating that fact that if one were to enter this barrier, Hiko would defeat his opponent instantly. Nobuhiro Watsuki has mentioned in character notes that he is comparable to the Joker in a deck of cards. He is so overpowering, that it is difficult to find a place for him in the manga in which he can fight without easily solving Kenshin's problems for him. (His fight with Fuji the giant was a solution, as it allowed him to save Kyoto from Shishio's assault and still avoid Kenshin's fight with the real enemy, Shishio himself.) As such he does not appear in any future chapters except in flashbacks once the Kyoto arc finishes, though he is featured in the OVA series.

Hiko's weapon is a shirasaya nihontō (a katana with a wooden sheath and hilt).

The cloak Hiko wears is not only distinctive for all Hiten Mitsurugi masters, but it also serves to maintain his strength during peacetime. Even when conflict is not at the door, Hiko remains in training just by wearing it; Hiko's cloak has springs in its shoulder area that exert a counter-pressure of 10 kan (37.5 kilograms).[6] The cape also serves to keep the powers of Hiten Mitsurugi under control during training and peace time scuffles. When Hiko decides to get serious and actually end Kenshin's life to liberate him from his mental struggle with the hitokiri, he goes forward to attack without the cape - his full strength unrestrained.

Other Hiko Seijūrōs[edit]

The name Hiko Seijūrō is in fact a title granted to each succeeding master of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū. Since Hiko Seijūrō II, each new master has discarded his own name in favor of the name of the creator of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū. (After Kenshin mastered the final attack of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū, Hiko revealed that teaching it required the teacher to die at the blade of the student in the process, after which the student replaced him as the next master. Only Kenshin's use of a sakabatō permitted Hiko to survive.) As Kenshin declines to take the name "Hiko Seijūrō XIV"(having no desire to pass on the techniques of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū due to its potential for causing death, as well as the fact that the cloak wouldn't look good on him due to his smaller stature), his master is the last man ever to be known as Hiko Seijūrō.

In season 3 of the anime series, a reference was made to Hiko. When Kenshin realized that Shogo Amakusa is also proficient in Hiten Mitsurugi, Kenshin visited Hiko and asked how this is possible. Hiko revealed that his master, Hiko Seijuro XII, previously taught a man named Hyoue. Hyoue failed the last test of the Hiten Mitsurugi, in which the student must use the Amakakeru Ryu No Hirameki to overcome the master's Kuzu-ryusen. Hyoue barely survived the test and afterwards taught his nephew, Shogo Muto, who would then change his family name to Amakusa and use Hiten Mitsurugi to avenge the Christians martyred during the Tokugawa Era.

A character named Hiko first appeared in a one-shot story by Watsuki named Crescent Moon in the Warring States set in the Sengoku Period of feudal Japan, which was later included in the English language Rurouni Kenshin manga volume six. Watsuki has stated that this story is canon and tells the story of one of the previous Hiko Seijūrōs. From this story it appears that the various Hiko Seijūrōs followed different ideals and beliefs for the use of the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryū. Whereas Hiko Seijūrō XIII believed that it could only be wielded by a free sword, independent of any ideology and loyalty, this previous Hiko had pledged his loyalty to the daimyo of a small prefecture and served him as a samurai. His weapon was a shirasaya nihonto with the name Fuyutsuki ('Winter Moon') painted on its hilt. Hiko said that the Fuyutsuki, like his cloak, was an heirloom of the Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryū.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Rurouni Kenshin Profiles. Viz Media. 2005. ISBN 978-1-4215-0160-4. 
  2. ^ Watsuki, Nobuhiro. "Act 84—The Mitsurugi Apprenticeship." Rurouni Kenshin Volume 10. Viz Media. 169.
  3. ^ a b Watsuki, Nobuhiro. "The Secret Life of Characters (32) Hiko Seijūrō," Rurouni Kenshin Volume 12. VIZ Media. 92.
  4. ^ Watsuki, Nobuhiro. "The Secret Life of Characters (38) Fuji (Real Name Unknown)," Rurouni Kenshin Volume 15. Viz Media. 126.
  5. ^ Watsuki, Nobuhiro. "Act 126: The Great Man vs. the Giant." Rurouni Kenshin Volume 15. Viz Media. 112.
  6. ^ Watsuki, Nobuhiro. "Act 96: Between Life and Death." Rurouni Kenshin Volume 12. Viz Media. 58.