|Rurouni Kenshin character|
Kamiya Kaoru on the cover of Rurouni Kenshin Kanzenban Volume 4
|First appearance||Rurouni Kenshin Act 1: Kenshin ● Himura Battōsai|
|Created by||Nobuhiro Watsuki|
Tomo Sakurai (drama CD)
Miki Fujitani (anime)
Reba West (anime, Sony dub)
Dorothy Melendrez (anime, Bang Zoom! dub)
Kara Bliss(Requiem for the Ishin Patriots)
Amanda Hanawa(New Kyoto Arc)
|Portrayed by||Emi Takei|
|Aliases||Kory Kamiya (anime, Sony dub only)|
|Title||Master of Kamiya Kasshin-ryū|
|Relatives||Himura Kenshin (husband) Himura Kenji (son)|
Kamiya Kaoru (神谷 薫?), known as Kaoru Kamiya in the Media Blasters English-language dub and Kori Kamiya in the English Sony Samurai X dub, from the Rurouni Kenshin universe created by Nobuhiro Watsuki as a protagonist. In the story, Kaoru is the instructor of a kendo school in Tokyo called Kamiya Kasshin-ryū (神谷活心流?). All of its students leave when a large number of people are killed by someone claiming to be the Hitokiri Battōsai (斬り抜刀斎?) from the Kamiya Kasshin-ryū", damaging her school's reputation. Kaoru is saved from this murderous impostor by the real Battōsai, Himura Kenshin, now a wanderer who has sworn to stop killing. Across the series, Kaoru develops feelings from Kenshin and becomes an ally of him.
Kaoru also appears in the featured movie of the series, as well as other media relating to the franchise, including a plethora of electronic games and a series of OVAs. A major concern within the series in regards to Kaoru is that if Watsuki would or would not kill the character. Critical reception to the characters has been varied from positive to ending.
Creation and conception
Watsuki said that he used "no specific model" and "no specific motif" when designing Kaoru. He said that if he had to name one model, he would point to Chiba Sanako of Ryōma no Koibito. He wished to include the "commanding" quality from Sasaki Mifuyu (佐々木 三冬?) of Shōtarō Ikenami's Kenkaku Shōbai (ja). According to Watsuki, Kaoru became a "plain, regular girl" despite the "commanding" quality. By the compilation of Volume 1 in Japan he believed that the character model worked and stated that many female readers of Rurouni Kenshin identified with Kaoru. He had not decided at the time on whether Kaoru should be Kenshin's love interest. Watsuki wished that he could design Kaoru "more cutely" and to be "more fashionable" but decided to tone down those qualities as he felt that she needed to express "down-to-earth" and financially "poor" characteristics as well. Watsuki described her ponytail hairstyle as "de rigueur" for a girl who practices kendo. Watsuki says that he enjoys drawing Kaoru and that filling in her hair is "sometimes a pain."  At the end of Rurouni Kenshin Kaoru gets a new hairstyle. Watsuki felt that Kaoru would not look like herself without her ponytail, but that her original hair style did not appear like what a mother would wear, so he created a variation for the ending.
When some female readers told Watsuki that they could not decide whether Kaoru exhibited strength or weakness as a fighter, Watsuki responded by saying that Kaoru is "quite independent for her age" and could easily "hold her own" against many dojo masters in town, making her a national-level champion at least, although even this level appeared weak compared to Kenshin and Sagara Sanosuke.
Since volume 7, Watsuki mentioned the series took a more adult tone due to the various conflicts in the story, but commented it was influenced by the shōjo manga he read. Through the series' development, Watsuki was deciding if Kaoru's character was going to die prior to the end. However, he later decided to keep Kaoru alive as he came to the conclusion he wanted a happy ending and that the manga is aimed at young readers. This was also influenced by the happy ending from the previous story arc. However, with this he believed the story arc lost its main theme regarding revenge; Several readers sent Watsuki letters with either praise and criticism for the twist. Nevertheless, Watsuki apologized to the young and innocent readers for the dark chapters that were published during the time it was believed Kaoru was dead.
In Rurouni Kenshin
Kaoru is the instructor of the Kamiya Kasshin fighting school. She inherited the fighting style and a small dojo from her late father who developed the style before he was drafted into the police swordmen unit and was killed during the Seinan War while protecting a comrade. At the beginning of the story, she runs the school by herself but has no students; she seems likely to lose the dojo until Kenshin appears and helps her. She is independent, possessive, compassionate, courageous, feisty, strong-willed, and a great fighter—with occasional mood swings. Kaoru is also known for her bad cooking and her ability to see the good in others. In her first appearance, she is seen searching for the assassin Hitokiri Battosai who claims to be from Kamiya Kasshin-ryu. She is saved by the real Battosai, Himura Kenshin, whom she invites to her dojo. One of Kaoru's biggest fears is that Kenshin might someday return to wandering, leaving her alone again. She gets jealous whenever another girl is also interested in Kenshin, such as Takani Megumi. During the first arc of the series, she obtains a student named Myojin Yahiko while another one named Tsukayama Yutaro is wounded in battle and has to leave the dojo.
When the Meiji Government request Kenshin's aid to kill the former Hitokiri Shishio Makoto, Kenshin gives an emotional farewell to Kaoru before leaving for Kyoto. After Kenshin says goodbye to her and leaves, Kaoru falls into a deep depression, but is soon given the courage to go to Kyoto in order to see Kenshin after a more than irritated Megumi gives her a pep talk. Together with the Oniwabanshu's Makimachi Misao, she is able to defeat one of Shishio's Juppongatana: Honjō Kamatari.
Back in Tokyo, after learning of Yukishiro Enishi's plans to everybody related with Kenshin, she teaches Yahiko the ougi of the Kamiya Kasshin. Enishi says that his goal is not to kill Kenshin, but to make him suffer by killing the person most important to him: Kaoru. However, Enishi actually kidnaps Kaoru and leaves behind a perfect replica of her murdered body. Thinking that he again failed to save the one who was most important to him, Kenshin flees to the Fallen Village and falls into a catatonic state of depression. Upon finding out that Kaoru is not dead, Kenshin recovers and goes with the group to rescue her from Enishi. She and Kenshin eventually marry and have a son named Himura Kenji.
Appearances in other media
In Samurai X: Reflection, Kenshin and Kaoru are married, but he decides to wander again, returning to her every couple of years because he still feels the need to help others. Kaoru allows him to go, promising to welcome him home with a smile and their child. Kenshin eventually becomes ravaged by an unknown disease; to share his pain, Kaoru convinces Kenshin to share his disease with her through sexual intercourse. Kenshin then leaves to assist in the First Sino-Japanese War as he had promised the Meiji Government, not fighting and killing, but instead helping people. When he returns to Japan after a prolonged absence and they finally meet again, Kenshin collapses into her arms as he clutches her to him. Kaoru notices Kenshin's scar has faded away, signifying his death.
In the original, "pilot" issue of Rurouni: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story, first published in 1992, Kaoru is the sister of Megumi and Yahiko. As the unrefined brainchild of artist Nobuhiro Watsuki, many of the story's details changed during the transition to serialized, mainstream manga.
In the reboot Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration Kaoru works for Takeda Kanryū in order to gain her dojo back. After Kenshin defeats Takeda, she continues living in the dojo with Kenshin and his friends.
Kaoru has been highly popular with the Rurouni Kenshin reader base, placing between fourth and fifth in every popularity poll. Watsuki describes Tomo Sakurai's CD drama voice as "not too airhead-y," "not too high," and "not too low."  Merchandise based on Kaoru has also been released, including plushes, keychains, and sweat bands. In an interview with Miki Fujitani, who is the voice actress for Kaoru, comments that in the OVAs series Kaoru is a brave woman totally different from her original version. In an official poll for the series, she was voted the fifth most popular.
Several publications for manga, anime, video games, and other media have good response on Kaoru's character. When T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews writer Carlos Ross gave nicknames to the characters of Rurouni Kenshin he called Kaoru "a spirited girl". Megan Lavey from Mania Entertainment says that the manga version of Kaoru is "a lot wiser" than the anime version. In About.com "Top 8 Anime Love Stories", Kaoru and Kenshin's relationship ranked 8th with Katherine Luther noting it a "classic romance." Kaoru's character in the Reflection OVA series received many negative responses. Efrain Diaz, Jr. from IGN comments that some of Kenshin and Kaoru's private moments in Reflection are touching, and some are depressing. Anime News Network's Mike Crandol comments that Kaoru is the least successful visual character redesign in the Reflection OVA in contrast to the manga version's "distinctive girlish charm", and that "the creators tried too hard to make her look like Tomoe." Rebecca Silverman from Anime News Network was disappointed by the lack of her development in the series Rurouni Kenshin Restoration.
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- "Rurouni Kenshin: Kaoru 8" Anime Plush Toy". Amazon.com. Retrieved February 16, 2008.
- "Rurouni Kenshin: Key Chain - Kaoru (Key Chains)". Amazon.com. Retrieved February 16, 2008.
- "Rurouni Kenshin: Sweat Band - Kaoru". Amazon.com. Retrieved February 16, 2008.
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- Diaz, Efrain Jr. (April 9, 2004). "Samurai X". IGN. Retrieved February 6, 2008.
- Crandol, Mike (January 22, 2002). "Ruroni Kenshin second OAV series Seisouhen, part 1". Anime News Network. Retrieved January 25, 2008.
- Silverman, Rebecca (January 29, 2014). "Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration GN 1 & 2". Anime News Network. Retrieved February 23, 2015.