Nobuhiro Watsuki

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Nobuhiro Watsuki
Born (1970-05-26) May 26, 1970 (age 46)
Tokyo, Japan
Nationality Japanese
Other names Nobuhiro Nishiwaki (西脇 伸宏 Nishiwaki Nobuhiro?)
Occupation Manga artist
Known for Rurouni Kenshin
Buso Renkin
Spouse(s) Kaoru Kurosaki

Nobuhiro Watsuki (和月 伸宏 Watsuki Nobuhiro?, born May 26, 1970) is a Japanese manga artist, best known for his samurai-themed series Rurouni Kenshin. and his fantasy series Buso Renkin, both of which have been adapted into anime series. He once worked as an assistant for his favorite artist Takeshi Obata.


Watsuki was born in Tokyo and was brought up in Nagaoka, Niigata. When Watsuki was in middle school, he practiced kendo. He still drew Manga but also enjoyed sports. Watsuki admits that he was "So weak in fact, that I was an embarrassment to my 183 centimeters of height" (about 6 feet). Watsuki never won a kendo match. He was once chosen to be a starter after a teammate was suspended for causing an uproar. Watsuki grew frustrated with kendo, and eventually quit. When he was challenged to come up with a new character for Rurouni Kenshin, he used his outlook on kendo for a base of Myōjin Yahiko.[1]

Nobuhiro Watsuki has had many works in the past. In high school he took a prize in the Tezuka Award for his one shot Teacher Pon. This award winning title was Watsuki's first manga and it has not been translated into English. Later on, Watsuki was an assistant in the work of Mashin Bōken Tan Lamp-Lamp (Arabian Genie Adventure Lamp-Lamp). The model for Sagara Sanosuke was based on a version of Lamp.[2] In 1994 a new manga was created and published in Weekly Shōnen Jump. It seems that this was the first manga about Rurouni Kenshin.

When not working on manga, Watsuki enjoys playing video games, reading other manga, and watching television. His favorite American comic book is X-Men because he likes the action. His favorite anime (other than his own) is Neon Genesis Evangelion. He likes video games like Samurai Spirits and things of that sort. He also enjoys action movies like Die Hard and The Matrix.

Watsuki describes himself as "pro-dōjinshi" and asks fans to send fan comics.[3]

From August 9–11, 2013, an exhibit of art from Rurouni Kenshin was displayed at Otakon in the United States [4] curated by Watsuki's wife, Kaoru Kurosaki.[4]

Real-world inspirations[edit]

Watsuki bases many of his characters on historical figures, characters from other manga/anime, and video games series. For example, Himura Kenshin was based on Kawakami Gensai,[5] one of the Four Hitokiri of the Bakumatsu. He was the master of the sword style called shiranui-ryū. Gensai is famous for killing the famous idealist Sakuma Shōzan. Four years after the revolution ended, Gensai was falsely accused of a crime and was executed.[6] Watsuki admires Kenshin for his desire to do good in honor of those whom he had to kill so the Meiji government could exist.[6]

In addition, Saitō Hajime was based on the historical Saitō Hajime, a member of the Shinsengumi although Watsuki admitted altering him to the point of fans complaint.[7] Several other characters, most notably Sagara Sanosuke, Shinomori Aoshi, and Seta Sōjirō, are also loosely based on certain figures among the Shinsengumi.[8] Okita Sōji, Ōkubo Toshimichi, and Katsura Kogorō were among numerous other historical figures who made appearances in the story. Yukishiro Enishi's minion Gein was based on puppeteer and serial killer Ed Gein, as stated in "The Secret Life of Characters #47", volume 24.[9]


  • Teacher Pon (ティーチャー・ポン) was written by Watsuki during high school under the name of Nobuhiro Nishiwaki, and earned the Tezuka Award.
  • Hokuriku Yūrei Kobanashi (北陸幽霊小話) earned the Hop Step award.
  • Crescent Moon in the Warring States (戦国の三日月) was Watsuki's first professional work. Set in the Sengoku Jidai era of the warring states, it relates the tale of a former lone Hiten-Mitsurugi swordsman Hiko Seijūrō. It is collected in the sixth Rurouni Kenshin tankōbon volume.
  • Rurouni: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story is the name of two one-shots that preceded Rurouni Kenshin's launch in Weekly Shōnen Jump. They are collected in the first and third Rurouni Kenshin tankōbon volumes, respectively.
  • Rurouni Kenshin (るろうに剣心) is Watsuki's best-known work. It chronicles the adventures of a former hitokiri in the Meiji period. It ran for 255 chapters, which were compiled into 28 tankōbon volumes, 22 kanzenban, and in North America, nine wide-ban.
  • Kenshin Kaden is a guidebook that includes the full color short story "Haru ni Sakura", which details the fates of the main cast of Rurouni Kenshin following the conclusion of the story. "Haru ni Sakura" was included in the ninth volume of the North American wide-ban release of Rurouni Kenshin.
  • Yahiko no Sakabatō (弥彦の逆刃刀, "Yahiko's Reversed-Edge Sword") takes place five years after the conclusion of Rurouni Kenshin. In this story, Myōjin Yahiko must save the daughter of a dojo master from an old foe. It was included in the 22nd Rurouni Kenshin kanzenban volume, the 28th volume of the European release, and the ninth volume of the North American wide-ban edition.
  • Meteor Strike (メテオ ストライク Meteo Sutoraiku?) is a one-shot written for a Shōnen Jump artist competition. It chronicles the what-if adventures of a young boy who is struck in the head by a meteor and gains superhuman powers, eventually saving his town from a nuclear disaster. It is enclosed in the twenty-eighth volume of Rurouni Kenshin.
    • Watsuki created Meteor Strike while in the middle of writing Rurouni Kenshin. Watsuki felt disgusted with the work and originally did not plan on revealing it, but he ultimately decided to include Meteor Strike to increase the page count of the volume. Watsuki said that after reading the story over it "relaxed" him "in a nice way." Watsuki said that the work has "some different flavors" than Rurouni Kenshin.[10]
    • Watsuki included three main elements in the story. He had wanted to use meteors in a story since they are the "most energetic natural phenomena." His second element was a boy wearing a pair of white gloves. Watsuki described white gloves as "sort of plain" and "not cool at all," yet he considers the element to be one of his favorites since the gloves "give off a sense of strength." His third element is the girl wearing a construction site helmet. The helmet is masculine, while the Japanese school uniform that the girl wears is feminine.[10]
    • Watsuki said that he created Shinya, the main character, "on the spot." Watsuki believed that he created Shinya to have too much honesty, and that Shinya's personality overlaps the personality of Himura Kenshin, the main character of Rurouni Kenshin; he said that he regretted the overlap "a little." Watsuki created Chiho, the other major character, to show the "shojo theme of the moment" where the boy's maturity becomes larger than the girl's maturity. Watsuki felt that the plan "didn't work out so well" and "a lot isn't what I wanted it to be." He added that he liked portraying the "helpful nature" of Chiho.[10]
  • Gun Blaze West is set in the United States in the 1800s, the three main characters look for the gunslinger's paradise "Gun Blaze West". It was canceled after three volumes.
  • Buso Renkin (武装錬金 Busō Renkin) ran for eighty chapters (10 volumes), of which seventy nine were published in Weekly Shōnen Jump, the final chapter was published in another magazine from Shueisha in two installments.
  • Embalming -Dead Body and Bride- (エンバーミング Enbāmingu) is a one-shot written for "Jump the Revolution!" 2005. It takes its base from the Frankensteinian idea of bringing the dead to life. It is enclosed in the last volume of Buso Renkin.
  • Embalming II -Dead Body and Lover- was written for "Jump the Revolution!" 2006 and is another one-shot that takes place in the Embalming universe
  • Embalming -The Another Tale of Frankenstein- began publication in November 2007 in Jump Square and ran for 10 volumes. It is set in the realm of the other Embalming one-shots.
  • Rurouni Kenshin Restoration-( Rurouni Kenshin Cinema-ban) - 2 volume remake of early parts of Rurouni Kenshin.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Master of Flame -(Controlling Flame -Rurouni Kenshin: Hidden Chapter-)- 1 volume side-story of Rurouni Kenshin.
  • Robot Arms (ろぼっと・アームズ) is a dojinshi illustrated by Watsuki and written by Kaoru Kurosaki.

Video game designs[edit]


  • Buso Renkin anime, voice of Buhiro Watsukino in episode 7.
  • Endride anime, character designs

Notable assistants[edit]

Nobuhiro Watsuki is known for mentoring several manga artists who eventually got serialized.[11] For a while there was a time when the most popular Jump manga authors were all his assistants.[12]

  • Eiichiro Oda - creator of One Piece
  • Hiroyuki Takei - creator of Shaman King
  • Shin'ya Suzuki - creator of Mr. Fullswing
  • Mikio Itoh - creator of Nazo no Murasame-kun
  • Yukinori Kawaguchi - creator of Hoopmen
  • Gin Shin'ga - creator of Oni ga Kitarite
  • Kazushige Yamada - creator of Gran Bagan
  • Kaoru Kurosaki - novelist and wife[4]


  1. ^ Watsuki, Nobuhiro. "The Secret Life of Characters (3) Myōjin Yahiko," Rurouni Kenshin Volume 1. VIZ Media. 103.
  2. ^ Watsuki, Nobuhiro. "The Secret Life of Characters (6) Sagara Sanosuke," Rurouni Kenshin Volume 2. VIZ Media. 48.
  3. ^ Watsuki, Nobuhiro. Rurouni Kenshin Volume 2. VIZ Media. 175.
  4. ^ a b c "Kaoru Kurosaki to Curate Rurouni Kenshin Art Exhibit for Otakon". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  5. ^ Viz Graphic Novel Ruroni Kenshin Vol. 1
  6. ^ a b Viz Graphic Novel Ruroni Kenshin vol. 1
  7. ^ Viz Graphic Novel Ruroni Kenshin Vol. 7
  8. ^ Viz Graphic Novel Ruroni Kenshin Vol. 1 and 7
  9. ^ Viz Graphic Novel Ruroni Kenshin Vol. 24
  10. ^ a b c Watsuki, Nobuhiro. Rurouni Kenshin Volume 28. Viz Media. 155.
  11. ^
  12. ^

External links[edit]