Why are there mixed feelings about Kenshin’s new anime?

CW for references to child pornography

This past weekend was Jump Festa 2022, an annual event hosted by Shonen Jump’s publishing house, Shueisha. During the event, several animated series were announced, which sparked excitement among fans (myself included) for what 2022 has to offer.

One of those announcements was for a new Rurouni Kenshin Liden Films project (Berserk 2016, Otherside Picnic, Tokyo Revengers), and while we don’t know exactly what the project is yet, it already has fans talking – and not for good reason.

Rurouni Kenshin is a series about Himura Kenshin, a wanderer who does his best not to get involved in fights – and when he does, he fights in a way that won’t kill his opponents. This is because he was a legendary assassin who had a lot of blood on his hands. As you might expect, you can only quietly wander away from your past for so long before it catches up with you.

I used to watch the hell out of Kenshin, and normally seeing news of a new production would turn me on and a lot of excited anime fans. Kenshin was a popular series back then, but lately every time you bring it up it brings something that really spoils any new project that bears its name.

This is because as iconic as Rurouni Kenshin is, its creator, Nobuhiro Watsuki, was accused of child pornography years ago.

A brief history of Rurouni Kenshin

Kenshin Originally released in Japan in 1996 and released here in the US in 2003 (with DVD releases beginning in 2000). The manga is even older, being released in 1994 with US releases starting in 2003. Now, if you’re like me and watched the anime on Cartoon Network, you’ve only seen two seasons, because the third season was never broadcast on television. here (it was released on DVD in 2002, however). The third season is also not adapted from the manga, telling a different story from the source. There have been movies and OVAs everywhere Kenshin life cycle, including a series of live action films that began in 2012.

Kenshin is one of those series that my brain kind of puts in the ‘front’ of the anime, back when it took years before it aired here, and back when we would not always have the whole story. It was a time when you were kinda stuck buying the DVDs first and trying your luck because 1) the anime information on the internet was still new and not always accurate, and 2) everything in the video store did not end up on Toonami straight away (as is the case with Kenshin).

I say all of this because my gut reaction when I see fans celebrating the release of someone whose such an obnoxious record is to breathe a deep sigh and lament how fans will just ignore some really messed up actions in favor of watching or watching. read their favorite series. Those fans are out there, don’t get me wrong, and the comment “ugh, why THIS anime studio”, but it occurs to me that Kenshin itself is old enough to be a series that anime fans today might not even know what it is about, or if they do, the series ended so ago. long since they left it and have no idea what happened with its creator.

If you were a fan watching it on Cartoon Network, for example, it was in 2003, almost 20 years ago.

It occurred to me when I was chatting Kenshin with a friend who, like me, was a fan of the show in the early 2000s, but who doesn’t follow the anime as much as I do. They had no idea what happened after the series ended, so hear “news Kenshin anime news “made them say” Oh hey, I used to watch this, that could be awesome “, instead of knowing what happened with its creator.

And no, that wasn’t fun news to tell this friend, but hey, if you haven’t reviewed Kenshin since the early 2000s (or even with the live-action movies that had gaps in releases from 2014 to 2021), then you probably don’t know.

So? Let’s talk about what happened.

The charges against Nobuhiro Watsuki

In November 2017, news broke that Nobuhiro Watsuki had been charged with possession of child pornography. Here is the story of Anime News Network:

According to authorities, Watsuki owned numerous DVDs with nude images of young girls in their early teens and stored them in an office in Tokyo at least as recently as October.

In his testimony, Watsuki is said to have said that he “liked girls from the end of primary school until about the second year of middle school”.

Authorities raided Watsuki’s home as part of another investigation, which linked him to the purchase of DVDs containing child pornography.

The charge against Watsuki alleges that he possessed the pornographic videos from July 2015. Possession of child pornography carries a prison term of up to one year and a fine of up to 1 million yen (approximately US $ 8,800), if convicted.

For reference, primary school in Japan is around 6 to 12 years old and middle school is 12 to 15 years old, according to this breakdown here. Although Watsuki doesn’t give a specific age, I’m assuming the “late” elementary school is around 11 to 12 years old. In 2017, Watsuki was 47 years old.

In February 2018, Anime News Network reported that Watsuki is expected to pay a fine of 200,000 yen (approximately US $ 1,900). Watsuki did not face any prison term. the Rurouni Kenshin the manga took a hiatus in December 2017 due to the accusations, but resumption of publication in June 2018. According to Anime News Network, Shueisha’s announcement, “indicated that Watsuki leads a life of reflection and atonement, but that Shueisha and Watsuki decided that continuing the manga to meet fans’ wishes was a matter of homework. At the moment of the manga break, Shueisha commented that he took this news seriously and that Watsuki expressed deep regret.

Viz was simultaneously publishing the manga, in English, before the break, but the company stopped posting it when news of the child pornography charges came to light. From what I can understand, they are still not releasing the manga today. Two other live-action Rurouni Kenshin movies have been released since, Rurouni Kenshin: the final and Rurouni Kenshin: the beginning, both of which are available on Netflix worldwide.

So if you are wondering why you are seeing unsavory rumblings about this new Kenshin anime ad, that’s why.

(Image: Liden Films)

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