Kenshin Himura was once a feared assassin known as Battosai the Killer. But, still only young, he has grown tired of taking lives and hangs up his sword in favour of peace, vowing to protect people as a wanderer and not a murderer. He winds up finding a home at a rundown martial arts school led by the feisty but lovable Kaoru Kamiya, who attacks him on his arrival on discovering who he once was. She soon begins to realise that being a killer is not his true self and grows close to Kenshin, helping him find peace and encouraging him to live the rest of his life without killing. However, this becomes more challenging than expected when another ruthless killer named Kanryuu Takeda leaves a trail of bodies behind him in his search for Kenshin, and will stop at nothing to force Kenshin to break his vow.
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Aimless without a master to serve, the ronin Hanshiro (Ichikawa) turns up in the courtyard of a great house asking to commit ritual suicide and die with honour. Before granting permission, the house prefect Kageyu (Yakusho) recounts the story of the similarly penniless Motome (Eita), who made the same request in the hopes of receiving a compassionate payout and pardon from the nobleman.
But Kageyu called Motome's bluff, leading to a horrific seppuku with Motome's bamboo blade. What Kageyu doesn't know is that Hanshiro knew Motome.
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