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A Smile Again is the 250th chapter of the Rurouni Kenshin manga.


Kenshin, who has finally found his answer to atone for his sins by making Kaoru smile, has finally conquered his inner demons and has defeated Enishi after incorporating his "new step" into this ultimate attack in front of his friends. Wounded and in need of rest, Kenshin and Kaoru notice that Enishi's resolve to fight is still strong, and he is prepared to continue the fight, despite physical and mental exhaustion. Suddenly the insane Woo Heishin shoots Kenshin in the shoulder, furthering compromising his body's condition. Prepared to massacre everybody on the beach, Woo Heinshin reveals a massive 6-round revolver, and prepares to shoot Kenshin in the head for revenge since everybody has seemingly forgotten about him. Aoshi notes that the wound is not fatal, but it is clear that Kenshin is going to die if he gets shot again. Kaoru, who previously stated that she would never die so that Kenshin wouldn't have to blame himself for her death, is terrified at the thought of losing Kenshin. Marking the absolute climax of the Jinchū Arc, or perhaps the climax of the entire Rurouni Kenshin manga itself, Kaoru decides to act. Without hesitation or fear for her own life, Kaoru thrusts her body in front of Kenshin, prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for the one she loves, showing that her love for Kenshin is as strong or possibly even stronger than Tomoe's was, since Tomoe hesitated at first when she sacrificed herself to save Kenshin due to seeing Kiyosato's ghost in her dreams. Kenshin who is barely conscious, looks on at the sight of his deepest and darkest fear; Kaoru getting killed because she cannot leave Kenshin and the dangerous life that seems to follow him. Having already experienced the horror of not being able to protect Kaoru, the most important person to him, is forced to relive the nightmare that occurred 3 weeks earlier, except now it is on the beach of the island that Kaoru has been held captive for those 3 weeks.

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Everybody on the beach sees the image of Tomoe's heroic sacrifice for Kenshin that occurred 13 years ago in prior to save Kenshin's life from a fatal blow by a master fist fighting ninja due to how similar the circumstances are in this exact moment, except for Kenshin, who only sees Kaoru. Woo Heinshin shoots his gun while Kaoru closes her eyes and accepts that she will die in order for Kenshin to live on. What nobody realizes is that Enishi has such deep a hallucination of Kaoru and Tomoe being the same person, that he instinctively goes to attack Woo Heishin. A gunshot is let off, and Kaoru at first thinking she has been shot opens her eyes and to her amazement, it is Enishi who has saved her life. Enishi prepares to give the final killing blow to Woo Heishin, is stopped by Kenshin, who has regained some sort of consciousness. The sight of this shocks everybody, including Saitō who drops his cigarette into the ocean while having a face that reveals that he is in a state of shock, along with everyone else.

Kenshin states that he is tired of people getting killed meaninglessly, tells Enishi to end everything before he loses Tomoe's smile forever and thanks him for saving his loved one's life. Enishi reveals in an emotional breakdown that the one he truly wanted to protect was the life of Tomoe. Enishi realizes that no matter what he does, he cannot bring his sister back to life and proceeds to weep on the beach until Saitō presumably arrests him along with Woo Heishin. Kaoru reflects upon what true atonement for Kenshin is, and realizes that it all must begin with forgiveness. She realizes that Kenshin may not ever have a life that has any sort of retribution or forgiveness, and recognizes that Kenshin has known this ever since he became a wanderer. Despite all of the negative things in his life or slight sadness that Kenshin hides, he is still able to smile at Kaoru in order to keep her from worrying about him, showing that she truly is the number one priority in his life. Even though he is badly hurt, the only thing that Kenshin can think about is if Kaoru is hurt, so he proceeds to ask her if she is unhurt, and she replies, "yes". Kenshin now realizes that the nightmare of "Jinchū" is finally over and begins to stumble forward from exhaustion. Kaoru realizes while her love for Kenshin will never be able to bring back the human lives that Kenshin took as a Hitokiri, it is the best thing for Kenshin's soul. Kenshin collapses into Kaoru's arms as she holds him in a warm embrace, similarly to how he held her during the "Firefly Farewell Scene" when Kenshin left for Kyoto. She thinks to herself that she wants nothing more out of life than stay by Kenshin's side for the rest of her life. As Kenshin falls out of consciousness in Kaoru's arms, it is clear that no matter what, no love will go unrequited between Kaoru and Kenshin, which permanently solidifies their relationship as true soul-mates for life.  

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