Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū (飛天御剣流, Flying Heavenly Sword Style) is a core kenjutsu style of the Rurouni Kenshin series. It is the legendary signature fighting style of Himura Kenshin, and the Meiji Era inheritor and kenjutsu master Hiko Seijūrō XIII.
Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū is an ancient kenjutsu style from the Sengoku Jidai, developed to allow a single samurai to defeat numerous foes single-handedly, created by Hiko Seijūrō I. Rooted in the concept of ichi no tachi, or to strike in a single blow, practitioners of this style use a combination of immense speed and agility, battōjutsu, and acquired, observation-based pseudo-clairvoyance that permits a practitioner to anticipate an opponent's movements. Both offensive and defensive maneuvers are executed with minimal movement to increase a practitioner's ability to counter-attack and to conserve energy. As such, made with efficiency and spareness of exertion in the face of warfare scale battles yet with powerful and coordinated movements to easily fell threats in long and undetermined periods of time, it is among one of the strongest and oldest kenjutsu styles in Japan, once known as the signature style that defined Hiko Seijūrō The I as The Man Who Could Cut One Hundred In One Stroke.
The style commonly has the user keep one hand on the sheath at all times and stresses two-step attacks to ensure that the practitioner is never off guard while executing said attacks and allows the user to use the sheath as a shield to block attacks. Practitioners are also trained in honing their senses and to recognize movement, as well as to react in kind with their opponent's emotional disposition to efficiently fend them off accurately, a process in short that can be called "utilizing one's ki" or the internal way of the martial arts, allowing the practitioner to dynamically flow in turn with their opponent's own energy and use their own pace against them. Arguably, its most well-known trait is the surreal speed practitioners of this style use in battle (known as Shinsoku, or Godspeed), allowing the user to accelerate, maneuver, and strike at speeds most eyes are unable to properly follow. This allows the user to close considerable distance in seconds and strike down enemies before they can react. Despite each successor to this style becoming true masters of its teachings and skills, rarely have any of them be able to use this style to true perfection and bring out its full potential. Only Hiko Seijūrō I and XIII (and in the anime only Amakusa Shōgo) are able to surpass the normal limits of this style, such as going beyond god-speed without the need of battōjutsu strikes, letting them accelerate to speeds faster than the human eye can detect.
The techniques of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū have only been held by a select few through the course of its entire history. In the face of its tremendous power as a style, this is due to its adherence to the strict yet responsible practice of isshi soden, which involves a single master training a single apprentice exclusively. This master-apprentice dynamic continues to point of succession in which the apprentice graduates into his mastery through a special rite of passage, in which they inherit the style's secret technique (ōgi) and the mantle of "Hiko Seijūrō". This process, however, results in the death of the current master at the hands of the apprentice who must use of the this secret technique - Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki - against them. Succession also awards the newly-appointed master an heirloom mantle which acts as the certification of mastery. This special mantle is also weighted which enables the master to continuously train their strength when worn, even with everyday activities.
Due to its tremendous power and speed, Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū has been nicknamed "The Black Ship of the Land" in that it would almost certainly secure absolute victory for whichever side might wield it in a conflict. In light of this probability, the practitioners of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū have historically maintained the independence of any and all political entities, stressing highly the importance of wielding its expertise in the name of their fellow man. Under this duty, all generations of practitioners receive a great deal of insight regarding the human condition from the school's teachings. This includes instruction regarding the relativism of morality and the idea that perceptions of good and evil are not absolute; a potentially "good" human being can have any number of beliefs that may not mesh with those of the practitioner without necessarily being wrong. Other core tenants of the style include the idea the art of swordsmanship ultimately amounts to nothing more than a way to kill other human beings, regardless of the practitioner's intentions or beliefs, and that the Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū should never be used to improve a practitioner's social standing, acquire wealth, or obtain political power. Finally, while heirs are encouraged to protect the innocent, the defenseless, and less fortunate, the Hiten Mitsurugi school encourages its users to understand even foes to garner accurate judgement and resolve conflict with mercy and the least amount of violence, while in more extreme cases, ultimately permits its practitioners to execute individuals whom they deem to be truly deserving of death.
As powerful as it may be, Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū can also be detrimental to its practitioners. Medically speaking, the physical demands for Hiten Mitsurugi are tremendous. For anyone ill-equipped, such as Himura Kenshin, simply employing their techniques causes cumulative, physical damage to their body. According to the physician Takani Megumi, the style is essentially a "superman's sword art", requiring someone with an incredibly athletic body to use effectively in the long term. Normally, the training provided during apprenticeship enables a practitioner to condition themselves properly.
In turn, Hiko Seijūrō XIII is an example of the necessary conditioning for practitioners of the style to perform without incurring the cumulative trauma from regular usage, having developed an extraordinarily resilient physique with an incredible musculature over years in tenure as a Hiten Mitsurugi master proper. Himura Kenshin, by comparison, having left his training early, stunted his body's development resulting in a leaner, more fragile frame which culminated into progressive issues after mastering the Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki. After using the technique only seven times, he caused irreparable damage to his muscle tissue, decimating the agility and speed needed to exercise the more advanced techniques of the Hiten Mitsurugi. Furthermore, due to the immense stress imposed on the body, along with one not having the proper physique necessary to use the sword style to its fullest in the long run, continuous use can result in the user eventually being crippled and eventually no longer capable of using the style without it posing a risk to their life.
But, with proper and regular training, the style serves as a veritable "fountain of youth" enabling practitioners to suppress the ageing process. Kenshin, for instance, at nearly thirty years old, looks almost no different from the way he looked while in his late teens and his master, Hiko Seijūrō XIII, is 43 years old but looks exactly the same as he did when he was in his mid-twenties.
- Ryūtsuisen (龍槌閃, Dragon Hammer Flash) – Usually initiated by a powerful jump, this technique places its user above the opponent, thus opening up more vulnerabilities in the latter. This technique's practitioner uses the momentum of his fall to strengthen a two-handed sword swing that brings his blade down on his enemy's head or shoulder. Ryūtsuisen is arguably Kenshin's favourite attack, as once noted by Kamiya Kaoru.
- Ryūtsuisen ● Zan (龍槌閃・惨, Dragon Hammer Flash: Disaster) – Beginning in the same way as Ryūtsuisen, the user positions the sword as to initiate a downward stab to the head instead of a downward swing. Kenshin is first shown using this against Shigekura Jūbei in the manga (though in the Trust & Betrayal OVA, he performs an upward stab instead since he does not jump in the air).
- Ryūkansen (龍巻閃, Dragon Coil Flash) – Most effective when surrounded by enemies as this technique has the user spin to attack in all directions. It can also be used as a counterattack against a thrust or charge, one sidesteps a forward-moving opponent and moves past them. In doing so, one spins in a full circle, adding momentum and centrifugal force to the strength of the sword swing, which is then aimed at either the opponent's back or the back of the neck. The first two kanji used can also be read as tatsumaki, a Japanese term for "waterspout" or "tornado", and is often written with two different kanji used for "ryū/tatsu" (竜巻 as opposed to 龍巻).
- Ryūkansen and its variations can also be performed as battōjutsu techniques, as seen in the video games Ishin Gekitōhen, Meiji Kenkaku Rōmantan - Enjō! Kyōto Rinne, Jump Super Stars, Jump Ultimate Stars, J-Stars Victory Vs. and Jump Force.
- Ryūkansen ● Tsumuji (龍巻閃・旋, Dragon Coil Flash: Hair Whirl) – One of the variations of Ryūkansen, Ryūkansen Tsumuji, like its other variations, is most effective as a counter attack (seen when used to defeat Sawagejō Chō: Cho-the Sword Hunter), but can be used as an offensive attack. Unlike the original, Tsumuji involves a forward horizontal spin in a drilling motion like a torpedo, from which the user is able to strike at the opponent's midsection while in flight. Tsumuji is the full kun'yomi reading of the kanji 旋, which is usually used as a term for "the whirl on top of one's head".
- In J-Stars Victory Vs. and Jump Force, two variations are used: the usual head-on version for his weak-strong combo finisher, dash attack and sheathed blade state strong attack (where it is unnamed) for the former game, and a version where Kenshin tumbles around past his target through the air with a single slash when used as the second input to his neutral special move sequence in the former game (or as his second heavy attack string input in the latter game).
- Ryūkansen ● Kogarashi (龍巻閃・凩, Dragon Coil Flash: Wintry Wind) – An alternate version used in Kenshin's Five Hit Combo against Shishio. Involves a single small side-step coupled with a 90-degree pivot turn inward and a back handed slash that quickly blasts the foe away; unlike the original version which is a full 180-degree full spin and slash. The Kogarashi is the quickest of the four variations, however, the weakest as well. It is the ideal Counter Attack when dealing with a faster or unreadable attack (as seen when used against Han'nya of the Oniwabanshu, due to his 'Shin-wan Spell'). Depending on the form of media (mainly the video games), Kogarashi can be performed as either a simple mid-way-stopping slash, or a full-coverage wide-slash; either way, it only involves a mere single turn. Kogarashi is a unique climate that is only in Japan.
- Ryūkansen ● Arashi (龍巻閃・嵐, Dragon Coil Flash: Storm/Tempest) – A variation of the normal Ryūkansen, this technique places the swordsman in a full rolling somersault slash while attacking, making it an effective counterattack against downward slash attacks and/or from above. The attack often varies with its momentum in its appearances, and in some cases (such as in J-Stars Victory Vs. and Jump Force compared to both Jump Super/Ultimate Stars), the attack can possibly hit more than once to shred apart the opposition. However, as seen in most other media, this is the only Ryūkansen variation that cannot be performed from battōjutsu. In the PSP game Meiji Kenkaku Rōmantan Saisen, Kenshin performs this variation standalone in midair where he somersaults stationary and ends it with a falling slash, similar to a Ryūtsuisen. While in Jump Force, when used as Kenshin's final heavy attack string input, he is able to move forward through the air with it with the same animation used in J-Stars Victory Vs. as such.
- Ryūshōsen (龍翔閃, Dragon Soar Flash) – The opposite of Ryūtsuisen, Ryūshōsen is a rising attack meant to strike the jaw from below. For additional power, one uses one's free arm to apply force to the back of the blade and utilizes a powerful upward jump during the attack akin to an anti-air attack. Originally this move was designed to slice into the opponent's chin and kill them, but Kenshin has since modified the technique to strike with the sword's side; consequently, Senkaku, Shishio and Aoshi have all survived the attack, though the very former was instantly knocked out by it.
- Ryūtsui ● Shōsen (龍槌・翔閃, Dragon Hammer-Soar Flash) – A combination of Ryūtsuisen and Ryūshōsen, Ryūtsui-Shōsen begins with the powerful jump and supported upswing of Ryūshōsen, giving the leap enough power to pass one's opponent in mid-air, and on the returning drop, Ryūtsuisen is performed. it is unknown if this move can be performed effectively without using a sakabatō, as the initial Ryūtsuisen would already be fatal if landed correctly with a normal katana. It can also work the other way around at times, where the Ryūtsuisen performed first instead, followed by a reversal-slash styled Ryūshōsen, in the case of Jump Super Stars, Jump Ultimate Stars and J-Stars Victory Vs., which also acts as the starter of his "five-hit combo" against Shishio Makoto.
- Ryūsōsen (龍巣閃, Dragon Nest Flash) – A massive flurry of strikes delivered to the opponent. The sheer speed of the slashes makes this technique difficult to counter or defend, and is considered best to wear down more sturdy and enduring opponents with (Seen during Kenshin's battle against Sagara Sanosuke). There is an alternate version called:
- Ryūsōsen ● Garami (龍巣閃・咬, Dragon Nest Flash: Gnawing) – A technique that which targets the foe's head.
- Doryūsen (土龍閃, Earth/Land Dragon Flash) – A ranged attack, Doryūsen strikes an opponent outside of the user's range by striking the ground and sending earthen debris at said opponent with knockout force.
- Kuzuryūsen (九頭龍閃, Nine-Head Dragon Flash) – A dashing attack that uses Shinsoku (Godspeed) to simultaneously strike all nine vital spots on the foe's body from a normal kendō stance, as each of these nine points are the main targets for different swordstyles (only different styles target different ones). It is said to be unavoidable and nearly unblockable, and is taught as a prerequisite for the succession technique. It is also Hiko Seijūrō XIII's signature move. Users who are faster than the Hiten Mitsurugi, however, are able to evade the attack head-on, as seen with Sōjirō. The strength of the move's "nine heads" will differ greatly depending on the speed, force and even weight of the user. Kenshin's Kuzuryūsen is powerful but is countered at one point by Yukishiro Enishi, due to the speed being matched, while Hiko's Kuzuryūsen easily overcame Kenshin's due to Hiko's weight advantage. And Hiko's God-like Strength allows him to instantly down the immense Fuji despite such a huge weight disadvantage and not being able to perform the attack at godspeed due to the wearing of the Heirloom weighted cloak.
- The nine heads of the targets are in counterclockwise while looking towards the target from the user's view (shown more clearly from Kenshin's viewpoint when used in J-Stars Victory Vs.):
- Karatake (唐竹/幹竹, Tang Bamboo/Tree Trunk Bamboo) Aimed at the above head with the downward strike: 壱 (ichi, one)
- Sakagesagiri (逆袈裟切り, Inverted Kasaya Cutter) Aimed at right shoulder diagonally: 弐 (ni, two)
- Miginagi (右薙, Right Mower) Aimed at right arm's center from the side: 参 (san, three)
- Migikiriage (右切上, Right Cutting Lift) Aimed at right arm's bottom/right wrist diagonally: 肆 (shi, four)
- Sakakaze (逆風, Inverted Wind) Aimed at groin area from below via upward stroke, or straight from front: 伍 (go, five)
- Hidarikiriage (左切上, Left Cutting Lift) Aimed at left arm's bottom/left wrist diagonally: 陸 (riku, six)
- Hidarinagi (左薙, Left Mower) Aimed at left arm's center from the side: 漆 (shichi, seven)
- Kesagiri (袈裟切り, Kasaya Cutter) Aimed at left shoulder diagonally: 捌 (hachi, eight)
- Tsuki/Shitotsu (刺突, Thrusting/Thorn Thrust) Aimed at center of the chest, at breastbone: 玖 (kyū, nine)
- Ironically, the attack in some cases can be avoided entirely when out of attack range (such as jumping over it in J-Stars Victory Vs. and Jump Force or even blocked in the case of the Jump Stars games on the DS); but regardless, trying to avoid and/or block the attack head-on is impossible most of these cases meaning it must be avoided entirely; as aforementioned only Sōjirō was able avoid the attack head-on in this case.
- In the manga re-telling, Tokuhitsuban (Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration), this technique is referred as the ōgi (secret skill/technique) of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū, being called Kokonotsu Kashira no Ryū no Hirameki, which is an alternative kun'yomi or native Japanese form of reading of the technique's original name (九頭龍閃, ここのつ かしら の りゅう の ひらめき).
- The nine heads of the targets are in counterclockwise while looking towards the target from the user's view (shown more clearly from Kenshin's viewpoint when used in J-Stars Victory Vs.):
- Hiten Mugen Zan (飛天無限斬, Flying Heaven Infinity Slash) – An ancient and seemingly lost move used by the original Hiko Seijūrō, Hiten Mugen Zan is a mighty charging onslaught of unrivaled power. Requiring the prerequisite of attaining the capability of natural beyond Shinsoku without the use of battojutsu, the user performs a myriad series of slashes that accelerate faster than other rapid slashing techniques like the Ryūsōsen, and are executed to beyond the spectrum of visible motion the naked eye can detect within splits of a second. Due to the nature of the required speed and force required to naturally accelerate beyond Shinsoku, pushing the user to the limits of their bodily ability, the final slash is augmented with such strength that it creates such tremendous impact capable of smashing, shifting, and razing the nearby earth before the user and crush rock, and the force with which the blade lands into the earth with is powerful enough to send its foe flying into the air, before the attack's full effects can take hold. In the eyes of bystanders, the sheer immeasurable execution speed of the technique gives the impression the final slash is seen as the only single slash delivered by the user, and in turn makes the collateral damage the attack leaves behind as the only spectacle of its evidence of performance. The move is first seen used by Hiko Seijuro in the Sengoku Period during the wars of Kitakata and Nagumo as the technique that singlehandedly earns the odds for inevitable victory for his domain of Kitakata, as the killing blow to the despotic leading Nagumo damiyo warlord Hirosaki Iwano.
- Sōryūsen (双龍閃, Twin Dragon Flash) – Seemingly a simple Battōjutsu strike, Sōryūsen is the first of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū's two-step Battōjutsu moves. After the first strike with the quickened sword, the user wields the empty sheath along the same path as a blunt weapon. After the sword strike lands, the sheath strike delivers a pulverizing blow capable of crushing bone and shattering wood, but if the sword strike misses, the sheath strike acts as powerful insurance, preventing an opponent's attack and delivering a crushing blow when it's least expected. This move is first seen being used by Kenshin against Udō Jin-e.
- Sōryūsen ● Ikazuchi (双龍閃・雷, Twin Dragon Flash: Thunder) – An alternate form of Sōryūsen wherein the sword is wielded while still inside the sheath. The first strike is made with the sheathed sword and, once it makes contact and occupies the opponent's sword, the sword is drawn using Battōjutsu for a second strike. While the original Sōryūsen is designed to make two strikes for versatile mobility in the heat of confrontation, Sōryūsen Ikazuchi appears designed with the assumption that the first strike will be blocked, and uses the full combined mass of a sheathed sword to strike to catch foes off guard and unbalance them vulnerable for the second strike. This move is first seen being used by Hiko Seijūrō XIII against Himura Kenshin.
- Hiryūsen (飛龍閃, Flying Dragon Flash) – After assuming a Battōjutsu stance, one rotates one's body rapidly and then stops, aiming the sheath at one's target. The force shoots the sword's grip out of the sheath like an arrow, allowing one to strike a target outside of one's zone and reach. As a battōjutsu move and as one that requires one's sword to be shot at the enemy, it can be assumed that accurate aim is required for this move (or else the weapon can easily be lost), and that the sheath can then be used as a melee weapon in a second strike, but the latter is not seen. Hiryūsen is first seen being used by Kenshin against Isurugi Raijūta only in the manga.
- Ryūmeisen (龍鳴閃, Dragon Cry Flash) – An unusual technique in which one uses the Godspeed of Battōjutsu to sheathe the sword rather than to draw it in a practice known as Shinsoku Nōtōjutsu (神速納刀術, Godspeed Sheathed Blade Technique). The speed and force create a miniature sonic boom that can be used to temporarily stun opponents with particularly sensitive or acute hearing by affecting their auditory nerves. This move is only seen once, used by Kenshin against Yukishiro Enishi. While this attack would normally only deafen the target for a while, due to Enishi's unusually sensitive nervous system, Ryūmeisen managed to affect his equilibrium as well. In Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars, it paralyzes the target for no damage instead.
- Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki (天翔龍閃 (Original Translation: 天翔ける竜の閃き), Flash of the Heavenly Soaring Dragon) – The secret ultimate technique, a.k.a. the ōgi (奥義, secret skill) of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū, Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki is a powerful Battōjutsu technique whose secret lies in discovering both the significance and insignificance of one's life, the penultimate requirement needed to master the Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū.
Although truly, a super-sword attack, it endangers the user by possibly putting the adjacent leg into the free sword's path and draws one even closer to an opponent's sword than usual, but on the other hand, boosts the speed of the sword draw to beyond-Godspeed and even greater is the boost in force of the strike. By realizing one's insignificance and risking life and limb to protect something else while, at the same time, taking one's own, fragile human life into consideration, the user is able to step into the small margin behind one's own drawn sword and in front of the sword of one's opponent without fail, delivering a beyond-godspeed blow of monstrous power.Additionally, like other Battōjutsu moves of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū, Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki is a two-step move and, if its secret should be anticipated and the strike itself blocked or dodged, the second step comes immediately into effect. The immense force of the enhanced draw cuts the air in front of it and creates a powerful vacuum in its wake as the deflected air rushes back into place. Any opponent able to deflect or dodge the first swing will automatically be subject to this vacuum and inexorably pulled closer to the user, all the while this vacuum creates intense winds powerful enough to overwhelm and catch their opponents off balance. With the great amount of force being applied to the Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki, a missed swing leads naturally into an accelerated spin of such centripetal force akin to the Ryūkansen. The added momentum of the spin in addition to the pulling force of the vacuum on both side results in a second strike that greatly dwarfs the first in power. This is best explained to Kaoru by Hiko Seijūrō XIII: "Even if you avoid the fangs of the flying dragon the gusting winds strip away the freedom of movement and the claws would rip you apart".
Although the Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki is one of the most powerful and profound attacks of the series, to learn such a technique is not without its weaknesses, cost and consequence. Those who learn the ways of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū, and walks its path long enough to learn this technique, must undergo a final test, to be pitted against their master's unrestrained Kuzuryūsen, placing them in a true life or death situation. Faced with life or death, the student must perform the Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki without flaw, being the only attack in the repertoire of Hiten Mitsurugi that surpasses the Kuzuryūsen in speed and execution- else the apprentice fails and is ultimately slain for naught. Should they succeed, they will have mastered both this technique, and how it is a testament, the entire style of Hiten Mitsurugi itself, but at the cost of the preceding master's life.
While the attack is incredibly powerful and seemingly undefeatable, the basis of Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki, the fighter's will to live and compassion for others allowing them to stand on the edge of life or death, must be strong, free, and unwavering of any doubt and turmoil that lies in the heart of the user. This state of mind is the only condition that will allow the Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki to be executed flawlessly and guarantee their victory, as being out of this state only allows the user to execute lesser and flawed versions of the ultimate technique (as is the case when Kenshin faces Yukishiro Enishi and his Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki fails for the first and only time against the Watōjutsu ōgi Kufuku Zettousei).
The Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki is first seen being used by Kenshin against Hiko Seijūrō XIII, and his master is the only known master in the school's history to have survived the final trial. Its second strike is first seen being used by Kenshin against Shishio Makoto. Yukishiro Enishi is the only other opponent who has faced this technique twice.
In the manga, it was stated the Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki can kill even when wielding a sakabatō. In the anime, it was not stated directly, but it was hinted when Seijurō explained why he didn't die from being hit with the attack.
- In the manga re-telling, Tokuhitsuban (Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration), this technique is referred as the "fastest of all battōjutsu", but not as the ōgi of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū, being called Tenshōryūsen, which is the on'yomi or Chinese adopted pronunciation alternative form of reading of the technique's original name (天翔龍閃, てんしょりゅうせん).
- Karyūsen (渦龍閃, Vortex Dragon Flash) – A seemingly improvised battōjutsu technique used by Kenshin in his duel with Takimi Shigure. Wrapping his wounded arm and sheath to the belt and taking the stance for the Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki, Kenshin leaps high into the air, and begins a free-fall. Knowing there is no stability while airborne, Kenshin utilizes the free-fall to multiply the torque of his rotating body to accelerate the draw of his sword for the decisive strike. This technique is more accurately akin to a battōjutsu variant of Ryūkansen: Tsumuji, in that it uses the body’s centripetal force to counter any adversary’s assault with a lightning-swift counterattack accelerated by the controlled head on the momentum of the user. Sagara Sanosuke was the one to coin the name "Kenshin-Ryū: Kaiten Battōjutsu" (Kenshin-Style: Rotating Battōjutsu).
- Rairyūsen (雷龍閃, Thunder Dragon Flash) – A technique invented by Amakusa Shōgo. The technique involves using one's chi and swordsman's spirit, forming a light from the sword in a style of a violent thunderstorm, attacking opponents by overwhelmingly striking their sight with such sensory overload to the point that it knocks them out. Should it be used to its full intensity, the Rairyūsen rids them of their eyesight forever leaving them with grey-empty eyes; unless the one blinded can overcome the Rairyūsen's user in an Amakakeru Ryū No Hirameki clash in a test of true spirit, it is only then their eyesight will return. Kenshin was first hit by this, but quickly adjusted to being blind, and eventually overcame Shōgo in their eventual clash.
Anime-only "Secret Dance of the Umbrella" Circus TechniquesEdit
An improvised version of the Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū, used with an umbrella when Kenshin and the group were entertaining a large crowd to help Marimo prepare for her cannon launch main act against the Sumidaya entertaining group. Comedic and humorously entertaining in its style, yet as effective as the real art, the Secret Dance of the Umbrella is also likely used to provide a front to maintain the secrecy of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū's real repertoire with a deal of humility.
- Umbrella Spin - Kenshin immediately opens the umbrella, and faces the top in front of him, spinning it. At such a velocity, the umbrella can deflect various projectiles, including razor-sharp knives and blades.
- Ball Throw - Used with a heavy rubber ball, Kenshin makes an upward swing, using it to send forward a ball to his unsuspecting opponent with the umbrella.
- Wild Boar Evasion - When faced with a charging enemy, Kenshin swipes a feint at the eyes when the opponent is at such a range where the umbrella barely touches the opponent's face. When distracted, Kenshin then immediately uses the opportunity to go to behind or aside the rushing opponent.
- Umbrella Drop - Leaping up into the air, Kenshin then comes back down and swings a downwards smack on to the opponent. This more or less is a comedic toned down version of the Ryutsūisen used with an umbrella.
Other techniques Edit
- Hiten no Yomi (飛天の読み, Flying Heaven's Reading) – A battōjutsu counterattack technique only seen in Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars, where Kenshin readies himself in an upright battōjutsu stance as he nearly reaches for his sword. If he is hit during the stance, he'll instantly strike with a single fast-slash which has him re-sheathing his sword, akin to iaidō. Used as his Special Attack B via his 4 Koma version in the said games.
- Hiten Gorengeki (飛天五連撃, Flying Heaven Five Chain Attack) – A named version of Kenshin's "five-hit combo" vs. Shishio Makoto in Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars, where he performs a Ryūtsuisen, Ryūshōsen, then the three Ryūkansen variations (Kogarashi, Tsumuji then Arashi) in that order (used as either his Special Attack A in Jump Super Stars or Special Attack B in Jump Ultimate Stars, both as his 6 Koma version). Can also be replicated in J-Stars Victory Vs. when done from either version of his Ryūshōsen (which can only be done from either the midair attack or the fourth input strong-strong-weak combo version of the Ryūtsuisen in that said game). Though in Jump Force, only the Ryūkansen portions of the chain attack are reused (animation-wise) as Kenshin's heavy attack string.
- Hiko Seijūrō I
- Hiko Seijūrō II
- Hiko Seijūrō III
- Hiko Seijūrō IV
- Hiko Seijūrō V
- Hiko Seijūrō VI
- Hiko Seijūrō VII
- Hiko Seijūrō VIII
- Hiko Seijūrō IX
- Hiko Seijūrō X
- Hiko Seijūrō XI
- Hiko Seijūrō XII
- Hiko Seijūrō XIII
- Himura Kenshin
- Amakusa Shōgo (anime only)
- Nishida Hyōuei (anime only)
- Tatsuya Shiba (anime only)
- Since Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū's two remaining practitioners, Himura Kenshin (age 28) and Hiko Seijūrō XIII (age 43) look considerably younger than they are, it has been theorized by Makimachi Misao and Myōjin Yahiko that Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū grants eternal youth.
- Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū is loosely based on the real-life Shiranui-ryū, the secrets of which died with its sole known practitioner, Kawakami Gensai.
- Although Hiko Seijūrō XIII refers to Shishio Makoto as a master of "Hiten" in the Viz manga, there is nothing to suggest that Shishio has ever studied Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū; this a translation error. The line accurately translated is: "One way or another, It is needless to say that as a swordsman of Hiten Mitsurugi Ryuu there is no way that I can ignore Shishio."
- While not an actual practitioner of this style, Yahiko was able to mimic certain techniques of it.
- In Japanese Buddhist mythology, Hiten is another name for the celestial beings known as Tennin, who serve gods and devas to help spread and protect Buddhist Dharma. Similar to angels of the Christian tradition, Tennin are usually depicted with hagoromo, being feathered cloaks that are said to allow them to fly, and tenne, flowing arched scarfs that represent their heavenly being. They are often depicted as flying on clouds and with dragons, in praise and celebration in Buddha's Pure Land, and are said to have great powers allowing them to fly and achieve speed beyond human capability. In some legends, tennin are also said to reside atop mountains as holy spirits, which further draws parallels to the powerful and sacred beings known as sennin, who are hermits that have sought the secrets of immortality by the arts of ki and are free from worldly nourishment.
- In regards to this and Hiten Mitsurugi's rite of succession, this also draws parallels to the deva Taishakuten or Śakra, Japan's interpretation of Indra, who is the commander of the Four Heavenly Kings, and ruler of the Trāyastriṃśa heaven, one of the highest levels of the Deva Realm in Buddhist cosmology akin to Mount Olympus, in where the gods themselves dwell and bear continued contact with the world of men. Though Śakra is considered a fierce deity like Fudo Myoo and is a protector of mankind and the gods, Śakra is known to resolve strife and conflict with the least amount of necessary force, and is able to revive those slain in battle, to uphold his vow to cease suffering. Though the world of gods and devas are mortal in Buddhism, Śakra is also a namesake, and is passed on to the next successor to protect the mortal world. In consideration of Rurouni Kenshin's themes of katsujinken (swords that give life) and to bear mercy even in the face of necessary force, this parallel highlights such themes ever more significant.
- The belief that Hiten Mitsurugi is a probable source of immortality is likely stemmed from the quote "Swordsmanship is basically the exercising of the Life Force and, therefore, at the beginning of the study the Life Force is exercised by means of technique."
- The Kuzuryūsen technique is derived from the dragon god Kuzuryū in Japanese Mythology.
- By Crescent Moon in the Warring States's date of release, the Hiten Mugen Zan's performing debut chronologically makes it the first canonical technique of the Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū.
- It is unknown what Hiten Mitsurugi's tenets are on users outside of its isshi soden dynamic, as the only known cases of rogue users were Nishida Hyōei, Amakusa Shogo, and even technically, Himura Kenshin, while in turn, imitators such as Ogawa Heizo existed. Nevertheless, it can be safely guessed, even if anime arcs such as the Shimabara Arc and post arc fillers are considered non-canon, that with its tenets of encouraging correct judgement, that those who barely use their teachings outside of self defense and have grown away from the path of swordfighting with benevolent, pacifistic, and altruistic aims like Nishida and Ogawa are harmless and can be overlooked to some extent, while those who actively use Hiten Mitsurugi for selfish and self centered misguided gains like Amakusa must be dealt with immediately. Kenshin himself is an interesting case, as he is directly what could be considered a rogue student, but has come to learn the weight of his actions and developed both responsibility and penance for his actions as a hitokiri, and had at least wanted to act for a better Japan for his people and fellow citizen.
- Of particular interest, the display of the lives of the users and those related to the affairs of of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū in the series coming to meet each other in the series brings to mind of the idea of karma, fate, "the law of attaction", "all things coming full circle", and even to the idea of viewing and digesting the series as entertainment, to view close aspects of human lives akin to gods and spirits that witness life from afar. This is especially evocative of how even schools of martial arts in Japanese religion and spirituality have their own pantheon and representative spirits and kami, and how these schools of martial arts demand their users and witnesses to respect their rules and principles lest disobedient and misbehaving students, or even those who dare actively trespass and transgress against the school who dare break them for selfish and malevolent purposes, will be punished by not just their masters and the law, but these deities and entities themselves, and without restraint. While Amakusa's defeat is significant of this, so may Nishida's fate of being blinded forever by his own successor, and to where even trying times such as Ogawa's confrontation with Anzai Jurobei, and to even Kenshin's own hardships are representative of this form of spiritual trial and judgement.