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  • April 17, 2024 8 min read

    Saitō Hajime, once a captain within the fearsome Shinsengumi, walks a complex path. Haunted by his past as a hitokiri (assassin), he now serves the Meiji government as a covert operative.

    Despite a long-standing rivalry with Kenshin, a relic of their opposing loyalties during the Bakumatsu, a grudging respect has emerged. Saitō, the embodiment of cynical reason, finds himself drawn to aid the rurouni, becoming a ruthless ally in the Kenshin-gumi's most perilous battles.

     A Look at Saitō Hajime's Appearance

    6 Facts about Hajime Saito in Rurouni Kenshin | Dunia Games

    Saitō Hajime cuts a striking figure. Tall and lean with a pronounced cheekbone structure, his piercing yellow eyes and slicked-back black hair (save for the distinctive bangs) give him an air of quiet intensity. Some, like Shishio Makoto, see a wolf lurking beneath the surface – a predator ready to strike.

    During the Bakumatsu period, his long, flowing ponytail added a touch of wildness to his demeanor. However, as an agent of the police in the Meiji era, a more professional air prevails, with the blue policeman's uniform replacing the traditional Shinsengumi attire.

    A Man of Duality: Unveiling Saitō's Personality

    6 Facts about Hajime Saito in Rurouni Kenshin | Dunia Games

    Saitō's past as a Shinsengumi captain and his rivalry with Kenshin paint a complex picture. Though instrumental in preventing the burning of Kyoto, his loyalty to the Shogunate ultimately led to him becoming a fugitive.

    He adheres to the harsh code of "Aku Soku Zan" – "Swift Death to Evil" – a principle that casts a shadow over his actions. While a capable investigator and fighter, he exhibits a morbid sense of humor and a detachment from the value of human life. This cynicism masks a dedication to peace and order, even under a government built by his former enemies.

    Saitō acts as the shadowy counterpoint to Kenshin's idealism. He embraces the "dirty work" of eliminating threats to maintain order. Despite his ruthlessness, a touch of humor (albeit dark and sadistic) occasionally peeks through, as seen in his playful attempt to stab Sanosuke.

    Beyond the Surface: Skills and Secrets

    saito hajime gifs | WiffleGif

    Saitō's keen observation skills and quick analysis make him a valuable spy for the Meiji government. He's not just a sharp mind – his immense physical strength allows him to overpower even the formidable Sanosuke in hand-to-hand combat.

    Saitō's personal life holds a few surprises. He's a married man, a fact that clashes somewhat with his cold exterior. And beneath the stoicism lies a surprising fondness for a simple noodle dish – soba.

    Saitō's defining features go beyond his physical appearance. The piercing yellow eyes, the wolfish visage, the ever-present cigarette, and the ever-lethal katana at his side – all contribute to the aura of a man shrouded in mystery and capable of immense violence.

    Unmasking Saitō Hajime's Connections

    Saitō Hajime's life is a tapestry woven from loyalty, rivalry, and unexpected bonds.

    The Rival: Himura Kenshin

    For years, a bitter rivalry simmered between Saitō and Kenshin, relics of opposing sides during the Bakumatsu. Even after the war's end, animosity lingered. Assigned to test Kenshin's skills, Saitō let the fight become personal, consumed by the desire to vanquish his old foe. However, as they continued to fight together against formidable threats, respect began to bloom alongside the rivalry. Ultimately, Saitō acknowledged the man Kenshin had become, putting an end to their age-old feud.

    The Shinsengumi: Brothers in Arms

    Saitō's loyalty to the Shinsengumi shines brightly. As a captain of the third squad, he honed his skills alongside other elite swordsmen like Okita Sōji and Nagakura Shinpachi. His strength was undeniable, possibly even surpassing Okita's according to their former leader.

    The Family: Tokio and Mishima Eiji

    Saitō's stoic facade softens when it comes to his family. His wife, Tokio, prepares his favorite food, a reminder of a more personal life beyond the battles. Their bond is further strengthened by the presence of Mishima Eiji, their adopted son.

    The Grudging Respect: Sagara Sanosuke

    Saitō and Sanosuke share a complex dynamic. Mutual resentment simmers beneath the surface, yet a begrudging respect for each other's abilities is undeniable. This is evident in Sanosuke's actions against Shishio, inadvertently aiding Saitō's cause. While they may clash, a silent understanding seems to exist between these formidable warriors.

    A Force to Be Reckoned With: Saitō's Skills Unveiled

    Saitō's reputation as a powerful combatant is well-deserved. His skills rank among the series' best, evidenced by his constant battles with Kenshin, each ending in a stalemate.

    Master of the Blade:

    A master swordsman, Saitō utilizes the techniques of "Shinsengumi-Kenjutsu." Yet, his own style is more straightforward, relying heavily on basic attacks while adapting to the flow of battle. His signature left-handed stance allows him to surprise and confuse opponents, but he's equally skilled with his right hand. This seamless switching keeps his foes off-guard.

    Beyond the Blade:

    Saitō's prowess extends beyond swordsmanship. He's an expert in hand-to-hand combat, adopting a defensive style that focuses on evasion and counters with throws and strikes to weak points. His surprising strength is evident in his effortless defeat of Sanosuke in an unarmed fight.

    Sharp Mind and Adaptable Tactics:

    Saitō's keen observation allows him to analyze opponents' tactics and exploit their weaknesses. He can manipulate them into emotional states that leave them vulnerable, or devise unorthodox strategies when facing overwhelming force. Even without his sword, he can use his clothing as a weapon, proving his resourcefulness.

    The Gatotsu: A Signature Move

    Saitō's signature technique, the Gatotsu, is a refined Hirazuki thrust derived from Shinsengumi fighting styles. Its stabbing power rivals Kenshin's own formidable attack. Despite severe injuries, Saitō's strength allows him to utilize the Gatotsu with devastating effectiveness.

    Saitō Hajime is more than just a skilled swordsman. He's a complex individual bound by loyalty, respect, and a dedication to maintaining order, even if it means walking a path shrouded in darkness.

    Unveiling the Past: A Look at Saitō Hajime's History

    Saitō Hajime's entrance into the Rurouni Kenshin story is shrouded in secrecy. We first meet him disguised as a herb seller, engaging in a calculated game of cat and mouse with Sanosuke. Leaving clues for Kenshin, he sets the stage for their inevitable confrontation.

    A Clash of Past and Present:

    Once revealed, tensions rise. Saitō, the former Shinsengumi captain, and Kenshin, the Battōsai, stand on opposite sides of their war-torn past. A fierce duel erupts, with Kenshin reverting to his deadly persona. Saitō disarms him, but their fight is interrupted by Okubo, revealing a hidden motive – to test Kenshin's skills against the impending threat of Shishio.

    Justice Undercover:

    Saitō disappears, only to resurface as a silent guardian. He eliminates Akamatsu and Shibumi, adhering to the Shinsengumi principle of swift justice. Later, we see him grappling with the weight of Okubo's death and its impact on Japan's future.

    An Unlikely Alliance:

    Kenshin and Saitō find themselves drawn together by circumstance. While their goals may not fully align, a shared sense of purpose emerges. Saitō attempts to keep Sanosuke out of harm's way, and subtly nudges Aoshi towards joining the fight against Shishio.

    Shingetsu Village:

    Saitō seeks information in Shingetsu village, encountering Kenshin once more. Tragedy strikes as Eiji's brother falls victim to Shishio's forces. Saitō intervenes, preventing Eiji from succumbing to vengeance. Eiji is entrusted to Saitō's wife, Tokio, for safety.

    Confrontation in Kyoto:

    The battle against Shishio unfolds. Saitō leads his men in a fierce assault, eliminating many of Shishio's soldiers. He engages Uonuma Usui in a brutal duel, emerging victorious but sustaining serious injuries. Saitō's own attempt to strike down Shishio fails, due to the villain's protective armor. Severely wounded, Saitō is presumed dead after the battlefield explodes.

    Beyond the Ashes:

    Saitō miraculously survives and rebuilds his life. He recruits the reluctant Sawagejō Chō as his lackey, a testament to his tenacity and resourcefulness.

    Saitō Hajime's history is a tapestry woven from loyalty, duty, and the lingering shadows of the past. His journey in Rurouni Kenshin is far from over, as he continues to walk the path of a warrior, even if it means forging an uneasy alliance with his former foe.

    The Jinchu Arc: Saitō's Pursuit of Justice

    Saitō's role in the Jinchu Arc showcases his unwavering dedication to justice and his complicated relationship with Kenshin.

    Taking Down Enishi's Allies:

    Tasked with apprehending Yukishiro Enishi, Saitō crosses paths with Kenshin once again. Their goals may differ, but they find themselves fighting on the same side. Saitō delivers a crushing defeat to Yatsume Mumyōi, showcasing his combat prowess. Although fueled by rage, Saitō restrains himself from delivering a killing blow, reflecting the influence of Kenshin's pacifism.

    A Glimpse of Vulnerability:

    Saitō's strength is undeniable, but a vulnerability is revealed when he faces an opponent who exploits the weakness of his signature Gatotsu technique. Despite this setback, he overcomes the challenge, demonstrating his adaptability as a fighter.

    Justice Served:

    Saitō's police force successfully captures Enishi and his accomplice, Heishin. However, a final showdown with Kenshin remains unfulfilled. Saitō rejects the challenge, unwilling to fight an assassin who doesn't kill. He chooses to walk a different path, one centered on upholding the law.

    Farewell and New Horizons:

    Saitō is transferred to another city, leaving his rivalry with Kenshin unresolved. A bittersweet farewell underscores their complex dynamic – respect intertwined with a lingering desire to settle their differences. Years later, news reaches Kenshin that Saitō is working in Hokkaido, suggesting he continues to serve justice on his own terms.

    Live-Action Portrayal:

    The live-action film portrays Saitō as a formidable force, perhaps even surpassing Kenshin in terms of raw power. His unwavering resolve is evident in his pursuit of the corrupt businessman, Takeda Kanryū. Despite the limitations of the law, Saitō eventually brings Kanryū to justice, showcasing his resourcefulness and unwavering dedication to his cause.

    A Resurgence of Evil:

    The film's events take a shocking turn when Saitō encounters a bandaged figure – the supposedly deceased Shishio. This revelation sets the stage for a future confrontation, with Saitō and Kenshin likely forced to unite once more against a familiar foe.

    From Historical Figure to Fan Favorite: The Evolution of Saitō Hajime

    Saitō Hajime, a real-life figure from Japan's Meiji era, finds new life in the manga Rurouni Kenshin. Author Nobuhiro Watsuki takes inspiration from history, but injects a healthy dose of fiction to create a complex and compelling character.

    The Anti-Hero Emerges:

    Watsuki crafts Saitō as an "antihero," a morally ambiguous character who fights for a just cause. Drawing inspiration from characters like The Punisher, Watsuki positions Saitō as the bane of villains who believe themselves invincible. His signature Gatotsu technique, while inspired by historical descriptions, is a purely fictional and visually striking move that sets him apart.

    From Backlash to Beloved:

    Initially, some Shinsengumi fans in Japan took issue with Watsuki's portrayal of Saitō. However, as the series progressed, Saitō's popularity soared. He consistently ranked high in popularity polls, and even earned the coveted title of "best enemy of Kenshin."

    A Legacy Beyond Rurouni Kenshin:

    Saitō's influence extends beyond the pages of Rurouni Kenshin. The fighting game series The Last Blade features a character, Keiichiro Washizuka, who bears a resemblance to Saitō, both in personality and fighting style.

    Critical Acclaim:

    Saitō has garnered praise from critics across various media. Anime News Network applauds his introduction, backstory, and action sequences, highlighting his Japanese voice actor as a particular highlight. His menacing presence, even in a brief appearance in Samurai X: Reflection, is noted, along with his updated design.

    Saitō's Quotes: A Window into His Soul:

    Saitō's memorable quotes offer a glimpse into his motivations and worldview. He embodies the ruthlessness of the "Wolf of Mibu" while acknowledging the shared sense of justice he once held with Kenshin. His cynical view of the political landscape and his sardonic observations on vengeance further flesh out his personality.

    Saitō Hajime's journey in Rurouni Kenshin is a testament to Watsuki's skill in crafting a character who transcends historical accuracy to become a fan favorite. His complex personality, unwavering resolve, and impressive skills continue to resonate with readers and viewers alike.

    Whether you admire his unwavering dedication to justice or his ruthless efficiency in battle, there's no denying Saitō Hajime is a force to be reckoned with. From his troubled past to his complex relationship with Kenshin, Saitō's journey is a captivating one.

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