Episode 5
Episode 4
Episode 6
Kanji 逆刃刀対斬馬刀· 闘いの果てに!
Rōmaji Sakabatō Tai Zanbatō - Tatakai no Hate ni!
English Title The Appearance of Kurogasa: Visitor from the Shadows
Air Date February 7, 1996
March 21, 2003 (US)
Season 1
Opening Theme Sobakasu
Ending Theme Tactics

The Reverse-blade Sword vs. the Zanbatou: Beyond the Battle is the fifth episode of the Rurouni Kenshin anime series.


Himura Kenshin seems to be at ease, while Kamiya Kaoru and Myōjin Yahiko are extremely worried, because of his fated confrontation with the street fighter Zanza (Sano's thug name). They are told a distorted version of Sano's past, via Oguni Gensai, who had heard stories from a patient. He tells them that he is actually Sagara Sanosuke of the Sekihotai, who were a false Government army that spread lies about halving the taxes of farmers around the country and were thus executed and labelled with the word "Aku" (i.e. evil).


Sano and his old mentor.

Sano's past is explored in this episode. He is shown under the tutelage of Sagara Sōzō, his mentor and hero during the time he served under the Sekihōtai. Sozo tells him about their struggle to create a new era of peace and happiness for all people. Sano asks his mentor if he can choose a name for himself when the new era dawns, saying that he wishes to name himself "Sagara". Later on Sozo is called to a meeting at Shimosuwa by a Meiji Government staff officer, named Shindō Tatewaki.

Kenshin soon faces Sano, but the latter is unlike the other opponents he has fought recently up to that point and easily defeated with single blows (i.e. Hiruma Gohei, Gasuke and Ujiki). Although Sano is unable to land a single hit on Kenshin, he has an amazing level of endurance, being able to absorb critical blows by Kenshin that would easily put down nearly any other opponent. Kenshin then starts attacking him with multiple blows at once, causing him to collapse.

Kenshin asks Sano to accept his defeat and knowing that he is about to lose to an Ishin Shishi, Sano begins remembering his past. He is with Sozo at the Shimosuwa camp, along with other members of the Sekihotai, where Shindo tells them that they are to be punished for spreading false information that taxes would be halved for farmers. The Sekihotai members say that they spread that information under orders from the Government, but Sozo realizes what has happened: The Government cannot afford to halve taxes and used the Sekihotai as scapegoats to spread this information, in order to win many farmers to their side and afterwards lay the blame on the Sekihotai for spreading false information.

Shindo confirms Sozo's statement, but says that when all is said and done, the winners are just and the losers are evil. He then orders his troops to begin firing at the Sekihotai. As they are about to fire, Sozo pushes Sano aside, in order to keep him away from harm. Sano and a few others manage to escape the danger, while carrying away a badly wounded Sozo, but the Ishin Shishi troops soon find them. While the others try holding the attacker off, Sano carries Sozo near a stream of water. With what strength he has left, Sozo throws Sano down the stream, as the attackers draw closer and is himself shot to death.

This memory rekindles the fuel burning inside Sano. Kaoru and Yahiko inform Kenshin that his opponent is actually Sagara Sanosuke of the Sekihotai.

Meanwhile, Gohei attempts to intervene after seeing Sano on the losing end. He tries to shoot Kenshin. However, Kenshin manages to block the bullet with his sword just in time, causing the sword's cross guard to break. Kenshin flies back due to the force of the impact and Kaoru and Yahiko briefly believe that he has been hit. During that time, Gohei takes the two of them hostage, threatening to kill them if Kenshin tries to come near. Sano then hits him in the leg with his Zanbato, saying that this is his battle and he won't allow anyone to interfere. Kenshin then attacks him with a Doryūsen, causing him to fly back far away.

Sano tells Kenshin that he wants to settle his battle against the strongest of the Ishin Shishi. Kaoru and Yahiko condemn him for hating the Ishin Shishi, saying that it was the Sekihotai who were evil. Sano simply laughs at their ignorance, while Kenshin corrects them saying that Sano is right to hold a grudge against the Ishin Shishi, who had framed the Sekihotai and he tries to tell Sano that not all Ishin Shishi were like those who betrayed the Sekihotai, however Sano stops him from finishing his sentence, instead going on about how terrible the Ishin Shishi were.

Kenshin then flips his Sakabatō and agrees to settle the fight. Sano tries attacking and Kenshin breaks his Zanbatō in half and attacks him with Ryūtsuisen, but the former still remains standing. Kenshin acknowledges Sano's endurance, saying that he is the first opponent to remain standing after being hit with Ryūtsuisen. However, Sano is still badly injured and Kenshin says he should stay where he is, while he calls a doctor. Sano still refuses to give up, saying that for his mentor and for the Sekihotai, he'll never lose to an Ishin Shishi. Kenshin simply walks towards him and punches him in the face, telling him that the Sekihotai didn't teach him to fight imperialists but to help create a new era. Sano then tells him that the Ishin Shishi have no right to say such a thing after creating profiting from creating an era of lies.


Kaoru reprimands Sano.

Kaoru and Yahiko are enraged by Sano insulting Kenshin and Kaoru tells him that Kenshin is not like those corrupt people and even refused a high ranking position in the government, despite the wealth and prestige associated with it. She says that Kenshin is simply a Rurouni, who protects people around him. Kenshin tells Sano that there is still much work to be done to bring about an era of happiness for all people. Sano immediately realizes that Kenshin's words and beliefs are nearly identical to those of his former mentor, Sozo. He then acknowledges his defeat to himself and collapses on the spot, as a result of all the injuries.


Sano vows to follow Kenshin and see for himself, whether or not he's different from the other Ishin Shishi.

Although, it is thought that Sano's injuries are so grave that it would take at least a few weeks for him to heal, however, a few days later he's back at the Akabeko, beating up some "desperadoes for democracy" thugs he encountered previously. Kenshin and his friends see him there and are surprised by him being able to move and fight so soon after being beaten up. Sano tells Kenshin that he'll see for himself whether or not he's different to the other Ishin Shishi hypocrites and says that whenever Kenshin is involved in a battle or goes on a journey, he should tell him before hand. Kenshin then says that he has gained yet another weird comrade and Yahiko and Kaoru take insult to it, saying that he's the weirdest of all of them.


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