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|Rōmaji||Saikyō no Shinobi Gundan - Kyōfu no Oniwabanshū!|
|English Title||The Strongest Group of Ninjas: The Dreaded Oniwabanshu|
|Air Date||March 6, 1996|
March 27, 2003 (US)
The Strongest Group of Ninjas: The Dreaded Oniwabanshu is the ninth episode of the Rurouni Kenshin anime series.
PlotEditMyōjin Yahiko is healing from a poison dart thrown by Beshimi in the previous episode, that struck his right arm. Sagara Sanosuke continues suspecting Takani Megumi after finding out that she possessed opium. Kamiya Kaoru appears before Kenshin and Sano with a melancholic look on her face saying "Yahiko is...", but before she finishes, the two run inside the Kamiya Dojo, assuming the worst may have happened. On the contrary, they find Yahiko breathing and Doctor Oguni Gensai, who is tending to Yahiko at this time, tells the two that Yahiko will be recover after sleeping one full day. Kaoru thanks the Doctor, who says that it was the written instructions (from Megumi) telling how to prepare the antidote that helped him.
Back in Takeda Kanryū's mansion, Han'nya informs Shinomori Aoshi that Beshimi and Hyottoko were defeated by the swordsman they fought at the Dojo (i.e. Kenshin). Aoshi is surprised, knowing that the swordsman must have extraordinary skill to have been able to pull off something like that and so orders Han'nya to find out who he is. He thinks to himself that the swordsman may in fact be the legendary Hitokiri, Himura Battōsai, since he has red hair and a cross shaped scar on his left cheek, although he is not shown saying his actual name.
Yahiko has completely recovered from his illness and Megumi prepares a dish called Ohagi, in order to celebrate the former's recovery. Kenshin, Kaoru and Yahiko as well as Oguni Ayame, Oguni Suzume and Doctor Gensai all dig in and are all ecstatic about how delicious the meal is. Kaoru asks Megumi if she'll teach her how to prepare ohagi that well and the latter agrees, saying it is easy. Kaoru says that she'll prepare some next time and Yahiko insults her, saying that he would eat balls of mud rather than anything she prepares and she hits him. Upon seeing the group laughing and interacting with each other, as they do, Megumi is reminded of her own family. Kaoru asks her about her family and she simpy says she has none and walks away to go and make tea.
While preparing tea, she thinks to herself out loud, how good they are (i.e. Kenshin and his friends). Sano, who is present, overhears her and demands that she explain the those "good people" why she was carrying opium. Kaoru sees what is happening and Megumi confesses that it was she who made that opium. Sano then says that she's the one responsible for the death of his friend, Yoita. Kenshin too is now present. Kaoru tells Sano to calm down and asks Megumi to explain why she prepares opium. Kenshin asks if she is the daughter of Takani Ryusei and Megumi asks how he knows her father's name. Kenshin says that he knew about the Takani family from Aizu, who were famous Doctors for many generations, but that Ryusei went missing along with both his brothers and their mother, as a result of the war between the Imperial Army and the Aizu Clan and that only the young daughter of the family remained alive, i.e. Megumi.
Megumi says that the hardships she faces back then were nothing compared to what happened afterwards. She recounts how she came to Tokyo from Aizu five years ago, in order to study medicine under the tutelage of a certain doctor. She later learned that the doctor was an associate of Kanryu's, aiding the latter in his manufacture of opium. The doctor was later killed, as a result of a disagreement he had with Kanryu and afterwards, she was forced to produce opium in his stead. She says that she desired to become a great doctor like her father, but was instead forced to produce a lethal drug.
Kenshin asks Megumi why she ran from Kanryu and she tells him that she was forced to manufacture a new drug that could be cheaply mass-produced. After producing some of it, she took what she had made and quickly escaped. Kenshin realizes that Kanryu will continuously pursue her until he gets what he wants. He says that it is better for her to stay in the Dojo. Kaoru agrees, but Sano is still unwilling to show any support for her, because of Yoita's death.
While Megumi is outside the Dojo, a kunai flies towards her with a letter asking her to head towards a specific place. She knows that it is the Oniwabanshū who have sent the message and as she leaves, Sano notices and follows her. On the way, she is greeted by a friendly looking old man who asks her if she needs anything, but she says no. The man takes of his mask and false outfit and is revealed to be Han'nya. He grabs Megumi by the mouth, tells her that Kanryu is waiting for her and takes her away. Sano witnesses what is happening and follows.
Kanryu tells Megumi that he does not wish to hurt her, but only wants her to join him once again. Megumi refuses, saying that she'd rather die than continue producing drugs that kill people. Kanryu says that if she chooses this path, he'll order the Oniwabanshu to burn down the Kamiya Dojo and everyone in it, which shocks Megumi, who faces no choice but to give in to his demands. Han'nya meanwhile, has noticed Sano's presense. Kanryu gives Megumi time to make her final decision, telling her to be aware of any fires that may be coming her way. He then leaves. Aoshi, who has been present all along, asks Kanryu why he doesn't just take Megumi now and he says that he wants Megumi to join him willingly, and the Battosai has no reason to involve himself.
Han'nya informs Aoshi of an intruder's presense (i.e. Sano), but Aoshi tells him to forget about it, saying that they should only be concerned with Battosai. Han'nya then leaves.
Megumi begins crying helplessly on the spot, knowing that there is nothing she can do.
Kaoru finds a letter in the Dojo, written by Megumi, where she says that she will be returning to Aizu. Kenshin realizes that she has no family left in Aizu and so he, Kaoru and Yahiko head out to find her.As Megumi heads towards Kanryu's mansion, she finds Sano standing at the front door. He asks her if she is returning to Kanryu and she says yes, but that she will not make any more opium and tells Sano to get out of her way. Sano tells her not to rush to her death, changing his tone and attitude to her and telling her that he and Kenshin are there to protect her and that the girls are waiting for her at the Dojo. She says that she has a dirty history, but Sano says that she's not the only one having a regretful past and that she should stay alive, and she can repent. Suddenly, an chained weapon with an iron ball at its head, flies towards the two of them and Sano moves Megumi out of the way just in time.
The attacker is impressed that Sano was able to dodge one of his attacks and reveals his identity: Shikijō, guardian of the keep of the Edo Castle Oniwabanshu. He tells Sano to give up Megumi, or he'll crush his bones. He attacks once again, but Sano grabs the iron ball and the two begin pulling the weapon on either side, resulting in the chain breaking. Shikijo jumps and rips off his shirt. The two then charge towards one another. Sano starts striking his opponent with punches to the mid-section, which have no affect. The two intensely grip one another's hands and Sano is stunned at Shikijo's power.
Shikijo lifts him up, slams him against the door and headbutts him extremely hard on top of the head. Shikijo says that his body is as hard as steel and that any part of it can be used as a weapon. He intends to kill Sano in the next strike and tries punching him but Sano grabs hold of his fist. He then punches with his left hand, but Sano grabs hold of his left fist too. The two continue fighting and Sano manages to land a hard punch square on Shikijo's face, knocking his opponent out.
Beshimi then appears and quickly grabs Megumi, while Sano is distracted. He then brings her back inside the mansion, but Sano is barely able to move as a result of damage absorbed during his battle with Shikijo. Kenshin and Yahiko then also appear, but are too late to save Megumi. Sano tells them that Megumi came back to Kanryu's mansion in order to protect Kaoru and the others. All four of them vow to rescue Megumi, as the episode ends.