Episode 12
Episode 11
Episode 13
Kanji 少年剣士誕生! 一番弟子 弥彦の戦い
Rōmaji Shōnen Kenshi Tanjō! Ichiban Deshi Yahiko no Tatakai
English Title Birth of a Boy Swordsman: The Battle of First Apprentice Yahiko
Air Date May 1, 1996
April 2, 2003 (US)
Season 1
Opening Theme Sobakasu
Ending Theme Tactics
Birth of a Boy Swordsman: The Battle of First Apprentice Yahiko is the twelfth episode of the Rurouni Kenshin anime series.


Myōjin Yahiko is practicing Kenjutsu in a nearby area and is seen by Sanjō Tsubame. As he is practicing, he is hit on the face by the wooden board he's using as a target and his left flipper goes flying towards Tsubame. She returns it to him, but he is unable to put it on, because the strap is broken and so Tsubame rips a piece of cloth she has and uses it to mend Yahiko's flipper. She then leaves wishing him luck with his training. Yahiko forgets to thank her afterwards.

Himura Kenshin and his friends (Kamiya KaoruSagara Sanosuke and Yahiko) are later shown eating at the Akabeko, along with Oguni Ayame and Oguni Suzume. Kaoru does not seem to be showing very good table manners and Yahiko, meanwhile seems unable to get Tsubame out of his head and his odd behaviour draws the attention of the others. Sano notices his flipper, inside his shirt, has undergone repairment and asks Yahiko if his "girlfriend" did that for him. Yahiko denies everything and simply continues eating.

Tsubame then walks towards them, giving them tea. Yahiko is startled, since he had no clue that Tsubame worked in the Akabeko. Kaoru, believing that Yahiko has never met her before, introduces the two and it is revealed by Sekihara Tae that Tsubame has been working at the Akabeko for a week. Tsubame is then called to bring water to some customers and Yahiko soon follows her. He notices her struggling the draw water from the well and so lends her a hand. He then thanks her for mending his flipper earlier. Meanwhile, his friends are spying on him and secretly laughing. Tsubame thanks Yahiko and leaves.

She is then confronted by a group of thugs, led by Nagaoka Mikio who tells her that she's done well in winning the trust of the people in the Akabeko and then takes her away. She tells them that the daily earnings of the Akabeko are taken back to the owner's house, every day and Mikio asks her if she made an imprint of the key to the owner's house. She stalls for a moment and then begs him not to steal. In response, he hits her in the face hard, for encroaching her authority, reminding her that his own household ruled over hers for 300 years. He threatens to kill the owners of the Akabeko and so Tsubame reaches for the key.

Suddenly, Yahiko appears and tells them that the master-slave relationship of the Edo era has ended and under the Meiji era, such injustice no longer exists. Kenshin, Kaoru and Sano too are in the background, seeing what is taking place. Yahiko tells the thugs to drop their sinister plans or he'll stop them and so Mikio orders them to attack him. Yahiko fights them off, besting two of them quite easily. He is then attacked from both sides and hit on the back with a hard blow that drops him. The thugs then begin beating him up as Tsubame protests helplessly and eventually gives Mikio the key, whereby he orders his men to halt.

While Yahiko was being beaten up, Kenshin stopped Kaoru from interfering, saying that if he did not learn to fight his battles independently, he'd never grow any stronger. After the thugs leave, Tsubame tearfully apologizes to Yahiko, for getting him involved and he asks her when they plan to act. She tells him "tomorrow night" and he vows to stop them. Yahiko leaves, telling her that involving himself was his own decision and so not her fault. Yahiko knows that he cannot seek the help of the police, as this would put Tsubame in the red light and cannot seek Kenshin and co's help. He must deal with this matter alone.

Yahiko begins training with several wooden boards and finds the exercise difficult. He wonders how he will be able to defeat multiple opponents. Meanwhile, Kenshin is walking by with Suzume. He goes towards Yahiko, and puts Suzume to sleep on the grass. Yahiko asks him advice on how to fight off multiple opponents. Kenshin tells of a method that the Ishin Shishi used during the Bakumatsu when faced with similar situations - they would run away and while their opponents were chasing them, each one of them would be separated from the other as a result of their differences in speed, allowing one to fight them one at a time, while running again after each win repetitively until all the opponents are taken care of. He then tells Yahiko that the method works towards getting adversaries into one-on-one battles and so requires the user to run very fast and defeat each opponent very quickly. While the two of them leave the area, Kenshin reminds Yahiko that since the Kamiya Kasshin-ryū is a style based on Katsujinken (i.e. the sword that gives life or protects), victory or defeat seals the fate of both the user and the one(s) he protects.

It is night - Mikio and his thugs make their move and reach the Akabeko owner's house. Mikio pulls out the key imprint that Tsubame reluctantly gave to him and out of nowhere Yahiko snatches it from him and runs. Mikio and his henchmen run after him. Tsubame, who is present and hiding behind a nearby house, sees what has happened. Kaoru appears before her, commending her for wanting to stop the thugs herself. Mikio and his men are lured into a narrow alleyway, which allows Yahiko to fight them one on one. Mikio realizes what Yahiko has done and orders his men to kill him.

The thugs draw short blades from what appeared to be Bokkens all along (i.e. wooden swords). Yahiko panicks and backs away a little and as the thugs approach him, a rock hits one of them in the head. They look above and see Kenshin and Sano standing. They recognize them by their faces. Sano clenches his fists and Kenshin draws his Sakabatō, causing them to worry. They run away in fear and Mikio is the only one left. Yahiko wonders what in the world happened. As he turns around, Kenshin and Sano suddenly hide their presense.

Mikio draws his sword and Yahiko faces his first battle against an opponent with a real sword. Kaoru and Tsubame are now at the scene too, albeit hiding themselves in the background. Mikio grazes Yahiko's shoulder slightly and slices some of his hair with his blade, but Yahiko refuses to give up. He is constantly pushed backwards and eventually ends up being tossed on the ground and then cornered against the wall, with no apparent means of escape. His Shinai is then cut in half by Mikio and it seems as though it is all over for the young, brave warrior.

Tsubame then shouts towards Yahiko, begging him to win, thus making her presence known as well as that of Kaoru. Yahiko suddenly remembers Kenshin's words about victory or defeat sealing his fate and the fate of those he protects. Yahiko dares Mikio into attacking and the latter charges straight towards him, slightly grazing his right cheek and jamming his sword into the wall. Yahiko runs around him and reaches for a Bokken dropped by one of his men. The two engage one another once more. Yahiko hits his legs during their exchange of blades, which injures him. He then turns around and finishes him off with a blow to the left side of his neck/shoulder area, causing him to finally win the battle.

Kaoru runs towards Yahiko, congratulating him on his win and he asks her what she's doing here. He then turns around to see what went on earlier. Kenshin and Sano suddenly drop backwards and end up hanging against from the ceiling. They then begin mimicking cicadas and Yahiko shouts that there are no cicadas in the spring, causing Kenshin to fall and start hanging off of Sano's leg.

In the aftermath of the battle, Tsubame tells Yahiko that she feels a lot more courageous after watching him battle and Yahiko says that he'll continue training and be as strong as Kenshin.

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