Prelude to the Impending Fight, The Shadow of The Wolf Draws Near! is the 28th episode of Rurouni Kenshin.
During the following day, Kenshin comes to have a series of flashbacks and recalls to his past, most notable to the days of the Kinmon Incident in Kyoto and his series of battles against the Shinsengumi. With these flashbacks making themselves apparent with the coming of the cherry blossoms and interrupting his daily life, Kenshin discloses this part of his past to Kaoru on their way with the Gensai family and Yahiko to the Akabeko. Wanting to understand the significance of his past coming back to him, Kenshin instead brushes them off, and goes along with his day.Sagara Sanosuke makes a late entrance to the Kamiya Dojo, hoping to score a free lunch (and much to his dismay, the rest of the Kenshingumi are at the Akabeko, celebrating Dr. Gensai's successful delivery of a baby boy). When a traveling door to door pharmacist, Goro Fujita, comes to to Kamiya Dojo to sell Ishida medicinal powder, Sanosuke politely declines and tells the man that the owners are out and he is keeping watch- Until he notices the blisters and calluses on his hand from holding a sword. With the pharmacist shedding his facade and pulls out a sword, Fujita makes it known that he has come to leave a gift for the Battōsai. Realizing the threat at hand, Sanosuke instead has the man challenge him to a fight instead.
Sanosuke throws a mighty punch to Fujita, but is entirely unfazed. Making it known that his punches are nothing to what hell that was the Bakumatsu, Fujita charges forward with an extremely fast thrust and grievously impales Sanosuke's right shoulder. Unimpressed with the opponent and sword in front of him, Mr. Fujita prepares to make his departure, but subdues a wounded and persistent Sano by further worsening his wound by jamming the broken blade deeper and slams him into the ground unconscious.
After the celebration, the walk home sees Takani Megumi accompany Kenshin, Yahiko and Kaoru. Though with slights of worry, with Kaoru and Yahiko having saw that Kenshin barely ate anything at the restaurant and with him feeling something is greatly amiss, Kenshin decides to dismiss his worries again. When they make their arrival back home, the smell of blood and a gaping hole in the wall does not bode well, and Kenshin finds Sano's unconscious body inside the training hall.
Somewhere later at night in the heart of the city, Mr. Fujita and a Mr. Shibumi are seen in a ryokan discussing various matters, particularly of that Shibumi's role as the employer of . Revealing himself to be none other than the third squad leader and one of the only prominent living members of Shinsengumi into the Meiji, Saitō Hajime, he relays his job and progress to assassinate Himura under the orders of Shibumi.
At the Kamiya Dojo, Megumi is aided with Yahiko and Kaoru to an emergency operation on the wounded Sano. In the main hall of the dojo, Kenshin analyzes the destruction of the dojo and the various remnants left behind. With a thrusting attack of such power having sent Sano crashing through the dojo walls and the medicine cabinet left behind marked with a particular symbol, Kenshin can only surmise that the attack was the result of Saito, and leaves off with a conclusion of doubt and hope that he is able to fend off his old foe, one more time, as he is in the present.
As Saito makes his way home, he anticipates and only hopes that his foe is ready for the bloodshed and chaos that is about make its way into the peaceful Meiji once more... and that his wandering pacifism will give way to awake the Hitokiri within once again!
- In the anime, Kenshin begins to have his flashbacks in the middle of the night, before being woken by a thunderstorm, and discusses his reemerging memories to Kaoru along the walk to the Akabeko the following day. In the manga, Kenshin is woken up from a nap whilst accompanying Kaoru and Yahiko to a dojo visit, before mentioning of his flashbacks on the way home.
- The period of absence from the Kamiya Dojo in the Manga was shown to be merely a long distance walk from the training appointment. In the anime, it was a celebration at the Akabeko of Oguni Gensai's successful delivery of a childbirth.
- Takani Megumi is shown to accompany Kenshin, Kaoru, and Yahiko at different times; she is shown to join them in the manga during their walk home, and shown in the anime to join them after their meal at the Akabeko.