Sanosuke's Secret Training: The Challenge of Anji the Destroyer is 38th episode of anime
As Sano makes his way to Kyoto, he becomes lost in the woods in the middle of his journey. But, after a series of earthquakes, a giant man is at the epicenter, a fallen monk and the master of a destructive technique few have ever lived to witness, nay master it. Seeing the chance to get stronger, Sano sees the opportunity of a lifetime- And takes on his challenge with an even greater one of his own!
Down a beach road, Misao and Kenshin walk down its path in the morning. While Kenshin walks peacefully, Misao is irritated at Kenshin's selflessness, wishing him to back down against Shishio Makoto, and reminding him that there are people who care about him and wish his safety in the face of great danger. Kenshin in return, states that he does have friends and family, back in Tokyo- And an ecstatic Misao roughhouses Kenshin in a faux neckhold. As she dashes off and promises him a good stay at her home in Kyoto, Kenshin, lying on the ground, now stares up into the sky..... And wonders, at this very moment, how is his family holding up, since his departure, long ago?
Miles and miles away, sometime nearing the afternoon, Sanosuke is lost in the woods on his travels. With much on his mind, wondering about his friends, from the lone Kenshin, Kaoru and Yahiko, Megumi, alone at home in Tokyo, and to an infuriating reminder of Hajime Saito, Sano's stomach breaks his silence. Realizing now that his passive aggressiveness has drained the last of his stomach's threshold, he pops open a mochi ration to stave off his stomach's emptiness- Until a heavy earthquake rumbles throughout the forest, and unbalances him to drop his food.
Scarfing down the last of the now sullied mochi, Sanosuke grows extremely angry, realizing someone is nearby, causing these earthquakes. Now out to give them a piece of his mind, that person in question however, sits in a mystifying ritual, surrounded with Jizo statues and armed with a sword. Coming to chant mystical sutras and mudras, the large man drives his sword into the ground, and again, those quakes from earlier proceed to rush throughout the landscape. Sanosuke, looking afar and witnessing the man's strange ritual, can only wonder what on earth he is doing- And after another chant, upon the bellow of "OUM!!", the man drives his sword into the ground again, this time, completely demolishing the Jizo statues into dust.
Now in awe from the man's display of power, Sanosuke talks to the large man, inspired by his display of Horiki, the powers of Buddhist magic wielded by the followers of Mikkyo Buddhism. Reluctantly, the large man asks Sano if he is lost- And to his answer, Sano desires that, and with an additional blunt request for food. Though the large man replies in kind, he patiently reminds him that is not the way one should ask for favors.
As Sano and the large man eat around the bonfire, they also talk. The large man apologizes for his actions causing Sano's food to drop on the floor earlier, but Sanosuke does not mind, grateful for the man's generosity and being able to witness the powers of Horiki, but upon mention of that subject, the large man responds that what Sanosuke witnessed was not at all Horiki, and debunks the legends of Horiki to be that of fairy tales and superstition to rally people's beliefs in its respective religion, having long walked the path of a Buddhist monk; he finishes, stating that even if such powers existed, the large man would not be able to use it in his current state. Bewildered at what the large man said, Sanosuke realizes now that the man in front of him drinks sake and eats the game he has caught earlier- And to his incorrect insights, the large man explains he is a Hakaisu, a fallen monk of Buddhism, having broken his vows since long ago.
Coming to correctly state that the large man appeared more threatening than he seemed, the large man responds in same. Now curious of his motivations, Sanosuke asks him what he trains for since his vows were forsaken, and he replies in turn that he wishes to save the world. Realizing that one cannot be reliant on the powers of the gods however, the large monk states that only human hands can come to save the world, and that even then, such power in man's hands must even surpass the gods themselves. Ending his rambling on that note, the large monk asks Sanosuke if he knows of the acts of Haibutsu kishaku enacted by the Meiji Government. In return, Sanosuke is muddled in lacking- and the large monk discontinues.
Still in wonder, Sanosuke now asks, if what power he has used is not that of Horiki, then a guy like himself can master it as well, and that if the large fallen monk can teach him of such power. As Sanosuke promises he will not uses its powers for evil, the large man asks of his own reasons as well; Sanosuke responds in he must get stronger. After the scuffle with Saito, Sanosuke realized that defense was not of his own style, and that instead, he must focus on strength than defense. However, the monk objects, telling Sanosuke that there were dozens like him prior that sought the powers he obtained- And none survived the intense training required to master it. Not discouraged and even more motivated of the monk's doubts, Sano rushes at him. As the monk pulls out his sword and halts in front of Sano's face at point blank, a single skewer flies and impales a millipede on a tree. Surprised at Sanosuke's tenacity, Sano further tells the monk that his reasons also are more personal, and that he is willing to risk his life to master his power.
Shown his daring in the face of adversity that awaits him, the large monk then asks Sano what he thinks of the Meiji Government, and though caught off guard at first, Sanosuke explains with confirmation of his reasons against its treachery and cruelty. Now confirmed he can trust Sanosuke, the large monk explains the dynamics of his power, the one known as the Futae no Kiwami. Explaining that all matter bears resistance, that one blow's force is wasted upon its impact, and that two blows are to be made to fully transfer the force's effectiveness, Sanosuke attempts at first, easily crushing the rock, but the large monk, correcting him, takes another and explains that the two blows must be made within a second consecutively without pause, pounding that rock and imploding it into dust. Now in awe of his teacher's display of the difference between them, the large monk further states that ten long years took him to discover the Futae no Kiwami, and that it was a month for him to be able to crush a single rock. Wishing Sanosuke to surpass him and giving him a month to master it, Sanosuke instead takes on another challenge, to master the Futae no Kiwami in a week!
As three days pass by, Sanosuke realizes that the grasp of the Futae no Kiwami is harder to obtain, instead cracking and collapsing rocks. Seeing his difficulty, the large monk comes to him to reconsider, but Sanosuke refuses, even as the monk notes of his stubbornness and tenacity. Taking Sanosuke's attitude seriously as he refuses to back down, the monk goes along with his challenges and issues Sanosuke a grave reminder, that he will die at the end of the week should he not master it, demolishing a rock to show him of the consequences.
Day and night, Sanosuke smashes at rocks, conditioning his body, and studies the process which the Futae no Kiwami enacts its workings. Refusing to back down however, Sanosuke begins to feel the toll of his training. By the night of the sixth day, Sanosuke is emaciated of strength, his body numb and exhausted from the non stop training. Realizing that his training ground is devoid of any rocks due to prior attempts, Sanosuke gets up and is to continue searching for more, but nearing death, he stumbles and struggles. As the wind and fog blow, in front of him, a ghost appears. Realizing that it is his old mentor Sagara, Sanosuke is frightened of the visage that has appeared. Sagara, for his safety, tells Sanosuke that the monk would surely not take his life under the circumstances, and that if he should continue without rest, any more training will likely kill him.
But, as Sanosuke gets up, he explains to his deceased master of his deepest anger and frustration; not at the world, but at himself, regretting not being able to save him upon the demise of the Sekihotai. Now, as Kenshin, who set Sanosuke straight and calmed his anger at the world, is to face a great battle where he may inevitability die if he faces it alone, Sanosuke states that he wishes to fight in the sake of his friend and of all of the good he has done for him and others, and so that no one else can experience the grief and sorrow of losing ones most important and close to them, like he had. Walking away, and apologizing to his mentor, that he must continue with his quest to Kyoto and to master the Futae no Kiwami for the strength to halt the evils of the world in its tracks, Sanosuke presses forward, solemnly, and with a final farewell, to his mentor. Sagara, having faith in his young follower, who has grown into an honorable man, departs the world in peace.
The next morning, as the sun rises, Sanosuke lies sprawled on a rock. Over him, the large monk, looks with pity and weathered melancholy, as another apprentice has been claimed by the adversities of the Futae no Kiwami. About to recite mortuary prayers, to the large monk's surprise however, Sanosuke tells him that it is not time to mourn over him yet. Having took a nap to rest, the large monk states that it appears that Sanosuke has not mastered the Futae no Kiwami. In return, Sanosuke tosses the rock in his hand up into the air. As the large monk is distracted, Sanosuke immediately punches the rock's front, and with a loud blast, it is completely annihilated. Stating now that it was only in the last few minutes that he has caught the grasp of it, the large monk stands in awe, and tells Sanosuke that he has great potential, despite to his chagrin and explicitly states that he did nearly die in the night before. In respect of Sanosuke, the large monk takes back what he has said, and honors him as an impressive man.
As Sanosuke cleans himself up and grabs his luggage, the large monk gladly gives directions to Nakasendo. Stating now that the area they are in is Shimotsu, Sanosuke hysterically laughs in surprise- Realizing its familiarity, and that his mentor appeared to him that night prior, he realizes he really has been here before: the location of where the Sekihotai met its end. Regaining his composure, Sanosuke expresses to the monk's surprise that the occurrences of fate just might get him to start believing in the guidance of Buddha. Departing, Sanosuke expresses his thankfulness to the fallen monk and exchanges names- The large fallen monk's name is Yukyuzan Anji. Seconds after his departure, wishing him well on his journey, Seta Sojiro expresses delight upon finding Anji, revealing now that Shishio desires all of the special top rank fighters of the Juppongatana to gather immediately. To this mention, Anji eyes subtlety with suspicious response.
As a week has passed, all traveling to Kyoto come closer and closer to the Imperial Millennium Castle City. Kaoru and Yahiko, traveling by boat, will reach the city of Osaka, a night's reach to Kyoto. Kenshin and Misao, along the highways, journey in pace of the mountain before them, that will let them reach Kyoto by tomorrow's dawn. Having been ten long years since he has set foot in Kyoto, Kenshin eyes wearily, knowing that the day ahead will bring him back to the city of bloody pasts, and that now, a new wave of violence is ready to await him again.....