The Tragedy of a Stormy Night is the 55th episode of the Rurouni Kenshin anime series.
As Sojiro's sandal breaks as a result of the duel's intensity, both combatants take a brief intermission. With all left muddled and mystified at the young man's philosophy, that "if you are weak you die, and if you are strong, you live", in such a gifted but twisted youth, there are many questions to be asked. What is the mysterious history that echoes behind such a brutal ideal?
The episode runs through several flashbacks of Seta Sōjirō's traumatic childhood. It is revealed that he was born as a result of an affair between his biological father and a prostitute. He lived with his older half brother, step-sister in law and half-nephews and nieces, who would abuse him and literally use him as a slave, beating him as they pleased, treating him as a simple tool for their amusement and the advancement of their rice business. In the beginning, he would cry and get angry, which would simply cause them to beat him more and more and spout on about how he was being ungrateful to make him feel bad, so later on, his response was to laugh rather than cry.
Meanwhile, Shishio Makoto is on the run, being sought after by the Meiji Government, who betrayed him and tried to murder him after all the assassinations he had done just for them. Sojiro one day sees Shishio, now bandaged and burned swordsman, hacking through two policemen. Shishio notices this and is about to kill Sojiro, until he sees him laughing in the face of death. Bewildered by Sojiro's unusual behaviour, Shishio demands that he provide him food and new bandages and he'll be spared. The outlaw soon learns of Sojiro's situation and tells him that the only reason he is abused is because he is weak and also tells him a key idea that would shape his life for years to come: "if you are strong, you live, if you are weak, you die".
After noticing a significant decrease in their stock of bandages and incorporating it with the fact that the outlaw they are after (one of Sojiro's brother is a police officer), suffers severe burn-damage, his family realize rightfully come to conclude that Sojiro has been hiding Shishio. They track down Sojiro and are about to kill him, but Sojiro has in his possession a Wakizashi, given to him as a gift for helping Shishio. Sojiro uses it and is able to kill his oppressive tormentors once and for all.
Shishio sees what Sojiro has done and decides to adopt him as a brother, telling him that he will be his right hand man and the strongest warrior of all, only second next to him.In the present day, as Kenshin and Sojiro ready themselves in their intermission, Kenshin digests and analyzes Sojiro's mention of his philosophy, concurring that such a young man never had such an easy time growing up, or anyone to have shown love or care for him, and follows such a philosophy to cover up his weakness towards the idea of death and emotion. Sojiro, having repaired his sandals, now stands at the ready. However, as the battle begins with one step short of the Shukuchi, Kenshin is able to sense emotion stemming from Sojiro and block his all angle attack. Irritated, confused, and inquiring of Kenshin's philosophy of the strong protecting the weak, which he runs counters to, asks Kenshin the cryptic question, that if he was protecting the weak, why the rurouni was not there for him in own his time of pain. Realizing the emotions within Sojiro now begin to manifest, Kenshin also desires to understand what pain Sojiro has gone through, where the second half of the duel now only begins to start.
Anime - Manga DifferencesEdit
- Sojiro's stepfamily are shown in the Anime to have conclusively realized that he was hiding a dangerous fugitive, before attempting to kill him. In the manga, Sojiro found them wasting the harvested rice in order to get famine tax stipends from the Meiji Government.