Many people would consider Nobuhiro Watsuki’s “prime” to be his time behind the pencil while creating Rurouni Kenshin, but little do many know that Watsuki-sensei has continued to get better and better during his years outside of the spotlight. With other Shonen Jump-published Manga like Buso Renkin and Gun Blaze West under his belt, Watsuki is a Mangaka that is so much more than a one-trick pony, but it is always good to return to the classics and that’s why his contemporary Rurouni Kenshin spin-off manga “Rurouni Kenshin Variant Story: The Criminal Ashitaro” is such an exciting, albeit stout, venture.
This two-chapter short story, with the first having already been featured in the December issue of Shueisha’s Jump Square magazine, centres around a character called Ashitaro Hasegawa; a prisoner who is released from a high-security Tokyo prison. On his travels as a free man he comes across another young boy named Aran Inoue, and a lovely lady who has awaited his release ever since he was put away behind bars. Watsuki, as you may imagine, is entirely in charge of the illustration for the two-chapter short story, but he is sharing the story writing with his lovely wife Kaoru Kurosaki whom he has worked with on several occasions in the past.
Hopefully we see some sort of Western localisation of these two chapters in the near future, perhaps within the digital pages of VIZ Media’s Weekly Shonen Jump online edition, but until then you’ll simply have to enjoy the preview images posted by Jump Square on the publications official site. Don’t worry though, you wont have to go looking because I’ve provided them for you within this article. A mainstream return for both Nobuhiro Watsuki and the legendary Manga Rurouni Kenshin is exactly what the new age of Shonen Jump needs but whether or not it will happen is something that only the Manga Gods can decide.