Rurouni Kenshin, Volume 4 - Nobuhiro Watsuki
As always, this manga gets better and better with every volume. We get to meet so many new amazing enemies in this one, and a new person that'll be joining the cast for the duration. It's funny how when I first saw Megumi, our second female character to really take any front-and-center stage in importance in this series, that I didn't like her. I've been so badgered by bad female characters that my minimal exposure to her instantly brought a frown to my face and made my eyes darken, my thoughts instantly turning to, "Oh God. Not another one." But I, as a reader, was blind. And for a short while, I retained that pensive dislike until I learned more about her. And then, I did a remarkable and rare thing today:

I changed my mind about her.

A great deal more of who she is and what she's still going through was revealed in this volume, and it only became that much more horribly drastic and heart-wrenching when things came towards what seemed a fatal conclusion. However, through it all, every single one of the characters we're getting used to seeing now began to shine. Kenshin, Yahiko, Sanosuke even came around, and Kaoru, too, welcomed Megumi into her heart.

What is the most profound about this volume in particular is the message that I believe it sends over all the others: Though you may disagree with someone, stand on completely opposite ends of the spectrum and believe in sides normally versing each other... you can still respect the person facing off against you. You can, even, like them.

This stood true for the Oniwabanshu, our villains that got introduced in the last volume. We got to see more of them here, and we had a whole new side to them revealed when it came down to the toughest and most trying of moments. We learned not just their skills, but saw their loyalty, devotion, and strength as men. We saw who they were beneath the skin. It made for a gripping and mortifying end to a great volume.

If you're keeping up with me in this series, this is yet another volume that doesn't disappoint. It really does get only better and better.