Rurouni Kenshin began its run in Weekly Shonen Jump in 1994, and ran until 1999, to a total of 28 volumes. The series compromises six arcs – Tokyo, which introduces Kenshin and the main cast; Kyoto, where Kenshin is sent to defeat Shishio Makoto, who had been Kenshin’s successor as an assassin; and last, Jinchuu, or Revenege, where Kenshin has to face his past. In addition, a series of three light novels, written by another author, were completed. There were also two character guides produced. It was very successful in Japan, and according to some figures remains in the top 10 best-selling Jump titles, with 2007 numbers placing it at over 47,000,000 copies sold!
The Shinsengumi characters proved popular, Saitou Hajime usually topped the favorite characters poll, and Okita Souji would show up as well, despite only appearing in a handful of panels!
Rurouni Kenshin is licenced in the US/Canada by Viz Media. The first volume, released in January 2004, was an immediate best-seller, and it proved to be popular throughout its release. Volume 28 was released with a special poster. Viz later re-released the series under thier “VizBIG” brand, an omnibus release with three volumes per book. The final volume included the extra stories “Yahiko no Sakabatou” and “Hana ni Sakura”. Only one of the three “light novels” produced in Japan was published in the US, Voyage to the Moon World.
It has also been licensed worldwide, and has a truly international fanbase and bringing an iconic version of Saitou Hajime worldwide fame.
In 2006, Shueisha launched j-rurouni.com, announcing that Rurouni Kenshin was one of the special series to receive a deluxe kanzeban re-release. Featuring new cover art and alternate character designs, the kanzeban was printed on high-quality paper, and restored the color pages from the original magazine serialization. It also, for the first time, brought the extra story “Yahiko no Sakabatou” out in book format. Each book was a bit longer, and the entire release ran 22 volumes, with an extra volume of notes, art and character information. Sadly, the US did not utilize this format for their later re-release, but the kanzenban, along with the new and restored art, was used for a re-release in France.