Nobuhiro Watsuki was born in Nagaoka, Niigata prefecture, Japan. When Watsuki was a young boy, his brother, who was three years older, drew manga. Watsuki’s older brother was his role model so he started drawing Manga as well. Watsuki was also inspired by a variety of early Manga artists such as Osamu Tezuka and Fujiko F. Fujio. Later on, his brother stopped drawing manga but, “Because Mr. Watsuki was dumb, he kept drawing it (manga) for a while.”

When Watsuki was in middle school, he practiced kendo. He still drew Manga but also enjoyed sports. Watsuki admits that he was “So weak in fact, that I was an embarrassment to my 183 centimeters of height” (about 6 feet). Watsuki never won a kendo match. He was once chosen to be a starter after a teammate was suspended for causing an uproar. Watsuki grew frustrated with kendo, and eventually quit. When he was challenged to come up with a new character for Rurouni Kenshin, he used his outlook on kendo for a base of Myōjin Yahiko.[1]

Nobuhiro Watsuki has had many works in the past. In high school he won the Hop Step award for his work on his comic sleeve he called Podmark. Not much is known about Podmark because it has not been translated to English. Later on, Watsuki was an assistant in the work of Mashin Bōken Tan Lamp-Lamp (Arabian Genie Adventure Lamp-Lamp). The model for Sagara Sanosuke was based on a version of Lamp.[2] In 1994 a new sleeve was created and published in Weekly Shōnen Jump. It seems that this was the first sleeve about Rurouni Kenshin. His most recent work, Buso Renkin (Arms Alchemy) was published on June 2003, also in Jump. His 2001 work, Gun Blaze West, was cancelled after three volumes, and is currently being published in English by Shonen Jump.

When not working on manga, Watsuki enjoys playing video games, reading other manga, and watching television. His favorite American comic book is X-Men because he likes the action. His favorite anime (other than his own) is Neon Genesis Evangelion. He likes video games like Samurai Spirits and things of that sort. He also enjoys action movies like Die Hard and The Matrix.

Watsuki describes himself as “pro-dōjinshi” and asks fans to send fan comics.[3]

[edit] Real-World Inspirations

Watsuki bases many of his characters on historical figures and characters from other anime/manga series. For example, Himura Kenshin was based on Kawakami Gensai,[4] one of the hitokiri (assassins) during the Bakumatsu (Japanese revolution). He was the master of the sword style called shiranui-ryū. Gensai is famous for killing the famous idealist Sakuma Shozan. Four years after the revolution ended, Gensai was falsely accused of a crime and was executed.[5] Watsuki admires Kenshin for his desire to do good in honor of those whom he had to kill so the Meiji government could exist.[5]

In addition, Saitō Hajime was based on the historical Saitō Hajime, a member of the Shinsengumi although Watsuki admitted altering him to the point of fans complaint.[6] Several other characters, most notably Sagara Sanosuke, Shinomori Aoshi, and Seta Sōjirō, are also loosely based on certain figures among the Shinsengumi.[7] Okita Sōji, Ōkubo Toshimichi, and Katsura Kogorō were among numerous other historical figures who made appearances in the story. Yukishiro Enishi’s minion Gein was based on puppeteer and serial killer Ed Gein, as stated in “The Secret Life of Characters #47”, volume 24.[8]

[edit] Manga Works

  • Podmark was written by Watsuki during high school, and earned the Hop Step award.
  • Rurouni: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story is the name of two one-shots that preceded Rurouni Kenshin’s launch in Weekly Shōnen Jump. They are collected in the first and third Rurouni Kenshin tankōbon volumes, respectively.
  • Rurouni Kenshin (るろうに剣心) is Watsuki’s best known work. It chronicles the adventures of an ex-hitokiri in the age of Meiji. It Ran for 255 chapters which were compiled into 28 tankōbon, 22 kanzenban and in North America only, 9 wide-ban.

See main article: Rurouni Kenshin.

  • Kenshin Kaden is a guidebook that includes the full color short story, “Haru ni Sakura”, which details the fates of all of the Rurouni Kenshin characters after the conclusion of the story. “Haru ni Sakura” was included in the ninth volume of North America’s wide-ban edition of Rurouni Kenshin.
  • Yahiko no Sakabatō (弥彦の逆刃刀, “Yahiko’s Reversed-Edge Sword”) is also set in the Rurouni Kenshin universe, five years after the conclusion of the main story. Myōjin Yahiko must save the daughter of a dojo master from an old foe. It was included in the twenty second Rurouni Kenshin kanzenban volume, in the twenty eighth volume of the European release of Rurouni Kenshin and in the ninth volume of North American’s wide-ban edition of Rurouni Kenshin.
  • Meteor Strike (メテオ ストライク, Meteo Sutoraiku?) is a one-shot written for a Shōnen Jump artist competition. It chronicles the what-if adventures of a young boy who is struck in the head by a meteor and gains superhuman powers, eventually saving his town from a nuclear disaster. It is enclosed in the twenty-eighth volume of Rurouni Kenshin.
    • Watsuki created Meteor Strike while in the middle of writing Rurouni Kenshin. Watsuki felt disgusted with the work and originally did not plan on revealing it, but he ultimately decided to include Meteor Strike to increase the page count of the volume. Watsuki said that after reading the story over it “relaxed” him “in a nice way.” Watsuki said that the work has “some different flavors” than Rurouni Kenshin.[9]
    • Watsuki included three main elements in the story. He had wanted to use meteors in a story since they are the “most energetic natural phenomena.” His second element was a boy wearing a pair of white gloves. Watsuki described white gloves as “sort of plain” and “not cool at all,” yet he considers the element to be one of his favorites since the gloves “give off a sense of strength.” His third element is the girl wearing a construction site helmet. The helmet is masculine, while the Japanese school uniform that the girl wears is feminine.[9]
    • Watsuki said that he created Shinya, the main character, “on the spot.” Watsuki believed that he created Shinya to have too much honesty, and that Shinya’s personality overlaps the personality of Himura Kenshin, the main character of Rurouni Kenshin; he said that he regretted the overlap “a little.” Watsuki created Chiho, the other major character, to show the “shojo theme of the moment” where the boy’s maturity becomes larger than the girl’s maturity. Watsuki felt that the plan “didn’t work out so well” and “a lot isn’t what I wanted it to be.” He added that he liked portraying the “helpful nature” of Chiho.[9]
  • Gun Blaze West is set in the United States in the 1800s, the three main characters look for the gunslinger’s paradise “Gun Blaze West”. It was canceled after three volumes.

See main article: Gun Blaze West.

  • Buso Renkin (武装錬金 Busō Renkin) ran for eighty chapters (10 volumes), of which seventy nine were published in Weekly Shonen Jump, the final chapter was published in another magazine from Shueisha in two installments.

See main article: Buso Renkin.

  • Embalming -Dead Body and Bride- (エンバーミング Enbāmingu) is a one-shot written for “Jump the Revolution!” 2005. It takes its base from the Frankensteinian idea of bringing the dead to life. It is enclosed in the last volume of Buso Renkin.
  • Embalming II -Dead Body and Lover- was written for “Jump the Revolution!” 2006 and is another one-shot that takes place in the Embalming universe

See main article: Embalming -The Another Tale of Frankenstein-.