Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki and Laying Down Your Life

One of my favorite anime antagonists is Shishio, the evildoer from the Kyoto Arc of Rurouni Kenshin.  Shishio looks like a mummy, replaced Kenshin as the battousai, is never really bested by Kenshin with the sword, and in the dubbed version of the show, he’s voiced by always-awesome Steven Blum.  What’s not to love (or hate)?

As Kenshin goes on a journey to defeat Shishio, the hero realizes early on that he’s not strong enough as is to defeat him.  To gain the necessary skills to stop Shishio, Kenshin returns to his old master, Seijuro, to learn an ultimate skill.  His sensei ultimately presses him into developing the technique, Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki (episode 43).  But the most interesting thing isn’t the technique itself – it’s how the disciple learns it.  Ultimately, it must be learned by using it on one’s teacher in an attempt to break the sensei’s otherwise unbreakable defense. And in doing so, the learner kills his master.

Seijuro lays down his life to teach the technique to Kenshin.

Seijuro falling to his apparent death
Seijuro falling to his apparent death

This teaching seems a bit extreme – but this is anime after all.  Reminiscent of Unohana’s teaching of Kenpachi in Bleach, there has to be great sacrifice for the result that’s received.  And although Seijuro doesn’t actually die – Kenshin is using his reverse blade, after all – is there any question that this noble and hard man wouldn’t be willing to die in this situation, having determined, finally, that Kenshin is worthy of learning it?

In our lives, the positions are switched. We are the learners and God the master, but whereas God has already laid down his life for us, we’re now called to do the same, and in that way, we’re like Seijuro. And also like Kenshin’s teacher, we must ask the question, is it worth it? Is it worth laying down our lives?

Right now, missionaries across the world are in dangerous circumstances, and some will follow the martyrs down through the history of the Church, spreading the gospel to unreached people groups at the cost of their very lives. Even for those as zealous as missionaries, the emotional weight of not knowing whether your sacrifice would bear fruit must be challenging. Like a missionary going to his death, Seijuro approaches his not knowing whether Kenshin will succeed or not.

Imagine being a missionary who is about to be executed without seeing conversions occur.  Really, God?  You’re letting me die and not one single person was saved?

Most of us will never go on long term missions, but as several on our staff are now doing, I hope you’ll participate in global missions somehow. But even if you don’t go, you still must determine whether it’s worth it to die for the sake of Christ, to put aside our hopes and dreams and wishes and desires. We must count the cost and make a decision.

I hope your answer to God is yes, remembering who you are and who God is and what Christ has done. And perhaps in meditating upon these things, you’ll remember that this life is no longer your own.  After all, for Christians, the old life is dead and gone and we no longer live, but it is Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20).


3 thoughts on “Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki and Laying Down Your Life

  1. I like the point you make at the end, to put aside our hopes and dreams. That’s sort of what I’m doing now, choosing to go to seminary rather than live in Los Angeles as I’ve dreamed. It’s a costly decision, and not a popular one with my friends, but I feel I’ve been called to do it. It’s not nearly as big as becoming a missionary, but it does involve laying down my own desires.

    1. Hmm… me, I know Christ teaches us to lay down our lives, take up our cross and follow Him but often times that doesn’t mean we can’t do what He’s called us to. The dreams that we have in us, I believe are from God.

      For example, I myself am a writer here for Beneath The Tangles. I write about video games, and God, and how they intersect. I love video games, it’s not a huge dream that I want to play them all my life but I know that God is using what I write for His glory and lives will be touched through what I write. I believe that whether we are writers, teachers, plumbers, businessmen/women, etc. everything we do can be for His glory and to bring souls to Christ, and see His kingdom expanded.

      Not downplaying what you are doing, and am happy to hear that your going to seminary, but I don’t think you have to go to seminary and be a pastor/minister (church role) to serve God. I just have met many people who insist that if it’s not in a church, God isn’t being glorified (I’m not saying that you believe or said that, just venting a little haha).

      Great post TWWK! God bless ya, and Kenshin is such a good anime…and Seijuro is such an awesome character, one of my favorites in all of anime 🙂

  2. Wow! I’m overwhelmed.
    Your article is one of many (though can be elusive) proofs that Christianity and secularism can harmoniously co-exist.

    I discovered your article by accident
    — a well-designed accident. I was at Google Images searching that poignant scene in the “final test” between Kenshin and Hiko. I found one, well almost. Along the way, I stumbled to your article.

    Its been almost 4 years since you posted this. Many have happened for sure, and I hope and pray that your endeavor has making a trail, if not enjoying fruits.

    Apologies for the litany, and GOD BLESS us.

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