Hiko Seijūrō

Hiko Seijūrō XIII (比古 清十郎 十三代 Hiko Seijūrō Jūsandai) is Himura Kenshin's master. Hiko is shown to be very sarcastic, egotistical and a punishing taskmaster, often referring to Kenshin as "My stupid/idiot apprentice," and bringing up Kenshin's past to provoke him into training harder. Kenshin describes his personality as "crude, cruel, and hateful." Despite this rough exterior, he has a deep sense of responsibility to Kenshin and those he protects, in the rare cases when he does get involved in a situation (usually at his own will). He has also been shown to be highly respectful and polite towards those he considers to be a true warrior, while at the same time condescending on those he considers to be weak. He loves sake, himself, and teasing Kenshin, although this is a testament to his excellent skill and powerful body. Master and student frequently have bouts of slapstick conflict between them. He dislikes socialization, and in order to avoid having to work with people, he makes his living as a pottery artist.

Hiko is the strongest swordsman in the series, vastly superior even to Kenshin, Saito, Shishio, and Enishi. In fact, during Kenshin's second training, Kenshin strikes at Hiko with his "entire body and soul" at one point (devoting so much attention that he fails to land properly and passes out), and only manages to graze one of Hiko's bracers. Although the two are comparable in speed when Hiko suppresses his true strength beneath his 30-kilogram cloak, Hiko possesses a superior sense of judgement in combat and the superhuman strength (hidden, and even suppressed, underneath his heavy cloak) to wield Hiten Mitsurugi Ryū to its maximum. After fifteen years, master and student meet once more. It is then that Kenshin will complete his training, should Kenshin survive Hiko's ego and superior swordsmanship. Even though Hiko is 43 years old, he looks as if he were in his late twenties, and has remained such since the flashback shown where he took young Shinta in and renamed him to Kenshin, teaching him the arts of the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu for the next four years. When Hiko told Yahiko and Misao his real age, the two were shocked and pondered if Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu is some sort of fountain of youth (Kenshin, despite being about thirty years old depending on source, looks as if he were in his late teens).

Hiko's skills can be seen in the actions portrayed in the manga and the anime. He does not hold back when he fights, is supremely analytical in combat, understands the nature of his opponents, and is at peak physical condition. Kamiya Kaoru stated that a master swordsman of Hiko's caliber makes his sword a barrier of sorts, overstating that fact that if one were to enter this barrier, Hiko would defeat his opponent instantly. Nobuhiro Watsuki has mentioned in character notes that he is comparable to the Joker in a deck of cards because he is so over-powered, he really does not have a place in the manga unless to fight another Joker Card, represented by the giant that is Fuji. As such he does not appear in any future chapters except in flashbacks once the Kyoto arc finishes, though he is featured in the OVA series.

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