The Vengeful and Honorable Snape

Aoshi Shinomori

Nobuhiro Watsuhi - Rurouni Kenshin



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"Understanding the Man - Aoshi Shinomori"

Summary and analysis

Rurouni Kenshin is an historical manga (Japanese equivalent of comic books though they can abord next to any subjects). It's storyline mainly happens after the revolution of 1868 in Japan thanks to American Colonel Perry's not so subtle innuendos about his wish to make Japan a "colony", American style of course (that means, it's not revendicated as a colony, but you have to trade with them on an unequal basis or they'll shoot you down!  Sounds like a colony to me!!) Anyway, Kenshin is the hero of the whole series. Aoshi is, at one point, his greatest opponent because he seeks Kenshin's morbid title of the strongest of Japan (which meant Kenshin was the most efficient and bloody assassin of his time, the Battousai, but he was soon reformed and killed no more!!)  

His glare is as cold as ice. He will not show his emotions, he will not have you play on his feelings. That would be a weakness. His stare and unsmiling face is very characteristic of him.
Tormented by his past, his eyes tell  you his story.

So...Why do I consider Aoshi a fitting Snape?

Cold as ice, you could not discern his thoughts or emotions. Yet, he can be very perceptive of yours. Very intelligent and studious, he was named captain at 15 hence very talented.  Intuitive, has a harsh sense of duty which borders fearlessness of death itself. He is a man of his words.  He is also very inapt at human relationships! Does not like common idle subjects (reminds you of someone!?)  He prefers to stay alone, in silence and after his reform, meditate to understand where he went wrong! He always felt, after his friends died for him, he was unworthy of any affection, too. He suffers from immense guilt over his actions. He refuses the affection or care of others. He does command respect in his whole stature.  Not to mention that his trench coat has the same effect Snape's teaching robes have!  He is a man of little word, but when he says something or acts, it strikes just as Snape' sarcasm or wand!!

  He suffered a lot which brought him on the dark road of life before being reformed. He was the leader of his ninja group at 15, a role for which he became ever more unreadable and cold, but his group never got the chance to prove itself in the war before the fall of the Shogun feudal system. That wasted pride and worth was horrible to him, so he set out with his other companions to prove themselves. The problem was, they were now in a non-fighting society! No more weapons were allowed!! No more ninjas necessary!  Poor them!  Still, Aoshi led his dear friends away where they could be useful, turning down lots of very promising governmental jobs for their sake (they were warriors, and could not trade their weapons for a pen!!) Therefore, he is very faithful and knows his duty, like Snape to Albus you could say!  In the series, before he battled Kenshin (the strongest) a second time and lost, he could not realize what he was doing. The end justified the means, very Slytherin thinking. I compare this state of mind to the one Snape must have found himself the day he joined the Death Eaters. The first battle with Kenshin ended up with Aoshi's friends getting killed to protect him from a drug-mafioso. That event sent Aoshi into a bitter warrior even more in seek of the strongest title.  He spared no means no friends from his own clan to do it. That's where he truly became dark and spiteful.  He almost killed his former captain's best friend, almost like his uncle!

But after that fatidic second battle with Kenshin, Aoshi came back down to earth and tried to find inner-peace instead of fighting.  He had lost his friends who died protecting him and instead of accepting that horrible sacrifice, he had turned it into hate, which was not what his friends would want for him. That's what Kenshin taught him, and also about that little girl he had vowed to protect (Misao, the late captain's daughter).  Misao was looking for Aoshi because he left her without saying goodbye. She's in love with him of course and almost worships him. Aoshi looks insensible to her, but he is not. He just will not show it or react like others would. Misao is his opposite, and that proves very healing to Aoshi. Misao is almost the only one who can make him smile.

So in a nutshell, you see a very faithful leader, with his pride and lust for recognition, on the wrong path of war.  And then he turns vengeful. But at one point, he turns around and understands his folly. At which point he decides to involve in battle no more, or only to protect his loved ones.  He knows he cannot seek battle to prove his worth anymore because he drives himself crazy over it!  Very wise of him.  He makes me think of Snape especially in that regard, in his quest to be recognised and respected.  His reasons for being angry are pretty close to Snape's as well as his actions. He is so talented but never gets to prove himself. Makes me think of Snape being a strong wizard but always being overshadowed by Potter! Not someone to mess with though he will not show his anger like Snape would. He is a good example of Japanese control!  It is his way of not showing weakness to his adversaries.  Note that Snape, even though he has fits of rage, is hard to anger in front of enemies, too.