Crescent Moon in the Warring States (戦国の三日月 Sengoku no Mikazuki?) is a manga written by Nobuhiro Watsuki back in his days as a manga artist assistant. It is his first professional work, which is indirectly set in the Rurouni Kenshin world. The story tells the tale of a former Hiko Seijūrō (比古清十郎?) who has the same name as the Hiko Seijūrō in Rurouni Kenshin. It is collected in Rurouni Kenshin tankōbon volume 6, as the third end of volume special.
Its storyline involves Hiko Seijūrō as a Samurai of the Sengoku Jidai (Warring States period) of Japan. He is in full samurai armor, and utilizes the "Hiten-Mitsurugi-ryū" Style of Kenjutsu Swordsmanship. Hiko also sports the same length of coat with a slightly different collar than the one the character of the same name wears in Rurouni Kenshin. Hiko is not the main character, but the role is taken by young farm boy, Isshinta (一心太?).
In the story, the country of Kitakata (北方?) and the country of Nagumo (南雲?) went into a war. Kitakata was much weaker than Nagumo, so the two forged a peace treaty. The princess of Kitakata, Natsu (夏津?), was forced to marry Iwano Hirosaki (岩野 宏先?), the ruler of Nagumo. Princess Natsu begged Hiko to take her from Iwano, but he let Iwano take her so that Kitakata would find peace. Nagumo resumed its attacks on Kitakata and broke the peace treaty. The lord of Kitakata and his family were executed.
Hiko, the last hope of the Kitakata, is a powerful samurai who remains undefeated, and he meets Isshinta, a farm boy who was drafted into the military who then deserted, while rescuing him from some samurai from Nagumo, and they escape from the reinforcements. The readers then learn that Isshinta and Hiko both know different girls, both by the name of Natsu. Isshinta's Natsu lived in the village with him. Natsu chided Isshinta for being cowardly, since he did not want to join the war effort; at the same time Isshinta's Natsu wants Isshinta to survive. Both Isshinta and Hiko were in love with "their" Natsu. Hiko begs Isshinta to run away, and Hiko decides to die since he felt guilty about betraying the princess. Isshinta returns and begs Hiko to rescue his Natsu, because Natsu would cry forever if Hiko died. Hiko rescues Isshinta and charges after Iwano, who uses a gun to injure Hiko. Hiko kills Iwano and rescues the princess. Isshinta, now curageous, reunites with his Natsu. Hiko and his Natsu are now the rulers of Kitakata.
Watsuki said in Rurouni Kenshin Volume 6 that he feels nostalgia for the work.
Development and creation
Watsuki originally set the series in a "fantasy land," with Hiko as a knight and Isshinta as a "farm-boy-turned-soldier" [sic] with both characters in "a Northern European milieu." As Watsuki saw fantasy settings "everywhere" he switched the setting to the Sengoku period. Watsuki intended for Isshinta to be the main character as he felt moved by "weaker" characters who "grow into their courage." Therefore the highlight of Crescent Moon in the Warring States is Isshinta's "kindness turns to courage" idea as opposed to Hiko's traits such as his strength and his "romantic appeal." Watsuki added that his editor initially believed that Hiko was the main character of the series. Watsuki believed that Isshinta formed in a manner "100%" as intended.
Watsuki received questions about whether Hiko is related to the Hiko in Rurouni Kenshin. Since Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū is passed by ability instead of blood, the Hiko in Rurouni Kenshin is not biologically related to the Hiko in Crescent Moon of the Warring States.
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