If you've seen the Rurouni Kenshin anime (at lest up through the Kyoto story arc) then you know that it's an all around good story with likable and intriguing characters set in historical Japan. The original manga version, which I just wrapped up a little while ago with volume 28, is just as great as the anime with all the elements that made the story great; and though the story is much the same, it's different enough and just damn good enough to be worth a look for any true Kenshin fan.
The Rouroni Kenshin's story has, I think, three things has going of it: a historical setting, likable characters, and great fighting strategy.
The setting of the story is Japan's Meiji era -- a time that has no use for samurai and where swords ahve been banned. The entire series revolves around each characters' reaction to this new time and to the sacrifices that had been made in order to reach it. Some want revenge for some past aggression, some want to regain lost honor, some are trying to take advantage of the of the new era in order go gain money and/or power. And then there's the hero of the story Kenshin, who is just trying to make peace with it all and make reparations for his violent past. By placing the story in a real historical era with real historical figures, it gives the story some credibility and makes you wonder just how possible it all is ... no matter how fantastic some scenes or characters might be.
The second thing the story has goingn for it is the characters. Each character's personality and style is unique and interesting. This is the kind of story that you read because you want to know what happens to the characters next, not necessarily because you want to know how the plot gets resolved. And I think that kind of driving force lends itself most to creating loyal readers.
The third thing that the story had going for it was the great fighting strategy and analysis. Sure, this wasn't the most realistic fighting in the world, but that's not what mattered to me. What I loved was how Kenshin beat his enemy by analyzing his enemy's fighting style and then taking advantage of the holes in the technique, which was complicated even further by his vow not to kill. I love that kind of analysis because it really lets you get in the character's head and makes the fighting more satisfying since you understand more of what is going on. Plus it makes every fight scene interesting and original because it's not just "this guy beat that guy because he's stronger". Since each fighter has a different technique, Kenshin has to come up with a new strategy each time.
The story was complimented perfectly by the clean and polished art. It made the fight scenes more intense because you could always follow exactly what the fighters were doing, but it still kept a fast pace. That's something that not a lot of manga artists can pull off.
The series ending was satisfying. The final battle helped Kenshin to resolve his past, and the follow up gives you a glimps into how each character ends up. It's been a long journey throughout this series, but this ending was a good send off.
So needless to say, this was a good, entertaining, and fun manga series and I definitely recomment it to anyone.