Hiko Seijūrō XIII is Himura Kenshin's master in the anime/manga series Rurouni Kenshin. As a potter, he uses the assumed name of Niitsu Kakunoshiin. His Japanese seiyū is Shūichi Ikeda, and his English voice actor is Richard Epcar.
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.
The thirteenth successor to the sword art of Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryū, Hiko Seijūrō saved young Shinta from marauding bandits who killed his companions. Hiko then took care of Shinta, and renamed him Kenshin ("Heart of Sword") after claiming that Shinta was not a good name for a swordsman. Hiko would then train Kenshin in Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryū for the next six years. He became angry and disappointed with Kenshin, because he ran away to join the rebellion against the Tokugawa regime at age 14, knowing that although Kenshin displays extraordinary swordsmanship, he was not prepared in mind and spirit for dealing with the conflicts of the outside world. Hiko isolates himself from the rest of the world, reasoning that he does not have to deal with the ills of society by living as a hermit/potter in a forest near Kyoto.
During the events of the Kyoto Arc, Kenshin visited Hiko to master the last remaining principles of Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryū. Hiko would evaluate his pupil's growth, both as a swordsman and as a person, over the past fifteen years of separation and pass on the Ogi or Succession Technique, Amakakeru Ryu No Hirameki to his pupil, nearly dying in the process. The next we see of Hiko Seijuro is when he assists the Kyoto branch of Oniwabanshu by defeating the giant Fuji as a last favor for Kenshin. In the OVA SeisōHen/Reflection, he also realizes that the Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryū no longer seems relevant in the changing world, as he remarks to Yahiko: "The only thing that doesn't seem to change is the moon", although it should be noted Nobuhiro Watsuki was not in charge of OVA's plot and that the direction that "SeisōHen" went conflicts with what he had originally intended as an ending to Rurouni Kenshin.
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(though this might be because he was using a sakabatō.) Although the two are comparable in speed when Hiko suppresses his true strength beneath his 40-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 overpowering, 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.
Hiko's weapon is a shirasaya nihonto(a katana with a wooden sheath and hilt).
The cloak Hiko wears is not only distinctive for all Hiten Mitsurugi masters, but it also serves to maintain his strength during peacetime. Even when conflict is not at the door, Hiko remains in training just by wearing it, as it is composed of several heavy materials that weigh him down and force him to work out because of counter-springs with pressure of around 200 pounds-force (90 kgf or 900 N). The cape also serves to keep the powers of Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu under control during training and peace time scuffles. When Hiko decides to get serious and actually end Kenshin's life to liberate him from his mental struggle with the Hitokiri, he goes forward to attack without the cape - his full strength unrestrained. Watsuki mentions in the manga that he based the billowy capes' image on Spawn of Image Comics by Todd McFarlane (the size of the collar pieces was reduced in the anime).
Other Hiko SeijūrōsEdit
The name Hiko Seijūrō is in fact a title granted to each succeeding master of Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryū. Since Hiko Seijūrō II, each new master has discarded his own name in favor of the name of the creator of Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryū. (After Kenshin mastered the final attack of Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryū, Hiko revealed that teaching it required the teacher to die at the blade of the student in the process, after which the student replaced him as the next master. Only Kenshin's use of a sakabatō permitted Hiko to survive.) As Kenshin declines to take the name "Hiko Seijūrō XIV"(having no desire to pass on the techniques of Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryū due to its potential for causing death), his master is the last man ever to be known as Hiko Seijūrō.
A character named Hiko first appeared in a one-shot story by Watsuki named Crescent Moon in the Warring States set in the Sengoku Period of feudal Japan, which was later included in the English language Rurouni Kenshin manga volume six. Watsuki has stated that this story is canon and tells the story of one of the previous Hiko Seijūrōs. From this story it appears that the various Hiko Seijūrōs followed different ideals and beliefs for the use of the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryū. Whereas Hiko Seijūrō XIII believed that it could only be wielded by a free sword, independent of any idealogy and loyalty, this previous Hiko had pledged his loyalty to the daimyo of a small prefecture and served him as a samurai. His weapon was a shirasaya nihonto with the name Fuyutsuki('Winter Moon') painted on its hilt. Hiko claimed that the Fuyutsuki, like his cloak, was an heirloom of the Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryū, leading some readers to believe that the same weapon is wielded by Hiko Seijūrō XIII(both swords have a similar appearance, though his nihonto lacks the hilt markings).