Roger Hendrix

Well isn’t that great—just great. Here I am, thinking I’ve finally met someone who’s perfect for me—she’s caring, smart, beautiful, and most of all, it seemed like she really got me. But I should have known better. Turns out she’s just like the rest of them, just another in a long line of women who only love me for my complete collection of the classic wandering samurai manga Rurouni Kenshin.

How could I be so stupid to think that a girl would actually like me for who I am, instead of my admittedly comprehensive library of the manga series about a swordsman embarking on a journey of redemption through Meiji-era Japan in atonement for his former life as a vicious Tokugawa government assassin?

God, I’m getting so sick and tired of this happening all the time.

I should have seen it coming a mile away. I really should have. But when you think you’ve finally found “the one,” you don’t notice the warning signs. You just think it’s cute and innocent when she subtly prods you to find out precisely how big your collection of the seminal Nobuhiro Watsuki series is: Do I really have all 28 tankōbon of the manga, stretching all the way to the conclusive Jinchū Arc? Do I have a lot of doubles? What about the chapter “The Great Man Vs. The Giant,” where Kenshin fights off the massive warrior Fuji with only his signature reverse katana? Do I have that? In hindsight, it’s all so obvious what she was really after all along.

Come on, Roger, you dumb sucker. When are you going to get it through your head? I’m frankly embarrassed to think of all the time I wasted trying to build a genuine connection with someone only to discover she was just trying to get to my full set of the epic saga of a formerly brutal warrior from the Bakumatsu and his ragtag crew of peaceful sidekicks.


Honestly, I should have learned my lesson when I fell so hard for Amanda a few years back. Date after date, I overlooked all the red flags, falling deeper in love as I ignored the dozens of times she would bring up the mankiller Hitokiri Battosai, baiting me into talking about how extensive and like new my collection was. And every time we ended up at my place, sure, she would pay attention to me for a few moments, but then she’d make a beeline right to my 28-volume set and start counting them. “I love you, Roger,” she would say, a gleam in her eye, but only after she began flipping through page after page of “Mitsurugi, Master And Student,” “Overture To Destruction,” or any of the other vividly illustrated installments of one of Shueisha’s most critically acclaimed manga series of all time.

I guess I was so blinded by my own feelings that I couldn’t see the writing on the wall. Everything she did makes perfect sense now: why she never wanted to hang out at her apartment; why she wanted to stay in most nights; why more and more frequently, I would catch her staring lustily at the plush toy of beautiful martial arts instructor Kamiya Kaoru or the 18-inch figurine of scrappy sword-for-hire Sagara Sanosuke, keeping watch from the bookshelf where I kept my voluminous, perfectly curated set.

But look, I’m not totally naive. Do I understand why these women are drawn to me for my 255-chapter series? Of course. We’re talking about one of the most influential works in the shōnen genre of young adult comics, one that captivated audiences in Japan for years during its half-decade run in Weekly Shōnen Jump. Honestly, how many women out there could hear mention of such an exhaustive selection of Viz Media comics and not be at least a little bit interested?


But even back years ago, when I would get girls to fawn over me at the bar by flashing my copy of the rare Kenshin short story “Cherry Blossoms In The Spring,” I’ve always known in my heart of hearts that it would never get me any closer to the sort of real love I’ve always wanted.

For God’s sake, there’s so much more to me than just a shelf of classic manga for women to thumb through! I’m a human being with feelings, one who just wants to meet someone who can look past my dozens of impressive mint-condition comics, official soundtracks, framed cel art of Yahiko and Saitō, and Rurouni Kenshin–themed apparel, keychains, and sweatbands scattered around my apartment, and see me for who I really am. Because the fact is, I have a lot to offer beyond my Kenshin collection.

For example, most women don’t even care that I own the DVD box sets of both the action-adventure anime series Fullmetal Alchemist and its sequel, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. If I ever found a woman who liked me for that, I’d never let her go.