This is the volume where Kenshin and company gear up for the final battle with Shishio. There's still plenty of action, but there's also quite a bit of exposition. To begin with, Kenshin's sword is broken. The famous reverse-blade sword was forged by Arai Shakku, a legendary swordsmith who went from making exceptional swords to twisted weapons designed principally to cause suffering and death. He created the reverse-blade sword as a holy sword, giving Kenshin the secondary forge and donating the master sword to a temple in atonement for making weapons of destruction. His son, Seiku Shakku, although a capable swordsmith, is ashamed of his father's legacy and refuses to make a new sword for Kenshin. Kenshin does wind up with the holy sword from the temple, and with it goes to see his master Hiko Seijûrô XIII. Kenshin had left Hiko before his training was complete and now wishes to learn the final secrets of the Hiten Mitsurugi style to defeat Shishio. Sanosuke runs into Saito and helps him question Cho, one of the Ten Swords, or Juppongatana, of Shishio. After learning Shishio's plans, Sanosuke, Kenshin, and Saito head out to defeat him, warning the Oniwaban group to be on the lookout for trouble.
As always, the artwork is fabulous. There are two full-color chapters. One is very short and details Kenshin and Hiko's reunion. The other is split between Kenshin's training and an attack on the Aoiya orchestrated by Aoshi. The usual cast of characters is present in the beginning, with a few new faces, along with musings by Watsuki and more on the secret lives of the characters. More terms from the restoration are in a glossary in the back.
This volume concludes with an article on kenjutsu, titled Kenjutsu Through the Ages. The headings are: The Art of the Sword, The Dawn of the Samurai, The Birth of Kenjutsu, Enter the Katana, An Age of War, New Weapons, New Schools, The Soul of the Samurai, Kenjutsu in Peacetime, and Farewell to the Sword.