It would seem like Peacemaker would be retreading material that Rurouni Kenshin so admirably portrayed in that series, but Peacemaker is fresh and new in a way that draws you in and fascinates you. Both series deal with the turbulent Meji Era and the civil war tearing the country apart, but each one comes at the story from a different angle.
Tetsu is a short, fiesty 15 year old who wants desparately to be included in the Shenshingumi so he can avenge the murder of his parents. Tetsu is stubborn and loud mouthed and attracts the interest of Souji Okita, an androgynous looking and acting member of the Shenshingumi. Okita is also an incredibly deadly swordsman, despite his looks. He intercedes for Tetsu with Hijikata, the tough and unforgiving commander of the fighting force who wants to send Tetsu packing. Okita wins the arguement and Tetsu is now Hijikata's page. Tetsu is desparate to prove himself and as events start getting more violent, Tetsu has to decide what he really wants when it comes to revenge.
Tetsu is a bit of a brat, but you can't help rooting for him in his stubborn quest to be a member of the Shenshingumi. His relationship with his older brother Tatsu, is a sweet tough, as Tatsu, not a fighter at all, tries to protect his younger brother. Hijikata is commanding and unbending, but has his men's best interests at heart, even if he's harsh about it. He's also absolutely lethal to people who cross him. Okita is sweet, kind and has an adorable pet pig, but he too is a monster when fighting. Hajime Saitou (yes, based on the same character that Saitou in Kenshin was) is a genuinely admirable character here. A deadly swordsman on the one hand on a level with Okita, yet also able to communicate with spirits of the dead and in his own quiet way fond of Tetsu. There's also Yamazaki, a spy and mysterious character which doesn't keep him from being cool. The obvious set up for villain is Yoshida, on the opposite side of the civil war, and with a reputation. How do we know he's bad? Well, he's got creepy eyes, which is an automatic tip off. His apprentice is a white haired boy who seems just as bloodthirsty.
Maybe the most intruiging part of Peacemaker is the characterization of the "heroes". On the one hand, they are likable and kind, on the other hand when in combat they're demons, remorseless killers and completely merciless to the opposition. You don't know whether to like them or hate them with their split personalities which harken thoughts of the Battousai in Kenshin, only it's all of them. Tetsu doesn't even seem sure on that count. He wants revenge, but he still balks at becoming the killers his peers obviously are. Peacemaker doesn't treat violence lightly. There's a lot of blood and a lot of killing, but it's portrayed for what war is, bloody and not very glamorous.
Peacemaker is worth getting into. There are moments of humor set with moments of violence. It's a beautiful anime in a lot of ways and poignient too.