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|“|| Old man sure left us a lot of trouble with this good-for-nothing brat he had with some other woman."|
"It's alright, dad. Just think of him as a servant that we don't have to pay who can wait on us hand-and-foot."
"He brought it on himself, always smiling like that. He must think we took him out of love, but we were only worried what people would think."
"Huh, what's that?"
"Stop kidding around! I'd never let him inherit one cent of our wholesale rice business! It belongs to my kids!
|~ The Seta family, speaking to each other about Sōjirō|
The Seta Family are villains in the anime series Rurouni Kenshin. They are the relatives of Shishio Makoto's right-hand man Seta Sōjirō, and their abuse of him is the reason why Sōjirō suppresses his emotions. Although they only appear in one episode of Rurouni Kenshin, and even then only in flashbacks, they are widely considered some of the most evil villains in the series because of their merciless abuse of (and willingness to kill) an eight year old boy who is also a member of their own family.
Little is known about them personally. The only one who is named onscreen is the younger brother, who is named Yunosuke (the others names, as given in the ending credits are Yoshiemon (father), Tsuru (mother), Gonzo (older brother), and Mitsu (sister)). Seta Sōjirō was born as an illegitimate child, and his father left him in the care of his family while he went off to fight in the war. The family hated Sōjirō because he was born out of wedlock, but they had to take care of him anyway because they were worried about what people would think. To take advantage of the situation, they decided to use Sōjirō as a source of free labor, and treated him like a slave. The family owned a rice business and would make Sōjirō (who was about eight years old at the time) carry heavy baskets of rice which were nearly as big as himself. If he were to break these baskets, they would mercilessly beat him for it. Sometimes, another member of the family would break a rice basket out of anger or frustration and another would lie and say that Sōjirō did it so he would get beat anyway. Originally, this would make Sōjirō cry, but this would only make his family angrier and they would say that he was being selfish or noisy. Sōjirō learned to suppress his emotions and smile when they yelled at or abused him. The lack of a reaction from him would cause his relatives to become sick of abusing him and leave him alone for the time being.
One night, when Sōjirō was carrying some rice barrels to the barn, he heard a scream in the distance. He ran towards the source of the noise to investigate it and saw a swordsman with bandages all over his body killing some police officers. The swordsman, named Shishio Makoto, was preparing to kill Sōjirō as well to leave no witnesses, but all the abuse Sōjirō suffered at the hands of his family caused him to subconsciously smile even though he was afraid of Shishio. This intrigues Shishio, who tells Sōjirō that he'll let him live if he brings him some bandages and food. Sōjirō allows Shishio to hide out in the barn. The next day, the brothers of the family are talking and they say that a policeman came by and asked Yoshiemon some questions about Shishio. Gonzo remembers that Sōjirō has been sleeping outside for a few nights and tells him that he wants to be the first to know if Sōjirō sees Shishio. Later, after Sōjirō tells Shishio about all the abuse he has received at the hands of his relatives, he tells Sōjirō his philosophy that "if you're strong, you live. If you're weak, you die."
He then gives Sōjirō his sword as payment for allowing him to stay there. Meanwhile, the family are wondering why all their bandages are missing and deduce that Sōjirō has been taking them for Shishio. This is the last straw for them, and they decide to kill him. They reason that since a deadly swordsman is on the loose, they will be able to pin the murder on him and may even get some reward money for giving the police information about the swordsman. Sōjirō hides under the barn, and Yunosuke goes in after him. Sōjirō has no choice but to decapitate him with Shishio's sword. Upon seeing that Sōjirō has done this, they try to kill him, but die in the process. Shishio is impressed by this and takes Sōjirō as his apprentice.