Saitou & Sano

(This post used to be linked from the top of my archive and I used to keep it always up to date, but when I made the decision to walk away from Rurouni Kenshin fanfiction, I let it go. So many of the links and some of the information may not longer be correct.)

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Why I Love Them Other Thoughts Favorite Stories By Others
Stories By Me Favorite Visual Art Visual Art By Me
Songs That Remind Me Of Them Other Random Crap/Comment

Though there are other, perhaps more meaningful or important artistic pursuits in my life, I have and will probably always have a great love for works (my own and others’) featuring the romance of Watsuki Nobuhiro‘s Saitou Hajime and Sagara Sanosuke. And since I am, if not the only remaining fan, then at least, most likely, the main remaining fan of this pairing, I thought I would set up this little page about them for the benefit of anyone else with a passing interest. Remember when there used to be a lot of “shrine” websites to specific characters and pairings? Think of this as something like that. I’ll probably add more to it when I think of more to add.

Why I Love Them

I love Saitou and Sano together because…

They’re good for each other. Sano helps Saitou enjoy life, lay off the srs bsns every once in a while and detox, and feel more human interest and sympathy for the people around him. Saitou helps Sano recognize the value of (and perhaps learn some) maturity, dedication, prioritizing, and planning. Each can learn a lot from the other in fields spanning almost the entirety of life experience; they become stronger and better people together.

They can function as emotional yin and yang when it comes to restraint and total lack thereof, as well as jaded experience and sometimes-almost-naive enthusiasm. As such, they can provide each other moral and emotional support where each most needs it.

In canon (and even often beyond it), they share certain basic beliefs — specifically about corruption in the government and the need to prevent tragedy to the innocent of Japan — that gives them an excellent level to connect on. The different methods by which they act on these beliefs may raise points of contention, but also highlight that common ground and, in any story where they do work together, provide opportunities for them to learn to cooperate and compromise for their mutual goals.

Even in canon, each develops a grudging respect for the other (though I admit that any show of respect by Saitou toward Sano tends to be of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it variety), and exploring the nuances of a relationship that begins with mutual disdain and disliking and grows into respect seemingly against the will of the participants is deliciously fascinating.

Also on a mostly canon basis, certain aspects of the lifestyle of each make them uniquely suited at the very least to interact somewhat regularly: Sano can contribute in numerous ways to Saitou’s investigations, and Saitou is the good fight Sano (whether or not he’s technically abandoned fighting for pay) is always craving.

Lastly, it just so happens that I adore couples that are constantly at each other’s throats, couples that have continual snarky banter but adore each other underneath; and I happen to find this couple very visually satisfying in their canonical outfits and colors. These points are little more than window-dressing to the more interesting ones mentioned above, but, damn, do they ever complete the hell out of an amazing package!

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Other Thoughts

I love it so much when Sano manages to avoid getting himself shot by Shishio’s Gatling gun and Saitou actually smiles at seeing him safe.

I love it so much how Sano, though he only stares in horror when Shishio defeats Kenshin, absolutely loses his shit when he sees Saitou taken down.

I love seeing Tokio portrayed as just as much a fan of Saitou and Sano together as the reader. I hate seeing Tokio portrayed as injured by Saitou and Sano together.

Isn’t it just miserably sad how there’s essentially no Saitou/Sano interaction in the live-action movies? Of course, Sano’s a complete idiot and has no real purpose in those movies, so perhaps interaction with Saitou is nothing to be missed much there.

In The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan, it’s stated at one point, “You don’t call somebody an idiot that many times unless you’re really into them.” Just one more reason for me to love that author.

More thoughts about Saitou and Sano.

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Favorite Stories By Others

Looking for a beta-reader?

Back in the day (and by that I mean at the turn of the century), lots of people were writing lots of fanfiction about Saitou and Sano. Of course Sturgeon’s Law always applied, but when gross production was so high, one could stumble over a really great story in any direction on any given day. Nowadays… well, Sturgeon’s Law still applies. But here are some of my favorite fics about my favorite couple, nearly all of them from the early 2000’s:

A Certain Clarity by Franzeska is a novel-length fic with an incredibly engaging and emotional story that is super romantic and at times very funny.

Dreaming by MsJadey features some of the most poignant character development and interaction ever to grace this pairing. Read Suppress It by the same author for some serious laughs.

West of the Sun, East of the Moon by FarStrider is a beautiful fantastic tragedy that borrowed an excellent plot from a far inferior movie.

the poetic sequel to cohabitation (is only natural) by liveonanon is a (shockingly!) recent entry on this list — written in 2014 (for me *^__^*), it is all glorious wordporn and heartbreaking interpretation of Saitou.

And the most (even more shockingly!) recent entry here, check out all of plaidshirtjimkirk’s stuff (WordPress/AO3) for some really good in-depth examinations of character.

Besides all of these, you can, of course, find more Saitou & Sano fics at (this link leads to a search for stories merely including both characters, as that turns up far more results than checking the “pairing” box; it also means, sadly, that some off-pairing fic featuring both Saitou and Sano is listed) and Archive Of Our Own.

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Stories By Me

Did I mention that Saitou and Sano together are one of my favorite things in the world? Though I may have slowed down a bit, I still adore them, and am always working on any number of stories about them.

Right now there are 85 stories on this archive (excluding a few that don’t quite count because they’re too pre-relationship or whatever) in which Saitou and Sano are a couple (or close enough), the most recently completed being Forgivably Wrong. I’ve always wondered what I would do to celebrate once I reached 100 Saitou/Sano fics on the archive, but it seems like for every story I put up, another, older one gets taken down because I realize it sucks XD

Anyway, if you are interested in reading any of these stories and don’t necessarily feel like picking through the lists here on the archive, you may find the ebook Index useful. Alternately, my favorites from among my own Saitou/Sano fics are as follows:

Death Wish is, I think, concisely emotional and interesting. Plus it has what is maybe the most awesome illustration I’ve ever commissioned.

He Can Be Taught may quite possibly be my #1 favorite ever since I rewrote it. Proof that I really can work in the canon setting, sometimes, and make myself just as happy as with an AU, heh. I really like the way their relationship develops in that one.

Seeing Red…. aaaaand then I’m right back to the AU’s. Ah, well. I think this story is totally badass.

漸進的 な 会得 – Gradual Understanding is kinda weird, and has a conceit that some people can’t stand… but I happen to like it quite a bit. It’s not exactly a new take on anything, but I think I did it pretty well.

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Favorite Visual Arts By Others

It’s very difficult to populate this section as I would like, since I don’t have credits for a lot of older fanart of this pairing. Still, enjoy what’s here!

These, of course, are just some of my personal favorites. You can see more at the DeviantArt Saitou & Sano community and the 斎左 tag on Pixiv.

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Visual Arts By Me

The picture at the top of the page is called Red, White, and Blue – My True Patriotism. It’s one of the most accurate picture titles I’ve ever come up with :D

I don’t draw very well most of the time, but it is nevertheless a hobby I enjoy, and of course that means I have drawn Saitou and Sano kindof a lot. Here are many of my better pictures of them:

In addition to all of that, you can see all my Rurouni Kenshin art (of which Saitou & Sano stuff makes up the majority), if you’re willing to look at all the crappier stuff as well as to dig through stories and chapters to look at illustrations.

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Songs That Remind Me Of Them

Songs that are reminiscent of a romantic pairing are as subjective in their relevance as the interpretations of that pairing must be, and what is a charming reminder for one person may fall completely flat — and, indeed, be rather annoying — to another. So proceed with a grain of salt to hand (and possibly even some caution).

Sadly, due to the pugnacious nature of this particular couple, I don’t really have any happy songs that make me think of them. And this list could probably be more extensive, too, if I’d bothered to write stuff down over the years instead of losing track of it. But here they are in order of most to least reminiscent. (YouTube videos shrunken to save space.)

I Hate Everything About You by Three Days Grace

While I think there are, in fact, quite a few things Saitou and Sano do love about each other, still the general feeling of this song is so overwhelmingly them that I can’t nitpick the mostly meaningless lyrics. It hit me so hard the first time I heard it that I immediately figured out how to make music videos (very poor ones, at the time) so I could display my appreciation appropriately.

One More Night by Maroon 5

I really like for the Saitou/Sano relationship to develop into something healthy, but it’s very easy for it to be anything but, and here’s a song that I think exemplifies some of the saddest they can be. Still pretty damn sexy, though, and a fantastic song.

Always by Saliva

And this one is probably the worst they can be. I’ve only written two songfics in my life, and the first was a heartrending abuse/breakup story set to this song. I didn’t like it much (possibly because it was so sad, possibly because I didn’t like how I’d written it), so it eventually went the way of all the internet… but my associations regarding the song remain.

Must Be Crazy For Me by Melissa Etheridge

Probably the least sad and unhealthy entry on this list. I’m particularly struck by the line, …when I kissed you last night in my own back yard, you ran so fast and you fought so hard… and the general (unhealthy and completely inappropriate!) no-means-yes feeling of the song.

(Melissa Etheridge also gets bonus points in my book for one line from another song I Really Like You: I’ll gladly make you my first tattoo; you and me forever in red and black and blue. This is mostly just because my first tattoo was “Aku Soku Zan” kanji and she happened to name all but white of the Saitou/Sano colors.)

Knock Yourself Out by Toby Keith

Any lyrics that compare love to a fist fight (even if in this case it seems more like a formal boxing match than a dirty back-alley encounter) are of course going to remind me of Saitou and Sano. So sad, though!

Ain’t That A Bitch by Aerosmith

OK, so this one’s only on here because of the first line — Up in smoke you lost another lover, as you take a hit off your last cigarette — coupled with the fact that I wrote a story about Saitou and Sano called As the Years Go Up In Smoke.

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Other Random Crap

As I mentioned above, I have made one music video about Saitou and Sano and their love. It’s not very good, but it is about Saitou and Sano and their love. I’m going to remake it better one of these days, but I don’t know when.

Check out my custom phone cases:

I do almost nothing on livejournal anymore, so I almost never have the opportunity to use any of the icons I spent so long making over the lj years. So I might as well display them all here:

If you’re interested in discussing this completely awesome pairing, sounding off as a fellow fan, or sharing some link or suggestion for my little shrine here, feel free to comment below. I’ll get an email and become extremely happy, because I love not only to be reminded of Saitou and Sano, but to be notified that other fans still exist.

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21 thoughts on “Saitou & Sano”

  1. Hey! :D I’ve recently come to realize my love for SaiSa (I was a kid back then and didn’t really have any concept of ships at the time I liked seeing them interacting) and have been gathering fics and art, both new and old just at the start of this year, and came across your whole archive! So glad to see all of this here and not somewhere dead like GeoCities or something. Anyways, I’m enjoying my time looking through your stuff for this pair, and I thank you for creating such wonderful works for them! <3

    1. I’m glad you stopped by; I’m always so happy to meet another fan of Saitou and Sano!! These days activity is a little sparse, but the good news is that there are some long completed fics you don’t have to wait for :D If you find anything really fantastic out there in the wide world, do share a link here, won’t you?

      1. Haha sure thing! Tho from the look of things, you seem to be way ahead of me anyway haha. I mean you even have the tumblr and pixiv tag! (Actually, do you have a tumblr by any chance? Do you use it much? :D ) I did find the “Resolutions” fic a number of people kept talking about from like long ago. And found out it possibly actually had an epilogue at the person’s site, but even the wayback machine couldn’t salvage it. Damn.. *vent vent* T_T

        Really giddy to have someone to talk to for these two. :3 I was so worried since it’s been so long. Haha.. Speaking of which have you seen Watsuki’s “what if I drew the manga around 2006” redesigns for these two? I seen a couple of art drawn by some pixiv artists of them together with those designs in mind as well hehe. :D (This one’s a chibi of some of the designs in case you haven’t seen them in color. )

        Also, I finished reading “He Can Be Taught” amongst other fics and enjoyed them! I THANK YOU for writing how other characters may react to this ship because it’s one of my fave things, and I just barely see any of that at all! Also, your writing of their interactions was really fun to read too. Aaaaa >wW< <3

        1. *keeps reading your fics*

          OH RIGHT, I actually found you through a fic in AO3 (funnily enough not through your own works) because they mentioned “He Can Be Taught” was an inspiration for it but they couldn’t find their old link haha. I can link it if you’re curious?

          Anyways, THANK YOU AGAIN. Thanks for this site and thanks for taking time to read my ramblings. >W< <3

          1. I’ve never quite been able to figure out the purpose of or how to use Tumblr, but it sure seems to be mostly about posting pictures? So, no ,I don’t have one XD I looked at yours, though… any chance of Saitou/Sano arts from you? (Also I really like Moby Dick, on a totally unrelated note.)

            I remember reading Resolution by Tokimaru on her “The Rooster and the Wolf” site many years ago, but I haven’t seen it around in forever. I seem to recall liking it quite a bit, though! It’s a shame when things like that disappear, isn’t it? I mean, I can totally understand an author deliberately taking something down because zie doesn’t like it anymore, but it often seems that people just wander away and their work disappears from the internet without any real deliberation to the process.

            Yeah, I did see Watsuki’s redesigns where Saitou was all grungy-looking and stubbly, heh. I don’t specifically recall seeing fanart of that version of Saitou and Sano together, but that may be because I just kinda glanced at Watsuki’s redesigns and didn’t commit them to memory very well, and therefore don’t recognize them as readily as I should in other pictures! I’m such a big fan of their original designs, and those original designs together, that I might have shut the others out to an inappropriate extent XD

            I think a lot of the time I gloss over the reactions of other characters to the Saitou/Sano relationship… I even make the other characters ship them too, at times. This is mostly for convenience, because if I made them react how I believe they logically would, it might get in the way of smoothly hooking them up, and Poe forbid something get in the way of the thing I like best! But sometimes you gotta focus the story around other characters’ reactions because they’re interesting! So, yeah, sometimes that happens too, heh. I especially enjoy the Kenshin-disapproves angle. OK, well, I especially enjoy the Kenshin-disapproves-because-he’s-jealous angle and the Saitou/Sano/Kenshin love triangle. Because I’m a terrible person.

            Yes, I would love a link to whatever story led you here! It’s probable I’ve read it, but there’s always a slight chance I haven’t!

            I just finished up the weekend by writing out a detailed summary of a new story idea about these guys, and I’ll probably start actually writing it this coming weekend. I’m excited!

            1. Oooh, aaw and I was gonna start bugging you there too thanks to the new chat option. :’D But that’s fair enough. It doesn’t really have the best atmosphere of a site too, so I really wouldn’t completely recommend it to anyone who doesn’t already have an account. (Any sites/etc you’d recommend me to poke you at? If that doesn’t sound weird or too much trouble for you? I’m scared I might spam this reply section with so much ramblings. ;w; )

              And oh geez, thank you, that’s rather flattering aaaa. ://D Yea, there’s a good chance of me making arts for this ship. It’s definitely on my next to do list after I finish my current Metal Gear fandom mini project haha. x3 I’ve just been in a creative slump for the past year or so xP , BUT hopefully I’ll soon get out of it when I get forced to draw for my upcoming classes. hehe :3

              (Omg, I’m going to sound like a total noob. Moby Dick was only recently in my radar (thanks to a certain game) when I discovered how it was actually written. I’ve only read and researched about it, but haven’t actually read the novel itself. xD; Your stuff are totally consuming my undivided reading attention at the moment too. And since I have a one track mind with reading things, there is no chance of me picking it up any time soon whoops….. :’D;;; )

              YES, that’s the fic. I’ve read everything EXCEPT the darned epilogue that NO ONE seems to have archived except for the author’s site themselves (probably because it was written a year after the initial fic was finished). Which is dead thanks to the whole Geocities apocalypse. T_T I don’t mind authors taking their own works down yea. It really is a shame when it disappears thanks to internet circumstances.. Dammit this is what I get for always being a latecomer to a fandom.

              Hehe, YES I’m all for Kenshin disapproves angle. :’D Actually, any close people disapproving I’m all for too since I’m a terrible person to my ships. And I like how you write these reactions so no complaints here. uwu

              As for the fic, it was in this one: and it’s the Verse A series for the Saito and Sano. xD

              And OH WOW really??? Jeezus that is awesome!! I feel so blessed to be looking into an old fandom ship that STILL has content going for it in the 2016s. Wow. I am floored. ;w; I wish you luck in writing it! >w< <3

              1. Well, there’s always email. My email address is noirefee at gmail dott com, if you’d prefer to converse there.

                Your art appears to be great, though you don’t have much there. If you do end up drawing Saitou and Sano, I will be very happy indeed!

                Moby Dick is a… challenge. I love it, but it’s an oddly constructed book. I’m not generally a fan of abridgments, but I could really do without all the scientific stuff. On a recent reread, when I got to “Chapter 103: Measurement of the Whale Skeleton,” I was moved to wax sarcastic about it on Facebook XD The main story is definitely fascinating and entertaining, though.

                These days I have saved copies of all my favorite stories for the very reason that they sometimes disappear like that. But that doesn’t help with older stuff I didn’t have the prescience to save back in the day. Such a tragedy!!

                Heh, as soon as you said “Verse A,” I knew what the fic was without even having to click the link. I love her stuff. She’s fantastic.

                Yeah, I’m still way excited about this story. Just gotta get through two more work days, and then it’s time!! Time to start, that is; there’s no saying when I’ll finish, heh.

                1. Oh! Thank you! >w<

                  Aaa thank you so much. ;w; <3 (Haha, I actually just broke my word and ended up trying to sketch them just yesterday to see how they'd look like in my style. Omg so much for my MG project. xDDD )

                  Oh wow, yea I thought it sounded dense, but from how you say it, it's sounds like it's extremely dense to read. :D;

                  YES, I do that too nowadays. ;w; Lessons learned…

                  PFF! Awesome. xD Yea you really are WAY ahead of me. Haha. I'm pretty sure you've seen all the stuff I'd possibly link you. xD

                  Woot! *cheers you on* Again, I wish you luck in writing! :D

                  1. Yaaaaaa, I’m so excited at the idea of new Saitou/Sano arts *_____* I draw them every now and again, but I like so very, very little of what I draw… Then I commission pictures of them every now and again too, but you have to have some spare money for that! I will try to wait patiently for whatever you may come up with whenever you may have time :D

                    Did I mention how excited I am to start writing this new story idea? I should really be working on already existing stories, and I’ll definitely try to get some of that in too this weekend, but I am bouncingly excited about this new thing. Gotta go to bed now so it’ll be tomorrow sooner!

              2. I have a tumblr if you’re interested in poking me and talking about Saito/Sano. my username is grand-inquisitor-of-feels. You can poke me on there any time.

  2. I love these two so muuuuuuuuuuch. God. I read your fics waaaaaaaaaaay back and I come back and read them every so often. What a ship. I think reading your fics is what solidified my love of this pairing back 10 years ago. I’m actually going to be doing a season 1 and 2 rewatch in the near future (I generally skip season 3 because that was a fucking weird season). *_* I’m pretty hyped about it again, and I’m obviously most excited for season 2. And I think I’m gonna do a reread of your fanfics. I haven’t read them in a while. :D

    But yeah I really liked this blog post. And I totally agree with your reasons for liking SaiSa.

    1. Yeah, like I said above, I thought it would be a good idea to make this post just as a sort of “We still exist!” notice for anyone that feels alone as a fan of Saitou and Sano. They’re so great, aren’t they??

  3. Hello, my Faery-fae! I got a wild hair yesterday to look for stories from “back in the day” and copy them all before they completely disappear from the net. . . and it dawned on me how long it’s been since I’ve talked to you. I’ve missed talking to you. You can still find me haunting Y!M (because I’m old like that). Your description of W/E makes me blush. I hope to talk to you soon.


    1. It’s Mithtow Thtwaidow! Good to see you again! Are you on Skype, by any chance?

      BTW, would you be OK with me making/distributing an audio recording of W/E?

  4. I’m not on Skype. I know I should be; will be eventually. But I’m still on gmail. We should talk.

    Yes, you have my permission to make an audio recording of W/E.


    1. OK, I don’t know where I’m going wrong here… is Y!M no longer a downloadable program? I see where I can get a phone app and where I can chat in a browser window (neither of which is at all convenient for regular home use), but I can’t find, like, a normal Windows program to download anymore. What the crap happened?

      1. You are not doing anything wrong. According to wikipedia: “As of March 27, 2016, the only supported clients are the Android, iOS and web browser clients. The Windows, Mac, Linux and Solaris clients are no longer supported[5]” which totally sucks. I guess Y!M is dying. I’ll find you on gmail.

  5. I absolutely love Saitou/Sano and “He Can Be Taught” is one of my all time favorite fanfics. I have been a fan of this pairing for over a decade now (ever since RK was on Cartoon Network) and I’m so glad to see that your fanfiction is still on the Web and that other people still ship them!

    1. Woo-hoo! Keeping the faith through the decades! Thanks so much for being a fan of the pairing and of my fic, and thanks for letting me know!

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