Rurouni Kenshin Movie – Review
Title: Rurouni Kenshin (るろうに剣心)
Genre: Historical, Action, Romance, Drama
Former legendary assassin Kenshin Himura (Takeru Sato) has now become a wandering samurai. Offering aid & protecting those in need as atonement for his past deeds. During this time comes across and aides Kaoru Kamiya (Emi Takei). Her father opened the Kamiya Kasshin-ryu, a kendo school located in Tokyo and Kaoru is now an instructor there. Kaoru then invites Kenshin to stay at her dojo. Their relationship develops further, but Kenshin is still haunted by his violent past … Based on popular manga series "Rurouni Kenshin" written & illustrated by Watsuki Nobuhiro – published in Weekly Shonen Jump from September 2, 1994 – November 4, 1999.
The live action take on the insanely popular Rurouni Kenshin series from way back 1999 has finally reached our shores and before I could discuss why it’s almost perfect, I just have to say this first…HOLY CRAP THAT WAS AWESOME!
The movie followed the story of Kenshin who is a former legendary assassin during Japan’s civil war era and now has given up on killing and wanders as a ‘Rounin’ hoping to live a peaceful life. Despite his wish, he had to confront his past as he got involved with the government and people who have grudges on him.
The movie covered the first two arcs of the manga/anime (if my memory serves me right…gosh I’m getting old >.<) and same as the anime it involves Kenshin fighting an opium dealer and someone who claims to be Kenshin himself. There were major and minor changes between the anime and the movie but still it stayed loyal to the source material and surprisingly worked out in making a stand alone movie that still have the feel that it’s Rorouni Kenshin I watched when I was still a kid. Kudos to the director, Keishi Otomo-san, since he was able to weave a storyline and it’s tons of characters from the tv series and fit it to a 134 minutes movie with a surprisingly smooth continuity and not making it look like a incoherent mash-up of elements from the source material.
You might be wondering why did I only gave it a 9/10 score. It’s because it somehow feels like there’s a “next episode” since as a person who watched the tv anime I know there’s still a LOT of adventure waiting for our Kenshin. Don’t get me wrong it was nicely wrapped up but heck I wanted more.
Holy crap the casting was insanely spot-on! To be able to don Kenshin’s red hair, costume, the way he moves and his signature line: “Oro?” Takeru Satoh was able to pull it off without making it look awkward on screen.
Emi Takei was able to pull off Kaoru Kamiya, the tough girl who runs the dojo her father left her, with her simple but pretty looks but I just wish she was able to portray her tomboyish side. In my opinion Emi-san’s face is just too pretty when you compared it with Megumi since she should be more prettier than Kaoru just like the way she was portrayed in the anime. That does not mean that Yu Aoi’s portrayal of Takani Megumi was poor it’s just that errrrrr sorry to say this but I don’t quite find her as attractive as the Megumi I have in mind but she was able to show Megumi’s flirty side very well.
I think the most memorable character of this movie (aside from Kenshin of course) was Munetaka Aoki’s portrayal of Sagara Sanosuke. WOW he was able to Sanosuke’s rowdy side very well the way he fights, the way he talks holy crap it feels like the Sanosuke in the anime.
Yosuke Eguchi sure was able to pull-off one badass Saito specially when he posed for his signature move “Gatotsu” but his body build is a bit larger than the Saito in the anime and he’s good looking to boot and I’m not complaining. I like this Saito better.
Oh let’s not forget the antagonists. Kanryu Takeda’s portrayal was over the top and Udo Jin-e was as creepy as hell just like in the anime. Good job to both Koji Kikkawa (Udo Jin-e) and Truyuki Kagawa (Kanryu Takeda) I would like to give these guys a standing ovation for their memorable antagonistic peformance.
Let’s first start with the goose-bump inducing setting. Rurouni Kenshi’s setting is the 1870 Japan which is so accurate that it’s jaw dropping specially that starting scene of the movie the last battle of Battousai and corpse ridden battle field holy crap I had goose-bumps during that time. Surely, this movie was successful in capturing the setting of 1870 Japan, letting the audience feel what it’s like during that time.
One of the reasons I loved Rurouni Kenshi anime is because of the nicely choreographed and heart stopping sword fights. Can you believe it they were able to bring it to life in this movie? I think there were little to no CG used in this movie and that made it look real. It was all wirework, sword skills and incredible direction (and of course hard work from our dear Kenshin and the staff) to bring us one fast, intense and heart stopping sword/fist fights.
To tell you guys the truth I don’t know how to the describe the ost of this movie. It’s not full of flute and shamisen sounding tracks but more of errrrrr modern, orchestra and epic sounding ones. The ost sure complements the scenes of the movie and make it more dramatic, exciting or hilarious depending on the scene on screen. My only complain I guess would be the ending song at the end of the movie since it’s somehow does not complement the movie with it’s english lyrics but I’ll be lying if I’ll say I don’t like it.
To tell you the truth I have a very mediocre and low expectation for the movie since usually the anime to film adaptation I’ve watched have been poorly directed and sometimes a complete mess so I’m really glad that FINALLY something as awesome as this have graced our shores. It’s a living testament that you should leave the adaptation of Japanese material to the Japanese (*cough* yep I’m talking to you Dragonball Hollywood adaptation *cough*). You can really see that there’s a lot of love poured in this series to make it appeal to both the fans of the source material and to those who are new to the series.
This movie really brought back my childhood. I remember that before, I’m always in a hurry to come back home just to catch the new episode of Rurouni Kenshi (aka Samurai X where I came from). I know the movie goers (probably early to mid 20s just like me) felt the same way as they roared and cheered on the screen and just like I did, you could hear conversions of their favorite scenes and how awesome the movie was as they left the cinema. Any fan of Rurouni Kenshin or even to those who are new with the franchise would surely enjoy the movie.
I just wish more Japanese movies would be aired in my country specially anime movies (*cough* Madoka Magica Movie *cough* Evangelion movies). Hey SM Cinema yes I’m calling your attention!