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Iyouboushi On March - 8 - 2013

I had the pleasure of seeing the live action Rurouni Kenshin movie and thought that I’d share some of my opinions on it as I’ve been an RK fan for quite a long time now.  Go below the jump to see if they did it justice or if it turned out to be a waste of time!

As far as anime to live action adaption goes, this was pretty freakin awesome.  Way better than the Death Note live action movies.  They kept quite a bit the same but obviously had to change some around to fit a two hour movie.   There were some good points and bad points, coming from a long-time fan of Kenshin.  If you’re a fan of Kenshin you probably already know most of the plot, but as mentioned, for the movie some of it has been changed slightly.  Here’s a brief plot summary:

The story is about the Hitokiri Battousai, who was a legendary assassin who disappears after the Battle of Toba-Fushimi has been won.  Another Hitokiri by the name of Jin-e survives the battle, finds Kenshin’s old sword and decides to use it. A decade later, Kenshin shows up in Tokyo as a rurouni (vagabond) carrying a reverse-bladed sword (his sakabatou).   Here he meets Kamiya Kaoru, the owner of a Kendo school left by her father, and learns that someone someone is going around using the name Hitokiri Battousai killing people while claiming to be of Kaoru’s school.  Because of her school’s name being soiled by the murderer, she’s only left with one student–Myoujin Yahiko, the son of a samurai.   As all of this is going on, a woman by the name of Takani Megumi escapes from a powerful merchant, Kanryu Takeda, who has been using her to make a very strong form of opium.  Because Megumi is the only one who knows how to make the opium, Kanryu sends his men after her.  She later gets into the care of Kenshin and Kaoru.  After several events happen, Kenshin is faced with an old enemy, Saitou Hajime, and a new opponent, Sagara Sanosuke.  After more stuff happens, Kenshin is forced to go face Takeda and put an end to his evil plans, as well as deal with the evil Jin-e who has become bent on a duel to the death with Kenshin.

So yeah, from the description, if you’re a fan of the Kenshin series, you should recognize a lot of that.  There were some major changes this time around though–including making Saitou much more involved in the early events of the Kenshin series (if you recall, he doesn’t really show up in the series til the start of the Kyoto Arc in the manga/show).  Yahiko’s backstory is non-existant (he’s already a student of Kaoru in this, and doesn’t need Kenshin to save him like in the manga).  There were some other changes too, including events taking place in different orders.

Here’s some of the major things I didn’t like.  Highlight in order to read.

* No Aoshi or any of his buddies.  Instead of Aoshi and his clansmen being under the employment of Kanryu it’s Gein and Banjin Inui.  Don’t remember who those two people are?  They’re people that Enishi hired in the last arc of the Kenshin manga.  Gein is the one who controlled all the puppets (Iwanbo in the Kyoto arc) that Enishi used to see Kenshin’s ultimate attack so that he could prepare for it. Banjin is the hand to hand fighter that Sano fights multiple times in the Jinchuu arc.  In this movie, Gein does use strings but it happens so fast that you have no idea what’s going on.  He never uses any puppets and is more like Aoshi + Gein combined (using guns, his strings and short kodachi).  Banjin is basically the same, I guess, except he wasn’t using metal tekko on his hands (and Sano never uses Futae no Kiwami to break them).  Neither character is mentioned by name on screen (that I heard) so I honestly had no idea who they were supposed to be til later when I looked it up.

* The Saitou vs Kenshin rematch was kind of poorly done in my opinion.  In the manga/show there was a lot of build up.  Not to say there wasn’t at least a little build up here, but when in the original series they both go crazy towards each other and are only stopped when “someone from that same time period” steps in and puts an end to it.  Here, they fight in the courtyard for a few minutes and Kenshin gets his butt handed to him (spoiler!) before someone basically tells them to stop.  What a let down!

* Jin-e killing people under the name of Kaoru’s school style makes no sense in this adaption.  In the original series, the guy going around claiming to be the Battousai was doing it so that his brother could buy the dojo from under Kaoru.  They sort of touched on this a little, when the mob shows up to destroy the dojo claiming that they’d pay her for it, but it wasn’t done very well.  Plus those two characters were omitted (though that’s fine lol).  I think they tried later on to tie it in that

And some things that I really liked (again, these could be considered spoilers so highlight to read):

* The Jin-e vs Kenshin fight was pretty awesome.  They even had Kenshin use two of his signature HMR moves against him, which was a real treat (though one is to be expected lol).  That was done very, very well.

* Even though I didn’t particular care for the fact that Aoshi was missing, Kenshin vs Gein and Sano vs Banjin were both very well-done as well.

* Although it doesn’t happen in the manga until the last arc, I enjoyed the fact they started to show some of Kenshin’s backstory.  You get to see how he received the first half of his scar and it’s pretty much dead-on to the manga/TsuiokuHen OAV.

Overall, I really enjoyed this movie.  I was excited the moment I saw the trailer and the movie itself didn’t let me down.  I liked that they didn’t make it too anime-ish.  It would have been easy for them to just go overboard with everything and make it almost cartoony and not realistic at all.  Instead they tried to find a good balance between the two, which made it enjoyable to watch and recognizable at the same time.

There has to be a sequel to this.  I’m craving a good Shisho vs Kenshin fight done in live action now.

Watching this movie has made me realize just how much I used to love reading/watching Rurouni Kenshin.  I really want to re-read and re-watch it now.


Categories: Movie Reviews, Reviews

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