Rurouni Kenshin (2012)

Ruruoni Kenshin comes out with his head low but high in spirit. The wanderer has finally come home!

Ruruoni Kenshin

Warner Bros. in association with C&I Entertainment, IMJ Entertainment, RoC Works Co. and Studio Swan present…

Based from Nabohiro Watsuki’s widely popular manga that was later turned into the hit television anime series that gained a huge following from all around the globe! It tells a tale of a wandering Samurai named Himura Kenshin, a former assassin known to the public and his enemies as the “Hitokiri Battousai” which means ”man slayer”!  Abandoning his old ways, he vows to protect people by not killing anymore which became his mantra due to a terrible guilt that he needs to unburden even if it takes a lifetime to accomplish this.

His story so far…

The year was 1868 the bloodied hills commence, as thousands of lives lost in the Battle of Toba-Fushimi where a young warrior got a glimpse of his cause, used by his superiors as a weapon, he left the battlefield with one taught in his mind…vindication! But all things have their meaning and purpose as his sword struck the very ground where he let the lifeblood of his people drench in the cold winter,  a man walks away empty handed while another has found his own calling!

Former fantasy biker hero, Takero Satō (Beck) stars as Kenshin Himura the “heart of sword”! His take on the selfless and very determined protector has been unprecedented! With his fragile facade anjd small frame that hides the real warrior within he could never be deterred with his undertaking especially when he has someone worth fighting for! Emi Take (For Love’s Take) gives Kaoru Kamiya the kindred spirit that helps Kenshin move on with his life, her tenacity as a friend and as a person gives both lead casts to grow on their own without hogging the spotlight and getting too much attention.

On the other hand, what would be a hero’s journey if there is no one to hinder it? As villains are subjected to be stereotyped to have their minions surrounding them for authenticity, they give him a sense of validation to abuse and corrupt those who are beneath his feet! From supervisors serving as eyes and ears while others act as bodyguards for tactical reasons or simply used as muscle to take out any nuisances while “yes men”, repeating his lines and be just comedy relief for all I care!

The grimacing face combined with arrogance and lust for power makes Takeda Kanryū from Teruyuki Kagawa (Doing Time) more malevolent especially with someone who can use as a pawn to do his bidding like Takani Megumi, a doctor who was pushed to do a different kind of drug that can turn people specifically the “ronin” or samurais without masters with a lost cause,her role was imbued to Yu Aoi (Welcome to the Quiet Room)! The main objective is to rebuild Japan into his own image which it allows the story continuity and at the same time for struggle to exist so we can determine who wins in the end!

Other supporting casts like the Government’s loyal soldier, Captain Saito Hajime played by Yosuke Eguchi (Goemon) and the hard headed, hard hitting Sanosuke Sagara portrayed by Muneteka Aoki (Rise Up) held their own very well. Although with early disputes and points of view, this was set aside in order to deal with a greater threat, by saving someone and for their country to be free from tyranny and oppression once more!

Even the fight scenes with its choreography was brutally fast paced and well executed especially from Kenshin and Udō Jin-e from the talent of Kōji Kikkawa (Kamen Rider Kabuto: God Speed Love) who was very uncanny in terms of moves and costume which makes it surreal even more they were able to include the signature moves long seen in the anime series, ova’s and films while not relying too much on special effects and the use of stunt men or body doubles! The genre of creating a period film is daunting enough to express where revolution literally evolved a country torn by ideals and for them to embrace change in a new era has been manifested by these forgotten swordsmen!

There are so many aspects of the film that makes it work and with the proper delivery, choice of talent and direction, they were able to combine a spectacular performance that stayed true to its origins.  Directed by Keishi Ōtomo (The Vulture) who really captured the essence of Kenshin’s world, the action, the comedy and the love story between the hero samurai and his eccentric but mutually heartfelt love with a girl who now owns a handed down Kendo school!  Its transition from the pages together with the Director’s intuitive mindset helped make the film’s pacing very coherent while allowing the cast to further grasp with their characters through Kiyomii Fujii and Keishi Ōtomo’s screenplay as well.

From “Samurai X” which aired in mainstream television since January 1996 to September 1998, I followed the adventures of this journeyman that gave sense to “sacrifice” and how even for a little boy who got the chance to experience all the bitterness and pain was able to survive an ordeal that changed his life forever! I am not an otaku but it’s an understatement if people will call me unappreciative of anime!

With so much anticipation, I never thought that they would be able to create the same intensity and genuinity that these cast and production team has brought in the big screen!  You can easily follow the story without lingering too much on the VFX, the redirection of actual villains being given to supporting casts and how they were able to still incorporate a fitting climax with its ending.

A trilogy in the making, I can’t wait for the sequel and finally for a very long time a manga can be seen in the big screen without making it one dimensional! A wanderer with a heavy heart and a sword slasher coming into full circle…!

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