Rurouni Kenshin (live-action film)

My oath not to kill... my sakabatou!

My promise not to kill… This is my sakabatou!

I haven’t been post­ing because of the flu — I’ve had hell­ish nights dur­ing the past weekend.

I’m feel­ing bet­ter though, and no flu can pos­si­bly stop me from final­ly get­ting around to watch­ing the Rurouni Ken­shin live action movie. I was cer­tain­ly hyped for this movie and I hon­est­ly lost my patience wait­ing for an even­tu­al Amer­i­can screen­ing — so I sim­ply grabbed the Japan­ese Blue-ray and watched it any­way. Hell yeah!

Shin no Ippo's still here

Any­ways, I’ve always thought Rurouni Ken­shin was a shounen man­ga that was suit­ed for a live-action film sim­ply because of its his­tor­i­cal set­ting, only if they went with a style sim­i­lar to the OVA’s take on the Baku­mat­su flash­back (Ken­sh­in’s Shad­ow Hitokiri days) from the Jinchuu arc. Because, let’s face it, as cool as many of the bat­tles are in the anime/manga, quite a few are them stretch real­i­ty too much — and the appeal of a Rurouni Ken­shin live-action film would be that it would be a unique jidaige­ki film with awe­some in-the-flesh chore­og­ra­phy; only con­tain­ing few of Ruro­ken’s rather fan­tas­ti­cal assets (“swords­man spir­it” as a form of ki in small por­tions). That’s right, no copi­ous inserts of bull­shit CGI with Hyot­toko’s fire-breath­ing and Fuji’s absurd amounts of gigan­tism. And Yahiko’s cer­tain­ly not going to be tak­ing down any major ene­mies in this live-action uni­verse in your over-the-top shounen fashion.

These were my per­son­al expec­ta­tions on how things were prob­a­bly han­dled for the film and they fol­lowed that for the most part. And I liked it. I mean, unlike book trilo­gies and the like, in a live-action movie adap­ta­tion of a long-run­ning anime/manga series, faith­ful­ness some­times does­n’t work all that well and some changes need to be made to accom­mo­date the for­mat. What makes a movie adap­ta­tion of an ani­me good is if it keeps in the spir­it and feel of the orig­i­nal sto­ry in a respect­ful man­ner while doing these changes. Which is what the Rurouni Ken­shin movie did well in this regard.

3D moe, guys

One plot aspect from the man­ga series that trans­lates real­ly well in the film is Ken­sh­in’s char­ac­ter and his resolve nev­er to kill again — I thought Takeru Satoh por­trayed Ken­shin real­ly well and is pret­ty much the per­fect cast­ing for him. In the man­ga and ani­me series, you can sense the enor­mous dif­fer­ence between Ken­sh­in’s wan­der­er per­sona and his change to the Bat­tou­sai per­sona under immense stress, and it’s very much the same in the film. Also, Satoh total­ly has Ken­sh­in’s petite phys­i­cal build which becomes a crip­pling plot point at the end of the man­ga, in regards to the Hiten Mit­su­ru­gi-ryu.

Oth­er actors I give props to are Emi Takei who played Kaoru and that dude who por­trayed Jin’ei. Emi can’t be any more of a live-action Kaoru than Satoh is a live-action Ken­shin. She’s not ugly — she’s actu­al­ly pret­ty cute, but has a very mod­ern tomboy­ish look to her that *would­n’t* have been con­sid­ered attrac­tive in Japan in those days, in con­tract to Yu Aoi, who por­trayed Megu­mi, tak­ing on the tra­di­tion­al, old-school look of Japan­ese beau­ty with­in the film. Jinei was­n’t as mani­a­cal as his man­ga coun­ter­part (or, at least, his speech isn’t as BUHAHAHA!), but his actor por­trayed the char­ac­ter well for what he was in the film and came off as gen­uine­ly 100% blood­thirsty and I loved it.


The sto­ry of the film is a mesh of many from the man­ga… there’s the Kan­ryuu sto­ry, with Gein and Ban­jin Inui from the Jinchuu arc replac­ing the Obi­wan­ban­shuu (and thus Aoshi Shi­nomori is absent as of now), Hajime Saito makes an ear­ly appear­ance, Jin’ei is work­ing with Kan­ryuu and replaces Gohei Hiru­ma as the “fake Bat­to­sai”, etc. Yet it’s all exe­cut­ed well, some­how goes togeth­er for the movie’s plot, and real­ly would­n’t both­er fans all too much. The only prob­lem I per­son­al­ly had was Saito. Although I have no real “this is good, this is bad” opin­ions on Saito’s movie coun­ter­part, there was some­thing dif­fer­ent about his char­ac­ter, and notably no men­tion of aku soku zan. I did­n’t hate him, but I hon­est­ly don’t like him as much I did in the man­ga and ani­me series. But I admit, I got chills when he did his Gatost­su stance when fac­ing Kan­ryu­u’s gat­tling gun.

I also did­n’t like that the movie nev­er men­tioned Sanosuke’s back­ground with the Sek­i­houtai. He just brawls Ken­shin once (for fun!) and then befriends him like that, and there’s no indi­ca­tion that he hates the Ishin Shishi. Despite this, I loved his “real­is­tic” zan­ba­tou and his char­ac­ter being just as badass and hot-blood­ed as he was in the man­ga (by the way, there’s a real­ly fun­ny scene dur­ing the cli­max of the movie involv­ing Sanosuke, food and alco­hol; made me laugh my ass off :P).


My favorite fight, just because it sim­ply depicts Ken­shin being awe­some and tak­ing out about twen­ty dudes with­out draw­ing his sword.

The first scar

Look famil­iar, OVA fans?

The fight scenes in this movie are just… com­plete­ly badass and exact­ly what you would imag­ine live-acton Ruro­ken to be like. The chore­og­ra­phy and stunts were just clear­ly so well-thought out and done so well by the actors that it just blew my mind. For atmos­phere though, I loved the Baku­mat­su flash­backs to when Ken­shin was still the Hitokiri Bat­to­sai. Those scenes were the most bru­tal, along with Jin’ei’s slaugh­ter of the police sta­tion, in my opin­ion. There’s not much bloody mur­der going on when Ken­sh­in’s in the scene, so when he’s the killer, there’s real­ly noth­ing left for the squeamish.

Tan­gent: It annoys me when some peo­ple just don’t get Ken­sh­in’s char­ac­ter dur­ing the Baku­mat­su. He was nev­er an uncar­ing killer, he was try­ing to hold onto the lit­tle human­i­ty he had left while killing peo­ple. He, Ken­shin Himu­ra, nev­er liked killing, and Bat­to­sai rep­re­sents the dark line he crossed since he became involved in polit­i­cal affairs; becom­ing a killer. And I love it how the movie clear­ly shows that Ken­shin had as much remorse for the peo­ple he killed as the Shad­ow Hitokiri as he does now. He just thought he could nev­er turn back until you-know-who comes into his life and ya’­know. It just real­ly pains me to see how some peo­ple would pre­fer a cold killer as a main char­ac­ter over a lik­able pro­tag­o­nist who’s badass enough to be the ulti­mate killer, but choos­es not to be because it’s the right thing, and still man­ages to pull amaz­ing feats with the hand­i­cap. Whatever.


The Akabeko… in live-action!

Lots o' wasshoi's!

Along with the movie’s awe­some fight scenes and amaz­ing chore­og­ra­phy, I loved the fact that many of the char­ac­ters’ cos­tumes stay true to the spir­it of man­ga with­out mak­ing them all look like a bunch of nuts cos­play­ing. They’re so well-done and detailed, and even though they’re not as bright as they are in the man­ga, I love it how they stay rec­og­niz­able while still look­ing like they fit the peri­od, and that works well with the live-action for­mat. In a con­trast to Drag­on Ball Evo­lu­tion’s dis­gust­ing wardrobe and hair-styles, it helps the view­ers take the damn thing seri­ous­ly with­out laugh­ing at ama­teur cos­play on the big screen.

Over­all, this movie was GOLD. So far, it’s the only movie adap­ta­tion of a long-run­ning/­fa­mous ani­me that isn’t com­plete crap and does­n’t make me cringe. I actu­al­ly enjoyed it and as a fan of Rurouni Ken­shin, I’m glad. I hon­est­ly can’t wait for the sequel!


5 thoughts on “Rurouni Kenshin (live-action film)

  1. Woot! so it’s final­ly out? =D i’ll have to watch it.
    I’ve been a fan of Rurouni Ken­shin since I was a lit­tle kid watch­ing it on toon­a­mi so this is quite awe­some indeed. I’m actu­al­ly very behind on the ani­me how­ev­er, I haven’t even fin­ished watch­ing all the episodes im ashamed to admit =/ I get side­tracked far too easily.

    I love heart of sword! def­i­nite­ly my favorite song my T.M. Rev­o­lu­tion. When the ani­me aired on toon­a­mi It was the end­ing song, then when I start­ed watch­ing the show online I real­ized the end­ing was com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent, was kin­da bummed lol.

    1. @Shikon: It’s been out for a while — I was just wait­ing for an Amer­i­can screen­ing! 😛 Aus­trali­a’s get­ting one right now, and after that I hon­est­ly lost my patience. lol
      If you’re behind on the ani­me then there’s no point in fin­ish­ing it now — it gets killed by fillers. I rec­om­mend read­ing the man­ga chap­ters right after you fin­ish the Kyoto arc of the ani­me, after chap­ter 151, it goes right to the Jinchuu arc and the con­clu­sion of the series.
      Heart of Sword is the third end­ing to the uncut/Japanese ver­sion, yeah. It also hap­pens to be the best end­ing theme next to 1/3 no Jun­jou na Kan­jou and is pret­ty much Ken­sh­in’s theme(Kenshin = Heart of Sword, which is also men­tioned in the film), which is prob­a­bly why it was cho­sen to be THE end­ing to the Toon­a­mi ver­sion. lol

  2. Yeah I own the first cou­ple chap­ters of the man­ga, per­son­al­ly I liked the man­ga more than the ani­me. Thanks for the tip!I’ll remem­ber that when I get back into it =)

  3. You’re wel­come! I per­son­al­ly thought it was a shame that the ani­me just falls on bad filler and nev­er had the chance to make a come­back with the Jinchuu arc. It was a great ani­me before the lousy filler entered the scene.

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