Movie Review: Rurouni Kenshin

By William Kustiono

Rurouni Kenshin is a Japanese film based on Nobuhiro Watsuki’s manga Rurouni Kenshin. Keishi Otomo directed the film and it starred Takeru Satoh (Kamen Rider Den-O) and Emi Takei (Liar Game 2). The story takes place during the Meiji period in Japan, a samurai manslayer called “Hitokiri Battosai” in Japanese declared retirement from assassination jobs. This Battosai calls himself Himura Kenshin. After the end of the Bakumatsu war, Kenshin wanders around the countryside in Japan offering aid and protection to atone his past sins as an assassin.

The plot follows the manga closely, after the Imperialist force celebrated their major victory in the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, the “Hitokiri Battosai” left the scene abandoning his sword. One of the fallen, Udo Jin-e (Koji Kikkawa), claimed the sword and used it as his own. Sometime later, Saito Hajime (Yosuke Eguchi) and his policemen come across a murder, which relates to the Battosai. He is not convinced that the Battosai murdered an undercover cop and decided to search for the real Battosai. In the street of Tokyo, Himura Kenshin (Takeru Satoh) wandered around and stumbled across Kamiya Kaoru (Emi Takei) who owns Kendo school passed from her late father. Kaoru believed that Kenshin was last night’s murderer and attacked him only to find out that she was wrong. After the misunderstanding, Kaoru crossed paths with Jin-e, the real murderer, and used her dojo’s style of swordsmanship. Kaoru attacked him and Jin-e outmatched her in the duel. Kaoru now left injured from the counter-attack, was unable to move. As Jin-e prepares to swing a deathblow to Kaoru, the real Battosai appeared and shocked both parties in the middle of the fight. From then, the story continues on.

The film was a major success as it has appeared in several film festivals, such as Busan Film Festival and New York Asian Film Festival 2013. The movie was premiered at Japan Society on July 14, 2013. This movie was also the perfect film adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin, compared to other film adaptations of the anime and manga. The recurring characters based on the manga are Sagara Sanosuke (Munetaka Aoki), Yahiko Myojin (Taketo Tanaka), Takani Megumi (Yu Aoi), and Aritomo Yamagata (Eiji Okuda). This movie also featured excellent showcase of swordplay and the famous Hiten Mitsurugi Style from Himura Kenshin.

Rurouni Kenshin has performed beyond the prediction, it has earn more than US$35 million in Japan and grossed more than US$60 million worldwide. There are two planned sequels for this movie titled Rurouni Kenshin: The Great Kyoto Fire Arc and Rurouni Kenshin: The End of a Legend Arc. It has been confirmed that Tatsuya Fujiwara (Death Note, Battle Royale, and I’m Flash!) will join the movie as the primary antagonist of the series’ Kyoto Arc, Shishio Makoto.

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