Live-action Rurouni Kenshin Movie Review

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Rurouni Kenshin is a movie based off of the beloved Japanese manga of the same name. In short, the story revolves around the main character, Himura Kenshin (Takeru Sato), also referred to often as Hitokiri Battosai. He fought during the terrible Bakumatsu wars in Japan as a highly trained killer, hence his name of Hitokiri Battosai, and his skill was so great that he became legendary.

Upon the end of the revolution, he chooses to turn his back on killing people and disappears into anonymity. He now seeks to live life in the new Meiji era without needing to kill anyone with his sword, represented by the fact that he now wields a Sakabato-a reverse bladed katana. Along the way he meets several new allies and friends, while coming against new enemies and old ones. His new found purpose and meaning in life is challenged every step of the way.

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The movie itself is phenomenal both as a stand alone samurai/action film, as well as a movie adaptation of an anime. I am a huge Rurouni Kenshin fan, though I would say I lean heavily towards the manga in comparison to the anime, and I have never seen the Samurai X movies. Needless to say, this movie deserves the huge rave it’s been getting worldwide, and I hope that it does make it into movie theaters.

The action is amazing, as the Director Keishi Otomo himself refused to use CGI. He asked all his actors to do their own stunts, and got a Hong Kong choreographer to help choreograph the fight scenes, so that results in extraordinary beautiful fight scenes where we get to see the actors in the raw. The fight scenes are reminiscent of all the great martial arts movies in the past where the fighting is just beautiful and glorious and feels real.

The way they chose to portray the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu style, as well as Saito’s Gattotsu, the gatling gun of the Kanryu arc, as well as Sanosuke’s big ass sword translates well to the screen as well. There are even several moments where I knew they had pulled the manga out and copied that image visually onto the screen.

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The story itself is changed a bit, to condense several arcs to fit into one movie. It encompasses the Jin-e, Yahiko, Megumi and Kanryuu arcs all into one, but does so skillfully that it’s not an issue. They made sure that it all made sense, and at no point was the movie predictable or boring. The story is well paced and simple, and always stays true to the heart of the manga that everyone knows and loves, which is Kenshin’s eternal struggle to not kill with his sword while protecting those within his sight.

Everyone is extremely well cast, and for me Kenshin (Takeru Sato) and Kaoru (Emi Takei) were the standouts. Takeru’s Kenshin really toes the line between goofy Kenshin and Battosai-Kenshin, and he does it so effortlessly that you really believe in him in the role. Takei’s Kaoru is given less to do, but her importance to the story is so integral and she does it so effortlessly that you are really capable of believing and understanding the reason why Kenshin chooses her, and why she manages to be so important to the story. Kenshin and Kaoru and their relationship and story made and carried the manga for me, and they do so in the movie while being incredibly real and effortless in their roles.

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In closing, the costume design, action, story, pacing were all phenomenal. The whole cast was outstanding, and well cast in their roles. It is, in my opinion, the best movie adaptation of a manga/anime I have ever seen, and I would put it up there with Lord of the Rings, Iron Man, and the Batman series in regards to how well it adapts literature to the big screen.

If I had to nitpick anything it would be that some of the scene transitions were a bit iffy, and the music was a bit odd at times–other than that I had no problems with this movie either as a movie-goer and a Kenshin fan. I would suggest this movie to everyone, even if they’re not fans of anime.

For the fans though, I can promise that this movie does not disappoint, and to go over all my favorite parts and references to the manga that made me overjoyed to see so well done on screen would probably take another 9 page essay.

Go see it, go buy it when it comes out. It will not disappoint.

Grade: A+

About author

Yuqi Khoo
Yuqi Khoo 14 posts

Yuqi is a nerd, cosplayer, fangirl that alternatively goes by Moetron. She loves going to conventions, and would describe herself as being incredibly moe-moe-tsun. Her favorite western fannish things would be: Sherlock, Big Bang Theory, Fringe, Disney, and World of Warcraft.

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