Saturday, December 15, 2012

[Movie Review] Rurouni Kenshin Live Movie

“The Assassin in my Wallet”
(A super fan's review of the Rurouni Kenshin live version movie)

If you happen to open my beaten up wallet, you’ll immediately see the picture of an assassin. His name is Kenshin Himura, but he was also known as Hitokiri Battousai during the Tokugawa Era, and when he was a boy, he was called Shinta – the boy with a hole in his heart. He has been in my wallet for the last six years; in my heart and memory – way longer. 

The live movie version of Rurouni Kenshin hit the Japanese theaters in Japan last August 25, 2012. That was a day after my birthday. How badly I wanted to go to Japan just to be able to watch the movie. It was after all, the long overdue live version of one of my most favorite manga and anime.

I had to wait a few months before the movie was screened in theaters in the Philippines. Specifically, I was only able to watch the movie last December 9, 2012. And since watching the movie once wasn’t enough to satisfy the super fan-girl in me, I watched it again last December 13, 2012.

The movie was a combination of numerous arcs in the manga and anime. Specifically, four arcs became the major plot points of the movie: first, Megumi Takani’s story arc against Kanryu Takeda; second, Jinei’s kidnapping of Kaoru Kamiya to awaken Battousai; third, the introduction of Sanosuke Sagara and his role of wingman to Kenshin; and finally, the arc where Gohei Hiruma, a student of the Kamiya Kasshin style, poses as Battousai. 

In the manga and anime, Gohei Hiruma was different fron Jinei, and he was supposed to be a former student of Kaoru’s father in the Kamiya Kasshin style of swordsmanship. However, in the movie, this person was absorbed into the character of Jinei, who was the one responsible for kidnapping Kaoru.

While the movie became a compressed version of numerous arcs in the manga and anime, I was satisfied because there were no loose ends left, and everything was arranged neatly. 

As for the characters, I would have to say that Sato Takeru was perfect for the role of Kenshin Himura. In 2011, when the movie was still on planning stages, I’ve always imagined Shun Oguri to play Kenshin, but when I saw Sato Takeru in the movie, he played the role to a perfect tee. He was able to effectively portray Kenshin’s contrasting expressions from being a cold-blooded assassin to an adorable dork. I was quite a happy fan-girl when he maintained the “Oro?” and “de gozaru” expressions. Then, when he executed a perfect Soryusen, I had metaphorically died and gone to Rurouni Kenshin heaven. *swoon*

As for the two females: Kaoru Kamiya and Megumi Takani, first off, I find the actress playing Kaoru to be too pretty. Kaoru was supposed to look like this very ordinary girl who was even a tomboy. And she would speak a little crassly especially towards Yahiko, like how an older sister would take jabs at her little brother. I found Kaoru to be a little bit too tamed in the movie where she should be strong. 

As for Megumi, she was portrayed as a pretty woman in the anime who knew how to use her feminine wiles. She was supposed to be alluring and foxy, but in the movie, Megumi looked a little too young to play the part. And her eyebrows were just disturbing. *twitch*

Sanosuke Sagara was perfectly portrayed, as was Yahiko Myojin. The actor who played Sano maintained the character’s energy and recklessness, even the movements and the way he spoke. Yahiko was also spot-on. The younger character’s jabs at Kaoru were perfectly portrayed, and even the way he makes rude demands like a whiny younger brother at Kaoru were reminiscent of the anime.

Then there’s also Saitou Hajime or Goro Fujita. The anime version was a lot creepier than the actor in the movie. The anime version also sported a veiled bloodlust beneath the policeman persona, but the character in the movie version was a little too plain. I felt that he wasn’t really able to bring out Saitou as he was in the anime. The hair was slickly maintained though. *snicker*

Moving on to the villains, Kanryu Takeda was plain creepy in the movie. And his lower dentures were disturbing. Seriously. I cannot un-see what I kept seeing when I watched the movie. 

Hanya was waaaay off. The mask he wore in the movie was the only dead-giveaway that he was actually Hanya. I cannot say much about his fighting style using a wakizashi. He was supposed to be this fighter who used the illusion that his arms extended longer whenever he fought, but then that was not portrayed in the movie. His costume also didn’t even show his signature stripes.

Anji, the monk, was shown too early in the movie. He was supposed to be shown waaaay later in the anime, but he was made to be one of Kanryu’s underlings in the movie. The anime version of Anji was much more serious and frightening than in the movie.

And finally, Jinei. Surprisingly, they were able to accurately depict Jinei’s costume and even his eyes. However, movie Jinei was more serious than anime Jinei. The anime Jinei was a plain blood-thirsty lunatic. And he smiled while he killed people. In the movie, the only thing that was really creepy about the movie Jinei was the blood-licking. *shudder*

Cinematography-wise, the movie was quite well-made. The fight scenes were awesome, and many of the moves, poses and techniques were taken straight out of the anime. I especially loved Kenshin’s Battoujutsu and perfectly executed Soryusen when he fought Jinei, and of course, there was also Saitou’s fighting stance when they faced Kanryu.

Surprisingly, aside from the adrenaline-pumping action, there were also moments of subtle humor that got most of the audiences chuckling. Take the scene where Kanryu asked Sano and Kenshin to take off all their clothes at gun-point. I was pretty sure that most of the fan-girls squealed in anticipation during that scene. (I was personally having a hard time suppressing a squeal!)

Soundtrack was awesome, too, by the way! They didn’t try to copy any of the well-loved tracks from the anime, but they did come up with great sounds to go with the movie. The ending soundtrack (The Beginning by One Ok Rock) during the credits was especially eargasmic. The mixed English and Japanese lyrics in the song was also a huge plus!

All in all, I still really loved the movie despite the numerous inconsistencies with the anime. The whole movie was a super fan-girl’s fantasy-come-true for me! After all, they had a perfect Kenshin, and he still has his throne in my wallet. 


  1. I love your review! but did you mean Inui Banjin instead of Anji? I couldnt spot Anji on this movie..

    1. Anji the Monk was the one that Sanosuke fought with. In the anime, he was the one with the powerful fist-fighting technique that Sanosuke met in the woods, and from whom he learned the same technique.

      Anji is different from Banjin, but they seemed to have combined the characters again. Much like how they combined Jinei & Gohei in one character for the movie. However, if you check the links below, the character listed as "Banjin" in the movie is closer to being Anji the monk rather than being Banjin because he was a fist-fighting monk rather than a camouflage-wearing fighter.

      Anji >>>
      Banjin >>>

      I chose to call the character "Anji" because that was the character he was portraying, even though he was listed as Banjin in the cast.

      I hope that cleared things out. =)

    2. another hint was that vegetarian scene, wasnt it?? but his intelligence level and appearance is closer to Banjin before he wears tekko,,

      so, why Hanya instead of Gein??


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