Posts Tagged ‘Himura Kenshin’


Rurouni Kenshin- The Movie

February 8, 2014

Seeing a live action version of your favorite anime and manga is a bit of a trip. In some cases, you can’t predict what you are going to get to see, whether it’s an encapsulation of the series, or if it is a ‘reimagination’ of the given material. Either way, it is often a mixed bag of results with casting, the story, and how the whole movie flows together.

After seeing several live action adaptations, I had come to the startling revelation that it is really cosplay in action. Actors are suited up as your favorite anime persona, acting out the character and the given story. In most cases, since this is a 90 minute to 2 hour movie, it is a condensed version of the original story.

I recently found a copy of “Rurouni Kenshin” live action. Not long ago, it was announced online and I squealed. It actually looked rather good and very promising as adaptations go. I hoped that it wasn’t going to be a bland or flat adaptation. After watching it one evening, I found it to be a rather faithful adaptation, albeit a condensed version, of the first series of the manga and anime. I rather liked how the story was structured, and added in the key elements of both story and character to make it a grand story.

Like any martial arts movie, it has some flaws- special effects, stunts, and some props just seemed a little fake-looking. It does have the look and feel of a period piece, but the hyper-reality that the manga and anime have doesn’t translate 100% to the screen. I am actually glad about that, making sure the film has more realistic roots while making it gives it credibility.

The opening sequence is excellent, showing how Himura Kenshin, or Hitokiri Battousai in his last act as a member of the Revolutionary Army. He abandons his sword as he walks away from the war. His sword is not left alone for long as another survivor takes up his sword.

Ten years later, he emerges as a wanderer, living a rather vagrant life. He wanders into Tokyo and encounters Kamiya Kaoru, a local kendo instructor. She mistakenly accuses the newly arrived Kenshin of being the mysterious Hitokiri Battousai, who has been slandering her family’s martial arts school, claiming that he was using that style.

Elsewhere, Takani Megumi is trying to flee from her current employer Takeda Kanryu, a business man who is a smuggler, weapons, and drug dealer. He has his men execute the workers Megumi uses in her job making opium. She flees and is pursued by Udo Jin-e, Kanryu’s top assassin. In his pursuit, he slays all of the officers that Megumi comes into contact with when she surrenders herself to the police.

Kaoru is on her way home, when he encounters Jin-e, the one who claims to be the Hitokiri Battousai and has been sullying her family name. She tries to fight the powerful Jin-e, only to be saved by Kenshin in an amazing display of agility.

Returning Kaoru to her family dojo, Kenshin tends to her injuries. She allows him to stay as thanks for saving her. The modest Kenshin leaves letting her rest.

Later, a local gang tries to take over the Kamiya Dojo, where Kaoru is teaching the only student she has, the orphan Myojin Yahiko. They are overwhelmed by the thugs, when Kenshin steps in to intervene. He unsheathes his sakabato and defeats every one of the gang, not killing any one of them.

Kenshin is arrested for carrying a sword (illegal at this time) and is thrown in jail. He is later found out by Saito Hajime a former rival during the Bakumatsu, who had become a Police officer. He is bought back to Yamagata Aritomo who tries to recruit him to become an assassin for him once again. Kenshin refuses, and after a duel with Saito, he is released. Kaoru picks him up from prison and takes him home to the Kamiya Dojo. Meanwhile, Yahiko helps Megumi hide from her pursuers at the dojo.

They try to enjoy an evening out at a local sukiyaki restaurant, when Kanryu tries to recruit Kenshin after learning that he is the true Hitokiri Battousai. Kenshin refuses, and is then challenged by Sagara Sanosuke, a local brawler. He is nearly beaten by Kenshin, who refuses to draw his sword.

For his refusal to be hired by Kanryu, he has his men poison the local well water near and around the Kamiya Dojo. The training hall becomes a makeshift hospital, as Megumi treats all of the people who have gotten sick from the poisoned water. Megumi returns to Kanryu, intending to kill him.

Kenshin is angered by the threat and upon learning that Megumi has returned to Kanryu’s side to stop him. He goes to stop Kanryu and his men, and is joined by Sanosuke. The two take on Kanryu’s men who are no match for the pair. Kanryu is also prepared with his elite guard, and his top assassin Jin-e, who has his own machinations for Kenshin.

This is in my humble opinion a fine condensed version of the “Rurouni Kenshin” manga and anime. If you have seen or read either the manga or anime, you can pick out all the key scenes from the series. What gives this movies some volume is how these rather iconic scenes are sequenced out into the movie. It gives the characters an introduction without lengthy exposition like in the series.

The episodic nature of the series worked in the film adaptation’s favor, being to take large story areas and rearranging them into a cinematic experience. It is refreshing to see this interpretation play out in a film structure , with each plot point being used well, leading one to the other up to the climatic showdown.

“Rurouni Kenshin” is one of my favorite series of anime and manga. Seeing it in live action can be a little jarring, but it takes the fantastic story and elements and puts it into real world context. It makes for an excellent adaptation and an entertaining film.


Rurouni Kenshin- The Wandering Samurai

December 20, 2011

Himura Kenshin of "Rurouni Kenshin"

I was scanning the bookshelf for a little light reading and found my copy of “Rurouni Kenshin Profiles.” (“Wanderer Kenshin”) This was a roman album collecting art and information about the manga by Nobuhiro Watsuki. Filled with details about the main characters of the story, the settings, and the main plot, it centers around a effeminate man named Himura Kenshin, a former manslayer and revolutionary known as “Hitokiri Battosai” (a name that can be roughly translated as “Manslayer Quick Sword Draw”) who made an oath to never kill again, and wanders the countryside helping those less fortunate.

Naturally, I wanted to watch the Anime of this series, so I went rummaging through my collection and dug up the first series to watch. My wife, intrigued by the story, sat and watched with me. It was a treat. Before long, she wanted to watch what happens to the new characters being introduced.

The Media Blasters’ produced DVDs are well made. They contain both English and Japanese dialog with subtitles for everything. Extras include details on the storyline and some of the historical information that the characters and story were based on.

The story takes place during the beginning of the Meiji era around 1878. The former Tokugawa Shogunate is overthrown by revolutionaries. A new government is in place in Japan that follows more modern democratic laws and rules. Industrial modernization was on the forefront.  It is a chaotic period, as small towns and villages are under the sway of reform.

The first episode opened with Kamiya Kaoru assaulting our main character, she mistaking him for the notorious manslayer “Hitokiri Battosai.” Kaoru is an Assistant Master at the Kamiya Dojo, a training hall for swordsmanship that her late father had created. She had been having a rough time losing students due to rumors being spread by someone calling himself “Hitokiri Battosai,” the Bakumatsu’s (The end of the Tokugawa Shogunate) most dangerous manslayer.

Kamiya Kaoru scolding Himura Kenshin in the first episode of "Rurouni Kenshin"

Kenshin clumsily dodges her attack and assures her that he is not the person she is looking for. He proves it with the sword that he carries, a Sakabato or reversed edged sword. She notes that the blade is on the inner curve of the sword, and the outer curve is dull and flat. She then scolds him for carrying such a blade and her troubles. Then a policeman calls out for help as he finds the man posing as Hitokiri Battosai assaulting innocent bystanders.

Kaoru is determined to stop him and confronts the man. She is nearly killed, saved by the swift action of Kenshin. He takes her back to her dojo home where he mends her wounds and prepares food. Kaoru is taken aback at Kenshin’s skills in healing, preparing food, and his kindness.

Later in the episode, we discover who is posing as the false “Hitokiri Battosai” and how Kenshin deals with this poser. Kaoru is astonished at Kenshin’s skill as a swordsman and his inhuman speed. She is also impressed that he did not kill anyone, inflicting injury to render unconsciousness or debilitate them to cause no further threat.

This episode, as well as most of the series follows the Manga very closely with only a few minor adjustments here and there for pacing of the Anime and for the incomplete Manga still being in production. I believe this to be one of the most faithful adaptations of Manga to Anime that I’ve seen.

The overall series both in Manga and Anime form explore Kenshin’s mysterious past and how his present self uses his skills to protect those who are being oppressed or can’t stand up for themselves. His backstory isn’t fully revealed until the third major story arc near the end of the series. The first two were largely introductions to the time period and major characters and how Kenshin’s philosophy is changing people for the better. It has a perfect blend of romantic comedy, historical fiction, and a fantastic cast of characters. The multiple story arcs blend together well, setting the stage for each character as they are introduced, and later how they become better and stronger following Kenshin’s lead on his road to repentance.

The animation in “Rurouni Kenshin” isn’t as detailed or as sharp as some that I have seen, but this was meant to be broadcast daily or weekly, so a faster paced production had to be used. It is (as far as I can tell) a credit to the hand drawn animation style, as I do not see or detect any form of computer animation or support. Backgrounds and characters are well rendered and no sign of choppiness in the animation work. The Manga is deftly drawn by Watsuki, giving each character its own unique charm. The stories are very compelling, rich with humor, love, and deep characterization. The characters are not dull or flat, but have personality. From Kaoru’s tomboyish persona to Kenshin’s formal speech pattern, these are characters that you can care about and follow.

Both voiceovers in Japanese and English are done well. I still prefer the Japanese voiceover, as it gives Kenshin an effeminate voice and his formal speech, addressing everyone as ‘sir’ or ‘miss’ in high regard. The English cast also lends its talents to giving strong performances of characters, giving the villains the right amount of gruffness and sinister banter.

“Rurouni Kenshin” is an excellent example of manga and anime that all can enjoy. The likeable characters and near epic storylines brings the overall saga to life. I recommend reading both the Manga and watching the Anime. The Anime has a more somber and dramatic end to the story, but it is something to watch. I prefer the more optimistic end in the Manga, which leaves the characters with brighter futures.

Recently, I’ve learned that there is a live action version movie of “Rurouni Kenshin” being made. I hope that the movie makers are able to bring the rich characters and story to the silver screen with the same magic that made this Anime and Manga series so popular.