Posts Tagged ‘Sagara Sousuke’

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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.

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Full Metal Panic!

May 3, 2012

Sagara Sousuke and Kaname Chidori of “Full Metal Panic!”

For most of my tween years, I had fantasized about being a covert spy of some kind, whether it be a undercover cop or secret agent a la James Bond. I would end up saving the day or the girl or the school somehow. It even made it into my comic book drawing efforts at that time. The story idea stuck in my head for years and I haven’t actually drawn it out yet. (Give me time and a Lotto jackpot and I will…)

I looked to anime to find more inspiration and drive to help keep my spy tale going. I found the perfect story in “Full Metal Panic!” The basis of “Full Metal Panic!” matched my original idea of my alter ego protecting a young hot girl from a secret organization. My story doesn’t follow the rest of the plot at all (so no worries about copyright issues there) but this series really stands out in my mind with a brilliant mix of technology, spy versus spy, and romantic comedy.

In the world of “Full Metal Panic!” the Cold War is still on, and technology had advanced to the point where humanoid mecha known as ‘arm slaves’ are being used for combat, much like tanks. Technology of this kind is suddenly being developed by governments and private organizations whom have individuals known as ‘Whispered’ create these technological advances. The Whispered are prodigies who have heightened awareness of science and technology well beyond our current level.

The main story is how one mercenary soldier is assigned to protect a rumored Whispered in Japan. The insertion of this soldier into regular society is nearly disastrous and played for most part for laughs against the backdrop of this complex spy organization versus spy organization story.

The opening of the anime series has Sagara Sousuke battling what appears to be Russian soldiers on a frozen tundra somewhere. His teammates Kurz Weber and Melissa Mao also join in on the efforts to save the mysterious girl. The trio are part of Mithril, a private military force.  Sousuke deftly takes out the enemy with his M9 Arm Slave and saves the girl.

The team is next sent to Tokyo, Japan to protect Kaname Chidori, a rumored Whispered. This directive comes from the leaders of Mithril, who are charged with protecting Whispered from an unknown threat. Sousuke and his teammates are chosen, as Sousuke is the same age and nationality as Kaname.

Kaname is portrayed as being the most popular girl in school, excelling in sports and scholastics. She is also tough as nails due to living on her own, having lived in the United States, and poor matchmaking efforts by her best friend Kyoko Tokiwa. She seems somewhat unapproachable, but has many friends among her classmates. She often speaks her mind and can be bossy.

When Sousuke is introduced in Kaname’s class, he is deemed a ‘military otaku’ or ‘military nut’ with his extensive knowledge of military history, cantor, and soldier-like behavior. This overall ignorance by the students and faculty proves to be a foil for much of the humor, as Sousuke is not used to being in a normal civilian setting. Kaname takes a slight interest in Sousuke, as he seems rather mysterious and different from the other students.

His behavior in watching over Kaname is also a source of laughs, as Kaname learns early on that he is following her. Sousuke’s teammates are doing their best to support their hapless student soldier. Finally having the last straw, Kaname tricks Sousuke by ditching him on the local light rail.  Sousuke surprises her with his dedication to duty by literally leaping off a moving train to continue to follow her. She is stunned that he would put himself in harm’s way for her for no apparent reason.

The laughs continue as each episode of the series has Kaname putting down the stoic Sousuke from overeacting to normal situations with his military training. She develops a crush on Sousuke, which she vehemently denies having an attraction to. As the series continues, it is a mix of humor as Sousuke is put in the middle of social situations he is not at all accustomed to, such as dates and vacations. The other part is how a terrorist named Gowron is pursuing Kaname for her hidden Whispered abilities. As the story unfolds, Sousuke reveals who he is to her and what he was sent to do. At first, Kaname is in disbelief until he saves her from a kidnapping attempt orchestrated by Gowron.

The series is a great mix of romantic comedy and action, as Kaname and Sousuke have many ‘will they or won’t they’ moments while Sousuke is risking life and limb protecting her. Sousuke is a bred soldier, having grown up literally on many battlefields and being trained by veteran soldiers. He has no knowledge of how to behave in regular society, but begins to crack as he learns what life is like outside the battlefield. Kaname also soften, as she harbors feelings for Sousuke.

The action and spy stories really mesh together as there is often witty dialog between characters. The plot of Gowron pursuing Kaname is the driving force for most of the series. Gowron is a sinister, shifty character who does not seem to have any allegiance to any organization or government, but can pull enough strings to orchestrate many operations against Kaname, Sousuke, and Mithril. He also has ties to Sousuke and his past.

The cast of characters are fantastic and balance out well, with Mithril members and Kaname’s fellow students. Kaname becomes a source of inspiration to Sousuke’s teammates and many Mithril members for her bravery and help with saving Kurz and Sousuke from harm.

The anime series, light novels, and manga follow the premise rather closely, with much of the humor and fish out of water shenanigans highlighted in the sister series “Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu!” and “Full Metal Panic! Overload.” The adventures are continuing still, with the light novels and manga opening a even wider storyline of global conspiracy.

“Full Metal Panic!” has fulfilled my fantasy of being that hero hidden in high school saving the day and protecting the girl. The anime series, along with the manga and light novels lead you in with some romantic comedy and some spy game action, and before you know it, you are immersed in the conspiracy, humor, and thrilling action as Sousuke continues to protect Kaname. Seek out the anime series and the manga as both are exceptionally well done.