Rurouni Kenshin Live Action: The Review

Rurouni_Kenshin-p2Last December 5th 2012, Rurouni Kenshin live action movie premiered on the big screens in SM City Cebu.

No words can express my delight and gratitude that the movie will be shown here (in the flesh)!! Rurouni Kenshin has become a big part of my life, and you can somewhat have a glimpse here, why this is so. This is indeed a dream-come-true that I didn’t expect to be fulfilled in my lifetime!

I’ve seen the movie twice: the first was when Cebu was hit by the super typhoon (Dec. 5th), Pablo (but luckily, it didn’t rain that day! pew pew!) with a bunch of friends, figuratively speaking, a barangay of friends. The second time was after the last day of class, in order to de-stress myself, and ironically from the first time, I was alone (but happy)! 🙂

Anyhow, I am writing a review of this movie because I want the whole world to know how AWESOME it is! Most, if not all, stated here is based on my point of view, and an otaku herself. So here it goes:

  • Characters (Major)


Kenshin Himura by Takeru Sato

Superb delivery of the character! As a hardcore Kenshin fan, I can truly see he is up for the role, and I bet nobody can do it better. Awesome martial arts skills. He also got the “chibi” Kenshin, wherein he says, “Oro?”, as well as the unleashing of the Hitokiri Battousai side of Kenshin as well. In the anime, when Kenshin evolves to become a Battousai again (during Jine battle), his eyes turns bright yellow. In the movie, since this is made much more realistic, Takeru’s Battousai is depicted by a change in the fight stance as well as the change in voice and an evident rage against his opponent.

I must say, he worked hard and studied for the role! Indescribable indeed! Kudos Takeru-kun! No qualms, no regrets of Takeru-kun being Kenshin!

Kaoru Kamiya by Emi Takei

The first time I saw her, I thought she has the same features as our local actress here in the Philippines, Kathryn Bernardo. LOL. But anyhow, aside from that, I think she delivered Kaoru well, although the movie wasn’t really able to focus on her characterization. BUT, I think it is extremely fine. Because the movie has just began to introduce the characters, and more focus was needed to introduce Kenshin Himura, the rurouni as well as Kenshin Himura, the Battousai. Nonetheless, Emi executed Kaoru well, especially the part where she looks for Kenshin and when both (Takeru) are onscreen. The audience definitely teased them!

Sanosuke Sagara by Munetaka Aoki

Extremely funny! He lightens up the whole mood of the movie, especially during the climax fight scenes on the Takeda castle! The way he was introduced in the movie was kind of different from the anime. But I don’t mind though. In the anime, he was introduced as being the cool, mysterious, street fighter, but then evolved as one of the clowns (yet maintaining his coolness, that is!) of the group. But I guess the movie doesn’t have the luxury of time to evolve his character due to time constraints, therefore, I still approve of his characterization! Just one setback though… I expected a taller and more handsome Sano! Gomen ne, Munetaka-kun. But I still think he delivered the character very well! ^^

Megumi Takani by Yu Aoi

I commend the RK team for choosing Aoi-chan as being Megumi! She definitely looks like her in real life! They even “altered” her eyebrows as well as put some eyeshadows in order to give her a Megumi-like look! I think she also played her part very well, although her being a doctor, instead of an opium maker might have left a huge mark to those who haven’t seen the anime. YET, I think the filmmakers did a great job, and Ms. Yu Yaoi for her characterization. No major qualms about it! ^^

Saito Hajime by Yosuke Eguchi

First of all, he’s extremely good looking. LOL. I think he fits Saito very well! Although it was a bit of a disappointment when his superb sword skills, especially his left-handed swordsmanship was not that quite noticeable in the movie. But yet, I think the filmmakers did an awesome job of introducing Saito being in Shinsen Gumi (although not mentioned in the movie) and as a police officer in the Meiji Era. I was also disappointed during his appearance/fight in the Takeda, wherein, he performed his Gatotsu, but just stabbed the chandelier. Tsk tsk. What a waste! But anyhow, I am extremely please with Yosuke-san’s characterization of Saito. Very well executed indeed!

P.S. He is based on a real-life Shinsen Gumi member!!

  • Faithfulness to the manga


A lot of Rurouni Kenshin fans out there would definitely say NO in this section. But would easily defend the filmmakers’ stance as well. For those who have been watching Japanese live action adaptations, this is not the first time that the adaptation was not faithful to the original. But this is one of the best adaptations ever !

One big observation that made this movie deviate a little from the anime/manga was the overlapping of arcs. The Takeda arc was different from the Jine Udo arc. Also, the Oni Gang was not included in the Takeda Arc. In the sequel perhaps? 🙂

But even though the arcs are being overlapped, it was exquisitely and smoothly done, given the limited time the movie has! As I said earlier, it’s one of the best adaptations ever, coming from a RK fan herself, who had watched the anime a gazillion times already.

  • Fight Scenes

Some, if I may say, casual Rurouni Kenshin viewers, were not pleased of the fight scenes because as they, “it lacks the anime effect”. Well what do you know? This is a LIVE ACTION (adaptation). Therefore, this is not the anime! This just goes to show that common sense indeed is not common. Although that is their own opinion, but forgive me, but I have a violent reaction to it :p

Anyhow, in my own opinion, the fight scenes were breathtaking and magnificently executed by the characters! Most especially those done by Takeru Sato! As a former martial arts practitioner, I can really tell that the techniques were not just “anime-ish” but were of real techniques evident of Aikido, Ju-jitsu, Kenjutsu and other related martial art forms! I also believe that the number of fight scenes were just right. It’s because, Kenshin (and the other characters) was just being introduced. Therefore, there’s a lot of explaining to do there. The filmmakers also took into consideration those non-RK anime viewers, therefore, it is indeed rightful that the movie was not FULL of fight scenes.

One of my favorite techniques was when Kenshin did ran against the wall to do a back flip and pow wow, nailed those goons in the Kamiya dojo. Another one was the slow motion of the dual bokuto (sword) slash to that goon as well. And another one, where Kenshin ran over those bunch of samurai in the Takeda castle with his body nearing the ground! Actually, I cannot pin point my favorite fight scenes/techniques because there are a lot of them! More so, the Battoujutsu stance done by Takeru was outstanding, as well as his other fight stances that were similarly waki-kame from our Kenjutsu school. Anyhow, there are a lot of fight scenes and techniques to look out for! >_<

  • Music

First of all, I am a very big fan of Jpop/Jrock, as well as traditional Asian music.

The OST of Rurouni Kenshin live action was performed by ONE OK Rock entitled The Beginning. The music and lyrics extremely fits well for the movie. According to my readings, this song was specifically written for the movie itself as well. I loved the guitar riffs and the melody! I love the lyrics as well. Totally evident on why this song is in replay on my iPod for more than 2 weeks already. I think my seatmates at the office has already had their ears bleeding due to the constant playing and singing of this song.

The BGMs were a standout as well! Though, again, some Rurouni Kenshin viewers thought that the music should have been the same with the anime, because it gives them more of a “good feel” to it. Hmmm.. they could be right.. or wrong… If the songs in the anime such as Sobakasu would have been included in the soundtracks as well as the BGMs like The Departure and The Revolution Song inserted in the movie, RK fans could have been more nostalgic than ever! But then again…. We must take note, or as a matter of my observation.. The filmmakers made the movie more realistic, not anime-ish. Therefore, it is indeed understandable that they need not include the music from the anime. More so, there might have been copyright implications if the anime soundtrack will be included in the movie. I also think that the filmmakers want the viewers to remember Rurouni Kenshin Live Action movie as a separate memory from the anime. With that, they want to give the viewers a big impression that even though it is a separate film, it still made a big mark to the viewers. Well they’ve done a great job doing that!!!

  • Movie Aspects (Cinematography, Screenplay, etc.)

It is indeed evident that the filmmakers want to make an impression that the scenes such as the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, the Meiji Era, and even the Kamiya Dojo are done at different seasons, or would portray a “mood” to the viewers by adjusting (for the lack of term), the white balance of the scenes. If they want to portray a darker scene, such as the Battousai period of Kenshin or the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, they have adjusted to a bluer white balance, and for the more livelier scenes such as the Kamiya Dojo or the introduction of Kenshin as a rurouni, the while balance was yellowish, much more depicting of Spring time.

Another observation was the way the angles was shot. I dunno, but something tells me, the Asian style of cinematography has its own twist from the Western one. But I could be wrong? I am not adept with the technical skills of film making, so forgive for this comment. This is just my own opinion though :p

Of course, the way the fight scenes were shot and executed – no doubt about that – a state-of-the-art execution indeed!

Overall, I give the Rurouni Kenshin Live Action movie a 9/10 rating!

You might want to say I am biased… because I am! :))

Anyhow, I might have missed out some details from the movie because I only have a 3-hr sleep today, so feel free to add!

Kudos to the Rurouni Kenshin Live Action movie! A lot of us are indeed anticipating a sequel! Indeed a need to do the Shishio Arc and the OVAs!!

Photo Credits to the websites in the image URL. Thank you !

7 responses to “Rurouni Kenshin Live Action: The Review

  1. Hi,

    I agree with most of what you said about the movie, save one: the fight scenes. Not to start a debate here or anything, I’m just presenting my opinion on the matter.

    I’m not a casual viewer of RK. My wife, however, is. But she did notice something off with the fight scenes, but did not know what. I needed to explain it a bit for her to understand. And this is why: Kenshin is a master of Battou-jutsu, not Aiki-do, Ju-jutsu, or any other unarmed jutsu. Kenshin does not do unarmed combat. Anytime he needs to fight, he needs something that resembles a katana, even be it a simple stick. Correct me if I’m wrong, but in every memory I have that Kenshin gets unarmed of his sword(or whatever he was using to swing around), he gets beat up. But, the moment he (re)gains something sword-like, his fighting abilities skyrocket. In short, seeing Kenshin do unarmed combat felt VERY wrong to me. VERY because he just doesn’t do it!

    Anyway, I also hope they do adapt more of the story to live action. They can do a trilogy, with Kyoto-hen as part 2, then Jinchu-hen as the finale.

    • You’re absolutely right on your point there! I agree, Kenshin does not do any Aikido or Ju-jitsu techniques, yet he performed some of them (which I think I’ve recognized that resembled some I have practiced before)… perhaps I was just fascinated that he did some of those >_< but yes, you are right there, he does not perform unarmed techniques, and he usually uses his katana.. thanks for the comment ! 😀

      • I just saw the movie last night on blu-ray and though I had to struggle with my mediocre Japanese, I was able to follow most of the story because I’ve read the manga and watched the anime. Needless to say I’m a huge fan. But to expect a 2 hour movie to cover hours of animation and volumes of manga is unrealistic. To that end, sorry to say, of course the movie failed. I don’t know how viewers who know nothing of the story would feel but as a fan, the fact that Kenshin was brought to life in such spectacular fashion exceeded all my expectations. With that alone, I thought the movie was wonderful. He made Kenshin a real person, something that I didn’t think I would ever see or like. So, in my opinion, picking at details would only lead you to dislike the movie. Enjoy it for what it is because it cannot be anywhere as good as the manga or anime.

      • Hi GKH,

        Thanks for dropping by! I agree with you! If you really picked out the details, of course, the movie, and I guess, no movie (as for as I have watched), have captured what the original manga/book has written about the storyline, characters, techniques, moves, etc.

        But for me, as a frequent viewer of Japanese live action movies, in my opinion, the movie was great! As I have observed in the past live action movies I’ve seen, it was just good, nothing spectacular. But for me, this movie made me a satisfied viewer 🙂

    • I watched the anime and the OVAs and all I can say as a newcomer to RuroKen that the movies were amazing. I don’t know how anyone can expect a 2 hour movie (or even 3×2 hours) to cover a 90 episode anime and hundreds of volumes of manga. It’s impossible. They had to make sense of the story in a cinematic way. There has to be an introduction to the character, his background, and then an interesting story the viewers can follow. I also likes that the characters were made realistic (even Shishio, with this flaming abilities). I dislike when a live adaptation wants to be like an anime.Anime is anime for a reason…. I liked the way Sato portrayed Kenshin. Also his awesome fight scenes (without a stunt double!). I don’t care that he used different fight techniques. They were awesome, and made it more interesting to watch. I like dhow they used the mood and colors of the first OVA to portray his background of getting the scars. It was cinematically very well done, beautifully executed. This series is 10/10 for me. Pure awesomeness.

  2. Pingback: ONE OK ROCK | iAmbidextrous·

  3. There a episode in the anime of rurounin kenshin,when his sword been broke when he fought one of Shisio’s men, and kenshin encountered another Shisio’s men with his reverse sword break he had no weapon at all. even his swords seet were broken too he knock off his enemy by his elbow. so he know some hand combat.episode 40 is were he uses his hands.

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