Rurouni Kenshin was a very popular manga, that later got turned into a very popular anime in the mid 90’s. The manga ran for 5 years, and the anime ran for 2 and a half years. Despite the fact that I was really into similarly shounen (boys) shows like Dragonball Z and later Naruto, I never really got into Kenshin. I got about five or six episodes in but then lost interest in it, probably in favour of another anime show. After watching the live action movie, if the Rurouni Kenshin anime is half as good I really should dig up my old copies and watch it!
For now though, here’s my review of the movie.
Rurouni Kenshin is the story of a samurai with a bloody past and guilty conscience. Once known as Battousai the Manslayer, Kenshin Himura wanders Meiji era Japan trying to atone for his sins. While Kenshin tries to move on from his past, another man has taken on the title of Battousai and is randomly killing people. He is supposedly using the style of a dojo that is run by Kamiya Kaoru, a young woman who has inherited the dojo from her father. Kamiya is trying to find the one called Battousai, who is destroying the reputation of her father’s dojo, when her and Kenshin’s paths cross.
Usually I start of my reviews by looking at the characters, or action, or another aspect of the movie that is generally seen as critically important. Today I’m going to start by looking at the music. The music varies from haunting violin pieces to epic orchestral pieces to hard rock, and each song perfectly captures the mood of the scene that it is set to. The music is so great that it ends up being a double edged sword. In my opinion, the music in a movie needs to support the visuals, and not take center stage. Unfortunately, there were a couple of moments where I was watching and thinking “Wow. This soundtrack is fantastic!” The music is so good in places that you end up focusing on the sound and not what’s going on screen.
Even though I never watched much of Kenshin, I had a pretty good understanding of the characters that I was introduced to. The movie focuses pretty heavily on Kenshin and Kamiya, and this relationship really drives the movie. Unfortunately, this does leave some of the supporting characters a little bit lacking terms of backstory. Thankfully, the actors playing these supporting characters manage to capture the spirit or essence of each person, even if we aren’t given more of a chance to explore their pasts. As a result, it feels more like we get glimpses into the lives of the supporting characters, as opposed to them simply being flat or under developed. There are also little touches that help add to some of the really minor characters who never even speak, but help us get an idea as to who they might be if they did. This movie really revels in character details.
I would talk about how great this movie looks, but I figured I’d just show you instead:
The narrative flows well and even catches you off guard once or twice, which was a pleasant surprise considering I was expecting an action movie at best. Instead audiences have been given a movie that manages to strike a great balance between character and action.
And speaking of action, Kenshin does a great job of ramping things up as the movie goes along, and keeping you hungry for more.
Movie Rating: Fans of the anime will not be disappointed, and new comers are also offered a surprisingly deep samurai action movie. Rurouni Kenshin left me hoping this becomes part of a trilogy. It would be a shame for there not to be a deeper look into these characters and their stories.