After the end of the Boshin war, Himura Kenshin wanders along the countryside of Japan with a reverse blade katakana. He commits to not killing anyone anymore while many are still challenging him to show off his skills being the well-known “hitoriki battosai”.
Himura Kenshin | played by Takeru Satou
He is a former assassin (or batossai) turned wanderer who has made a vow never to kill again.
Kamiya Kaoru | played by Emi Takei
She is a righteous young woman who owns the Kendo school left by her father.
Sagara Sanosuke | played by Munetaka Aoki
He is a street fighter who dares Kenshin in a fight but eventually befriends him.
Takani Megumi | played by Yu Aoi
A daughter of a famous doctor from Aizu. She was kidnapped to make opium for the bad boss in Tokyo. Fortunately, saved by Kenshin and made her life for serving others as a doctor.
Saito Hajime | played by Yosuke Eguchi
Known more as Fujita Goro. He works as a special agent for the Meiji Government’s Department of Internal Affairs and is also skilled in using a sword in battles. ‘
Related Link: Hunter X Hunter: Anime Review
Rurouni Kenshin Movie Collection finally has come to Netflix. It made my subscription extra worth paying for. I do miss watching live-action animes because I originally binge over J-dramas and movies. Just a disclaimer, I am not an avid fan of the “Samurai X” anime series so there will be no biases when it comes to the 90s anime version in comparison to this Netflix’s live-action version or even the manga. If you are an avid fan reading this, let me know if I missed any details and should you have any concerns about inaccuracy towards my review.
Nevertheless, the thing I can claim is that the life of Kenshin Himura is one of the best narratives produced in the manga, anime, and live-action movies because of its best portrayal of the historical aesthetics and war dynamics in Japan during the Meiji era.
The Anime Version
In the Philippines, one routine of the “batang 90s” (kids born in the 90s) is watching anime on television after school because there are no smartphones, tablet, and even Netflix yet. We all depend on mainstream television that schedules anime air time. I was able to watch some episodes of Samurai X on channel 23 in English dubbed and enjoyed its action and comedy; though, I was not fully invested in watching.
Fast forward to 2011-2012, I learned there will be an upcoming movie on theatres big screen of Rurouni Kenshin. So yes, I am fully aware but was not able to watch it for so many reasons I can’t remember, or do I? (probably, the K-drama system at that time swallowed me whole). Fortunately, Netflix released the movie collection now, and during the time of pandemic, I have time to binge every weekend.
Samurai Fighting Stunts Dynamics
Can we just appreciate here the excellent and fine performance of sword choreography? Watching the actors of the 21st-century handling the sword in an actual fight mesmerized me. It is pretty convincing with the portrayal of Takeru Satou as Kenshin. Every time he falls down there is “this distinct pose” that is consistent through all the movies. Seriously, I can’t get it out of my mind.
In Kyoto Inferno, Kenshin met this young and skilled swordsman subordinate of Shishio named Sojiro. Kenshin lost when his reverse blade sword was chopped by the fast and graceful attack of Sojiro in the resting place of Shishio’s team. I appreciate the exchange of attack and defense mode in this encounter. They met again in The Legend Ends, and this time Kenshin is victorious over the again encounter with Sojiro when he was able to replace his reverse blade sword. Sojiro reflected on his life after being defeated.
Surprisingly, Sojiro also appears to help in the fighting scene in The Final where Kenshin needs to fight these tons of men in order to reach Enishi and save Kaoru. The story sequence of the fight encounters between Kenshin and Sojiro is one of my favorites scenes in the movie collection, simply because it is life-changing and reflective to both of them.
The best teamwork sword choreography fight is in the ending part of The Legend Ends. I enjoyed the rival, friends to partner in crime relationship between Kenshin and Sanosuke. They always got each other’s back whatever trouble happens. Known as an aggressive street fighter, Sanosuke would always be on the go to any fight encounters against the bad guy with Kenshin. His stamina is just incredible especially in their last fight encounter with the burning Shishio.
I was more engaged when watching the 4 (Kenshin, Sanosuke, Goro, and Aoshi) vs 1 (Shishio) fighting scene in this movie – the action only intensifies. Kenshin’s Twin Dragon Slash killed Shishio. Also, Kenshin in this movie was able to redeem his reputation. The reason I choose this as my top favorite among the collection.
Traversing to the Historical side of Japan
Rurouni Kenshin’s production design is well thought of in terms of the settings and fashion worn by the characters. Kenshin Himura stayed true to the plain red kimono and has long hair from the anime series. The ladies of Japan during this time look simple but elegant wearing kimono dresses while their hair is mostly long and tied up. You can also recognize the western touch already in Japan during that time by the use of white wedding gowns for females, battleships in the war, military uniforms, canon, and riffle guns.
Kenshin and his friends watched Kyogen – a traditional Japanese comic theatre. It was funny because the main character in the play is the Battousai. In Kyoto Inferno, we also encounter ninjas or night watchers. They are residing in a simple house in Kyoto. What can you say about Misao and Aoshi’s role here? How significant are they in Kenshin’s journey? Overall, it just brings you to a time travel in Japan in a time of war and as you watch you eventually become immersed.
Other Notable Characters
Megumi had only more screen time in the first movie – Origins. Her beauty is classic Japanese. Surprisingly, the actress who played Megumi is also an actress in the “Honey and Clover” movie way back in 2006. She showed bravery and endurance in her more difficult times while forced to work in making opium. After being saved, she decided to serve other people through her talent in medicine. She is sensitive to her friends feeling and know when to say words of encouragement to them.
Megumi is my best female character in Rurouni Kenshin Movie Collection. Kaoru could have been good as well because she is meant to be the romantic partner of Kenshin; but, I just find it repetitive when she is always the one who is held captive by the enemy. It felt like her role is just being bait. This fact is one thing I find off in Rurouni Kenshin movies.
One notable character I consider is Enishi. At first encounter, you can judge that he is of Chinese descent from his looks, clothes, and fighting technique. In The Final, Enishi plays as a significant character connecting to the past life of Kenshin Himura. Enishi has come to him for revenge. His storyline is interesting as it contributes to the resolution for Kenshin’s past regrets and memories. The actor who played the character Enishi is quite a more attractive and good-looking man in my eyes for him to be some sort of villain in this movie.
Goro is one of the great characters in Rurouni Kenshin to perform best in fighting scenes. He acts like a distant ally of Kenshin in every great battle in the movies esp. during the Kyoto Arc.
He has also great skills in using swords in battles. I believe he is one notable character because he has great (but shown in a subtle way) influence on Kenshin’s decision in participating the battles in this Meiji era.
Origins ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ | trailer
Kyoto Inferno ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ | trailer
The Legend Ends ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ | trailer
The Final ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ | trailer
I chose not to watch Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning because it felt a bit predictable already. Can someone convince me here to still watch it? Let me know in the comments section. 🙂
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Note: All photos are taken from their respective websites. The review and rating for this Netflix Movie Collection are only based on the personal opinion of the reviewer.