Firstly I apologise for the lack of blogging. I’ve been contributing content to a separate blog as part of my assessment at Uni. Check out Scientific Scribbles at the University of Melbourne. My posts can be found here.
Ok so next up, Rurouni Kenshin Movie Review!! (SPOILER ALERT)
Before the live action movie, I only heard about the famous Samurai X! from friends and various media so it was really exciting to be able to finally watch the three movies! I’ve seen other live action films such as Dragonball Z and Avatar and they were disappointing to say the least. Rurouni Kenshin however has some of the best acting and live-action sequences I have ever seen for a live-action adaptation of an anime series. So what makes Rurouni Kenshin special for me?
1) Cold Blooded Killer or Kind Hearted Hero?
I really love the juxtaposition in this anime. In the first movie, we are introduced to Hitokiri(人きり） Battosai, which translates as “Human Cutter Battosai”. A cold-blooded assassin which helped the current government come into power. To many, Kenshin was just a tool of the government, similar to how Edward was viewed by many as a “dog of the military” in Full Metal Alchemist. After the war, Kenshin vowed to never kill again and live a life of peace. Further into the story, it is revealed to us that Kenshin chose to aid the government because he believed that it would result in peace for the country. We are also shown how much the assassination of a politician who was about to be married affected him emotionally and psychologically.
Kenshin desired peace, but it could only be bought at a price. He understood this and took the burden upon himself. A similar theme which has been expounded in Attack on Titan, Gundam 00, and the award-winning chinese movie, 英雄(Hero).
These “Heroes” or “Villains” understood the sacrifice required to achieve an ultimate goal, and were willing to undergo trials and tribulations to achieve their dreams.
I really like this contrasting of a single character as it adds complexity to the plot and helps us understand that “There is no clear right or wrong in many situations“. Our world is complex, multi-layered and grey.
2) “Foolish” Idealism
Kenshin has only known the art of killing all his life. All he knows is that the purpose of a sword is to kill, a fact that Saito ( the other samurai who works for the government) readily accepts. Kaoru however believes that the sword can actually be used to “rejuvenate one’s soul”. She believes that a tool used for killing can instead be used for the good of others. This is a contradiction that is best explained in the movie 英雄(Hero) when Jet Li talks to the Emperor. Kaoru helps strengthen Kenshin’s resolve not to kill and Kenshin fights with his blunt blade throughout the series, rarely killing anybody. This resolve is challenged in the third movie however where it seems as though he has to be willing to kill to overcome his opponents.
In the end of the third movie, Shishio dies due to his past injuries. This was a major letdown for me and many fans I am sure. This is where things get interesting. What are the directors trying to tell us here? Did Kenshin’s foolish dream of taking down his opponents without killing succeed, thus implying that one should uphold his or her ideals despite it being a seemingly impossible task? OR Did the directors want to show that such lofty goals are practically impossible to achieve in real life since Shishio wasnt really ‘defeated’ but died due to his injuries. OR Is this your standard good triumphs over evil story? Something to think about.
Regardless, rooting for the idealistic hero Kenshin kept my eyes riveted on the screen throughout all three movies.
I thoroughly enjoyed the movie trilogy. The icing on top of the cake was the ending song by One OK Rock, “Heartache”. You can listen to it here.
Edit 1: Post Finished. Pictures to be uploaded.