Thoughtful and impressive recreation of hugely popular Japanese manga and anime series.
Director: Keishi Ohtomo | Stars: Takeru Sato, Emi Takei
Budget: n.a.| Box office: n.a.
IMDB: 7.7 | Metacritic: n.a.
It‘s been ages since I saw a Japanese movie, so I was really glad to have a chance to watch the new film based on popular manga and anime series about a wondering samurai, which in the West is also known by the name Samurai X. I have seen only a few episodes of anime series and sadly never had a chance to read the manga, so my impression is just from the film itself. And it is really good.
The main reason is that the movie has a quite unexpected serious tone. I thought there will be just random fights in some feudal samurai times, but it‘s totally different. The story takes place in the late nineteenth century when after many centuries the power was finally taken from samurai lords and Japan started it‘s way to modernization. It‘s an interesting coincidence that I recently read James Clavell’s historical novel Shogun, which is a great way to learn about feudal samurai world, and then started to read Gai-Jin – his later work about the fall of samurai rule and the start of modern era. I really recommend reading this for anyone who‘s even a bit interested in Japan‘s history and the mysterious world of samurai.
The film starts with a last battle leading to the new modern rule, after witch the legendary warrior and incredibly powerful killer decides to change his fate and pleads to never kill again. But his sword, left in the battle, is found by another mysterious warrior, who assumes his role. Then the story goes ten years forward, when Japan already is ruled by money, former samurais are starving or joining criminal gangs and the mysterious blue eyed warrior starts to kill policemen and threaten civilians, clearing the way for his boss – wealthy manager, dealing the new much more addictive type of opium. The real hero Kenshi after ten years of wandering stumbles upon a local girl, who runs her late father’s sword fighting school. Together they‘re entangled in the boss’ intrigues and eventually must stop him.
There are more details and characters in Rurouni Kenshin story, but it manages to stay connected and provides a really interesting and believable drama. The movie is more than two hours long so there is time for everything and the plot doesn‘t rush forward like it‘s usual in such movies. There are only a few fights, but all of them are logically motivated and truly impressive. It‘s right on the edge of believable human abilities and the actors do their job really well. And the most important, that it‘s not just a clash of some enemies, it‘s a fight for their true values and different views about life and death.
It‘s a bit strange that as I understand incredibly popular anime series didn’t have much success outside of Asia. So far the movie was screened only in one festival in Europe, but I hope it will reach western cinemas. It‘s a really masterful work and a believable vision of Japan‘s history on the brink of new era.