This is it! The final episode of the critically-acclaimed anime from 2012, “Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning”, has been released! The finale follows our hero, Himura Kenshin, as he battles the thieving organization, Shishio Makoto, in a climactic duel. The original manga has been adapted into a trilogy of TV shows, a manga, and a short-lived animated series, and it has been a hit with fans around the world. While the final chapter is a bit of a departure from the original manga, it’s a fine conclusion.
We all have a favorite story in a series that we’ve enjoyed. “Harry Potter,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Star Wars,” and “The Wizard of Oz” were the first in their respective series that many people remember. In the case of “Rurouni Kenshin,” it’s a series that many people have followed from the beginning, and for good reason. “Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning” was a very well-received film, and it makes for a great continuation of the series.
It’s hard to believe that this was the final film for most of the cast, but it is. The movie was made two years after the end of the manga series, but most of the cast was brought back for this movie. Notable exceptions are Takeru Satō as Takasugi, who played Himura Kenshin in the series, and the actor who played the villainous Enishi, Masaharu Satō, who also played the character in the live-action series.
‘Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning’ is a live-action Japanese film directed by Keishi Otomo, who also helmed the preceding films in the popular series. This film is the fifth and final chapter of the Rurouni Kenshin series, which is based on Nobuhiro Watsuki’s comic novels of the same name. This fifth chapter was shot in 43 different places throughout Japan at the same time as the fourth entry, ‘Rurouni Kenshin: The Final.’
The documentary examines Himura Kenshin’s history as the assassin Hitokiri Battosai during his Bakumatsu years, as well as how the former hitman acquired his cross-shaped scar. On June 4, this film was released in Japanese theaters, but on July 30, it was distributed worldwide on Netflix.
Takeru Satoh, who has played Kenshin Himura since the first film was released in 2012, appears in this action film. Kasumi Arimura, who plays Tomoe Yukishiro, and Yosuke Eguchi, who plays Hajime Saito, are among the other cast members.
Himura used to be a contract killer, and a deadly one at that, as fans of both the animated and live-action versions of the series will remember. His name and talents were known far and wide. Fortunately, he saw the light and surrendered his weapons of mass devastation after racking up 100 murders before second-guessing his actions and evolving into the character that many fans know and adore today.
As the title implies, the narrative returns to the beginning, perfectly wrapping off the series and solidifying it as one of the greatest cinematic sagas ever created. It’s Kenshin’s character being completely dismantled and rebuilt into the guy we’ve seen in the previous films. The tale depicts Himura’s transformation into the famous death agent who instilled terror everywhere he went. The story also goes into detail about how Kenshin met Tomoe Yukushira and how she influenced his killer-for-hire lifestyle. Tomoe betrays Himura at some time, as the viewer discovered in the fourth chapter; nevertheless, this film delves into why and how it occurred.
‘Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning,’ like its predecessors, is every bit of what fans would expect of a film of this quality and so much more. Himura was portrayed as a hero in the previous films, but in this chapter, he is simply a highly trained professional hanging out in a rebel organization, ostensibly fighting for peace, until Tomoe intervenes and steers him in the right path. Himura’s face is expressionless, making it difficult to discern his inner emotions; nevertheless, the viewer can sense there is a deeply tormented soul behind that blank exterior.
‘Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning’ is jam-packed with interesting, well-choreographed, and beautifully filmed action scenes, as is customary for this series. To top it off, the action is darker, more realistic, and downright nasty. In fact, the film contains so much violence that Netflix had to give it an 18+ rating. Starting with the first scene, Otomo develops the action in a completely new way; it’s quicker and bloodier. Still, it’s leaning toward conditionality, focusing on how it inflicts emotional wounds on the protagonist. Those who like these kind of films will relish the bloody scenes no matter how long the action lasts. Those who are hesitant to watch action sequences may find themselves fading out after a while, since scenes featuring intense and severe action take up a large portion of the screen time.
The music is skillfully and purposefully placed throughout the film, and when the action sequences begin, the typical action themes are absent. Instead, the music is slower and more contemplative, implying that the moments are about more than just physicality. The graphics for ‘Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning’ are unlike anything seen before. The images have a grainy appearance and a less vivid color grading, which is a great use of cinematic language to convey a significant difference from the other films in the series.
The love story between Kenshin and Tomoe, which is the essence of the whole series, is at the center of this magnificent masterpiece. Kasumi Arimura dominates the show as Tomoe with her excellent portrayal of her many changes, particularly how she manages to shatter Kenshin’s apparently impenetrable, emotionless façade. Her character is a crucial part of the story’s progression.
The storyline is slow-moving yet fascinating, and it takes time to fill in the plot gaps left by the prior films. It provides a background look at how Japan appeared in the 1700s, ensuring that the history, set designs, and costumes were accurate for the time period. The game also delves into Japan’s rich ancient past and renowned Samurai culture, providing a valuable history lesson along the way.
Many flashbacks are used in this film to assist shed more light and move the plot ahead, but they do so to a degree that they give too much away, undermining the sense of mystery and suspense. It would have been more intriguing and thrilling if there were less flashbacks.
For fans of the renowned series, ‘Rurouni Kenshin The Beginning’ is a fantastic way to spend some time. Apart from delving further into Himura’s character and assisting viewers in comprehending how this guy came to be and why he is the way he is today, In summary, it’s a well-shot, highly enjoyable work of art that wraps off the live-action series of the most famous anime in the most stunning and truly appropriate way possible, leaving viewers pleased. However, for newcomers, starting with this edition is not a good choice since, unlike its predecessors, it does not function well as a stand-alone.
SCORE: 7 OUT OF 10
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