For those hardcore fans of Rurouni Kenshin, the release of a live-action film adaptation was like a dream come true. Many got excited, while others were uncertain if the cast and director of the film would do justice to the original concept of Rurouni Kenshin. (Since we have already seen a lot of movie adaptations that were a big DISAPPOINTMENT.) The first RK movie was released in 2012, and though others were a bit disappointed with the slight changes in the story, the overall reception for the movie was good. Two years after, a two-part sequel is slated to be shown simultaneously in Japan and other countries in August and September.
The second and third films mainly tackle the Kyoto arc in the anime series. Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno is now showing in local cinemas in the Philippines, and it already became a box-office hit in the country just like in Japan after grossing P7.3M on its opening day on August 20. And as a big fan of the manga and anime series, I was looking forward to the live adaptation of Kyoto arc. It is, in no doubt, one of the best parts of the series, and I’m sure that many of us fans are curious to know how the actors would breathe life to the characters in the anime. So I decided to compare the movie to its animated counterpart and make a list of comparison in both stories.
(Note: This contains spoilers about the second movie, Kyoto Inferno. In response to the changes made in the movie, Director Keishi Otomo stated some of the reasons why he opted to alter some parts of the story. Read the interview here.)
- The movie started with Saito Hajime confronting Shishio and some of his subordinates, though the former failed to engage the latter in a combat.
In the anime though, the first meeting of the two was when Saito forayed Shishio’s mansion in Shingetsu village together with Kenshin.
- Saito was first shown in the prelude episode of Kyoto arc, where he was instructed by Ōkubo Toshimichi to test the strength of Himura and check whether he would be capable enough to stop Shishio Makoto.
Yosuke Eguchi, the actor who played the character of Saito Hajime, was initially introduced in the first live-action film Rurouni Kenshin where the story revolved around Kenshin’s battles with Takeda Kanryu and Udō Jin-e.
- When Kenshin decided to leave the dojo and go to Kyoto to stop Shishio, he appeared before Kaoru that night and bid her farewell. (And that scene really made me cry.)
In the movie, the setting was just slightly changed since the act was done during the day. And unlike the anime, it didn’t have any fireflies around (which for me, gave a more melancholic factor to the ambiance of the scene.) But nonetheless, the actors were able to capture the heartbreaking scene on their own way.
- Shinomori Aoshi’s first appearance in the movie was when he met Sanosuke on the way. They both didn’t know each other but they eventually engaged in a fight when Sano refused to tell him where Kenshin was. (Kenshin already left for Kyoto that time that was why Sano was temperamental. ) Since Aoshi was much stronger than him, he was severely bruised and before Aoshi could give his final blow, he was stopped by Megumi who came looking for Sanosuke. She introduced herself as a mere doctor who didn’t know anything about the rurouni, so Aoshi simply walked away. (Apparently, the Aoshi in this movie didn’t know who Megumi was.)
Aoshi was first introduced in the anime during Takani Megumi’s escape from Takeda Kanryū since he was employed by the latter to serve as his bodyguard together with other Oniwaban members. Therefore, the two of them already knew each other from the very start. Later on, when Aoshi began his quest to find Kenshin, he chanced upon Megumi who was left as the caretaker of the Kamiya residence when the others followed Kenshin to Kyoto. He threatened to kill her if she would not disclose Himura’s whereabouts but she still firmly refused. Saito Hajime arrived and told him the location of the battousai.
- In the original story, the two Oniwabanshu affiliates (Shinomori Aoshi and Kashiwazaki Nenji) dueled before the said upheaval in Kyoto. It was Nenji (or more commonly referred to as Okina) who challenged Aoshi in a battle to put an end to his wrongdoings especially when he decided to join Shishio’s faction as a means to kill Himura Kenshin.
The fight between Okina and Aoshi took place during the Kyoto commotion in the movie. That time, Aoshi hasn’t met Shishio yet and he was just looking for Kenshin himself. That was when he was confronted by the old man.
- During the match of Kenshin and Cho the Sword Hunter, Misao, Okina, Seiku and his wife were all present. In the film, however, it was only Seiku who witnessed the fight. But before Kenshin gave the final blow to Cho, Yahiko and Kaoru both arrived, and the latter was shocked because she thought Kenshin killed his opponent. They all later realized that Cho didn’t die because the new sword was also a sakabato.
- Shishio’s soldiers failed to burn the city of Kyoto since the Oniwaban members, together with Kaoru and Yahiko, prevented them from carrying out the plan. The other Juppongatana members decided to check what was happening and that was when Usui tried to kill Misao but then he was immediately stopped by Anji. Kenshin, Sanosuke and Saito, on the other hand, were chasing Shishio in the harbor.
In the live-action film, the three aforementioned characters helped the Oniwabanshu and police division extinguish the fire that threatened to burn Kyoto. That was when Sanosuke finally met Kenshin after he wandered to Kyoto on his own. Kenshin and Saito later realized that the plan to burn Kyoto was just a diversion, and as Kenshin began running towards Shishio’s location, he saw a horse carrying Seta Sojiro and Kamiya Kaoru who was knocked unconscious by the former.
- The movie continued with Kenshin chasing Sojiro and following him to the ship where Shishio and his Ten Swords were aboard. They all attacked him as Shishio tried to lure Hitokiri Battousai out of Himura Kenshin by taking Kaoru as their hostage. In the end, Hoji kicked her out of the gunship and she fell into the ocean. Kenshin then cleared his way out to jump in the water to rescue Kaoru, but he himself ended up being washed ashore in an island. It’s already revealed that the man who carried him to safety was his master, Hiko Seijūrō. That was when the movie concluded.
In the anime though, Kaoru wasn’t actually kidnapped by Shishio nor thrown out of his battleship Rengoku. Instead, Shishio’s warship was actually wrecked by the bombs given to Sano by his friend Katsu. Without any other choice, Shishio and his underlings had to evacuate the vessel, leaving the three behind. Shishio and Kenshin both agreed to settle their match at Mount Hiei where their epic battle took place.
These were so far, the biggest changes done to the movie compared to the original story that I can remember. (I might as well update this one when I recall the others LOL.) The scenes were also not shot in the proper sequence. (Take for example, the appearance of Kenshin’s master, Hiko Seijuro. He will be introduced in the third installment instead.) The other Juppongatana members were also just briefly shown, but I’m expecting that they will be given more screen time in The Legend Ends. There are other minor differences in the film but given the limited time (as explained by the director), I must say that he and the whole production did an excellent adaptation to this world-renowned manga. I am a big fan of both the manga and the anime series, and I am now also in love with the live action movie. I instantly fell in love with it when I watched the first RuroKen movie, but after I saw the sequel, my obsession got even higher. 😛 I highly commend all the actors and actresses who perfectly portrayed their roles, especially Takeru Satoh who is like the real-life version of Himura Kenshin. Overall, Kyoto Inferno has a lot to offer to all the fans of Rurouni Kenshin. It’s an action-packed movie overflowing with sword techniques you never expected to see in reality. Its intense scenes would surely drive you to the edge of your seats as you breathlessly wait for the next one. As you glue your eyes to the screen, you would just find yourself laughing, crying, cheering, and sharing the same emotions with the characters (and the rest of the audience in the theater). It also gives us some knowledge about Japan’s history since some of the names are actually based on real Japanese figures. (Go search for them!) Personally, I would give the movie a rating of 8 out of 10. Or 9, perhaps? *big grin*
Bonus: MUST-SEE SCENES:
- The duel between Kenshin and Sojiro (Like damn! Takeru and Ryunosuke were so nimble and proficient in using their katana that you would actually think they are the real deal. This brief duel would definitely leave a mark in your memories for a long time.)
- All the parts of Sanosuke Sagara (I don’t understand why, but even though the scene was serious or dramatic, the audience would always laugh at him. He probably just looked funny no matter what. And just like Satoh and Kamiki, I believe that Aoki is Sanosuke’s reincarnation. HAHAHA!)
- Aoshi Versus Okina. (Thumbs up to Mr. Min Tanaka, the actor who played the role of Okina. His age didn’t hinder him from doing all those stunts during his match with Yusuke Iseya, who was also surprised with the incredible strength he displayed during that shot.)
- Kenshin Vs. Sawagejō Chō (Ryosuke Miura is an extremely good actor. Nuff said. )
- Himura Kenshin’s ORO moments (There were just a few, but they would definitely make you go awww when you hear Kenshin’s favorite expression. He too has his own share of brief comedic moments with Misao and the gang. )
- Himura Bakkyusai (WAIT. WHAT? No, I didn’t misspell it. Bakkyusai was the name of the actor who parodied the infamous hitokiri during a stage play. The real Kenshin was watching and laughing along with his friends because of the actor’s antics. The audience’s laughter reverberated in the halls of the theater when this scene was played. )
- Sagara Sanosuke’s epic fail. (This might just be included in the second list, but this one in particular cracked everyone up. It was the part where he was supposed to jump to the other side of the canal using a long bamboo stick. But like I said, it was an EPIC FAIL.)
There are a lot more scenes you have to watch out for, especially the ones that involve a sword fight with Himura Kenshin and his opponents (like Shishio’s subordinates in Shingetsu village). I believe that the highly anticipated finale will surpass this one. The hype is getting even higher as the date advances. Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends will premiere in Japan on September 13! Watch out for it!