The movie that follows Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno concludes this story arc with Kenshin attempting to learn the ultimate technique of the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryuu style whilst Shishio Makoto threatens the government and coerces them into naming Kenshin a wanted man again.
- The overall condensation of the story to a two-movie format worked well. I thought the narrative was concise and clear enough. I think some of the characters could have used more detailed backstory to explain some of the reactions, but it just wouldn’t have been at all sane to try and squeeze everything in.
- The casting. No change from the previous film so of course I still think it’s great (aside from the casting for Megumi and Kaoru). Fukuyama Masaharu was all right as Hiko Seijuurou, Kenshin’s master. Not nearly as amusing as the supremely self-confident manga version of the character, but given that the films are aimed at being somewhat more realistic than the manga, I suppose a more toned-down and serious version was inevitable.
- I liked the little touch with Kenshin changing his blue outfit to his old red one. Reminded me a bit of Captain America: The Winter Soldier where Steve’s putting on his old suit kind of signifies a return to positivity/hope/victory.
The Bad, or the Could-Have-Been-Better
- I rather liked Iseya Yusuke’s Aoshi in the second movie. Here, I’m not so sure. On the one hand, I liked that he got a bit more screentime. On the other hand, I did not like the slightly odd rasping voice he used when talking to Kenshin before/during their fight. It brought Christian Bale’s Batman and Tom Hardy’s Bane to mind (only those were even harder to understand) and that’s not a good thing to me. I also did not quite see why they bothered to bring his character into the final battle. That is, I get it – Aoshi was involved in the fight in the manga along with Saitou Hajime and Kenshin, so they probably wanted to try to keep that idea in the movie too. However… This leads me to my next point.
- The final battle felt contrived. Shishio Makoto vs Kenshin + Sanosuke + Saitou + Aoshi?? It made sense in the manga, given how the story unfolded there. In the movie it makes nearly no sense at all. Aoshi is pretty badly injured after fighting with Kenshin, passes out and wakes up in the Aoiya in Kyoto with his friends. Then he suddenly pops up in Tokyo and helps Kenshin out – hiding his good will (I presume?) under the pretense of not wanting Shishio to kill Kenshin because he wants to be the guy who defeats him. And just how did Aoshi get onto Shishio’s battleship?? Saitou showing up wasn’t too surprising given that he was on the beach and had a police boat at his disposal. But Aoshi? It was too sudden and too little explained.
- The ultimate technique of the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryuu. I guess this move was just too fantastical to be translated to reality. The end result was… Wow. I can’t even remember how it looked on screen. Maybe he was too fast to be seen haha
- A little bit too much time spent on Seta’s conflicted reaction when he lost to Kenshin. He’s supposed to be conflicted and confused, yes, because he was abused as a little boy and Shishio taught him that strength and power are everything, but Kenshin overturned that notion. But we don’t see Seta’s backstory in the movie – we only hear it in barely a sentence or two from Anji, one of the Ten Swords, and that’s hardly enough to give people any sort of pity for the character.
And the Random
- Maybe they should’ve reduced the Ten Swords to five. As it is, we only really get a look at Swordhunter Chou, Seta and Anji. Usui the Blind Swordsman only turned up in a handful of scenes, had no lines, and Saitou disposed of him in an instant. People who didn’t read the manga or watch the anime might have been wondering what was the point of singling him out. As for the others? Barely saw them. But I guess “Five Swords” doesn’t sound as impressive as “Ten Swords”.
- Not sure to what purpose was Kaoru’s getting out of bed and wandering out to the beach where she has dreams/visions of Kenshin… Couldn’t they just have had her wake up and go talk to Sano and Yahiko straightaway? Why bother with the whole “Kaoru’s gone from her bed! We have to find her!!” panic thing?
- I’m fairly sure the music during Kenshin’s fight with Aoshi was the same or similar to the music used in the dojo fight back in the first movie. It sounded so familiar and evoked a familiar feel.
- I wish we’d seen more of Hiko wearing that cloak of his. It’s his trademark in the manga, but he didn’t have it on as much in the movie.
I think the first movie was the best, but this one’s not too bad either. It was still enjoyable