I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed Rurouni Kenshin, the live-action adaptation of anime hit Samurai X. The film, Japanese-produced and distributed by Warner Bros., concerns a wanderer named Himura Kenshin, once a deadly samurai assassin known as Battosai. After the Bakumatsu war, Japan transitions from feudal shogunate to the Meiji government. Some samurai end up as part of the military force of the new government, while others enter a life of poverty and crime. Kenshin, wanting to atone for the lives he has taken, vows never to kill again. This vow is soon challenged.
I cannot call myself a fan of Samurai X because I never got the chance to watch the animated series in its entirety. I know some characters, but know nothing of the major plot points. (To illustrate my ignorance: The first time Sanosuke Sagara appeared onscreen, the people around me started murmuring with delight. I just thought he looked vaguely familiar.) If you haven’t encountered Kenshin’s story before, don’t fret. The filmmakers are able to create an entertaining film with a satisfying plot and excellent cinematography. The film is also successful in showing the pain of change as Japan turns over a new leaf before the 1900’s. “I was starving,” says one of the former samurai, “in this insipid new age of yours.” It has got to be the best line in the film. Casting is laudable, with main man Takeru Satoh able to show the playfulness and darkness of Kenshin.
I just love the final scene. Rurouni Kenshin ends on a great note, a sweet note, that caught me by surprise.