The third and FINAL live action Rurouni Kenshin film, The Legend Ends, starring Takeru Sato, Munetaka Aoki and Tatsuya Fujiwara and directed by Keishi Otomo had its North American premiere during LA Eigafest 2015, hosted by the Japanese Film Society.
Jonathan and I were among the lucky few who were able to attend the first red carpet premiere, AND the second long awaited sequel, and so making it to the third one was an absolute must!
Director Keishi Otomo and actor Muntaka Aoki who portrays Sagara Sanosuke, were present for Q&A after the films debut, and they were mingling in the crowd at a pretty bitchin’ after party at The Belasco Theater with guests.
So! My thoughts on the third and final Rurouni Kenshin film! First, the synopsis:
To stop Makoto Shishio who aims to conquer Japan, Kenshin arrives in Kyoto and tries to face off against Shishio’s troops. However, his enemies have begun invading Tokyo with their steel-reinforced battleship. To save the captured Kaoru who is thrown into the sea by Shishio’s men, Kenshin also dives in after her but is washed ashore alone, unconscious. Kenshin recovers with the help of his master, Seijuro Hiko, who finds him washed up on the shore. Kenshin realizes he is no match for Shishio unless he learns the ultimate technique of his sword style, and begs his master to teach him. In the meantime, Shishio finds out that Kenshin is still alive, and puts pressure on the government to find Kenshin and execute him in public for his sins during his days as Battosai the Killer. As Kenshin faces his biggest challenge, can he really defeat his fiercest enemy Shishio, and be reunited with Kaoru?
For those of you who don’t know, Rurouni Kenshin is a HUGELY popular manga and anime series that has fans worldwide. The story was brought to life by director Keishi Otomo in a live action movie that won over skeptics and hardcore fans (myself included) and became a blockbuster summer hit in Japan and many other countries in 2012.
The second film was not as epic as the first, but was still a solid 9 out of 10. I’d say this is another solid 9… the only thing stopping me from bestowing a hard earned 10, is because it wrapped up far too quickly for such a huge story. Not the directors fault by any means.. just a greedy fan wanting more more more.
The casting was again spot on, with costume design that deserves to win awards. It looks as though the characters in the anime just sprang to life in the most realistic and non-cheesy way. Over the top anime garb melts seamlessly and non-jarringly into a Meiji Era world. I seriously never thought that the cast and crew could stay so true to the original anime character sketches and still have the characters and set looking like a convincing, historically accurate samurai movie.
The set design is just as jaw droppingly flawless as the cast and costumes. The imagery comes across as ;=yoto or the quiet and quaint imagery of the Kamiya Dojo.
I ill say, initially I was disappointed with the slow pacing and lackluster choreography of the third film in comparison to the first two, but once Kenshin dons his red garb! OMG OMG OMG. I can’t even begin to describe. In a genre that is rife with action, and the advent of the superhero action packed and CG riddled summer blockbuster, this REAL action, REAL stunt and REAL swordplay movie is simply mind blowing. You really have to see it to believe it. Seriously having trouble describing the fight scenes, since everything I start to type is coming out as fangirl gibberish. Lol!
As I said before, a lot of original storyline got pushed aside and was too big to be able to include in the film. But as with the first two films, story nuances and character background that I frankly did not think would be relevant enough to squeeze into the movie length, the scriptwriters somehow managed to do, without the story feeling forced or rushed. And it’s done so organically that non-fans would be able to easily follow along without getting lost.
After the movie, we walked the half mile to the Belasco to attend the after party. The party was way too loud and strobe-lighty for anything resembling actual conversation, so I didn’t get to visit with the impossibly sexy Mr. Aoki so much as pantomime that my husband and I wanted to get jiggy with his sexy self… but considering he doesn’t speak fluent English, perhaps it’s all for the best.
Overall, it was a great way to conclude the final release of the Kenshin movies! I’m feeling a little sad that this is the last one, but I’m keeping my eye out for future movie releases from LA EigaFest and Otomo. Or… dare I say it… more Kenshin movies?! (Please, please, please!?)