Rorouni Kenshin Live-Action Film: When the Icon/Legend becomes a Phenomenon
I guess SM never expected this movie to have such a huge following, and I’m betting they were quite surprised with the turn out and the hype that this film made once it was announced that it will be shown in the country. You can almost feel their apprehension when SM decided to show the film via a limited play date; the longest of which extending only 5 days in selected SM Cinemas here in Metro Manila and concentrated mostly in the Quezon City area. However, after the first week the showing, the movie was extended for a few more days…which stretched in to another week and eventually…3 weeks! Whatever doubts SM may have had at the beginning, those were all erased as they raked in the cash and the movie became an unprecedented success.
The film was based on the season 1 and 2 of the anime series, with some inputs coming from both the manga and the OVAs. It wasn’t an exact adaptation of the series however it was close enough to be thoroughly satisfying. Something that even the uninitiated would understand and the fangirl (like me) and fanboys would appreciate. Some hardcore fans would probably comment on the sequence of events or that the movie did not actually follow the plot of either the manga or the anime. However, this should be expected. It is simply impossible to religiously follow the plot of the anime or the manga through the movie considering the time frame. This is nothing new and considering the number of books and comic book stories turned films, this should be expected. But I would venture to say that compared to those this movie adaptation was wayyyy, wayyy better. Watching the film you get the impression of how much the director and the people behind the film respected the storyline and consequently the fans. As I earlier commented, leave it to the Japanese to make a film adaptation of their animes and stories – they understand it better thus they will treat it with a lot of respect.
So, as for me, in terms of the plot…this active adaptation is a complete success.
Character development wasn’t given much time in the film, may be it was due to time constraints or because they focused more on the series of events in the film however, it was good enough that even those who know little or none at all about the series would get it that Kenshin Himura was supposedly a legendary battousai (assassin/man slayer) who have decided to live that life behind and turn a new leaf living a peaceful and low profile life. Besides, I do think that the director and writers of the film probably surmised that majority of those who will sought to watch this movie would at least have a little knowledge of the anime series. Rorouni Kenshin was and still is an iconic manga and anime series in Japan and Asia and in some western countries where anime is being appreciated.
With regards to the choice of the actors who played the characters, Takeru Sato was simply perfect. I mean, he was a complete surprise to me personally. In terms of looks they couldn’t have chosen a better Kenshin, who would have thought that the pretty boy from Kamen Rider Den-O would be so perfect as the most feared, ruthless battosai. I totally admire Sato on this, because not only was he able to really internalize the role of Kenshin but he really studied the role and the character such that fans get to see Kenshin’s mannerisms and movements in Sato – the way that Kenshin end nearly his every fighting move kneeling on the ground with his head bowed, the way Kenshin likes to stand up after a fight and seem to fix the sheathed sword on this waist, his agility, his funny “Oro” expressions and the way Kenshin deliver those funny, clueless comedic lines that render the humor in the series. It was just…I repeat…PERFECT!
Munetaka Aoki was also spot-on as Sagara Sanosuke, except for the fact that he is a bit short compared to the Sanosuke of the anime series. But looks-wise he was flawless, and his acting was wonderful as well.
In terms of the actors in this film, I guess the only ones I have a slight comment would be the women. Emi Takei was a wonderful Kamiya Kaoru, her simplicity and almost plain looks was exactly how Kaoru was in both the anime and the manga. However, it wouldn’t hurt if she was a bit more tomboyish as Kaoru was actually quite the tomboy.
Yuu Aoi as Takani Megumi did her best to give justice to her role…and in reality she was very good at it. My only negative comment about this is that Megumi from the original story is supposedly sultry, sexy, mysterious and all together gorgeous. Though Aoi is beautiful in her own right, she was just a tad too old for Megumi plus when placed beside Takei she looks much, much simplier. I mean, Megumi from the anime and manga would make Kaoru look like her servant, whereas in the movie Takei outstaged Aoi in beauty.
Taketo Tanaka as Myojin Yahiko was so cute but he’s way to young for the role. In the original story Yahiko was already in his teens.
Yusuke Eguchi was actually a huge improvement for Saito Hajime, I mean I have no complaints Eguchi was a real eye candy but, well, I like Saito but he wasn’t really in THAT handsome. Again, I’ve got no complaints …just saying.
All in all the film was a raging success. There were a couple of minor deviations from the original storyline and one or two major infractions but all in all it was a very, very good adaptation of the series. It was the sort of adaptation film that Hollywood directors, writers and producers should try to emulate. I loved the film…saw it twice actually and am looking forward to the DVD’s release so I can watch it every time I want to. Oh, we’re (Kenshin fangirls and fanboys everywhere) are already looking forward to the sequel. Can’t barely wait!