To those who decided to marathon the TV anime series and the two OVAs or read the manga before watching the movie and wished for a straight adaptation of the original source material, then prepare to be disappointed because the movie is not a frame by frame adaptation of the original source material. The movie just takes elements from the earlier story arcs of the manga prior to the Kyoto Arc and creates a story inspired by its elements while taking some minor elements and plot details from later story arcs, to be exact elements from the Kyoto Arc and the Jinchu Arc.
Takeru Satoh's performance as Kenshin Himura is fantastic; I guess his previous role as Kamen Rider Den-O helped him with the personality switch between the cold-blooded Battousai and the kind-hearted wanderer named Kenshin. For fans of the original story, they still retained some of Kenshin's mannerisms in the movie such as his humble manner of speaking and his infamous "Oro" line every time he gets hit or he gets curious on something.
Kenshin's oath to himself to not kill again and use the sword to protect others is one of the elements from the original that they faithfully retained. Just like the original, his former enemies question this change of heart of the former manslayer. It is also one of the central themes of the movie as some of his former enemies that appeared in the movie, namely Saito and Jin'e wanted to see the Battousai that they faced 10 years ago.
The first thing that surprised me when they introduce the characters in the movie is Hajime Saito, who is supposed to appear in the anime and the manga during the events of the Kyoto Arc made an appearance in the movie! The first thing that came to my mind is how can they fit this character in the movie considering that the closest connection Kenshin had with the cops is the cop with glasses that gives Kenshin intel on some important cases that needed Kenshin's skills as a swordsman. Much to my surprise, they were able to work it out by introducing Saito earlier in the movie and make him a prominent key figure of the cops all throughout the movie. The cop with glasses is still in the movie but his involvement is reduced and I am okay with it.
Just like Megumi, Takeda stole the spotlight of this movie. If my memory serves me correctly, his movie version is more twisted compared to his anime and manga counterpart. You can say that the anime and manga version is more tamer since I forgot that he actually existed till this movie came along and reminded me that this guy exist! It didn't help that he had a more prominent role in the movie. Though he is not as charismatic like Aoshi in the original anime and manga, he has this own charisma that makes you hate the guy. He is so despicable in the movie that I really like it.
Technical wise, the music scoring of the movie is really great that added depth on a lot of scenes. The special effects and the wire work is top notch and it seems like the movie use minimal CGI as the only CGI that I saw are the sparks. I am sure that I am seeing CGI sparks thanks to my experience in watching a lot of tokusatsu shows whose main replacement for blood is sparks, you know, for the kids! To put it simply, the movie is pure wire work and the physique of the actors doing their own stunts during the sword fight scenes.
Overall, Rurouni Kenshin though not faithful to the original source material, it is the best manga/anime adaptation I have ever seen. If there is one thing I learned from watching Dragonball: Evolution aside that Hollywood doesn't know how to do a faithful manga/anime adaptation that would be, it is impossible to write a straight adaptation of a manga/anime. The best approach is do what American comic book movies do, adapt a major story line and has some elements from other related stories to make a good movie. After the movie ended, it made me want more Rurouni Kenshin and in the process, gave me the urge to rewatch Kamen Rider Den-O.
P.S. One fun bit while watching the movie, after the movie ended, those who are in the cinema clapped for one excellent movie.
Originally posted in Orends: Range back in December 6, 2012.