The previous film setup all the key players and since they are now done setting up, they went no holds barred when it comes to action and story. First is with action, since Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno is not yet available on DVD (as of this writing), I decided to rewatch the film's trailers. Aside from discovering that some scenes that are supposed to be for The Legend Ends are in the trailer, I noticed one thing interesting. Most of the fights in Kyoto Inferno are horde battles, meaning one vs. everyone, in The Legend Ends, most of the fights are one-on-one duels. It's an interesting contrast and gives the two films their own distinct identity.
My problem with the duels in the original anime/manga Kyoto Arc especially when they are in Shishio's base is that it feels like it came straight from a video game. It's like they can't progress to the next room until they defeated the boss of the current room they are in right now. It makes sense why they went with this approach is because Shishio wants to stall Kenshin and co. so that he can execute his plan, but in the case of this movie, they can't do it because the plan is already in motion and by the looks of it, Shishio is actually winning.
Speaking of dumb stuff from the previous film that worked in this one is the black ship. In the source material, this ship didn't play an important role in the entire narrative, but in the film, this ship played a huge role in Shishio's plot. My problem with the ship in the previous film is that it felt like it was an unnecessary plot device so that we can have a scene to separate Kenshin and Kaoru. In this film, they made the ship work story wise. I mean, the filmmakers ditched Shishio's mountain fortress in favor of a moving fortress and they played with it like this ship is an extension of Shishio's power... and it worked.
More on the original stuff of the film, I was surprised how much the government was involved in this crisis. Unlike in the manga/anime where they will just pop-up, give Kenshin his mission and leave, the government is heavily involved in a lot of major scenes in the film. From preparing their countermeasures against Shishio's ship and some other stuff related to Kenshin's apparent public execution, making this one of those rare times in movies that there's an actual competent governing body that runs a country.
Seijuro's final duel with his student is a major highlight of his film as it expands Kenshin's character development. During the course of the movie, aside from Kenshin wanting some closure because of his past, they also brought up him not valuing his life to protect other people. They focused it especially during his duel with his master. Thinking about it, if this is the final Rurouni Kenshin film, it makes sense why they brought this up. After the restoration, Kenshin became a wanderer to protect the weak and the innocent, and after meeting Kaoru and co., he now has his own surrogate family. That being said, there are people who care that a guy named Kenshin Himura existed. To put it simply, his teacher wants him to learn the value of his own life since there are people who care for him.
Finally, the rest of the characters; because of the events of the previous film, Kaoru didn't do much in this one. The other Juppongatana members in this film are now interesting, especially Hoji. In the previous film, he's just Shishio's yes man, but in this film, they made him one entertaining character to watch due to the fact that he can be quite over the top from time to time. As for the other members who does the fighting, they are all one-dimensional, it didn't help that Anji, one of my favorite members of the group just tells us some of the back stories of some members, losing the impact on some of their motivations, especially with Sojiro, who has one tragic back story and was one of my favorite stories in the original source material.
This film ties up with the entire film trilogy in ways I didn't expect and seeing this film end made me want to crave more of it. Heck, I even sat during the credits scene waiting for an after credits scene that hints the possible appearance of Enishi, a character who played a big role in Kenshin's life in the manga. Sadly, there are no after credits scene that teases Enishi. Oh well, this is one great film and I can't wait to watch it once it is out on DVD.
Originally posted on Orends: Range back in October 2, 2014.