By Ronin Bautista and Mikael Angelo Francisco
(SPOILER ALERT! CLICK AWAY IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE YET)
Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno was such a lovely movie, and it’s not just the fanboys in us talking. It was comforting to know that the characters stayed the way they were in the anime, personality-wise, and that’s what matters most.
Well, to us, at least.
We chose a handful of notable deviations from the anime (the common Rurouni Kenshin exposure for everyone) which we think nitpickers will spend hours debating on (read: raging about), with verbal swordclashing on par with Kenshin’s legendary Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryū.
With that, we say unto you from the words of our dream uncle: Let the battle begin! (Wait, that sounded…)
1) Fireflies (Ronin)
Kyoto Inferno’s trailer already teased this, and part of me hoped it was not final. But Kenshin’s farewell to Kamiya Kaoru before heading to Kyoto was not done at night. It did get sealed with an embrace, but there were no fireflies to illuminate the scene.
In the movie, it was set in broad daylight. The horror!
It was understandable though: this farewell happened during Episode 31 of the anime (I had to rewatch the whole thing for this article – if that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is). At this point in the anime, Kaoru and Kenshin had already been through a handful of adventures, which justified them being romantically involved with each other. In the movieverse, however, it had probably been just a few weeks since the events of the first film, which means they wouldn’t be as emotionally attached to each other.
Still, we have to hand it to Emi Takei. Although she didn’t bawl like her anime counterpart did, falling to her knees and mumbling Kenshin’s name as he walked away, there was more than enough sorrow in her eyes – in other words, tagos pa rin.
Did we mention she had lots of students in the movie while Yahiko was her solo apprentice in the anime?
2) Aoshi and Misao (Kyle)
Two essential (and fan-favorite) characters in the RK mythos make their cinematic debut in Kyoto Inferno, with a few added twists, of course.
For many fans, the omission of the silent and lethal leader of the Oniwabanshou, Aoshi Shinomori, from the first Rurouni Kenshin film was not just regrettable; it was nearly inexcusable. Instead of getting some serious two-sword action in that infamous library scene in the first film, we got blondie Gein, who was, quite frankly, a bit of a wimp.
The filmmakers have seemingly corrected that in this installment, though I’m not exactly sure I’m happy with the way they did it. It really feels as if Aoshi’s presence here wasn’t completely necessary. Of course, I admit that my assessment may be debatable, given the significant role he plays in Misao’s life. I mean, talking about Misao without bringing up Aoshi in some form is akin to making a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie that completely disrespects the source material. (No, I am still not over it.)
Still, I can’t help but think of him as Aoshi-In-Name-Only. I don’t know. I guess I was too attached to his portrayal and back story in the anime.
Misao, on the other hand, remains fairly faithful to her anime counterpart. While there are a few minor differences in the way she was introduced, her personality and overall character traits remain the same, and she actually feels integral to the plot (or at least, a big enough part of it to not feel like a forced inclusion). However, her importance in this movie *was* slightly decreased.
Besides, Tsuchiya Tao did such an excellent job – from the moment she shows up on the screen, you could just tell she was Misao.
3) Sanosuke (Ronin)
In the movie, Sanosuke got trashed pretty badly by Aoshi before leaving for Kyoto, where he showed up right in time to get a piece of the action. In the anime, however, it was Saito Hajime who gave the brawler an ample beating, although the former Shinsengumi captain was more merciful compared to the Oniwabanshu leader.
Also, Sanosuke reached Kenshin through Saito, after ending up in jail in Kyoyo. They then teamed up to destroy the…
…Wait, leave that for later? Okay.
4) Cho’s sword (Ronin)
By this time, I think it’s safe to say that the movie universe of Rurouni Kenshin tries to keep the physics as “realistic” as possible. So far in the live version, Kenshin has not slashed through steel nor sliced daikon then put it back together.
So it is without much complaint that we note the absence of Cho’s final sword, the Hakujin no Tachi. Instead, the movie Cho used what looked like the Renbato instead.
It could have been problematic to include Cho’s whip-like blade in the movie, and there was probably no other way to pull it off aside using CG, which might be off-putting for most.
5) Did <REDACTED> really die? (Kyle)
One thing that bothers me, though, is the apparent death of a certain character at the hands of Aoshi.
Without giving too much away – in the anime, said character survives (despite the sheer implausibility of that actually happening); here, the character looked pretty darned dead, and while it does make more sense from a storytelling perspective, it’s a bit of a shame.
Especially since he sort of put up a better fight here than he did in the anime.
Then again, who knows? Maybe he DOES show up alive and wrapped
6) Kyoto Inferno was about Shishio setting Kyoto on fire, then using his ship to head for Tokyo instead…. (Ronin)
…only in the anime, neither plan was successful. The Oniwabanshu, together with the local police and the citizens of Kyoto (YES) managed to fend off Shishio’s troops, allowing no establishment to be set ablaze that night.
Meanwhile, Kenshin, Saito, and Sanosuke destroyed Shishio’s ship, the Purgatory (well, technically Sanosuke did, with the help of explosives). This set up Shishio challenging the trio to a showdown at his hideout…
…but with what happened in the movie, it looks like The Legend Ends will deviate largely from its anime/manga versions.
7) Hiko Seijuro, that son of a “beach!” (Kyle)
Ah, and we finally get to meet Kenshin’s master, Hiko Seijuro. Again, his cinematic “first appearance” differs quite a bit from the way he was introduced in the series – we get none of the awesome flashback scenes (though I suppose they’ll make up a good chunk of the third film), and Kenshin’s “visit” to Hiko in “Kyoto Inferno” was… well, let’s just say it wasn’t voluntary.
Still, the filmmakers managed to do it in a way that leaves just enough room for mystery – and naturally, curiosity – to build up and serve as a great appetizer for the final installment.
Ronin: These are welcome changes, including many others. The movie universe, after all, has time restrictions, so they try to squeeze the important details. Also, as long as the characters are faithful to the original ones, there won’t be complaints.
Mikael: I agree.
Mikael: What? I’m a man of few words.
Ronin: Moving on…
The deviations have a happy side effect – now, old and new Rurouni Kenshin fans can only speculate how everything happens in the last movie. For example, the trailer showed some scenes that nobody could remember from the anime/manga – this means that, no matter what, we will all definitely be surprised in some way. After all, part of the fun in watching movies is not knowing what to expect, right?
Mikael: Yeah. Unless you somehow have the misfortune of sitting in front of an otaku chatterbox who can’t seem to manage to shut up or stop himself from saying stupid things like “Uy, tingnan mo yan, papatayin yan mamaya nung bata kanina,” or “Mababali espada niya, malapit na, panoorin mo” five seconds before the damn scenes actually happen. True story.
To the loudmouthed dude who caught the 10:30 PM screening in SM Megamall last August 23 and sat in the middle of the Deluxe area of Cinema 3, this article goes out to you.
Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends screens on cinemas starting Sept. 24