Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno

In taking a story from manga to anime, to live action, there are bound to be changes that make it more format- and audience-friendly. As we saw a couple weeks ago, it doesn’t always come out successfully, but in the case of today’s subject, the combination of writing, acting, directing, and the rest of the crew has come together to put out a truly excellent product.

RK Kyoto Inferno

This time I’m looking at volume two of the Rurouni Kenshin film series, “Kyoto Inferno”. With Takeru Sato and Emi Takei reprising their roles as Kenshin and Kaoru, respectively, the story picks up not long after where it left off at the end of the first movie. The audience is introduced to Makoto Shishio in all his insanity, and it becomes obvious to newcomers that he’ll be the primary antagonist going forward. The movie covers the section where Kenshin is egged into going to Kyoto out of a responsibility for resolving the fact that Shishio even exists in the first place, up through the encounter on the ships in the harbor. Fans of the source material will hopefully recognize the new character brought in at the very end.

Rurouni Kenshin fans will also probably pick up on the fact that even though this second movie follows closer to the original story, it is still constrained by the changes made to it in the first one. Sanosuke’s loyalty is established, so that’s not such a big deal, but we don’t see as satisfying an explanation of the level of motivation associated with Aoshi Shinomori’s obsession with Kenshin as we’re familiar with because he wasn’t part of Kanryuu’s crew this time around. That all being said, everything fits well within the existing parameters of this modified version, and it’s a beautiful ride all over again. The only story element I was truly disappointed in was that Kenshin’s departure was so close to the beginning. I felt like we didn’t have enough of a chance to get back into the right emotional head space, to have it hit as hard as it did in the manga and anime.

This movie could exist in a vacuum if it wanted. Viewers don’t necessarily have to be familiar with the first installment or the source material to get something out of it, and that’s definitely a good thing. You will be left wanting for part three, though, and that’s a good thing too. If you have any feelings about the story, actors, setting, or any other relevant element, I highly recommend checking this one out. I know I’m eagerly waiting for the ‘end of the legend’.

Rating: 5th Gear

[If you have a topic you’d like me to cover in a future article, please don’t hesitate to email me at Sara at otdt.net.]