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MOVIE REVIEW: Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends – “The Greatest Anime-To-Movie Adaptation Yet!”



Directed by: Keishi Otomo
Produced by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Written By: Kiyomi Fuji
Starring: Takeru Sato, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Emi Takei, Yu Aoi, Munetaka Aoki, Tsuchiya Tao, Yosuke Eguchi, Yuusuke Iseya, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Min Tanaka
MTRCB Rating: PG-13
Genre: ,
9.0/ 10

User Rating
7 total ratings



The high-octane action sequences, solid production values, as well as its faithfulness to the source material make it a solid experience.


Some slight deviations might not please long-time fans.

Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends proved itself as the greatest anime-to-movie adaptation there is, and places itself alongside well beloved movies in the pantheon of classics.

Posted September 26, 2014 by


Here’s the challenge when it comes to every trilogy’s finale: it should have the capacity to surpass everything the previous two entries have laid on the plate. There’s the difficult task of providing a decisive and satisfying closure to the story, one that should echo into the minds of viewers for years. From time and time again, history proved that most finale movies fail to accomplish the points I’ve mentioned above, save for a lucky few.

Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends, on the other hand, managed to succeed with those factors, and even exceeded what was usually expected from a trilogy’s epilogue. It was an emotional finale fitting for the long-spanning saga of our favorite wanderer, one that has stayed on in our heads for almost two decades. Suffice to say, it was the farewell that the Battousai deserved.

This movie also has snagged the sole right of being recognized as the greatest anime-to-movie adaptation there is, and surpasses every attempt prior to a hundredfold. Take that, Hollywood.

The film opens where Kyoto Inferno had left off. Shishio, aboard the steel-plated warship Rengoku, is poised to decimate Tokyo and conquer Japan by force. With the future of the country and the ones he care for hanging at the balance, Kenshin must find a renewed purpose in his fight against this monster of a threat, before everything turns to dust.

A grounded take.
What easily sets the live-action franchise different from its source is that it had nearly grounded all the aspects of the saga, finding a safe margin between the cartoonish tendencies of the manga/anime and what could be accepted in reality. It avoided the fundamentally impossible physics of the rather superhuman warriors of Rurouni Kenshin(like, say, the rapid nine-punch-one-moment attack Kuzu Ryu Sen and the eyetwitching movements of Aoshi’s Jisen Kenbu), but manages to compromise and provide an eyefest for us to enjoy – ironically – much better than its source material.

The realism does not stop there. Apart from their version of Japan being true to its Meiji-era form – thanks to their brilliantly crafted set pieces, Otomo applies an ample amount of grit to their universe. We see characters bleed out, we see our heroes get filled with mixes of dirt and sweat, and we see our villains less flattering than their earlier conceptions. It’s one of the defining traits of the franchise, making it more realistic than any anime-to-movie adaptation in existence.


Action, action, and more action.
If Kyoto Inferno outdid the previous entry with high-octane and frenetic sequences that will leave your eyes weary, then The Legend Ends easily surpassed both of them. The action scenes are a thing of beauty, one that a viewer will never get tired of following. This is poetry in motion at its finest, one that will reverberate in the memories of the fans. The experience is even made better by the way they were shot. Its Bourne-style composition, tight spacing as well as expertly done panning rendered them stylishly, making it one of the most technical Japanese movies to date.


United Colors Of The Battousai
Perhaps one of the most noticeable elements of the Kyoto arc sequels are the colors Kenshin wore throughout the movies. With careful observation, one can surmise that the colors represent varying temperaments of our favorite wanderer.

The color GREEN in Japanese culture represents youth. It is also the period of time in which an individual enters a brief state of confusion prior to his transition into a young adult. That factor is mirrored with the Battousai’s state of mind during the times in which he wore the said color. He is confused whether he should take the high road of becoming a kill-free wanderer, or return to his manslayer roots.

The color BLUE represents purity. However, both the manga and anime adaptations of the story twisted the meaning of the color into its reverse polarity. Thus, the blue palette in RK represented Kenshin in his manslayer persona: Ruthless, cold, and unrestrained. The same thing can be said with the movies, and is also a nod of sorts to his past.

The color RED represents life, passion, and courage. This is where Kenshin reverts to his wanderer persona: The individual who will place his life on the line for the ones he care for, whilst maintaining an ode to survive for them. The individual who will never kill again. The individual who never gets fazed in the face of an ominous threat.


The Ensemble Crisis
Here’s the thing: Once you stuff in more than a dozen characters to a movie, chances are, not all of them will be given the spotlight.

Cases in point are some of the Jupongatana members. Most of them were relegated to cameo status, and were not given the focus affixed to them as with the source material. We never got to see Usui dish out his brutal sense of justice with his Shingan. We didn’t see Fuji go head to head with Hiko, nor rebel against his supposed cause. This doesn’t impede the movie entirely, but may piss some fans along the way.


Acting Chops Are Way Better This Time
Everyone sure upped their ante this time, particularly Takeru Satoh, who did an excellent job shifting between Kenshin’s different personalities. Munetaka Aoki also shone brightly in this movie, providing heart and humor as the dimwitted Herculean Sanosuke. Emi Takei manages to do well as Takeru’s supporting lead, as well as Yu Aoi, and Yosuke Eguchi outdoes himself yet again as Saito Hajime.

The newcomers also did well to match the leads’ improving chops. Tatsuya Fujiwara sure is menacing and stark as Shishio. Masaharu Fukuyama definitely snags his Hiko Seijuro role perfectly, matching his nuances and personality dead on. Yusuke Iseya also did a great job portraying Aoshi, and Tao Tsuchiya surely impressed everyone with her very grounded take on the bubbly and naive Misao. Ryunosuke Kamiki on the other hand, performed brilliantly with his take on the cold blooded Seta Soujiro.


The Final Battle
This is where it all boils out: The final encounter between the four sons of the Revolution – Kenshin, Saito, Aoshi and Sanosuke – against the behemoth that is Shishio. I’ll say this once: This is probably the greatest fight scene I’ve laid my eyes on, yet.


For a good duration of ten minutes, Keishi Otomo unleashed all of his tricks into the sequence, laying down each technical aspect he utilized during the franchise. The entire battle itself is an art form in its entirety, as the stylish and fluid movements of the people involved created a complete eyefest for everyone to enjoy. It is also pulsating, frenetic, and mind blowing. They did a great job fleshing just how strong Shishio is as a fighter, and why these four guys should be wary of him.

Another favorite moment during the sequence was the debut of Kenshin’s Ouki(ultimate attack), the Amakakeru Ryu No Hirameki. Despite the slight deviation with the said attack(the left foot becoming a stable support for the rushing right foot), the finality of it was resounding, and nasty even. It made the absence of the similarly legendary move Kuzu Ryu Sen unnoticed.

The sequence was also a showcase of heroes. Each one of them were able to strut their best under the spotlight. The music raised the stakes even higher, as you see the four of them belting attacks and throwing their bodies to stop a monstrous foe. A fan can say, it is the best ten minutes in an action flick.


In conclusion, Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends proved itself as the greatest anime-to-movie adaptation there is, and places itself alongside well beloved movies in the pantheon of classics. There’s more beyond the flashy sequences, over the top production value, and grounded story that would reel the viewer in. Definitely the conclusion we all deserved, or is it?

Perhaps only time can tell. Perhaps.

Farewell for now, Kenshin. Til' we meet again.

Farewell for now, Kenshin. Til’ we meet again.

Special thanks to Warner Bros. Pictures Philippines for the invite. Catch it on theaters now!

Yuri Mangahas

Yuri is magnanimously juggling between two managerial jobs: A technical manager position for an advertising/copy-writing company, and an associate editorial position for a fashion and lifestyle magazine. Nevertheless, he still finds time taking photos and seeking for geek nirvana.


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