What is the true nature of a sword? Is it meant to protect, or to kill? Kenshin must wrestle with his own duality before he can face his most dangerous enemy.
There is no way to describe the awesomeness of this movie without expletives or clichès. Holy guacamole. There is one hour of fanservice packed into every single minute of it. Yes, you will hear the words “amakakeru ryu no hirameki”, and yes, it was taught and used. You will see the Gatotsu too, against a certain turtle shell-wielding maniac.
Given the time constraint, imperfections were inevitable. After all, this 2-plus hour movie was supposed to be an adaptation of a few dozen anime episodes. But I will dare say, purists be damned, that this lives up to the high standards that fans deserve – and have come to expect.
The entire cast of characters is back, and do not disappoint. Saito is as cool as ever, and this time, his greatest challenge is not a chandelier. Sano is still funny, but as in the animated series, his is an even more “supporting” role this time around. There are just too many strong characters in the story, and as Saito told him in the anime, “You think you’re tough, but you wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes during the Bakumatsu (the end of the shogunate).” Too bad he didn’t learn the “futae no kiwami” in the movie, which would have brought his strength a bit closer to Kenshin’s and Saito’s, and given him a bigger role, but he gives the bad guys a good fight, and the fans a good laugh.
Hiko Seijuro (Kenshin’s master) was as badass as one could expect. His scenes were some of my favorites. And Kaoru.. How could she look *that* pretty after being rescued from the sea? That’s one major plot hole, but I’ll let it go.
Jin-e, the villain in the first movie, does not make an appearance, but his words echo very strongly: “Once a manslayer, always a manslayer.” Kenshin naively hopes that he can escape his past, and defeat an enemy as strong as his old “hitokiri” self without reverting back to being one. Perhaps his only chance is to find that which he is truly missing…
Some would probably cry “heresy”, given the deviations from the source material, but it works for me. In a parallel universe, there would be 5 two-hour movies instead of 2 showing the Shishio saga, and none of the fights and back stories (ah, Soujiro, why are you crying?) would be omitted. But in our universe, at least for now, this is what we get.
As far as anime adaptations go, it doesn’t get any better than this.
P.S. “Awesomeness” is used with permission from the owner, a kind and gentle spirit who is reading this in disbelief. Domo!