Rurouni Kenshin: The Motion Picture (Japanese: るろうに剣心 -明治剣客浪漫譚- 維新志士への鎮魂歌, Hepburn: Rurouni Kenshin: Ishin Shishi e no Chinkonka, lit. "Rurouni Kenshin: Requiem for the Ishin Shishi"), also known as Rurouni Kenshin: The Movie and Samurai X: The Motion Picture, is a 1997 Japanese animated martial arts film that premiered in Japan on December 20, 1997. It is based on the Rurouni Kenshin manga by Nobuhiro Watsuki. Set in the Meiji Era, the plot follows the clashes between the two warriors, Himura Kenshin, a pacifist who wishes to stop a rebellion from Takimi Shigure and a band of desperate rebels who have sworn to settle one final score with society.
|Rurouni Kenshin: The Motion Picture|
|Directed by||Tsuji Hatsuki|
|Screenplay by||Yukiyoshi Ohashi|
|Based on||Rurouni Kenshin|
by Nobuhiro Watsuki
|Music by||Taro Iwashiro|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Entertainment|
|December 20, 1997|
During the Bakumatsu, two hitokiri warriors from the Ishin Shishi, Himura Kenshin and Gentatsu Takatsuki, face each other which ends with Kenshin's victory. The story then moves to the Meiji period where Kenshin is now a pacifist travelling from Tokyo to Yokohama with his friends Kamiya Kaoru, Sagara Sanosuke and Myojin Yahiko. There, Kenshin befriends the former samurai Takimi Shigure while stopping a group from sailors attacking the young woman Toki. The former Shinsengumi Saito Hajime now policeman warns Kenshin not to get in touch with Shigure as the government's intels finds him suspicious, as he is linked with criminals.
Yahiko befriends one of Shigure's underlings, Yasuharu Musashino, and learns that they are soldiers preparing to take down the Meiji Government. Yahiko insists on joining them to carry the honor of his late father who died during the war. However, Shigure knocks him out and Kenshin, Sanosuke and Kaoru search for him in Tokyo. Sanosuke gathers information in regards of Shigure grabbing Ishin clan survivors from previous wars in order to create an army and is surrounded by Eibin Tamano and Sadajiro Kawaji. After finding Yahiko, Kenshin goes locates Shigure's forces attacking Tokyo in order to murder the Minister of Law and start a new rebellion in compensation for failing to do it in the Bakumatsu. Kenshin, Saito and Sanosuke enter the area and stop try stopping the terrorist attack. As Kenshin and Shigure exchange blows, the latter realizes that the former was Gentatsu's murderer and becomes enraged as he was his best friend and Toki's brother. However, Shigure escapes from when his forces suffer several casualties including Musashino. As the policemen are ordered to kill the enemies, Kenshin requests Yamagata Aritomo, general of the Japanese Army's ground troops, to give him time to stop Shigure alone and avoid bloodshed. Toki also becomes concerned about Shigure and begs Kenshin to save him.
Kenshin and Sanosuke find that the rebellious group cornered in an area with his wounded soldiers. Kenshin and Shigure have a rematch. As Shigure has remembers Kenshin's moves used against Gentatsu, he takes the upperhand until his enemy creates his own variation of his fighting style. Defeated, Shigure tells Kenshin to kill him, but he claims he will not kill anymore. As Toki appears to request Shigure to give up, he accepts to give in to the police. However, an intruder, Tamono, orders to policemen to gun everybody in the area. In order to save Toki, Shigure uses his body as a shield, dying in the process. Kenshin takes down the enemy enraged while Yamagata stops the other men. Meanwhile, Saito kills the other traitor, Kawaji. In the aftermath, Kenshin confesses to Toki that he killed his brother in the Bakumatsu but she does not hold hatred towards him for that. Toki returns to Yokohama to carry on the dream of the man she loved.
- Kenshin Himura: Mayo Suzukaze (Japanese), J. Shannon Weaver (English)
- Kaoru Kamiya: Miki Fujitani (Japanese), Kara Bliss (English)
- Sanosuke Sagara: Yūji Ueda (Japanese), Gray G. Haddock (English)
- Yahiko Myojin: Miina Tominaga (Japanese), Derek Wade (English)
- Hajime Saito: Hirotaka Suzuoki (Japanese), Ken Webster (English)
- Takimi Shigure: Kazuhiko Inoue (Japanese), Judson L. Jones (English)
- Toki Takatsuki: Yūko Miyamura (Japanese), Shaneye Ferrell (English)
- Gentatsu Takatsuki: Nozomu Sasaki (Japanese), Boon Sheridan (English)
- Yasuharu Musashino: Kappei Yamaguchi (Japanese), Ben Wolfe (English)
- Sadashiro Kajiki: Takehito Koyasu (Japanese), Clay Towery (English)
- Aritomo Yamagata: Holly Kaneko (Japanese), Bill Harwell (English)
- Toshiyoshi Kawaji: Katsuya Shiga (Japanese), David R. Jarrott (English)
- Eibin Tamono: Jūrōta Kosugi (Japanese), Bill Wise (English)
- Katsuhiro Tsukioka: Hiroshi Yanaka (Japanese), Sam Grimes (English)
The film was released in Japan on December 20, 1997. It uses the song "Niji" (虹) by L'Arc-en-Ciel as its opening theme and "Towa no Mirai" (永遠の未来, lit. "Eternal Future") by Animetal as its closing theme. It was released in DVD on May 24, 2000 and Blu-Ray on October 26, 2011.
ADV Films released the film in DVD format in English regions on under the title of Samurai X: The Motion Picture on March 27, 2001. Following ADV's closure in 2009, Aniplex took the license to re-release the film under the title of Rurouni Kenshin: The Movie on October 26, 2011.
Critics praised the movie's narrative and animation but often criticized the English dub. THEM Anime Reviews compared the film to Studio Deen's OVAs of Rurouni Kenshin due to the surprisingly dark narrative and violence despite the movie using animation style from the television series which is more lighthearted. The fight sequences, themes involving the rebellion and animation were praised though the English dub was panned for changing several parts of the original Japanese movie. Similarly, MichaelDVD praised the animation while suggesting the plot stands on its own to newcomers or viewers who have only seen the original video animations although Kenshin is portrayed more as a pacifist in contrast to his dark persona from the OVA. In another comparison with the TV series, SciFi noted that the movie was realistic as it discards fantasy elements seen in Watsuki's works and optimistic and humoristic scenes are nearly absent. SciFi believes that fans of the OVA would enjoy The Motion Picture due to its tragic elements and relationship with Kenshin's dark past. The site also noted the story was complex as a result of the drama that plays within most characters whose personalities conveyed appealing swordplay through impressive animation. Although Kenshin is portrayed as a pacifist, the climax features him going into an enraged berserker state which surprised the writer as that was hardly seen in other adaptations of the series. He had mixed feelings about the animation as he viewed it as not up to "theatrical quality, but closer to OVA quality with a few scenes straight from the TV series thrown in." with an average storyline but lamented Saito's smaller role.
Anime News Network found the narrative enjoyable for fans of action and politics though the, like THEM, he found the English dub too different to the point where Shigure's characterization was too different from the Japanese version. Blu-ray.com enjoyed the handling of the politics and the handling of Kenshin's characterization from the OVAs but felt the plot might come across as too convoluted. Nevertheless, the writer praised the character arc of Toki due to how she deals with the tragedy that changes her life in the movie. Due to the high price of the movie, Blu-ray listed the film as "recommended" and suggested fans to wait to find it at a reasonable price before buying it. Mania Beyond Entertainment rated the DVD a B, enjoying the focus on Kenshin and Shigure but lamented how the movie relies heavily on the mortal duel between the former and Gentatsu to the point where this scene is used in several flashbacks. The animation was also praised by the reviewer as the constant flashbacks make a massive contrast with the main story since there is a clear change in regards to the clothes that seem more fitting in the more Westernized Meiji era. About.com was more critical, calling The Motion Picture an extended episode of the TV series which might come across as not entertaining to both newcomers and returning fans.
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