Saturday, December 8, 2012

Rurouni Kenshin Live Action

Rurouni Kenshin perhaps is the first anime which started the anime boom in Indonesia in early 2000s. Before this period, anime is perceived as cartoons for children with the more children-centric titles such as Doraemon, Anpan Man, Ninja Hattori, Sailor Moon, etc available in Indonesia. Rurouni Kenshin opens the floodgate for more anime and manga with more mature (teenage and above) themes. For this reason, while it is not really my favourite anime, it still has a special place in my memory.

For any live-action adaptation of anime/manga, there is always a huge challenge to represent the original materials true to their origins, especially since many fans already have the mental images they get from the anime/manga On top of that, Kenshin is quite a big challenge with its vast library of characters (each with their unique personalities), serious bloody fight scenes coupled with many light-hearted comedy as fillers, and the older Japanese settings. For these reasons, I think the live action is a huge success. Many, but not all, aspects stay true to the anime/manga like the costumes (down to the print and the colours chosen), the plot (minor alterations from the original), right down to Kenshin's archaic way of speaking. The cinematography is mostly hits: action scenes are mostly realistic with minimum CG effects (except when Kenshin is running in superhuman speed) and how the different settings (police station, Takeda Kanryu's mansion, city Tokyo) are set apart with their own music and unique choices of colours. My only gripe with the cinematography is only the firing of the guns which is too "bright" and painful for the eyes considering the dark background.

However, I am disappointed with the few misrepresentations. The biggest one is how Aoshi Shinomori is not featured at all. I think the part where Oniwabanshu died protecting Aoshi is one of the most touching part of "Megumi arc". Instead, they include Saitoh Hajime character who actually does not appear in this arc in the anime/manga. Bleah.. I take Aoshi - Kenshin rivalry than Saitoh - Kenshin rivalry any time. Kenshin vs Sanosuke duel is a great treachery! What the movie shows totally does not show how these 2 guys ultimately becomes friends and compatriots. But come to think of it, the relationship among the characters here are rather "cold" and akward, unlike in the anime/manga in which they form a sort-of dysfunctional family lol. And because Sanosuke is my favourite character, I hate to see that his Zanbatou is not as huge and scary as how it looks like in anime/manga.

The actors act pretty well and I am impressed with Emi Takei (Kaoru Kamiya) as I think it is not easy to act out the dying part. However, Kaoru seems to be very shy as compared to the anime/manga version and that is a miss. This makes Yahiko seems to be just a naughty irritating kid as Kaoru is unable to reciprocate him and this is usually what makes Yahiko an interesting character in the anime/manga. Another gripe about Kaoru is that how she is prettier than Megumi in the live action!! Okay, perhaps they should find a prettier actress for Megumi! Megumi is well-played with her more mature personality and funny (seductive) personality accurately represented. Sanosuke is also fine although I am irritated that his role is somehow smaller than he should be and that his relationship with Megumi is also non-existent here. Bleah.. But the rowdiness, the "taking-off-coat", and the ease of swinging around his Zanbatou are just perfect. Sano is missing his "biting-the-fishbone" moments though. Takeru Satoh lacks the screen presence as the "leader" of the casts. Other than that, I think he is a good Kenshin. However, the most interesting character in the live action is ironically the antagonist: Takeda Kanryu. His over-the-top and exagerrated "I can buy anything with my money" personality is simply entertaining and wicked.

Honestly, I did not prepare myself before watching this. It has been many years since the last time I read or watch Rurouni Kenshin and I hardly remember the story. I did not even read the synopsis about which story is covered by the live action. However, the movie alone succeeded in reminding me of all these things and for that I think the movie is a big success overall. Time well spent and money well spent. I am a happy fanboy here. Lol.

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