December 13, 2012
I have long heard of "Samurai X" but I have not really read the manga or seen any of anime about this character named Himura Kenshin. This live action movie had come with very high recommendations or else I may have just given this a pass. I am glad I made time for this movie.
Himura Kenshin is an assassin of the highest skill during that transition between the Imperial/Samurai Age and the New Age adapting Western practices. After a particular assignment plants in him a massive guilt-trip, he decided to "disappear" and become a wanderer, using his fighting skills to defend the helpless WITHOUT KILLING.
In this story, Kenshin meets and helps a young lady named Kaoru, whose fencing school was vandalized. They then get entangled in the affairs of a notorious ruthless drug dealer Kanryu Tanaka when his drug chemist Megumi escapes and seeks shelter in Kaoru's school. On top of all this, there is a mad killer on the loose with mad sword skills calling himself the Battosai, a title bestowed on Kenshin in his murderous past which he would rather disown.
With all of these stories and more that the movie tries to tell, the running time is about two hours. However you will not feel the time at all as you get enthralled by the fantastic look of the movie and its spectacular fighting scenes. Either with sword, bare hands or firearms, the fights were choreographed with excitement. The cinematography, color palette and visual effects were impeccably executed.
I did not know how the anime drawings of each character before I watched, so I could not comment on that. It is sort of odd looking that with lead actor Takeru Sato, a highly skilled sword fighter looks so androgynous. Afterwards we see that he really does look like that in the anime series. So did the cute Emi Takei (as the feisty Kaoru), Munetaka Aoki (as the rash and brash street fighter Sanosuke) or even Yosuke Eguchi, the samurai turned police chief Hajime Saito.
As someone who had no prior knowledge about Samurai X, I was completely taken by this very good-looking film, enough that I may even seek out the animated TV series. This is highly recommended for fans of historical fiction and Japanese culture. Catch it only in SM Cinemas, as this is being locally shown exclusively there.