It is rare to find a live-action adaptation that truly satisfies an anime fan. A lot of anime have got a live-action adaptation over the years. But, they do not leave much of an impression. Moreover, they leave a small tingling thought in the back of our mind where we involuntarily end up comparing it to the anime or its original source. For 2021, I am more than glad to admit that Rurouni Kenshin: The Final breaks free from all such chains and stands on par with the exquisiteness of the anime and manga source in terms of quality. Never have I ever been so impressed with a live-action movie and the flawless performance of everyone involved with it. The movie wins over with the very first scene, but the ending reminds you what it is like to see something that goes beyond your expectations.
Rurouni Kenshin has tons of things that mesmerized its viewers. Even if I were to look for flaws (not that I wouldn’t find any because nothing is perfect), they are so minute that they look like a needle in a haystack of brilliancy. The exceptionally well-done performance of all actors and actresses depicts their hard work. At the same time, the cinematography and melodious music in the back enhance the total flavor of Rurouni Kenshin: The Final by ten folds. The movie moves at its pace, showing off every card in its hand. Shots after shots constantly keep the viewers invested in it.
Much like most movies, Rurouni Kenshin undergoes three major phases: the initiation, the evolution, and the ending. Its ending easily wins for its outstanding exhibition. If the same goes for you, here is Rurouni Kenshin: The Final ending explained and my views on it.
The very first thing that meets the eye in Rurouni Kenshin is the excellent choreography of the action scenes. Be it Satoh Takeru or Arata Mackenyu or any other actor such as Tsuchiya Tao (Misao Makimachi) or Eguchi Yosuke (Goro Fujita), I loved how neat their fight scenes were. But, this is only the beginning. As the movie progresses, it is difficult not to appreciate the amazing cinematography. Amidst fights, intense emotional scenes were given a close-range slow shot. These shots were mostly from a side view and held a certain sense of peaceful resolve. The same goes for Kenshin’s flashback of Tomoe’s death. In my eyes, death has never been given such a tragically beautiful sight.
Rurouni Kenshin: The Final makes use of symbolic references that makes us as viewers think twice. At times these references will make you cry. Amidst many scenes that triggered my tears, the story behind Kenshin’s scar was my favorite. The fact that two lovers had left their anger-bound scars on him was painful. Plots as complicated as this often tend to get messed up because creators cannot find the right way to portray them. But Rurouni Kenshin: The Final does it with ease.
Finally, the music of Rurouni Kenshin: The Final dragged me deeper into the emotional pool of the plot. There were so many feelings in it. Kenshin felt regret and responsible, Enishi was lost in the path of vengeance, Tomoe was broken-hearted, and guilt struck for finding happiness in Kenshin. I felt that a lot of scenes did not even need many dialogues to tell us what to feel. The music, along with the action, delivered it all.
Here are some quick behind-the-scenes of Rurouni Kenshin: The Final featuring the hard work of the cast.
As aforementioned, the movie can be divided into three phases. At the initial phase, we see Enshi Yuskishiro’s influence as a strong fighter and then as a mafia. He controlled dangerous people under him and used them efficiently. Enishi has a lot going on in his mind. He wants to avenge his sister, and clearly, he does not want anything more than that. Along with the many other people he had collected for his campaign, he attacks Kyoto. At this stage, he does not want to kill Kenshin, he wants to destroy things close to him. He declares this by attacking Akabeko, a restaurant where Kenshin regularly visited.
Next comes the phase of evolution, or as I like to call it, the phase of confrontation. After a lot of destruction, Enishi and Kenshin meets. Enishi shows himself in front of Kenshin and tells him his plans, stating clearly that he does not merely want Kenshin to die but to suffer. He targets people close to him instead of fighting him head-on. It is understandable that he wants to basically feel the loss of loved ones like he did at the death of Tomoe. However, this is not the only confrontation we see. Kenshin confronts his past and tells Sano, Kaoru, Megumi, and Yahiko about Tomoe and how he had killed her.
Once the past had been confronted, the movie moves towards the end. Enishi goes all out, seeking the blood of Kenshin. The movie is basically drenched in blood by now, but the actual fun has only begun. After confronting each other and their past comes the phase of judgment.
This is the ultimate phase of the movie. Throughout the movie, Enishi tries to spread his message ‘Man Judges’ over ‘Heaven Judges’. The final phase of the movie centers around this very concept. After Enishi attacks the Kamiya Kasshin Ryu Dojo, he abducts Kaoru. Kenshin locates him and heads towards it, only to find many people becoming an obstacle to it. Enishi’s followers leave, saying that whoever finds Kenshin first will kill him. However, to his assistance, Oniwabanshus’s Makimachi Misao, Goro Fujita, and even a battered Sano arrive. They make sure he entered the gates by fighting off the other villains.
Kenshin meets a new ally.
Once inside the mansion, Kenshin is met by Heishin Woo, who plans on holding him back using several men. To make his army even more solid, he also acquires a returning character- Seta Sojiro. But, Sojiro turns his back on him and joins Kenshin instead of declaring that he had turned into a ronin since his last defeat against Kenshin. After they defeat the first wave of men, Sojiro tells Kenshin to go ahead since he can hold them off by himself. Kenshin thanks him and leaves. He meets with Enishi. We see an overpowered Enishi who clearly has the upper hand.
Kenshin vs. Enishi
Kenshin asks him if Tomoe, in his mind, is smiling, indicating that Tomoe will not be happy with what he is doing. Frustrated, Enishi stabs him with Tomoe’s dagger. He is surprised that Kenshin does not dodge. At the moment, Heishin shows up with a gun. Kaoru, in her confined room, finds Tomoe’s painting and a windmill toy. She rushes to the scene of their fight, and Heishin is about to shoot her, but Kenshin protects her by taking the bullet. Angrily, he tries to punch Heishin to death but is stopped by Kenshin. Defeated, Enishi, for the first time, expresses his helpless regret of not being able to protect Tomoe.
Scenes change, and we see Enishi in jail. Kaoru sends him Tomoe’s diary as he reads it while crying. Kaoru and Kenshin visit Tomoe’s grave and leave with their hands held.
The above-written facts are what happens in the ending, but it is also so much more than just hardcore fighting. In the beginning, we see Enishi fight with all he had. Kenshin’s defeat almost looks inevitable. Enishi’s biggest tragedy was not being able to see Tomoe happy. When he would think of her, he would picture her angry or sad in his mind. Deep inside, even he knew the revenge meant less for the salvation of his sister but more for his own rage against Kenshin. There is a short while when Kenshin overpowers Enishi, and here is when the biggest point of judgment arrives.
Kenshin asks him why Tomoe, in his heart, is still sad. He also adds that he does not wish to atone for his sins by dying but by living. For Enishi, the correct judgment was to kill, but for Kenshin, the right judgment was to let him live. He finds his desire to live and wants others to do the same. Enishi had lost all his passions in the rage of vengeance. He needed nothing, nor money nor power. In fact, after he had killed Kenshin, he was prepared to abandon everything he had built so far, be it weapons or opium.
Enishi attains judgment.
After Kenshin’s words, the truth remained tough for him to swallow, probably because he had already known it so far but chosen to always ignore it. His movements become sloppy, and attacking him becomes easier for Kenshin. But, Enishi’s anger only calms when he stabs Kenshin, who does not bother to dodge it. When he sees Heishin attack Kaoru, he probably remembers Tomoe, and his humanity wakes up.
In the end, Kenshin saves Enishi from his way of life. He finds a way to move ahead from his past in doing so as well, as he holds Kaoru’s hands. Enishi, on the other hand, finds solace and Tomoe’s smile in the diary sent by Kaoru.
After Rurouni Kenshin: The Final, Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning was released. The movie will take us back to the beginning, and we will see the past of Kenshin depicted in the flashback. It will focus on the storylines of Tomoe, Akira Kiyosat, and Himura Kenshin. Rurouni Kenshi: The Beginning will be a big change as we will witness Kenshin’s rogue days. We will see the renowned “Battosai” version of him.
Rurouni Kenshin: The Final is currently available for streaming on Netflix.