Oro?Live Action Rurouni Kenshin?

Live action versions of anime have a long and storied history, a bad one. Leaving aside big blockbuster adaptions of cartoons like Transformers and GI Joe, most live action anime fails to capture what we love about the show, either by cramming too much or too little into the time frame, choosing poor actors, special effects that don’t live up to what they were able to achieve with animated cells, or dreaded things like the Bleach Musical.

That said, this trailer does show some promise that the movie might be at least as good as the live action Blood: The Last Vampire, which while not excellent, at least captured some of the OVAs spirit. So in the spirit of “Let’s Rush To Judgment” I thought I’d give you some of my impressions:

1) It’s a little weird seeing Kenshin look … well … Japanese – It totally make sense that the cast would be of Chinese or Japanese descent, given that this is a product not only of their pop-culture, but their history as well. But anyone who has watched anime for a while knows that many of the characters look … well … American. Certainly a long shock of red hair on the character wouldn’t look natural on this actor, and I’m glad that it seems they have muted this considerably.

2) Where’s Yahiko? – Even with a lot of fast cuts, this movie shows a lot of characters that would be instantly recognizeable to fans of the Manga or Anime, except one, the young Samurai brat Yahiko. I’m sure some people will be bummed by his absence, but given the arc this movie seems to cover, it would over complicate things to include him. I think this is a good decision. The tone of this movie seems a little serious minded, and Yahiko’s presence in the early arcs was largely for comic relief. A good Kenshin will accomplish enough of this on his own without needing a little sidekick. And Sagara’s there so Kenshin still has an ally / adversary to play against.

3) We’re covering a lot of ground – The presence of the Gatling gun means we’re probably going at least through the Oniwabanshu arc, which concludes at the end of Volume 4 of the Manga. The prescence of a Megumi looking woman seems to confirm this, as her arc takes the bulk of Volumes 3 and 4. But Kaoru screaming at the end seems to be from the when Udo Jin-e captures her in Volume 2 and tries to bring out the killer in Kenshin. In the Manga these are two separate story arcs, and I’m not sure how the movie will treat them. I have a feeling there will be some blending going on, which might result in the elimination of the Aoshi character altogether, or making him Kenshin’s adversary in some other way, possibly resulting in his death which would significantly change canon. Okay, this is a lot of speculation, but given the elements we’re seeing, some kind of blending has to be going on. Thankfully, they at least seem to be getting rid of the stupid fake Battosai from the opening arc. If he really turned out to be Jin-e, I’d be okay with that.

4) Oro sounds weird coming out of a person – He says it, at least twice in the trailer, though both times it seems like its out if sync. That said, this is a defining character trait of Kenshin, and would be missed if not there.

5) The scar is exaggerated – If you think about the actual injury, maybe not, but it does stick out at moments.

6) Action is a little frantic – One of the fun parts of the anime in particular was getting inside Kenshin’s head. His finishing moves were always well laid out, often his opponent thought he recognized the move, but then Kenshin would throw in a little surprise. One of the first I remember of these was him using the sheath of his sort as a second weapon as he whirled around, seemingly missing with the sword. This might be a little hard to convey convincingly in live action, but I hope we still see some insight into his technique.

Overall my impressions are that this looked good. I have a feeling there will be some of the same mash-ups of plot we’ve seen before, but the trailer does give me hope that they’ve got the tone right, both the action and the humor. Casting can always be better, but I’ll give this guy a chance, whenever this movie comes out in America (late 2013)?


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7 responses to “Oro?Live Action Rurouni Kenshin?

  1. Yeah – that trailer actually looked pretty cool.
    I do have something to say about the live action Blood: The Last Vampire… though I (mostly) enjoyed the story, the original anime film was definitely my favorite, and I have to say that the “special effects” looked like they were tossed in my the kids from the A/V room at my junior high. The fight scenes were fun, but the computer generated blood was almost humorous.
    I’ll probably have to wait for Rurouni Kenshin to come out on DVD, because this is Maine and our teeny tiny theaters only show the big blockbusters.

    I believe we just shared a “geek moment”, Ben. 😉

    • Oh, definitely the OVA is the best, and you’re right that the CG in all but maybe the last sequence was laughable in the live action. Nice to know that this blog can sometimes cater to a geek audience 😉

  2. I think it looks okay, at least it looks entertaining, and hearing the oro from the actor was rather weird. I understand the use of Japanese actors for the characters, but Kenshin’s red hair is a big part of his character. People thought Battousai was a demon partly because of his exotic appearance. It’s not something that’s going to make me not watch it, but it’s a bit disappointing. Same sentiment for the color of his eyes…I didn’t see much of that trait in the trailer either which is also a unique part of his appearance. Honestly I’ve seen Japanese cosplayers that make better Kenshin’s than the actor here. Again I’m being nit picky and the trailer does seem to be more on the serious side. I’m also not sure about the effects…I think it looked like the type of thing that’s done in movies like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon for fighting scenes. With the ground they seem to be covering (which is a lot) it is weird to not see Yahiko. Even though they may be taking a more serious tone than the anime, It will be weird without his interaction seeing as he was kind of a main character in the anime and manga. I know I’m being extra hard on it because it’s one of my favorite manga/anime, but nevertheless I will be watching it and I’m sure it will at least be entertaining.

    • In watching the trailer again the swordplay didn’t look too bad, but when he’s running into a group kind of sideways it’s a little weird looking. And I’m not sure, but I think Enishi might be in it.

      • I think they would be smart if they treated this as a trilogy. First movie goes through Oniwabanshu, with maybe some background on origin. Next one Kyoto, and final the Enishi arc.

    • I do like Yahiko, and I did forget his role in the Oniwabanshu arc when he becomes injured and Megumi has to save him. I wonder how much they’ll address this, and if they’ll shift it to another character.

      I do agree that the appearance is different, and you’re right that it is part of how the character is, but I guess maybe they thought what looks natural on the character looks unnatural on live actors. I wonder if they tried other looks and landed on this for a more natural feel, but he only really seems to look like Kenshin when you can clearly see the purple/crimson kimono.

      Thanks for commenting, and for putting me on to the trailer! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Amazon Manga Madness!!! | [BTW] : Ben Trube, Writer

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