For someone who claims that Kenshin Himura is her first love, I’d say it’s a shame to have watched so late all four film sequels of the first live-action released in 2012. Yeah, had it not been for the pandemic – no, had it not been for that Candy Gamos interview in Wake Up with Jim and Saab podcast – I wouldn’t even remember that all sequels are now already available on Netflix.
My grade school self would kill me had she known I would turn out like this. I can still perfectly recall how my otaku friends rushed to the cinema when Rurouni Kenshin: Origins was first shown here in the country. How we were crying with how Takeru Satoh brought so much life to our beloved red-haired samurai. And how the audience got all mushy when the movie came to an end.
Almost a decade later, my otaku friends and I are now leading different lives. We’ve got bills to pay and responsibilities to attend to. Our priorities have changed. But I guess, it’s still safe to say that our love for this epic animated tale, Samurai X, didn’t flutter despite the so many things that had happened all through our lives.
Rewatching Rurouni Kenshin: Origins made me realize how anime fueled my love for writing. My accounts in FanFiction and Wattpad are living testaments of how I used to love writing literary pieces, how I used to have such energy to creatively weave stories in an alternate universe, how I dreamt of becoming a novelist back in time.
Rurouni Kenshin 2: Kyoto Inferno had me reevaluating everything I thought I knew about the characters I’ve known for so long, particularly the main villain of the story: Shishio Makoto. I don’t know if my views are quite stained by my recent watch of DP Soldiers and Vagabond. But I think I now understand why Shishio has been listed as one of the best villains in anime.
Growing up, Shishio left an impression on my younger self that the strong shall live and the weak shall die. Yes, his principle of survival of the fittest. But as an adult now, I found his strength and philosophies commendable and thoroughly thought of. His hatred towards the government and dreams of creating a ‘better world’ is but a realistic representation of the reforms that one would also want to happen in society.
As someone who’s fully invested in Kenshin and Kauro’s complicated relationship, the animated series got me emotional a number of times. While I think that the ‘Cursed Fireflies of Summer’ is still the most heartbreaking episode of the animated series, it’s also not difficult to entertain thoughts of how painful it would be if Kauro really died after parting ways with Kenshin at the beginning of Rurouni Kenshin 3: The Legend Ends.
And this got me thinking: for a dojo instructor, why is Kauro so weak? Well, my younger self would love to see her as a damsel rather than a heroine. However, as an adult now, I can only think how cool the fight scenes would be if she can battle alongside Kenshin. But probably the time that the manga was written also plays a big role. Maybe at that time, female strengths like Mikasa Ackerman or Ezra Scarlet are not fully developed well in shonen anime.
On the other hand, I’m not quite certain what to feel towards Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning. While I like the backstory of Kenshin’s scar, as a kid Samurai X: Trust & Betrayal OVA totally bored the hell out of me. And I guess, time element plays a huge part here. It was too adult for me back then. Kenshin was depicted differently on this arc given his background as an assassin. He lacked the fun that was initially presented all through the animated series. But it was great to see Alice in Borderland’s Nijiro Murakami and Tokyo Bachelor’s Issei Takahashi during the Bakumatsu in the live-action.
After marathoning all four films, I became hesitant to watch Rurouni Kenshin: The Final. I don’t know why but it got me resonating with Ik-jun of Hospital Playlist 2 when he said, “Why does it feel like it will be our last band practice today?” It felt like there’s no turning back. It’s like bidding goodbye to my childhood. Ah, sepanx.
But well, curiosity killed the cat. I watched the last part. And it got me frustrated instead of emotional: why is Kauro always getting kidnapped? First, she got kidnapped by Jine Udo, then by Seta Sōjirō under the orders of Shishio, and now, by Yukishiro Enishi. What a fate she has. Though she is essential in the character development of Kenshin, are there no other ways of doing that aside from abducting her?
Nonetheless, I really like how everything unfolded. The film series was so beautifully done. I can only imagine how astonishing would it be to watch it in the cinema with fellow otakus.
Truly, there’s wisdom in watching once again the series that you so love in your childhood. The lessons you’ll learned keep on changing and the impressions you’ll have varies on your experiences. As Robertson Davies puts it: a truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity, and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon, and by moonlight.
Now, I’m wondering what my thoughts of Rurouni Kenshin would be in the latter part of my life. That would be exciting to discuss should this blog persists to exist in the years to come.