(WARNING: This film review contains spoilers and loads of fangirl sentiments. Read at your own risk.)
The first live action movie of Rurouni Kenshin gave me “a reason to keep my heart beating.” Kyoto Inferno made “this side of me … want a little more.” And now The Legend Ends just made me say “I miss you,” just after the film’s end credits.
I was literally crying, during the first few minutes of the film not only because Kenshin was crying on screen but also because that was such an unexpected opening! There were deviations from what happened in the anime but, oh my, all elemetnes were really working now and the pay-offs of the second movie were now materializing and… and… they were all just… just… BRILLIANT! (Ok. Sheen, breathe. Breathe.)
Kyoto Inferno ended at the beach so I was anticipating some water and sand at the opening but no, Otomo-sensei and the writer chose to start with Kenshin’s childhood, which was just so unexpectantly awesome. It was so orgasmic for me that it sent tears of joy out of my eyes very early in the movie. I never thought that Kenshin’s childhood would be the best opening for this one. It just… worked.
And just when I was starting to contain my emotions, Takeru cried. In the anime, Kenshin didn’t cry when begging Hiko-sensei to teach him the Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki. But Takeru did, and he just earned all my respect there. And then there was the bamboo forest fight scene. Executing all those superb moves was one thing. But making tears fall out of your eyes and portraying all those emotions while concentrating on the fight choreography was something that requires mastery of the craft.
And this did not apply only to Takeru but also to Fujiwara-san, Iseya-san, Eguchi-san, Fukuyama-san, Kamiki-san and to the whole cast.
And my tears just kept on falling. Dialogue was so heartfelt and I loved how the writer retained some of the actual dialogue. “Your own life is worth as much as any other,” was Hiko-sensei’s final words to Kenshin after teaching him the final technique. And the “Stay alive” that everybody was telling Kenshin worked so well, no matter how many times it was said on screen.
But my favorite dialogue that was retained from the Original Video Animation (OVA) was “Cherry blossoms in spring, stars in summer, full moon in autumn, and snow in winter. That’s enough for sake to taste good. If it tastes bad, something in you is ill.”
And this was what I called emotion. The emotion that I was looking for in the second movie all poured in The Legend Ends. The third movie had all the moments I was wishing for. There were now time to walk along the beach (scene when Kaoru finally woke up). Kenshin had time to look up into the sky (after he wore the red yukata again) and even to pay respect to the Kamiya Kasshin dojo. The Battousai also had time to think things over (a lot of this happened at Hiko’s place).
And the most important thing of all, there was time for tears to fall, not only my own tears and not just Kenshin’s but also for Kaoru’s and Aoshi’s. Or at least for tears to accumulate, in the case of Misao. Tsuchiya-san’s tears flooded her eyes, but were not enough for them to overflow.
There was also space for slow mo’s in the fight scenes, a lot of these actually. And these made me admire more the signature moves that the fight director, Kenji Tanigaki-san put in every fight.
Kyoto Inferno now seemed to be the master establishing of them all. This was the main reason why it felt squished for me, trying to fit in as much information as possible for the grand pay-off in the third movie (to read my review on the second movie, click here.)
I also loved the jackstones at the lunch table with Shishio. And the entirety of Hiko’s place made the best atmosphere for such crucial scenes. And of course, who would have not noticed Hiko’s red costume? For me it was elegantly made to compensate the big cape he had in the anime. And it suited Masaharu Fukuyama-san perfectly.
And then there was the ever-divine musical scoring that never failed to enhance each scene.
But the fangirl inside of me was still shouting for more. I was caught off guard when Anji started telling Sano about Houji’s, Yumi’s, Soujiro’s and his own past. I would want their awesome back stories to be shown and not just to be told but, yeah, that would take up a lot of screen time. So I think maybe it would have been better if Soujiro didn’t had his breakdown at all because it wasn’t really clearly established. Or maybe the dialogue about “survival of the fittest” could have started early on in that Kenshin-Soujiro battle so at least the moral dilemma was established early on. Nonetheless, the fight and the acting was still remarkable.
And the greatest fangirl sentiment was about Tomoe. I was really looking forward that the story of the second half of the cross-shaped scar would be mentioned in the third movie. My hopes lightened up when Hiko started asking Kenshin about his scar. But Tomoe was never mentioned.
I thought maybe at the end of the film, Kenshin would visit her grave just like in the anime. But then I remembered that they were not in Kyoto anymore. The story was set back to Tokyo.
And so my final hope was maybe when Yumi would thrust herself between Kenshin and Shishio’s blade, Tomoe would finally appear, because that was exactly how Tomoe died. But that scene went on without any mention of Tomoe. Boo! Haha. AND NOW I AM DEMANDING FOR A PREQUEL. Please Warner Japan, I am begging you. Tomoe also deserves a live representation. PREQUEL! PREQUEL! PREQUEL! 🙂
Nonetheless… OK FINE. Otomo-sensei, you won. You proved that all my efforts (literally running after you) during your Manila visit was all worth it. This film truly was a legend that ended. 🙂
And Kenshin’s execution was well-planned. Fine. One thing led to another. It surely was not in the anime, but yeah, it fit! And the film would not be as awesome as it is without that scene.
And as what One Ok Rock sang in the movie’s OST, “So this is heartache?” Would this be the last leg of fangirling with Amilou? 😦 But this film truly created a significant space in my heart. Not only the three movies but all the fangirling escapades accompanying it. I will miss this. Awww.
And so as my final salute to Team Otomo and to the whole cast and crew, here is my cover of One Ok Rock’s Heartache. Hope you like it. 🙂
Lyrics from One Ok Rock’s songs:
Mighty Long Fall