Ruruoni Kenshin (2012)
Before you go any further, I would like to disclose that no, I am not an anime-loving person (ze blasphemy!) and in fact, I have never heard of Ruruoni Kenshin as a kid (ze shame!) So yes, I am going to express my opinion about this movie as just like any other individual who decided to watch this subtitled Japanese “art film” in the hopes of choosing the best “first movie in Tokyo” experience in my life. After all, I was paying JPY1,800 for this excluding popcorn & cola & all added costs, it had to be really worth it, right?
After first seeing the movie train ads along the Seibu Ikebukuro Line on my second day in Tokyo (that was August 21, 2012) on the way to my future apartment in Nerima, I must say it heightened my curiosity. I always thought my first movie here would be Skyfall, but at that time I realize, the privilege (if you can call it that) of opening my stingy entertainment budget to a somewhat higher price range should go to a more culturally-reflective yet Hollywoodesque movie that is undoubtedly made in Japan.
Within a few seconds into the movie trailer in the train & I just knew, Ruruoni Kenshin was “gonna take my money.” Soon enough, people from Manila and even my classmates in GLOBIS here in Tokyo started expressing their interest to watch the movie as well. Heck, I even bought an overpriced Tea’s Tea drink just to get a free Ruruoni Kenshin “keychain” as seen below.
This only strengthened my resolve to travel all the way to Roppongi Hills for a movie (which in comparison is like going to Alabang coming from Commonwealth QC area in my opinion) just to ensure the movie has English subtitles. If you don’t know, the Roppongi area is known for foreigners thus it is probably the only area you can find in Tokyo wherein Japanese movies would have English subtitles or screenings for Hollywood movie in “English.”
Anyhoo, back to the movie, all I can say is it is no “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and I say that as a compliment. This is mainly because all my life, I equate ninjas to a phoenix or a dragon. The aura of mystery of what makes a ninja a “ninja” felt too mythical for me. However, with Ruruoni Kenshin, it gives me an action-loving plot-appreciating movie fanatic enough testosterone to get going without me thinking like these guys must be living in the moon or something since they seem to “float on air.” In short, if you did not like Steven Sodebergh’s Haywire when it tried to capitalize on “realistic action sequences” in this post-Matrix era, chances are, you might wanna tone down your expectations a bit. But no, I’m not saying that Ruroni Kenshin and that guy who looks like a frat guy with a paddle cannot kick major ass.
I apologize to all those Chow Yun Fat fans, but my “suspension of disbelief” these days is really not that strong as it was before. Moreover, I must say the movie is like Star Trek with Chris Pine wherein it felt like they made the movie for a general audience than just for the “Trekkies” or, this time around, the “anime market.” This is because even without knowing the actual spelling of the movie (yes, I sometimes misspell it as Rorouni Kenshin or worse Roruoni Kenshin) I fully understood the character development and the hidden subplots of the movie including the ominous scar in the form of an X thanks to a complete plot and holistic storytelling.
All in all, I hope you guys get to watch the movie. It is a great “history lesson” of some sort and it opens up doors for everyone regarding appreciation of movies from other corners of the planet. Of course, of course, Ruruoni Kenshin in comparison to other Japanese movies feels more like they already anticipated its release in a global scale when you see its production value, I still feel a certain amount of concern since it seems there are still no plans to show it in Manila.