Eigafest 2015: Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends

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FangirlNation returned to Eigafest. Eigafest is one of the premiere film festivals bringing the latest in Japanese cinema movies and shorts. The festival has been going so well that the venue was momved over to a premiere location, LA Live.

The new spot also meant more room for red carpet access and  a bigger audience. The grand scale was appropriate since the opening movie for the festival was Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends, the third installment of the Kenshin movies. The first two movies, Rurouni Kenshin (2012) and  Rurouni Kenshin:Kyoto Inferno (2014), were both screened during previous Eigafest events.

The crowd was excited for the premiere. Every whisper and side conversation mentioned that this one of the few near perfect adaptation of a manga to screen. There was much excited and adrenaline. This left me feeling alone in my confusion, for I have never followed the Rurouni Kenshin manga, much less the live action movies.

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While I was fascinated with Gundam and Sailor Moon, my brother had devoured Rurouni Kenshin. Deciphering the excited chatter of friends, I learned that the main character was Kenshin, a legendary samurai in a time when samurai were outlawed. He used his skills to become a brutal killer until something happens to stop from killing another soul. He spends his peaceful days watching over a dojo.

Despite my utter lack of background information on the character or the preceding movies, I had no difficulty following the movie. This is a time when technology and new government is forming. Politics has become the driving force in pitting swordsmen against swordsmen. The bandaged antagonist, Shishio, has taken the lead in opposing this new reign. Along with his psychopathic crew,he violently blazes a trail of death and fear. In the previous movie, Kenshin had been badly wounded and so soundly defeated by the fiery Shishio that Kenshin was knocked out for days. During that time, Shishio was able to create havoc in his attempt at destroying the new way of government and pitting the world against Kenshin. Now Kenshin must find the strength and willpower to taken down an un- defeatable foe and save everyone.

I can definitely see why people rave about this movie. It was absolutely stunning during the sword fight scenes. These scenes helped break up the slow and tense story buildup. Somehow these over exaggerated scenes came off as less corny and more as beatifically choreographed and dangerous stunts. The actors really use the environment around them. They jump on pipes, swing low around trees, and fly all over the place.

The final  fight scene sums up the crazy, hectic beauty of the whole movie. Shishiro is against four people. Four people and he’s not showing any lapse in moves. The efforts of the four are trivial compared to the power of Shishiro. It is only his own limited body that takes care of him not the fighters. The futility of it all is reflected in the walk up on the beach. Even as respect is given to them, there is no return in joy. Just exhaustion and grim knowledge that all they really achieved is maintaining their own lives. Whether this is the same in the manga, I am not sure. I only know that by this point I was just as spent as they were. I believe there were about 5 epic sword fights before that.

I am incredibly sad that I missed the previous films. Unfortunately it is pretty difficult to obtain the movie with English subtitles in a legal or safe manner.This is why having such a festival like Eigafest is so crucial. More attention to international movies mans more distribution! Keep an eye out for this movie at a film festival near you.

The end of the movie ends with a really catchy song from a Japan rock band called One Ok Rock “Heartache. Some quick searches on youtube yields that this one of the  biggest rock bands out there in Japan. Some of their music videos have high production value and often features a science fiction them to their catchy tunes, I have become their new-found fan

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