Rurouni Kenshin The Beginning is the prequel to the series of events that happen throughout the main five-part series. It was released on Netflix this afternoon although the film had already been released on April 23rd, 2021.
The previous film, Rurouni Kenshin: The Final was the culminatory installment of the 5 part Rurouni Kenshin series. It was released on the streaming giant Netflix, on Friday, 18th June. The story picked up 12 years after the end of the previous film. Although this was a sequel, the movie can also be watched as a stand-alone. There are enough flashbacks and backstories for the characters for the movie to make sense in itself as well.
The series has been adapted from the popular Japanese manga series Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Swordsman written by Nobuhiro Watsuki.
The film is directed by Keishi Ōtomo and stars Takeru Satoh as Kenshin Himura, Kasumi Arimura as Tomoe Yukishiro, and Yosuke Eguchi as Hajime Saito among other cast members. The film clocks in at around 2 hours and 18 minutes. This film follows Himura’s mysterious past, glimpses of which were shown throughout the series.
At this point, fans of the anime, as well as the live-action adaptation know that Himura used to be a feared assassin before he turned towards the light. This prequel explores Kenshin Himura’s life before he turned into the character we know today.
Netflix describes it as:
Before he was a protector, Kenshin was a fearsome assassin known as Battosai. But when he meets the gentle Tomoe Yukishiro, His story begins to change.Via the Netflix Official Site
– Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning Review does not contain any spoilers –
The story starts right from the beginning as the title suggests, and takes us through how Kenshin Himura turned into Battosai, the feared assassin under the Chhungo Rebels’ leader’s thumb. Thereon, as he meets Tomoe Yukishira, begins to bring changes to his ways. If you have seen the previous film, (Rurouni Kenshin: The Final) you know that Tomoe betrays Himura, but Rurouni Kenshin The Beginning explores the why and how of it all.
Like the previous films, Rurouni Kenshin The Beginning is everything you would expect it to be and more. During the previous films, we see Himura as a hero, but here, for most of the film, he is Battosai, a mere pawn under the rebel group. He believes he fights for peace before Tomoe comes along and stirs him in the right direction. There is a lot more depth to Kenshin Himura’s character, although his face remains stoic and unreadable for most of the film, the audience can tell there is a lot going on behind the mask.
In terms of action, like always, Rurouni Kenshin The Beginning is jam-packed with well-choreographed and well-shot action sequences. I mean, Netflix rated the film 18+ FOR VIOLENCE, so that’s definitely indication enough of how gory this may get. However, (but this is also as per usual), the action sequences take up far too much time on screen. With a “longer than 2 hours” run time, you tend to lose interest towards the end if you aren’t someone who is super into action films.
Rurouni Kenshin The Beginning does well to cover the ancient history of Japan and its prestigious Samurai traditions. We get a glimpse of how Japan used to be in the 1700s with historically accurate set designs and costumes. The plot was intriguing if rather slow-moving, but it did explain all the left-out plot detains from the previous installments in the series.
Final Verdict: Rurouni Kenshin The Beginning
Rurouni Kenshin The Beginning is a good film for all fans of the series, it helps you understand Himura’s character better and overall serves as a great conclusion to a series we all know is now ending. But if you are not a fan, and are looking for live-action Japanese films, don’t start with this. Unlike its predecessor, this one doesn’t work well as a stand-alone.
Rurouni Kenshin The Beginning is now streaming on Netflix.
Edited on 05 August, 2021: Changed Himura’s spelling to the correct one from Himara, as was mentioned earlier.