By ROEHL NIŃO BAUTISTA and MIKAEL ANGELO FRANCISCO
Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends brings the senior-junior relationship of Kenshin Himura and Shishio Makoto to an end, with the bandaged antagonist finally getting his senpai‘s attention after kidnapping his girlfriend and bidding to overturn the Japanese government.
Tweaking a piece of wisdom from Tumblr:
“You are my senpai
My only senpai
Back in the day
You’ll never kill me
So I will bite you
Tastes so great
Sugoi desu ne”
At least, that’s how we *think* it would look like without subs. Otherwise, we won’t know from Kaoru that “Kenshin came” or Hiko prodded his student to “Come at me.” Yeeeep, perfectly wholesome, right there. So we’re thankful for those who brought Rurouni Kenshin to the Philippines without dubbing, otherwise this list will be “Ten Table-Flipping Reasons Why Rurouni Kenshin Shouldn’t Have Been Dubbed (Oh God, Why).” (You really should stop spending too much time in the weird corner of the Internet, Ronin. – Mikael)
Anyway, on to the list! Here’s our list of the most tableflip-worthy moments in The Legend Ends. Whether we felt the urge to overturn our desks from excitement or frustration, it doesn’t change the fact that these scenes definitely left an impact on us.
Needless to say, SPOILERS AHOY for people who haven’t seen Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends (to which we would say, “What the heck are you doing browsing the Internet, go and watch it, like, right now!” – Ronin).
- Aoshi vs Kenshin
It took three movies, but we finally got to see the fight we really should have seen in the first installment: the dual-wielding, rage-fueled former captain of the Oniwabanshu, Shinomori Aoshi. Fans of the series (myself included) had been waiting for this fight ever since Aoshi beat the snot out of Sanosuke in Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno.
Unfortunately for *this* version of Aoshi, the first time he got to actually meet Kenshin just *had* to be the first time Kenshin stepped back into the “real world” after learning the Ultimate Technique from his master (more on that in a bit). Naturally, all Aoshi could do was draw his swords and act as a helpless target for Kenshin’s reverse-edged blade.
Let’s be honest – there were few things in this film as satisfying as seeing Aoshi get smacked around with a well-executed Kuzu Ryu Sen (or at least, something as close to the Kuzu Ryu Sen as possible in live action).
- Sojiro vs Kenshin
Ahh, Seta Sojiro. The kid who can’t do three things: feel empathy, stop smiling, and find a good barber.
Kidding aside, it’s easy to see why Sojiro is one of the most interesting – and dangerous – opponents Kenshin has ever faced. The boy could easily grow up to be another Shishio, perhaps even better – he’s got skill, strength, stamina, stealth, and shukuchi (speedy movement/”teleportation”). God, gotta love alliteration.
In Kyoto Inferno, the speedy little brat broke Kenshin’s “shadow” sakabato; it’s a logical assumption that at some point during the last movie, Kenshin would get the chance to extract a bit of payback. And boy, he does; not only does he systematically attack Sojiro’s weak points with scary precision, he also puts a sizable hole in the misguided boy’s twisted outlook on life, leaving him a hair-pulling, crippled mess of tears with a broken sword and a broken spirit. Still, Kenshin also gave him the freedom to think about his life and find his own path after their battle.
The battle was truly a sight to behold – perhaps even ranking among the top 3 battles in The Legend Ends – but we feel that a bit of back story (a la Aoshi) could have helped the members of the audience who did not follow the original series to understand why this kid grew up to be so painfully antisocial.
- Sanosuke vs Anji
During the Rurouni Kenshin cast’s trip to Manila, when Munetaka Aoi told everyone to watch out for Sanosuke’s “special power,” we sort of thought we would finally see the Futae no Kiwami in live action. This could have been a win-win in two ways – we’d get to meet Sano’s mentor (or at least, the reason why Sano seems to be brain-damaged most of the time), and we’d finally get to see Sano do something *useful*. (And no, distracting Aoshi in Kyoto Inferno by becoming a human punching bag does not count as “useful.”)
Well, the fearsome Buddhist monk DID make it into the film… Except in this version, he’s “just another member” of the Juppongatana (read: a glorified henchman with a better costume). There was absolutely no emotional connection between Sano and Anji, and while one can argue that it’s not even really necessary in the first place, it still would have been nice to see a bit more of Sano’s untold history, if only to flesh him out more as a character.
Oh, and the so-called “special power?” A well-placed uppercut to the testicles. If there’s still any measure of doubt as to why we think this moment is tableflip-worthy, this should clear things up nicely.
Oh, and just like in the first movie, Sano’s fight went cut-to-cut with Kenshin’s, serving as well-timed comedic breaks from the latter’s fight with Sojiro.
- The execution sham
For a movie with a rather straightforward story, The Legend Ends did have a few parts with so many twists that you could have sworn you were watching an M. Night Shyamalan movie. Shishio pressures the government into capturing Kenshin and publicly executing him…
…Which turns out to be a ruse (surprise, surprise!)
In sequences like that, a hundred percent of the time, the question isn’t so much “Will the hero escape?” as it is “HOW will the hero escape?” Still, kudos to the filmmakers for managing to turn a foregone conclusion into an interesting and suspense-filled string of scenes.
Also, it turns out that the execution sequence was the true beginning of the end – Kenshin’s escape immediately led to his final battle with Shishio (more on that in Part 2).
- Hiko Seijuro/that whole Ultimate Technique business
Hiko Seijuro – He made it to our last list (clicky clicky!); he’s here, too, and with good reason. Don’t you love how he swings his wood with such confidence as he beats Kenshin with it while breaking some along the way? Oh, Hiko. Truly a master of beating wood.
Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you Japanese idol Fukuyama Masahari, a man so special that when TV station NHK broadcasts its annual special for New Year’s Eve, he holds his own concert and THEN joins the show through the latter’s remote setup. It’s like, “I don’t come to you – you come to me.” (Careful, Ronin, we’re dangerously close to reaching our quota of “come” jokes. – Mikael)
That’s how they met in the anime: Kenshin sought his master for the ultimate Hiten Mitsurugi technique, but not without getting smacked six ways to post-Tokugawa Sunday while being reminded of his most embarrassing moments.
Movie Hiko was badass – what he lacked in girth, he more than made up for in ego. Remember how he threw away his makeshift bokuto after breaking it while smacking the living daylights out of Kenshin? Yeah, it’s part of the lesson.
Think about it – if movie Hiko did that much damage with a wooden sword, what more could he have done with a katana? In fact, The Legend Ends probably would have been over in an hour if Kenshin had persuaded his master to fight Shishio with him.
Oh, and as we mentioned earlier, the Kuzu Ryu Sen – a special move that hits nine points of a person’s body at the same time – was used by Kenshin against Aoshi in their fight. That’s a Hiko original, too! (Maybe they didn’t let Fukuyama do it because they may have had to pay him more for that. Who knows?)