In the mid to late 1990s place around the world with access to anime would be introduced to a groundbreaking new series, “Rurouni Kenshin.” Based on the manga by Nobuhiro Watsuki, this historical drama set in early-Meiji Japan about a former assassin atoning for his bloody past was a hit with audiences. Nearly two decades later, hype for the story returned with the release of a live-action movie starring Takeru Satoh, which was followed by two sequels. Through it all however, one segment of the original manga has never been adequately adapted, until back-to-back films for that were announced before the COVID pandemic hit. Now a trailer has come out.
The Philippine Star reports that an official trailer for “Rurouni Kenshin: The Final” was released online by Warner Bros. Pictures Japan. The long-awaited fourth entry to the live-action films about Kenshin Himura aka Battousai will be releasing in its home territory next month, some two months ahead of its immediate follow-up. They were originally to premiere last year, but were moved to 2021 for obvious reasons. These two movies will bring the vital “Jinchu” manga arc to the big screen, with its spotlight on Kenshin’s past as the assassin Battousai and the introduction of his most powerful and personal adversary.
Since coming up on Wednesday, March 10, the “Rurouni Kenshin: The Final” trailer has escalated excitement for the classic franchise to levels unheard of. It shows master swordsman Kenshin (Takeru Satoh) confront the ghost of his past in Enishi Yukishiro (Mackenyu), brother of the woman who was Battousai’s wife until her death at his hands. Driven by hatred and insanity that gives him superhuman abilities, Enishi becomes a Chinese mob boss with plans to commit Jinchu, or “human punishment” on Kenshin by attacking his allies, friends and loved one Kaoru Kamiya (Emi Takei), and then destroying Japan to literally make the former Battousai’s world hell.
Nearly all of the principal cast from the 2012-14 film trilogy return for what are most likely the last installments of this runaway hit movie series, which has been one of Japan’s most recognizable exported franchises. Also coming back is Japanese rock band One Ok Rock, which has provided the theme songs for all live-action “Rurouni Kenshin” movies so far. For “The Final” they are contributing “Renegades,” a portion of which can be heard during the trailer. “Rurouni Kenshin” was a blockbuster in the Philippines, primarily shown on SM Cinemas. The cast have even visited the country to promote the first two sequels in 2014.
“Rurouni Kenshin: The Final” premieres in Japan on April 23, with hopefully an international release to follow somehow. Its follow-up, “Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning,” will come out on June 4. Nobuhiro Watsuki has actually done a direct continuation to his original manga, “Rurouni Kenshin: The Hokkaido Arc,” which began in 2017 and still runs today.
Image from Tokyo Otaku Mode