Photo by Jacob Cox
Good morning! It’s time for a new Rising Sun, and hoo-boy do I have a lot to talk about.
Today’s review will be of Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno, which wrapped up its limited theatrical engagement just yesterday. The film is the first half of an adaptation of the Kenshin manga’s iconic Kyoto arc, and it is a fantastic middle installment to Keiishi Otomo’s film series. But let’s get nitty gritty.
Not much time has passed since the arrest of Takeda Kanryu, and the Japanese government finds itself staring insurrection in the face as Makoto Shishio and his followers plot to overthrow the revolutionaries and initiate a reign of terror. Kenshin, having turned his back on being a government warrior, really doesn’t want to get involved, but having seen Shishio’s assassins’ handiwork and the potential consequences, agrees to go to Kyoto to join the fight.
Kyoto Inferno is a more serious film than Origins, which works in its favor. Tatsuya Fujiwara’s take on Shishio is all about building him up as a far more dangerous enemy than Kanryu could ever be. We see what his reign would look like when Kenshin arrives at a village, and the first sight is the battered corpses of a boy’s parents dangling in a tree. Even moving the story to Kyoto, Japan’s cultural hub and former capital, is a effective way to show just how important the battle against Shishio is in determining the fate of all Japan. But not to worry, even serious stories have funny moments, and I counted three occasions where Kenshin said “oro”, which is a comedic shtick of his, and Sanosuke makes yet another enjoyable appearance here. However, it should be noted that the film’s conclusion does solve the immediate conflict in Kyoto, it is more importantly a set-up for The Legend Ends, and an exciting cliffhanger. Oh, the suspense!
A home-video release date for Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno has not been announced at this time, but given how Origins will release on November 1st, it’s safe to assume Kyoto Inferno will release this December. In any case, it is a fantastic movie that every moviegoer should see.
And mark your calendars! The final installment of the trilogy, Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends, will screen in theaters Oct. 3-5.