If we are to count Hollywood films with Japanese themes and influences, surely one day won’t be enough to discuss an entire genre alone. Filmmakers get inspiration from Japanese literature, from music, from animation. There’s Memoirs of a Geisha, The Last Samurai, Kill Bill, The Matrix, The Animatrix, the list goes on and on. But recently, fans of manga and anime have been both skeptical and excited about one of the favorite animated series in Japan being turned to live action film. Yes, I’m talking about Rurouni Kenshin.
Originally titled as Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story, this manga series is also known as Rurouni Kenshin or Samurai X. It’s a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Nobuhiro Watsuki. The fictional setting takes place during the early Meiji period in Japan. Historically and culturally rich, it tells the story and adventures of a peaceful wanderer named Himura Kenshin, formerly known as the assassin “Hitokiri Battōsai“. The anime was directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi, which began airing on Japan’s Fuji TV on January 10, 1996 and ended on September 8, 1998.
Seeing the story as epic and rich, Warner Bros., decided to produce a live action film adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin. It was announced on June 28, 2011 with actual film production done by Studio Swan under the direction of Keishi Otomo. The film stars Takeru Satoh, known for his performance in Kamen Rider Den-O, Munetaka Aoki as Sanosuke Sagara and Emi Takei as Kaoru, Kenshin’s love interest. The film is co-produced by Shinzo Matsuhashi, who was said to be very eager to pursue the project, with his wife even suggesting to pick Satoh for the role of Kenshin.
There were also rumors that the producers are planning to make this into a full-blown series. Two trailers have already surfaced on YouTube, gathering mixed reactions from fans of the anime and manga series. Some hope that it won’t be as Hollywood as other manga-to-film adaptations have been, while some fans hope that the producers and writers would be able to stick close to the manga and anime plot.
Producers are promising fans to bring one of the greatest anime series to the big screen. They said they hope to entertain and pay tribute to the art that is anime and the culture and history of Japan. The live action film adaptation is scheduled for a August 25, 2012 release, so fans should start marking X on their calendars, for this is one of the things they shouldn’t miss.
Below are two of the trailers for the live action film Rurouni Kenshin and the official poster of the said film.