Anime has been a big part of growing up for people around my age. Even though we come from different backgrounds, this topic is one of the surest way of having a lively discussion among my peers at work. Although, I love anime but I didn’t really have it in me to become an “otaku”, I remembered saving up some of my school allowance to buy some anime souvenirs back in high school. In my box of school mementos, you will find Card Captor Sakura, Trigun, Hunter X Hunter and Samurai X immortalized in wallet size laminated picture cards. It would be an insult to true blue anime fanatics for me to call my small stash a collection. Because of work and school, I was no longer able to catch up with the newer anime series like the wildly popular Naruto and One Piece.
When I learned that Samurai X will be made into a live action movie I was really ecstatic. However, given the many failures of anime movie adaptation, I was also quite worried that it would do more damage than good to a well-loved series. My fear was somewhat lifted upon seeing the trailer. Knowing that the movie was made in Japan was definitely a big boost. Until now, I can’t help but wince when I see the trailer of Dragon Ball: Evolution. >:|
It was already shown in Japan last August. Although several months delayed, I vowed to watch the movie on screen once it is shown in the Philippines. Distributed exclusively by one cinema chain, I didn’t realize that the screening time was also very limited. I thought it would run a full week, but it turns out, the schedule for the film showing varies from each location.
I was planning to watch it alone but my father decided to tag along. Given the fact that he has watched the entire series roughly 6 times over, I think he was the bigger fan. He mentioned that one of the things he liked about Samurai X was that the plot references a lot of actual historical events in Japan like the Meiji restoration, Tokyo when it was still called Kyoto, etc. For my part, I just fell in love with the characters in the show. With several story arcs, each one tries to highlight one or two of the minor characters making the show more interesting.
Despite containing a lot of what some may consider as violent fight scene, I believe the writers of the series did a tremendous job of writing a story that focuses on values such as kindness, compassion, equality and justice. I may be accused of exaggeration here, but I can’t think of another show that subtly tackles racial prejudice, corruption, religious fanaticism and drug abuse while also making some social commentaries. At this point, it’s hard to believe that I am simply describing an anime.
Going back to the movie, I was lucky enough to catch the movie since I almost didn’t make it. I had to go to 2 different movie houses because the first one I went to had sold out tickets for 2 viewings.
The casting was spot on. Perhaps half of the credit should go to the people in charge of make-up and costume. The scar was pretty darn realistic. It was not hard imagining them as their animated counterpart. Takeru Satoh did a really good job portraying Kenshin Himura although I was not really able to see much of the Battosai in him. He is so cute, it’s hard picturing him as a blood thirsty assassin.
One thing I really missed, though, was the soundtrack. Hearing ‘Heart of Sword’ and ‘Sobakasu’ gives me the kick every time. I think the production didn’t really put much effort on this department since I keep on hearing the same operatic piece for different scenes. Some scene could even work better minus the sound.
Overall, the movie was a hit for me. The plot was well woven given the fact that they were able to cover two story arc from the series. It could have been better but I am not complaining. The fight scenes and choreography was just plain wicked.
This movie really saved my weekend. Watching it with fellow fans was exhilarating (although some fan girls were little too loud at some point ^^). I will keep the positive vibes that I got from watching this movie for the whole week.