Man, do I miss being able to watch Toonami on Cartoon Network. Back in the day, it was a great way to introduce US audiences to some Japanese anime. Now I had watched various animes before Toonami came around but one show that I was introduced to was Rurouni Kenshin, or Samurai X as it was sometimes called. I really enjoyed this cartoon as it had a great story with a nice mixture of actual historical events adding to the plot. So when I saw that there was a movie I decided to buy it since I enjoyed the anime so much. So let’s see if the feature film holds up to the anime as I watch today’s movie, Rurouni Kenshin: Requiem For The Ishin Patriots.
The plot: In the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, a group of swordsman attack a house but the end up being killed by Himura Kenshin, the Hitokiri Battosai or Manslayer. 12 year later, during the Meiji Era, Kenshin has long since given up killing people, choosing to carry a reverse blade sword instead. Kenshin travels to Yokohama with his friends Kamiya Kaoru, Sagara Sanosuke, and Myojin Yahiko to Yokohama to see the influx of Western culture and architecture that has occurred in the city since the borders have been opened. As they wander around the city, they come across some drunken Western sailors harassing a woman but as they are watching, they see a swordsman, step in and rescue the woman, then slice up the weapons the sailors attempt to use on him. When some more sailors go join the fight, Kenshin deals with one of them who attempts to bring a rifle into the fight, but his actions are noticed by the swordsman. When the police show up, Kenshin and the swordsman leave the area, while Sanosuke tricks the sailors into fighting the police, then makes his own escape. Later, Kenshin and the swordsman are talking and when the swordsman introduces himself as Shigure Takimi, Kenshin seems to recognize the name. As he leaves, Kenshin encounters Hajime Saito, a former rival during the war who is now a police officer, who warns Kenshin to stay away from Takimi, as Saito believes he is up to something. As Kenshin rejoins his friends, a group of men attack the British embassy, killing all of the guards there while using explosives to torch the building, then quickly leave as reinforcements, led by Captain Tomono, arrive to try and capture them. Some time later, in Tokyo, Takimi is at his home with Toki, the girl that the sailors were harassing, and the are kneeling before a memorial for Toki’s brother, who was killed during the war. When the man that led the attack on the British embassy arrives, Toki leaves as the man tells Takimi that the British ambassador has changed his plans and will be arriving in Tokyo earlier but he should be ready and wants Takimi to lead the attack. Takimi says he was planning on it as he wants to make up for the decision that cost his friend his life. In flashback, it is revealed that Takimi was one of the leaders of the Izu clan and when they were planning to attack some targets during the war, he chose to split up their forces but when he realized the location he went to was wrong, he raced to the other location to help his friend but got there just in time to see Kenshin kill him. When Takimi leaves with the man, Toki goes to see Kenshin and ask that he talk to Takimi, as Takimi speaks highly of him. When Yahiko walks Toki back home, he meets Takimi and is introduced to Musashino, a young man whose father was in the same samurai clan as Yahiko’s father and the two become friends. The next day, Sanosuke visits his friend and learns that Takimi might be planning a revolt, while Saito’s spy is killed by Takimi’s men. Yahiko had followed Musashino and overhears Takimi telling the assembled men his plans and when he is captured, he asks Takimi to let him join them. Meanwhile, Kenshin and Sanosuke arrive at Takimi’s house but before they can enter, Toki opens the door and, seeing Kenshin, she hands him a note that Takimi left her. When Kaoru arrives and says that Yahiko is missing, the four search the city for Yahiko and Takimi. Takimi leads his men to the dock and they head out in some small boats but Takimi knocks Yahiko unconscious, as he feels Yahiko is too young and he doesn’t want to have one of Kenshin’s friends killed. Elsewhere, the man that led the attack on the embassy in Yokohama secretly meets with Tomono and it is revealed that they are working together to discredit the commander of the Japanese army, so Tomono can take his place, and frame Takimi for everything. After searching all night, Kenshin and the others finally come across Yahiko and Kaoru slaps him before hugging him and saying she is glad he is ok. When Kenshin asks if Yahiko knows what Takimi is planning, Yahiko says they said something about a foreign visitor and Kenshin realizes they plan to attack the ambassador, who will be part of a parade in his honor. As the parade commences, Saito is keeping watch as he also believes the rebels would attack during the parade. As the ambassador reaches the embassy, the rebels attack with cannons, killing several of the guards before charging in to attack the remaining guards. When Takimi goes to kill the ambassador, Kenshin stops him and the two begin fighting, while Sanosuke deals with the other rebels and Saito takes out the cannons. Tomono, seeing his plan falling apart, orders his men to start shooting and ends up killing several of the rebels, including Musashino when he shields Takimi, and Takimi and the others escape. When Kaoru, Toki, and Yahiko arrive at the scene, Yahiko discovers the body of Musashino and cries for his friend while Kenshin stands amidst the bodies and recalls what brought him to give up killing people. When the location of Takimi and the rebels is discovered, Kenshin approaches the commander and asks that he be allowed to go in and talk to Takimi, in order to try and arrange a peaceful end to the fighting. Tomono doesn’t like it but the commander overrules him and allows Kenshin to proceed. Kenshin and Sanosuke head to the rebel’s hideout and after Sanosuke has a brief fight with some of the rebels, Kenshin gets his audience with Takimi. Kenshin tries to get Takimi to surrender but Takimi refuses, saying he doesn’t blame Kenshin for his friend’s death but does blame him for what the government has done since then. The two men start fighting and Takimi appears to have the upperhand, saying he had memorized Kenshin’s fighting style since he first saw it years ago. Kenshin is finally able to defeat Takimi but when Takimi tries to continue fighting, Toki runs up and embraces Takimi and begs him to stop fighting. Takimi agrees to give himself up but before he can, Tomono and some of his men appear and begin firing into the crowd of rebels. Several of them are killed, including Takimi as he tries to shield Toki but before anyone else can be killed. Kenshin renders Tomono unconscious. The commander orders his men to stand down and tend to the wounded while on a hill overlooking the hideout, Saito confronts the man that was working with Tomono and kills him. Some time later, Kenshin goes to see Toki and he admits to her that he killed her brother. Toki accepts Kenshin’s apology and says she plans on taking some of Takimi’s things and burying them next to her brother, and says that she hopes to see Kenshin and the others again.
This was a pretty good movie all in all. I was disappointed that they did not get the same American voice actors from the TV anime to do the movie but I thought the voices for Kenshin and Kaoru were pretty good but Sanosuke and Yahiko’s voices were annoying. The story was good, using a recurring theme from the TV show of former samurai and other people dissatisfied with the current government trying to make changes and Kenshin and his friends trying to stop anyone from getting hurt or killed. The animation was very well done and had a mixture of dark and light tones and colors that did it’s own part in setting the tone as effectively as the story itself. If you are a fan of the anime or martial arts movies, you will probably enjoy this movie.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5