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Jason Johnson
Friday, Aug 8, 2014

Showbiz

On fire for Kenshin

The New Paper | Jason Johnson | Friday, Aug 8, 2014

When I attended the screening for Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno yesterday, I had no idea what I was in for.

As it happens, I was in for one heck of a flick!

Kyoto Inferno is the sequel to the very successful Rurouni Kenshin movie that came out in 2012.

A live-action adaptation of a popular manga franchise from the 90s, it's the story of a battle-weary swordsman (Takeru Satoh) who must once again take up arms to save Japan.

His enemy is Shishio (Tatsuya Fujiwara), a former samurai who was almost burned to death and is now taking vengeance against the government with an army of malcontents.

So basically, a bunch of long-haired guys in bathrobes and flip-flops whack each other with katanas.

I could watch this sort of thing forever, and I'm a pacifist who despises war movies.

Guns suck, but sword fights are neat.

Our hero Kenshin is a very interesting fellow with a particularly interesting sword.

Like me, he's kind of a pacifist. Only cooler. Loads cooler.

Earlier in his career, he was apparently way too good at killing dudes, and he ended up killing way too many dudes, so now he fights with a reverse-blade sword.

That means the edge of the sword that normally slices is dulled. Instead of cutting right through foes like butter, he gives them painful bruises.

The sword's cutting edge is still there, it's just facing the wrong way.

Something tells me he'll eventually have to use it, though.

The thing I really like about these Japanese franchises is that you're only ever seeing the tip of the iceberg.

If you like what you see, as I did with Rurouni Kenshin, there's a whole world waiting for you to explore.

There's the original manga, the later additions to the manga, the various anime versions, and of course the toys. There's also a passionate fanbase to help guide you.

With Rurouni Kenshin, I'm two decades late to the party, but the important thing is that the party is still going on.

One should never feel bad about discovering something late - it's better to be a slow nerd than no nerd at all.

I'm just grateful to the longtime fans who have kept the property alive.

jjohnson@sph.com.sg

This article was published on Aug 6 in The New Paper.


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