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Film / Rurouni Kenshin: The Final

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"Battōsai... I don't want to simply cause you pain. I want you to suffer."
Yukishiro Enishi

Rurouni Kenshin: The Final (るろうに剣心 最終章 The Final, Rurouni Kenshin: Saishūshō – Za Fainaru) is a 2021 Japanese live-action film based on the Jinchū arc of the Rurouni Kenshin manga series by Nobuhiro Watsuki, although its story differs from the original. It was released in Japanese cinemas on April 23rd, 2021 and internationally on June 18th for Netflix. It is the fourth installment in the Rurouni Kenshin film series, and was released two months before Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning, with both films being billed as the conclusion.

Himura Kenshin (Takeru Satoh), along with Kaoru Kamiya (Emi Takei) and his friends, now live in a different Japan where fashion and technology have finally modernized. But the leader of the Shanghai mafia, Yukishiro Enishi (Mackenyu Arata), takes advantage of this peace to fulfill one simple goal. When the Bakumatsu took place, trust and betrayal led to the death of his sister, Yukishiro Tomoe (Kasumi Arimura), by Kenshin's hands. Now, Enishi takes matters into his own hands by attempting to tear apart every facet of Kenshin's life. With the past reopened, and his loved ones now at stake, Kenshin must do everything he can to conquer his inner demons, so that he truly move forward again.

Previews: Trailer.

Rurouni Kenshin: The Final contains examples of:

  • Adapted Out: Enishi using a puppet as a fake corpse of Kaoru to make Kenshin angry was fortunately cut out here (as Gein was repurposed to be Kenshin's Ninja Starter Villain in the first film rather than the savvy puppetmaster he is in the manga. Justified given the difficulty of adopting the Iwanbou series' true nature as basically Powered Armor-esque puppets). This, in turn, removes Aoshi's Awesome Moments of figuring out Gein's onimusha trickery and killing the old guy in fire. Instead, it was replaced with Heishin taking Kaoru hostage only to be stopped by Enishi.
    • The battle sequences during Enishi's terror attack on the town is chopped in half, with Kaoru's and Yahiko's part completely absent and the return of Sano's Zanza persona (as well as one last usage of his Zanbato) completely skipped. Instead, Aoshi takes the brunt of the battle in their stead as his entire original combat portion of the story is completely omitted.
    • The mini-arc of Yahiko's growth is also missing, though it's realistically replaced by his frustration at his constant uselessness, in contrast to his Adaptational Badass self in Kyoto Inferno.
    • There are also two minor, yet important plot points missing: first off, the Rakuninmura slums and the appearance of Oibore (who happens to be Tomoe and Enishi's lost father, in turn being Kenshin's father-in-law), where Kenshin was forced to lament his failures, but later comes to his terms with them in part thanks to Oibore's persuasion. This also pretty much revises Enishi's ending, as instead of wandering off to the Kyoto slums after reading Tomoe's diary and meets his father by chance, he was instead locked in a prison reading the diary. Second is the Shunshin village mini-arc and the appearance of Sanosuke's actual family, the Higashidani, which serves as Sano's showcase of his Character Development and his motivation to go back to help Kenshin. Justified, given the film Sanosuke is not given a clearer origin to his backstory (he's pretty much a comical cannon fodder in this film) and his Sekihoutai side-story was not adapted.
    • Heishin's Quirky Miniboss Squad fight is also removed, though it's completely justified given how minor it is, and it only serves as a warming up to Kenshin and Enishi's second duel in the manga.
  • Adaptation Distillation: While the film follows the manga's plot, there are moments that are either cut out or changed in order to fit the whole plot into 2 hours and 20 minutes:
    • In the manga, Mumyoi was defeated by Saitou. While in the film, Misao defeats him.
    • In the manga, Hyoko's final fate was when he was so scared of Kenshin after his defeat he doesn't pay enough attention to Yahiko and ends up on the wrong end of his Hawatari. Here, he tried to blow up Kenshin alongside him but he managed to escape even though he was affected by the aftermath of the explosion.
    • Enishi's island mansion location in the manga is relocated to Tokyo, as the Jinchuu arc's major plot point is completely revised for the film.
  • Adaptational Badass: Misao managed to defeat one of the Six Comrades (Mumyoi) and performs her version of Kaiten Kenbu Rokuren.
  • Adaptational Heroism: No mention is made of Enishi murdering his kindly foster family here.
  • Adaptational Karma: Unlike in the manga, where Enishi is a Karma Houdini, he's captured by the Japanese government and sent to prison.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Zigzagged with Enishi. While he is still an utterly savage and brutal opponent, it's for different reasons: In the original manga, Enishi was an absolute powerhouse whose raw strength was matched by his unique watojutsu style being designed specifically to counter Kenshin's swordsmanship. In the film, rather than using his own developed techniques, Enishi mainly relies on a mix of wushu, taijiquan and some improvisation to go along with his Lightning Bruiser upgrade, and instead of using a hybrid wato he uses a fairly ordinary if ornate dao. Rather than Kenshin fighting against someone whose techniques specifically counter his, he's fighting against someone whose uses a discipline he's never seen before. While the fight still takes a toll on him like never before, the odds aren't as stacked against Kenshin this time around. He also only fights Kenshin once and doesn't defeat him. He only won when Kenshin lets Enishi stab him just to prove the point that revenge was meaningless. A bit of Adaptation Distillation is also at play, since his enhanced senses are never fully explored/explained here. Without it, Kenshin definitely has the upper hand, and didn't even have to resort to either Ryūmeisen or Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki's second phase to completely beat him down.
      • He still has his moments when he dueled Saito and ended up in a stalemate and surrendering to the police, knowing he will be freed by diplomatic immunity and pulled a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Sano when the latter tried to stop him from kidnapping Kaoru.
    • Due to being Demoted to Extra, Yahiko gets hit with this.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Sawagejo pulled a Heel–Face Turn after being defeated by Kenshin in the source material. Here, he's working alongside Enishi and lays a trap on Saito's men when the Six Comrades attack Tokyo. His final fate is to be killed offscreen by Enishi, and have his corpse delivered to the Kamiya dojo.
  • All for Nothing: Enishi is forced to realize this when he is given his sister's diary in prison and reads her last entry, which reveals that she intended to protect Kenshin from the men plotting his death, and fully accepted that she might die as a direct result. As such, Enishi had spent his entire life seeking revenge for someone who didn't want it.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Kenshin and Sojiro fight together against Enishi's men.
  • Bait-and-Switch: At first, it seems that Sojiro is working alongside Heishin, but when his men tried to attack Kenshin, he attacks one of Heishin's men instead which marks his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: It isn't until the final battle that Enishi really even picks up a sword; for most of the film, if he gets into a fight he relies on good old fashioned barehanded kung fu, and dominates.
  • Big Bad: Yukishiro Enishi, the head of the Shanghai Mafia who wanted Kenshin dead for the death of his sister Tomoe, which was done by Kenshin.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Oniwabanshu led by Misao, the Tokyo Police led by Saito, and a badly-injured Sano all save Kenshin from being overwhelmed by Enishi's men.
  • Bilingual Bonus: For those of you who speaks Chinese, the interpreter from the start of the movie, as well as Heishin's (and some of Enishi's) conversations are done in actual, legible Chinese with varying thickness of accents.
  • Book Ends: If one has watched the Rurouni Kenshin film series in chronological order. The Beginning concluded with Kenshin numbly leaving after putting down his sword in a snow-covered forest, following the Battle of Toba-Fushimi's conclusion. This showed how much he regretted his entire past as an assassin, wanting to atone by becoming a wanderer. For this film, the last thing we see of Kenshin is of him peacefully walking away with Kaoru, hand-in-hand, from Tomoe's grave in a sunny forest. He has finally chosen to move on from who he was before and start anew.
  • Call-Back:
    • There are two from Rurouni Kenshin:
      • When Sanosuke fights Enishi, his head ends up being smashed through a wall, with the camera showing this from the outside. The ironic thing is that Sanosuke did this to Banjin Inui.
      • In the final battle, Enishi uses his sword to force Kenshin's sharp sakabato end onto the latter's own shoulder, which is what Saito also did in that movie.
    • And another two from Kyoto Inferno:
      • This time, Kenshin was the one to slash his opponent's (Enishi) sword in half.
      • Saito's poor, poor men also gets roasted in a fiery trap here.
    • And one from The Beginning:
      • In the final battle, Enishi deliberately wears white, the same colour of clothing his sister Tomoe was wearing when Kenshin inadvertently killed her.
  • Close on Title: In a first for the Rurouni Kenshin film series, this installment does not show its title at the beginning, but rather before the credits start rolling.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: Due to Enishi holding Chinese citizenship, the Tokyo Police is forced to turn him over to the Chinese embassy after he is arrested for killing over a dozen officers. The ambassador promptly lets him go free, after which Enishi launches his terror attack on Kenshin's neighborhood.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Kenshin spent the majority of the movie being tormented by his accidental murder of Tomoe, along with Enishi's threat to destroy everything he stands for. Nevertheless, he is able to make peace with Enishi by apologizing for Tomoe's murder, allowing him to continue living with Kaoru in the new future.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even though he was batshit insane and a ruthless criminal, Enishi couldn't kill Kaoru because her face reminded him of his sister's.
  • Extreme Mêlée Revenge: After Enishi protects Kaoru from an armed Heishin, Enishi begins pounding Heishin to a pulp before Kenshin stops him.
  • Grand Finale: Chronologically the final part of the film series as it concludes the overall Myth Arc.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: The final scene has Kenshin and Kaoru paying their respects at Tomoe's grave.
  • Justified Title: The Final isn't the last movie in the film series, but it is the Grand Finale of the overall Myth Arc.
  • Lightning Bruiser: As typical with the Rurouni Kenshin film series' main antagonists, Enishi is clearly this, even when compared to the source material. Whether he's using his fists or a sword, Enishi is blindingly quick.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • No matter how much of a badass a person is, he will be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of his enemies. If Misao, Saito, Sano, and even Sojiro didn't help Kenshin, he would be killed by the Six Comrades' sheer number of Mooks and saving Enishi from being swallowed by vengeance.
    • Also a touch of Fridge Logic: Enishi is at a severe disadvantage here in the final fight because he literally has no data how the current Kenshin actually fights, much like Shishio not knowing Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki from Kyoto Inferno. Thus, Kenshin is actually rather comfortable in their duel instead of getting constantly pressured like in the manga.
  • Taking the Bullet: Enishi literally takes one for Kaoru, after Heishin arrives to kill him and Kenshin.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer shows Sojiro teaming up with Kenshin in dealing with Enishi's men, since Sojirou ended up like Kenshin after his defeat in the previous movie. Which ruins the Wham Shot when he first appears among Heishin's goons.
  • Tropical Island Adventure: Subverted. Instead of battling on Enishi's private island's beach, the final duel occurs inside his lavish mansion instead, with no indication it's even on an island if a viewer doesn't watch a previous part.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Enishi experiences one three times: First, when he's simply thinking of his sister's memory, he breaks down in tears. After that, after he kidnaps Kaoru and attempts to strangle her, she ends up reminding him of Tomoe, causing him to puke his guts out and babble inelegantly. And lastly in final fight between Kenshin and Enishi, Enishi starts losing his cool, since Kenshin will not stop coming from him, or commit suicide due to Tomoe's death. By the time he decides to use Tomoe's tanto, he's reduced to tearful screams.