Thought-provoking and poignant, Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning is the fifth installment to the Rurouni Kenshin series and acts as a thrilling live-action film that depicts Himura and the story behind his cross-shaped scar.


Photo Credit: Comics Valley (April 2021)

Directed by Keishi Ōtomo, the film was released this past June on streaming giant Netflix and was released around the same time as Rurouni Kenshin: The Final. Acting as a prequel to the Rurouni Kenshin series, the film focuses on Kenshin Himura’s past as the political assassin Hitokiri Battōsai during the final years of the Bakumatsu, a political period of time in Japan referring to the last years of the Edo period.

Rurouni Kenshin, played by Takeru Satoh, plays a pivotal role in a political revolution who’s agenda is to overthrow the Edo shogunate and bring a new age, which eventually leads to the Meiji Restoration and is the backdrop for the following Rurouni Kenshin films thereafter. The film initially depicts Himura as a cold-blooded, emotionless killer; however, the film slowly reveals complex layers to his character through a significant encounter with Yukishiro Tomoe, played by Kasumi Arimura, a women whom he meets at a bar who had come to drink alone.

Based on the manga series, the film can be watched as a self-contained narrative; however, those familiar with the Rurouni Kenshin franchise can expect a story on how Himura receives his iconic cross-shaped star. The storyline focuses on Himura and Tomoe’s relationship. The two’s relationship blossoms as Tomoe falls in love with Himura and Himura develops his own philosophy about the new age and his role as Battōsai. The film intricately blends a series of emotions and unravels Himura’s personal feelings, providing a poignant character reveal aside from the cold-demeanor has associated him with. Guilt, romance revenge, and internal struggle all culminates within the film, providing a storyline that keeps viewers interested

Rurouni Kenshin; The Beginning is an in-depth, thrilling sequence of emotions that unravels guilt, romance, revenge, and internal conflict all within a live-action setting. The film contains impressive well-choreographed sword fighting scenes, as well as incorporates dark, blue hues of cinematography that compliments the storyline and its themes of suffering and complication.

Ōtomo’s film is a beautifully crafted romantic tragedy that hooks viewers from the first prominent scene; the fall of a Kyoto soldier caused by Himura, which later plays a pivotal role in the storyline. The film’s philosophical layers provides intriguing complexity and sheds light to the varying perspectives of groups partaking in the political events surrounding the era.

Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning is a stunning film that captures the entire idea of the Rurouni Kenshin franchise. Filled with guilt, romance, revenge, and epic sword fighting – this movie has it all. Whether choosing to watch the film as a stand-alone or as part of the five part installment, Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning will not disappoint.


Published by HOLR Magazine.