Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno
|Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno|
Japanese theatrical poster
|Directed by||Keishi Ōtomo|
|Produced by||Satoshi Fukushima|
|Written by||Keishi Otomo|
|Based on||Rurouni Kenshin|
by Nobuhiro Watsuki
|Music by||Naoki Satō|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures (Japan)|
Funimation Films (North America)
|Budget||$30 million (shared with The Legend Ends)|
|Box office||$52.9 million (international)|
Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno (Japanese: るろうに剣心 京都大火編 Hepburn: Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Taika-hen) is a 2014 Japanese film directed by Keishi Ōtomo and based on the manga series Rurouni Kenshin. It is the first of two sequels to the 2012 live-action Rurouni Kenshin film, and was followed by The Legend Ends released later the same year.
On June 21, 2016, Funimation announced that they acquired the rights to the Rurouni Kenshin live-action trilogy for US distribution. Kyoto Inferno was released subtitled in US theaters in September 2016. A home video and video on demand release followed shortly after.
In Settsu Mine, Hyōgo Prefecture, Saitō Hajime leads the Japanese police in tracking Shishio Makoto, a notorious renegade who was betrayed by the government after he had helped them defeat the Tokugawa shogunate during the Battle of Toba–Fushimi. However, Shishio's men massacre through the police, telling Saitō his plan to conquer Japan.
After the events of the first film, Himura Kenshin continues to live in the kendo dojo of Kamiya Kaoru alongside Myōjin Yahiko, Sagara Sanosuke, and Takani Megumi. He is called by a government official, Ōkubo Toshimichi, to track down Shishio, who is terrorizing Kyoto and its surroundings. Though he declines the request at first, he relents when the official is murdered by Seta Sōjirō, Shishio's underling. Just after Kenshin's departure, an individual arrives at Tokyo and searches for him, beating Sanosuke along the way.
While on the way, Kenshin meets with Makimachi Misao, who attempts to steal his sakabato. While the two converse, they are alerted by a boy to the plight of his parents and brother, all of whom are killed by Shishio's men for trying to report their atrocities to their village to the authorities. Kenshin beats Shishio's men, though his identity as Hitokiri Battōsai is revealed. Kenshin is taken to Shishio himself, the latter ordering Sōjiro to duel Kenshin, which ends with Sōjiro breaking Kenshin's sakabato. As he leaves the scene, Kenshin urges the villagers, including the orphaned boy, not to take their revenge against Shishio's men. Arriving at Kyoto, Kenshin is asked by Misao, who is impressed by his words, to take shelter at an inn run by Kashiwazaki Nenji, actually a semi-retired ninja called Okina once employed by the Tokugawa shogunate; Misao herself is also an aspiring ninja. Okina warns Kenshin that a lieutenant of his, Shinomori Aoshi (the one who beat Sanosuke previously), has made his life goal to kill the strongest man in Japan—Kenshin.
Meanwhile, Kaoru decides to follow Kenshin to Kyoto, accompanied by Yahiko and Sanosuke. At the same time, Kenshin discovers to his dismay that the person who made his sakabato, Arai Shakku has died years before. His son, Seiku, initially refuses Kenshin's plea for another sakabato, but when Shishio's elite warrior, Sawagejō Chō, kidnaps his baby, Seiku asks Kenshin to defeat him. Seiku gives him a twin of the previous sakabato, which Kenshin uses to defeat Chō. By interrogating Chō, the government learns that Shishio plans to raze Kyoto to the ground that night. The government police, together with Kenshin, the ninja, and the newly-arrived Kaoru, Yahiko, and Sanosuke, battle Shishio's men, while to prevent Aoshi from interfering Kenshin, Okina challenges his former pupil into a duel, which ends in his defeat. However, Kenshin realizes that Shishio's main goal is to set fire not to Kyoto, but Tokyo.
Kenshin discovers Shishio's ship about to set sail to the capital after learning that Sōjirō has kidnapped Kaoru. There, he has an inconclusive battle with Shishio, which ends when Kaoru is thrown off board. Kenshin jumps to the sea, but is unable to locate her. The next morning, a mysterious man finds Kenshin's unconscious body on the beach and carries him away.
Principal cast list as presented on the Funimation Films website in Western name order:
- Takeru Satoh as Kenshin Himura
- Emi Takei as Kaoru Kamiya
- Munetaka Aoki as Sanosuke Sagara
- Yū Aoi as Megumi Takani
- Kaito Oyagi as Yahiko Myojin
- Yōsuke Eguchi as Hajime Saito
- Tatsuya Fujiwara as Makoto Shishio
- Ryunosuke Kamiki as Sojiro Seta
- Maryjun Takahashi as Yumi Komagata
- Ryosuke Miura as Cho Sawagejo
- Tao Tsuchiya as Misao Makimachi
- Min Tanaka as Okina
- Masaharu Fukuyama as Seijuro Hiko
- Yūsuke Iseya makes his first appearance in the film series as Aoshi Shinomori.
- Miyazawa Kazufumi as Ōkubo Toshimichi, one of historical Three Great Nobles of the Restoration
DVD was released on December 17, 2014.
At the box office the movie earned a total of $52.9 million internationally. The film also held the top spot at the box office in Japan during its first week. It was the third highest-grossing film of 2014 at the Japanese box office with ¥5.22 billion. The film made its United States premiere at LA EigaFest 2014.
The film received positive reviews from critics, with widespread praise regarding the film's action direction and fight choreography conducted by Kenji Tanigaki. Christopher O'Keeffe of TwitchFilm declared that the film "Delivers grand thrills" and "Satisfies with its mix of character drama and sword fights as it leads up to an intense battle on the streets of ancient Kyoto. By the time the sea-set finale roles around, everything is left in balance for what promises to be an epic ending to this thrilling tale." Marcus Goh of Yahoo! praised the film, stating that "Kyoto Inferno is a wonderfully executed adaptation that manages to wield together all the highlights of the manga and anime, while still fully utilising the film medium to tell its tale. Despite being the first part of a two-part sequel, it manages to be a self-sufficient, coherent story – not an easy feat for a two-part sequel." 
Remy Van Ruiten praised the film, stating that "Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno is a fantastic movie" and goes on to say "Even in the age of a high budget Marvel Cinematic Universe, Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno is a very rare treat. As there aren’t as many of these movies being made based on anime of this caliber and the few that do get made avoiding sticking to the same formula, both overall and for the choreography during the battles, the experience still manages to feel fresh. Especially compared to the current comic book movies from the west recently. Not to knock them, but I’m definitely feeling comic book movie fatigue, and the very different cinematographic style of the Kenshin movies doesn’t make me feel the same way about them at all." 
Mikhail Lecaros of GMA News Online stated "Ohtomo presents Kyoto Inferno with deliberate pacing, making the most of his now-extended runtime (Kyoto Inferno and The Legend Ends were filmed simultaneously), wisely giving the film moments to breathe. When the prerequisite sword fights and various punch-ups do show up, they are pitch-perfect live action extrapolations of the hand-drawn scenes that have enthralled fans for the past fifteen years."  Jahanzeb Khan of Snap Thirty awarded the film an "A" rating, and goes on to describe how "Kyoto Inferno does an excellent job of setting the scene for the epic conclusion that follows in The Legend Ends, and without this methodological build up the grand finale in the third film would not have the same weight to it at all. Kyoto Inferno does an apt job of establishing Shishio and his minions as a force to be reckoned with, a legitimate threat to the vulnerable Japanese society that is still struggling to transition into the Westernized values of the new government." 
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