Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends Movie Review

Posted in Action Adventure, Anime, Fan Service, Manga, Movies, My Stuff on September 29th, 2014 by thelonegamer


Rurouni Kenshin ends with style.

And here it is. Just a few weeks after Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno hit theaters in Manila, the third flick of Kenshin ‘Battousai’ Himura (played by the androgynous Takeru Sato) arrived, finishing the story of the Japanese swordsman with the cross-shaped scar. Of course, being a fan of the anime, I really didn’t buy into the ‘cliffhanger’ of Episode 2- Kaoru and Kenshin both thrown into storm-tossed seas? Meh. Kaoru missing? As if. This was all setup for the Final Battle you just knew was inevitable, and all that matters really was that it would kick ass like no other. Perhaps with that in mind, Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends pretty much throws in all the action into this sequel’s second half (or final third) in its two-hour running time.

Now, if you’re watching RKTLE, it is assumed you have watched at least the 2nd flick, if not both preceding movies. This means pretty much you are invested into director Keishi Otomo’s film adaptation (or are with someone who is). The movie eases into the flow right from the end moments of the prequel- really, you can watch the two movies back-to-back. Kenshin, who jumped into the roiling seas to rescue his lady love, Kaori Kamiya (Emi Takei), who was kicked off the decks of the Rengoku by the baddies. Unfortunately, he fails to find her, himself only barely surviving and getting washed up on a beach the morning after. Serendipitously, he is found by the one person in the world that matters- his Master and teacher in the Hiten Mitsurugi Style of Swordsmanship, Seijuro Hiko (Masaharu Fukuyama). After he awakens (three days later), Kenshin pleads with his master to teach him the Final Technique of Hiten Mitsurugi, in order to defeat Shishio.

What happens next is- well, little in the course of about an hour or so, as Kenshin spends what seems to be an eternity getting beat up by Seijuro’s tough love training. Meanwhile, the rest of the Kenshingumi (Sanosuke Sagara, Yahiko Myoujin, Megumi and the Aoiya Ninja) are at a loss with their two leads missing. Shishio and his minions are chilling on their giant battleship, shelling a town and extorting the Japanese government into declaring Kenshin culpable for his past crimes and sentencing the Rurouni to a public execution. Because, well, reasons. This never happened in the anime or manga (heck, why would Shishio bother? Oh well) but I guess it gives the many dozens of actors playing policemen more action to do. Heheh.

Once Kenshin finally emerges from his training sabbatical, things begin to pick up. Everyone converges for the final third, which gives way to a seemingly non-stop all-action final battle extravaganza which gladly makes all the wait worth it. The bloody brilliant confrontation between Shishio and… well, EVERYONE is freakin’ cool and caps off this flick with style.

There are, of course, many points that fans may grip with. With a finale that has so many characters, it is almost a given that there will be shortcuts. Whereas the 2nd movie snuck in two major battles with two of Shishio’s fearsome ‘Ten Swords’ (Juppongatana) henchmen, The Legend Ends is barely able to match that- aside from the given rematch between Kenshin and Sojiro Seta (which I found quite satisfying though Ryunosuke Kamiki eventually acting like he had a brain tumor was kinda a bit over), we only see about to other of the Ten Swords in action- blind swordsman Usui, who was a considerable baddie in the anime and manga is only given a couple of kinda-scenes, but at least he gets offed by the same guy.
Then there’s the fight between Sanosuke and Anji, which fills in at least the quota for Sano to show some funny action. But everyone else- blink and you’ll miss some of the Ten Swords being led away by the cops at the end.

But then, this is all about the Battle between Shishio and Kenshin, and this is the heart of the movie- it’s a long and knockdown, drag-out bloody to the hilt battle that starts off one-on-one then moves to two on one and finally FOUR on one before it boils down to the last moment. The most impressive parts are whenever Shishio swings his fiery sword though, with Kenshin’s signature Amakakeru being slightly expected, but the end was impressive nevertheless.

The cast is still in fine form, but I award the best performances to Tatsuya Fujiwara’s Shishio who just screams badassand stands up favorably to his manga and anime incarnations, down to the final, evil death laugh. The best villains don’t fade away, they BURN away.

That all said, I guess Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends is yet another third part of a trilogy that is sadly inferior to the second flick (Kyoto Inferno is the best-paced with the most consistent action). A bit of a top-heavy gargantuan, The Legend Ends impresses with a bombastic finale, but it was more of the enemy kicking ass and didn’t have enough of the good guy ‘Yes!’ moments that would have made this more crowd-pleasing. And No Kamatari in action, dammit!

Still, if you watched the first and second parts, this is a no-brainer watch, and I say you need to watch it in a theater full of like-minded Kenshin fans. Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends is now showing in Metro Manila theaters.

Rurouni Kenshin Revival Continues with Shin Kyoto Hen OAV!

Posted in Anime, Fan Service, Fantasy, Game-related Events, Gaming, Manga on January 18th, 2013 by thelonegamer


The Epic Battle between Battousais gets Retold!

It seems to be that there’s a bit of a re-emergence of Rurouni Kenshin fervor in media, and that’s pretty awesome. Of course, there was the recent live-action film (which we reviewed). I know there’s an ongoing new manga that reinterprets Kenshin Himura’s saga… and now, there’s a new OVA (Original Video Animation) that brings us another look at arguably the most awesome arc of the RK series- Kenshin’s battle against Makoto Shishio.

Rurouni Kenshin: Shin Kyoto Hen (translated as ‘New Kyoto Arc’) is a 2-episode OVA that tells the story of Kenshin VS Shishio from the perspective of Misao Makimachi, the feisty young kunoichi and Oniwabanshu member. The new features reunite the old voice cast, led of course by Mayo Suzukaze, who’s been the seiyuu for Kenshin from the original anime. Kinda sad that this isn’t longer than it is, but I guess this is a nice way to refresh this classic anime arc- makes me wanna dig up the original TV series episodes and have me an RK marathon.
I’ll check this out over the weekend and see if it even captures a bit of the drama and tension of the original. But any RK fan out there would do well to track this new OVA out immediately.

The Lone Gamer’s Rurouni Kenshin the Movie (2012) Review

Posted in Action Adventure, Anime, Fan Service, Game to Movies, Game-related Events, Manga, Movies, My Stuff on December 10th, 2012 by thelonegamer


A beloved anime/manga hero makes a comeback via a long-awaited Live-action Adaptation.

A few years ago, a certain anime series hit the small screens and made a generation of youths believe in a red-haired swordsman with a cross-shaped scar and a sword with no edge. It was called Samurai X and from the moment Kenshin Himura AKA Hitokiri Battousai kicked butt the first time, we couldn’t get enough of it. Yeah, there were probably many similar titles in anime, but for some reason this title in particular excelled in bringing to life that ideal of the Quiet, Unassuming Invincible Badass Hero. Of course, anyone who had access to knowledge of manga would know that the series’ real (Japanese) name was Rurouni Kenshin (Kenshin the Wanderer), and his story was long, bloody, sad and powerful and controversial in the telling.

I can wax nostalgic forever about this series- about how it’s first OVA series (Tsuiokuhen AKA ‘Trust and Betrayal’) is simply one of the most powerful, gloriously tragic and sublime works of animation I’ve ever seen, how one should only watch the first 65 or so episodes of the anime and ignore all the rest including the crappy anime movie and that horrific, evil 2nd OVA (Seisohen AKA Reflection) at all costs. In lieu of that though, I’ll just say that bad decisions and bad anime-only fillers robbed Rurouni Kenshin of its longevity, and thankfully now a resurgence of this title may be rekindled- at least starting from this live-action adaptation.

Rurouni Kenshin tells the story of Kenshin Himura (Takeru Sato), a gifted young swordsman who became a peerless, feared assassin during Japan’s civil war in the late 1800s in order to usher in a new age of peace. When the war ended to begin the new, more modern Meiji Era, Kenshin disappeared into obscurity. Years later, Kenshin, now a wanderer who has sworn off killing, tries to protect the weak from oppression to atone for his past sins. He soon finds himself in a town where murders are being committed by ‘Battousai’, his old alias. He soon finds himself involved with Kaoru Kamiya (Emi Takei), a young woman and owner of a struggling kendo school, and Kanryu Takeda (Teruyuki Kagawa), a ruthless businessman/crimelord.

Though Kenshin has sworn never to kill again, he finds himself encountering men who would see the old Battousai back to his bloody ways- including an old rival in the war, Saito Hajime (Yosuke Higuchi) and Udo Jinei (Koji Kikkawa), a murderous henchman to a criminal boss who ‘inherited’ Kenshin’s old sword (and lust for killing) after the war. To protect the ones he has now come to love, Kenshin must take up his sword once more…

You have to hand it to the Japanese when they adapt a manga- they really go to great lengths to make sure characters look and act like they do in the source material- in this case the anime and manga. Granted, it works great in some ways, iffy in some. Takeru Sato, for example, is almost a perfect Kenshin (which is basically what matters most), from the look (red hair and everythihg), the cat-like speed and poise and the awesome sword work. Some characters kinda look odd- Sanosuke Sagara (Munetaka Aoki) really kinda stands out as looking very odd with his wild hair and white Streetfighter outfit. Some characters, ironically minor ones, look like they stepped from a manga page.

For the most part, the note-perfect looks match the action and fight scenes, which include some wire work but nothing extremely over the top apart from Kenshin’s acrobatic skills. The film doesn’t lack in action, but works best when the fight is between two combatants- some fights between Kenshin and multiple enemies are a bit hard to follow, but are still badass because it just IS. RK fans are sure to squeal in pleasure whenever Kenshin strikes a pose or a stance- sadly he doesn’t go Amakakeru Ryu No Hirameki on anyone’s ass but he does do something almost as good.

Running at slightly above two hours, the least I can say about Rurouni Kenshin’s pacing is ‘leisurely’. There are quite a few pauses of silence or just the camera taking in the scenery (which is admittedly quite lovely) which I myself don’t mind but some action addicts may find slow. Despite this, I think that the movie does a good job of squashing in the events of a couple of manga/anime arcs AND a couple of pivotal flashbacks (nods to the aforementioned awesome first OVA) to make a coherent watch. This isn’t a thrill-a-minute film by any means, and may require a bit of patience (good thing the audience during my watch had that and more).

I may nitpick as well a bit that they focused a bit too much on crime boss Kanryu Takeda, who’s really not a foe worth Battousai’s blade- yeah he gets to fire a gatling gun, but a bit unnecessarily he gets more than needed air time AND a bunch of lookalike toadies cluttering up the scenery. I think much more emphasis could have been put on the more formidable baddies, whom I believe don’t even get their names mentioned in the course of the movie- these include Gein (Gou Ayano), a gadget-using masked killer/puppetmaster and Banjin Inui (played by ex-MMA fighter Genki Sudo), a monk-like fighter. Both of these baddies appear only in the manga-exclusive Jinchu or Revenge Arc.

All in all though, slow pace and Otaku nitpicks aside, I really enjoyed my time watching Rurouni Kenshin… that I did so in a theater packed with a like-minded, totally-game audience made it even more fun. There were cheers and claps, laughter (though some in some kinda inappropriate moments) and quite a few whistles. The film does strike the nostalgia chords true.
If you’re familiar with the source material, I’d say this is a must-watch if only for the endless otaku discussions and talkbacks that will inevitably follow. If you’re coming into Rurouni Kenshin clueless, you may find it a cool samurai sword flick that seems to run like a comic- don’t worry, that’s intentional. If you like it, then I say find the anime and first OVA to make yourself a full RK fan in no time.

Is this the start of a new resurgence of Rurouni Kenshin? I sure hope so- I want my Revenge Arc anime adaptation and live-action Shishio Showdown now!

SSFIV AE: Evil Ryu/Oni Endings, Evil Ryu's Chest Wound Explained

Posted in Anime, Arcade, Fan Service, Fighting Games, Game Advertising, Game-related Events, Gaming, Manga, Super Streetfighter IV on January 24th, 2011 by thelonegamer

UPDATE: A copyright claim by Capcom just took out the Youtube videos of Evil Ryu and Oni’s endings. I guess if you missed ‘em, just wait for someone else to upload them or just wait a bit till the video embargo on them is lifted and they become available online again.

Meanwhile, the reason for Evil Ryu’s hole-in-the-chest is explained. The design is in reference to the manga Ryu Final (considered by many as the true telling of the story of SFIII), wherein he gets himself punched right THROUGH by Akuma in their final battle. It’s pretty intense, and if you wanna see the whole thing, get the translated manga by Udon. Every SF fan should have a copy.


Ouch.

Anyways, don’t worry about Ryu- though the manga goes out of its way to make it seem that Ryu went to the ol’ Dojo in the sky, going as far as showing off what appears to be his grave, the ending reveals otherwise.


Hey there, Ryu… RYU?!

It’s at this point where Alex should start running. Come on- the guy survived a freakin’ punch THROUGH the chest. What chance do you have, dude? Heheh…

Anyways, the manga is the work of artist Masahiko Nakahira, from whom the character of Evil Ryu actually first came to light (as well as character Karin Kanzuki, created in the Sakura Ganbaru manga, also made by Nakahira). Credit goes to Hadoken.net for this info.

What Would a Tekken Tag 2 Win Animation Look Like?

Posted in Arcade, Fan Service, Fighting Games, Game Advertising, Game-related Events, Gaming, Manga, My Stuff, PS3, Tekken, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Videogame Comedy, Xbox360 on January 17th, 2011 by thelonegamer


And you thought they couldn’t get any creepier…

As of right now we have no idea how Tekken Tag Tournament 2 will handle win animations. Every character has their own signature win poses, but how will tag teams mug it up for the cameras after a victory? Will we see familiar poses, new poses, remixed poses? Anyway, here’s a little doodle of what I think should be one of the win animations, melding together two of Tekken 6′s creepiest victory cutscenes. What do you guys think? Heheh…

Streetfighter Legends: Ibuki #4 Review

Posted in Fan Service, Fighting Games, Game-related Events, Games to Comics, Gaming, Manga, Streetfighter, Streetfighter III, Super Streetfighter IV on September 27th, 2010 by thelonegamer


More ninja than you can throw a smoke bomb at.

After several months, UDON’s first comic series with Streetfighter III kunoichi heroine Ibuki is done with the release of Issue 4. Saving the big stuff for last, the finale contains a big ninja free-for-all as well as a big reveal before the ninja schoolgirl bids farewell for now.

Jumping right into last week’s cliffhanger with Ibuki, Makoto, Elena and Sarai being captured by the evil Geki clan, Issue 4 sees the bunch fighting back and getting some help from Ibuki’s ninja buddies from the Glade of Ninja. As fists and kunai go flying, we are treated to a quick but meaty revelation of both Ibuki and her ninja ‘family’s’ origins, as well as a nifty little glimpse of Ibuki if she was raised by the Geki… nah, I prefer the kunoichi cutie the way she is.
Anyway, it all ends well with a victory for the good guys, Ibuki going off to a new life as… a NINJA. Oh, and then Ibuki and Makoto FINALLY get to have their long-in-coming, proper fight… and THEN it ends. Darn it! Oh well… If you wanna see Ibuki and Makoto actually fight, you can always just pop out a copy of Streetfighter III Third Strike or Super Streetfighter IV.

As usual, artist Omar Dogan’s panels and pages are consistently clean and colorful, particularly with lots of nice fiery action during the climax. While there’s quite a bit of action as the young heroines and the Glade Ninja take on the Geki, with signature moves being thrown in for fans of the games. It all ended a bit abruptly though- Geki fans will probably be quite disappointed in the off-screen death of the lead baddie. The ending seems to tie in with Ibuki’s own ending from the videogame SF3 Third Strike, and as usual it’s open-ended. I’ve seen on the Udon and Omar Dogan’s Deviantart pages that more Ibuki or perhaps some of the other SF heroines (or a villainess) may be the subject of the next SF Legends series, so who knows… if fans ask for it, they may get more kunoichi in the future.

The first series with Ibuki was fairly enjoyable and does the character well. I certainly would welcome further adventures of the schoolgirl ninja, but I’m also particularly intrigued with perhaps a Makoto-centered series. Or perhaps something with Taekwondo Femme Fatale Juri. Only the future will tell. For now though, if you love ninja or Streetfighter, catch this series, or the trade, it once it sneaks into stores.

Bad Girls ROCK! Juri Han Artworks

Posted in Fan Service, Fighting Games, Games to Comics, Manga, My Stuff, Super Streetfighter IV on August 26th, 2010 by thelonegamer


A bored Juri looking down on someone she just flattened.

I haven’t drawn much recently save the occasional sketch on my iPad, so it’s quite a pleasant surprise for me to suddenly find myself actually producing a couple of full-color artworks out of the blue. Anyway, here are a couple of portraits of Super Streetfighter IV’s resident bad girl, Juri Han, sporting her cow-hair ‘do and leprous evil eye, looking mean and nasty and ready to kick Interpol police girls in the chest. I’ll try to do more game artworks when I can, to supplement the other blogging I do around here. Who knows, maybe I can pull off some Tekken X Streetfighter action scenes while I’m at it. We’ll see.


A very nasty but also very cartoony-looking Juri. I blame watching too many Shank videos for that…

Streetfighter Legends: Ibuki#3 Review

Posted in Fan Service, Fighting Games, Game-related Events, Games to Comics, Gaming, Manga, My Stuff, Street Fighter IV, Streetfighter, Streetfighter III, Super Streetfighter IV on July 23rd, 2010 by thelonegamer


Finally, some action!

After quite a bit of a gap since the last issue’s release, Udon’s Streetfighter Legends: Ibuki #3 finally hit store shelves this week. Though consistent with eye-catchingly colorful art and fun panels, I have my reservations with this first comic feature starring the Streetfighter III girls. Much of it though has to do with the small amount of pages this mini-series has, leading to a distinct shortage of actual action. Issue one could have had at least a bit of a confrontation between Ibuki and her karate rival/friend Makoto, but the fight never happened. Issue 2 was a bit of a disappointment, glossing over action once again more in favor of character relationship moments between Ibuki and girl-buddy Sarai. Really, a Streetfighter comic should have AT LEAST one solid fight or skirmish in every issue, somehow, someway.

Finally though, Issue 3 throws in the action we should have been treated to in the previous issues. At the beginning of the comic we see Ibuki sparring with African princess Elena, who made her debut last issue. It was short, but at least things happened. After some drama (which lets Ibuki show off more of the little girl inside as well as the tough ninja warrior), the ninja heroine and company then moves on to meet her final ninja test- a confrontation with Oro, the ancient martial arts master (and fellow fighter from SF3). There’s some bits of action, nice fight scenes from artist Omar Dogan, and your all’s well that ends well resolution. Really though- more pages devoted to the fighting and someone actually getting HIT would have made this TONS better.

A nice touch here though was a bit of drama on the part of Makoto, whose father and dojo were defeated by Oro years ago. The exchange between her and Oro was a nice bit of angst and emotion from the somewhat testy karate kid, and a good way to show off her true character in a more sympathetic light. I really don’t mind seeing Streetfighter Legends: Makoto someday, seriously!

This is far and away the best issue yet of this arc, and I really hope writer Jim Zubkavich wrote a suitably strong, action-filled finale to cap off this mini-series. The cliffhanger ending certainly looks forward to some butt-kicking from our three SF3 babes, so I’ll be hoping for a lot more fight next time.

UltraJumpEgg Tekken Manga Updated!

Posted in Fan Service, Fighting Games, Game Advertising, Game-related Events, Games to Comics, Manga, Tekken, Tekken 6 on June 21st, 2010 by thelonegamer


His power is up to 9000!!!

The latest chapter (Battle 10!) of Ultra Jump Egg’s ongoing Tekken 6 comic is now online and ready for reading. After being used as a punching bag last time, Jin finally unleashes his inner demon to combat his similarly-devilish dad, Kazuya. The fight though is cut short by the timely interference of a certain Girl from Osaka… man, that Asuka is really something… NOTHING fazes her, not even a clash between two supernaturally-powered sorta-villains. While a bit over the top with Asuka facing down Devil Jin and giving him a stern talking to, I actually wish that this was how Asuka’s story mode ending in the game was… it’s far better than her freakin’ losing her lunch to Lili or that sorta crap. The story’s far from over though, as the arrival of Alisa adds a third side to the super-powered free for all.

I’ve learned though to curb my enthusiasm a bit- most probably they’ll either talk their way out or end the battle without too much action within the next issue, and that should be it for the current story arc. It’s intriguing though how Jin reacted to Asuka’s ability to bring him back to normal- ‘investigate her physique’? Yeah, he just wants to learn about her influence over the Devil Gene, but who knows what this could lead to? I really wish they used Asuka more to this effect in the canon storyline. It’s really high time she stepped up as a heroine in Jun’s direction more by now, even with an occasional catfight with Lili every now and then.

Check out the latest Tekken comic update here!

Tekken 6 Comic Updated!

Posted in Action Adventure, Fan Service, Fighting Games, Game Advertising, Game-related Events, Games to Comics, Gaming, Manga, My Stuff, PS3, Tekken, Tekken 6, Xbox360 on May 20th, 2010 by thelonegamer


The Tekken manga’s first several chapters are now in printed form (but only in Japan).

The latest chapter or ‘Battle 9′ of Ultra Jump Egg’s Tekken Comic is now online and ready for reading, continuing the action-packed and often comedic (and surely non-canon) adventures of Asuka Kazama, Lili Rochefort, Leo Kleisen and more during the events prior(?) to the time of the Tekken 6 game. After her father’s company was taken away by the Zaibatsu, a now-impoverished Lili persuades Asuka and Leo to accompany her to confront Jin Kazama. They arrive at a devastated Zaibatsu headquarters, which has just been invaded by Kazuya Mishima. As they head deeper into the building, the three are soon separated, each one facing off with a formidable opponent…

Okay, as much as I love this manga for it’s till-now pleasing blend of both comedy and action, this particular chapter I found wanting. Perhaps I was just hyped a bit too much by the cliffhangers of last episode, which set up no less than three promising fights.

Unfortunately all of them have been resolved in this issue, and of the three, Two were only Half-Battles while one was a Non-Battle.
Asuka vs Eddy Gordo is easily the best since it was an actual fight, with Asuka having to find an opening in her kick-happy opponent. However, once she got a couple of blows in, it was over! I guess Eddy’s life bar was set to 10 percent. Next, Leo vs Panda wasn’t a fight at all, with Xiaoyu coming along and putting a stop to what could have been Androgynous Annihilation.
Lastly and most disappointingly, Lili vs Nina actually had a promising start with Nina actually getting the drop on her target. Lili managed to power out of the trap, leading to some pretty cool and limber moves. What could have been an awesome blonde battle was cut short though by Panda, with Nina being unceremoniously and quickly dispatched (poor Nina…). What a wasted opportunity for an epic babe battle.

Anyway, if it seems like Jin’s Tekken Force is turning out to be a paper tiger, the boss himself isn’t faring any better, as we find him bloodied and beaten by Devil (though that was kinda expected). Kaz gets ready to deal the final blow as Asuka and the rest race up to confront the two bosses…

So where is this headed? Will we see a finale in one or more issues? Will the manga end or continue? Will it go beyond or into the game story? Hopefully there’s more Tekken Comic to come, as there still doesn’t seem to be any sign of a fighting sequel yet anywhere. Till next month then, I guess.