Originally airing from 1996-1998 in Japan, the beloved anime follows the skilled swordsman as he wanders Japan during the Meiji era, seeking forgiveness for his past of death and destruction. This blog covers all the “Rurouni Kenshin” movies in order of release for your reading enjoyment.
The Rurouni Kenshin franchise, a fascinating and enduring phenomenon since the late 1990s, continues to capture the hearts of anime enthusiasts worldwide. This enthralling series follows the adventures of Kenshin Himura, a former assassin on a quest for redemption as he traverses the length and breadth of Japan.
Over the years, the Rurouni Kenshin saga has been adapted into numerous movies, each chronicling different stages of Kenshin’s journey. If you’re looking to delve into this legendary anime franchise and immerse yourself in the gripping tale of Kenshin Himura, then you’ve come to the right place.
So, buckle up and get ready to dive into the fascinating universe of Rurouni Kenshin – a tale of redemption, love, and action-packed adventure.
1 Rurouni Kenshin (1996)
IMDb: 8.5/10 | Popularity: 2905
“Rurouni Kenshin,” alternatively known as Samurai X, is an enthralling Japanese anime television series that has captivated audiences since its inception. Based on the widely acclaimed manga by the talented Nobuhiro Watsuki, this gripping tale of adventure and redemption has become a cornerstone of anime culture.
The creative forces behind Rurouni Kenshin include the combined efforts of Studio Gallop, Studio Deen, and SPE Visual Works, all working under the direction of Kazuhiro Furuhashi. Premiering on Fuji TV in January 1996, the series ran until September 1998, quickly garnering a loyal fan base and consistently ranking among Japan’s top 100 most-watched series.
Beyond the beloved television series, the Rurouni Kenshin franchise also boasts an animated feature film and three riveting original video animation (OVA) series, providing fans with even more opportunities to immerse themselves in the thrilling world of Kenshin Himura.
Media Blasters licensed and released the series on DVD, which made it accessible to North American fans. The series’ first two seasons were also shown on Cartoon Network’s Toonami block, increasing its international appeal. In North America, the English-language versions of the OVAs and the film were released under the title Samurai X.
With its unforgettable characters, breathtaking visuals, and heart-pounding action, Rurouni Kenshin promises to be an exhilarating experience for both seasoned anime fans and newcomers.
2 Rurouni Kenshin: Requiem for the Ishin Patriots (1997)
“Rurouni Kenshin: Requiem for the Ishin Patriots,” also known as Rurouni Kenshin: The Movie or Samurai X: The Motion Picture, is a thrilling 1997 Japanese animated martial arts film that premiered on December 20, 1997. Directed by Tsuji Hajiki and based on Nobuhiro Watsuki‘s captivating manga, the film takes viewers back to the Meiji Era, unfolding an intense tale of confrontation between Himura Kenshin, a pacifist, and Takimi Shigure, a rebel leader determined to exact vengeance on society.
The Kenshin’s story begins during the tumultuous Bakumatsu period, featuring a gripping duel between two Hitokiri warriors, Himura Kenshin and Gentatsu Takatsuki, with Kenshin emerging victorious. Fast forward to the Meiji era, where Kenshin, now a pacifist, journeys from Tokyo to Yokohama alongside his companions Kamiya Kaoru, Sagara Sanosuke, and Myojin Yahiko. Along the way, Kenshin befriends former samurai Takimi Shigure and rescues a young woman named Toki from a band of aggressive sailors.
However, danger lurks in the shadows as former Shinsengumi captain-turned-policeman Saito Hajime warns Kenshin against associating with Shigure. With government intelligence tying Shigure to criminals and terrorists, Kenshin must navigate the treacherous waters of friendship and loyalty, all while staying true to his pacifist beliefs.
Rurouni Kenshin films offer a captivating cinematic experience, blending high-stakes action, gripping drama, and rich historical context. The film is perfect for fans of the Rurouni Kenshin franchise and newcomers, providing a unique glimpse into the world of samurai, civil war, honor, and redemption.
3 Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal (1999)
IMDb: 8.6/10 | Top 250: #222
“Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal,” directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi and written by Masashi Sogo, is an enthralling original video animation (OVA) series that serves as a prequel to the acclaimed Rurouni Kenshin anime television series.
Based on Nobuhiro Watsuki‘s captivating manga, this four-episode OVA delves into the life of Himura Kenshin during his time as the Hitokiri Battōsai in the tumultuous final years of the Bakumatsu era. The series explores the origins of Kenshin’s iconic cross-shaped scar and unravels his intricate relationship with a woman named Yukishiro Tomoe.
The OVA series, “Samurai X: Trust & Betrayal,” was first licensed by ADV Films for North America and the United Kingdom VHS and DVD releases. Madman Entertainment handled Australasian releases. The series received widespread praise for its storyline, animation, art, music, and Japanese voice acting.
A two-hour feature-length film with additional animated sequences was later released in Japan, adapted from Trust & Betrayal. In 2003, The movie edition of Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal was released as a director’s cut edition on DVD in North America by ADV Films.
However, after ADV Films’ closure in 2009, Aniplex of America obtained the license for the OVA series and released it on Blu-ray with its original title.
“Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal” offer a captivating, emotionally charged journey into Himura Kenshin’s past. This OVA series is a must-watch for fans and newcomers, with its intricate storytelling, stunning animation, and powerful themes.
4 Rurouni Kenshin: Reflection (2001)
“Rurouni Kenshin: Reflection” is an enthralling Japanese original video animation (OVA) that is a poignant sequel to the renowned Rurouni Kenshin anime television series, adapted from Nobuhiro Watsuki’s manga. With Studio Deen’s production and Kazuhiro Furuhashi’s direction, this two-episode OVA released between December 2001 and March 2002, delves deeper into the later lives of the beloved characters Kenshin and Kaoru, primarily narrated from Kamiya Kaoru’s perspective.
Taking place both during and after the television series’ timeline, Reflection follows Kenshin’s journey seeking redemption for his past actions while Kaoru patiently awaits his homecoming. However, Kenshin’s path inadvertently distances him from his son, Kenji. Initially introduced in North America as “Samurai X: Reflection” by ADV Films, Aniplex of America now licenses the OVA for English-language releases and issued a Blu-ray Disc version in September 2011.
Fans of the Rurouni Kenshin franchise should watch this OVA for its more profound exploration of Kenshin and Kaoru’s latter days, providing a unique insight into their struggles, relationships, and personal growth.
5 Rurouni Kenshin: New Kyoto Arc (2011)
“Rurouni Kenshin: New Kyoto Arc” is an anime OVA series released in 2011. It is a retelling of the popular manga and anime series Rurouni Kenshin, focusing on the story of Himura Kenshin and his quest to defeat the forces of evil in 19th-century Japan. The story follows Oniwabanshu Makimashi Misao, who encounters Kenshin and joins him on his journey.
The two-part OVA series follows Kenshin and Misao as they battle against Makoto Shishio, a former assassin who has set out to overthrow the Meiji government. Along the way, they must face off against Shishio’s mighty Juppongatana warriors and other enemies from their past. The series also explores friendship, loyalty, and redemption themes as both characters strive to protect those they care about.
“Rurouni Kenshin: New Kyoto Arc” was well-received by fans of the original series for its faithful adaptation of the source material. Overall, it is considered one of the best adaptations of Rurouni Kenshin and is highly recommended for franchise fans.
6 Rurouni Kenshin Part I: Origins (2012)
“Rurouni Kenshin Part I: Origins” is a 2012 action movie directed by the Japanese director Keishi Ōtomo. The film is based on the popular manga and anime series of the same name and follows the story of Himura Kenshin, a former assassin who has sworn never to kill again.
The movie begins in 1868 Japan, during the Meiji Restoration period when Himura (Takeru Satoh) arrives in Tokyo with his sword, reverse-blade katana. He meets Kamiya Kaoru (Emi Takei), a young woman who runs a dojo and teaches kendo. Kaoru quickly realizes that Kenshin is no wandering swordsman as he possesses incredible skill and strength. As their relationship develops, they become embroiled in a conflict between two powerful forces: Shishio Makoto (Tatsuya Fujiwara) and his Juppongatana gang and the government’s forces led by Saito Hajime (Munetaka Aoki).
Overall, “Rurouni Kenshin Part I: Origins” is an enjoyable watch for fans of both manga/anime series and action movies alike. It features stunning cinematography, intense fight scenes, and great performances from its cast that help bring this classic story to life on screen.
7 Rurouni Kenshin Part II: Kyoto Inferno (2014)
“Rurouni Kenshin Part II: Kyoto Inferno” is a 2014 Japanese action film directed by Keishi Ōtomo. It is the second installment of the Rurouni Kenshin trilogy, based on the manga series of the same name. The film follows our hero, Himura, as he reluctantly agrees to go to Kyoto to help stop Makoto Shishio and his warriors from overthrowing the new Meiji government.
The plot of this movie is simple yet engaging. It follows a classic hero’s journey structure, with our protagonist facing obstacles and adversaries. The story also features exciting twists and turns that keep viewers guessing until the end. The cinematography is stunning, with beautiful shots of Japan’s countryside and cities. The soundtrack is also excellent, adding an extra layer of emotion to each scene.
Overall, this is an entertaining action movie that will please fans of the genre. It has excellent production value and features impressive fight scenes that keep viewers on their toes until the end. If you’re looking for a thrilling ride full of swordplay and adventure, this movie will not disappoint.
8 Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends (2014)
“The Legend Ends” is a sequel to “Kyoto Inferno” and continues the story as Kenshin recovers from losing Kaoru at sea. It takes place immediately after the events of the previous film. It is a live-action adaptation series based on the popular manga and anime Rurouni Kenshin. Directed by Keishi Ōtomo, this film continues the story of Himura Kenshin (Takeru Satoh) as he faces his ultimate nemesis, Shishio Makoto (Tatsuya Fujiwara), in a battle that will determine the fate of Japan.
The plot of “The Legend Ends” picks up immediately after the previous film’s events, “Kyoto Inferno.” Having been defeated and left for dead, Kenshin must find the strength to rise again and confront Shishio, who is hell-bent on overthrowing the Meiji government. As the stakes are raised, Kenshin’s allies join him in the fight against Shishio and his deadly army, culminating in an epic showdown that will leave no one unscathed.
The performances in “The Legend Ends” are mostly commendable, with Takeru Satoh again delivering a solid portrayal of the conflicted Kenshin.
While the film may not fully satisfy die-hard fans, it remains entertaining and visually impressive, offering a fitting end to Himura Kenshin’s and his allies’ journey.
9 Rurouni Kenshin: Final Chapter Part I – The Final (2021)
“Rurouni Kenshin: Final Chapter Part I – The Final” (2021) is the fourth installment in the Rurouni Kenshin live-action film series, based on the popular manga by Nobuhiro Watsuki. Directed and written by Keishi Ōtomo, this Japanese action film adapts the final arc of the manga, albeit with some differences in story elements. Produced alongside the series’ fifth and final installment, “Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning,” the two films share flashback scenes, creating a cohesive narrative.
Critics praised the film’s focus on Kenshin’s quest for redemption and rivalry with the menacing Enishi. Although there are deviations from the original manga, the movie stays true to the source material’s themes, capturing the essence of the story.
The film’s narrative, centered around Kenshin’s confrontation with Enishi and the themes of redemption and revenge, kept audiences engaged.
With its gripping narrative, stellar performances, and intense action sequences, the Rurouni Kenshin finale offers an exhilarating movie-going experience for both fans of the original manga and newcomers to the franchise.
10 Rurouni Kenshin: Final Chapter Part II – The Beginning (2021)
“Rurouni Kenshin: Final Chapter Part II – The Beginning” is the 2021 sequel to the famous Japanese action movie series. Set in 19th-century Japan, the film follows Kenshin Himura, a former assassin-turned-protector, who goes up against a mysterious weapons dealer named Enishi Yukishiro.
This final film features excellent performances from its cast, with Takeru Satoh delivering a compelling performance as Kenshin Himura. His character arc is well-developed and emotionally resonant, making it easy for viewers to root for him throughout his journey. The supporting cast also does a great job of bringing their characters to life and providing depth to the story.
The cinematography and sound design are also top-notch, creating a vivid atmosphere that immerses viewers in the world of Rurouni Kenshin. The fight scenes are awe-inspiring, with dynamic camera angles and intense choreography that bring out the best of each character’s abilities.
Overall, “Rurouni Kenshin: Final Chapter Part II – The Beginning” is an entertaining action movie that will please Japanese cinema fans.
11 Rurouni Kenshin (7/6/2023)
A new anime series called “Rurouni Kenshin” will be released in July 2023 on Fuji TV’s Noitamina programming block. This series is based on the manga by Nobuhiro Watsuki and is the second anime adaptation after the 1996-98 series. It will be directed by Hideyo Yamamoto and animated by Liden Films. If you are a fan of the original manga series or have seen the previous anime adaptation, then you will love this new adaptation.
For Rurouni Kenshin fans, the upcoming anime TV series is a must-watch. But if you want to get caught up on the story before then, five films tell this classic samurai tale. These movies will give you an exciting look into Kenshin’s adventures as he strives for redemption.
If you’re looking for a great way to relive this manga masterpiece or experience it anew, watch all five films in their proper manga order.
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