Film Festival Circuit III: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya in Cinemalaya Film Fest

When I heard about “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” being screened for this year’s Cinemalaya Film Festival under the Independents: Asian Showcase section, I told myself I had to take the opportunity cause it’ll never have a regular screening in cinemas here so this is the only chance I got. I managed to tagged along my college friend Anna to watch it with me on August 9, one of the only two screenings for the Isao Takahata gem at the CCP Main Theater.

At first though, I was a little put off by the animation style of the film. It reminded me of the style of another Isao Takahata film, “My Neighbors The Yamadas,” although I haven’t really seen this one fully, partly because I wasn’t so interested. But fortunately, I went ahead to watching Princess Kaguya and I was definitely proven wrong on my apprehension regarding the animation. The film is Isao Takahata’s final film. The director is best known for “Grave of the Fireflies,” which I have seen and really brought me utter sadness and tears. I still find it hard to watch it again.

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The film is based on a 10th century folktale called “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter” and is considered the very first Japanese prose narrative from the Tokugawa period. It centers around the bamboo cutter Okina (Takeo Chii) and his discovery of a little child inside a bamboo shoot. He brings her home to his wife Ona (Nobuko Miyamoto), but when she carries the child she suddenly grows into a normal looking baby.

The couple decided to raise the child and naming her Kaguya (Aki Asakura), which means “radiant night” in Japanese. There was a shining light coming out of the bamboo shoot to where Okina found her, thus the name that means radiant night. The little Kaguya becomes friends with the local children and they also noticed how she strangely grows too fast like a bamboo, so they started calling her “takenoko” or little bamboo and developing a special friendship with Sutemaru (Kengo Kora).

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But the mysteries didn’t end with her discovery, Okina found gold coins and elegant silk robes inside the very same bamboo, and he was convinced that Kaguya is a gift from heaven and is destined for nobility. With this Kaguya’s life is changed entirely, from the suburbs to the city to learn the ways and principles of a noble lady fit for the high society.

The news of her elegant beauty has quickly spread, eliciting attentions from noblemen to the emperor. But on the day she was solemnized as Kaguya-hime (Princess Kaguya), she realized how most people only cared about her physical looks and that she’s only being named a princess due to her father’s wealth.

Despite her bold disobedience at times to her father and mentor Lady Sagami (Atsuko Takahata), she still yearns to please her father in the best of her abilities but upon hearing how people deride even her father makes her start to realize that all the things about her nobility is unworthy.

One of my favorite scenes in the film. Just look at that. 

One of the strong themes tackled in the film is how women of nobility are stripped of their free will, thrown into situations other people have decided for them without consideration to their opinions and feelings. Another is how women are merely treated as possessions and status symbols and how they are lured by men with money, flamboyant words and promises.

And yes not to forget the animation itself that initially turned me off. I have to say it really is majestic. The hand-drawn or brush-stroke style makes every scene feel and look like its being sketch as it happens on screen. The whole film is a masterpiece painting that comes alive before the audience. It can also  be likened to traditional Japanese painting such as The Great Wave off Kanagawa.

And of course, a Ghibli film is not complete without its accompaniment of musical score from perennial genius and Ghibli collaborator Joe Hisaishi that complements each and every moment of the film, from the joyful discovery of Kaguya, her early experiences as a human, to saying goodbyes, to good memories of friendship, and new beginnings and challenges as a princess.

Infinitely beautiful, truly one of the very best animated films ever made.

The Promise That Was Kept: Kakashi,Obito and Minato

Minato stopping Kakashi before he’s able to kill Obito

Awww. Minato and his students Kakashi and Obito. 😥 My impression upon seeing this photo from Naruto Shippuden Ep. 387 – The Promise That Was Kept.

Just watched the episode and wow, what a moment among the three of them. So many feels. Indeed my favorite scene of this episode and definitely one of my favorite episodes now.

It starts with Naruto offering his hand to Obito. At some point, Obito was about to shake hands with Naruto but suddenly changed his mind and strangled Naruto. Naruto punched him hard to free himself. And when Obito stood up, he saw his younger self in Naruto and recalls a day with Minato, Kakashi and Rin as if experiencing it again.

While still seeing his past, his younger self tells him that Rin won’t even turn to look at the present Obito and drags him. Snapping into the present, his younger self turns into Naruto. This is the perfect exploration of Obito being haunted by his past, despite his efforts to forget all those memories.

Obito talking to Kakashi, telling him that he has nothing left in his hole heart.

Sasuke was about to charge against Obito after all the tailed beasts were extracted from him, but stopped when Kakashi appeared. Kakashi says,”I was once his classmate and friend. So please let me take responsibility for him.” He was about to stab Obito when Minato stopped him.

That moment when he stopped Kakashi from stabbing Obito, proved how much he loves this two. He says, “Obito, when we had that chakra tug-of-war just now, I got to see inside your heart. It seems like my son nagged and lectured you quite a bit. I think he might have gotten that from his mother.” Naruto was slightly embarrassed when his dad Minato said he got his talk-no-jutsu from his mother Kushina. Well it’s true anyway. Then while talking to Obito he turns to Kakashi, “But that duty falls on you. I think the one who truly understands Obito and should talk to him is you, his friend, Kakashi.” He looks at Naruto and says, “Isn’t that right, Naruto?”

Naruto and Sasuke

Naruto and Sasuke

And Naruto realizes what he has been doing all this time for Sasuke. He looks at Sasuke with that serious realization, how he had never given up his hopes for Sasuke, how he never managed to hate and severe his ties, or simply abandon and forget about Sasuke – his only best friend, close to him like a brother. Just as Naruto and Sasuke are the same, Kakashi and Obito are the same as well. So it only makes sense that Kakashi, the one in a more logical state of mind should be the one talking Obito out.

On a side note, it warms my heart and makes me smile to see how Naruto and Sasuke are fighting together for the same goal, at how finally they’re on the same page and Sasuke finally accepts and understands what Naruto has been trying to tell him all this time. ヾ(@^▽^@)ノ

I feel like I’m drowning watching this moment, being drowned by feels. This episode is full of brotherly and mentor-student love.

Minato is just so forgiving, he couldn’t even bring himself to hate Obito for what he did that made Naruto an orphan and everything else. He could have let Kakashi kill Obito right there, but he knew it would also hurt Kakashi to do it, just as when he had to do it with Rin.  Instead of hating Obito for everything, but first and foremost for destroying what could have been his wonderful family; he is saddened by what his student had become. He feels disappointed at himself, for his shortcomings for not being able to guide him better. Had he been there for him, he would not have turned out this way. 

Naruto meets Kushina, his mom.

In the same sense that Naruto managed to put aside his personal emotions, as he was able to put out his hand to reach out to Obito. He’s a stronger young man now, he understands Obito, despite that one fact that Obito was the reason he lost his parents on the day he was born. 

Kushina telling Minato of the baby news. This is the sweetest ever. I just love how they’re both overjoyed.

It’s just natural for him to be angry or even hate Obito for it. It’s how humans fundamentally are. Obito not only destroyed Naruto’s chance of a family, to grow up with his parents; he also damaged Minato and Kushina’s chance to be there for Naruto. A perfect revenge it may seem. 

Naruto meets Minato for the first time and finds out The Fourth Hokage is his dad

I recall that episode when Naruto was so angry with Pain (Nagato) during his battle with him for killing Jiraiya. That anger was one of the strong catalyst that caused him to lose it and have Kurama gain control over his entire body. He was entirely losing himself to Kurama, he was at the brink of hopelessness until Minato appeared before him in his psyche. Eventually, he learned of Pain’s true nature and his reasons for being what he is.

He had learned a lot from that event to not let his hate/anger overcome him this time with Obito. I think it’s also one of the things he had gotten from his dad Minato, as Minato is naturally like that and after Minato shedding some light to Naruto about the cycle of love and hate that drives the whole shinobi system.

Team Minato – Minato, the Fourth Hokage and his students Kakashi, Obito and Rin

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“I think you were younger than Naruto is now. Do you remember? All the missions that the four of us went on. As a medic nin, Rin did her utmost to protect you two. She would never have wished for a situation like this.” Kakashi drops his hand holding the kunai and Minato let go of his arm. “But what caused this is my responsibility.” Then we see the flashback of that fateful Kannabi Bridge battle.

“It’s no coincidence that I, who should be dead is standing before you two like this. Perhaps it was Rin who made it happen. Her way of scolding me for failing as your teacher. I’m sorry I couldn’t protect Rin.”

Team Minato on their mission at Kannabi Bridge

I seriously do not agree about the idea of Minato taking all the responsibility. Yes, he was responsible for them, they were his students but at the same time, there’s just simply no way he could have controlled or be responsible of everything. It wasn’t his fault Rin died. Kakashi understood that. If only Obito had a more open mind back then, if he tried to find the real answers from Minato and Kakashi; Minato and Kushina would still be alive.

“Rin was my only light and hope. After I lost Rin, the world as I saw it, changed. It became a pitch black hell. There was no hope in this world. Even with my Sharingan, I couldn’t see anything. There was nothing to see,” says Obito.

Kakashi killing Rin

Minato and Kushina’s sacrifice for Naruto and the village

Somehow, I kinda feel bad for Obito cause all this time he allowed himself to be engulfed by so much darkness and hate after losing Rin and be used for that. But Kakashi was no different either; he thought he lost Obito, he lost Rin and even had to do it himself and eventually he lost his sensei Minato. It was equally as hard or even more difficult for Kakashi to deal with all that.

Obito giving his Sharingan to Kakashi as his gift to him for being a jounin.

And as Kakashi tells Obito that he himself went through the same experience as him, it brings both of them back to that moment when Obito gave Kakashi one of his Sharingan. Kakashi tells him that he tried his best to see the world through Obito’s eye and that as long as he had Obito’s Sharingan and words, he could see it. To which Obito answers,”And what you saw is Naruto?”

Obito is still unconvinced at how Naruto’s path would be successful than his. But Kakashi instead believes more on Naruto’s strong perseverance on his dreams and reality. And his natural talent for drawing people closer to him, making them give their full support to reach his goal more than his chances of failing.

But I am glad Minato is there, if not, Kakashi would have really finished Obito for good and it would leave Kakashi deeply scarred again. Had Obito died here, he would die still deep in his darkness, full of hate and still not realizing his mistakes. Rin would not be happy to welcome him when they meet again.

Naruto Chapter 694 – Sasuke being all dramatic

Best Friends: At Odds

Finally, I get to see Sasuke admitting Naruto is the closest thing to a best friend he’s ever had. It’s the same as he’s saying that Naruto is the only other person he loves besides his older brother Itachi. And this alone brings tons of NaruSasu feels!!!!!!!!! I haven’t even read the whole chapter and just seeing this drowns me with so much NaruSasu feels,endless NaruSasu feels. NaruSasu forever, and to be honest NaruSasu is the cannon couple of Naruto.

Sasuke baring it all

It gives me the giggling feeling as if Sasuke is confessing his love for Naruto. A lot of NaruSasu fans are beyond happy with Sasuke spilling his heart out. And that we finally get to see that Sasuke isn’t exactly evil, that he’s no stone heart after all, and that he’s capable of revealing his real feelings after all this time.

With the manga nearing its epic finish next month, Nov. 10 as I saw from one Tumblr post; it gives me that bittersweet feeling – a mix of huge excitement to how it’s all gonna wrap up and sadness because it’s about to conclude.

Naruto and Sasuke fighting together against Obito

That same feeling when the last book of Harry Potter was finally released. But then again, fans still had the movies to hold onto. Just like with Naruto, even after the manga has concluded, fans still have the anime series to hold onto. But when the series also concludes, just as when Deathly Hallows II was released; I am surely gonna be really sad about it. This is something no one can ever be prepared for, emotions will just get the best of you.

I may not always be updated with watching the latest episode or reading the latest chapter, but Naruto is always on top of my big favorites because I just so love the story and the characters.

‘Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends’ Review: The Introspection

“If you don’t know what is lacking in you, you can’t win. And if you are lucky and you do win, you can’t overcome the “hitokiri” who lodges inside of you. All your life you will suffer, you will grieve alone. You will kill again,” says Kenshin’s master Hiko Seijuro during their last training as he teaches Kenshin the Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki – Hiten Mitsurugi’s ultimate technique.

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I saw the movie  this Thursday, Sept. 25 at Gateway Cinema and while watching, I was already coming up with thoughts about the second sequel and last installment of the RuroKen trilogy.

The Master and the Apprentice 

“The Legend Ends” continues the last sequence in “Kyoto Inferno” when Kenshin was seen by the seaside unconscious, when a mysterious man arrives and takes him away. We then see Kenshin in his sleep dreaming about that time when he met his master and mentor Hiko Seijuro (Fukuyama Masaharu). He was digging graves for the slaves who took care of him as a child and the bandits who almost killed him before Hiko rescued him, took him under his wing to train as a swordsman and giving him a new name “Kenshin,” which means in Japanese 謙 (ken) “modest” and 信 (shin) “truth.”

He wakes up to find out that his master has rescued him once again.

Fans can recall that Kenshin went to see Hiko himself and not like in the film. The film did better on this though, as it shows that fate made them meet each other again in the right time when Kenshin needs guidance. In the anime, Kaoru and Yahiko followed him to Hiko’s place, so this is where Kaoru and Kenshin met each other after he left Tokyo; whereas in Kyoto Inferno, Kaoru and Yahiko saw Kenshin again in a fight with Cho to save the grandson of Arai Shakku – the maker of his Sakabatou.

I’m happy to see Fukuyama Masaharu again (after Eiga Sai’s “Like Father Like Son”) in ruffled long hair, period clothes and as Kenshin’s sarcastic master Hiko Seijuro. One particular scene I would have wanted to be longer was during Kenshin’s training with him to learn the Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki. When finally Kenshin realizes what is lacking in him, and that answer is the key to gaining and using the ultimate technique in its best form. When Hiko (Fukuyama Masaharu) said,”If you understand what that means, come at me.” And then the scene is over. 

During a conversation between the master and the apprentice, Hiko asked him about the scars. At first I was like, oh he’s finally going to say something about it, but no he did not. He only said that the first scar started him drinking but all he could taste was blood. God, he didn’t even mention who gave that to him, nor the second scar. It was the shortest teaser of all about the origins of the scars. If you’ve seen the first Rurouni Kenshin film and Kyoto Inferno, Tomoe was seen in a flashback from that rainy scene and again here with The Legend Ends. This is why they should explore the Kenshin-Tomoe story.

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His famous words to Kenshin are something I find very valuable to make Kenshin fight not just for others but for himself. “Your own life is worth as much as any other. If you sacrifice yourself for others, they will not be happy. That life is not yours to throw away.” He’s saying that sacrificing one’s self for others may not entirely be a good thing, because those people who are important to Kenshin for instance will always feel guilty about his sacrifice and will not be able to move on peacefully with their lives.

Hiko Seijuro (Fukuyama Masaharu) as Kenshin (Sato Takeru) challenges him during a training.

Aoshi’s Wake-up Call 

My favorite among all the fight scenes is definitely Aoshi vs Kenshin. This one was hands down exceptionally performed by Iseya Yusuke (Aoshi) and Sato Takeru. Specially noteworthy is Aoshi’s double kodachi technique that looks really difficult (from an audience perspective) to handle but because Iseya is such a talented actor, he pulled it off excellently. It always leaves me in awe whenever he displays his double kodachi, as also seen in Kyoto Inferno vs Okina. It’s simply so well choreographed, and how the two actors complement each other with their movements is like watching them dance so gracefully. I couldn’t stop myself from smiling though whenever Iseya is on screen and adoring his beautiful nose, forgive me for my fangirling fit even as I write this review.

After defeating Aoshi (It pains me to see my gorgeous Aoshi hurting and beaten though), Kenshin says, “Whatever the past has inflicted on you and how heavy the burden you’re  carrying, I do not know. But if you ignore what is in plain sight, if you ignore what really matters, you can’t win.”

With this, Kenshin was able to clear Aoshi’s head of his clouded judgment and ideals. Aoshi then wakes up to find himself inside the Aoiya with Misao watching over him. At first he responds to her concern the usual way and that he doesn’t need her pity, even allowing her to take revenge for Elder. Misao answers him, “You will oblige me by staying alive. For Elder. For the rest of the Oniwabanshu.” It’s the  wake-up call moment and quite a dramatic one as well for Aoshi, as he was teary-eyed when he heard Misao say that to him before leaving him alone.

Aoshi (Iseya Yusuke) finally finds Kenshin to get his long-awaited fight for the strongest.

Aoshi (Iseya Yusuke) finally finds Kenshin to get his long-awaited fight for the strongest.

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The Oniwabanshu Leader Aoshi (Iseya Yusuke) attacks Kenshin with his double kodachi.

Overshadowed – The Juppongatana 

The Juppongatana is an important aspect of the Kyoto Arc, but it didn’t happen for the live action sequels. The part where they attacked Kyoto and Aoiya was supposed to be in “Kyoto Inferno,” but there was no sign of any of the Juppongatana members during this part in the movie. They should have been given importance of some sort starting with Kyoto Inferno. It looked like they were just there as decorations. And same goes for The Legend Ends, I can clearly recall how Saito found a match with the Juppongatana’s Usui in the anime in a fight with him that got Saito injured quite badly. In The Legend Ends, Saito just defeated Usui with one strike. Usui isn’t an easy foe to begin with.  At least, the Sano and Anji fight got its share in the film that was quite amusing and funny.

The Juppongatana

The Juppongatana

The blind swordsman Uonuma Usui (Mitsu Murata) who should have gave Saito a beating.

The blind swordsman Uonuma Usui (Mitsu Murata) who should have given Saito a beating.

Saito getting wounded in Usui's first attack

Saito getting wounded in Usui’s first attack

Survival of the Fittest 

And of course, the continuation of Kenshin vs Soujiro in Kyoto Inferno. Unfortunately, I was more impressed with their sequence in Kyoto Inferno than here in The Legend Ends. In the anime, Kenshin striked Soujiro that sent him flying over, but in the film he just broke his sword. Somehow, the fight didn’t feel as important as it should be just like in the anime. On the contrary, I have to give credit for Kamiki Ryonosuke’s performance with Soujiro’s psychotic fit of rage when he loses the fight.

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Soujiro starting to lose his cool

Soujiro in his psychotic fit of rage

Soujiro in his psychotic fit of rage

I was slightly disappointed too with the final battle, although I already know from the trailer that it will be inside the battleship. For me, it was quite a shame that they decided to have it indoor unlike the anime that is something like a rooftop in Shishio’s hideout. In the anime, Kenshin lost consciousness when Shishio tricked him with a gunpowder. This is when Saito takes over but fails to overcome Shishio, then comes Sano and finally Aoshi. It was actually Aoshi alone who managed to put up with Shishio while waiting for Kenshin to regain consciousness and not really be completely overthrown by Shishio. I was impressed with the fire effect of Shishio’s sword though.

Kenshin, Aoshi, Saito and Sano simultaneously attacking Shishio

The final one on one battle of Kenshin and Shishio in the anime.

The final one on one battle of Kenshin and Shishio in the anime.

In the anime, Kenshin was almost dead when he collapsed. When he stood up all of a sudden in the middle of Aoshi vs Shishio; there’s this jaw-dropping moment wherein Kenshin is like pulling energies from his surroundings. The leaves around him started to float and then ripped into pieces with a reverberating sound, as if feeling the immense power coming from Kenshin. As Aoshi says in the anime,”The leaves are resonating with Battousai’s swordsman spirit.”  Of course in the film, they didn’t do that cause it was indoor. And the set on this part of the movie was just too crammed with so many things around them.

Kenshin in the film wasn’t in the same state as Kenshin in the anime during the Shishio fight. Kenshin in the anime was seriously injured, so the words of Hiko to him “the will to live” was his greatest driving force to stand up. This is something that was lacking in the film, as he wasn’t really that injured. Shishio’s gunpowder attack wasn’t there that could have injured Kenshin badly in the film.

Ep. 58 when Kenshin is knocked down and lost consciousness

Ep. 58 when Kenshin is knocked down and lost consciousness

Ep. 59 – Kenshin stands up

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Aoshi assuring Kenshin that not one of them has given up the fight

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Kenshin and his powerful swordsman spirit ripping the leaves violently as if controlling the air

I wouldn’t really call it a final battle between Kenshin and Shishio just like the anime. When Kenshin continues the battle before Shishio started burning; Aoshi, Saito and Sano didn’t get into the fight anymore and just let the two be. In the movie, when Kenshin reappeared, the rest that followed was him with Saito, Aoshi and Sano simultaneously attacking Shishio. Yes, Kenshin and Shishio still had their one on one fight when the three stopped attacking but it was too short. Kenshin did use the ultimate technique as his last strike against Shishio that hit him badly, but still I can’t say that Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki was able to get its well-deserved limelight in the fight. I watched the movie the second time Sept. 29, and I noticed he used his right leg when he stepped forward, which was supposed to be his left because this is why the technique is dangerous as he could cut himself by doing the technique.

Breathtaking Cinematography 

Kaoru contemplating by the seaside after regaining consciousness

Kaoru contemplating by the seaside after regaining consciousness

Another noteworthy aspect in the film is how it was beautifully shot. A fine and first-rate Japanese film photography. Hiko and Kenshin’s scene in the bamboo forest felt really cooling and relaxing to the eyes, as if you are in one with nature. So is Kaoru’s retrospective moment by the seaside, with her hair down and being swept by the wind while she looks at a far distance.  There’s also Kenshin’s night time brooding scene as he tries to figure out what is lacking in him before he gets granted the Hiten Mitsurugi style’s ultimate technique, and Kenshin traveling by a boat as he journeys to Tokyo.

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And yes, how could I forget that flashback when he was supposed to be executed in public. Hoji recited the names of Kenshin’s victims, including Kiyosato Akira, Kyoto Police Force and then the flashback of him brutally killing Kiyosato who was then engaged to be married to Yukishiro Tomoe. The next scene showed Kenshin holding an umbrella during a dark rainy day, looking somehow saddened as he watches Tomoe breakdown in tears upon seeing Kiyosato. This scene was so grim and heartbreaking, although I couldn’t particularly point the exact feelings of Kenshin while he watches the result of his own doing. I think it was because it’s the first time Kenshin actually witnessed how an assassination by him affects the people they hold dear.

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These particular scenes all point to the reason why I titled this review Introspection, because most of the main characters had to go through this phase to realize something important (for Kenshin and Kaoru) or to clear his clouded judgment and wrong ideals (for Aoshi).

Brilliant Performances and Fine Film Making 

I have also always love the costume and production design, locations and sets ever since the first Kenshin film. I particularly like how I really feel being in the Meiji era through the film and how effective everything in the film collaborates together to create that authentic experience.

I have always admired Japanese, Korean and some Chinese/HongKong films. Most films, though not all, are balanced in commercial factor and art film factor. When they make movies, they don’t really create just a blockbuster film that’s purely for profits, they provide pure, honest and authentic form of entertainment. They’re never the Hollywood type that when you say blockbuster, it’s all about actions, explosions, spectacles, massive CGI, the most typical of all typical and very poor plot, and simply purely intended to make money at the box office and nothing else more.

The Rurouni Kenshin trilogy effectively achieves its authentic and epic scale from good art of film making and compelling performances from its cast.

Shinomori Aoshi (Iseya Yusuke) in Kyoto Inferno in a scene with Tanaka Min

Shinomori Aoshi (Iseya Yusuke) in Kyoto Inferno in a scene with Tanaka Min

Another highly commendable aspect of the film is its cast. It is one of the greatest casting ever for me. From the mannerisms, expressions, behavior, angst, the aura, style, personality; everyone in the cast was perfect for their respective roles. I have more good words for Fujiwara Tatsuya this time as Shishio than when he played the role of Light in Death Note, although I did have apprehensions about his casting when I heard about it. He was simply overshadowed by Matsuyama Kenichi as L in Death Note.

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One of my favorite characters Shinomori Aoshi is of course efficiently performed by the multi-hyphenate actor Iseya Yusuke in both sequels. An actor of his stature, it’s not so surprising that he’s excellent as he always is in his movies. He said about his training for Aoshi, “When I got the part, the first thing I had to do was to retrain myself. The two-sword technique is very difficult, and I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere, which was very frustrating, but I was reminded that frustration can be a very stimulating experience.” His role as Aoshi is another huge feat for Iseya-san, something that can be likened to his difficult role as Rikiishi Toru in Ashita no Joe.

Aoshi as he continues to find Kenshin to settle the score

Aoshi as he continues to find Kenshin to settle the score

Exploring More of the Series 

For a last installment, it’s still not enough. I hope they’d consider exploring more areas of the manga/anime series that are worthy to be adapted into live action films. But among anything else, most important is the OVA Trust and Betrayal that chronicles Kenshin in his battousai days during the Bakumatsu era, when he encounters and kills Kiyosato who gave him his first scar and meeting Yukishiro Tomoe who made the second scar. It’s a highly important part of Kenshin’s development and backstory, and influential from his battousai days to his wandering days.

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To cap of this very long review, I really love this particular part in the film but I won’t elaborate anymore what transpired here. Go watch the movie now!

RuroKen Asian Premiere in Manila

Day 1 – Aug. 6, SM Megamall

Samurai X, as it is known outside Japan has always been one of my favorite anime series’ ever.  I was repeatedly watching it on the telly, it was Channel 2 or Studio 23 and never got tired of it. It’s definitely a huge part of my growing up years, when I was having big crushes to anime characters although until now, I still love “bishounen” anime guys and always had this wish that they’re real. So when I saw the trailer of the live action adaptation back in 2012, I was so thrilled that finally a live action and when I finally got to see it, it went beyond my expectation.

And two years later, the cast made a visit to Manila. With the upcoming release of the film, I am so specially excited to see Iseya Yusuke as the live action counterpart of Shinomori Aoshi. Squeal!

Iseya Yusuke and Shinonori Aoshi

It’s a very first in Manila for something like this to happen here. It’s a common knowledge that movies don’t have premieres here, wherein foreign actors come over to have a red carpet procession for their movies, a press conference and the like. It just doesn’t happen. So when the news about the cast: Sato Takeru, Takei Emi and Aoki Munetaka with director Otomo Keishi coming over for the Manila premiere of Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno was announced, it definitely sent everyone into a huge frenzy, including me.

I’m not a big fan of Sato Takeru in any way, as I like his best friend Miura Haruma. But because I’m a big fan of the whole Rurouni Kenshin, it didn’t matter to me at all. And besides, this doesn’t happen most of the time. It’s really one of those things that I should not miss.

I didn’t win passes so I wasn’t able to see the movie during the premiere this Wednesday at SM Megamall. And as the fangirl that I am, I just went to the event by myself. It took 3 1/2 hours of waiting and standing before I could see them in person.

It was really nice of them as they signed autographs at the red carpet, on their way to the stage and with interviews on the side.

Here they are signing at the red carpet.

I find Sato Takeru cute, serious and mature-looking. When he was introduced, he said, “Kumusta? Ako po si Takeru Sato. Masaya ako nagkita tayo.” His Tagalog speaking voice was probably the cutest Japanese sounding Tagalog to me.

See the video below to see them speaking Tagalog:

Munetaka Aoki was the most energetic one. I just love his energy and being the first one to speak in Tagalog was such a nice gesture for me. He greeted the crowd with a roaring “Magandang gabi po!” and said “Salamat po” when they screamed “Sano,” which is his character’s name.

And of course the only lass among the lads, Takei Emi looks like a sweet person and a simple beauty. She really does strike a resemblance to Kathryn Bernardo.

The event ended with a photo call before they left for the start of the movie premiere.

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I was just so happy when I managed to capture this scene of Iseya-san from the trailer. ^_^

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Day 2 – Aug. 7, Glorietta

The next day was another long waiting time for me. Thankfully, I was with Myleen who went at Glorietta earlier than me to queue for the movie tickets while I went to buy books for us. Unlike the event at SM Megamall, this time fans were able to actually buy passes to get inside the event center by buying a movie ticket and anything that’s worth P500 in any Glorietta shop. We opted for the bookstore, as we wanted to be sure we were buying what we really wanted. I ended up buying Rurouni Kenshin Volume 6 Big Edition, which is a compilation of Vol. 16-18 and Mitch Albom’s First Phone Call from Heaven for Myleen.

Our passes and movie tickets!

And so there, thankfully we made it before the passes ran out. Unlike Wednesday’s Megamall event, the event place is bigger and because there were seats for the press and VIPs, the standing area was a bit far from the stage.

The event opened with a special performance with the music of ONE OK ROCK’s Mighty Long Fall, which is the movie’s main soundtrack.

The cast and the director being introduced by Sam Oh.

There was so much energy at the event, from the crowd and most especially from Munetaka-san who’s always as cheerful as ever, again in his very cute slippers. Sam Oh, who was the MC for the night even commented that he’s exactly like his character Sanosuke. He also mentioned that one of his injuries was when he lost a tooth from all the hitting,  but saying that it’s okay because he’s Sanosuke elicited loud cheers from the crowd.

Press con proper with the Philippine press members.

Takeru on the other hand was as serious as he was yesterday, but I did see him laughing and smiling during the press con. I noticed he has very big eyes as if he’s always wide-eyed but that’s cute though. I think one of the best things he mentioned was about his personal connection to Kenshin.

“In my case, in my daily life, in what I do; I always ask myself if I’m not sure of my decision, if it was Kenshin what would he decide to do? He is like a mentor to me, someone I respect and look up to.”

Munetaka-san also gave a good answer about the significant role of Sanosuke to Kenshin. “As for the role of Kenshin, likewise; Sanosuke’s role is to protect, to support his character so he will be able to commit to his dedication.”

Before the press con ended, there was this question about the values the movie could impart to viewers who are not familiar with the story. I find it commendable how Takeru answered the question with this:

“People would say to just forget the past and move on. But in my case, I feel how Kenshin is, how he still lets his past influence his life. I feel that it’s also very admirable that he still remembers and looks back to his past and tries to live a better life based on that past. And for me, hopefully everyone could also learn that way of looking at the past, living and moving forward.”

Director Otomo also said almost the same thing, but with a special reference to Kenshin’s Sakabatou.

“I admire Kenshin because he’s carrying his Sakabatou all the time and that’s a constant reminder of his past, so for him to always have it with him, that dark past and use that as a reminder as he moves forward with his life is very admirable.”

There was also a mini-exhibition with the display of an actual Kenshin and Sanosuke costumes, as well as display photos of some of the movie’s locations in Kumamoto.

Prior to the press con, the cast was also awarded by the Makati City Council as cultural friendship ambassadors for bridging the Japanese and Filipino culture through Rurouni Kenshin and its distinctly Japanese way of of portraying cultural traditions during the Meiji period.

It was a great experience for everyone to have these special events for the Rurouni Kenshin:Kyoto Inferno premiere. I can see that the director and the cast had a wonderful time with their stay and meeting the fans.  I hope this is just the start of more Japanese movies to be screened regularly in cinemas, just like what Takeru said.

The event ended with a positive message from Takeru.

“I hope that Rurouni Kenshin will pave the way for more Japanese movies in the Philippines, with that I hope I can come back again. For this to happen, I need all of your help. Tell your friends, tell everybody about the movie. Looking forward to meeting all of you again. Thank you so much for coming today.”

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More photos from the costume exhibition.

And that is me. I really had to pose near Iseya-san. ^_^

Kumamon! A postcard with descriptions of the places in Kumamoto, the main location of the movie.

Myleen with the cosplayers

RuroKen Big Edition Vol. 6. It’s pretty heavy, I don’t think I can carry this anywhere. I’m thinking of completing the manga. This is the most expensive I’ve ever spent on a manga. It’s even more expensive than a hardbound novel. At least it’s got 3 volumes inside than buying the per volume manga.

Kyoto Inferno opens in theaters mainly SM Cinemas and Ayala Cinemas this August 20, followed by The Legend Ends on September 24.

Attack on Titan: Impression

Shingeki no Kyojin or Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama

Miura Haruma in Ceci Magazine '13

Miura Haruma on Ceci Magazine ’13

This is really something. Impressive trailer.

I heard about the anime about two years ago or last year, not sure but it’s pretty new and it’s going to have a live action adaptation already – that’s a feat.

According to Wiki, the manga only started Sept. 2009, that was just a little over 4 years so still pretty new, compared to other mangas’ that started in the 90s even 80s that’s only getting live action adaptations now. So the anime is really, really new just started April last year, two anime films are in the works and live action adaptation next year.

In any case, I’m excited to see Haruma portray the role of Eren. From this trailer, I think the character will give him a really good stretch acting wise.

Should I start watching this to have a background before I see Haruma in the role in cinemas or through downloads…

With the upcoming release of Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno (part 2) and The Legend Ends (part 3), I hope SM Cinemas would also consider Lupin starring Oguri Shun and of course Attack on Titan when they’re released to have exclusive screenings at SM Cinemas. Crossing my fingers.