What do I think of the plot and treatment of Rurouni Kenshin – Kyoto Inferno?
In a nutshell: I felt that the treatment was pretty solid, even if some of the plot points seem a little forced and/or a bit questionable.
Let’s start with the treatment, which I found good. The director, as well as his cast and crew, managed to strike the right balance between the over-the-top characterization and fight scenes with a sense of realism that grounds the whole movie. While it is true that much of the appeal of this sort of film relies on the action sequences, you still wouldn’t want them to distract the viewers from the story that made them necessary: Kenshin’s decision to fight once more, in order to protect the peace that he helped bring forth, despite the psychological pain that it causes him.
The sets and costumes somehow felt authentic (even though it’s clear some of them aren’t), perhaps because they became part and parcel with the characters themselves – reflecting their moods and personalities fairly accurately. Even the most impractical costumes seemed right on the money once the character opens his or her mouth.
Most importantly, I think Shishio came off as an excellent villain in this film. I felt that he was strong, cunning, and crazy enough to be the kind of terrorist your government won’t want to mess with. And, in my opinion, you really have to make sure that your villain is incredibly badass if you want him to serve as one of the major points of your movie.
As for the stuff that didn’t work for me…well. Let’s just say that almost everything connected to Aoshi Shinomori felt flat and/or stupid to me. Oh, sure, Misao was freaking adorable and I fell in love with Okina (as a granddaughter would with a kindly grandpa) as soon as I saw him petting a kitty on his lap; but their inclusion in the film felt slightly rushed and the Oniwabanshuu sequences came off as undeveloped. Aoshi’s motives for wanting to fight Kenshin also did NOT help the situation any, as it had no complexity to it. Ultimately, you just walk out of the movie thinking that this character was extremely shallow and petty, and you end up wondering why the ninjafolk liked him in the first place.
That said, the movie was still more than extremely enjoyable and had an ending that made me grateful that the next installment will come out in a couple of weeks.