After a long wait, we have our second chapter of Kinema-Ban, and my reactions are fairly close to what they were after the first. This still feels like Rurouni Kenshin, which places it head and shoulders above the non-Watsuki attempts to cash in on the series’ popularity. But it’s still moving very, very quickly – and that has me worried for how much character development is going to be lost out of the necessity to save time.
As readers of the original RK manga know, Watsuki’s author’s notes were often some of the best stuff in the entire series. With that in mind, here are some excerpts from his recent interview in Shounen Jump Alpha:
Those ideas that emerged from the planning of the movie were intended to give readers a glimpse into Himura Kenshin’s origin. It made me want to repurpose the ideas by drawing the new manga Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration in a way that will reintroduce it to readers.
Twelve years after the fact, I finally took a bird’s-eye view of it. That’s when I thought about things like “this part could be interpreted like this” or “why did Kenshin feel this way?” I noticed things I never would have during the serialization, and it made me want to include those ideas.
Q: You’re scheduled to have a new Kenshin one-shot story in Weekly Shonen Jump this summer. What’s that going to be like?
NW: I first thought about making it a side story that takes place in between some of the original chapters. But after struggling to come up with a story that fans of the original as well as new readers would enjoy, I decided that it should be a supplement to the manga. It begins right before Act 1, before Kenshin arrives at Kamiya Dojo. When I reread Act 1 in preparation for Restoration, I felt I could expand on Kenshin’s motivation to stay at Kamiya Dojo. I’m hoping to write about one of the factors that led to him staying.
Q: What did you think about the theme of the live-action movie?
NW: It’s mainly based on the Jin-e and Takeda Kanryu stories featured in the manga. The battle against Jin-e is shown in great detail. The story is told in a way that makes the Kanryu/Jin-e arc, and the overall “vow to never kill” theme in the manga version of Kenshin, memorable.
All of this paints an interesting picture. The choices for the live-action aren’t necessarily the best elements of the manga, but perhaps they’re best suited for a feature film. As it impacts Kinema-ban, it reinforces my belief that what this series is designed to be is a crash course, Kenshin 101 – thus, you have major timeline changes like Sanosuke already knowing the Futae no Kiwami when he meets Kenshin, and major shifts such as Sanosuke and Saito working for Takeda. Jinne also appears a bit earlier, and seems poised to be the major antagonist in the next chapter.
In fact, the first two chapters of the manga play something like a Kenshin survey course. As someone who knows the material intimately, they seem authentically themselves to me – but what I can’t say is whether or not someone new to the material would walk away from this with a strong sense of who these people are, with the possible exception of Kenshin himself – who even in this abridged form, in still an indelible presence.
In addition to the live-action and the one-shot, Watsuki-sama also mentioned “several other projects” connected to the series this summer, so I’ll be interested to hear what those might be. You all know what I’m hoping for.