When novels are adapted into live-action movies, it’s hard to maintain the fine balance between keeping things faithful to the original story and realistic enough to fit into the real world. There have also been countless flops of manga to live-action movie adaptations in the past as well. Therefore, I had relatively low expectations for the 2012 live-action film adaptation of Nobuhiro Watsuki’s beloved semi-historical manga "Rurouni Kenshin." I went into the theater not expecting much, but came out pleasantly surprised! The casting was overall spot-on, and the characters kept many of their signature mannerisms that had made them popular in the original manga and anime series.
One of the major characters of the next two films is Sojiro Seta, the assassin companion of primary antagonist Makoto Shishio. Sojiro will be portrayed by young actor Ryunosuke Kamiki. Furthermore, his costars can’t seem to stop gushing about his love for his part and the extreme efforts he takes to give the best performance possible.
Even though he’s just shy of his 21st birthday, actor Ryunosuke Kamiki has already garnered critical acclaim for several of his past works, including winning a Japan Academy Award for Newcomer of the Year for his role in the film "The Great Yokai War." He has even gathered some overseas fans as he won the Popular Actor Award at the Seoul International Drama Awards for his work in the single-episode drama "Kokoro no Ito." Those who have yet to see any of his work, however, may well already be familiar with his voice; Kamiki has provided voice tracks for numerous animated films including three Studio Ghibli hits.
Based on reports so far, it seems like Kamiki’s next role in the "Rurouni Kenshin" films will also earn him much praise. He will be playing the part of Sojiro Seta, an assassin who plays a pivotal role in the events of the next story arc.
Sojiro is a handsome young man with deadly skills, and is famous for his ever-present smile, which, as fans familiar with the series will know, comes as a result of a traumatic childhood and allows him to be immune to pain. His enigmatic nature contrasts with seemingly carefree, innocent moments to create a depth of character that would be a challenge for any actor to portray accurately.
Ryunosuke, however, is already being lauded for his extreme dedication to the role and his ability to act completely in character. Besides dying his hair for the first time in his life, he has also reportedly put in a considerable amount of time training for the strenuous fight scenes. His costars have taken note of his efforts and have been continuously showering him with praise.
Here’s what Takeru Sato, the actor who portrays protagonist Kenshin Himura and belongs to the same talent agency as Kamiki, has to say:
“Ryunosuke said he wanted to play Sojiro and began training before production of the sequels was even confirmed. This time around I think he has the largest number of action scenes out of all of us in the upcoming films.”
Similarly, costars Emi Takei and Munetaka Aoki, who play Kaoru Kamiya and Sanosuke Sagara, respectively, were extremely moved by the actor’s hard work. “It’s like he’s been training for bukatsu [a school team or club],” says Munetaka. “He’s completely giving it his all. He’s also doing more action scenes than anyone else. His level of motivation is extremely high.” Emi adds, “He loves his character so much. I’m so impressed by how much effort he’s putting into becoming Sojiro.”
The compliments don’t stop there. Kamiki has not gone unnoticed by director Keishi Otomo either, who was the one to originally cast him as Sojiro:
“Ryunosuke had said he wanted to play Sojiro two years ago, so he had the drive from the start. Even without being able to explain the full importance of his character in the script, Ryunosuke was instinctively able to catch on. I expect that this will become one of his most successful roles ever.”
The first of the two films featuring Kamiki has been titled "Rurouni Kenshin: The Great Kyoto Fire" (English title pending), and will be released on August 1 in Japan. The second, called "Rurouni Kenshin: The Death of a Legend" (again, English pending), will close the trilogy on September 13. I for one was already eagerly anticipating these two "Kenshin" sequels to begin with, and now I’m even more excited to see the results of Kamiki’s labor of love.
Let’s hope that the final two films live up to the expectations of fans of Watsuki’s original masterpiece.
Source: Cinema Today
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