This article discusses the ending of the Netflix film Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning, so it will contain major spoilers.
Some backstory: Japan is in a civil war, the battles spread into the city streets at night. There is a famous swordsman called “Hitokiri Battosai” who is slaying members of the government, with no regard for the number of guards standing in his way. Even the elites of the Shinsengumi have been unable to subdue him. Called a killing machine, we watch his journey. We watch him and a girl fall in love.
The film opens with a dramatic and exciting fight sequence, where one maverick character takes down an entire army of fighters. On a rampage, we see him kill anyone and anything, even when they beg for mercy in front of him. This is where Kenshin gets his first slash on his cheek, the first part of his classic X-shape scar. From this we follow Kenshin’s backstory, and he is clearly dead inside, due to the constant stream of death he has caused in his wake. He’s withdrawn from his companions in the rebellion and sits alone in a crowded room. We are then introduced to Tomoe (played by Kasumi Arimura), who is very similar. She has a gentle presence, but now lives for revenge—revenge she cannot attain on her own. They seek out one another and slowly build a relationship.
In the darkness, we watch their love develop through death and destruction. Their storyline is a slow-burner, but it isn’t boring. My favorite section is when he says, “Forgive me, It doesn’t feel fair to force this decision upon you, but let’s be together — not just for appearances, let’s mean it!” Yes, the killing machine has a soul, and they’re in love and she says, “Yes,” and it’s so sweet. It’s official. That part was quite quick. They then go to a place where it is just them two, they grow and harvest crops, and drink tea outside. Very tranquil and peaceful.
Yet amidst this calmness, Tomoe cries into a mirror. Why? We meet Tomoe’s brother and learn more about Tomoe’s family and backstory. After this, Kenshin and Tomeo finally embrace. This is quite a lovely section of the film. Not cheesy or exaggerated. The characters sitting by a log burning fire, holding one another, is a beautiful image/scene. This is why the next part is so traumatic.
We learn Tomeo was due to marry another man, but he was killed. He was killed by Kenshin. He is the man who begged for his life at the beginning of the film, who Kenshin so mercilessly takes down. Tomoe’s revenge is to kill the man who killed her ex-lover. She is part of a plot to make this happen, and in getting close to Kenshin, accidentally falls in love with him.
Now Kenshin is led to believe she only seduced him to kill him — which isn’t true and leaves him disheartened and when there is a dramatic battle sequence, he is stabbed, beaten, broken. There is little hope for him at this point. There is then a one-on-one fight sequence that is graceful, despite the blood and violence. Kenshin looks as if he is about to give up and let himself be killed when Tomoe comes and grabs his attacker. Of course, Kenshin was not about to give up, and in killing his enemy killed Tomoe, slashing her to the ground.
As he holds her, Tomoe slices his cheek, creating that ‘X’ we all know, and tells him she loves him with her dying breath.
This scene is quiet, a complete contrast from its intense start; there are flashbacks through their love, Kenshin has his dramatic scar, and he says he will never, ever kill again. As he reads from her diary, her confession for the plot, her falling in love, and that she would die for Kenshin, we then have a scene of him saying goodbye to her and burning the whole house with her dead body inside it. Then a show of the house in flames, we watch him leave, slowly walking away with his new scar on show.
The final scene is a battle in the woods, in Tokyo, with Kenshin fighting and killing everyone in his path. The battle is won and as Kenshin turns around, he stabs his sword into the ground and hobbles away. Once the battle had finished, he was no longer needed. A peaceful, yet dramatic end.
However, it is only the beginning.
What did you think of the ending of the Netflix film Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning? Comment below.