Rurouni Kenshin: The Final is a Japanese live-action film based on a manga series of the same name. Its intricate plot follows a samurai, Himura Kenshin (also known as Hitokiri Battosai), who is being hunted by a Shanghai Mafia, Yukishiro Enishi. The period drama is set in 1897 following the end of the Satsuma Rebellion (revolt of Japanese samurai against the new imperial government).
Directed by Keishi Ōtomo, the film is the fourth installment in the Rurouni Kenshin film series. But anyone without former knowledge of the character could give it a try. However, a brief knowledge would help understand the character arc of Rurouni Kenshin and his choices in the narrative.
Shanghai arms dealer Yukishiro Enishi is arrested by the Bureau of Police Hajime Saito from the Yokohama Station. But Hajime’s efforts went futile because a peace treaty between Japan and China saved him from a sentence in Tokyo.
Later, Enishi and his outlaws attacked Asakusa, Tokyo, and blitzed a local food joint, Akabeko. Enishi called it the opening shot of vengeance.
Upon investigation, local samurai Rurouni Kenshin found a note left by Enishi that suggested his intention of passing judgment upon the ones spared by heaven. Saito could connect the incident with Enishi, but he failed to decipher his resentment towards Kenshin. During his arrest, Enishi commented on Battosai (Kenshin) criss-cross scars on his face. The scars connected to the vengeance Enishi was seeking.
The story further explores Enishi’s blood-thirsty revenge from Battosai, who killed his sister, Tomoe. Later, Battosai revealed that Tomoe was also his first wife, whom he stabbed to death. The Shanghai mob mafia came to take his revenge from Battosai. He had pledged to hurt anyone linked to the pacifist wanderer.
Major spoilers ahead
‘Rurouni Kenshin: The Final’ Ending Explained
As told by Battosai, he met Tomoe during the fall of the shogunate. Tomoe got close to Battosai to avenge his fiance, Lord Kiyosata, killed by Battosai during the rebellion. But on the road to vengeance, she fell in love with Battosai. Unfortunately, while saving Battosai’s life during an attack, Tomoe came in front of Battosai’s sword. She died on the spot, and the incident was witnessed by her brother, Enishi, who thought that Battosai killed her sister. Since then, he had been burning in revenge.
The scars on Battosai’s face were inflicted by Lord Kiyosata and Tomoe, making it a perfect cross. It reminded Battosai of all the killings he had done in his life. It might be a reason why he turned into a pacifist. By the end of the film, he pleaded with Enishi to stop pulling other people into their bout. But Enishi was blinded by vengeance. He wanted to destroy everything connected to Battosai, his friends, family, and the country he had made.
In the final battle, Battosai overpowered Enishi, but in the end, Enishi pierced Battosai’s guts. Enishi’s partner, Wu Heixing, tried to shoot Battosai and Ms. Kaoru. Enishi saved them and took the shot. He couldn’t kill Battosai because, in his conscious mind, the memories of his sister refrained him from committing the grave act.
Throughout the film, Enishi was asked whether Tomoe smiles in his mind. It was a symbolic suggestion that Tomoe’s soul in Enishi’s mind had not found atonement and neither did Enishi. The whole film was a journey of atonement for both its protagonist and antagonist. Battosai atoned himself by understanding that his life had a much greater purpose than being a wandering assassin. Tomoe wrote in her diary that Battosai would preserve many more than he has ever killed, and that was why she decided to sacrifice herself to save Battosai. Battosai was the savior assassin Japan needed. The diary rendered the same opinions about Battosai to Enishi. In prison, Enishi tried his best to forgive Battosai because until he didn’t forgive him, Tomoe would never smile in his mind. She would never achieve peace. Beginning with atonement, the end became an act of forgiveness.
Rurouni Kenshin: The Final is a 2021 Japanese Live-action film based on the manga series. It is directed by Keishi Ōtomo.