It only took four whole years, but director Otomo Keishi's highly-heralded Rurouni Kenshin trilogy is finally coming to the U.S. on limited screens starting in August. The films themselves have had a phenomenal theatrical run in Japan in addition to festivals far and wide, including exclusive screenings in the U.S., though it's fair that fans who haven't resorted to completely pirating the films whilst keeping the faith, probably started losing some.
It's hard being a fan and wanting to support films not made available beyond borders, but these things do take a process. That process also includes money, and it's fair to guess that bootlegging probably slows that process down or likely results it into a release more minimal than preferred...I'm not too sure. However, it IS the case that these films are only showing in the form of limited theatrical releases, which is unfortunate since there are many people who probably don't live near theaters close enough for these films to be tangible for the big screen experience.
Someday, we should fix that. Anyway, Funimation Films snagged all three of these full-grown box-office beasts, and needless to say, not ever having pirated or imported these films or even seen full clips - save for the trailers I've been promoting for the last four years, I have to say that the announcement made on Tuesday feels pretty damn rewarding.
FLOWER MOUND, Texas, June 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Funimation Films is proud to announce its acquisition of the "Rurouni Kenshin" live action, samurai film trilogy. The trilogy, distributed by GAGA Corporation, includes "Rurouni Kenshin: Origins" (released as "Rurouni Kenshin" internationally), "Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno" and "Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends." Funimation has secured the exclusive North American rights to theatrical, home entertainment, video on demand and broadcast distribution of all three titles as part of its agreement with GAGA. Funimation will release all three films in Japanese language with subtitles in U.S. theaters at the end of this summer – "Rurouni Kenshin: Origins" on August 8 - 10, "Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno" on September 12 - 14 and "Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends" on Oct 3 - 5.
The "Rurouni Kenshin" trilogy is based on the worldwide, bestselling manga series of the same name, which has sold more than 70 million copies and been recognized as a New York Times Bestseller. The storyline, set in feudal Japan during the Meiji period, centers on a former assassin Kenshin Himura who must confront a rapidly modernizing society following a fierce war. Joined by allies along the way, Kenshin faces new villains as he fulfills his vow to protect the innocent.
"We're excited to be working with GAGA to bring this international box office hit trilogy to North America,'" said Gen Fukunaga, CEO and founder of Funimation. "This collection of movies stands out as incredibly authentic film adaptation that faithfully honors the original manga series. We're eager to share 'Rurouni Kenshin' with U.S. audiences in August."
Of note, choreographer Kenjin Tanigaki served as action director of all three "Rurouni Kenshin" films. Tanigaki, dubbed one of the world's top stunt choreographers by TimeOut, is part of the team behind action superstar Donnie Yen ("IP Man," "Dragon"). Tanigaki's long list of other film work includes "Blade II," "Kill Zone," "Legend of the Fist" and "Dragon."
"Fans have been clamoring to see the 'Rurouni Kenshin' film trilogy and we are pleased to finally be bringing it to theaters," said Mike DuBoise, EVP and COO of Funimation. "The action choreography and production design throughout all three films is incredible and has to be experienced on the big screen. Fans will not want to miss seeing them."
All three films, grossing more than $160M internationally, were well received by critics. "The sword fighting is amazing, the directing is brilliant, the casting nearly perfect… " and "…May be the single best Japanese live-action adaptation…" proclaimed Kotaku "…Delivers grand thrills." hailed ScreenAnarchys. "Choreography is fast and furious…" said The Hollywood Reporter. "…A well-shot swordplay spectacular" declared The Guardian.
To commemorate today's announcement, Funimation Films released the official, full-length theatrical trailer for the "Rurouni Kenshin" trilogy. The trailer is available here for viewing through an exclusive partnership with the leading gaming and entertainment website IGN.com.
In the wake of a brutal civil war, Kenshin Himura, once a feared killer, turns his back on bloodshed and vows to carry a reversed-edge blade for the rest of his days. But Kenshin soon finds that the world around him is greatly changed. Rapid modernization has given rise to new villains driven by power and greed—and from the shadows of the past, the famed assassin Makoto Shishio has returned to wreak havoc across Japan. Together, with the beautiful kendo instructor Kaoru and a colorful cast of allies, Kenshin embarks on a quest to protect the innocent from those that would do them harm. In a staggering display of swordplay and martial arts mastery, Kenshin will attempt to survive his promise to face his own blade—before spilling the blood of his enemies!