Q&A with 'Rurouni Kenshin' stars, director in Manila

By Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Aug 08 2014 02:10 PM | Updated as of Aug 08 2014 10:20 PM

Takeru Satoh (left) and Munetaka Aoki express their happiness as they are warmly welcomed by Filipino fans during their visit to Manila. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA – During their two-day visit to Manila, the stars and director of “Rurouni Kenshin” captivated Filipino fans as they promoted the first of the film’s two sequels, “Kyoto Inferno”.

Takeru Satoh (Kenshin Himura), Emi Takei (Kaoru Kamiya), Munetaka Aoki (Sanosuke Sagara) and director Keishi Otomo were visibly overwhelmed by Filipinos’ support of “Rurouni Kenshin” during the premiere screening of “Kyoto Inferno” at SM Megamall last August 6, with the activity center and cinema packed to the brim with fans and members of the media.

On August 7, the four were named cultural friendship ambassadors by the Makati City Council, and were photographed admiring a “Rurouni Kenshin” inspired jeepney.

 

Takei was not able to attend the press conference at Glorietta mall later that day, but the crowd remained large and energetic upon seeing the three key men behind the hit series.

Some fans came as far as Davao and Pangasinan, with others waiting as early as 8 a.m. for their idols.

During the two occasions, Satoh, Takei, Aoki and Otomo gamely shared their thoughts about the film, their future plans and their perception of the Philippines and its people.

While Satoh and Takei are the clear fan favorites, Aoki was able to score several Filipino admirers of his own, mainly because of his enthusiasm toward the crowd. Unlike the three who answered questions through an interpreter, Aoki made an effort to communicate with the audience in English.

Below is a condensed transcript of the question and answer portion during the Asian premiere and the press conference.

ASIAN PREMIERE

Were you a fan of the “Rurouni Kenshin” manga growing up?

Satoh: Yes, I’ve been watching the animation and [reading] the manga.

What is your favorite move of Kenshin?

Satoh: I just like running (laughs).

What, for you, was the most memorable part of filming the movie (Kyoto Inferno)?

Takei: That scene when I parted ways with Kenshin.

(L-R) Director Keishi Otomo and stars Takeru Satoh, Emi Takei and Munetaka Aoki during the Asian premiere of "Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno". Photo by Ginger Conejero, ABS-CBN News

Any message for Filipino fans?

Aoki: Sanosuke is coming!

How does it feel like to have a cast like this?

Otomo: It’s great. These guys are the best.

How similar or different are you from Kenshin?

Satoh: It’s not so much on the similarities or differences… Every day, when I try to do things, I would always ask myself – what would Kenshin do? So I always refer to him in my decision-making, [I would always consider] how Kenshin would decide.

How was it like portraying Kaoru?

Takei: It was quite moving… It was something worth portraying as a character.

Emi Takei (right) waves to the crowd as she walks down the red carpet during the Asian premiere of "Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno". Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

What kind of love did Kenshin and Kaoru have for each other?

Satoh: You have to watch the movie (laughs).

Will you come back in September for “The Legend Ends”?

Satoh: I want to come back!

Aoki: It’s up to you guys!

Munetaka Aoki happily walks down the red carpet during the Asian premiere of "Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno". Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Any last words before the premiere screening of “Kyoto Inferno”?

Otomo: This is a movie that we’ve placed our heart and soul to produce. I hope that you would really enjoy this movie.


Read ABS-CBNnews.com’s review of “Kyoto Inferno” here.

Read ABS-CBNnews.com's review of the 2012 “Rurouni Kenshin” live action movie here.


PRESS CONFERENCE

How involved was the original creator of the manga in the making of the “Rurouni Kenshin” movie and how was it working with him?

Otomo: I had a lot of meetings with the original writer… I really did a lot of collaborative meetings before we got to make the movie.

Which living person do you think today is like Kenshin and why?

Satoh: I’ve never met anyone like that.

Aoki: I know, I know! The person is him (points to Satoh)!

Takeru Satoh, Munetaka Aoki and Keishi Otomo wave to the crowd during the public press conference for "Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno". Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Were there times when you were injured on set? How difficult was it during filming when you got injured?

Aoki: I lost a tooth while taping. But I don’t mind because I’m Sanosuke!

Satoh: I got injured a lot of times so I really can’t specify one incident.

What is your career plan after this series? What do you plan to do and what roles do you want to play?

Satoh: Having been given this major role in my life, it’s really difficult for me to think of what I can do next. But if I were to wish something, I would want to work again with director Otomo and create some movies with him again.

Aoki: Wait, how about me? (laughs)

Takeru Satoh (center) is all smiles during the "Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno" press conference. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

How would you feel if Hollywood decides to do an English-language remake of “Rurouni Kenshin”?

Satoh: (after hearing the crowd booing): Everybody’s reaction is probably our reaction.

Aoki: Is it no or… scar (pointing to audience members who are making a cross sign with their hands)?

Otomo: I would say go ahead, try it!

The Glorietta Activity Center was packed with fans during the press conference of "Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno". Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

What’s the most fun thing about doing the fight scenes in the movie?

Aoki: I can’t choose because there are many fight scenes in the film… But I like, um… (asks for interpreter)… when I was hit! When I was bloody! I like that. I’m so excited to fight. Sanosuke!

Satoh: My favorite battle scene would have to be in “The Legend Ends”, it’s the last fight scene I had. That’s really the part where I bring out everything and it was the toughest scene I had. It’s also the last scene where I fought Shishio.

Cosplayers pose for a photo in an opening number before the press conference for "Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno". Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

How do you personally connect to the story of “Rurouni Kenshin”?

Otomo: Before I did “Rurouni Kenshin”, I did a movie with these two (points to Satoh and Aoki). It’s called “Ryomaden”. So in “Ryomaden”, Takeru was already doing the role of a killer, of a hitokiri. So after being independent, I left the production I was with… then the first project that I had was this one. When I had Takeru do the role again of a hitokiri, I felt this connection with the movie and with him.

Satoh: In my case, in my daily life, in what I do, I always ask myself, ‘if I were Kenshin, what would I decide to do?’ He’s already like a mentor to me, someone I respect and look up to. I refer to him for my decisions in life.

Aoki: Sanosuke is a street fighter and he is very passionate and protective, and a reliable person. I love him very much. And like the Filipino person he is astig! An astig person!

Munetaka Aoki waves to the crowd as he goes on stage for the "Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno" press conference. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

“Rurouni Kenshin” is about redemption and leaving the past behind. For the Filipino viewers who are not familiar with the story, what would they learn once they watch the films?

Satoh: You cannot really forget or diminish the past… There are some people who would say that they can just forget the past and just move forward, think it never happened. But with how Kenshin is and how he still let his past influence his decisions and his life, I feel that it is very admirable. He still remembers and looks back on his past and try to live a better life based on that past. I hope everybody else will learn that way of looking at the past and living and moving forward.

Aoki: Yes, I agree with him (laughs).

Otomo: I admire Kenshin so much because his sakabato, the reverse-bladed sword he’s carrying with him all the time, it’s actually a constant reminder of his past. So for him to always have with him that dark past and use that as a reminder for him as he moves forward in his life, I find that very, very admirable of him.

(L-R) Keishi Otomo, Takeru Satoh and Munetaka Aoki smile at fans during the press conference. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

How’s your stay in the Philippines so far?

Satoh: It’s really fun being here in the Philippines. It’s really beyond my imagination that all of you are here. And the reception you have shown us and the movie, it’s very, very surprising. It’s shocking.

Aoki: Mahal ko kayo! I’m very, very excited to be here… I’m not sure [if we will be here for the next movie] but (stands up) I’m very happy! Astig person! Enjoy the film. Thank you very much. Maraming salamat po! (Goes on to read the notes written on his hand) Astig! Magandang gabi po! And mahal ko kayo!

Otomo: It’s really a very surprising reception and of course we hope that you will support our movie. This welcome you’ve given us, I am going to bring this back to Japan. The cast and the crew of this movie really worked hard – we put our lives on the line for this movie and we hope that you really enjoy it. I will certainly bring back this experience to Japan and tell everybody about it.

Lucky Filipino fans were given the opportunity to interact with their "Rurouni Kenshin" idols. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

What do you think is about the “Rurouni Kenshin” movie that resonates with other Asian cultures?

Satoh: We created the movie thinking that action… it goes beyond countries and cultures… Us being Japanese and creating a Japanese film, we are able to show the delicate intricacies of Japanese culture – the tradition, the way we see things in that era. We wanted people to appreciate and understand that.

Aoki: One of the reasons is because every character is attractive (laughs). For part two and three, new characters make the movie more thrilling and exciting. So please watch and enjoy.

Otomo: In my case, I feel that the actors really put themselves and their soul into the movie. The reflection of their soul and dedication to the movie, it’s translated directly into the film for everyone to feel and appreciate, which is why I think it is appreciated by different countries.

“Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno” will be screened in Philippine cinemas starting August 20, followed by “Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends” on September 24.