Rurouni Kenshin, popularly known as Samurai X, is a manga series written by Nobuhiro Watsuki. The story of Rurouni Kenshin begins in the Meiji Period when a famous assassin named Hitokiri Battosai lets go of his former self to become Kenshin Himura. Kenshin is a wandering swordsman who wields a blade with a reversed edge as a promise never to kill anyone to repent for his past sins. His outstanding skills with the katana protect himself and his loved ones instead.
Due to the popularity of the manga, the material has been adapted into several seasons of anime, and several OVAs, including live-action movies. For fans who want to skip the animated action and jump directly into live-action, we’ve created this comprehensive watch order for all Rurouni Kenshin movies.
How many ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ movies are there?
There are five ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ movies in total. The first movie was released in 2012, with the last two installments being released in 2021 under difficult circumstances. The franchise as a whole was praised for its fight sequences which warranted more sequels.
‘Rurouni Kenshin’ movies in order at a glance
All ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ draw their inspiration from the manga series of the same name and are considered adaptations of the manga arcs. The following is ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ live-action franchise in release date order.
- ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ (2012)
- ‘Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno’ (2014)
- ‘Rurouni Kenshin: The Legends Ends’ (2014)
- ‘Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning’ (2021)
- ‘Rurouni Kenshin: The Final’ (2021)
Are ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ Movies Connected? Do You Need To Watch Them in a Specific Order?
All ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ movies are connected and set in the same universe and continuity, and following more or less the same characters. The prequel movie in the live-action franchise is the adaptation of the early arcs of the manga and focuses on Kenshin Himura’s backstory as the legendary assassin ‘Battosai.’ From there, we follow Kenshin’s story as he is drawn back into his past and faces further conflicts.
You should watch ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ franchise in a specific order as otherwise, the series won’t make much sense.
What Is the Best Way To Watch ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ Movies?
The best way to watch ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ movies is in chronological order. This is because of the prequel movie released in 2021 that showcases Kenshin’s backstory. Technically it’s not important whether you will watch the prequel first, last, or in the middle, but in any way, we recommend that you watch it first.
‘Rurouni Kenshin’ Movies in chronological order
‘Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning’ (2021)
‘The Beginning ‘is the prequel of the series but was premiered after the main storyline ended in the movie series. This can be watched first, in the middle, or once you finish the main timeline of the movie series.
The Beginning tells the story of Kenshin Himura during the final parts of the Edo Period when he was still known as Hitokiri Battosai. It also showed his relationship with another woman named Yukishiro Tomoe. This story also reveals the reason why Kenshin had his famous X-shaped scar on his cheek.
‘Rurouni Kenshin’ (2012)
In the final stages of the Edo Period, Rurouni Kenshin introduces the victory of the Imperialist forces and the role of Hitokiri Battosai, an assassin who eventually abandons his path, leaving behind his sword. After ten years, Battosai, now known as Kenshin Himura, journeys to Tokyo with a commitment to atone for his past sins, wielding a reverse-blade katana to uphold his vow never to kill again.
He forms a connection with Kamiya Kaoru, the owner of a Kendo school, and builds friendships while confronting Takeda Kanryu, a cruel and powerful opium businessman. Meanwhile, Kenshin encounters his past when news emerges of a “Battosai” wielding his abandoned sword, posing a threat from his previous life.
‘Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno’ (2014)
In “Kyoto Inferno,” the main villain, Shishio Makoto, is introduced as a renegade soldier who suffered severe burns and seeks to conquer Japan, leading to an impending rebellion. Saito Hajime is tasked with hunting him down. Meanwhile, Kenshin resides in Kaoru’s dojo with his newfound friends, but when approached by a government official to track down Shishio in Kyoto, he initially refuses until witnessing the official’s murder by Shishio’s associate, Sojiro Seta.
‘Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends’ (2014)
Following the events of Kyoto Inferno, In ‘The Legends Ends’ Kenshin is rescued and trained by his former master, Hiko Seijuro, who reveals that he was unconscious for three days. Hiko imparts the final technique of Hiden Mitsurugi to Kenshin to defeat Shishio once and for all. Meanwhile, Kaoru remains missing as Shishio begins his takeover of Tokyo with an amphibious battleship.
Eventually, Kaoru is found by Sanosuke and awakens from her coma, leading to the final confrontation to halt Shishio’s invasion. It is during this decisive moment that Kenshin finally lets go of his past, embracing a new life as a better person.
‘Rurouni Kenshin: The Final’ (2021)
In the final installment of the movie series, Yukishiro Enishi, a Shanghai mafia leader and the brother of Kenshin’s former lover, arrives in Tokyo seeking revenge. He proves to be one of Kenshin’s most formidable opponents, pushing him to confront his past and undergo significant character development.
Where to watch ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ movies?
All 5 ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ live-action movies can be watched on Netflix with an active subscription.
Will there be more ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ movies?
It seems unlikely that more ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ movies will be made, even though there are more stories to adapt, the story presented in the movies feels finished and so far there are no confirmations that the franchise will continue with this cast. Perhaps spinoffs, but as I’ve said nothing has been confirmed or even planned.