Well, Game of Thrones. That happened.
Now, I’m not a huge fan of the show. I watch it because everyone in my family loves Game of Thrones but I just never got into it as much as them. I do love the characters, Daenerys Targaryen most especially and I will say that the way they ended her story is a travesty. But, all in all, I still enjoyed the first, like, 6 seasons of the show. After than, things just started going downhill and all of that culminated in the mess that was Season 8.
It was supposed to be this big ending and to say that fans were filled with disappointment would be making a molehill out of a mountain. Their dissatisfaction with how Game of Thrones, at least in my house, was palpable. No one liked what happened! Me? I was rather indifferent to how everything ended because, like I said, I wasn’t fully invested with the show.
But after seeing the mess that was Game of Throne’s 8th season, I got a flashback to one anime and how eerily similar the final few seasons of Game of Thrones mirrors this anime’s final few arcs and how they disappoint.
This anime is Rurouni Kenshin.
Rurouni Kensin, or Samurai X to those who watched the English dubbed version, is about Himura Kenshin, a wandering samurai. He was the former Hitokiri Battousai, a legendary killer during the Meiji Revolution. Kenshin has given up killing and now uses his special sakabatou (reverse edge sword) to defeat his foes without killing them.
Rurouni Kenshin/Samurai X is known to be one of the most beloved animes ever. I would even rank it as part of my top 10 animes of all time. But it will never break the top 5 because of how the later story arcs sucked! No, I’m not afraid to say it: the later stories in the anime were bad! Which is how I feel of the latter seasons of Game of Thrones.
Part of the reason as to why Rurouni Kenshin started to go bad later was because, like Game of Thrones, the original source material ran out. Game of Thrones was based on George RR Martin’s fantasy book series, A Song of Fire and Ice. HBO nabbed the rights to produce the series and they went through the process of converting the books into a TV show, confident that George RR Martin would ultimately complete, at least, the next book before they ran out of material. It didn’t happen.
HBO was caught in a bind. They had this very popular show but they just couldn’t wait for George RR Martin (God, I love typing out his full name! It just feels so fun!) to churn out a new book. The show’s popularity might wane! The child actors would get old! So they did the only thing they felt was right: push through with original content!
This also happened with the Rurouni Kenshin anime series. The manga was still wrapping up the incredibly awesome Shishio Makoto/Kyoto story arc. The anime did manage to wrap up the story fairly well but with some changes. But after that, what were they going to do? Well, they came up with their own stuff. This was disastrous as the outcome of the new original material was just lame! The Shogo Amakusa arc had promise but the action just didn’t match up with the intensity of the previous arc. There were also a lot of filler episodes before closing out the series with the absolutely forgettable Black Knights arc. I actually forgot about this story arc and I had to look it up! That’s not good!
Now, running out of material isn’t a new thing for anime. Long running manga series like Naruto and Dragon Ball have gained notoriety for extremely long filler arcs. But at least the manga eventually catches up. There are also instances when the anime has to make up their own thing but still work. Once such example is the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime.
Like Rurouni Kenshin and other animes that were based on a currently running manga, Fullmetal Alchemist ran out of material and decided to run with their own story. How the Homunculus are created in the original anime is totally different but it works. Okay, I will say that I didn’t think that Dante, the new “bad guy” of Fullmetal Alchemist was all that great and the ending kind of sucked. But the story did feel integrated and followed the tone. Fullmetal Alchemist did the manga proud and, while it’s not as good as Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which is much closer to the manga, it still comes off as really good. Rurouni Kenshin, on the other hand, well, the new created stuff lacked the stuff that made the episodes that followed the manga great.
I will also say that the way the anime ends Himura Kenshin’s overall plot is, well, very depressing. I’m now going to go into SPOILER territory so, if you don’t know, you’ve been warned. The anime actually doesn’t end in the Rurouni Kenshin/Samurai X anime. They ended it with an OAV called Rurouni Kenshin: Seisohen AKA Rurouni Kenshin: Reflection in the West. The OAV uses the same style of the prequel OAV (which is based on the manga). It has Kenshin dying of some disease after traveling the world and helping people because he still couldn’t forgive himself for killing so many people. This is in stark contrast of how the manga ended, with Kenshin marrying Kaoru and having a son. It’s weird that they had to end it this way since the manga was already done when this OAV was made! This, to me, was a travesty since it showed the Kenshin never achieved happiness, even when he married and he finally accepted himself! I was so excited to see Rurouni Kenshin: Seisohen, too! But this ending just left a bad taste in my mouth!
Now, I’m not saying that Rurouni Kenshin is a bad anime. I already said that it’s one of my favorite animes of all time. The thing is, when I remember the anime, I only think up to the Shishio Makoto/Kyoto story arc. After that, I tend to just pretend they don’t exist. I guess, if you’re a fan of the Game of Thrones show, then you can just do the same. Just forget the bad seasons ever existed.
Or you can read the books when they come out.
Do you know of any other television shows or movies that just lamed out their ending? Let me know what they are in the comments section below!