It was one of the wildest press events I’ve ever attended. While I understood that Rurouni Kenshin (or better known here as Samurai X) has a huge following I never imagined seeing throngs of rabid fans congregate in SM Megamall’s basement during midweek and midday…and that is absolutely, unequivocally understandable.

Kenshin, Sano and Kaoru
Kenshin, Sano and Kaoru

To promote the 2nd installment of the live-action Rurouni Kenshin movies, Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno, the director and the 3 major casts actually came to Manila. BOOM! And while the Philippines isn’t new to international celebrities gracing us with their presence (like with Vin Diesel and crew to promote the Fast 5 movie), it’s still a rare occasion for them to do so.

Plus, with the Philippines having a strong connection to Japanese culture and Japanimation (anime) in general, it’s no wonder that people frenzied over when Director Keishi Otomo, Takeru Satoh (Kenshin), Emi Takei (Kaoru) and a hyper-energetic Munetaka Aoki (Sanosuke) entered Megamall’s floor.

Director Keishi Otomo, Takeru Satoh (Kenshin), Emi Takei (Kaoru) and Munetaka Aoki (Sanosuke) at the SM Megamall Premier screening last August 6, 2014
Director Keishi Otomo, Takeru Satoh (Kenshin), Emi Takei (Kaoru) and Munetaka Aoki (Sanosuke) at the SM Megamall Premiere screening last August 6, 2014

 

Cheers and jeering continued from 3pm all the way to 6pm when the director and actors actually came. Before them, of course, there were a few activities to liven up the already fiery spirits within the activity center. What anime-based event would be complete without cosplay, right? Costumes aside, these guys really got into character that they would blurt out known character phrases—in Japanese! In fact, a lot of the fans that attended can probably speak a line or two of Japanese and were anxiously waiting to spew it out when their favorite actor/ actress passed by during the meet and greet. It is a pretty overwhelming experience when you see the fervent love of these fans towards these character – and by extension towards the actors.

 

Cosplay to start the event right!
Cosplay to start the event right!

 

The gracious and lovely Emi Takei made it a point to try and sign each and every photo and autograph requests.
The gracious and lovely Emi Takei made it a point to try and sign each and every photo and autograph requests.

 

Kenshin waves, smiles and signs weirdly obscure fan-signs. A lot of them said "Notice me Sempai!" They got noticed and ovaries exploded.
Kenshin waves, smiles and signs weirdly obscure fan-signs. A lot of them said “Notice me Sempai!” They got noticed and ovaries exploded.

 

Probably the one that played to the crowd the best, Munetaka Aoki is Sanosuke through and through. He’s the loudest one among the cast and rallies people to cheer louder. And when you hear manly men chanting his name, it feels like he’s the quarterback of the whole team. He has this swag and irreverence that made you just like the guy. In fact, when we were all settled upstairs in Cinema 9 for the advanced screening, someone from the crowd shouted “I love you” towards Emi Takei, Munetaka-san shouted back “I love you too”! Hahaha. #Kupes lang eh.

 

Crowd-favorite Munetaki-senpai (hehe) waves to the crowd. Rowdy, irreverent and the loudest in the bunch. This guy is a hoot!
Crowd favorite Munetaki-senpai (hehe) waves to the crowd. Rowdy, irreverent and the loudest in the bunch. This guy is a hoot!

 

Before we were able to watch the premiere, the director and actors took the stage for a few Q&A with the fans. And while the typical questions were about the movie and the typical kilig-questions (if Takeru and Emi were dating in real life ala their on-screen persona, etc.), there was one question that really made the room roar with wild abandonment. The question was “Since part 3 will be released in September, will you guys be back?” Munetaka, true to form, grabs the mic after a sheepish Takeru skirted around the question and shouted back at the crowd “It depends on you guy”! And that, ladies and gentlemen is how I almost lost hearing on my right ear.

 

Crowd to Emi: "I love you!" Munetaka to crowd: "I love you, too!" *slow clap, sir
Crowd to Emi: “I love you!” Munetaka to crowd: “I love you, too!” *slow clap, sir* /photo: Jason Dayrit

 

The event was the craziest, wildest and most tiring press event I’ve attended and you know what, it was quite the experience! So even with a broken back the next day (hence I’m only writing this now), I still wouldn’t trade that for anything. Thank you Ferdie Bondoy of FleishmanHillard Manila, Warner Brothers Picture, SM Lifestyle Entertainment Inc. , SM Cinema and of course the cast and crew of Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno. It was a wild ride and I can’t wait to watch you again when you open on August 20, 2014!

P.S. Thanks also Jason Dayrit for letting me use some of your photos because I was too noob to bring only one battery pack for my camera.

 

Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno opens in SM Cinemas on August 20, 2014