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Takeru Sato was a nobody to me before Rurouni Kenshin.

At the Manila conquest of Rurouni Kenshin, I was not among the girls with raging hormones. I was not with a tightly-knit circle of friends discussing how good Sato was in his Kamen Rider films. I did not carry any paraphernalia like fans, custom printed shirts, magazines, nor a Blue Ray copy of Rurouni Kenshin: The Movie. I admit I don’t know him personally through biographies and features available online and in print. And I don’t particularly remember him in dramas and movies (I watched BECK and Mr. Brain, but I can’t recall his characters.). My label for Takeru Sato is Kenshin Himura, Kenshin, Battousai. Only that. Nevertheless, I was disappointed when I couldn’t get near him during the Glorietta Press Conference. (The line for the ticket opened at 10 am and I got there 30 minutes too late. And guacamole, apparently, the ticket booth re-opened late in the afternoon.)

Rurouni KenshinSamurai X to many Filipinos, was undeniable the most popular – if not the best – anime broadcasted on local TV during its time. It was dubbed both in English (Studio 23) and in the vernacular (ABS-CBN). Aired around 2000, it was the subject of fan arts, cosplay, and personal fantasies.

checklist

A photo of one of the first cosplay conventions in the Philippines from the now obsolete Cosplay Magazine
A photo of one of the first cosplay conventions in the Philippines from the now obsolete Cosplay Magazine

 

This might be the 10-year-old me trying to draw.
This might be the 10-year-old me trying to draw.

 

A little older, and a little more lenient with smudging.
A little older, and a little more lenient with smudging.

 

Time stamped 2003
Time stamped 2003

Meanwhile, Sato’s co-actor Munetaka Aoki didn’t at all remind me of his character Sanosuke Sagara. (Where was the pineapple hair? The bare chest showing off his muscular physique? The crazy attitude?) Well, not until he spoke. In both the Megamall Red Carpet Premiere and Glorietta Press Conference, people kept commenting how alike both Aoki and Sano are. In the words of director Keishi Otomo, “I just let him [Aoki] do whatever he wanted [for Sanosuke’s role].” And fans let Sano do what Sano does best:

One of the most memorable moments during the Glorietta Press Conference was when a member of the media asked Sato who he thought was a real-life Kenshin Himura, to which Sato answered, “Muzukashii…”

Aoki enthusiastically raised his hand crying “I know! I know!” He gave the fans a mischievous look then he panned his gaze to Sato and pointed his finger, “This guy.”

Yes. To me Takeru Sato was not Takeru Sato in Kamen Rider, or in BECK, or in Mr. Brain, or in Bloody Monday, or in other Japanese dramas and films. To me, Takeru Sato is a contemporary Kenshin Himura. Kenshin Himura dressed in a smart black suit. Kenshin Himura with a thing for a certain scarf. Kenshin Himura with short, slicked back hair.

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When Takeru Sato stepped on the red carpet in Megamall, when fans started to shriek breaking his serenity, when his personal bubble was pricked by fans asking for his autograph, a certain calmness that demanded to be revered continued to enveloped him, like Kenshin Himura carrying his past as Hitokiri Battousai.

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In the end, to me, Takeru Sato continues to be a man of mystery the way Kenshin was to Kaoru in the beginning *cue ONE OK ROCK The Beginning* またね 剣心。

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All photos belong to me. Videos are linked to YouTube, credits to the uploaders.

 

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