"Blade of the Immortal" Triumphs With Action and Serenity
In 1994 Hiroaki Samura introduced the world to Mugen no Jūnin, better known in America as Blade of the Immortal. It would receive critical acclaim and multiple awards, including the Will Eisner Comic Industry Award in 2000 for Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material. Fourteen years after its debut Bee Train and Production I.G. adapted it into an anime, coming to our shores via Media Blasters.
The story follows Manji, a samurai who cannot die thanks in part to a curse. Manji’s past is filled with blood and criminal acts, and has led to the death of 100 people (one of which was his brother-in-law). Until he can murder 1000 evil men, Manji will be kept alive with the help of sacred bloodworms that run through his body; healing every type of wound he can take. During his travels he meets Rin, the daughter of a dojo master who was murdered by master swordsmen, led by Anotsu Kagehisa. She asks Manji to be her bodyguard, and for him to help in fighting for vengeance. Manji agrees, but warns Rin that she must abandon everything she is in order to seek revenge.
It is hard to say whether or not this is a slow-paced or fast-paced show. At times there are scenes that move quickly, such as the fight sequences; but there are also scenarios filled with calmness and serenity. This could be looked at as the balance of the world of Blade of the Immortal, and it helps to make this anime look stunning. The sword fights are like that of Blind Swordsman and Samurai X, and the dialogue is told quite poetically. The violence in this show is very graphic, however, and it may be too much for some. Elements of rape and abuse are also hinted at, and could bother viewers that are sensitive to those sorts of matter. Nevertheless, this show cannot be recommended enough. It does the original manga justice, even if it runs just thirteen episodes.
Blade of the Immortal is one series where you won’t want to blink during this series. You might miss something beautiful or poignant if you do.
Blade of the Immortal is available in America through Media Blasters.