Blade of the Immortal – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Edo, an era of warriors. There lived an immortal man, the Slayer of Hundreds, ‘Manji.’ He meets Rin, who has sworn vengeance for her parents. Rin’s grudge is against a group of swordmasters – Ittou-ryu. She asks Manji to be her bodyguard on her journey. He refuses, but then sees his late sister in Rin. So began the violent struggle that would bring even the immortal Manji to his knees. (Official Blade of the Immortal Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Blade of the Immortal is a series whose manga has its fair share of followers and it’s easy to see why. For anyone who likes brutal tales of wrongdoing and revenge, Blade hits all the right notes. The series follows Rin, a young woman who has sworn to avenge the brutal murder of her parents. Her youthful appearance and violent backstory make her easy to sympathize with and root for right from the get go. She’s accompanied by the badass swordsman, Manji, who’s destined to impress audiences with his savage take downs. Of course we can’t forget Immortal’s plethora of visually, over the top villains who help to solidify the series’ atmosphere of edgy brutality that makes these kinds of supernatural, samurai action tales so enjoyable to begin with. Together these characters come together to form an engaging story, which is unarguably the backbone of the anime adaptation’s appeal, because when it comes to the visuals themselves, things aren’t nearly so artful.
Tom: Blade of the Immortal looks poised to be one of those anime titles where the real take away is “Go read the manga” rather than offering up an exceptional adaptation week to week. Right from minute one Blade of the Immortal’s adaptation suffers from a few baffling directorial decisions that damage the audience’s ability to focus, and perhaps hide the low-budget nature of the production. Whenever the action gets going, a highlight for any tale like this, be prepared for a series of snap flashes and strobing imagery that’s tough on the eyes. Battles are also often chopped into quick, blink and you’ll miss it cuts, making it hard to follow the intricate movements of multiple fighters going at each other all at once. It’s a real shame too, as whenever people are just standing around and talking the art style is quite gripping, with on point character designs that keep you engaged without any of the fast and vicious action.
Linny: Another potentially frustrating feature is that our lead heroine, Rin, oftens ends up as the victim, or damsel, with the threat of sexual assault looming overhead. Rin gets fingers forcefully jammed into her mouth or later ends up on the verge of being assaulted and pinned down by another baddie.The frequency with which she ends up the victim of assault is uncomfortable, but perhaps doubly so when the series pays lip service to the idea that she’s not some mere 16-year old, weak willed, girl. Even when Rin is stated to be skilled enough to take down and kill an entire group of gang members, we never actually get to see her do that. All we get is a verbal acknowledgement by the gang leader, WHO ALSO HAS HER PINNED and says he’s going to teach her a lesson for killing all his men. It’s especially frustrating, as a female viewer, to see Rin constantly pushed around by male villains, making her feel like little more than a damsel in constant distress. To the show’s credit, we do get to see her show strength of character and resolve in episode two when she tries to steel her heart against wanting something that’s beyond her own reach and capabilities, becoming truly frustrated then when Manji goes behind her back to acquire it for her. She isn’t somebody who’s expecting or demanding Manji basically put her on a pedestal and do everything for her and hopefully, with time, we will actually get to see her pull off impressive feats in battle.
Tom: The frequency with which Rin ends up almost sexually assaulted is disappointing. Perhaps it’s ‘accurate’ for the time period, but in a series where villains are sewing victim’s heads to their shoulders, and our bad ass lead samurai, Majin, is Immortal, I don’t know that accuracy or realism is necessarily being adhered to already. That said, Blade of the Immortal is otherwise fun. Not only is it brutal, but it knows how to be a bit silly during its less violent sequences, making for some fun and tonally consistent comic relief. Unfortunately I don’t think I can give the series’ a recommended, for as promising as the story is. The production here really hampers enjoyment and as I said before, screams for audiences to go check out the manga instead so they can avoid all the bright flashes, abrupt cuts, and jumbled action. I’m personally not that familiar with the manga, but a quick look into it seems to indicate that not only are the fights skimped on, but the writing has been adjusted in places well for a more grim and dour tone. Unless the production improves considerably, It looks like this adaptation will always be a step down from its source material.
Linny: Blade of the Immortal starts off with a first episode that’s mostly dark and brutal with lots of fighting, bloodshed and deaths. But in episode two, we get several sprinklings of more light hearted moments, some even during a fight, making the show feel a tad more playful than it felt at first go. That said, the show is still rather violent and while it doesn’t depict the violence and gore in extreme detail, it still includes brutal incidents and mentions of painful and horrific deaths so if you find extreme violence upsetting, you should probably stay away or watch with extreme caution. It’s such a shame though that the animation is a letdown as it could be one of the major reasons most people end up dropping or dismissing this series. For those willing to sit through middling to low budget looking action, or those engrossed by over the top tales of revenge, Blade of the Immortal is worth a look in but I wouldn’t be surprised if most end up turning to the original manga instead.
Blade of the Immortal is available for streaming via Amazon Video.