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BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL #1 - - Special Review

Hey buddy, there's a foot in your coat, there.

I’ve honestly been having a hard time getting my thoughts together about this one, and I’m not entirely sure why.

It’s not that I can’t handle non-linear storytelling, but the way the conceit was approached in episode #1 here almost felt like a recap was being presented for a story already in progress. The time-displaced plot threads seemed like clips from the past half-dozen episodes of BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL - - but the numbering here would, of course, seem to rule that out, wouldn’t it?

Dark Horse has been publishing imports of the manga for many years, now, so I’m familiar with the basic concept. An un-killable samurai has to slay a thousand evil men in order to atone for his wantonly-murdering ways? It's sort of like the serious, Edo-era equivalent of that one TREEHOUSE OF HORROR episode where Homer’s sentenced to eat a continuous stream of donuts for eternity. Only the joke of that bit was that Homer ended up being content to just keep eating, anyway - - even after his gut was bursting from the stuffing - - and, judging by how many volumes of this series there are, I imagine our man Manji is likewise just getting a seemingly-more-benevolent excuse to satiate his bloodlust.

And hey, I’m not objecting to that. I just wish I got a clearer introduction to the guy!

I know I’m usually rolling my eyes when a series puts us through too rote and prolonged of a set-up, but even the seemingly-straightforward expository opener of Manji confessing his sins seemed a little obfuscating. Maybe this is just playing up on a bunch of samurai fiction tropes and archetypes which I’m not familiar enough with? I thought the situation with him caring for the deranged widow of a former victim was pretty intriguing, but then she’s offed just as quickly, so maybe I was expected to know what her deal was.

Manji, of course, shows up after the last slaughter and presents his plan for bloody redemption only after has the gallows humor moment of him picking a severed foot out of his kimono - - so I get the feeling that is probably a very self-aware revenge saga. Because of that, I'd be willing to keep watching and see if if it eventually untangles all these narrative knots and ties them into a nice, sanguine bow.

Watch this episode, “Criminal” here and decide for yourself.

Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - tompinchuk.com - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk

AlexEL staff on Nov. 1, 2012 at 11:51 a.m.

Yeah, this is a tough one for me. I loved the manga, but this really doesn't do it justice, especially since Hiroaki Samura has such an interesting art style, and this show looks totally run of the mill.

Marshal Victoryon Nov. 1, 2012 at 11:11 p.m.

Not read the manga but watched the anime.Liked it over all. The first episode seems the weekest to me.Its a set up but it could have played out a bit better.Also rembering on hulus old coment section people going on an on about the symbol on his robe.

If you think of the series as Highlander-ish Thier can only be 1000 evil kills its not a bad set up.Anime came off as Wolverine-ish at times tho.Some intresting fights .Some decent to great animation .

@AlexEL: So you had same reaction my friend has of the Ironman anime.He sees a certian style for the franchise an the anime just does not hit the mark.Same as this anime doesnt hit the art style mark for you i belive.

AlexEL staff on Nov. 1, 2012 at 11:49 p.m.

@Marshal Victory: yeah, for me the art really helped set this manga apart. it's a really scratchy, loose style, and then there's these great big two-page splashes of manji cutting dudes up that are so crazy intense and beautiful. i just didn't think the anime captured it.

Marshal Victoryon Nov. 2, 2012 at 2:55 a.m.

@AlexEL: I can see that point of veiw.BUt i think my eyars as a comic book collector an the illustrator changes at a drop of a hat helps me from haveing the same vison.I cant imagine Sin City with out Frank Millers hard line contrast black an white noir art.

Wonder now with the advances with cg in anime could they do it in that style?Or in motion would it distract from the story?Just got done watching Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls #1 well the whole series an the style an use of cg was pretty good.Cell shaded look .Seems like this fall season of anime has more varied art styles as well.

AlexEL staff on Nov. 2, 2012 at 10:02 a.m.

@Marshal Victory: more varied art styles is great news for sure! I actually think it's totally possible to get that scratchy look without the help of a computer. For instance, that short anime sequence in Kill Bill that Studio IG did. That style would match Blade of the Immortal really well. granted that's a way higher budget than this show had, but you get the idea.

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