Vol. #1

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

Based on the ongoing manga by Hiroaki Samura, Blade of the Immortal is a thirteen episode series that has quite a history to it. When the manga began and was adapted for release in the US, it generated some controversy because of the swastika on the back of the lead characters outfit, which means something very different from the reverse swastika used by the Nazi's. Of course, such differences are minor to some but Dark Horse didn't back down and provided a mini history with the manga. Thankfully, quite a few years later, this isn't quite the issue it might have once been and the show is presented well here.

Taking place in the 1780's in Japan, Blade of the Immortal, for this arc at least, is all about revenge. We're introduced to a man named Manji who has found himself in quite the unusual situation. For reasons as yet explained, his body has been infested with bloodworms that imbue him with immortality as they repair any wound he receives. Manji has not led a good clean life and is essentially quite the notorious killer, having become known as the Hundred Man Killer. With this new twist to his life, which is related to an old woman who has filled him in on it as she's some eight hundred plus years old, he's decided to change course and has vowed to eliminate a thousand evil men to try and balance the scales for what's happened in his life.

The people of the Itto-ryu are fairly skilled but a bit diverse in their style and appearance. One of them is pretty twisted in that he's sewn on the head of his wife to one of his shoulders and Rin's mother on the other. But so far this is the strangest as the others that have shown up are a bit more traditional in their samurai-rogue style. Combining this with Manji's very rough and tough style, Blade of the Immortal has a good period piece feeling to it overall that really works well. It's violent and makes no bones about it. It doesn't go horribly over the top, but heads are flying, bodies are cut deep and the blood flows regularly enough. But it's done in a very controlled and intense manner. With the choreography used for the fight scenes, everything has a really strong sense of grace and elegance but with that edge of rough brutality as well. This really feels like a very good interpretation of the manga to anime form.

Blade of the Immortal gives me just about everything I want from a show of this nature. It has some solid characters, really good animation and it doesn’t shy away from being violent. It may not be ultra violent, but that works in its favor since it’s playing a different kind of game here. The story arc for this is rather standard, but it’s the trappings and atmosphere that helps it to rise above that to become something more. Having read a good chunk of the manga for years and years, I’m excited to finally see some of it animated and come to life. There’s a good seriousness about this that is very welcome and fits the show just right and Media Blasters has done a good job in making a release that should appeal to a lot of people, even in single disc form. The next volume can’t come soon enough.

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