Blade of the Immortal Episodes 1 & 2 (First Impression)
I was really looking forward to this show a lot, it seemed like something that would be right up my alley. After watching the first episode, I’m a little apprehensive.
Episode one is pretty simple, where we meet a girl named Rin. Her father and others of her family’s dojo were killed by a powerful samurai group named the Itto-ryu. Rin is spared while her mother is raped and kidnapped, and Rin wants to exact her revenge on them. An old woman named Yaobikuni listens to her story and knows that Rin isn’t powerful enough to take on a whole group of samurai, way more than the 30 she knows of, all by herself. She suggests that she hire herself a bodyguard, and she mentions a man named Manji, The Killer of 100.
I’m not surprised that Rin managed to come across Manji, but I am surprised that he agreed immediately to her request and even more shocked that one of the Itto-ryu was killed already. I mean, I get that finding this Kuroi guy was easy because he kept sending Rin a bunch of love letters, but I would have expected a confrontation with one of these samurai not to happen already. I guess that was my main problem of this episode, which was it being kind of rushed. We got a sneak peek into Manji and how he became the Killer of 100, but it was mostly about Rin and her wanting vengeance. It was just very rushed I think. The interactions are fine, Kuroi was disgusting and creepy. But it was a little underwhelming and just very surprising that this all happened so quickly.
I do like the style of this show, though the animation I can’t really say how I feel about it. It’s pretty unique and has a lot of style with its angles and fast cuts, but that can also be a little erratic for me? On one hand, I like the style changes from the usual animation to the sketchier style (I’m not an artist, I don’t know how to describe it). I like how the red of the blood is so bright when the show looks so muted, and in certain cases the weird fast cuts can be cool. But on the other hand, the fast cuts can kind of be unnecessary or just make the action scenes a lot less exciting like with the Kuroi fight. We don’t actually see any kind of choreography, just lots of close-ups and then a cut to Manji losing his leg. We see Manji stab Kuroi, but then we gets jump cuts to the three swords slicing Kuroi. It just…happens. It wasn’t exactly satisfying to watch, though I guess another reason for that was because I didn’t expect a significant fight like this to happen so soon when I know so little about the characters. The anime has a nice atmosphere, but I’m not exactly drawn in yet and the fight ended up being underwhelming.
Speaking of the atmosphere, the anime is very dark. You want a bloodfest, you got it right here. From the very beginning we’re already treated to people bleeding and losing limbs and heads, and we just see more of it throughout. It doesn’t hold back on the violence and I can expect that we’re going to see more of it just like this. Visual horror is another thing it looks like we’ll see, with Kuroi setting up quite the example with having two dead women sewn and stuffed onto his shoulders. It was a real shocker and definitely wasn’t something I was expecting, especially one of the women being Rin’s mother. Which…is horrifying for her to see. I’m sure it was traumatizing enough to watch her mother get raped, but seeing her mother’s lifeless eyes staring back at her while she was sewn onto the shoulder of some crazy man had to be worse.
Episode two doesn’t exactly help because it kind of continues to prove my problems with the show with its pacing. I felt like even more happened in this episode, and it happened quickly too. I feel like I wasn’t really given a chance to really absorb everything. There’s two parts to this episode, where in the first half Rin and Manji head to an old family friend to speak with him. She tells him of what happened to her family and she then asks if she could also hire him as another bodyguard but he refuses, as he’s more interested in painting and staying on the down low being a spy. Unknown to them (except Manji), one of the Itto-ryu guys is spying on them and then attacks Rin the next morning. There was unusually a bit of humor this episode, with the painter ignoring the fighting right next to him as he focused completely on trying to find the perfect shade of red (turns out its blood). The Itto-ryu guy stepped on his art and that prompted Sori to kill him. Kind of unexpected, I feel like the comedy was kind of weird seeing how violent and dark the show is.
The second half of the episode focused on another Itto-ryu guy. Rin takes Manji’s weapons to be sharpened and she notices a sword in the shop. It turns out that it was her father’s sword, but not it belongs to one of the Itto-ryu guys who we meet. Rin pleads to buy the sword, but he wants to know where the girl (which is her) he’s looking for is. She tells Manji about this later and decides she’s over it and doesn’t want to focus on her parents anymore, but of course it still affects her. So Manji decides to tail the guy and fight him for the sword. We learn that he lost his sister when he was young, and it kinda connects to Manji because he also lost his little sister, though we don’t know the details to that. We get treated to a bit of a battle where Manji ends up winning in the end. Because while he can be outsmarted, he’s still immortal. In the end he gives Rin the sword, which obviously makes her happy and she acts all tsundere in the end. And she ends up calling Manji her big brother.
See, I wasn’t totally far off from having Dororo vibes.
Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m in love with the show like I was with just the first episode of Dororo. I’m not exactly attached to either Manji or Rin right now, and I can’t buy their sibling-like bond as of yet either. There’s just so much happening in each episode so far, and I’m not too sure how I feel about the show. Which is a bummer, since I was so excited for this one. I’m willing to give it a few more episodes in hopes that it’ll grow on me, and I sure hope it does. This has a lot of potential, and I’m really interested in learning more about Manji and what made him to be immortal. I hope they can slow things down so we can learn about this stuff and spend time with our main pair, too. The plot isn’t the most unique so far, though the curse thing intrigues me, so I hope the show can deliver with its characters at least.
Possibility of watching: Moderately high
Possibility of blogging: Moderate – I’ll give it a few more episodes
But hey, Kenjiro Tsuda and Sakura Ayane! That’s a pretty great pair of voice talent.