Blade of the Immortal is a seinen, chanbara (media about/involving samurai), jidaigeki (period drama) manga series with supernatural elements. It’s a series that has been credited with redefining the jidaigeki genre with its near-flawless execution. Dark Horse Manga picked up the series and has been releasing them in breathtaking (yet very heavy) omnibus editions where the artwork as been remastered and the sound effects translated into English by the mangaka himself. I’m quite honoured at finally being able to read and share this series with you all today.
Blade of the Immortal follows a lone warrior named Manji who’s on a quest to redeem himself of the 100 murders he had committed. On this journey, he comes across a young girl who’s hell-bent on obtaining vengeance against the group of warriors who have slaughtered her entire family. Sympathising with her plight, Manji agrees to help her.
🍶 Classic tale of vengeance and what vengeance means to individual people.
🍶 Marvellous homage to the jidaigeki genre with unique twists that make the story feel more original.
🍶 Redefines chanbara media with added subtle science-fiction elements.
🍶 Respectfully entails facets that make for an epic samurai narrative while examining the very nature of what it means to be samurai versus kenshi; akin to Akira Kurosawa’s work.
🍶 Most of the characters are spectacularly multi-faceted, particularly where their motives and backstories are concerned.
🍶 The chemistry between the two protagonists is genuine.
🍶 On occasion the translation doesn’t quite seem to fit the time period (Edo Period) of the story; certain dialogue choices are more modern, or it uses Western references that is not typical for the era.
🍶 It breaks the mould of traditional manga artwork with mind-blowingly breathtaking pencil illustrations that depict the story in precisely detailed and fantastically articulate ways.
🍶 There are full-page mandala scenes that showcase epic finales of specific battles that are masterful with their execution.
🍶 Unapologetically violent and graphic with loads of gore and bloodshed.
🍶 Some of the action and violence can get lost in the sea of monochromatic drawings.
🍶 Keen familiarity with Japanese history, particularly pertaining to the political climate as well as key Japanese phrases associated with samurai class, helps to provide a more insightful and candid reading experience.
🍶 5 limbs outta 5!