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marysonnie's Blade of the Immortal Manga Review

Blade of the Immortal Blade of the Immortal Screenshot Magatsu Taito Blade of the Immortal Screenshot Shira Blade of the Immortal Screenshot Yoshina Doa Blade of the Immortal Screenshot Asano RIn

Blade of the Immortal manga Review

Story & Playability

One expects a samurai tale to be full of violence and Blade of the Immortal does not disappoint. Manji is a walking arsenal whose inability to die has the unfortunate side effect of dulling his combative edge, hence the overabundance of weaponry at his disposal. The idea of a rogue samurai who wants to kill 1,000 evil men so he is free to die sounds strange at first; why would anyone give up eternal youth and invincibility? And why would anyone, especially a sixteen year old girl hell-bent on revenge ever want to team up with someone who obviously doesn't give a damn about anything?

Hiraoki Samura crafts a story that relies equally on its plot to develop the characters and the characters to influence the plot. The picture he paints isn't black and white, its a huge gray area that's up for the reader's interpretation. Asano Rin wants revenge for her murdered parents, but learns a lot of innocent people are going to suffer along the way. Evil they may be, her enemies have wives, sons, and friends. Power, revenge, and consequences are always an issue...for every enemy she strikes down someone will feel exactly like she did.

The manga is presented in many losely-compiled arcs that vary wildly in length and content. Various one-shots appear that may seem random at the time but are quite revealing. It is often these vignettes that foreshadow what's to come. The current arc is dragging a bit (it hasn't been translated in its entirety yet), which is why I gave it a 9 instead of a 10.

Rating: 9

Graphics

The art is drop-dead gorgeous. It's brutal, intense, and rough, but absolutely beautiful. Despite not being polished, it's so sensitively drawn. The linear quality is more evident than anything else, but it's full of energy and vitality. Faces are expressive, but body language adds a great deal to character depth. Manji stands a certain way, with his shoulders back, his legs apart, and his chin up. He's not terribly pretty, either, just as Rin isn't a big-busted, leggy samurai warrior. Both are believable because they're not spectacular-looking. Every character's proportions are believable.

There aren't any comically big eyes, sweat drops, or other common manga devices. The realistically comic expressions are enough, and he thankfully doesn't have to rely on something which could grow old very quickly or just be plain out of place in this kind of work.

Above all, no other artist works so masterfully with gesture. This title doesn't have the "advantage" of an animated complement. There's no counterpart to compare it to, and it doesn't need one. Samura's drawings convey everything the reader needs. It's one title that should not be made into an anime unless the company is unwilling to water it down. It's brutal and it needs to stay that way.

Rating: 10

Sound

The dialogue is amazing, simply put. Some characters are very proper and their speech is delivered elegantly and smoothly. Others, like Manji, are rude, constantly swear, and use anachronistic slang to emphasize how vulgar they really are. It speaks to me, that a character is further developed by this; he's made an effort to convey a person's social status, level of education, and personality through their spoken mannerisms. Manji's a bit of a nihilist and he talks like one, too.

Samura manages to incorporate the sound effects into his art with stunning fluidity. The metallic whine of swords sails off the edge of the blade, off the edge of the page. The pictures would be incomplete without them, the ragged kanji scratched into the images as if it belongs there. The sound effects he chooses to depict are always utilized to great effect; heads rolling never sounded so sickening.

Rating: 10

Fun

The best part about Blade of the Immortal is the characters. No one is perfect, no one is really intrinsically good or bad (there IS one exception). Manji finds that being irresponsible in the past has cost him dearly and if he continues to reject discipline, it could do so again; he can't be careless anymore. He's beyond anti-hero; he smokes, drinks, entertains prostitutes, kills wantonly, and even hits Rin the first time they meet. Rin learns a lot about herself and what she's willing to sacrifice in order to fulfill a hastily-made graveside promise. Her enemy, Anotsu, is similarly obligated to his family to unite all schools of fighting in Japan.

But it's in the small, unexpected character tics that humor escapes, just like in real life. And by the same token, these same telling personality traits reveal a lot about a character's past. Hyakurin can't stand blood in her hair, to the point where she bleaches it white. Magatsu isn't interested in a beautiful young prostitute who's in love with him because she's the same age his sister would be if she hadn't been murdered as a young girl. And every now and then, in very peaceful moments, Anotsu has flashbacks that remind him that he doesn't deserve a second of it.

Additionally, its realism is a great and quite refreshing quality. Characters aren't saved at the last minute. Some die. Some suffer rape. Children are orphaned and it's not always the bad guys that are responsible. The characters are unpredictable, and in this, realistic. They take risks that sometimes don't work out. Some fail miserably, suffer humiliation, and have painful epiphanies at the cost of something dear. Nothing is really "safe" in this story, and it's the suggestion and threat of danger to precious characters that keeps it exciting. It's not a "good vs. evil" tale.

Rating: 10

Final Verdict

9.67 (excellent)

Reviewed by marysonnie, Feb 27, 2006

Comments

  1. Saikusa Retired Moderator Feb 27, 2006

    When does Manji hire a prostitue?

    Anyway, I agree with a lot of what you say. It's a fantastic read, and highly original. Very disturbing and visciously brutal at times, but always inventive & new.

    My only draw back with the series it that sometimes the art is a little too confusing. But then again, in the middle of a ight things will move so fast that you can't focus on everything at one.

    It's good to see others love it too.

  2. marysonnie Feb 27, 2006

    He hires Makie when she was posing as a prostitute.


    Er...posing as one intentionally in his line of sight, sorry...she is one all the time-ish. I think she's my favorite character, though.

  3. johann12345 Feb 27, 2006

    looks interesting ill look into it

  4. Saikusa Retired Moderator Mar 02, 2006

    Quote by marysonnieHe hires Makie when she was posing as a prostitute.


    Er...posing as one intentionally in his line of sight, sorry...she is one all the time-ish. I think she's my favorite character, though.

    Heh heh... I know what you mean ;)

    Although I always took that scene to be him playing along with what was obviously a trap. I need to read this again, it's been about a year since I read it the whole way through :)

  5. NightAngel Mar 02, 2006

    Blade of the immortal is an amzing manga with a truly gorgeous art and deep plot. The characters are very realistic. All in all, this is a must.

  6. UrbanSaint Mar 03, 2006

    Blade of the Immortal is definately one of the best manga out there. It is indeed brutal at times, but it is also visually stunning. The dialogue really brings the story to life. Every angle, every scene, every word paints a picture of an intreging adventure. The expressions on the faces, and like said before, the dialogue, brings every character to life--so much more than most manga can do today.

  7. Shadu Mar 04, 2006

    Yea! ^_^ Some one did a review on such a great manga. I'm glad that you did this. I think you made excellent points in voicing your opinions. I totally agree with you too on the characters. There's something special about Blade of the Immortal that makes it very realistic (well, except the worms keeping Manji alive :P)

    Samura does do a great job of artwork as well. I'm not sure if it is/will be ever made into an anime, but in a way, I hope it hasn't/will be. The artwork and style that Samura presents is unique among all forms. Anime takes away from that so much sometimes.

    Anywho, great job on this review. I think you gave Blade of the Immortal the credit it deserves. It will always remain my favorite manga. ^_~

  8. donporkuloin Mar 05, 2006

    has this manga been turned into a tv series?

  9. marysonnie Mar 05, 2006

    Quote by donporkuloinhas this manga been turned into a tv series?

    No. I'm actually hoping it won't be. If it is, they should wait until the manga has been completed. I'm afraid they'll ruin it by animating it. It's violent enough that it will have to be heavily edited if it's shown on TV. It wouldn't be as effective if it were watered down.

  10. Ultimaninja Mar 09, 2006

    Quote by marysonnie

    Quote by donporkuloinhas this manga been turned into a tv series?

    No. I'm actually hoping it won't be. If it is, they should wait until the manga has been completed. I'm afraid they'll ruin it by animating it. It's violent enough that it will have to be heavily edited if it's shown on TV. It wouldn't be as effective if it were watered down.

    I agree. I have only read 7 volumes of this but the sheer amount of bloodshed and death in it would make it ruined if it ever came onto tv.
    Now if it simply went onto a dvd without a tv series that is another story altogether.

  11. Turkforever6 Jul 05, 2006

    personally i find this the best manga ever. its very adult, what i like about it. theres no jap pop involved and the characters dont have that metrosexuall gahyness over them. its straight and raw, hardcore to the bone, beautifull and grotesc. its just great overall. if you like these kind of mangas you should deffenittly try out berserk and vagabond. these 3 are by far my favorite on going mangas. it doesnt fade in the greatness of older masterpieces like akira and others. BOTI would be ranked 1st by me, folowed by berserk and then finally vagabond. if your old enough you owe it to yourselfe to check this shit out. im at volume 16 in chapter 114 in english and volume 19 in jap.

  12. Rhyme097 Sep 14, 2006

    It's very interesting comic when i read at the first time ... and it's really great work ... thnx for review !

  13. Apple84 Feb 18, 2009

    oiiii!^^ i just loveeeeeee this manga! i am sure we all do since were BOTI's fan=) yoshhaaa!

    ahhh i can't wait for the final ending coming soon! so far its up to vol 23 but only in Japan! btw can someone PLEASEEEE! onegai shimasu! tell me which program or even if i can request to show me or do one for me of Magatsu Taito! the one small pic of him above: http://static.minitokyo.net/reviews/1017_1.jpg

    i really LOVE the coloring in that small pic of Magatsu! its PERFECT! i looking and wanted this same picture of Magatsu in bigger wallpaper size version though ! ^_-
    1280x1024...1280x960...1400x1050..etc.. the more version the better!

    PLEASE anyone do me the request? plus is this the one Magatsu sits together with Manji?

    http://static.minitokyo.net/view/12/09/362962.jpg

    that is the most kakkoiii part! especially Magatsu and Manji team up together! awwhhh the hottnest! if possible may i request to get it color from the one he sits with Manji too? arigato gozaimasu ne~~!

    merged: 02-18-2009 ~ 07:16pm
    p.s. sorry..forgot to say the one that Magatsu and Manji sitting together..i meant to give the link to the bigger scan version but can't =(
    but yes i would like the colored of that in its scanned version as stated 4,256x5,391

  14. vangjlee Oct 17, 2009

    i don't know if is good but i'll check it out.

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