Blade of the Immortal (2019): Anime Review

Blade of the Immortal has had a mixed adaptation history. The last anime adaptation came out while the manga was still ongoing. This past year, we finally got a new anime adaptation thanks to Amazon – who produced and distributed it.

Readers of the blog will be familiar with the premise from my previous reviews of the work, but a quick summary is in order. Teenage girl Rin Anotsu is the daughter of the head of the Mutenichi-ryuu dojo, when her father is is murdered, and her mother is raped and murdered as well, by the students of the Ittou-Ryuu sword school, lead by Anotsu Kagehisa. Rin sets out to get revenge, accompanied by Manji – the titular immortal. However, on the course of their journey, they’ll learn that as cruel and ruthless as the members of the Ittou-Ryuu are, the forces of the Shogunate are as bad or worse.

One of the things Hiroaki Samura’s manga was known for was intensely violent and detailed action scenes. These were accompanied by some additional sexual violence, though not as regularly. Unfortunately, this is where the anime falls short. The violence in the anime comes in short, sharp staccato bursts that don’t linker on screen. This is actually something of a problem, because while the gory violence comes quickly, shocks, and then leaves, the anime dwells on the sexual violence.

In the manga, the violence had room for the shock factor to sink in. Here, it’s quite the opposite. There are exceptions in the third quarter of the series, during the prison arc, but not really. I’m not sure if this is a case where the studio didn’t have confidence in the animation of the violence, or Amazon executives felt that they couldn’t get away with giving the violence equal time.

Male character creeping on Rin.
Rin isn’t the only character threatened with sexual assault (and some characters are raped), but she gets threatened with it a lot.

This is not helped by the fact that the show also gives short shrift to some of the members of the Ittou-Ryu, and their opposite number in the shogunate. There are characters who feel like they get more coverage in the manga, but get short shrift in the anime – they show up, get a line, and then a fight. If the show just had another 12 episodes, it would have been perfect.

Ultimately, I’m glad this show exists. It’s not a perfect adaptation, but I’m glad it’s there.

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