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EP. REVIEW: Blade of the Immortal


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RedSwirl



Joined: 08 Feb 2006
Posts: 315
PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 1:44 pm Reply with quote
BOTI was always going to be tough to animate, but this new production seems to be trying to cram around 200 chapters of manga into 24 episodes. So far it has gone through roughly an entire Tankobon per episode, and has omitted at least a Tankobon of manga, including pretty much all of Manji's prologue and an entire other villain-of-the-week. I can understand if it's trying to get out of the manga's early villain-of-the-week phase as quick as possible.
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Lann



Joined: 12 Dec 2006
Posts: 200
Location: Brighton UK
PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:11 pm Reply with quote
having never read its manga, it doesnt feel as if its skipping on story. not so far at least. Manjis backstory would be good. maybe with time. his mysterious past is kinda cool being untold right now.
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AiddonValentine



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 1734
PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:44 pm Reply with quote
Yeah, the show's been fine so far (leagues better than the middling adaptation back in 2008) but holy HELL the action scenes need work. The problem is they don't allow as many long edits as are needed in order to let some shots linger. Sometimes I think they're trying to emulate Samura's panels, but the think about manga panels is that the reader can linger on them and soak them in. With animation, you can't do that. It's getting better, but so far the action is the weak part of the show.

Luckily the characters and writing shine, even if they've toned the series' humor down a LOT (this is part of why Sori's story doesn't work as it's a lot more humorous and played partially like a black comedy) and they do some interesting writing with the story to make things flow (seeing casting, they haven't edited out anyone, just switched around when they're shown for context). The pacing is really fast though, we're blistering through about a volume an episode. That's possible (the series was 30 volumes in total in Japan) but we'll see how this goes.

Little tidbits: An amusing part with Master Sori and Manji is that Sori's voice actor is Tomokazu Seki, who played Manji in the 2008 adaptation. And yes, the girl in the flashback was Makie (we'll probably get expansion of that later)
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Panino Manino



Joined: 28 Jan 2018
Posts: 390
PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:03 pm Reply with quote
I already talked much about these episode out there, so it's hard to sum up everything here.

I don't understand what the reviewer thinks the episode 2 was so bad.
Something that I noticed is that this anime don't try to explain things, the dialogues aren't expository in the slightest. The information is there and the viewer can tie the dots if he pays enough attention. This is better seen during episode three, but maybe for those unfamiliar with the manga some parts may be very confusing (yes, that with the wolfs was young Makie).
Example:
Quote:
Kagehisha's toxic hold on Makie

"Toxic"?
No way! Really, it's like that at all. Anotsu is very hands off with Makie, that's why she was working as a geisha after he had paid for her freedom from Yoshiwara. He just wanted her support, and I can say that he very much wanted to marry her. But Makie is "complicated", she has serious problem with self-esteem.

Quote:
His special brand of weirdness hasn't even come close to being matched by anyone we've met since, and I don't even know if I want Blade of the Immortal to try.

That freak is the exception... except for one more "sadistic bastard".

I just disliked the poor animation quality for the 4th episode.
I think that the photography didn't worked there and some poor choices of what to focus the frame in the end.
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meiam



Joined: 23 Jun 2013
Posts: 2520
PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 4:58 pm Reply with quote
Yeah fight definitely need some serious work, far too many cut and not really any choreography to speak of. On top of that you have the overall repetitiveness of them, with every fight so far being him getting cut apart and then stabbing the other in the back, and you don't have very impressive fight.
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Cam0



Joined: 13 Dec 2009
Posts: 4053
PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 5:16 pm Reply with quote
The action scenes being confusing is something that I remember from the manga so the frantic quick cuts and all that give me the same feeling as the manga.

review wrote:
I'm not entirely sure who the girl that killed 52 wolves after being assaulted and left for dead was supposed to be at the beginning of Episode 4 – was it a young Makie?


Her identity was made crystal clear in the manga (at least that's how I remember it), I don't understand why they left her identity so ambiguous in the show.
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RedSwirl



Joined: 08 Feb 2006
Posts: 315
PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 6:08 pm Reply with quote
AiddonValentine wrote:
Luckily the characters and writing shine, even if they've toned the series' humor down a LOT (this is part of why Sori's story doesn't work as it's a lot more humorous and played partially like a black comedy)


The humor in the early manga is a little bit of its time (1994). I feel like these first few episodes updated it a bit, though there are a few moments I wish had made it in.
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Panino Manino



Joined: 28 Jan 2018
Posts: 390
PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 6:15 pm Reply with quote
Cam0 wrote:

Her identity was made crystal clear in the manga (at least that's how I remember it), I don't understand why they left her identity so ambiguous in the show.

This wasn't really "ambiguous".
It's like I said, the anime is "trusting" that the viewer will be able to tie the dots with what it shows at the scene (the sight of her weapon should kill all doubts) and the context, like when Anotsu was talking about his and Rin's grandfathers. Instead of saying what his grandpa did he just says that it was something "ridiculous". What his grandpa knew about Makie that made he let "her fate to the heavens".
This I don't know if the anime will eventually explain, some may already guess the important bits.

Oh, about the animation, they're doing all they can with the resources they have.
Lindenfilms is airing two other anime this season, it's unfair.
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Ajc228



Joined: 29 Dec 2015
Posts: 238
PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 6:53 pm Reply with quote
I might be an outlier here but I don’t think Hiroshi Hamazaki was the best choice for a director. I think he’s a good director but I would have preferred someone like Masahiro Ando who gives more attention to fight scenes and choreography. Hamazaki is more deliberate and meditative in his direction. It heightens the material at times but I kinda prefer spectacle with this type of manga. I’m sure this has as much to do with limited resources and lack of time as anything else. Also I think the direction is perhaps a bit more Workman-like in the second episode but I saw no discernible drop in animation quality. We get maybe 1-2 cuts of Sakuga in the first episode. This was never a huge well of fluid animation. Episode 4 is the largest drop in animation quality. This is the first instance of lots of off-model characters in general. It’s a shame that Liden doesn’t appear to have a good work schedule or enough talented animators. By the fourth episode I was thoroughly underwhelmed.
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Charou



Joined: 01 May 2018
Posts: 8
PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 7:36 pm Reply with quote
Ajc228 wrote:
I might be an outlier here but I don’t think Hiroshi Hamazaki was the best choice for a director. I think he’s a good director but I would have preferred someone like Masahiro Ando who gives more attention to fight scenes and choreography.


Ando would have been a two-edged sword I think. On the one hand, yeah, he did Sword of the Stranger and that sucker remains the best chanbara anime ever made imo -- but that would then put Blade of the Immortal (curiously similar names in English,so let's go with Mugen no Juunin) into that work's shadow, big-time...which is sort of unfair, given which came first. Hamasaki is nailing Mugen no Juunin's feel, which is something new to me. I remember watching Sword of the Stranger and thinking, 'damn, I really wish they'd adapt Manji's story someday'. Then they did, and it was awful. It was decent anime but terrible Mugen no Juunin. Bee-train somehow made it all feel generic, despite the killer seiyuu cast and top-shelf composer. Hamasaki's attempt is bad anime on a number of noted fronts but good Mugen no Juunin. Tsuda was the deciding factor for me. He's in so much this season but somehow his Manji sounds right. To say I was relieved by that is a gross understatement.

___

Regarding the lack of Manji's backstory, which constitutes the first chunk of the manga and certainly dominates the slavish Bee-train adaptation's first episode: I think by making it all about Rin this time, LIDENFILMS are cleverly setting themselves up not to adapt all of the manga but instead what is essentially Rin's story within it. Those familiar with the entire manga will know just how much this might impact later volumes in terms of what needs to be in there and what doesn't. I may be wrong but even as much as I love the original work, I'm happy to admit there are some long, problematic segments later that I hope Hamasaki snapshots rather than focuses on.

I take very slight umbrage at certain characters being referred to as 'villain of the week' because Mugen no Juunin just isn't that sort of work but if that's how the likes of Taito Magatsu are coming across, that's a problem with the adaptation as well. I can't really judge because everyone I know who's watching it has at least seen the Miike film, so they know pretty much anyone who gets a name and a backstory will be a major part of the overall experience, even if they don't last long in the present.

Regarding the quick cuts and the background action: eh, it's fairly clear they're covering a lack of sakuga potency with these BUT they do suit the manga so I go with it. There's plenty else this season if I want off-model kinetic action-fests. For something like Mugen, I'm happy to take Samura-esque 'moving stills' if it keeps the tone right and the artistry preserved (if). Again, referring back to Sword of the Stranger: that was a full film and likely had time and resources that no adaptation of Mugen would ever get. I think I'd prefer a full Hamasaki style series unafraid to flex different muscles than pure animation than a seemingly inferior attempt at Sword of the Stranger struggling with its constraints.

Finally, I suspect the aim of this adaptation is to renew interest in the original work and thus boost sales of the new series, which means it doesn't have to be a particularly good anime to do its job. But it does have to be different and memorable on a budget, and I think they made the right choice in how they're doing that. Which is all to say, this is an incredibly honest adaptation in terms of representation of Samura's style, which like most great character-driven chanbara is punctuated with intense action rather than saturated by it.
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Gina Szanboti



Joined: 03 Aug 2008
Posts: 8560
PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2019 2:20 am Reply with quote
2-4 have certainly not matched the promise of the premier, but they've been good enough to keep me entertained.

However. Can Rin please stop falling to the ground in a crying heap in every episode? Sometimes several times an episode! Even when she manages to remain on her feet (or is strung up), she still has to rain tears while she yells at people.

Not sure how much more of that I can stand. In her own way she's every bit as irritating as Zenitsu in Demon Slayer. I don't expect her to be Perfect Stoic Girl, but at least get a grip if you're bent on going after master swordswingers for revenge. If I were Manji, I'd have long ago told her to suck it up or I'm outta here. If this keeps up, I'll actually be saying it.
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Panino Manino



Joined: 28 Jan 2018
Posts: 390
PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2019 9:03 am Reply with quote
Gina Szanboti wrote:

However. Can Rin please stop falling to the ground in a crying heap in every episode? Sometimes several times an episode! Even when she manages to remain on her feet (or is strung up), she still has to rain tears while she yells at people.

Is just the beginning of the story and justified when you don't forget the things the girl is seeing.

But fear not, Rin is actually the protagonist and this will not be the last time she saves Manji. Rin not being passive is one of the best parts of this. Surprised
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Eddy564



Joined: 14 Sep 2008
Posts: 286
PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:28 pm Reply with quote
As a newcomer to this series and someone who has been trying to get into this series for quite some time, this thread has been instrumental in cementing my understanding of this adaption and it’s relation to the source material.

As someone with no familiarity to the manga, the biggest issues I’ve noticed have also been with the inconsistent animation. Though as some said, maybe it’s a studio issue along with them trying to capture the essence of the manga. Maybe they haven’t hit their stride yet and we’ll see even stronger sakuga soon.

It’s not perfect, but it’s still compelling enough to sit through. I’ll probably pick up the manga soon so I can have more concrete knowledge on how this adaption is being handled.
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RedSwirl



Joined: 08 Feb 2006
Posts: 315
PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2019 5:26 pm Reply with quote
[quote="Panino Manino"]
Cam0 wrote:
Oh, about the animation, they're doing all they can with the resources they have.
Lindenfilms is airing two other anime this season, it's unfair.


This is the sense I'm getting too. Like I said earlier, they're trying to adapt A LOT into a pretty small amount of time.

Charou wrote:
Ajc228 wrote:
I might be an outlier here but I don’t think Hiroshi Hamazaki was the best choice for a director. I think he’s a good director but I would have preferred someone like Masahiro Ando who gives more attention to fight scenes and choreography.


Ando would have been a two-edged sword I think. On the one hand, yeah, he did Sword of the Stranger and that sucker remains the best chanbara anime ever made imo -- but that would then put Blade of the Immortal (curiously similar names in English,so let's go with Mugen no Juunin) into that work's shadow, big-time...which is sort of unfair, given which came first. Hamasaki is nailing Mugen no Juunin's feel, which is something new to me. I remember watching Sword of the Stranger and thinking, 'damn, I really wish they'd adapt Manji's story someday'. Then they did, and it was awful. It was decent anime but terrible Mugen no Juunin. Bee-train somehow made it all feel generic, despite the killer seiyuu cast and top-shelf composer. Hamasaki's attempt is bad anime on a number of noted fronts but good Mugen no Juunin. Tsuda was the deciding factor for me. He's in so much this season but somehow his Manji sounds right. To say I was relieved by that is a gross understatement.

___

Regarding the lack of Manji's backstory, which constitutes the first chunk of the manga and certainly dominates the slavish Bee-train adaptation's first episode: I think by making it all about Rin this time, LIDENFILMS are cleverly setting themselves up not to adapt all of the manga but instead what is essentially Rin's story within it. Those familiar with the entire manga will know just how much this might impact later volumes in terms of what needs to be in there and what doesn't. I may be wrong but even as much as I love the original work, I'm happy to admit there are some long, problematic segments later that I hope Hamasaki snapshots rather than focuses on.

I take very slight umbrage at certain characters being referred to as 'villain of the week' because Mugen no Juunin just isn't that sort of work but if that's how the likes of Taito Magatsu are coming across, that's a problem with the adaptation as well. I can't really judge because everyone I know who's watching it has at least seen the Miike film, so they know pretty much anyone who gets a name and a backstory will be a major part of the overall experience, even if they don't last long in the present.

Regarding the quick cuts and the background action: eh, it's fairly clear they're covering a lack of sakuga potency with these BUT they do suit the manga so I go with it. There's plenty else this season if I want off-model kinetic action-fests. For something like Mugen, I'm happy to take Samura-esque 'moving stills' if it keeps the tone right and the artistry preserved (if). Again, referring back to Sword of the Stranger: that was a full film and likely had time and resources that no adaptation of Mugen would ever get. I think I'd prefer a full Hamasaki style series unafraid to flex different muscles than pure animation than a seemingly inferior attempt at Sword of the Stranger struggling with its constraints.

Finally, I suspect the aim of this adaptation is to renew interest in the original work and thus boost sales of the new series, which means it doesn't have to be a particularly good anime to do its job. But it does have to be different and memorable on a budget, and I think they made the right choice in how they're doing that. Which is all to say, this is an incredibly honest adaptation in terms of representation of Samura's style, which like most great character-driven chanbara is punctuated with intense action rather than saturated by it.


Having this be more like Sword of the Stranger woould've been a dream come true, but I wasn't holding my breath. Logically getting the director of Shigurui makes just as much sense. I just wish this could've been more than one season.

And cutting down Manji's backstory makes sense too because in the overall arc of the manga it actually isn't that important. Focusing on Rin and Anotsu as the main characters is definitely the right thing to do under these circumstances, even though Manji technically is the protagonist.

Eddy564 wrote:
It’s not perfect, but it’s still compelling enough to sit through. I’ll probably pick up the manga soon so I can have more concrete knowledge on how this adaption is being handled.


This is probably advisable. The whole point here is that the manga was done by probably one of the top illustrators in the business.
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Gina Szanboti



Joined: 03 Aug 2008
Posts: 8560
PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:42 pm Reply with quote
Panino Manino wrote:
Is just the beginning of the story and justified when you don't forget the things the girl is seeing.

Well, I don't think it is justified. If she can't live without revenge but can't cope with getting it, she really should just off herself. She's already told people more than once to just kill her. They should've complied with her wishes.

You left off the part where I said I didn't need her to be rock-stoic and untouched by the horrors she's seen. But collapsing in a boneless heap of weeping uselessness is...useless -- to her, to her goal, and to Manji. She could at least wait to cry until the immediate danger has passed.

This isn't "get in the robot, Shinji." She chose this path. If she has the will to follow it, then she needs to exert some of that will on herself to keep it together until it's safe to go to pieces.
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