Blade of the Immortal – Episode 5: Recap and Review

Eiku's torso being pinned to a tree
Eiku’s torso being pinned to a tree

Season 1, Episode 5: Act Five – Song of the Bugs

What’s the value of immortality?

While at an inn resting, Manji encounters Eiku Shizuma. Disguised as a monk, he offers to help Manji find Anotsu. Eiku claims he’s unarmed, but Manji claims that he(Eiku) killed more than 128 men (Manji’s number). Eiku claims that he “admires” Anotsu ambition. He feels that Anotsu, has created a magnificent school with Itto-ryu. Eiku is aware of Manji’s “immortality.” He claims that a man named Taito Magatsu, told him of Manji’s “swordplay and of your immortal body.” Manji rudely dismisses Eiku and tells him to “get lost.” Manji and Eiku attack each other. It turns out that Eiku is “immortal” too. However, unlike Manji he’s been alive for 200 years. He’s had five wives, many children and friends, but they all have died. He laments that his immortality is “cruel.”

Nothing in the world is immortal

Before he leaves Manji to ponder his offer, he reminds Manji that “nothing is immortal.” He suggest that “tonight” Manji will learn what he means. What Manji learns is that Eiku has poisoned him or more importantly the sacred worms inside him. Rui runs to find help. She conveniently meets the old woman. However, this woman isn’t the one that gave Manji immortality. Eiku Shizuma forces her to help him kidnap Rui by kidnapping her grandson. Rui forgives the old lady and tells her to flee. Rui asks Eiku if there’s a cure. He says that there is not. He leaves Rui to go and murder the old lady and her grandson. Rui is understandable horrified. After 200 years, Eiku has become nihilistic. After he explains the reason he became that way, he offers to share his sacred blood with her.

Eiku the immortal
Eiku the immortal

Manji verses Eiku Shizuma

Eiku temps Rui with his blood. However, before she can accept his blood Manji arrives. It turns out that Eiku didn’t kill the child but did murder the old woman. While, Rui holds the baby, Manji and Eiku battle. Eiku pours the poison on his sword providing a new threat to Manji. Succumbing to the still lingering effects of the poison, Manji begins to spit up blood. However, before Eiku can kill him, Rui distracts him. When he turns his back, Manji takes advantage. He cuts Eiku into pieces, leaving his torso pinned to a tree. Before he dies, Eiku tells Rui that Anotsu will leave for Kaga in half a month. Once again, Manji is bested by another warrior. He admits that he allowed himself to die, as he was tired of living. This episode has interesting things about the value of immortality.

While pointing out that “no one” is actually immortal, Eiku challenges both Rui and Manji’s view of immortality. Having lived so long, Eiku Shizuma became bitter. He has watch so many people he loved die and comes to hate life. However, he had the means to kill himself and didn’t. That might be a flaw in the story. Furthermore, Manji’s whole point in joining Rui is to end his own immortality by doing good. I felt that Eiku murdering the grandmother was completely unnecessary. He had already held her grandson hostage proving that he was a monster. I also don’t get why he left the grandson alive. It’s probably for the best that Rui didn’t become immortal, but a small part of me though she should do it. However, it’s possible Eiku would have killed her for doing do considering he was making a case how miserable he was.

Read More: Blade of the Immortal Episode 4 Review

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Blade of the Immortal – Episode 3: Recap and Review

In Episode 3 of Blade of the immortal, Manji with out his arm prepares for battle with Makie
Manji with out his arm prepares for battle with Makie

Act Three – Dream Pangs

Manji takes another loss


In Blade of the Immortal – Episode 3: Dream Pangs, Manji encounters a strange woman while he waits for Rin to return. She takes him to the alley. Attempting to seduce him, she fails. Manji isn’t fooled, asking “who hired her.” She claims that she was given 20 ryo by Anotsu to kill him. When Manji turns to leave she attacks him. She reveals that her name is Makie Otonotachibana and she’s a member of itto-ryu. They fight. However, Makie isn’t a match for Manji. In a flashback we learn that Makie was once a geisha. Anotsu paid for her freedom and hopes to that they will be together one day. Makie doesn’t believe him, feeling that he only want her strength. Anotsu kisses her.

Manji meets his better in Makie

After Anotsu leaves, Makie is attack by three men on the bride. Her former employee sent them. She cuts her hair short, then slaughters them. The following day she meets Manji for a rematch. However, this time she different. Makie dominates Manji. She manages to not only avoid most of his attacks, she is able to cut of his arm and leg. Makie is shocked by her own brutality. Manji tells her if she doubts herself as a swordsman, she’s better off being a prostitute. As a result, Makie regains her resolve. Makie defeats Manji, but before she can end him Rin arrives to interfere.

In Episode 3 of Blade of the immortal, Makie cuts off Manji's arm and leg.
Makie cuts off Manji’s arm and leg

What will Rin sacrifice for revenge

Rin doesn’t threaten Makie in the slightest. However, Makie is curious how many people have died for Rin’s revenge. Makie tells her that by the time Rin reaches Anotsu the number of bodies would have increased. Revenge is always an act of selfishness. In Rin’s case her parents are dead. Revenge is about them, but it’s for Rin. She’s will to do almost anything for her revenge. Rin believes that “shedding blood for her family is better shedding blood to justify oneself.” Makie seems relieved and leaves, telling Manji to protect Rin. Makie leaves Itto-ryu, telling Anotsu that she’s left in a note.

Having watch three episodes of Blade of the Immortal so far, one thing is glaringly obvious, Manji isn’t that good of a swordsmen. This is the third time a member of itto-ryu beat him. The first two times he got lucky. If his opponents didn’t turn their backs on him he wouldn’t have won. Furthermore, he didn’t kill Magatsu. Clearly, his immortality has resulted in him taking death for granted. However, it seemed like his skills aren’t much better than at least the itto-ryu. That said, I feel conflicted by what it might mean for Rin. Right now she’s not skilled enough to fight for herself. If Manji can’t do it, she must.

Read More: Blade of the Immortal Episode 2 Review

Blade of the Immortal – Episode 2: Recap and Review

In episode 2 of Blade of the Immortal, Manji encounters another member of itto-ryu. He also manages to get the sword of Rin's father back.
Rin with her fathers sword

Season 1, Episode 2: Act Two – Founding

Rin gets her fathers sword back


In the second episode of Blade of the Immortal, Manji and Rin visit the famous swordsman and artist, Master Sori. Rin informs him of her parents murder. He apologizes for missing the funeral. Rin asks Sori to become her second bodyguard, as a man in green spies on them. Manji doesn’t seem to like Sori much. Sori admits that he’s no longer capable of being a swordsman. Manji leaves, cutting a hole in the fence.

Rin stays at the home of Sori. She awakes to find the spy trying to kill her. Manji arrives and they face off against several of the followers of Itto-ryu. While the fighting is going on, Sori is contemplating his art. When Manji decapitates one of the men, the blood splatter hits Sori’s art. He’s elated as his art finally has the “most basic red.” However, his joy is short lived as the leader of the gang destroys his artistic work.

Rin finds her fathers sword

During the fight Manji gets trapped on the spikes of a nearby tree. This leaves Rin to handle the leader. She’s outmatched, however, just as he’s about to kill her, Sori stabs him in the throat. Sori proclaims that “anyone that will trample on art deserves to die.” After the battle Rin takes Manji’s weapons to a blacksmith to get sharpened. While there she sees her father’s sword. One of the members of the Itto-ryu had it sharpened. She chases after him offering 30 ryo for it. He agrees to sell it, but only if she tells him where to find the daughter from the Asano dojo. Later that night she tells Manji about her day. She apologizes for constantly bring up her father. While she sleeps, Manji searches for Magatsu. They have a dramatic fight, resulting in major injuries for both.

Magatsu verses Manji

During this fight, Magatsu tells the story of his childhood. His friend was killed in the mud that formed after a flood. Manji gets trapped in the mud. Magatsu stabs Manji through the chest. Magatsu remembers that his sister was “kicked by a Daimyo horse and torn in two.” From this tragic event came a hatred of samurai. To Magatsu all samurai are his enemies, including Mr. Manji. The entitlement of “samurai families,” has given birth to swordsmen like Magatsu. Manji isn’t dead of course. He stabs Magatsu through the stomach from behind. Manji and Magatsu barely survive this encounter. However, Manji returns with Rin’s father’s sword. Rin’s attempt to hide her emotions or even get rid of them doesn’t make since. If her pain from her parents death inspired her journey, what would happen to that journey if she got rid of the pain?

Read More: First Impressions: Blade of the Immortal – Episode 1: Recap and Review

First Impressions: Blade of the Immortal – Episode 1: Recap and Review

Blade of the Immortal makes great use of gray-scale and red

Season 1, Episode 1: Act One – Meeting

Blade of the Immortal (Mugen no Junin) is an animated adaptation from the Hiroaki Samura manga of the same name. Set in the 18th century Japan, Blade of the Immortal, tells the story of Asano Rin and her bodyguard Manji. Cursed with immortality due to being infested with “kessen-chu (blood-worms), these worms are able to knit together any potential life threatening injuries. However, Manji isn’t truly immortal. He can die by beheading or by a rare poison. The publisher of Blade of the Immortal, Kodansha, stated that this series will adapt the entire manga series. This series was on the top of my lists for anime this season. I wasn’t disappointed. The first thing I noticed was the artistic style that this series possess. Blade of the Immortal combines the use of color manipulation, with dramatic sound to magnificent effect. The opening scene is in black, white and red. As Manji slaughters his enemies, the red of their blood is striking. This all happens as the sound of a water wheel turning echos in a rhythmic manner.

Manji, the Immortal

Were introduced to Rin as she meets Yaobikuni. She subtly tells Rin that she is 800 years old. Rin instantly thinks she’s joking. Rin tells her of the dream she has to get revenge on the 30 members of the Itto-ryu that raped her mother and killed her father. The Itto-ryu are a group of master swordsmen, that massacre any dojo that gets in their way. Yaobikuni informs Rin that in the two years since her traumatic encounter with the Itto-ryu, they have expanded their ranks. Despite training for two years, Rin isn’t good enough to take them on single handily. Yaobikuni suggests she hire a bodyguard, Manji. Blade of the Immortal uses Rin’s search for Manji to explain him and the first scene. He’s wanted by the shogunate, killed his sisters husband, got her killed and is now on a mission of atonement that’s imposed upon him.

The Itto-ryu

When Rin meets with Manji, he questions her morality and dedication to vengeance. He articulates a belief that humans merely choose whether they are “righteous or evil” based on their own “interest.” He doesn’t wish to become an accomplice to a criminal. Samurai, according to Manji, don’t kill “meaninglessly.” Manji doesn’t immediately believe that Rin’s family was “innocent.” His decision to become her bodyguard was obviously never in doubt, but this moment is intriguing. How did Manji develop his view of morality? Will it change? He seems to be leery of the “chain of revenge.” So why did he say yes? In the future, I have no doubt that this series will answer at least some of these questions. The climax of the episode sees Rin meeting with one of the members of Itto-ryu, Sabato Kuroi. Having been sending her love letters for two years after killing her father and raping her mother, Kuroi hopes to kill her too.

The vengeful, Rin

Rin has prepared herself to kill him but is clearly outmatched and unwilling. Manji intervenes, challenging Kuroi. However, Kuroi ignores Manji who attacks, only to get his leg cut off. Rin does land an attack, revealing the monstrous reality that facing the Itto-ryu will bring. Kuroi has grafted the stuffed heads of his former wife and Rin’s mother to his shoulders. I imagine that this moment is meant to shock the audience, while it’s surprising, I wasn’t horrified (It might say something terrible about me). I was also surprised by how quickly we got the conclusion on what happened to Rin’s mother. Rin’s quest for vengeance only becomes greater with this moment but I thought they would have extended this narrative for longer.

The monstrous Sabato Kuroi

The biggest issue I have is the actual action scenes. I think the fighting will be secondary to the characters and story, but these scene are lacking to me. For example, Manji kills Kuroi with several weapons, it’s barely noticeable. Finally, we never get to see how “skilled” Kuroi is. If all the members of Itto-ryu are defeated this easily I’ll be disappointed. Blade of the Immortal is well crafted, using sound, colors and minimal dialogue. The violence is graphic, but the action is too simple. Both characters, Rin and Manji feel like they might be more than tropes. While I found the first encounter with a member of Itto-ryu to be disappointing, Sabato Kuroi did make me wonder what insane behavior the other members get into.