Title: Blade of the Immortal
Genres: Samurai, Adventure, Historical, Horror
Author: Hiroaki Samura
Artist: Hiroaki Samura
Publication: Kodansha (black horse does the US releases)
Start Date: 1994-09-22
End Date: On Going
Number of chapters at review: 131 (21 japanese volumes)
Number of chapters read by reviewer: 131 (and till volume 21 japanese)
Category Ratings: (1-10 scale)
damn, the art. where to get started. lets see. the first time i got to read this manga was when i bought the first volume here in the dutch. back in 95 or something along those lines (blackhorse release), i wasn't that impressed with the art. i was actually expecting a more standard manga/anime art form back then. you know, the cliché big eyed art we where used to seeing. though, after actually reading it and looking at the art as a more adult and refined way, i really liked it. especially the choreography during the fights is fitting and real enough, not to mention those 1 or 2 page spreads with the ACTIONS happening right in your face. too good. it would have gotten a 10 if it wasn't for those few lesser draw frames. but even they lok good compared to how some manga artists fuck up with their lesses panels (HxH has some but ugly pages, i don't mean beyoncé ugly, i mean chaka kahn ugly). all in all, there are not a lot of mangas that have a style this great or art looking this damn good.
a rather simple plot. it starts of as a revenge manga (standard samurai/ninja storyline it seems), but as the story unfolds we get to learn more about the characters (the good, the bad & the ugly) and the plot starts to blossom. the characters ain't 1 dimensional at all. even rin who started as the most 1 dimensional character quickly changed into a deeper character. lets not even get started about the more interesting and twisted characters. everybody is in it for something that they want for them selves, most of the characters ain't just blind sheep that keep following a reason without any other reason being stated for it. everybody has something that they want, want to accomplish or want to forget. after the first 3 to 5 volumes the manga starts to really grow in various directions, and i don't just mean stroye wise. i mean the manga grows with everything. it gets better and better, (warning, spoiler) till manji gets caught up that is. this particular arc took its sweet time but its finally over.
damn damn and damn again. these characters are just too damn good. i have never seem a manga/anime/game with this many great characters in it since samurai shodown (samuarai spirits for the japanese). all the characters, especially the more involved ones with the story and stronger characters have a really unique design and character. nobody is truly bad or good, just human. but just like in reality, some humans are way too twisted, and some too goodhearted. most extreme examples (contains spoilers), rin, one of the main characters who is with the main character just so she can kill the killer of her father. though she had the chance to do so a few times she let him live as she just isn't a killer on the inside and seems unable to kill unless she is pushed so far that she just cant do anything but the act to escape alive. and shira, damn this guy. hes a sadistic killer who actually enjoys killing and hunting him some itto ryo. he actually rapes and kills whores and does a shitload of other acts you'd think of as inhumanly (though in reality, humans are far worse than what any manga or anime can make out of it, we don't have the ratings for the real acts done in real life). but damn this character has TONS of character and is just too damn cool. read and learn how and why he went from a young black haired guy to a grey haired young man in 2 WEEKS!!!?! and no, he didn't paint his hair.
too many to name. this isn't some standard shonen and there are some adult problems being brought to the table. every character has his/her own problems that she brings to the story and reasons why they keep on going. and i mean from all ranks of society. read and find out for yourself. just to give a few examples, kill to make best of your sinful past, making political progress, looking for love, trying to help their son and just too many characters with too many different themes. almost every character in this manga has a different problem and some problems they share.
yes, finally, in 95/96 i found a manga that took place in old japan. samurai and ronins bound in a story thats actually pretty damn good. though there have been a few mangas and animes with samurais in them, all the good ones can be counted on 1 hand. and this particular one is in the top with the best. the best as in, ninja scroll, kenshin OVA, vagabond and of course blade of the immortal.
if it wasn't for the slow start of the manga (it took first 2 to 5 volumes to get REALLY into it. not to say that the first 2 volumes where bad or anything, but the story and actions really start getting out of hand after the first few volumes. at 4 or 5 it starts to really kick off. and damn it does. only after 16 or so volumes it goes in a slump for a bit. (spoiler alert again). mainly cause the main character gets caught up and he stays caught up for 3 whole volumes or something along those lines. for too damn long. though it does real kick off again after it, it just took too long for the story in general to go further. it was realer as you wouldn't be able to break someone out of jail that fast or easily. but they could have used a time skip or something similar instead of making it take this long. if it wasn't for the slow start (first 3 volumes or so) and the part where he gets caught up, i would have given it a 10.
hope y'all liked it.