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Blade of the Immortal #3 PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Tuesday, 01 February 2011 00:00
Blade of the ImmortalThe Blade of the Immortal manga is one of the longest-running titles out there. The anime adaptation is a mere 13 episodes. Put those two details together, and you'll realise that when it comes to serving up a "real" ending, the anime's likely to be lacking a little. And so it proves to be...

10 - Mask of Change
Manji and Rin are visiting a village festival, where Rin's efforts to get Manji to toss a compliment or two her way aren't really working. For a start, festivals are really Manji's things - he'd much rather be somewhere else - but Rin's doing her best to find something that'll brighten his mood. While she's away looking, though, Maji encounters a mask seller - one who uses his sword and his own blood in decorating the masks he sells. Manji quickly identifies him as a member of the Itto-Ryu - but when his son appears on the scene, battle has to be postponed for a while. But Rin, recognising the mask seller from a distance, isn't so keen to just let him walk away...

Itto-RyuGratuitous Rin pic

11 - Wings
Perhaps realising that he's not beyond redemption, Rin tells Araya the story of the night her parents were killed, as seen through her eyes - although saving the most brutal parts until his son has been sent on an errand. Araya becomes convinced that Rin is here to kill him, just like the other members of the Itto-Ryu that have tangled with Rin and Manji, but knowing what she now knows she's no longer sure that's what she wants to do. Until she realises that Araya isn't at all repentant about what happened that night...

Nice artworkRescue

12 - Wheel
The string of dead Itto-Ryu that's following in Manji's wake is bothering Anotsu, to be honest, and he's not too sure what to do to bring this little problem to an end. Hoping to work out some of his frustrations, he heads out into the mountains for some private training. Rin, meanwhile, has two problems of her own: one, a spate of bad dreams following the death of Araya, mostly involving the effect it'll have on Renzo - her guilty conscience is clearly at work; and two, her combat training with Manji isn't going as well as she'd like, and she's starting to get disheartened. Put them together, and she's beginning to have second thoughts about continuing her little crusade for revenge. But then a chance encounter brings her face-to-face with Anotsu himself...

Talking about the futureFace-off

13 - Wind
Anotsu's parting words to her - "You're becoming just like us" - have once again getten Rin wondering if she's doing the right thing. One thing the encounter has shown for sure is that she lacks the skill to do the job herself - and with Yaobikuni planning on taking Manji with her on her own travels now, Rin may not have the use of his services for long. It's time for both Rin and Manji to figure out what it is that they really want - and if that will involve them being together, or apart...

SorrowTraining

If there's one thing that annoys me, it's loose plot threads. Blade of the Immortal had quite a few little threads running at times, and I'm sad to say that there's not a hell of a lot of opportunity here for the show to properly tie them up. Cure frustration. But let's take a more detailed look, before I get all raaagey.

The opening two episodes on the disc bring us another of the show's mini-arcs, where a member of the Itto-Ryu is located and dealt with - and as usual, Rin lands herself in trouble with him first before Manji's able to ride to her rescue. This time, though, instead of being a complete bastard - as every other member of the Itto-Ryu we've met so far has been - Araya's efforts to put himself back on the straight-and-narrow for the sake of his son make him the most sympathetic villain we've seen all series, to the point where even Rin's prepared to put her quest for revenge to one side, in his case at least. It's almost a change of tone ("almost", as unsurprisingly Araya's base instincts aren't far beneath his new, respectable veneer), and a welcome one at that, even if the ending of the arc is predictable enough.

Easily the highlight of the disc, though, is Rin's encounter with Anotsu. The Big Bad, the man she'd most like to kill, he treats her almost as an irrelevance - while she shows talent, her skills are too weak to bother him, and in learning to fight the way that she has she's made the same "sin" that his father had committed - and that led Anotsu to kill her parents in the first place. In a very real way, she's on the same path that he was once on - and that's a thought that Rin really doesn't like. That should be the cue for an exploration of what Rin's really doing, and whether it's worth doing it - and sure enough, the final element has an element of that. But it's more of an exploration of whether Rin and Manji want to be together, want each other - and that's a little less interesting a tone to end the series on, however relevant it might be.

As for plot threads left hanging... the Shogunate appears to have decided that the Itto-Ryu need to be removed from the scene, and have plans on how to do that, but we never get as far as seeing those plans put into action. There's also the other group that have been pursuing the Itto-Ryu and showing interest in Manji from time to time, who appear briefly buy who again don't get the benefit of anything that explains what they're really up to. It's almost as though there was another season planned, but as far as I'm aware this is all there is, and so we're left hanging on a number of issues. Bah, I say.

Despite my grumbling, though, Blade of the Immortal is one of those shows that's generally so good it's impossible not to like it, and this volume continues the trend. As endings go, it's okay - a sense of closure is always nice, but thanks to this show's origins that was never likely - but the journey to get you there is still full of enjoyable twists and turns. Recommended.

Rating - ****

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