To me, producing an anime adaptation to Blade of the Immortal in 2019 is like producing an anime adaptation of Jurassic Park or Schindler’s list. I enjoyed all three when they were originally released in 1993 but, and this is debatable, it feels like my taste has moved on a bit since 8th grade…
If you are not familiar with the source material, BotI is a beautiful manga about a swordsman who is held together by magic worms and a teenage girl who’s family was killed by some prick anti-samurais. The illustrations are mostly un-inked pencil. The anti-hero’s clothes are filled with an unreasonable number of knives and swords, and they are often spinning. It’s freakishly dark, violent, yet slow paced and often introspective. I stopped reading about 1,600 pages in.
These first two episodes faithfully adapt the source material, in a knock-off Afro Samurai sort of way. The story telling does not lend itself to animation, nor has the lovely pencil style been kept. Dear lord that processed video effect for the moving trees made me want to vomit and a few strobing effects may kill someone with epilepsy. It’s not terrible but it’s also intentionally unattractive, lacking color, and murkily hard to see.
TLDR? It’s a little pretentious.
If you are not familiar with the source material, you may enjoy the graphic violence and somber tones. Rin and her Yojimbo have a curious sister x brother relationship that develops over time, and a small number of the enemies reveal interesting motivations.
Don’t expect resolution or a coherent place for this story to end. Certainly not a happy one, unless eating peoples pets to get stronger, headless moms grafted onto peoples’ shoulders, and the short lives of prostitutes is your happy thing?
Personally, I’m happy for my Blade of the Immortal memories. I’m just gonna leave them where I made them, back in 1993.
Himari is getting better thanks to Sanetoshi’s medicene, but the Penguin hat possesses her once more to reiterate that if they neglect the penguin drum, her bros will lose “what they treasure most” – but hesitates when asked whether the diary is the drum. Meanwhile, Yuri and Tabuki’s grudge against the Takekuras for their loss of Momoka comes to a head when both prepare an assault against Himari. Masako intercepts Yuri, wanting the other half of the diary for Mario, and they duel with words and weapons. Tabuki isolates Himari and Ringo, and makes his intentions known.
Wait…what is this? There’s too many episodes left, there can’t be a showdown! And yet, that’s exactly what we get, on multiple fronts, too. All the players and motives and vendettas continue to intertwine like strings of yarn in a sweater or subway lines on a map. Everythings, like, connectin’, man. This episode gives us the warm highs of a happy, reunited group of siblings, and all the while the wolves wait at their door, wanting blood as payment for their parents’ crimes. It give just about everyone a little bit of screen time too, evoking a real feeling of…penultimateness.
The Penguin hat wants the drum, for what reason we still don’t know. Misaka wants the diary to save Mario at any cost. Yuri wants it to transfer fate; for revenge. But most (and least) surprising is Tabuki, who we’ve hardly seen at all recently. Even after playing the Devil’s Advocate with Yuri, he turns out to be no less dead set on punishing the Takekuras. And then there’s Sanetoshi, whose minions warn Himari better hightail it back to the hospital, or they’ll punish her. As for Kanba, it’s hinted that his heart – the thing he’s using as currency to keep Himari alive – is the penguin drum. Well, both have a beat. Why not?
Ao no Exorcist keeps impressing, to the point where I almost wish it were a series the length of say, Soul Eater. The chemistry between characters – both positive and negative – is that good. And it would only get better with time…like wine. This week the big cliffhanger is resolved relatively quickly – Rin wakes up and is reunited with his sword and quickly dispatches Amaimon.
But while the Vatican is willing to go along with Phele’s gamble for now, Rin is going to have to win back the trust of some of his friends, namely Bon and Konekomaru. I like how everyone reacts differently to this new truth about Rin, and those reactions fit their characters. Particularly good is Izumo’s little pep talk at the end, which hints that she too may be half-human.
There’s even some nice moments between Yukio and Shura (no, not that nice), as the two were siblings of a kind in the past. Yukio has a lot on his plate: not only will his brother be killed if he goes berserk again, but he also has to make sure Rin passes the Exorcist’s exam six months from now, or…be killed.
Even better is Bon’s complex reaction. He did a lot to save Rin, but that doesn’t mean he won’t kill him hesitationless if he hurts anyone he cares about. The people most uneasy about Rin are those who lost loved ones to Satan. Can they trust his son? Can Rin control his powers? Hopefully, they can. We’ll see.
I’m not sure what the prevailing cliche is vis-à-vis high school rock concerts/competitions: the protagonists winning in a stunning upset, or not winning but never shied away from the challenge. The latter ocurred here, as all three Sket-dan members’ bands had to back out of the concert. The natural solution was for the three to form their own band, and they did: “The Sketch Book.”
Cliches aside, this was a nice little episode. It didn’t try to do to much. Too often one cannot take Sket Dance episodes too seriously because the guest characters are so over-the-top or ludicrous that it’s hard to emotionally invest yourself. These past two weeks, not only was Bossun emotionally invested in the “mission”, but we were too becase Sugisaki was such a likable, sympathetic character.
She was kind enough to help coach Bossun to play bass even while struggling with her courage and confidence as the date to travel to Germany to study drew near. We learned a lot from her, how the promise of her early breakout seemed to be fizzling out. Little did she know that her support and encouragement of Bossun would lead him to turn in a performance that moved her to pull up her sleves and go to Germany after all.
Pretty much around the time Yuina was jumping out of a second-story window and she and Ohana were getting riddled with bullets, I started to wonder exactly what this film was about, anyway. Well, it didn’t matter, because it was all a scam. The funny thing is, hardly any of the staff skip a beat about it. Especially Ohana’s spirits remain high.
Of course, there are some bruised egos. Takako feels like a fool and rightly so for advising Enishi, and rightly so, but initially tries to run away and pin all the blame on him. Their long, complicated relationship reaches a catharsis of sorts, in the pool, of all places, where a memory of Enishi’s still drives him.
When his perfect sister is out-swimming him in the pool, he looks up at the sky and sees two jet fighters screaming across the sky; one trailing the other. Like he trails her. But after some whining and lamenting, Enishi eventually sucks it up, takes the blame, and even calls for revenge. He doesn’t regret trying to elevate Kissuiso’s standing with a film. He’d do it all again if given the opportunity.
His scenes with Takako, his mom, and his phone call with his sis are easily the best things going here; it’s a shame no cameras were turned on his drama. Contrast this with Ohana, Minchi and Nako’s roles, which were really tiny and peripheral these past couple weeks. So far this season, Ohana has taken a backseat to Yuina and now Enishi.