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.
Renato pleads with Chief Black to call Hex off, warning that Operation Undershaft will be compromised if she kills Jonah. Black gives him Hex’s location, but leaves it up to him. While walking through Praha with Koko, Jonah senses danger, and they’re jumped by two of Hex’s ten men. Jonah is shot with a paralytic drug and can’t move. R confesses to Koko that he’s a spy, but helps her and Jonah escape. He and Hex face off; he misses, but Hex shoots him through the eye. Lutz and Leim take out all of Hex’s men but two, and she retreats. Black visits R’s grave and meets Koko, but then learns Koko used HCLI to track Hex down to Iraq, where the cave she’s hiding in was bombed by a B-52. Black starts seeing ghosts of R and Hex.
Chief Black’s left hand Hex told him Koko was a monster who must be methodically dismantled and destroyed. Chief Black’s right hand Renato told him Koko was nothing but a normal girl beneath her iron mask. The truth is, she’s both. We saw more sides of her this week than perhaps any time in the past, as she faces the prospect of losing Jonah, is told she’s been betrayed by one of her most-trusted bodyguards who taught her how to carry herself, and then loses that bodyguard shortly thereafter. The mask disappears the moment she hears the truth from R. Her viciousness returns when she orders Hex hunted down. And her mask returns for her meeting with Bookman, save a tear she sheds when leaving a bottle of liquor on R’s grave.
In a way, we like how this arc turned out. It didn’t cheat by letting everyone stay alive, or eliminating all threats around Koko and her crew. Hex is dead, but the rather strange scene of Bookman conversing with her and R’s ghosts tells us Bookman remains as dangerous as ever, and he vows to continue “dancing” with Koko “till she screams”, which is just creepy when accompanied by his attempt at dancing. Losing Jonah would have definitely had more impact, though. Koko’s loss of composure is only temporary, and she roars back fast after R’s death. We’re not so sure she’d so quickly forgive someone enough to give them so quick a death as she gave Hex if it were Jonah who was killed – nor do we think she’d forgive herself so quickly.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Car Cameos: The cars that line Praha (Prague) include a Peugeot 406, a BMW 7-Series, and many Mercedes-Benzes: an S-Class and GL-Class, plus Bookman’s CL-Class coupe.