Mar 11, 2020
"Sabu to Ichi Torimono Hikae", or Sabu and Ichi's Arrest Warrent" was the first anime made for an adult audience, and the first to air in a 9pm TV slot. Set in the historical Edo period, it follows young, clean-cut Shinsengumi officer Sabu, and blind, lecherous old man Ichi, who gives neck massages on the street (a traditional, low status job for blind men), but also an unlikely master-swordsman, with the blade concealed in his cane.
"Sabu and Ichi" follows a pretty standard, episodic, 'who-dunnit' format, but in a traditional Tokugawa setting. It also follows the 'buddy-cop'' formula, with naive, enthusiastic, by-the-book Sabu contrasting with the
irreverent wisdom, unconventional approach, and street-smarts of Ichi. Each episode sees a crime commited, with the duo unravelling the clues, and catching the villain by the episodes end, in a largely self-contained format. Although there is quite a bit of character development through the course of the series, especially in the fleshing-out of the backstory of these two, complex, well-rounded characters.
I was extremely impressed with "Sabu and Ichi". It'ss early date and black and white imadery may put some people off, but I found a surprisingly mature, engaging story with beautiful art, offering a very authentic-feeling insightt into both Tokagawa Japan, and the early days of anime. "Sabu and Ichi" clearly had a limited budget, rrelying on the tricks of 'limited animation' to maximize story-telling despite those limits. But it also uses some pretty innovative, experimental techniques, using compositing, Dezaki-esque paintings, or even the odd piece of live footage, to create a truly unique, boundary-pushing approach to story-telling.
Showing influence in everything from Samurai Champloo to Cowboy Bebop to Rurouni Kenshin, "Sabu and Ichi" holds its age extremely well. Criiminally underwatchhed, its one of the most mature stories I've seen in anime.
Highly recommend. 8/10
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