May 18, 2012
This is essentially an officially licensed fanfiction. Considering this story was not written by mangaka Hiroaki Samura, the author Junichi Ohsako was able to take some artistic liberties. I'm not sure if this was simply due to the English translation or was actually something Ohsako did intentionally, but I felt that some of the characters lost their "voices." For example, Shira seemed a bit too...formal in his speech at times and wordy, as well. Manji had these moments for me, too. The regular Dark Horse translation team seems to capture the various speech characteristics of each character in the manga, which isn't quite as strong
Also, the monster character, which was apparently an original creation, seemed rather reminiscent of an opponent faced during the Prison Arc. Upon finishing this novel, I view it in a similar manner to the anime: incomplete, not particularly in-depth, but a nice addendum to the manga storyline. New fans shouldn't start off with this novel as an intro to the manga. However, I think it's a decent little retelling of the beginnings of the Blade of the Immortal Saga. Plus, there is some new art included by Samura, which is always a plus.
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