The story begins in 1629 Shizuoka during Tokugawa Tadanaga's rule. The daimyo staged a tournament where the participants fought with real steel Japanese swords rather than bokken, against his vassals' strong objection. The story revolves around the first match between the one-armed swordsman Fujiki Gennosuke and the blind samurai Irako Seigen and deals with the circumstances that led the two to participate in Tokugawa's tournament.
_Shigurui_ is about power. Seizing power, developing power, sabotaging power. We see power exercised in casual assassinations, marauding groups of murderers, offhand executions of random ronin, the social power of giving bad etiquette advice, the confinement of a demon warrior within a rigid hierarchy, the seductive power of beautiful women... It's not so much that _Shigurui_ is an extended demonstration of the amorality of power, but it demonstrates the corrupting effects of power, the *immorality* of power. Power once had will be abused, and we will see it done so for every reason: bloodlust, sexual lust, entertainment, pride, advertising,
money, "reasons of state", and so on.
There is almost no male character we can describe as good: as much as we identify with the "heroic" protagonist, we have to remember he is a blood-daubed murderer who repeatedly murders for trivial reasons such as anger or being ordered by his master and our nose is rubbed in this by the time we reach the end. We might identify with Seigen due to his egalitarianism and how we spend most of the time watching him be persecuted and take his revenge - except he is introduced with cruelty, is ultimately undone by his own hubris, manipulates and lies beatifically, and kills his first master. (I say male characters, because the women are disempowered chess pieces who are subjected rather than subjects.) The beauty of the martial arts displayed is outweighed by the horror of what they are *for*, and it is all wrapped in a trenchant critique of the politics which allow and encourage all of this to happen. This is not a romantic depiction of bushido or what unswerving loyalty means; it is a depiction of the intrinsic failure modes, and the inevitable lord who is unworthy of loyalty of any kind but cannot be quietly executed or tortured to death as he deserves.
The sustained effect is depressing. There are no meaningful ideals. Attempts to teach martial arts merely produce living weapons. Everyone uses each other. All men die, and if they defeat their foes, they are defeated by old age and descend into their dotage. Men themselves are a fragile conglomeration of muscles and guts, which when spilled all look alike. The strongest warrior can be undone by an accidental trip or one stroke of a blade, and all their achievements negated. I read it over 3 days and felt unusually nihilistic and materialistic by the end.
The art is uniformly excellent, almost lavish, with commendable shading and detail: towards the end, I found myself just pausing and admiring the depiction of wood grain and the castle.
Some narrative tricks work well in a manga setting, like showing (without any comment or visual distinction) possible scenarios or outcomes and abruptly snapping back to the present - one sees characters die a dozen deaths before they actually die ("The Way of the Samurai is found in death. Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily.")
Manga abruptly ends, with zero resolution of the toad-man and futanari arc, and the pacifist _Rurouni Kenshin_-style swordsman character unexplored despite repeatedly showing up in minor roles. It ends within a few pages: Seigen is killed, he stumbles back to his corner victorious and rewarded with a position, and finds the maiden Mei dead. Then we flip to a scene of them walking together in civvies. The End. I'm still not sure what this is supposed to mean: logically, he'd then commit suicide since he has nothing left to live for and has carried out the vengeance order on Seigen, but nothing we're shown confirms this theory and I'm not sure the first volume's foreshadowing established that either. Oh well.
Shigurui is one of my favorite stories of all time but I almost chose not to read it due to the fact that I really did not like the anime and how it was done. In the end I gave the manga a chance and loved every moment of it.
The story is about two great swordsmen one is blind and crippled and the other has lost an arm. They are sworn Enemies and hate each other
with a passion.
The story or plot is really good they build up alot of tension between these two main characters really slowly and the reader can feel this tension. Fujiki and Irako the swordsmen are very similar and were brought up in the world under hardship and cruelty until they become disciples of Iwamoto Kogan(at different times) the greatest swordsmen. Don't get me wrong though being disciples of this dojo is not a walk in the park for these two young swordsmen. Their master Kogan is a sick twisted monster and becomes a father figure for Irako and Fujiki.
So who will succeed Kogan as the master? Irako or Fujiki. How did they end up with those crippling injuries? Its all answered in the manga.
The art is fantastic the answers to my previous two questions are beautifully illustrated in the manga. One of the reasons why I did not like the anime was cause of the animation it was a style that I did not like and the narration was not to my taste. When I read the manga I was just so impressed with the art and illustrations especially of the action scenes and blood and gore stuff.
Characters development is what the plot really had to to rely on and it was done great. The two swordsmen Irako and Fujiki I have already talked about but I want to say what made their development so special is that you can't fault them for what they do nor can you take sides on who you think is more right. In the end all you can do is wonder if these two could have been friends under different circumstances. So far the only other Character I have mentioned is the master Kogan he and the other side characters(other disciples , lovers, and politicians, etc) have alot to do with the story and are a big part of why these two young men slowly turn into monsters and hate each other. I am not going to talk about the other characters because it would take to long but just trust me the author of the manga does them justice by developing them really well.
Enjoyment. I enjoyed reading this manga too much I just couldn't put it down after every chapter. I don't read many manga as you can tell if you look at my profile. The only reason I will pick up a manga is if the anime that I liked has more story left or if I thought it had some potential the latter was the case with Shigurui. This does have nudity and some blood and gore stuff and sometimes they put it together so for some this can be disturbing. But nudity stuff is not fan service related it really plays to the story.
Overall This is a great Manga to read Especially if your into Blood and gore So Berserk fans might really like this. If you notice any spoilers or have any comments to improve my review just comment on my page and I will do my best Thanks for reading. hopefully I can get at least one person to read this manga.
This manga was a huge surprise for me. after reading dozens of manga I was looking for something more mature in nature , a manga that doesn't cover the blood, and really show just how brutal a sword fight could actually is.
Shigurui put's on a time machine to were honor tradition is all that's matter, nothing is spared from the reader as the characters fight, laugh and f***.
it's not long and very addicting, please stay with it longer that the first 2 chapters, after that you would find yourself submerged deep in the plot.
I will write my review for parts trying my best to explain my reasoning:
Story (9): Well is very rare to find a manga that you can really call a ''Truly masterpiece'' or a ''S grade'' manga. Shigurui is one of these mangas. The story tells you what do you need to know. At the moment that you need to know, is crude, beautiful, with touchs of fantasy but at the same time realistic epicness. In the start you found a story that tells you something and you probably will think ''thats curious'' atfer chapter and chapter, the mangaka shows you
a so well written story, deep, with actions, with words, with crude moments, with massacres, with the psychology of the characters in the fights, in the crude moments and the relation that the reader will be able to see in all the moments. The end is maybe, a little bit unexpected based of what you will see in the manga, but that doesnt make the end bad.
The story fit perfect with the gender, the characters, the art and all the factors that are incluide in this manga. Is 'easy' to understand but at the same time is complex in certain ways, maybe is the character developing that makes the story fits that well, the art, of the pleasure with the 'mind' factor of the moments but, the true is, as i say, the story is perfect for the manga.
- The Story was told correctly always something can be better but in this case was 'perfect' in general, simply to understand but at the same time, complex, it has so many elements that makes the develop so well done. The story is not 'predictable' is something different, you really have a 'idea' of what will happen but you never will be sure if that will really happens. The final was ok -> well. There is not something that will troll you in the aspect that, there is not 'plot' there is not 'power of friendship' there is, ability, instict, and pain.
Note: The manga didn't have more than 90 caps and the mangaka makes each chapter count. Definitelty - Great -
Art (8): The art of Shigurui is, exactly what you want for a manga like this, it fits so well the Story and the enjoyment overall. It shows you what you need to see in the crude moments, the draw is really good, it makes you feel so comfortable at the point that in certain moments, the fights and the blood, the details of the draw in the characters, in the ambient, in the manga in general just make the experiencie something unique.
Note: The style of art of the manga is just brutal. Is so good. Is able to please any person with high standards of a manga with good art and drawning. Very good.
But maybe the art is so centred in something, and, that makes that you think that the characters, and certain things are, a little bit repetitive. Maybe in certain parts the draw of the manga lacks in explain you, x or y 'important' thing, but the style of the manga fits perfectly the Story, the Characters, and, the essence of the enjoyment.
Character (10): In this manga you have something interesting with the two principal characters; a strong conecction between the two. ''Force of destiny'' the fight and the story of two characters, their lifes, their beliefs, their duel, their fight, their sides, diferents but united for the same reason the 'destinty'.
The way that the characters fits the Story, and the Art with the flow of the fights, the mindset of both is just so beautiful, both will suffer, both will need to prove be able to adapt each fight, each situation, you will feel and see how they are born, how they search their way, how they are unique persons in any way possible.
- The character developing is so beautiful (And not only of the principal characters). The relation between Character -> Story -> Art make a manga with a lot of aspects that you will want:
- Good Action
- Good Story
- Good Art
- Blood -> Crude moments -> Rude moments -> Beautiful moments -> Epic moments
- X (A little bit forbidden romance)
Overall: 9.3: Not much more to say, is a masterpiece but i just feel in my heart that the final should have go, diferent (that DOESN'T mean final is bad, eh)
TL;DR: Must read. One of the best seinens and one of the best mangas that i've had the pleasure to read, see, and enjoy. Maybe is not a manga for all the people (is something that be a crude seinen means) but i want to say as well: THIS IS one of the most well writtens historical mangas, plus, is finished (good and bad yeah, but better overall you dont have to wait to see the end for a good develop of the story). BRUTAL martial arts manga. My heart tell me that deservers the 10 as well.