Manji is an immortal swordsman, who has been cursed with eternal life. He has grown tired of living with all the death he has created. He has no skills other then those of killing, thus he forms a plan to regain his mortality: he shall kill one hundred evil men for each good one he has killed. The old witch who afflicted Manji with immortality agrees to Manji's proposition and Manji is set on his path to kill one thousand evil men. On his journey he meets a young girl, Rin, who has her own vengeance to seek against the sword school whose members slaughtered Rin's family. Rin and Manji journey together, each hoping to find some kind of peace. In their way are many varied enemies. Rin and Manji are almost constantly under attack and must learn to live their lives, avoiding being consumed by revenge.
Note: Originally published with 219 chapters, which were then recollected into 207 chapters in the tankoubons. Please do not change the chapter count.
Mugen no Juunin won the Excellence Prize at the Japan Media Arts Festival in 1997.
The series was published in English by Dark Horse Comics as Blade of the Immortal in 31 volumes from March 1, 1997 to April 1, 2015. The release featured the unusual method of cutting out and rearranging panels, which was done so to have the series read left to right while still appealing to Hiroaki Samura's request of not flipping the pages. The series was first released in monthly comics issues from June 1, 1996 to November 14, 2007 but was stopped after 131 issues. Dark Horse will republish the series in 3-in-1 omnibuses, in which the last omnibus will include the novel Blade of the Immortal: Legend of the Sword Demon. The series has also been published in Brazilian Portuguese by Jbc in a 2-in-1 edition since December 2015.
When Rin seeks revenge for the murder/rape of her family by the Itto-Ryu (a rival sword school), she hires Manji, an immortal swordsman, to help her. But things aren't quite that simple. The more Rin sees how her revenge affects the lives of others, and the more she gets to know her enemies, the harder it becomes for her to justify her goals. I think the story's greatest strength is character development, completely blurring the line between "good" and "evil." Seriously. Nearly all the characters are so sympathetic that you end up with nobody to root for or against. It's enough to drive one crazy!
Aside from that the manga has plenty of political intrigue, moral quandaries, drama and, of course, lots and lots of action. Some of the bloodiest fight scenes I've ever seen, and this is coming from someone who reads Berserk! Manji being immortal doesn't make him invincible in battle, on the contrary, it means he goes through a hell lot more punishment than the average fighter. And, on top of that, the artwork is just plain gorgeous.read more
I have been reading Blade of the Immortal for a LONG TIME. It is the only manga I buy, the rest I either borrow or just browse online if it has not been released in English. To say I am a big fan of the series is an understatement. Now for those of you that need some guide of why this series is one of the best ever mangas from Japan:
If you read the synopsis it is pretty much self explanatory what is going on in the series, but what makes it special is the way the story is told and the twist and turns that go along with it. This is not your typical samurai / ninja story with super powers or super jumps, the only story that is similar in awesomeness is Lone Wolf and Cub, which is a masterpiece of storytelling. In BotI the way the fights happen, the character lines, their motives and all this delivered with some amazing art is just almost perfect. Yes, almost, as all amazing things this story as of late have been a bit dragging on or bringing characters that for one reason or another they just don't stick like some of the older ones. The prison story arc took too long and the current storyline is very good, but some of the characters are just lacking, they are awesome, but there is something missing from the magic of older chapters. Still this level of storytelling is way above most of the rubbish generic stuff that you get every other day.
In a few words, this manga is as much story as it is art, and I mean WOW, the art, the flow of action, the detail or lack of it just complement the story so well that I don't remember any manga that have achieved this (please correct me if I am wrong). The artist (and lately his team) just produce beauty out of decapitations, and similar kinds of gore, it is a treat to just view each manga. There is an artbook out, you may want to get your hands on...
Hmm, the characters of this manga are just short of amazing. Their backgrounds, their emotional scars, their values, are all laid out in most cases perfectly (except for the latest chapters where it is lacking just a bit). You get Manji which is trying to redeem himself, you get Rin in her quest of vengeance and inner growth that challenges her motives the more she grows, Anotsu which is on a quest to be the best in a time where being such is dangerous, Magatsu a self taught swordfighter that just exhales cool, and the list goes on and on. What is amazing is that in many cases these amazing characters show up for a few chapters and are killed off in amazing ways which most mangas just don't do, you are stuck from beginning to end with a bunch of characters and some cannon fodder comes along to move the action forward. Here you see the characters go and you wonder how the writer will be able to come up with some new cool character and Samura always delivers.
I have a big smile on my face every time a new volume or chapter is released, after so many years is still there, nothing else have captured me like this manga.
If it were not for the fact that Hiroaki Samura (the creator of BotI) have been slipping on the story (just a bit I should remind you) and that it seems that the story is in its final arc well, I can't recommend it more, it is by far the manga that I have enjoyed the best in my life. I want to say that the Anime unfortunately didn't capture the magic of the manga (only the beginning credits do), they used a horrible music and they couldn't manage to portrait the emotional baggage of each character which is so important to make them believable. Pick the manga up, you will thank me later.read more
“I just want you to know one thing...I may be the one facing them. I may be the one cutting them down. The one who stands on their graves. But you will be the one that kills them.”
There are a great many stories that revolve around the concept of revenge. A great many writers have written a great many tales about revenge, each expressing their own sentiments towards the topic. Some glorify it, others ridicule it as a fool’s quest and others tell a more sympathetic story. Blade of the Immortal however simply tells it how it is, at no point is the author ever forcing his beliefs onto the story. The writer prefers to allow the reader to reflect on the story themselves and come to their own conclusions. An engaging, exhilarating yet quietly contemplative quest for vengeance, Blade of the Immortal is one of the greatest seinen manga ever created. Allow me to explain to you why I believe this is the case...
The story of Blade of the Immortal centres around the young Rin Asano’s journey to avenge the death of her parents at the hands of a sword school whose influence is growing within Japan: the Itto-ryu. Unable to deny her own powerlessness in the face of her powerful foe she seeks out the skills of a swordsman who has been cursed with immortality. A man known as Manji. He has his own aims and beliefs that make him more than just a simple bodyguard. Throughout the series we watch as Manji acts as a sort of mentor to Rin and we also watch as the relationship between the two changes and develops.
The premise is quite simple, chances are you can think up some series with similar plots, and the mention of immortality may seem a little silly to some but you shouldn’t write this series of just because of that. The story is an amazing journey for both characters and readers; it’s a grim tale of blood, violence and complex yet savage emotions, a story filled with political intrigue and numerous rival factions all gunning at one another. The premise may be basic but it is simply a backdrop for a deep, emotive, memorable and epic quest.
The only criticism I have with the story is that the pacing was a little bad. Initially the story didn’t really grab me and I took a little break from reading. In my opinion the story doesn’t really get into its stride until around about chapter 30, but once the story gets going it is a nonstop rollercoaster of pure awesomeness. Similarly at later parts of the story I feel that certain events were dragged on for a little longer than I would have liked, but this is a very small criticism it must be said.
The thing that really makes the story of Blade of the Immortal so captivating is without a doubt the characters. The cast of Blade of the Immortal is simply amazing. I would go as far as to say that this series has the best cast of characters I have ever come across. Over the course of the series the two main characters, Manji and Rin, go through a tremendous amount of development but that’s only to be expected really. While the development of the two main characters is exquisite, it is the side characters that really make this series extraordinary. With most series you can consider yourself fortunate if even a single character receives a good amount of development but in this series there are about are around 5 or 6 characters that receive just as much development and characterisation as you would expect of a main character. Ironically, on a personal level I was more interested in some of the side characters and their struggles than I was in the main characters (and the two main characters are really amazing). This is really a testament to how well written the characters in this series are.
All of the significant characters in this series receive a great deal of development and with this there is no clear divide between which characters are the ‘good guys’ and which are the ‘bad guys’. They all have their own circumstances, ideals, determination and reasons for fighting and because the author shares the limelight equally between all of the significant players there is truly no telling who will come out on top and during some of the fight sequences it becomes near impossible to determine whether a particular character may win or lose which really makes things genuinely tense.
Personally, I always like to see those badass female characters who know how to hold their own as in anime especially female characters are more often than not just waifu bait. So I just wanted to give this series props for having some of the most awesome female characters I have ever seen in Makie and Hyakurin, that being said I did feel that Rin sometimes came across as being a typical damsel in distress but this was really only in the earlier parts of the story.
This amazing story and these spectacular characters are all presented to us in Hiroaki Samura's fantastic artwork. It is a little difficult for me not to start gushing over his artwork because subjectively speaking this series has the best artwork that I have ever seen. I have always had a preference for old school art as opposed to the more moe art style that is prevalent in modern anime and well Blade of the Immortal is just about the least moe thing you will ever find so it gets a big thumbs up from me.
The artwork is just so perfectly styled and this series has the most well drawn action sequences you will see in any manga. Seriously, the fights in this series are absolutely brutal - blood and limbs are seen flying all over the place. There are so many great fights in this series and the flow of action in the panels makes it easy to follow the action, the fights are ridiculously intense and will have you on the edge of your seat. The scenery art in this series is also worth mentioning. The backgrounds are quite well detailed on the whole and the traditional Japanese landscapes that you will see over the course of the journey are all captured perfectly.
With all this being said, I cannot say that the art style will be to everyone’s taste. If you dislike sketchy artwork and prefer clean drawings then you may not like it. I really like it because it matches my personal preferences but that doesn’t mean everyone will think it’s as great as I do.
Also, as I have already alluded to, this series contains a lot of gore so if that is not your thing then this may not be a series for you. This series really doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to violence but unlike similarly violent manga series, such as Gantz and Akame ga Kill just to name two, this series never gave me the impression that there was just violence for the sake of it or that it was being used for shock value. While this series is very visceral I don’t think that it ever became excessive.
In my opinion this series is the pinnacle of the seinen genre. It is dark and it is brutal but it remains human. With a well constructed and deceptively complex plot, one of the most well fleshed out cast of characters you are likely to find and artwork to die for I cannot recommend this series highly enough to anyone who enjoys seinen manga. Although, if you are looking for or are expecting a story that is actually focused on samurai culture then I would point you in the direction of Lone Wolf and Cub instead. Blade of the Immortal is more focused on telling its own story than it is about what life was like in this time period and the way of the samurai and the all that sort of stuff.
Anyways, I hope you found this review helpful. Any and all feedback is welcomed (unless you are going to criticise me that is).read more
Revenge is a topic a lot of philosophers have dwelled on, all with their own view on the topic. Of course not only philosophers thought about this subject: revenge is a common topic in mangas too, even readers themselves may have certainly thought on taking revenge in certain occasions; Blade of the Immortal is no different, though it certainly revolves around it, this manga has in fact much more to offer, allowing the reader to dwell on the topic of revenge, while at the same time enjoying the storyline, the engaging characters and the impressive art style. Sounds promising and well, but why was it so good?
The story of Blade of the Immortal starts by introducing Rin Asano, whose parents were murdered by the rising sword school Itto-Ryu, led by Kagehisa Anotsu, whom she swears to take revenge on. Consequently Rin decides to hire Manji, an immortal swordsman who killed 100 "good" people, who swore an oath to kill 1000 "bad people" in order to redeem himself. From here on the story develops, but why where double apostrophes used in the good and bad? This is one splendid characteristic of this manga: Blade of the Immortal narrates and displays the story in such a way that it leaves the reader wondering what the definition of correct justice really is through the variety of characters and political means.
The story proceeds by following Rin and Manji in their quest of finding the leader of the Itto-Ryu, which is full of obstacles, whether it is the Itto-Ryu itself, economic issues or the different attempts of apprehension on Manji. This may seem generic in a way, but it is presented with sudden plot twists and new situations and characters, which keeps the manga fresh and enjoyable.
The plot does not solely revolve around Rin and Manji; in fact, there is big importance laid on the stories revolving around and the Itto-Ryu itself, in order to fully understand the meaning and motives behind the sword school. The political state of affairs of that era is not to he ignored either: these play a very important role in Rin's quest, as well as in the development of the now famous Itto-Ryu school.
One thing that must be highlighted is the amount of gore, dismemberments to be more precise, takes place. There is litterly almost no chapter without a single dismemberment, or so it felt. This may bother some readers, as it becomes pretty ridiculous at some points of the story. Other thing to note is the pacing of the narration: it seems at times unnecessary slow, causing the reader to lose interest.
The cast of characters in Blade of the Immortal is by no means small: beside the two main characters, a good amount of secondary characters are presented and developed, be it the members of the Itto-Ryu, the different political factions and its leaders, the relatives of Rin, all with its unique story, while some undergo some serious character development.
Rin Asano undergoes the biggest changes: as more and more deaths gets on her count, she begins to realize that revenge will only lead to a path of death, which ultimately will end in a vicious circle. It is interesting to see how she grows more and more doubtful about her revenge, as well as how she grows more mature as time passes; she could become quite irritating at times, though it fits well with her age.
The same goes for Manji: he grows from only being a bodyguard to be caring about Rin. Manji's immortality may seem something like a letdown in the begining, though the reader will soon come to realize that the immortality isn't as "overpowered" as it may seem; in fact, Manji's suffering and issues are displayed quite well, leaving the reader to think whether immortality is desired or not.
The development of the secondary characters is satisfying as well. Each has their own conviction/motives, as well as having interesting background stories. It is also interesting to see the interactions with other characters, which often lead to their own development. I personally found myself more engaged in the secondary characters than that of the protagonists.
The art of Blade of the Immortal is impressive: though it is sketchy, all the characters are unique in their design, making it easily distinguishable between the cast of characters. The backgrounds are impressive too; it certainly manages to convey how Japan was in that time. The sketchy nature of the art style (like the manga Vagabond, which I can highly recommend) may bother some readers, though I found it quite fitting for the story.
The same could be said about the fighting scenes, very impressive and easy to follow. There is an evolution of art style visible: in the beginning it lacked good shading, but while the story progresses, it really begins to match with the dark atmosphere the manga is trying to transmit.
This manga was overall a very good read, with outstanding side stories and good narrative, matching with the fantastic art style. The manga begins slow, and really comes into its splendor later on, the reason I'd recommend reading on. The amount of gore may be ridiculous at times, but don't let this bother you, as it is a fantastic story with great characters.