Blade of the Immortal 21

December 12, 2011

Hiroaki Samura – Dark Horse – 2009 – 28+ volumes

I loved every page of the finale to the prison arc. I can’t think of a single thing I would change about it. It does absolutely everything, from characters and relationships to the over-the-top actions scenes, pretty much perfectly.

First and foremost, one of the best things that happens here is that the tunnels are flooding at a rapid rate. That detail alone adds so much to the story, since now all the fights have an urgency, and even when there are no fights happening, the situation with Manji stuck in his cell is very much life-threatening. Well, life-threatening in theory, considering Manji can’t be killed. But you know what I mean.

The rising water levels don’t seem to bother any of the participants, though. In addition to a handful of castle goons that are easily dispatched, the real fight here is with Asaemon, the executioner, and the good doctor’s immortality experiments gone wrong. The doctor has created his perfect and immortal warriors, but they are completely mindless, and for whatever reason, the soldier is more than willing to attack Manji mercilessly. Not only is the soldier’s flesh immortal, but the doctor has also modified his body so that the methods for actually killing him don’t work. The fight is ugly, especially since the solider is merely a victim of a series of awful experiments. The story doesn’t let you forget this.

Isaku and Doa are also present, and engage the monster soldier and some of the goons in various fights. Their participation is definitely a big part of the story, but the fight that steals the show here is the one between Manji and Asaemon. It’s a fight in two parts, and Asaemon is a spectacular opponent. He’s a victim of circumstance, and the story reveals that his profession as executioner has left him with no respect from anyone. But he’s still a master swordsman, and he doesn’t let the disrespect get him down. He always takes advantage of his position, and circumstance, to further his own goals. For instance, he wants Manji and his immortality for his own reasons, and his position as executioner gives him access even when everything about this immortality experiment comes crumbling down. And his knowledge of human anatomy, from cutting necks, saves him more than once during the duel with Manji.

The duel is definitely weighted in Asaemon’s favor, since Manji is still chained hand and foot when they fight. In that way, it’s a little disappointing. But it’s still an interesting one, since Manji has to use all the resources at his disposal, including his chains, to stay out of Asaemon’s clutches. And Asaemon is a very respectful opponent. He wants to win, but he doesn’t disrespect or cheat Manji. It’s an amazing fight, even better than the completely ridiculous one against the immortal, unkillable monster.

And the actual escape at the end is a wonderful thing. Rin and Manji’s escape is downplayed, but the story spends a lot of time showing the gates of the castle being thrown open and all the prisoners being reunited with their families. It drives home the fact that Rin did a good thing, despite her selfish intentions behind the actions.

There’s one event that links the story to past events and sets up a path for the plot to follow into the next story arc. I’m a little sad that it affects Manji so directly, but it’s not such an important thing, and I’m sure it will be easily fixed.

This is such a good stopping place, I almost don’t want to start the next story arc, though.

One Response to “Blade of the Immortal 21”

  1. ZeroSD Says:

    -That detail alone adds so much to the story, since now all the fights have an urgency, and even when there are no fights happening, the situation with Manji stuck in his cell is very much life-threatening. Well, life-threatening in theory, considering Manji can’t be killed. But you know what I mean.-

    Even by Manji standards, can you imagine how horrible it’d be to be drowned and submerged for who-knows-how-long in an underwater prison cell?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: