Blade of the Immortal 23
January 16, 2013
Hiroaki Samura – Dark Horse – 2011 – 31 volumes
Blade of the Immortal ended in Japan last month. It will likely be some time before we see the ending in English, but all the same, I am pretty far behind on this series, and I thought it might be a good idea to catch up.
I do like these Dark Horse volumes that collect storylines rather than the same number of chapters every time. I took a break after the prison arc, since the volume conveniently finished up the story, but taking an extended break was probably a bad idea. There are about a thousand side characters in this series, all of whom are featured in this volume, and it took me some time to remember who they all were. Manji and Rin only appear a couple times, and only briefly. The same can be said of other major groups here. Kagehisa appears a couple times. He talks to Rin, and he talks to the Itto-Ryu members, and he also talks to Makie, his sort-of girlfriend who appeared in a storyline some time ago. Magatsu is leading one of the factions of Itto-Ryu at the beginning of the volume, and they fight with Kagimura and his faction. It took me a minute to remember he wasn’t directly sponsored by the government, but was trying to redeem himself, and it took me even longer to remember that the girl with him was his daughter. And longer still to remember that she was illegitimate. We also meet up once again with a pair of shinobi girls working for Kagimura. And the artist both they and Rin were staying with. All the heads of the Itto-Ryu come together at the end of the volume. There’s some old man healer Itto-Ryu that I don’t remember. Hyakurin and Ginji make another appearance, after an absence of several volumes. Sigh. I had a hard time keeping up.
On the other hand, there are some really awesome scenes. There’s a really ridiculous and horrible one with Kagimura’s wife and son that will stick with me for some time. It is both incredibly gratuitous and violent and forehead-slapping in its self-sacrifice. The fight with Kagimura’s daughter and Magatsu at the beginning of the volume was pretty clever, too, as was the way the Itto-Ryu trapped Kagimura’s men.
But aside from that… there was a lot of talking, and a lot of setting up the next major story arc. With this many pieces to move around, volumes like this are inevitable, but I’m also wishing for a simpler story at this point. I want to see Manji get his arm back, for instance, and that wasn’t really discussed at all. On the contrary, the forward motion seemed to be more of the Itto-Ryu moving and the others following to kill them. So… yeah.
But it still looks really good, and the previous storylines have been good to me. Here’s hoping things get interesting again once the huge number of characters meet up and, hopefully, thin the herd a bit.