Blade of the Immortal
|Blade of the Immortal|
(Mugen no Jūnin)
|Written by||Hiroaki Samura|
|Original run||June 25, 1993 – December 25, 2012|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Kōichi Mashimo|
|Written by||Hiroyuki Kawasaki|
|Music by||Kow Otani|
|Original run||July 13, 2008 – December 28, 2008|
|Blade of the Immortal: Legend of the Sword Demon|
|Written by||Junichi Ohsako|
|Illustrated by||Hiroaki Samura|
|Published||July 18, 2008|
|Blade of the Immortal – Bakumatsu Arc|
|Illustrated by||Ryū Suenobu|
|Original run||May 25, 2019 – present|
|Original net animation|
|Blade of the Immortal -Immortal-|
|Directed by||Hiroshi Hamasaki|
|Written by||Makoto Fukami|
|Music by||Eiko Ishibashi|
|Released||October 10, 2019 – March 25, 2020|
Blade of the Immortal (Japanese: 無限の住人, Hepburn: Mugen no Jūnin, lit. "The Inhabitant of Infinity") is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hiroaki Samura. The series is set in Japan during the mid-Tokugawa Shogunate period and follows the cursed samurai Manji, who has to kill 1,000 evil men in order to regain his mortality. The manga was originally published in Kodansha's Monthly Afternoon from June 1993 to December 2012 and compiled into thirty tankōbon volumes.
A 2008 anime television series adaptation was produced by Bee Train. Also in 2008, the novel Blade of the Immortal: Legend of the Sword Demon was released in Japan by Kodansha. A live action film adaptation of the same name was released in 2017. A second anime adaptation by Liden Films was broadcast from October 2019 to March 2020.
Blade of the Immortal follows the deeds of Manji, a skilled rōnin who has a decisive advantage: no wound can kill him, except for a rare poison. In the past, his criminal actions led to the death of 100 other samurai (including his sister's husband). He becomes immortal at the hand of an 800-year-old nun named Yaobikuni, and is compelled by the death of his sister to accept the quest that will end his agelessness. He has vowed to make amends by killing 1,000 evil men, and until he does Manji will be kept alive by "sacred bloodworms" (血仙蟲, kessen-chū), remarkable creatures that allow him to survive nearly any injury and reattach severed limbs even after hours of separation. They work by sacrificing themselves to seal the wound - they are worms that were bred to be as close in chemical and physical make-up to humans as possible without actually being human. They cannot handle regrowth on a large scale, but, for example, can reattach a severed limb or seal a hole in the brain.
Manji crosses paths with a young girl named Rin Asano and promises to help her avenge her parents, who were killed by a cadre of master swordsmen led by Anotsu Kagehisa. Anotsu killed Rin's father and his entire dōjō, making them a family of outcasts. Anotsu's quest is to gather other outcasts and form an extremely powerful new dojo, the Ittō-ryū (a school teaching any technique that wins, no matter how exotic or underhanded), and has started taking over and destroying other dojos.
In addition, another group calling itself the Mugai-ryū has emerged, in opposition to the Ittō-ryū. Its true leadership and motives are initially a mystery, but its methods (any tactics that lead to victory) resemble those of the Ittō-ryū. They try to enlist Manji's help as they seem to want the same thing. Eventually, Manji joins but quickly pulls out after he finds out a member, Shira, is way too sadistic for his tastes. After a while, Manji finally discovers that the Mugai-ryū work for the government. They are all death row inmates who are allowed to live only if they serve the shogunate. While Manji and Shira quickly grow to hate each other, after Shira runs off, Manji remains on friendly terms with the other members of the group.
"Bloodworms" and weapons
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The bloodworms ("kessen-chū") are wormlike organisms capable of healing normally fatal injuries and slowing down the aging process, making a person functionally immortal. They are produced by lumps of flesh (approximately 2 inches in width) informally referred to as kessen-bases ("kessen-ki"); they're implanted throughout a person's body by Yaobikuni and although six sites were identified on Manji, the possibility of more wasn't discounted. When necessary the kessen-bases produce bloodworms and send them through the arteries to repair damaged areas in the body as well as restore destroyed bases. Because the bloodworms and kessen-bases are themselves living organisms they possess their own inescapable limitations and consequently the immortality they bestow is imperfect and can be circumvented to cause the host's death; three such conditions are the severance of food or oxygen for an extended period, severe drops or increases in temperature, and sudden tissue damage or massive damage to all vital organs surpassing the kessen-bases' regenerative abilities. The original host's immortality can be transplanted into another person if both share the same blood type and one of the former's limbs is surgically attached to the latter; the kessen-base on the limb will then produce bloodworms for the body of the recipient. However, the regenerative ability bestowed upon the recipient will not be as potent as that of the original host's (whose body possesses multiple kessen-bases), and should the limb be detached from the recipient's body the bloodworms cannot continuously be produced and will eventually be expended, leading to the loss of the recipient's immortality.
The weapons found in Blade of the Immortal are largely fictional, most created by Samura, who confesses he has no idea what some of them are supposed to do. Usually, major characters have unique and specialized weapons - hidden crossbows, throwing knives, poisoned blades, and even weapons meant to inflict maximum pain. Manji himself carries a number of blades - Sukehiro Amatsubaki ("Rain Camellia"), Kotengu ("Little Devil"), Okorobi ("Man Toppler"), Merabi ("Lady Gadfly"), Karasu ("The Crow"), Shidō ("The Four Paths"), Imo-no-Kami Tatsumasa ("Sister Defender Tatsumasa"), a spear-like weapon called Aun, and an unnamed hooked weapon. Some of Samura's other creations include Giichi's thresher-like throwing blade, known as Kanetsura's Mito-no-Kami ("Guardian of the Three Paths"), which he uses to sever the heads of his enemies, and Anotsu's large Kabutsuchi battle-axe, which was based on an example from Nepal.
Creation and conception
Samura stated that Tange Sazen was the largest influence on his characters and narrative style. In regards to the overall work he stated that he wanted to create a new style of manga, with his intended style being "Don't obsess about the details--just look at the story."
Blade of the Immortal, written and illustrated by Hiroaki Samura, began in Kodansha's seinen manga magazine Monthly Afternoon on June 25, 1993, and finished on December 25, 2012. Kodansha collected its 219 chapters into thirty tankōbon volumes, released from September 19, 1994 to February 22, 2013.
A sequel titled Blade of the Immortal – Bakumatsu Arc (無限の住人～幕末ノ章～, Mugen no Jūnin ~ Nakumatsu no Fumi ~), written by Kenji Takigawa and illustrated by Ryū Suenobu, with Samura's collaboration, started in Monthly Afternoon on May 25, 2019. Kodansha released the first tankōbon volume on October 23, 2019. As of October 23, 2020, three volumes have been released.
Dark Horse Comics release
The English language version of the manga was published by Dark Horse Comics. The manga began its publication in individual monthly issues, with the first issue being published on June 1, 1996. These issues were later collected into individual volumes, and the first one was published on March 1, 1997. On October 11, 2007, Dark Horse Comics announced that they would drop the monthly issues publishing, with issue #131, released on November 14, 2007, being the last one. The series continued publishing through trade paperback volumes only, starting with the 18th volume, released on February 6, 2008. The 31st and last collected volume was published on April 1, 2015.
To preserve the integrity of his art, Samura requested the publisher Dark Horse Comics not to "flip" the manga, that is, reverse the pages as if in a mirror. At the time flipping was an almost universal practice for English-translated manga. Instead, Blade of the Immortal was modified for Western readers by the unusual method of cutting up the panels and rearranging them on the page in order to have the action flow from left to right. Another reason for not "flipping" the English version is Manji's clothing, which features a manji symbol, that if the pages were "flipped" would resemble specifically the Nazi swastika, instead of the ancient Eurasian swastika (that can be of any orientation), which for many cultures represents concepts such as peace and harmony.
Although American industry practice has now largely changed over to publishing translated manga in its original right-to-left orientation, Blade of the Immortal had retained the labor-intensive cut-and-paste method. The publisher cautions that rearranging the panels is not foolproof, and can lead to continuity errors; this usually occurs when the flow of text bubbles is dependent upon character placement within panels. Some sound effects within the panel were retouched out and re-lettered in English. Japanese sound effects that are an integral part of the artwork were usually left as is. Additionally, some text bubbles or panel borders were redrawn, and script pacing subtly altered in order to understand the story or the placement of text bubbles.
In the monthly Dark Horse serialization, colored versions of title pages from the corresponding manga chapter were often featured as cover art, though in some cases a different piece of artwork, such as a tankōbon cover, were used as well. The original Japanese tankōbon volumes also collected more chapters than the English volumes published by Dark Horse, as such, they are longer and do not directly correspond to the English numbering scheme.
In July 2015, Dark Horse Comics announced an omnibus edition of Blade of the Immortal, each volume containing 3 original volumes, maintaining the left-to-right format. Ten volumes were released from December 28, 2016 to November 13, 2019. In March 2020, Dark Horse announced a deluxe re-release edition in hardcover and the first volume was released on October 7, 2020.
On March 23, 2008, it was announced that an animated television series adaptation of the manga would be directed by Kōichi Mashimo and produced by Bee Train in summer 2008. The series aired from July 13 to December 28, 2008 on AT-X. The opening theme is "Akai Usagi" (赤いウサギ, lit. "red rabbit") by Makura no Sōshi, and the closing theme is "Wants" by GRAPEVINE. In North America, Media Blasters licensed the series and released it on September 29, 2009.
A new anime adaptation titled Blade of the Immortal -Immortal- (無限の住人-IMMORTAL-, Mugen no Jūnin: Immortal) was listed on the cover of the July issue of Monthly Afternoon on May 10, 2019. It was later announced that the anime adaptation will be a complete adaptation. The series is animated by Liden Films and directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki, with Makoto Fukami handling series composition, Shingo Ogiso designing the characters, and Eiko Ishibashi composing the music. It aired from October 10, 2019 to March 25, 2020 on Amazon Prime Video. Kiyoharu performed the series' opening theme song "Survive of Vision". On October 15, 2020, Sentai Filmworks announced that they had licensed the anime for home video and released it on Blu-ray Disc on January 19, 2021.
The series won an Excellence Prize at the 1997 Japan Media Arts Festival and the Will Eisner Comic Industry Award in 2000 for Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material. The manga had 5 million copies in print as of February 2017.
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New adaptation based on Hiroaki Samura's dark fantasy manga hits Amazon Prime Video in October of 2019
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the company started releasing its second longest-running series, Blade of the Immortal. Horn stated that Dark Horse doesn't plan to "unflop" the manga because fans have read it flipped for such a long time and he respects their dedication to the title.
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I could move the readers along correctly with strategic repositioning of the word balloons and tweaking the dialogue. Except for a few cases where I got brain fade and screwed up, I think it worked pretty well. Hey, it’s tough to read each panel knowing it will be unflopped . . . and yet reordered on the page! For the first couple volumes I actually cut and pasted each page, but eventually I was able to do it in my head, on the fly. All of my mistakes were corrected in the trade collections, and after Tomoko came on board there were essentially none, since she kept an eagle eye on this.
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Sound effects were left untranslated wherever possible, but when translation was crucial to understanding the story, Samura would redraw the panel to ensure a harmonious blend of effect and art.
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[It includes] a few black-and-white pieces that were colored to be used as covers for the US monthly comic edition of the series.
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- Blade of the Immortal official manga website at Monthly Afternoon (in Japanese)
- Blade of the Immortal – Bakumatsu Arc official website at Monthly Afternoon (in Japanese)
- Official 2008 anime website (in Japanese)
- Official 2019 anime website (in Japanese)
- Official 2008 anime blog (in Japanese)
- Blade of the Immortal (manga) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia