Blade of the Immortal (Vol. 1) by Hiroaki Samura

details
Title: Blade of the Immortal.
Volume: 1.
Writer(s)Hiroaki Samura.
Illustrator(s)HIROAKI SAMURA.
Translator(s): Dana Lewis & Toren Smith.
Letterer(s): Wayne Truman & Tomoko Saito.
PublisherBlack Horse Manga.
Format: Hardcover – Deluxe Edition.
Release Date: October 27th, 2020.
Pages: 576.
Genre(s): Comics, Fantasy, Historical Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781506720999.
My Overall Rating: 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

thoughts

There’s a saying that revenge is a dish best served cold. However, is it really a quest that one should embrace in their life? Is embarking on a bloodthirsty journey where emotions dominate reason a path that will appease one’s most vengeful desires? The answer to these questions might maybe only lie in the odyssey itself rather than its culmination. For one young woman and her sword-wielding bodyguard, the road to revenge will be a long and perilous adventure. For the first time ever, this stunning faux-leather deluxe hardcover edition collects the mangaka Hiroaki Samura’s first three volumes (Blood of a Thousand, Cry of the Worm, and Dreamsong) of his critically-acclaimed series and sends readers to Japan during the mid-Tokugawa Shogunate period to discover a legendary immortal samurai.

What is Blade of the Immortal (Vol. 1) about? The story follows Manji, a rōnin warrior of feudal Japan cursed with immortality, where any severe injury is undone by sacred bloodworms thriving within him. Following a massacre of his own doing and recent tragedy, he seeks redemption by vowing to kill a thousand enemies. Serendipity luckily leads a young girl by the name of Rin to request his help in her own quest for revenge when the students of a brutal new sword school calling themselves the Itto-Ryū is out to eradicate every sword school in the country and unify them under their control. As the two of them march on to avenge her father’s destroyed Mutenichi-ryu dojo and life, they run into various swordsmen with troubling pasts and unparalleled killer skills.

“Death is merciless. But let me tell you… Not being able to die is crueler still.”

— Hiroaki Samura

Mangaka Hiroaki Samura introduces science-fiction (only in the form of immortality for the time being) into his ultra-violent historical fiction centered around period samurai action as he wrote and penciled this ground-breaking manga. Although the gory elements are highlights in themselves with its ludicrous and extravagant qualities, they remain central to this series’ identity as the episodic nature of this revenge tale sets up a climactic battle with various enigmatic characters who often also receive a fascinating and comprehensive background to better understand their own story. The protagonist also showcases evident macho and street traits that challenge traditions found among samurais, allowing him to challenge those who question honour, respect, and dignity on the battlefield.

On top of the intriguing revenge story carefully sewn together to depict a tragic and ruthless universe, mangaka Hiroaki Samura’s artwork merits a standing ovation. Beautifully penciled, he illustrates his action sequences with incredible tact, allowing readers to effortlessly follow the rapid showdowns. Within each story-arc, poetic and stunning splash pages also adds a certain crowning touch that makes it all much more satisfying by the end. Per the request of the mangaka, the manga also avoided utilizing mirror image techniques to allow the left-to-right reading, preferring a panel-to-panel crop-and-paste technique. This, unfortunately, does have consequences in the reading directionality, sometimes killing the flow, but never really destroys the story’s charm.

Blade of the Immortal (Vol. 1) is a thrilling and action-packed samurai revenge tale filled with bloodlust and a search for redemption.


EXHIBITA
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

This 2017 live-action movie adaptation obtained positive response from viewers despite not making as much money as hoped.

This complete anime adaptation aired on Amazon’s Prime Video from October 10th, 2019 to March 25th, 2020.

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27 comments

  • Gray review, Lashaan, and the graphics look really promising 😀 I’m only starting my manga adventure – would you have any favorites or particular recs for me?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, I’d also be interested in your answer 🙂 It’s been some time since I’ve read manga, and even watched a non-Ghibli anime. One historical manga I remember enjoying was Vagabond, about the famous Mushashi… and probably my all time favourite is Mushishi, a completely unrelated, atmospheric & episodic fantasy series… this seems interesting, but with no Amazon access I’ll have to look for something good on Netflix.

      Liked by 2 people

      • There are indeed a lot of excellent non-Ghibli stuff out there that keeps on coming out that are worth checking out but to stay in the loop of the corner of the world, you’d probably have to be really connected to their platforms and whatnot (like regularly being on myanimelist .net). Funny that you mentioned Vagabond hahah I actually recommended that to Ola in my comment earlier too hahah

        Well then. You could always checking out the live-action adaptation of this manga which seems to be on most Netflix platforms around the world! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ola! Really happy to hear that you’re trying them out now too. It was my go-to form of comics as a kid until my interest in it and anime whittled down when I hit 17. I rekindled my love for it last year, which explains why I’ve been rereading a lot of hit shonen manga series too. I definitely have some excellent ones that I have to revisit and give a proper review for on this blog in the future but here are some titles I think you’d definitely be interested in:

      1- Akira (you don’t have a choice, you have to try it to at least see why it was groundbreaking for the manga medium) 😀 😀

      2- Fullmetal Alchemist

      3- Monster by Naoki Urasawa (you could even try out his other series too; I don’t think he’s ever written something bad)

      4- Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue (this would probably be THE go-to series for samurai era stories)

      5- Vinland Saga (the only Viking story that I know of)

      6- Assassination Classroom

      I’ll be curious to see how your journey goes! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow, that’s a lot of recommendations! 😄 I’ll definitely try some out – starting with Akira (not that I have any choice, as you pointed out! 🤣)

        Thanks for these, Lashaan – I really appreciate it! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  • “There’s a saying that revenge is a dish best served cold. However, is it really a quest that one should embrace in their life?”….🤔🤔🤔🤔 I guess the answer to that question is depending on who you wish to have revenge on😂😂😂 I mean look at what happened to “ Khaaaaaaaaaaaan “ in Star Trek II : the wrath of Khan😊
    Okay…I guess I went a little bit overboard there, but erm….that just is because this looks so amazing! It’s not the first time of course that I have heard about this manga, but now seeing this edition for it, it look incredible! This is going to have to be a must have for me! I love editions that look as amazing as this, and the story itself intrigues me to no end.
    Thanks for including the trailer of the film too! I see it’s on Netflix, and with my upcoming week off, I think I’m going to reserve some time to watch it!
    Incredible review Lashaan! You can be sure this will be added to my collection soon!😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahaha I’m convinced many can think of a situation or two where they’d think revenge is the only option left if they ever want to find any peace of mind too but it’s clearly a very dangerous path to go on! 😉

      I’m really happy to hear your enthusiasm for this series though! Even more than you already plan on checking out the movie and/or anime very soon! I really hope you have a fun time with it when you get around to it. I’ll be keeping an eye out on your journey there! 😀 Thanks for reading as always, Michel!

      Liked by 1 person

  • This looks really good! I haven’t read any of Samura’s work before, but your review and photos make it sound very tempting. 576 pages, eh? Wow! The book looks a bit cumbersome. Was it easy to read, (physically)? Have you watched the movie or anime?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad to hear your interest in this franchise, Wakizashi! If this intrigued you, there’s a good chance that you might have a fun time with the manga/anime/movie too! 😉

      It wasn’t actually. The Walking Dead Compendium was much more cumbersome considering that it was a paperback. This hardcover has a very solid spine that makes it easy to read, and the pages are quite thick too. The only issue I could see is that the two-page splash pages can be sometimes difficult to really appreciate because of how it’s collected, making it impossible to stretch open enough to fully see the whole thing sometimes.

      I haven’t see neither the anime or the movie. I usually privilege the manga over both of those other adaptations though but I will certainly get around to them when I’m done with this manga! At least it’s nice to know that fans have enjoyed them both, even the movie!!! 😮

      Liked by 1 person

  • Hmm I know this comment may not be what you were looking for. But I liked the movie blade. But to this day I have seen it in bits and pieces. Somehow I have never managed to catch the entire movie from beg to end.

    Hmm Manga… Ought I start this?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhh Blade was one that I saw as a kid too but I plan on rewatching the trilogy in the future too. Did you know he’s a Marvel superhero? They also plan to reboot that hero in the future. 😉

      Yes. You should start. Plenty of great manga series that I’m sure you could have a blast with if you dare venture there. 😉

      Thanks for visiting, Shalini! Stay safe! 😀

      Like

  • I agree that revenge should not be that fulfilling! And blooworm inside him? Sorry but EEEK. lOL that being said the art is indeed beautiful and the story is promising!

    Liked by 1 person

  • It reads left to right? That’s just wrong. There’s no reason in this day and age for that kind of nonsense. Manga fans are smart enough, let’em figure it out…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. I don’t understand the need to invert the direction at all. Unless it has something to do with printing rules or whatever but I doubt it. It can’t be that hard to read the other way man… Then again, I’ve gotten used to it since I was a kid. I don’t know what kind of struggle people have with that today hahah

      Liked by 1 person

  • That is an awesome looking volume. I think I remember watching the first anime series, not the newer adaptation on Amazon, and really enjoying the story. I strongly suspect I’d enjoy this in manga form. And where it was likely 10 or more years ago I watched it the story might feel fresh again. 🙂 Thanks for the review and heads up this is out there, I wasn’t aware of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I heard about that first anime too but apparently it never truly adapted the whole manga series while the newer adaptation on Prime does exactly that. 😮 If you ever do cave in and check this manga or the anime out, I’d be curious to hear what you think about it, Todd! Thanks for reading, as always, my friend! 😀

      Like

  • Revenge is a theme I enjoy looking into. I find that too often people make the mistake of focusing on the final destination, tuning everything out. It can get you into a lot of trouble. I like exacting revenge as a “by the way thing” as I’m moving along to a different goal.
    And yes, the art looks very sharp.

    Liked by 1 person

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