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