Monday, March 30, 2009

Final Thoughts: Blade of the Immortal

Finally, KSN released the final episode of Blade of the Immortal. I was beginning to worry they'd forgotten about it, but apparently KSN does this all the time. They always take their time releasing the last episode in order to do the series justice. Personally, I think they did a great job, so thank you guys for sticking it out.
EPISODE 13: Wind
More Screencaps from Blade of the Immortal 13

After her fated meeting with Anotsu Kagehisa, Rin finds herself weaving in her earlier resolve to avenge her parents. Meanwhile, events happen one after another as the leader of the Mugai-ryuu puts his plan into motion. The first to fall is former Ittou-ryuu swordsman Magatsu's woman friend, O-Ren, while Kagehisa himself is under watch without his knowledge.
Obviously, there's a second season because otherwise that would be a very dissatisfying ending. The plot is just starting to pick up and we're headed towards the best arc in the manga so far. It would be too cruel of BeeTrain to leave us hanging like this. I must say though that it was a very clever season-ender. They changed the story a little bit, added a few tidbits in there that wasn't in the manga, I think, for the sole purpose of giving it closure.

Blade of the Immortal is one of my favorite titles of the past season. I watched it mainly because I loved the manga and got curious as to how BeeTrain would treat the transition from paper to video. While I can't say that I love the anime as much as I love the manga, I can honestly say that the anime complements the franchise because it offers something that the manga never could (not in a million years): sounds. And in that regard, BeeTrain did a fantastic job.

It's one thing watching static images on a piece of paper, trying to imagine movement through a variety of lines, sound when there are only written words, and emotions when there are only so many facial expressions a person can draw. Difficult, right? With the anime, that's not a problem. We saw fight scene after fight scene (none of which are recycled, I might add), seiyuu bringing beloved characters to life on screen, and BGM that can range from haunting to heartwrenching to frenetic. This is what anime does to a manga franchise, enhancing an already awesome experience.

Art-wise, the manga is still better (of course!). But Blade of the Immortal, the anime, doesn't look too shabby. Some people would take exception to the soft-focus style and dark hues, but I think this kind of technique actually works to give the illusion of detail. The first few episodes were very dark -- to the point that you can barely see what's going on -- but as the series progressed, the hues got a little bit lighter (still dark but at least you can understand what's happening on screen).

I gotta hand it to BeeTrain. The way they handled the series shows their respect for the source material. Granted, they did tweak the timeline a little bit and added some nonexistent conversation between characters that wasn't there in the manga, but these changes are too slight to make a huge impact on the original plot. On the contrary, I think they add a little bit more to the experience, by giving more dimension to characters and making clearer a few key points.
IN SUM, Blade of the Immortal is a good action series and I'd recommend it to people who are partial to samurai anime but are looking for a new twist. But with only 13 episodes, this anime feels more like a teaser to get more people to read the manga, which I guarantee you would never regret.