Manji, a recently-turned immortal swordsman, has sworn to kill a thousand villains to counterbalance the merciless and indiscriminate slaughter that ended with the death of his sister. To this end, he decides to travel with Rin, a young girl who reminds him of the sister he failed. She has sworn to take vengeance on the Itto-ryu, specifically their leader Anotsu; for the Itto-ryu are group of elite swordsmen who killed her parents and raped her mother in front of her. However; being immortal doesn't guarantee victory: Manji's skill and immortality will be tested to their limits...
This was one of the first manga I ever started to read. It's been over a decade since I first picked it up and I still anxiously await the new volume(s) each year. The art is fantastic (the first volume features some amazing two-page spreads where something as violent as a man being quartered turns into birds... not as cheesy as that line makes it sound, I promise!) and I love going back and re-reading the series, seeing how much Samura's art has progressed. There is quite a cast of characters in Blade, and I am the first to admit that I often have a hard time keeping up with a manga that has too many characters. Fortunately, each character in Blade is fully fleshed out, different in art design as well as thoroughly established. I love the way this series jerks you around: at first, everything seems fairly black-and-white in a tale of revenge, but within the first few volumes you already see the main character question her own motives. You learn why the man she's hunting has done what he has done, but his side is presented in such a way that the reader isn't pushed into sympathizing with his cause. There are so many great twists to this manga, and the pacing is great. There has, thus far, been only one arc that I felt was dragged on for too long, but even then, it wasn't nearly enough to deter me from drooling for the next volume. To date, I think this is the only manga I've read that literally made me go "YEA!" out loud as I consumed it because I got so psyched about what was happening. My one complaint? This series comes out very slowly, generally only one volume, sometimes two, each year. Still, it is WELL worth the wait!
What a really great manga!! It starts off as a simple revenge story but of course it becomes much more than that as manji and rin get more and more entangled in this war between the itto-ryu and agents of the shogun. It even goes more into the philosophical sides of revenge saying that its nothing but emptiness and all it does it continues the cycle of hatred. It even dives into the morals of the samurai and shows a clash of beleifs between the itto- ryu and the govenment, unfortunately it sort of neglets this for the most part of the series, its just the last few chapters where it hammers this really hard. One thing I do have to mention is that it really has a tendency to rush into fights without establishing its characters properly, like as soon as a character is introduced they are immediately rushed into a fight, sometimes it does work for the benefit of this manga as the fight scenes are really intense supported by its amazing artwork. The shock factor is a major thing this manga has, characters die in very graphic ways, there's a lot of voilent rape (be weary of a guy named shira, its quite messed up what he does), huge amounts of torture. It also has a part where manji gets experimented on, that was pretty hard to watch and to see the things they did to him. There is a lot of disturbing things this manga does make sure you can stomach it cause its really graphic. Characters themselves are well written (this series has quite a huge cast, unfortunately some of them do get kind of negleted so when they die you really feel nothing) and suprisingly a lot of them develop as the series progresses especially rin. The ending was really nice it sucks that manji and rin didnt get together but it was such a sweet moment where he met her grand-daughter, and we do get a lot of closure on all of the characters (well on who survied, cause most of them kicked the bucket). Now let's talk about the big fish here, the freaking amazing artwork, the sketch like style is done so well, character's faces are very expressive, the absoutely brutal fights and heavy gore, even some pages are completely pencil drawn and it its such a treat to the eyes. Backgrounds don't overshadow the character's they are placed so well, honestly i can just keep going on and on at what the artwork does right (hint...its everything) but you get my point. Its pretty amazing, the writing for the majority of the series is excellent and the absolute god tier artwork is something to behold, this is certainly one of the best manga out there.
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