Posted by psgels on 29 December 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews, Blade of the Immortal


Blade of the Immortal is Bee-Train’s latest series, based on the rumoured excellent manga of the same name. It’s a series that’s definitely not for everyone, especially fans of the manga who are hoping to see a faithful adaptation, neither is it for those who have a very slim taste in music. However, if you’re looking for a number of well-coordinated fights and engaging characters, then you’re at the right address.

The series basically follows an immortal samurai (Manji), helping a weak but determined young girl (Rin) in exacting revenge on the death of her parents. What makes this series especially worth watching is the growth of Rin, as she questions what it means to take revenge, and whether it’s going to be worth it, and what her purpose is if she just keeps going to be rescued by Manji. In only 13 episodes, she grows into a strong character, despite her weak physique. Manji himself doesn’t exactly grow too much, but instead the creators manage to flesh him out really well in a relatively short amount of time, and he becomes a fun and interesting character to watch.

Fights also form a large part in this series, and for those who were afraid that Bee-Train has lost the ability to create good action-scenes, this series is there to prove them wrong. It’s daring, but the creators decided to go for an experimental animation style for the battles. The characters look fairly normal, and the animation budget isn’t particularly high either, but the series is full of interesting and creative camera-angles and poses. Overall, it’s a really nicely choreographed series.

But the biggest experimental feature of this series is the music. Bee-Train was already know as the studio with awesome music, but they carry that even further with this series: the soundtrack is unlike anything ever heard in an anime series. Kou Otani managed to produce an incredibly varied piece of work that feels incredibly random, yet somehow works. It’s a soundtrack you’ll either love or hate.

The biggest weakness of this series? It’s too damn short! The series ends just at the point where the series is done warming up, and there’s so much potential left in it that it would be a huge shame not to have some sort of second season. Blade of the Immortal is an excellent horror-series that may not be really faithful to the original manga, but nevertheless managed to create an excellent atmosphere.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 8/10

16 Responses

  1. Avatar karry says:

    “for those who were afraid that Bee-Train has lost the ability to create good action-scenes, this series is there to prove them wrong. ”

    Well, no, it proves only your lack of taste.

  2. Avatar DmonHiro says:

    Conngrats, Bee-Train, you butchered Another great manga. After GONZO goes bankrupt, I hope you are next.

  3. Avatar DmonHiro says:

    BTW: Soul Eater, episode 28, Fate/Stay Night, episode 14. THOSE are well coordinated fights. Not the snooze, wierd camera angled, “fights” in this.

  4. Avatar goody says:

    fact is, the anime IS faithful to the manga, as far as the storyline is concerned. But it’s so poorly realized there’s no point in following it. You really must HATE mangas to prefer watching this pile of horse-shit instead of the awesome manga.

    anyway, i think they’ll continue it sometimes in the future. As of now, the manga is in its final stages. But with 13 episodes it barely covered the first 5 vols, so it’s gonna be 13*3 more episodes AT THE LEAST if they wanna do the entire manga storyline justice.
    i agree that this isn’t an ending, more like a trailer for the next part of the manga (which is probably the best in the entire manga).
    Anyway, i can only hope the remaining part of the story will pass to another, more gifted, animation studio.

  5. Avatar Shirachi says:

    @karry: Someone’s a little bitter.

  6. Avatar Anca says:

    I can see where the bee-train bashers are coming from, being a fan of the Tsubasa manga…

    But not having read and not intending to read Blade of the Immortal, I find the anime amazing. Without the classy camera shots, Bee-Train’s typical characterisation and the music… it just seems a dull concept to me. In fact, if you look at it objectively and ignoring the prejudice, it’s one of the best series that aired lately.

    Bee-Train are really a good studio. Sure, they have their misses, but everyone does. Sure, the don’t adapt manga as well as we would want them to, but others don’t as well. Most of my favourite manga have been ‘butchered’ by their anime counterpart, and it wasn’t always Bee-Train.The adaptations are very, very rarely as good as the original.

  7. Avatar tzhuge says:

    I haven’t watched the series (except a few min), but I am a big fan of the manga. It seems to me that appeal of the manga is very much tied to the medium. The art is ridiculous, and there is something very special about the panels of details. The mangaka has classical art training and it really shows, specifically in the pencil ‘special attack’ pages. That just does not translate well to animation, so I think the best thing to do for an adaptation is to do something different.
    Also, strip the manga of the art, and there is not a whole lot there. The entire plot can be summarized to a few paragraphs, and there are a lot of throw-away characters. Over time, the series has built up a substantial cast of fleshed out and dynamic recurring characters, but I think a lot of that happens after the events in this anime. There’s also shades of a more substantial story with the Ittou Ryou now that Rin and Manji are off the warpath, but again that’s after the events covered by this anime. I think it’s clearly a case of the mangaka growing in ability over the course of a manga.What I’m trying to get at is that some people perhaps have unrealistic expectations of what an anime based on Boti can be (and specifically one that only covers the early volumes).

  8. Avatar goody says:

    sure, the beginning in boti is quite simple, no one said otherwise. But it’s strenght are undeniable. It’s possibly the best modern revenge flick (excluding Lone Wolf and Cub) that’s ever come out of Japan, almost certainly the most complete (Rin’s pov shifts so many times during the manga…. XD).

    Besides, this first part is fundamental to question the ethics of revenge, because later it will become more character driven and not themes driven. That’s why i said they’ve done a bad job….. simply because it’s so…. well…. dull! They cut a lot of dialogue, lessening the impact of characterization(making manji seem a stuck-up prude in the process! and wasting time showing Giichi, Hyakurin, Shiira & co when not needed….), you said “classy camera angles”, then i say “copied from the manga camera angles”, ’cause beetrain isn’t really inventing anything on their own….. they’re doing, basically, a step by step conversion of the manga, but without the flair an anime can and SHOULD add (see Kurozuka anime for example, in comparison to its own manga). BotI manga, as you said, is very much tied to its own medium, stretching the boundaries of what can be shown on a page and HOW. The anime…… is a dull and plain version of this.
    sure, the characterization remains, the storyline starts slow (exactly like in the manga), but it’s the way it’s put to screen that really brings it down.

  9. Avatar Gargamuza says:

    *Bee Train hate post*

    Blade of the Immortal anime sucks, it sucks as an adaptation, and it would suck even if it didn’t ruin an awesome manga.

    It boggles my mind how you can like Bee Train, really. I could expect it from some random weeaboo with terrible taste, but you actually seem to like good anime too. It’s a mistery.

  10. Avatar windy says:

    It was a particularly good anime, though I couldn’t find subs after ep 8. But it seems there’ll be another season cause it’s not finished at all, we don’t know what’s going to happen to all the chrters the characters and it ends right by one sentence of Manji, far from being enough but I must say I wasn’t thrilled at watching it till about a good half of the series ( pb of subs most likely)but then I grew to like it more and more , I and loved the last three episodes, they were awesome in many ways, and just when start loving this show it ends, quite ironical! I cross my fingers for a second season to come soon! It needs it ! Besides, Vampire Knight was obviously unfinished in the 1st season, and they made the 2nd one so there shoud be no doubt. Interesting characters and good plot centered on the two lead chrters: a good series to enter the worlds of samourai, actually it has some similarities with samourai gun, because it’s the same period I guess.

  11. Avatar klo says:

    Just to clarify it, Bee Train IT’S NOT A GOOD STUDIO. I know a lot of people liked the .hack series, Madlax or Noir but seriously how can people confused boring dialog and animation with “slow” character development and storytelling?? It’s not the same and it’s just pretentious… Mushi-shi it’s a slow series with philosophical themes, .Hack//Sign it’s just stupid teen angst. Also, they have the most poorly edited and directed animes out there next to Gonzo, they’re ALL THE SAME: terrible camara angles and an even worst musical timing, and let’s not forget Ali Project the recurrent Bee Train band who can only sing the same song over and over…. my God, I really hate this studio…

  12. psgels psgels says:

    Klo: you’re of course entitled to your opinion on Bee-Train, even if I completely disagree with it, but let me ask you a few things regarding that ALI Project comment you made:

    – Have you even heard the .Hack//Roots soundtrack? If not, then go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vokOclT7lAQ and tell me what part of this song sounds like the typical ALI Project sound.
    – The ALI Project only worked for three of Bee-Train’s series. The rest was done by other composers. Even this series didn’t have anything to do with them.

  13. Avatar panther says:

    I like the series (and will not read the manga). I think you have to appreciate how blunt and direct it is without feeling obtuse or like it is really cutting corners and too 2 dimensional , I do find Rin a bit annoying sometimes (who I think is 16 not 14 since 2 years passed since she was 14 right?) but she is just a kid. The pacing is really odd, the way the episodes unfold, how unclimatic the fights can be without being bad. And though it might be seen as bloody or graphic it’s not like it goes out of its way to show you, like Claymore, or you know like Akira (not dissing those just making a point). The series is a bit funny in its own dark way (like Manji carrying his foot in his robe, Rin trying to be sexy, or how they go ask to one guy just say your sorry and its all good, and he just basically goes no way I AM EVIL, I just happen not to suck at being a dad KILL ME, boy your dad sucks because he cheated me so I killed him, cuz I’m just like that). Worst thing about is the short run and some lackluster action, best thing is how Manji is just a reckless thug but not a complete idiot and how Rin is a damsel in distress but not a hopeless bimbo and endearing in how conflicted she is but it doesn’t bombard you with flashbacks or mundane emo repetitive “THIS IS MY RESOLVE” dialogue (making fun of Ichigo in Bleach). Worth an 8 I think.

  14. Avatar Aza says:

    I just found out it existed in DVD form and ordered it…i’ve got fairly high hopes, I need something else like Samurai Champloo and the manga is freaking amazing – REALLY well done, next im gonna pick up Uzumaki (the film sucks)

    and I’ve just got Ikigami and thats pretty good but on the animation front there seems to be a lull as far as good action goes….(any times?)

    – I need to finish my spawn series collection but the last part is over £20 and I just can’t justify that for like 3-4 episodes…as it goes this was less than £10 delivered and thats sweet for me, even if it doesn’t do the manga justice…I do already hope to see more…

    Oh and I don’t know if anyone saw Heat Guy J but that was really, really awful..lol…as was .hack, didnt need to see much o’ that to see how shit that was…

    any tips for whats actually good out there?

  15. Avatar luke says:

    why only 13 episodes just gettin good whens the next season coming out

  16. Avatar KeiDub says:

    If you pay attention those “interesting” angles that people like to bash on so much are actually straight copies of the panels in the book. A good 3/4 of this show is basically ripped straight from the books, as for the rest…well, there are parts in the book that really arent fit for TV, and if it were to stay completely true the manga those 13 episodes prolly would have only been able to cover the first couple books.

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