Blade of the Immortal

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Blade of the Immortal is set in 18th-century Japan and is the story of a young girl named Asano Rin and Manji, her Badass bodyguard. Manji is immortal thanks to an infestation of kessen-chu, sacred worms that pervade his system and knit together any injuries he sustains. He can die only by beheading or by coming into contact with a particularly rare poison. His goal in the series is to remove the curse of his immortality, which will happen if he kills 1000 evil men in reparation for the 100 innocents he killed as an outlaw.

Two years prior to the beginning of the story, Rin's father (a swordsmanship teacher) was murdered and her mother was brutally raped in front of her eyes by the members of the Itto-ryuu -- a renegade sword school led by Anotsu Kagehisa. Rin vowed to track Anotsu down and kill him in revenge, and so she hired Manji to help her fulfill her quest. The series follows Rin and Manji as they travel through feudal Japan, fighting members of the Ittou-ryuu and other enemies, and meeting comrades with questionable morality of their own.

A Samurai epic with vividly realistic art and well-crafted characters, Blade of the Immortal also explores many thoughtful issues relating to death, immortality, revenge, forgiveness, and redemption.

Bee Train studio along with Production I.G produced an anime adaptation, but largely missed the point, turning scruffy, amoral Manji into a boring paladin.

Tropes used in Blade of the Immortal include:
  • Action Girl -- Makie is the best swordfighter in the series, even beating out the main villain and the main character.
    • Doa is also seriously dangerous and even Rin can make a reasonable showing on a good day.
    • Hyakurin also qualifies as one, as she's quite competent with her bow and arrow,.
  • Adrenaline Makeover -- Rin during her search for Manji in volumes 20 and 21.
  • Affably Evil -- Anotsu is quite genteel.
  • Always Save the Girl -- Played straight and gender-swapped between Manji and Rin. Both of them will go to any lengths to protect each other, and Rin actually states that a stranger's life doesn't mean as much to her as Manji's.
  • Always Someone Better -- Makie, particularly in Anotsu's eyes

Anotsu: I already knew... instinctively... that she'd walk ahead of me the rest of my life.

  • Anachronism Stew -- Dialogue ranges from period appropriate to totally modern, the various weapons and techniques range from primitive to steampunk.
  • Anti-Hero -- Manji was a violent thug before starting on his quest (and he hasn't gotten any nicer).
  • Anti-Villain -- Anotsu is trying to reform the art of sword fighting and get rid of the corruption and useless distinctions between factions in that sphere.
  • Appendage Assimilation
  • Authority Equals Asskicking -- Kagimura Habaki, a government official badass enough to rip off his own pierced (with a poisoned hair pin) eye from the socket without barely flinching.
  • Aw, Look -- They Really Do Love Each Other -- Manji and Rin need to get a room at this point.
  • Ax Crazy -- Shira, Shira, Shira.
  • Badass -- Manji, Magatsu, Makie, Anotsu, Giichi...hell, nearly every other fighter in the series.
    • Even Rin has her moments despite being a mediocre fighter.
  • Badass in Distress -- Manji, during the Prison Arc (volumes 20 and 21).
  • Beautiful All Along -- Subversion: Rin tries to pull this off and gets laughed at by Manji.
  • Big Damn Heroes -- All. The. Fragging. Time.
    • Special mention for the 'Last Blood' arc, where this happens three times in a row- first Rin and Anotsu are saved from the Shingyoto-ryu by Manji, then Magatsu shows up and finally Makie intervenes.
  • Bishonen -- Anotsu is remarkably delicate and softly drawn in comparison to the other fighter characters. He himself acknowledges his slender build when explaining his choice of weapon, and other characters call him "pretty."
    • This goes so far as that everyone (including professional government assassins) are willing to believe that Anotsu could sneak around as a woman unnoticed.
  • Blood Knight -- Shira
  • Bodyguard Crush -- Inverted, in that Rin is the one with the crush on Manji, though he eventually falls for her...
  • Boxed Crook -- All of the members of the Mugai-Ryu, as well as most of the Rokki.
  • Broken Bird -- Hyakurin and Makie, before their appearances in the story. As the storyline progresses it's more like "Completely Shattered Bird". Also Rin, and Doa, to some extent, though it's only implied from a few flashbacks.
  • Calling Your Attacks -- "Flight of the Golden Wasps!", which everyone points out how stupid it (and the move itself) is.
  • Chekhov's Gunman -- Did ANYONE manage to predict the return of Renzo?
  • The Chessmaster -- Habaki.
  • Combat Pragmatist -- Pretty much every character that is not a Samurai, and the basis for the philosophy behind the Itto-ryuu school.
  • Cool Old Guy -- Ittoryu veteran Abayama Sosuke, who kicks ass even missing an arm.
  • Covered with Scars: Manji has scars over every inch of his body.
  • Creator Cameo -- the mangaka Hiroaki Samura appears as a pinewheel seller in epsiode 10. He also did key animation for two episodes and provided a scroll painting in the 13th episode of the series.
  • Curb Stomp Battle -- Anytime Makie get serious. Also, in a great Kick the Son of a Bitch moment, Rin VS Burando.
  • Cursed with Awesome -- The Kessen-chu. Manji was originally given them solely to keep him from committing seppuku and leaving Machi alone and his original motive was to get rid of them by killing 1000 evil men. Of course, he would have died in the first volume without them.
  • Dance Battler -- Makie.
  • Dead Little Sister -- Manji's backstory ghost is his culpability in the death of his older sister. He killed her husband, which caused her to snap and revert to a child-like state (and later got killed by one of Manji's enemies). Manji's guilt initially drives him to help Rin, and is what causes Yaobikuni to curse him with the bloodworms in the first place.
    • Incontrovertibly Magatsu's motive, at least before he added a Dead Girlfriend to it.
  • Depraved Bisexual -- Shira, who apparently has no qualms about raping young boys along with women.
  • Driven to Suicide -- Since the story takes place in a feudal japan this happens a lot, most notably in form of Seppuku. However several characters openly criticizes this, especially how common it is in their society.
  • Ear Ache -- Both Giichi and later Anotsu suffer this.
  • Eat the Dog -- What literally happens in one of Shira's Moral Event Horizon moments.
  • The Eeyore -- whatever her choices, Makie always end up depressed.
  • Foot Focus -- There's hardly a page in the manga that does not contain a close-up of someone's bare foot in one of the panels. Partially justified in that being in feudal Japan, everyone seems to be either barefoot or wearing sandals, but it seems a bit excessive, especially considering how difficult they can be to draw. Often in a conversation between characters one of the panels will show the character's feet instead of of his/her face.
  • Foreshadowing -- While dwelling on the atrocities he's committed trying to find a way to transfer Manji's immortality, Dr. Brando mentions that he successfully transfered it to one patient before abandoning the goal entirely. Some twenty chapters later, Shira's not just back from the apparent dead -- he's immortal.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation -- Manji's sister, after her brother kills her husband.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars -- Manji has lost his right eye and has two long parallel scars across his forehead and the bridge of his nose.
    • Of course he has plenty more scars on his body. Heck, there is no way you could guess he is a good guy just by looking at him (and even if you could it is debatable just how good he is actually...)
      • Manji's body is virtually MADE of scars (most obvious when he is poisoned with Kessen-satsu and all his old wounds open up.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal
  • Hannibal Lecture -- Anotsu administers one (including a Not So Different demonstration) to Rin during their first encounter
  • Harmless Lady Disguise -- A plot point revolves around the fact that Anotsu plans on traveling to Kaga undetected by disguising himself as a woman. It's then subverted, as Anotsu turns out to have simply leaked some false information and then hired several prostitutes to pose as his decoys.
  • Heel Face Turn -- Magatsu, the only one of Anotsu's Itto-Ryu henchmen to survive his encounter with Manji and later becomes his ally.
    • Notably, he is the only one of the original group that attacked Rin's parents that is still alive (aside from Anotsu, of course). In a flashback, we see that he tried to convince his companions to leave Rin and her mother alone before finally walking away in disgust, showing that even then he was more of an Anti-Villain.
    • His participating in the ploy to kill Manji makes him more a Heel Face Revolving Door
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl -- Isaku and Doa. Manji and Rin to a less exaggerated degree (see image above).
  • Ill Girl -- Isoka, and Makie later on. Anotsu seems to get involved with these.
  • Important Haircut -- Makie, deliberately making herself worthless as a prostitute.
  • Improbable Weapon User -- The mangaka admits that most of Manji's weapons are of his own design and have no historical precedent
  • Incurable Cough of Death -- Subverted. Makie has an apparently incurable respiratory disease. Fortunately for her, Manji manages to obtain the previously undisclosed mystical cure at (what is evidently) the 24th hour of her illness. What can't this guy do?
  • Instrument of Murder -- Makie conceals her weapon within a shamisen, which she also plays on occasion.
  • Irony -- One of the first of many terrible things we see Shira do is feed Rin the dog she befriended for sick kicks. He meets his end when he is eaten alive by wolves.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold -- Manji, to Rin, in the early stages of their relationship.
  • Katanas Are Just Better -- Averted hard. While some great swordsmen use the vanilla Katana almost every serious threat uses a personal weapon that often have dishonorable or subtle movements to them. Tellingly the greatest fighter in the series uses a combination of a pike and three section staff. The Big Bad (sorta, see Gray and Gray Morality) explicitly chose a Chinese sword and a enormous and deadly axe as his weapons to prove that the Katana is worthless, and has so far succeeded. Particularly when a poor samurai gets a head crushing object lesson on why a thin sliver of metal isn't the best shield against a twenty kilo axe.
  • Kissing Cousins -- Anotsu and Makie are second cousins (grandparents were siblings) and blatantly romantically attached, although their relationship is pretty complicated.
  • Knight Templar -- Habaki. He was certainly obsessed with eliminating the Itto-ryu before, but now that his seppuku is coming closer, the man is obsessed with erasing not only the Ittoryu, but anything and anyone that gets in his way.
  • Lady of War -- Makie is arguably the strongest fighter in the series, is graceful and quick enough to avoid the blood spray from all of her attacks, and is lovely enough to inspire Rin to jealousy.
    • Arguably? Anotsu has said she's the greatest swordsman alive at least twice, and the only one who could defeat him.
  • Let's Get Dangerous -- Take her Manji away, and the adorable, averagely-strong Rin becomes a force of destruction against anything standing between herself and her man.
  • Limited Wardrobe -- Manji's trademark black-and-white sauwastika kimono. Lampshaded in chapter 141, where Rin is utterly flabbergasted to learn that they're actually sold in stores -- she'd always thought he'd sewn them himself.
  • Little Miss Badass -- Doa, who is a bit older than usual but still has the body type.
  • Mad Scientist -- Burando, or more precisely a Mad Doctor
  • Market-Based Title -- You know how successful the title change is when even the hardcore otaku doesn't refer the series as Mugen no Juunin (Inhabitant of Infinity), which is the original title.
    • Success that passed over to other coutries as well, A Lamina do Imortal in Brazil, La Espada del Inmortal in Spain and Miecz nieśmiertelnego in Poland are direct translations of Blade of the Immortal; the German version doesn't even bother with a translation and goes with the English title. It seems only France has taken up the original Japanese title with L'Habitant de L'Infini
  • Mistaken Identity -- Manji is introduced to the Rokki when, thanks to sharing similar Distinguishing Marks with their target, they mistake him for Itto-Ryu member Sukezane Baro.
  • My God, What Have I Done? -- Burando again.
  • Names to Know in Anime -- For all of its flaws, the anime had a rather stellar voice cast. Some of the seiyuu are: Rina Satou (Rin), Tomokazu Seki (Manji), Hirofumi Nojima (Anotsu), Mamiko Noto (Makie), Shinichiro Miki (Shira), Kazuya Nakai (Magatsu), Megumi Toyoguchi (Hyakurin)
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed / Musical Theme Naming / Named After Somebody Famous -- The villains in the first volume are named Gyobutsu Johnny (Johnny Rotten), Shido Hishiyasu (Sid Vicious) and Kuroi Sabato (Black Sabbath). Doubles as Shout-Out given Hiroaki Samura's taste for these bands.
  • No Swastikas -- Subversion: The name Manji refers to the Japanese symbol that looks like a backwards "swastika" or sauvastika. He wears the symbol on his back, which is one of the reasons they didn't "reverse the art" in the US publication.
    • In the German version they had to remove the symbol on Manji's back and made it a simple cross, since it's forbidden in Germany to show it anywhere, despite the fact that the story takes place centuries before the rise of the Nazis. For comparison
      • This has actually gotten to the point where Dark Horse Comics put a disclaimer on the inside cover of the book stating the difference between Manji's Buddhist insignia, and the German Swastika.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You -- Rin's current stance on the subject of revenge against Anotsu
  • Perma-Stubble -- Literally with Manji, as his condition makes him unable to either shave it off or turn it into a proper beard.
  • Pet the Dog -- Ironically while being eaten by dogs, Shira tells Renzo to stop the Cycle of Revenge, though it's mainly due to the fact that it's nearly impossible to kill Manji. "--And don't ever listen to men like me!"
  • Playing with Syringes -- human experiments on immortality.
  • Plucky Girl -- Rin isn't strong, but she just won't give up.
  • Pregnant Badass -- Hyakurin, after her rape in "Beasts".
  • Psycho for Hire -- Shira, oh my God, Shira.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits -- The Itto-ryu is a villainous example of democracy at its finest. The only criterion to join is strength: men, women, commoners, foreigners, thieves, rapists, people over two-hundred years old, people with three heads, anyone is welcome! The Mugai-ryu is a less extreme (but more dramatic) example.
  • Reluctant Warrior -- Makie. Her mother taught her that being a prostitute is better than killing people. You can rest assured that when she gracefully kills you, she will look very, very sad.
  • Revenge -- Deconstructed, as Rin and Anotsu begin to develop a much more complex relationship than that of "avenger" and "avengee".
    • Shira's last words to Renzo are to stop seeking revenge on Manji because it's impossible. Renzo finds him anyway, but Rin offers to let him cut off her feet instead since Manji is unconscious. Magatsu intervenes and tells Renzo to learn more about his father and the Itto-ryu and decide for himself.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: Rin when Manji is captured by the shogunate.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • Shira tries to invoke one on Manji in chapter 169. [[spoiler:He has tied Rin to the underside of a dock in frigid water. When Manji tries to cut her loose, she sinks to the bottom of the lake and he find out too late that her feet are tied to a stone with knots too tight and complex to be undone with one arm (as Manji has lost one). Furthermore, Shira has confiscated all of Manji's weapons so that cutting Rin loose is not an option. And last but not least, the water is so cold that even Manji's immortal body can't stand up to it (cold, heat and drowning are explicitly stated to be things that immortality does squat against. So, in summation, Shira has created a situation in which Manji has to either try futilely to save Rin's life (only for them both to drown) or realize that it's hopeless and willingly allow the most important person to die in order to save himself. Shira wins either way, but he'd be especially happy to see Manji abandon her and then come back to kill Shira himself in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.]]
  • Sanity Slippage -- Burando, who starts out as an idealistic (if immoral) doctor who actually believes that subjecting inmates to horrific experiments will bring progress. After he is locked away, he comes back... different (still a hypocrite, though).
  • Scenery Porn --
  • Serrated Blade of Pain -- Shira possesses a large cleaver-like sword with barbs, which he usually uses to maim, shred and sometimes rape his (frequently female) opponents.
  • Sins of Our Fathers -- Rin wants revenge on Anotsu for killing her father, whoose grandfather expelled Anotsu's grandfather from his school, while promoting his own son -- Rin's grandfather -- which is why Anotsu killed Rin's father in the first place.
  • Stalker with a Crush -- Kuroi Sabato for Rin, and presumably other women in the past.
  • The Stoic -- Giichi, until his son dies and he is "released" from the Mugai-ryu, after which he finds no reason to live anymore. Interestingly, his eyes were never shown before this.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork -- Manji and Rin join forces with various members of the Itto-ryu fairly often, and how "teeth clenching" their relationships are varies.
  • Took a Level in Badass -- Rin, during the Prison Arc. Her attack "Flight of the Golden Wasps" is even useful for once!
  • Unknown Rival -- Rin to Anotsu, at least at the beginning.
  • Waif Fu -- Makie, Doa, Ryo, Meguro. Rin's getting there.
    • Unusually, it's actually explained that in order for them to attack effectively they need to learn to utilise their body weight, since they don't have the sheer physical strength needed to inflict damage on opponents (usually bigger and heftier than they are) otherwise.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist -- Burando. He does it all for common good, right?
  • Who Wants to Live Forever? -- While several people do, Manji is not one of them, when the story starts he's bored of life and laments the fact that confidence immortal body is causing his sword skills to slip.
    • Eiku Shizuma initially seems like a subversion (wants to rule world) but lets Manji defeat him when he realizes how bored he's getting.
  • World of Badass -- Well, it is feudal Japan, after all.
  • Your Days Are Numbered -- In the aftermath of the Prison Arc, Habaki has been given a month to settle his affairs before he must commit seppuku. Additionally, Makie seems to have contracted tuberculosis in more recent chapters.