Blade of the Immortal reread: Volume 2

Continuing the great Blade of the Immortal reread! Last week’s post about volume 1 can be found here.

This is not a recap. There will be heavy spoilers for future events of the manga, possibly including the very ending of Blade of the Immortal. So do not read this if you don’t want to be spoilt. I am using the official German release of the manga. Volume 2 covers chapters 4-8.

Blade of the Immortal #2

In this volume, Manji and Rin run into Eiku Shizuma, an Itto Ryu member who turns out to be immortal like Manji. Shizuma poisons Manji with a rare poison that kills the kessen-chu, making all of Manji’s old wounds open up. Shizuma kidnaps Rin when she tries to find help for Manji, and this leads to a fight to the death! Of course. He is 200 years old, and when he dies, reveals that maybe that’s all he wanted: to finally die. Because living for 200 years and losing everyone you ever cared for … kinda sucks. :(

The chapter ends with a question that articulates a central theme of the manga: What’s worse, to die before you’ve accomplished your goals, or to live forever, knowing you will never accomplish them?

Shizuma argues that Anotsu is mortal and might die before he succeeds with his quest, and that he and Manji – immortals – are the only ones who could see it accomplished. In the first volume, we learnt that Anotsu himself inherited his mission from his grandfather, who couldn’t do it in his lifetime. I believe that later in the manga, Anotsu wonders if he will have to leave the same legacy to his own children or grandchildren.

It is going to be a huge theme in Blade of the Immortal that the children often suffer for their parents’ sins, or sacrifice themselves for their sake. When you think about it, shouldn’t it be the opposite: parents trying to make sure their children have a happy and unburdened life?

Next up is the introduction of Makie. She is probably the strongest fighter in the entire series, and openly acknowledged as such by Anotsu. Makie’s story is also entirely tragic. She doesn’t want to live the life of a warrior, but her only other option seems to be prostitution. The only reason why Manji gets the upper hand in their fight is that Makie wavers between these two lives.

I am not entirely sure what I think of the the way gender is treated in Blade of the Immortal. I don’t think it comes from a malevolent place, but the misery, violence and rape that is often thrown at the female characters feels over the top at times. Then again, a lot of the violent elements in Blade of the Immortal are over the top. It’s the manga’s general style and tone. And it is much too early to try and analyze this.

In fact, since the third volume continues with Makie’s story, I should wait until then to talk about her in-depth as well.

  • For a while, I had Eiku Shizuma and Shira mixed up in my memory.
  • Introducing another immortal character raises the question of what will happen to Manji with the passage of time. It also demonstrates that he can die, in a way. Shizuma is hacked to pieces and buried. That’ll do.
  • Shizuma informs Manji and Rin of Anotsu’s upoming trip to Kaga! Wow, so early. Kaga is a major turning point in the story that completely shakes things up. I did not remember that it was discussed so early in the manga.
  • I’d really love to read more people’s thoughts about Blade of the Immortal. All I ever seem to find is people being wrong about the ending. ;)
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