It’s time for the Blade of the Immortal reread!
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 4 covers chapters 14-19, but I’ll talk about chapter 20 as well because it concludes the arc.
Blade of the immortal #4
The volume opens with Rin and Manji visiting a festival. Rin has been in a somber mood ever since her encounter with Anotsu, and is hoping that relaxing in a light-hearted environment will dispel some of her doubts about her mission. Not so much! Not only does it bring back memories of happier times with her family, but she also encounters one of the Itto Ryu members who were involved in the attack two years earlier, Araya Kawakami. In a flashback, we learn that he pretty much led the others in the rape of Rin’s mother, while Magatsu tried to stop it and finally left in frustration/disgust.
In the present, however, Rin’s revenge quest is complicated by the fact that Kawakami has since quit Itto Ryu in order to take care of his son, Renzo, who knows nothing of his father’s past. Araya is ready to kill Rin to keep Renzo from learning the truth, while Rin is hesitant to kill Araya because it would mean putting Renzo through the same pain and hatred that she’s been experiencing following her parents’ murder. She does not want Renzo to go through what she’s been going through. And so everyone lies to Renzo!
Even though his father sends him away on a pretext so Renzo doesn’t witness any killing, the kid returns exactly in time to see Manji stab his dad through the heart.
This is actually the end of this volume, but I don’t think it makes sense to end the blog post here, so I’ll talk about the wrap-up in volume 5: Manji makes Renzo think he’s just some low-life getting back at Araya over unpaid debts, and lets himself get “killed” by Renzo. Faking Manji’s death in order to let Renzo think he has avenged his father and can move on with his life? Well, it’s not a bad idea per se, and it seems to work. Buuuuut this is a reread and I know it won’t stick.
And Renzo’s later story illustrates very clearly that you cannot protect someone by keeping important information from them. The truth would have ben painful, of course, but it would have enabled him to make informed decisions instead of getting manipulated by Blade of the Immortal’s worst psychopath …
Still, it’s great to see Rin so conscious of the fact that her quest for vengeance has the potential to hurt others, ruin their lives just as hers has been ruined, and make them want revenge against her. Which would be just as emotionally justified as her own hatred of Anotsu. It’s a vicious circle and Rin at least tries to break it.
- Kawakami is another artist, but obviously way more evil than Sori. Who’s the better parent, I wonder?
- Of course this is a reread and I know what will happen later, so it is easy in hindsight to say that Rin and Manji are making a mistake with Renzo. When I first read the manga, I never thought there would be negative consequences. I didn’t think Renzo would show up again. I thought he’d move on and live a normal life …
- Magatsu’s flashback apparance establishes him as a relatively good person with actual morals. Good for you, Magatsu, good for you.
- Poor little Renzo …
- I’m soooo out of the loop, but they are really doing a Blade of the Immortal live-action movie soon/now-ish. HMMMM. I am curious how much ground they plan to cover and what changes they’ll make to give the movie a good arc. The beginning of Blade of the Immortal is relatively episodic and probably hard to adapt…? We will see.
- Volume 5 is going to introduce so many new and important plots and characters, it makes me think of volumes 1-4 as a kind of prelude.
- I’ve seen people complain that this volume contains too much philosophical talk, but I can’t see how that’s a flaw at all.