Blade of the Immortal reread: Volume 6

And on with the Blade of the Immortal reread!

Not a recap, not free of spoilers for future events in the manga. Do not read this if you don’t want to be spoilt. I am using the official German release of the manga. Volume 6 covers chapters 25 to 31.

Blade of the Immortal #6

In this volume, Manji and Rin team up with Mugai Ryu in order to catch and kill Anotsu, who is going to leave Edo to travel to Kaga. Thanks to their spy, Mugai Ryu know that Anotsu is going to be disguised as a woman. Or is he? Anyway, Rin and Manji are teamed up with Shira, and spend some time watching for any sign of Anotsu … Of course Manji is out for a pee break when Rin and Shira notice a lone woman in a crowd, carrying what looks suspiciously like Anotsu’s axe. And so Shira and Rin follow the mystery person without Manji. It turns out that the whole “disguised as a woman” thing was a ploy meant to suss out the spy. The woman was just a  decoy, and two Itto Ryu members promptly show up to take care of the would-be assassins.

Now here we go. Shira in action. =_= Rin’s amazement at his fighting prowess quickly turns into horror as she realizes that Shira does not just kill his opponents, but kills them as slowly and painfully as possible. When he finally turns on the woman – hacking off a foot, intending to rape her – Rin tries to stop him. She’s finally decided that it does not matter if Shira is an ally against Itto Ryu or not, he’s exactly the kind of scumbag that she hates. Right on, Rin! At this point, Manji shows up and takes Shira by surprise, cutting off his right hand. Shira escapes and when I first read this chapter, many years ago, I thought this would be the last we saw of Shira, that he would die of infection or something, or at least never be able to fight again, that he wouldn’t be a danger to anybody anymore. Ha ha ha … D: But the thing with Shira is that he returns and returns and only gets worse and worse.

While the other Mugai Ryu members, Hyakurin, Giichi and Shinriji, are sympathetic characters, Shira is simply a monster. He is as bad as the worst Itto Ryu, and much worse than many of them. I like that this storyline showed that truly evil characters can be found on either side of the conflict. And that just because he’s technically on Rin’s side doesn’t mean that Shira’s psychopathy should be tolerated.

Further notes:

  • It’s nice to see Rin bond with Hyakurin, and ask the (unnamed I think?) prostitute about tips for getting past the checkpoints. This entire volume is relatively peaceful and quiet up until the moment  when it explodes into Shira-related bloodiness. It’s very effective.
  • I swear, during my first readthrough, I still hadn’t figured out at this point that Makoto was the spy. It’s so obvious, isn’t it?
  • Meanwhile, Magatsu hears of O-Ren’s death and is given a sketch of Shira’s clothes. This sets up Magatsu’s revenge quest and thus one of my favourite storylines. *claps hands excitedly*
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