Blade of the Immortal Reread: Volume 7

Like I said last week, I want to pick this project back up, with the goal to keep going until volume 13 or so. We’ll see how it goes. But with the upcoming Blade of the Immortal live-action movie, I need to freshen up on the story – and we’re now getting into an arc that I really love. As usual, these reread posts contain spoilers, potentially of the entire manga, so you should tread carefully if you haven’t finished the series yet. Let’s dive in.

Blade of the Immortal Vol. 7

Last we saw Rin and Manji, they had teamed up with Mugai Ryu in an attempt to catch Anotsu before he could leave the city and travel to Kaga, where he had business. Everything went downhill when they not only fell for an elaborate diversion, but also when Mugai Ryu member Shira turned out to be a psychopathic scumbag … Ugh, Shira.

When the seventh volume picks up, Rin is still recovering, and Manji declares their cooperation with Mugai Ryu to be officially over. He thinks that it’ll be best to give up on the plan to follow Anotsu to Kaga, too, since he (Manji) couldn’t get past the checkpoint anyway. Rin seemingly agrees … but secretly decides to ditch Manji and go on alone. When Manji finds her gone the next morning, he’s understandably angry and turns to Hyakurin for help. He thinks Rin will get herself killed and wants to catch up with her asap. Hyakurin presents Manji with a new plan, a way to get Manji a permit for the checkpoint: Their spy is going to fake a letter from Anotsu, asking Itto Ryu to send one of their men to Kaga; Manji just has to intercept this guy, kill him and steal his permit. Fool-proof! Except that Abayama, who’s running things in Anotsu’s absence, is totally onto the fact that there’s a spy (run, Makoto, run!) and sneakily sends three men instead of one. Manji has a lot of trouble with that fight, and by the end of the volume, he’s only managed to kill two of them and is facing off against the third, heavily injured – and that’s the cliffhanger.

OK, having covered Manji’s storyline, I can now focus on what’s really important: Rin’s story. Rin’s entire plan comes crashing down on her pretty quickly when she discovers that both Manji and she are wanted for murder – dead or alive. Goddamn Shira must have accused them. With her face on wanted posters everywhere, Rin obviously can’t get through the checkpoint like a normal person. But she doesn’t give up. She learns of a secret trick: turns out that there is a nearby village that supplies the checkpoint with foodstuffs. The inhabitants are well-known there and enjoy a certain level of trust – so some people from the village have been running a sort of side business where they pass off travellers (criminals, fugitives, you know) as relatives in order to smuggle them past the checkpoint. Rin travels to this village and asks a husband and wife (who are innkeepers) for help. But they have actually sworn off this business since a failed attempt to smuggle a young girl – a runaway prostitute – across. She was discovered and executed on the spot. Rin convinces them that her case is different by showing them the wanted poster .. She has nothing to lose! Dun dun duuuuun.

Gosh, I really need to learn to give briefer recaps. Anyway, I know that a lot of people like Blade of the Immortal for the action scenes and for Manji being cool and ~bad-ass~. But when Manji and Rin are split up – and they’ll be split up for a while – I always find myself more interested in her adventures than in his. And I think a part of it is that Rin cannot rely on brute force and must try to find different solutions, which just makes for more diverse plots. When Manji is around, you kind of know and expect that whatever the situation is, it will be resolved with a fight. Without Manji, that pattern is broken up, and Rin’s intelligence and determination are on display. I mean – yeah, Rin is still rather immature, often awkward, uncertain and she makes a lot of mistakes along the way. But I still like seeing her try, and pull off stuff like this. Rin isn’t just the damsel in distress, to be saved by Manji, she’s the hero of her own story. Despite being a teenage girl who sucks at fighting in a gritty seinen story shock-full of super-strong swordfighters! And the Kaga arc is really going to show this. And take her story … interesting places.

 

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