Onwards and onwards with the Grand Blade of the Immortal Reread. Volume 8 covers chapters 41 to 47, but as usual there might be spoilers beyond that point, I’m like that. The previous post was way too much of a summary instead of a commentary, but this one will be different, I promise! :D Proceed behind the cut.
The 8th volume of Blade of the Immortal splits itself between three separate storylines, each focusing on a main character:
We pick up where we left off at the end of the previous volume, with Manji fighting three Itto Ryu members in order to steal one of their passports. In the end, Manji is beat up and cut up pretty badly, but is saved by Hyakurin and Shinriji. And that’s when Hyakurin learns that Manji is immortal. Sometimes I forget that not everyone knows this. :3 Oh, and who else arrives? Sori!!! Sori is such a fun character because he’s completely peripheral, but he sort of knows everything and everyone. Case in point: he recognizes Hyakurin, but upon seeing her discomfort, chooses to pretend they’re strangers. Sori promises to take care of Manji, who is not quite alive at that point, I guess. Well, actually, we leave him when he’s trying to remember Manji’s name, which is exactly why Sori is funny! He’s this genius swordsman with connections everywhere – but he doesn’t care. He just paints his pictures and can’t even bother remembering the main character’s name.
But this volume actualy belongs to Rin! While Manji is getting himself beaten up, she gets past the checkpoint – with a daring ploy. Rin passes herself off as a relative of the Nakayas, a couple who runs a nearby inn. The problem is that the Nakayas were already caught once trying to sneak a girl past the checkpoint, so they are under extra-scrutiny, and the … checkpoint dude … has a huge file with detailed information about all their family members! Luckily, Rin was able to cram the real Saya’s entire life story into her head – and she delivers a great performance, too!
It’s a remarkably tense scene, considering that it’s “just” an interrogation. It’s just people talking in a room – but the back and forth between Rin and her interrogator also reveals the life of the actual Saya, and even if it’s filtered through Rin’s interpretation … in the end, when her interrogator tells Rin that she’s a remarkable woman, you’re not entirely sure how much of this compliment is meant for Rin and how much of it is meant for Saya.
There is an earlier scene when Rin explains her duty towards those who’ve helped her, or who’ve been hurt because of her quest. That she owes it to them to carry out her vengeance and kill Anotsu by her own hand … Sometimes, Rin is so strong – and I do think she is genuinely strong in many aspects. But it’s one thing to talk about your badass revenge and your duty and mission and stuff like this, and another thing entirely to live up to this idea on a day-to-day basis. Rin is still young and quite naive, so she often falls short of her own expectations, fucks up, doubts herself, grapples with the point and purpose of vengeance … But it’s when she’s on her own (or just separated from Manji) that she reveals what she’s capable of. There is more of this to come.
While Manji is recovering from his injuries, while Rin is masterfully embodying a fake identity, Kagehisa Anotsu has arrived in Kaga! Before he reaches the dojo of his destination, Anotsu has a chance encounter with Hisoka, a quiet and enigmatic young woman. It’s one of those instantly-iconic scenes, kind of. Hisoka sitting on a large boulder in the forest … an image that immediately communicates her to be unique, maybe even ethereal. When Anotsu arrives at the Ibane-Shinanjo dojo, the master is absent, so he encounters a bunch of grumpy students who aren’t exactly enthusiastic about the planned merger with Itto Ryu. Anotsu is challenged to a duel by one of the students’, Iriya. Not that this is a problem for him. Oh, and of course Hisoka turns out to be the daughter of Ibane! Plot thickens. It’s mostly just set-up for the stuff to come.
- Yeah, of these three POV characters and parallel storylines, Manji’s easily the least interesting to me – sorry, Manji, no hard feelings and I promise this’ll change. But Rin just got the most engaging story – despite (or because?) there was no action scene whatsoever. As for Anotsu, having him as a POV character is still a novelty,
- If the real Saya ever wants to visit her sister and pass the checkpoint for whatever reason … things might get awkward.
- I had read Hunter X Hunter before Blade of the Immortal, and I had some trouble accepting that there was a person called Hisoka, and it wasn’t a murderous clown …