Blade of the Immortal Reread: Volume 11

Yes, it has been a while since my last Blade of the Immortal post. I have been in a general motivation slump! D: This isn’t the fault of Blade of the Immortal, though. I am actually really, really fond of this part of the manga. I mean, this volume has it all: action! romance! bromance! and a beautiful cover artwork of Perfect Human Being Taito Magatsu.

This volume includes chapters 60 to 67, but I will referene future events, so beware of spoilers for the entire series!

I think that one of the reasons why I am having trouble articulating my thoughts and feels this time around is because of this one-post-per-volume format I’ve foolishly chosen. The 11th volume ends on a cliffhanger, and knowing what happens next, it’s hard for me to really take a break and discuss strictly this volume.

After all, it’s one of the most pivotal twists in the series: After a period of relative calm and quiet, of introspection and even romance, Anotsu is suddenly betrayed and becomes hunted. And that’s the situation Rin stumbles into. It’s a great moment with some truly unexpected results!

By the way, this is so typically Rin. She made it to Kaga all by herself, and she even found Anotsu (if by sheer dumb luck). But she’s completely unprepared for the confrontation, and finds herself in the middle of a complicated situation that she has no way of understanding. I guess it doesn’t help that Anotsu isn’t a bad guy. He stopped to help Rin after she collapsed on the road to Kaga. Maybe Rin would find it easier to stick to her convictions if Anotsu was more of an asshole.

I really like Anotsu’s interactions with Hisoka this volume. There’s some real connection between them, probably because they are both tragically doomed, overly serious kids weighted down by legacy … Hisoka’s time in Blade of the Immortal is short, but she has some memorable scenes!

I’m doing a really odd kind of “recap” here, beause I’m actually going backwards, from the cliffhanger at the end of the manga, to the Anotsu plot in the second half … and now I’ll finally talk about the most important part: Magatsu’s fight against Shira.

I say “most important part” because I loooooooooove Magatsu. As for Shira … Hmm. I’ve passionately hated Shira all throughout Blade of the Immortal, mostly because I was worried about him hurting characters I liked (Magatsu, for example). In retrospect knowing that he ends up dying in a very satisfying way, without killing anyone I care about I can sort of … appreciate him as a character. In many ways, Shira is exactly the sort of villain that this manga needed: someone so awful and vile that all the other characters can put aside their differences and unite against him. Without Shira, there wouldn’t have been any reason for Manji and Magatsu to join forces, either, and we’d have missed out on some fun squabbling! :D

Anyway, Magatsu fights Shira, and he wins. But he wins Magatsu-style: totally beaten up. Seriously. I still can’t believe that this kid actually survived this manga!!! XD In the end, Magatsu cuts off Shira’s second arm, and Shira falls down a waterfall. And he should have died. Damn it. That’s still a thing I’m oddly bitter about, because the upcoming “Shira is alive!” reveal falls into a story arc that I wasn’t exactly enjoying, so it was misery all around … XD

Hmmm.

Come to think of it, if there is one thing the two storylines in this volume have in common, it’s that they are about tragic romantic relationships that end before they even get going: Anotsu and Hisoka, and Magatsu and O-Ren, whose murder he is avenging. I find it fascinating that of all the major Blade of the Immortal characters, Magatsu is the only one without an apparent sex drive. He had a chaste long-term relationship with a prostitute, and I don’t think it’s ever really specified why that is. Maybe Magatsu is just asexual, maybe he has issues with intimacy, maybe he didn’t want to take advantage of O-Ren, maybe it has to do with his sister’s death … Whatever the reasons, the relationship between Magatsu and O-Ren was unusually sweet and innocent. Then Shira happened, and in this fight, Magatsu and Shira are natural foils, almost polar opposites.

Random thoughts:

  • I love poking fun of Magatsu for getting injured all the damn time. I love even more that the manga, or Manji specifically, pokes fun of it, too.
  • It’s kind of funny to write about a character named Hisoka and not mean the psychopathic killer clown from Hunter X Hunter. This Hisoka is … really different.
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