Mugen no Juunin: Immortal 09 – The Gathering

It was fairly inevitable that our pair of protagonists would end up separated at some point, and that time has finally come. Unfortunately, the breakneck pace of this adaptation made the nature of their separation somewhat less clear. All we got here was single line from Manji about how Rin is the only one that can cross the gate, which almost sounds like a suggestion on his part. But as Rin leaving in the middle of the night while leaving behind a note hints at, she actually did this without Manji’s consent, effectively putting a premature end to their contract after deciding to continue to pursue her revenge on her own. How Manji will respond to this remains to be seen.

Rin has both practical and emotional reasons for doing this. Initially she thought only Manji was a wanted person, but as she soon found out, thanks to the spiteful Shira, she now has a price on her head as well. But nevertheless, she still has a much better chance to get through the gate on her own by disguising herself, which Manji would have a much harder time doing with his easily recognizable scars.

But just as important to her decision were Rin’s feelings and the conversation she had with Hyakurin in the previous episode, which made it clear she is feeling guilty for all the suffering Manji has to endure for the sake of her own quest for revenge, especially since she can’t do much to support him in battle. Not only that, Hyakurin told the young girl that she’ll never grow stronger herself if she keeps relying on Manji to protect her all the time. Basically, it was the perfect storm of circumstances, and the result is that our heroes are now separated at last.

As a result, we got essentially a Rin solo episode, which will hopefully please those that were craving for her to accomplish more on her own, without Manji’s help. What she did in this story was mighty impressive, and yet, at the same time, I can’t help but find it rather tragic that she feels she must go as far as mutilating her body and endure that terrible pain all for the sake of something that might bring her some closure, but which is difficult to imagine will make her that much happier. It is the fundamental question behind all stories of revenge – is it really worth it, and worth everything one must sacrifice in its pursuit?

The crux of Blade of the Immortal is that Rin’s kind nature makes her uniquely unsuited for such a quest, and yet, she was left so traumatized by the harrowing events of that fateful night that she feels she can’t move on with her life until she settles things with Anotsu Kagehisa. She’s had a lot of hiccups and moments of hesitation along the way, but it’s hard to question her resolve after the ordeal she went through in this episode, and it will certainly be interesting to see what she plans to do when she actually meets her target, without her bodyguard to fight the battle for her.

As for the interrogation scene, as good as it was, I felt it could have been even better with more tense music. The piece they used for it seemed a little too calm, even if the direction and voice acting still did a good job in creating a suitably suspenseful atmosphere. And using Rin’s memories of the night her parents died was a good way to – besides save budget – show how she managed to conjure up the emotion needed to cry in that exceedingly tight situation.

On a less positive note, the Amazon translation, which has never been good, hit a new low with the subtitles of the letter at the end, which was supposed to provide the emotional closure to this story, but which will have left some viewers confused with these subtitles: “I might as well say, I can’t even begin to imagine how you’d use a sum of 21 ryo. While it is selfish, I will be taking about half of it for myself. My husband will be getting his share too, don’t worry.”

Here is the manga translation for comparison: “It was very generous of you, but honestly, I can’t imagine what we’d do with twenty-one ryo. I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like you to take half of it back. Don’t worry, my husband knows I’m doing this.” As you can see, they got just about everything wrong. She didn’t know how they would use the money, not Rin. And the “While it is selfish” part makes even less sense, seeing as Rin had agreed to pay them 21 ryo and the woman gave half of it back out of sheer generosity and empathy (which moved Rin to tears, although they didn’t show them here). But nevertheless, it was a touching conclusion to a very unique and creative story.

10 thoughts on “Mugen no Juunin: Immortal 09 – The Gathering

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  1. It’s interesting about the translation! I switched from English to German subtitles after the first episode, because something about the English text just bothered me. The German seems to flow better, and it’s fairly close to the old manga translation. I usually prefer English, but here I just didn’t like it from the start …still sad to hear it also has a lot of mistakes. I don’t think the German is entirely error-free, but I did not notice anything so ming-bogglingly wrong as the money scene you mention. That’s really obnoxious, and is just making it harder for newcomers to be able to follow the plot. I should say “even” harder, because sometimes the episode’s comprehensiveness does suffer from the pace. I really could have done without the opening theme this week, and instead get a proper scene building up to Rin’s decision to ditch Manji!

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    1. I know, right? As if the frantic pace wasn’t enough, the English translation makes things even more difficult to follow. Glad to hear other translations are better though!

      And yeah, I wish they’d ditch the OP more often, like they did in episode 6 IIRC. Every extra minute is precious in an adaptation this pressed for time. Heck, that 30 second scene before the opening with Rin leaving Manji was a whole chapter in the manga, and they had a long conversation about what to do next, which made it clear he was very much against the idea of her going off on her own, but you really wouldn’t be able to tell that in the anime.

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      1. The funny thing is that I never think the ending theme is superfluous, because it’s a nice moment to sit and digest the episode’s ending. But the OP doesn’t really do anything to build up the mood, for me. Maybe it’s the lack of images.

        One brief conversation would have been all it took! It’s a big decision for Rin, it should have felt that way. I think the anime does a good job most of the time, especially after the first episodes, but I’ll put this one on the “bad decisions” list, along with underselling the relationship of Makie and Anotsu. 🙂

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      2. Yeah, I really dig the ED. It’s calm and somber at the same time, and the spinning wheel is a good and fitting visual for the show. And it does create a good atmosphere to wrap up the episode and let you digest the story and its meaning. Almost reminds me of Mushishi episode endings.

        I know, I actually almost dropped this show after Makie’s episode because that was one of my favorite stories in the manga and I feel the anime really dropped the ball there. But thankfully things got much better from episode 5 onwards, and the direction in particular makes this adaptation worth watching in spite of all the cutting and condensing. It’s leagues above the 2008 Bee Train adaptation when it comes to capturing the look and feel of the manga.

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      3. Yep. Makie should have gotten two episodes, and they should have cut Eiku Shizuma to make space for it. I was really expecting them to drop that plot, since it did not even go anywhere. A one-off character, introducing concepts that don’t ever become important. To grant that story precious time, but to gloss over one of the most important (not to mention, engaging) relationships in the manga, one that adds a ton of depth to the main antagonist? Weird decision!

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      4. Yep, and that’s actually what I think is the biggest issue with this adaptation so far: in the manga, by this point in the story, Anotsu was already a rather fascinating antagonist IMO. But in the anime, since they cut so much of his stuff in episodes 1 and 4, on top of totally glossing over his relationship with Makie in episode 3, he still feels rather shallow and like we don’t know him that well. I hope that in the future they will try to make up for this, since I would say this story is more about Rin and Anotsu than it is about Rin and Manji, but of course who knows if they’ll have time. =/

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      5. Yes, totally! I actually find Manji to be one of the least fascinating characters in the manga. I like him, he is nice, but he isn’t very complicated, and a bit of a side figure in the actual main conflict, which is between Rin and Anotsu (and Anotsu and others, if you will).

        It’s one reason why I can’t help but cringe when people still introduce the story by focusing on Manji’s quest to kill 1000 evi men (with Rin either mentioned briefly, or not at all). But if there’s one thing I’ve learned thanks to the reactions to the anime, is that few people have actually read the manga past its first few volumes, if at all.

        I got the feeling that they waited on purpose for the 4th episode before they revealed the layers to Anotsu, but I much prefer the more casual and natural way that it’s done in the manga. I hope the Kaga stuff is done well …

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      6. Yeah, Manji is a bit of a static character, which is not necessarily bad and fits his status as an immortal well enough, but he’s definitely not the draw of the show (I like him, but he wouldn’t even make my top 5 characters in it). And to be honest, at times it almost feels like Samura forgot about Manji’s own quest to kill 1000 evil men – it’s VERY overshadowed by Rin’s quest for revenge – so I’m not surprised this adaptation basically cut out his entire backstory, given its time constraints.

        And yes, episode 4 was definitely intended to be the Anotsu episode, but while it wasn’t as bad as the 3rd episode, I still felt it came up short in terms of properly fleshing out our main antagonist. In fact, even after that episode, I saw some anime-only viewers still confused as to what Anotsu’s motivations and aims actually are. They tried to mesh together information from his confrontation with Rin’s parents which should have been in episode 1, stuff from his flashbacks with Makie which should have been in episode 3, and the actual events of episode 4, and the result was a bit disjointed IMO (for example, they still didn’t tell the audience the specific circumstances which caused his family to be expelled from the Asano sword school, which I think is key in making his grudge more believable and compelling). So yeah, I do hope they start doing his character justice from Kaga onwards, especially since he’s actually my favorite character in the show together with Magatsu!

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      7. Hehe, Manji being “static” actually really fits, since he is immortal, literally static. The events affect so many people so profoundly, but Manji not so much.
        I think it was inevitable that his quest of “killing 1000 evil men” would slip into the background, the more morally complex the story became. How many of the people that Manji kills over the course of the story would even count towards that goal? There are very few characters of Shira’s caliber.

        As for Anotsu, yes, he does not have a strong presence yet in the anime, and I’ve also seen viewers who don’t have a good grasp on his goals or basic personality yet. I really do hope they will do him justice in the next few episodes.

        Heh, glad to find another Magastu fan 😉 At least the anime viewers are responding positively to Magatsu. That makes me happy!

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      8. Heh, yeah, Manji being static is part of the point of his character, and he does feel more like a detached observer of events than a truly emotionally invested participant (even if he obviously cares about Rin). And yes, his quest was probably just a basic premise to kickstart the manga, and I don’t blame Samura for prioritizing the more complex stuff that the feud between Rin and Anotsu offers (not to mention between the Itto-ryuu and other factions).

        Yes, lacking in presence is an apt way to describe Anotsu in the anime right now. It’s no wonder anime viewers are responding more to Magatsu, whose scenes have all been kept and done pretty well for the most part. Plus he’s just a very easy to like guy, so I won’t be surprised to see him become a fan favorite. His VA is absolutely spot-on too, whereas I have mixed feelings about Anotsu’s… wish they’d picked someone more youthful-sounding; the character is only 22 years old, but Sasaki Nozomu is 52 and it kinda shows in his voice IMO.

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