Mugen no Juunin: Immortal 12 – Last Blood

Well, I’ve been doing my best, but it’s time to acknowledge that covering this adaptation as someone very familiar with the source material is not the easiest or even the most fun of tasks, especially with episodes that skip as much content as this one. And it’s not just what was cut in this episode, all the stuff that’s already been skipped in the past is obviously still having an impact. For example, Makie returned in this episode, but with virtually her entire backstory having been omitted earlier on, the pathos of her character is just not there, and her actions verge on being entirely incomprehensible here, a sentiment which I’ve already seen echoed by multiple anime-only viewers who weren’t even sure what the deal was with her hand.

Basically, the deal was that she sewed it so as to mutilate and cripple herself to the point that she wouldn’t be able to wield a sword anymore, because her talent with it has only brought her unhappiness and misfortune in a world where women aren’t supposed to be warriors. She was born in a traditional samurai family and her brother committed seppuku after losing to her and realizing her talent far exceeded his. This led to Makie and her mother being disowned and becoming prostitutes.

Furthermore, the reason she went to Shirakawa, the (similarly gorgeous in real life) village shown in this episode, was to get revenge on her father for the suffering he inflicted on her mother and her. But when she found him, he was just a broken down old man, so she couldn’t go through with killing him and the whole incident just made her even more miserable. It’s why she tells Anotsu that she fails at everything — killing, hating, forgiving, etc. Their relationship is also far more complicated than is apparent here. She’s deeply in love with him, but thinks he only cares about her due to her talent, so crippling herself was another way of trying to cut herself off from him. But clearly he won’t let her go that easily.

Without knowing any of that, though, how is anyone supposed to truly care about Makie’s character and her relationship with Anotsu? It’s a tough sell. She mostly comes off as mere action eye candy here. Way to get me excited about her having one of my favourite seiyuu for nothing! Oh well, at least, even with the action scenes’ limited animation, her overwhelming battle prowess and mixture of grace and brutality are still somewhat of a spectacle to behold.

Don’t get me wrong, there were still things to like about this episode. Rin and Anotsu’s travels still had some charm to them, especially the very atmospheric scene in the cave with the raindrops echoing in the background. And the anime did a good job conveying Anotsu’s increasingly worse condition and Rin’s conundrum about whether or not to take advantage of it. One would think that after this ordeal where the two almost seemed like friends, our heroine might finally give up on her revenge altogether, but at the end of the episode she only reaffirms her desire to kill him one day.

This moment definitely felt like a halfway point even in the manga, so I can understand why they would want to close episode 12 out of 24 with it, and I think I’ll go ahead and take this opportunity to conclude these reviews. I’ll continue to watch the show to the end, and I’m still moderately enjoying it for what it is (a highlight reel of a great manga with none of its depth but with some beautiful direction), but I imagine reviews of a manga reader like me can only hamper the genuine excitement and enjoyment many anime-only viewers might still be feeling. And that’s the last thing I want to do. I’m glad there are still people enjoying this show and that this adaptation is still capable of some great episodes in spite of all its handicaps. And for those that come to like this version of the story despite it containing less than half of its original volume of content and dialogue, I hope they consider checking out the manga once the anime is done, because it will really feel like a director’s cut version of the story. 😉

4 thoughts on “Mugen no Juunin: Immortal 12 – Last Blood

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  1. Haha, yeah. Didn’t it just feel like someone accidentally sat on the fast-forward button? At this point, I’m mostly watching out of curiosity, but the anime is past the point where it could be as meaningful as the manga. If nothing else, this makes me appreciate anew that Blade of the Immortal’s strength has always been the characters, and its willingness to let them do unexpected things (like Rin teaming up with Anotsu).

    The anime’s continued disinterest in Makie still hurts, though. Isn’t she a really popular character? Why would you give her the shaft so consistently? It’s a weird decision.

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    1. Yeah, the characters make the story, but unfortunately the only ones that have been allowed to shine somewhat in this adaptation have been Rin, Magatsu and maybe Shira. Manji and the rest of the Itto-ryuu and Mugai-ruu have been decidedly shoved to the background, even a very popular character like Makie and, most egregious of all, even the main antagonist, Anotsu. By the end of this arc in the manga he was already one of my favorite antagonists in all of anime and manga, a truly fascinating character. But here? We talked about how they needed to do him justice in Kaga to redeem his lack of presence up to this point, so what do they do? They outright skip his entire story with the Shingyoto-ryuu, and instead have him summarize it to Rin! And then their travels together are terribly shortened as well. When Rin gives him that speech at the end about his dreams and about him being a pitiful man who has had his beliefs challenged and his trust betrayed, I highly doubt any anime-only viewers knew what the hell she was talking about.

      And yes, it’s a shame, but this will be yet another anime adaptation of Blade of the Immortal that won’t measure up to the manga at all. It’s especially a shame because this one got the feel and look of it right (unlike the 2008 one) and has a skilled director who gets the material, but not even he can do the miracle of preserving the essence and depth of such a massive story in such a limited amount of time.

      I would say maybe this adaptation can still do the job of getting more people interested in the manga, which would be the best thing it could do at this point, but that also seems like a longshot considering:
      1) There is almost no discussion of this show on the internet. The number of posts in MAL episode threads, for example, struggles to get past even one digit. Seems like the advertising was pretty lacking and the Amazon exclusivity probably doesn’t help.
      2) I’ve already seen a decent amount of anime-only viewers passing judgment on the story as being unremarkable and saying the direction is the only good thing about the show. What I wanna know is what story would still look remarkable after having like two thirds of its content cut out? I mean, I’m also watching the Vinland Saga anime adaptation this season and I’m loving it, but if they went with the same pace as Mugen no Juunin: Immortal, they would have had to tell the story they’re telling in 24 episodes in like 8 or 9 episodes instead. Would it still have anywhere near the same substance and depth that way? Of course not!

      Ah well, I’m just ranting at this point, haha. Maybe I’ll go reread the Blade of the Immortal manga after this adaptation is done to remind myself of why I love its story and characters.

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      1. Yeah, it does vex me that so many people watch an anime and just weirdly assume that they can pass judgment over the manga. A lot of the problems that peope had with this latest episode were exclusively due to the anime’s unfortunate, shallow treatment of this great story arc. Had they read the manga, all the complaints would just evaporate!

        It just occured to me that it’s not just that Anotsu gives this lame summary of the Kaga arc to Rin, he gives it in such a meh tone, there is no indication that it meant anything to him at all. In the manga, he had a real connection with Hisoka. He also did not immediately, coolly, know who was attacking him. He was surprised and shocked, and there was a lot more emotional, vulnerable moments from him. The anime keeps us at arm’s length. But like you said, at this point in the manga, Anotsu is just so, so much more than this.

        I’m glad that they’re not giving the shaft to Rin, at the very least, but her dynamic with Anotsu is so unique and interesting, it’s not ideal to make him so … boring. Ultimately, it does affect her.

        Maybe it’d have been better had they done something truly radical and, for example, entirely removed Mugai-Ryu (it’s not like their story is getting its due anyway) to free up more time for the main characters? It was weird to have to watch Hyakurin’s torture, almost entirely removed from its context, and then have no time left for Rin and Anotsu two weeks later!

        Still, I’m curious what they will make of the upcoming arc, and how people will respond … especially those who love nothing more than whine about Rin’s weaknesses.

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      2. Exactly. If you watch an anime, go ahead and evaluate its merits, but passing judgment on a story you haven’t read based solely on an adaptation, especially one as obviously stripped of content as this, just doesn’t make much sense to me. I honestly wonder if I would have felt compelled to read the manga based on this show (which is probably the main purpose of this adaptation, publicity for the manga and its current sequel), since based on this anime alone it is kind of hard to imagine the story and characters being as in-depth as they get to be in the manga.

        Yes, I wonder if they could have just cut some side characters out of the story altogether to give the likes of Anotsu their proper due. Might have worked out better to have the main characters done justice and the side characters being sacrificed for it than all the characters being present but almost none being properly fleshed out!

        Hell, I think I would’ve even preferred an incomplete adaptation, with, say, the end of this episode being the end of episode 24. There would be no conclusion, but at least the arcs the show did cover could be properly told. In the end, the starting premise of 30 manga volumes in 24 episodes was just an unavoidable recipe for disaster (although there have been some enjoyable episodes, mainly ones that didn’t try to cram like 3 volumes’ worth of content in them like this one!).

        And yeah, the reception to Rin is kinda sad. So many viewers and critics seem to think the only way for a character to grow is for them to become more skilled at combat and violence. As for the upcoming arc, I expect it to be severely shortened, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this case, since even in the manga, I felt it dragged a lot. But I do hope they manage to do Rin’s better moments in it justice.

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