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Blade of the Immortal, Vol. 1: Blood of a Thousand Paperback – March 11, 1997

54 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Blade of the Immortal is a pure, unadulterated samurai epic told in a very moody black-and-white comic book. Artist Hiroaki Samura uses pencil drawings combined with pen-and-ink work to create this punk samurai feast. We don't know much about Manji except that he has been given the gift of immortality by an old witch in the form of the "blood worms." He makes a deal with her to end his immortality if he can kill 1,000 criminals. Soon everyone wants to hire him as an assassin, but it becomes increasingly difficult to tell who the real criminals are. Another interesting aspect of this book is the integrity of the "translation" of the art: because Japanese is read right to left and English is read left to right, most Japanese comics that are translated into English first have the art photo-reversed or mirror-imaged. Hiroaki Samura requested that this not be done. And so, for the most part, all of the panels were arranged in reverse order. Additionally, some of the dialogue and sound effects were left in their original Japanese calligraphy (with translations provided in caption boxes).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Horse (March 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569712395
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569712399
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.8 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #495,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By W.Kim on August 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
I stumbled onto "Blade of the Immortal" translations in comic book format. Attracted by the art, and the unusally deep dialogue between the opponents (as dramatic as Kazou Kioke's "Lone Wolf and Cub", but much more up-to-date in sensibility and subject matter) I immediately began looking for back issues, which was difficult. Many retailers don't seem to order many issues of this book. Fortunately the trade paperbacks started coming out soon after.
"Blade of the Immortal" starts off as a fairly typical samurai revenge story, with some unusual horror movie twists. We meet Manji, a guilt-ridden outlaw and expert swordsman, who is cursed with an odd form of immortality. No matter how grievously he is injured, he cannot die. Manji makes a deal with a magical buddhist nun. He will gain the release of death, if he slays 1000 evil men. Soon we meet Rin, a young girl, the daughter of a swordsmanship teacher who witnessed the horrific murder of her parents at the hands of the Itto-Ryu, a renegade sword school. Tortured by nightmares, she seeks revenge, but realizing she has no hope of surviving a direct confrontation with even one Itto-Ryu swordsman, she convinces Manji to serve as her bodyguard and stand in. Taking up Rin's quest seems a perfect confluence of both of their desires: her need to put her parents memory to rest, his to earn his redemption.
The stories take you through dramatic encounters with various members of the sword school. All are dangerous swordsmen with unique styles of combat. Some are quite literally monsters. Each has a unique story, an unique reason for having become a renegade, and this becomes the source of much thought provoking drama before, during and after the battles.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mary D. Pekowski on January 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
'Blade of the Immortal' is the story of Manji, a vulgar, unvarnished, at times unethical ronin who has been granted immortality. To free himself of this curse, he must slay 1,000 evil men. Manji becomes the yojimbo of Rin, a young girl, hell bent on revenging her parents' death.
It's a simple enough story, if you leave it at that. But Hirokai Samura's masterpiece is far more. To begin with, Samura's attention to detail (both in the artwork and in the story) gives this series a depth not often seen. The characters are multi-faceted, they can have subtle motivations. Each character has a human quality to them; one can feel understanding for both Rin and her enemies. When I first read 'Blade of the Immortal', it struck me as oddly similar to Frank Herbert's 'Dune' - or rather, 'Dune' from the perspective of the Harkonens. The more you read 'Blade of the Immortal', the more sympathetic you feel for Anotsu (Rin's enemy), and the less justified Rin seems.
The attention Samura pays to detail in his storyline is comparable to that which he pays the artwork. Each frame not only moves the story along, but also tells us more about the characters. Samura at times focuses on hands and feet as indicators of a character's feelings. Oddly enough, some of Samura's most beautiful artwork is done in the death scenes. Manji slicing some one up is drawn with the elegance of a ballet!
In short, 'Blade of the Immortal' is a beautiful, brutal, subltle, and vulgar masterpiece. I don't have the words to describe it. In my opinion it is great work of literature. Don't let the fact that it's a manga or a 'graphic novel' predjudice you.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "bakerkoller75" on April 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
Blade of the Immortal is the best manga ever! (I'm assuming you know all of the backround information, so I'm going to dive right in.) This is one of the only stories where the "bad guys" seem to have a conscious. Instead of being just a bloody slice-and-dice samurai soap opera, the characters actually have deeply personal motives. Anotsu is trying to fulfill his father's dying wish, Rin is trying to avenge her parents in a vow she made at her father's grave, and Manji is trying to escape from the life he claims is miserable. Each of the main characters struggles with himself, which is something unusual. Each character does things they don't like, but they do it for a reason. Another great thing about this series is its supporting characters. Makie, Magatsu, Shira, and Hyakurin, and others show up later, making things much more interesting. Each of these characters has secrets and morals, too (with the exception of Shira). These characters show up more than once, so they can be rather important. Samura's art is the greatest! I like that the women he draws are not the common, unrealistic, top-heavy cartoons often found in other manga. In fact, Rin is teased by Manji as "having a body like a barked twig." I'm not saying there is no sex in Blade, but there is no nudity (Being a girl, I don't care for manga with nude chicks). His art seems to be constantly improving (if that's possible). Warning: there is a LOT of blood in this series, although it is drawn in black and white, which calms things down (a little). Samura's great story telling makes this series worthwhile, though. His characters go through some startling changes, which keeps things fresh and interesting. Like I basically said earlier, his characters are the best part. Samura makes them more than just pictures.Read more ›
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