Blade of the Immortal is one of the few long running Manga’s that I’ve followed. I was heart-broken when Dark Horse stopped publishing the series monthly and opted for the collected trade paper backs, but I understand that the alternative would more than likely have been its cancellation. Because of this though I miss its releases quite often since most comic fans don’t understand just how awesome Blade of the Immortal is; due to that fact I was very excited when I received a copy of volume 24 “Massacre” from Dark Horse comics. Admittedly I sat on reading it for a while until I knew I’d have enough time to read it uninterrupted and I’m glad that I did.
One of the strongest elements of Blade of the Immortal is that it’s like a long running soap opera.There is several characters always in play in the story and due to thee extremely detailed art the story moves slower than an average comic. This gives new readers the chance to kind of jump on at any volume and frankly I found the story recaps in this volume to be very detailed considering how far along in the series it is. It recapped Manji and the Itto-Ryu, but in a way that was interesting. It also hinted at previous story lines but in a way that made you want to read them rather than have them explained at detail.
This volume is basically all about the Itto-Ryu storming the Edo castle. The group lead by its leader Anotsu storm the castle with just four total Itto-Ryu. It’s unclear at first what their goal is as they begin cutting down wave after wave of men. The crazy part is that this is the gate under the heaviest guard. What follows is a display of the Itto-Ryu’s true strength as they literally massacre everything in their way to get to the main floor of the castle. Along the way they meet what I can only describe as special guards on duty at the castle and they two are taken down like lowly dogs. There are also several scenes outside of the massacre that play to the overall story developing in the series and one particularly messed up scene with a character named Shira. It is one of the most messed up things I’ve read in the series thus far and that’s saying a lot.
The story and art are always amazing in Blade of the Immortal. Creator, writer and artist Hiroaki Samura is a rare talent as each page is filled with story, history and extremely detailed art. Hiroaki’s art is some of the most detailed in all of comics. Everything is in black and white which is really the only way you can present his detailed art style. You really need to read Blade of the Immortal to get the full experience of his art and see the detail on each character, each facial expression and even more surprisingly the backgrounds and architecture on every single page. There is never a doubt that the Itto-Ruy are storming a castle because the setting is so detailed and historically accurate that it takes you there and makes you a believe it.
I think it’s worth mentioning that Blade of the Immortal is a very mature title; meaning that if you’re thinking about picking it up for a kid you should probably read it first. That doesn’t stop it from being one of the best comic series ever. I know that’s pretty bold, but once you read it for yourself you’ll see why this book has won five awards in the industry and is critically acclaimed. If you’ve ever read Blade of the Immortal then picking up this volume is a no-brainer and if you’ve never read the series before you can either start at the beginning or just dive in and follow it from here on out.
Score: 5/5 (It’s aclassic so it doesn’t really need a score so don’t expect future volumes to get one)