Well it’s here, the final volume of Blade of the Immortal. I’ve been a few volumes behind on this series, but I decided that I knew enough about the series, where it was going and just the overall tone that I could jump on to this final volume. I’m going to miss it. That’s for fucking sure. It was actually Kevin that got me into this series, but after I got a taste I blew him away as far as exposure. I began collecting the single issues and tracking down back issue after back issue. Let me just say that I wasn’t happy when Dark Horse decided it was more cost effective to go to the trades. I couldn’t be too angry because that meant that they were ensuring the future volumes of the series, but man I loved the monthly grind of Blade of the Immortal floppies. They are some of the prized gems of my comic collection to this day.
The series doesn’t end with a bang.
Now that sounds bad, but it isn’t. It ends the way it always has, with sword play, the fighting spirit and some of the best visuals to ever grace the pages of any comic. Any. Comic. In fact if you were to put Hiroaki Samura against any other artist, I doubt they would stand a chance when it comes to my personal taste. But what that man can do on the page is amazing. You’ll never see such violence look so beautiful and I say that understanding just how creepy it sounds, but it’s true. Every page of this series has been beautiful to look at and maybe one day I’ll find a way to own a single panel.
As for the story. What’s there to say? It ends. It ends in ways that are satisfying and also not. Every storyline comes to an end and while not all of them are the way “you” want it, they’re the way they need to be. Some of it is downright frustrating and the cover captures that perfectly. It’s frustrating, but I’d be lying if it wasn’t absolutely perfect at the same time. This series has always imitated life and life is not perfect. Not everyone has a happy ending and not everyone gets what they deserve or want in the end. Nowhere better is that illustrated than in the final act of Blade of the Immortal.
What I found truly fascinating about this ending was that Samura addresses Manji’s immortality in a way that he has never done previously on the series. It’s not any big deal, but it stood out to me. I won’t say what it was exactly because that would spoil the ending too much and this it… there’s no more so it would just be cruel to do that.
I’m going to miss Blade of the Immortal. It couldn’t go on forever regardless of the name, but that doesn’t make its absence any less. I will follow Samura’s work no matter what he works on because he’s delivered countless issues and decades of his life to producing some of the best comics ever. He never dipped, he never phoned it in, he just kicked ass from beginning to end and this volume is no exception.