Blade of the Immortal

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Name: Blade of the Immortal (無限の住人 Mugen no Jūnin)
Abbreviation(s): BotI
Creator: Samura Hiroaki
Date(s): 1994 - present
Medium: manga, anime
Country of Origin: Japan
External Links: Kodansha's Official Anime Site (J)
Blade of the immortal.jpg
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Contents

Blade of the Immortal is a long-running seinen manga series by Samura Hiroaki that is serialized in Afternoon. It tells the story of Manji, an immortal samurai who must kill 1,000 evil men in order to grant his wish to die. He is hired as a bodyguard by a young woman named Asano Rin seeking revenge for the murder of her parents. Together, they go after the renegade sword school responsible and find themselves entangled in a government plot.

The manga was adapted into a 13-episode anime series in 2008. In North America, Dark Horse Comics holds the license for the manga while Media Blasters holds the license for the anime.

English-language Fandom

Blade of the Immortal is considered a small fandom with light fannish activity. Because the manga was first licensed in 1996, it predates LJ-based fandom. As a result, what little activity there is on the platform is scattered although there are a few communities devoted to it. It has qualified for Yuletide eligibility in the past.

In the early 2000s, most fannish activity could be found on the discussion mailing list, manji. [1] The mailing list was originally founded by a fan who maintained the major Blade of the Immortal fansite at the time, Mugen no Jyuunin - Blade of the Immortal Storypage. From the late 90s until the early-2000s, this fansite served as the hub for chapter summaries of current releases for fans frustrated by the slow release schedule of the English localization. [2] When the site stopped updating, other fans would occasionally post spoiler scans and summaries of their own. [3] Although traffic is significantly less, the manji mailing list remains active as November 30, 2011.

Due to the fact that it was licensed in the U.S. prior to the manga boom of the early 2000s, Blade of the Immortal was originally released following older localization conventions. The original tankoubons were split up and published in the monthly 32-page floppy format more familiar to Western comic fans. Dark Horse would later release the collected volumes in graphic novel format but it's important to note that the English adaptations do not coincide perfectly with the original Japanese volumes. In addition, the current practice of preserving the original right-to-left format of manga did not exist in the U.S. market at the time and manga was mirror-imaged so that it could be read from left-to-right. In order to comply with Samura's wishes, Dark Horse opted not to mirror-image and instead chose to cut and rearrange the panels so that they could be read from left-to-right. [4] These factors resulted in Blade of the Immortal's release schedule being infamously slow among fans, averaging one volume a year. This was further exacerbated by Dark Horse's perpetually late releases. [5] In November 2007, Dark Horse ended the monthly format, focusing solely on publishing the collected volumes. [4]

Ships

Possibly due to its small size, ship wars are uncommon.

While the only explicitly confirmed relationship within the canon is that of Anotsu/Makie, very little focus is spent on them within fandom. Instead the main het pairings are Manji/Rin, which has pseudo-incest undertones due to Manji once making the comment that Rin reminds him of his dead younger sister, and Anotsu/Rin, which has an antagonistic bent because Anotsu is the one responsible for the murder of Rin's parents. Another pairing, though rare, is Hyakurin/Giichi.

The most common slash pairing is Anotsu/Magatsu.

In recent years, yuri pairings have found footing within fandom. Hyakurin/Rin and Rin/Doa are the most popular.

TOKYOPOP Plagiarism Controversy

comparison of artwork from Samurai Zombie to Blade of the Immortal

One of the 20 finalists in TOKYOPOP's 2006 Rising Stars of Manga competition, Zombie Samurai, was accused of plagiarizing Blade of the Immortal. Similarities between the two were first pointed out by telophase:

If I'd never read BoI, I'd totally be all over this one, but since I have - the problem is that it makes me compare the art and story to BoI, and since BoI is totally awesome, this is going to come off badly in comparison. Too many panels were used as reference from BoI - they needed to have had the angle changed a bit or something - and the story is too close as well: the idea of someone being immortal and having to kill 1000 evil men to break the curse. The idea would have been OK if it had been used as a springboard to bounce off and go in a completely different direction, but unfortunately it didn't. [6]

Shortly after, sub_divided posted about Zombie Samurai in her journal, asking for help to identify which poses were copied from Blade of the Immortal. [7] Comparison graphics were then made. [8]

The TOKYOPOP editor judging the Rising Star of Manga entries later admitted they had never read Blade of the Immortal. [9]

Resources

References

  1. From 2001-2003, approximately 100-360 emails were sent monthly as seen on the YahooGroup page. (Accessed November 30, 2011)
  2. cached snapshot of Mugen no Jyuunin - Blade of the Immortal Storypage courtesy of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine (Accessed November 30, 2011)
  3. an example from madame_manga (Accessed November 30, 2011)
  4. 4.0 4.1 AICN Anime - A Fond Farewell to the Monthly Edition of Blade of the Immortal (Accessed November 30, 2011)
  5. an example post from The Evil Empire forum (Accessed November 30, 2011)
  6. RSOM Reviews Part 2 (Accessed November 30, 2011)
  7. Attention Blade of the Immortal Fans! (Accessed November 30, 2011)
  8. see graphic linked under the Samurai Zombie vs. Blade of the Immortal section in A Tradition in Plagiarism (Accessed November 30, 2011)
  9. Blade of the Immortal plagiarism? (Accessed November 30, 2011)
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