Blue Eye Samurai
Driven by revenge against those that made her an outcast in Edo-period Japan, a young warrior cuts a bloody path towards her destiny.
WARNING: This series includes mature topics and situations involving violence, nudity, and sexual content.
This Netflix Top 10 rated animated series is an instant classic. I believe it is a masterpiece in both writing and production. Not only does it tackle topics such as racism and classism, it is also a feminist manifesto regarding the disparate actions of the society of women.
The art is very impressive and includes well planned action scenes throughout. Also, the acting talent is unmatched and includes heavy hitters such as George Takei as Seki Randall Park as Heji Shindo and Kenneth Branagh as Abijah Fowler.
Run Time 62min
The former apprentice of a famous swordsman begins their quest for revenge. On their journey to find the master of the Shindo dojo, Mizu encounters a potential ally and an old enemy. Meanwhile, Princess Akemi seeks a way to thwart her father’s plan for her future.
The opening episode of this limited series is a perfect combination of heart wrenching and thrilling. Not only are the action scenes superb, I was particularly impressed by the amount of content delivered in a cohesive manner that never feels confused or overwhelming.
An Unexpected Element
Run Time 48min
Mizu and Ringo’s search for transportation leads them to a town that hosts an unusual festival. Once there, both samurai and apprentice face difficulties. Elsewhere, Taigen seeks to restore his honor, and Princess Akemi to take action in order to stop a forced marriage.
I found the storytelling in this piece phenomenal. The juxtaposition between Mizu and Princess Akemi is cleverly done and really shows the similarity in their presentations of womanhood. I also enjoyed learning more about Mizu’s past and what impact it has on the present.
A Fixed Number of Paths
Run Time 45min
Shades of the past are recounted as both Mizu and Taigen reflect on their youth. Taigen opens up about the reasons he left their village as Mizu has painful flashbacks of her childhood. Later the travelers have an encounter with Heiji Shindo. Elsewhere, Princess Akemi learns an unsettling truth as she journeys to find her former fiancée.
Run Time 47min
In order to learn a method to breach the location of Fowler, Mizu must perform a heartbreaking task for Madame Kaji. Also, Mizu and Princess Akemi meet face to face in an unusual locale while Taigen is held captive by a powerful foe.
This powerful episode directly takes on gender roles and deconstructs the notion that women in the Edo-period existed solely for the comfort of men. I really appreciate the emotional beats given and the care in which this episode was crafted.
The Tale of the Ronin and the Bride
Run Time 46min
Mizu’s past is explored as she deals with familial dynamics and betrayal. In the present, Princess Akemi attends a play with the royal family.
This beautifully directed piece was both breathtaking and heart rendering.
All Evil Dreams and Angry Words
Run Time 35min
In an attempt to gain vengeance Mizu must forge a path through a heavily guarded castle. Along the way she faces several challenges and meets someone unexpected.
Run Time 45min
Both Mizu and Princess Akemi each face difficulties and learn important lessons in taking charge of their individual fates.
Once again, I am impressed by the way the women are portrayed. The juxtaposition of Mizu and Akemi is well done and I am impressed with the way that the idea that power comes in many way is expressed.
The Great Fire of 1657
Run Time 49min
In the season finale, Fowler and his militia attack the palace armed with guns. Then, a confrontation between Mizu and Fowler leads to catastrophe. Elsewhere, Princess Akemi faces a devastating loss and makes a difficult decision.
There are some interesting lines in this one regarding the West’s influence on the world. I was also very cognizant of the commentary on homogeny and greed. Overall, I thought this episode did a good job of both closing out the main story arcs while setting up a potential second season.