Being barely uninitiated in the
cerebral quagmire that is Japanese animation, I’m not sure how helpful
my comments on this one will be. I am sure fans of the genre will
instantly dismiss my ‘insights’ and move on—and I can’t really blame
Director Kazuhito Kikuchi’s
Japanese Western tells the story of Ichimatsu, an altruistic,
technology-embracing samurai (he has a gun) whose piece of resistance in
the face of a brutal, autocratic shōgun is could hardly be describes as
I could certainly relate to him.
By day he hangs out with prostitutes, whilst by night he heroically runs
to their rescue. I only had the first disc of the first season to work
with, so I only have a scratchy impression of the plot, partly because
of its slow development. The animation reminded me of expressionistic
noir. Whilst there are dominant colours—both warm reds and cold blues
and black—there is never an overwhelming saturation. Everything is kept
subdued and disconcerting.
The level of violence I found
quite unexpected. It took a while to get used to, but even so, the scene
with a woman’s abdomen being pierced and then sadistically, meticulously
broken as per a delicious lobster is a bit too much. I forgot that it is
just a drawing—I had to double-pinch myself.
The disc offers both original
Japanese and English soundtracks. The period feel, coupled with the hint
of feminist stance made it quite attractive, personally speaking. The
violence could be a bit much for those new to this game, but from what I
am learning, it goes with the territory!