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Mugen no Juunin – Immortal – 03

「夢弾」 (Yumebiki)
“Dream Pangs”

The third episode of Mugen no Juunin – Immortal introduces us to Otonotachibana Makie, a courtesan and swordsman for Anotsu and the Itto-Ryu. Although the anime presents her backstory at breakneck speed with little wiggle room to get fully invested in her character, she leaves a strong impression with the struggles she faces and the heat she puts on Manji to fend for himself.

This episode continues to use the source material to its advantage by capturing key moments of the Makie arc with detail and intricacy. From what we see of Makie’s personal life, it is fascinating to learn about how she has to alternate between her identity as a fearsome swordsman and as a geisha who found a new reason to stay motivated after Anotsu had bought her freedom. Her shaky commitment to killing once her concentration is broken and having to bear with society’s lowest propositioning her contribute to the complicated and compelling nature of Makie’s motives. She has the resolve to kill nameless bad guys, but when Manji questions her ability to knowingly taking a life or when Anotsu tries to keep her indebted to him, she is at a loss for what to do next. Her fight with Manji and her interactions with Rin are ultimately what causes her to leave to carve out her own path because of their conceptualization of killing. Whereas Makie had only been comfortable killing to pay homage to the Itto-Ryu, Rin had made it clear that the countless deaths that her search for revenge would cause are justifiable as a tribute to her family. The visceral human response that Rin has towards revenge resonates with Makie in a way that motivates her to eventually break free from Anotsu’s influence and try to reflect on her own past with the situation that she and her mother had been caught in.

And now, onto the bitter pill that we’ll have to swallow with this episode: the pacing. While this episode flows far more easily than the last one, it was hard to keep up with the events that were happening within the story. The lines between the present day and the past regularly blur when we jump from event to event to event as if we’re being King Crimson’d across several points in Makie’s life. The difficulty in keeping track of what’s happening to Makie hinders development on her end that should have been more thoroughly explored before she leaves by the end of the episode. Not only does it race through Makie’s backstory, but the fights leave a lot to be desired with how stilted and disorienting the action sequences are shown. Whereas many of the calmer scenes have a lush and evocative aesthetic to them, the action sequences are captured through several jump-cuts that are pieced together haphazardly. For all of the gruesome and visually impressive violence that is shown in the anime so far, these fight sequences remind me too much of the fence-jumping scene from Taken 3 or the basketball game from Catwoman. I’m hoping that the anime will start to calm down with its pacing and begin to let the story breathe more, or else it’d be hard to recommendMugen no Juunin – Immortal. Not when the plot is captivating enough to be a more convincing endeavor to seek out the manga and get a clear-cut, detailed, and convincing argument on why it’d be worthwhile not to skip out on the details that the anime would otherwise overlook. Above all else, I’m hoping that I’m not correct in the assumption that the creators of this anime are more focused on getting from start to as quickly as they can than adapt the material to its fullest. Because if so, it would be an injustice to the source material if it set a precedent to race through every arc as quickly as they can so they can reach the climax by the end of this anime.

October 17, 2019 at 6:06 pm
  • October 18, 2019 at 12:29 amAngelus

    What could have been a masterpiece is being wrecked by everything being done at breakneck speed. And then everything crashes to a halt for a budget shot. I mean, I get the symbolism of bridges, but to have tracking shot after tracking shot of the damn things with voiceovers is looking very cheap.

  • October 18, 2019 at 5:53 amElear

    “Above all else, I’m hoping that I’m not correct in the assumption that the creators of this anime are more focused on getting from start to as quickly as they can than adapt the material to its fullest. Because if so, it would be an injustice to the source material if it set a precedent to race through every arc as quickly as they can so they can reach the climax by the end of this anime.”

    Sadly it seems likely that will be the case, seeing as the anime was announced as a ” complete adaptation” of the manga’s story and is confirmed to be only two cours, meaning it will have to cram 30 volumes’ worth of manga into a mere 24 episodes. Even 50 episodes would have been difficult to do justice to the extremely long source material, but in half of that it’s just impossible. And the result is episodes like this, which took a fantastic story arc of 5 chapters with 40+ pages each and tried to cram it into a mere 22 minutes. A frustrating waste of potential, to be sure, especially since they even managed to get a director quite suited to the material.

  • October 18, 2019 at 7:12 amPanino Manino

    In theory I should be complaining, a lot, but I’m really liking this adaptation.
    For me this episode was perfect, they made a good decision making this a self contained episode to present Makie. All that backstory that was cut was really relevant right now? We still understand her dilemma because it was simplified. I can’t see how other people are thinking that this was hard to follow.

    Another thing that I should had hated are the fights.
    It’s hard to dislike a low budget action scene when the staff chooses to portray the action in a stylized way. It just works ok. A more traditional style would really be better here? The fight was fast, yes, but all the key moments and few movements were there. Avoiding slow motion conveys better the gravity of the situation. If they tried to animate this in a more conventional style with this budget… imagine the disaster.
    Surprisingly this turned as an advantage. Having little movements the animators can have all the time to keep the characters on model. Samura art is very well preserved.

    But because all this is unconventional I can understand that isn’t for the tastes of most people.

  • October 18, 2019 at 9:46 amdanny

    Yeah….. that pacing. Perhaps we could hold some of those fight scenes a little longer and cut the lengthy flower pauses? They’re racing through story and giving us “breaks” by pausing on non-consequential shots. I’d appreciate the artistry a bit if perhaps those shots at least varied in some way which tied to events or episode “moods” but .. nope, you want to see people talking to each other normally? Nah, here’s a flower. Here’s the same flower for you to contemplate every frickin scene.

    Welp, I guess adapting this title will always be a “Pick Two” scenario: this one chose to keep the art style and major overall key plot concepts. The rest? Eh, there’s more to this? Who knew?

  • October 18, 2019 at 6:04 pmChris hall

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