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.