I am not a big fan of ‘historical’ anime, as they always seem to play fast and loose with the rules. Modern sensibilities, placed on a different era, sometimes equal a show that just doesn’t make it, either as anime or history.
“Shigurui” plays out more like a Kurosawa film, akin to “Rashomon” or “Yojimbo”, but the level of mayhem and violence places it within the realm of “Gantz” or “Deadman Wonderland”.
The story begins in 1629, as we are seeing a tournament between, perhaps, two of the country’s best swordsmen. However, they are using real swords and not wooden practice ones, so this will be a fight to the death.
The two men participating, Fujiki Gennosuke (who has one arm) and Irako Seigen (who is blind) not only have a history, but each has a history together. The show is a flashback as to how these two ended up here and in their current physical situation.
It all begins at the Kogen dojo, where Gennosuke is the star pupil and Seigen is the brash upstart who puts Gennosuke in his place. Kogan Iwamoto, the head of the dojo is, for most of the year, mentally unbalanced and is slowly rotting away, but for a brief period once a year, he becomes lucid and coherent and makes decisions that affect the dojo for the next year.
Seigen, blinded by his arrogance, carries on an affair with Lady Iku, who is looking for something away from Iwamoto. Well, the sensei finds out, which leads to their physical travails and both are sent packing. However, years later, Seigen comes back, seeing revenge by brutalizing the students of the dojo in savage ways. (more…)