If demise is an artwork, as sword maker Eiji (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) tells his erstwhile assistant Mizu (Maya Erskine), it’s one Netflix’s Blue Eye Samurai renders significantly lovely. The grownup animated collection savors the peal of clashing swords prefer it’s music, frames blood spatters like brush strokes, twirls round battling warriors like they’re dancers.
This graphic, beautiful violence is what grabs a viewer’s consideration first, lengthy earlier than we perceive who Mizu is or what she’s after; one in all her first acts, a couple of minutes into the premiere, is slicing off the fingertips of a person with the deftness of a grasp chef. However what sustains the collection in the long run is its knack for crafting compelling characters and interesting drama, even when the top outcomes land as extra enjoyable than profound.
Blue Eye Samurai
The Backside Line
Engrossing regardless of its limitations.
Airdate: Friday, Nov. 3 (Netflix)
Forged: Maya Erskine, Masi Oka, Brenda Tune, Darren Barnet, Kenneth Branagh, George Takei, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Randall Park
Creators: Amber Noizumi, Michael Inexperienced
Blue Eye Samurai takes place in Edo-era Japan, twenty years into an isolationist coverage banning all foreigners from its borders. This hostility towards outsiders is evidently not with out cause: The present’s sole white character, an Irish dealer named Fowler (Kenneth Branagh), spends a lot of the season biding his time underneath the safety of a Japanese ally (Randall Park) till he’s amassed sufficient weapons to grab management of the nation for himself.
In that rigidly homogenous society, Mizu can’t assist however stand out. Attempt as she may to cowl them with coloured glasses or conceal them beneath hats, her ice-blue eyes betray the combined heritage that renders her an outcast, a freak, a monster. She additionally occurs to be a girl, although she retains that truth actually underneath wraps — binding her chest in order that she will transfer freely in regards to the nation, in pursuit of vengeance in opposition to the 4 white males (and due to this fact potential fathers) who have been in Japan on the time of her start. The search is her solely driving motivation, or so she believes. “I’ve no real interest in cash or energy,” she tells an enemy who tries to strike a take care of her. “I’ve no real interest in being completely satisfied. Solely glad.”
Blue Eye Samurai performs nicely as a remix of well-trod tropes. It’s not a fantasy collection, except you’re counting Mizu’s near-superhuman prowess with a sword, nevertheless it satisfies an identical itch as Sport of Thrones or The Witcher: the fun of crisscrossing a new-to-us world with characters who appear directly acquainted and distinctive. Mizu is a robust, silent kind a la Geralt of Rivia, full with a chatty sidekick within the irrepressible Ringo (Masi Oka) — however the mixture of depth, nonchalance and badassery contained in Erskine’s rasp feels solely her personal. Her Mulan-ish sexual pressure along with her samurai rival Taigen (Darren Barnet) goes underexplored, however yields sufficient sparks to energy 100 fanfics. Sheltered princess Akemi (Brenda Tune) undergoes a journey of gradual self-empowerment that performs a bit like Sansa Stark’s with extra intercourse and fewer distress. The mentors are outdated and sensible and given to talking in metaphors. The villains alternate between growled threats and florid monologues.
To these, Blue Eye Samurai provides its personal distinctive prospers. Creators Amber Noizumi and Michael Inexperienced discover the stability between admiring Seventeenth-century Japan and over-exoticizing it by centering the views of characters who’ve grown up throughout the tradition. (In an offhand element that’ll certainly amuse dairy-loving Individuals, the Japanese are completely repulsed by Fowler’s consumption of curdled cow milk.) Its animation, courtesy of supervising director Jane Wu and studio Blue Spirit, is usually placing. Though a little bit of CG blandness peeks by means of every now and then, way more of the present is comprised of nature vistas that look nearly painted by hand, or motion scenes choreographed with sharply stylized precision.
But Blue Eye Samurai falls wanting its potential for delivering one thing actually contemporary. Its political plots unfold straightforwardly and leisurely, with only a few actual surprises. It gestures at themes of feminism or anti-colonialism, however by no means digs deep sufficient to give you something significantly incisive or authentic to say about them. (Not that it isn’t nonetheless scrumptious to listen to Ming-Na Wen, voicing a madam, advise Akemi on how straightforward it truly is to manage males: “Their pricks are fragile, uncovered,” she sniffs.) Likewise, it stays unclear what we’re meant to make of Mizu’s revenge quest — whether or not it’s meant to seem corrosive or noble, whether or not we’re supposed to fret for her or cheer her on unreservedly.
Leisure appears to be Blue Eye Samurai‘s at the beginning concern, and there it succeeds with flying colours. Its heroes are straightforward to like and its villains enjoyable to hate. There are tragic backstories and steamy intercourse scenes and sufficient bits of humor and lightness — a lot of it courtesy of Ringo — to interrupt up Mizu’s perpetual grimness. And naturally there’s all that superior, gasp-inducing bloodshed: tooth flying, our bodies crumpling, heads sliced cleanly in half, a lone and exhausted fighter slashing her means by means of a whole hallway of brutish warriors. The season’s last minutes tease of even greater, bolder adventures forward for Mizu. The eight hours previous them make the promise appear one value fulfilling.