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Manga / Blade of the Immortal

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Blade of the Immortal (無限の住人 Mugen no Junin) is a Samurai epic by Hiroaki Samura, set in 18th century Edo period Japan, which tells the story of a girl named Asano Rin, and her badass bodyguard Manji. Manji is immortal thanks to an infestation of kessen-chu, sacred worms that pervade his system and knit together any injuries he sustains. He can die only by beheading or by coming into contact with a particularly rare poison. His goal in the series is to remove the curse of his immortality, which will happen if he kills 1000 evil men in reparation for the 100 innocents he killed as an outlaw.

Two years prior to the beginning of the story, Rin's father (a swordsmanship teacher) was murdered and her mother was brutally raped in front of her eyes by the members of the Itto-ryu: a renegade sword school led by Anotsu Kagehisa. Rin vowed to track Anotsu down and kill him in revenge, and so she hired Manji to help her fulfil her quest. The series follows Rin and Manji as they travel through feudal Japan, fighting members of the Itto-ryu and other enemies, and meeting comrades with questionable morality of their own.

Blade of the Immortal originally ran from 1993 to 2012, published in Kodansha's Monthly Afternoon seinen magazine. Kodansha partnered with Dark Horse Comics for an English localization. Unusually for manga, rather than use either the then-common practice of flipping the pages left-to-right for the English release (which can cause text errors), or publish the English version in the Japanese right-to-left page order (common practice nowadays), Samura insisted the pages be printed left-to-right with the panels rearranged, even partially redrawing many pages himself to facilitate this. From 2015 to 2020, Dark Horse reprinted Blade in ten three-book omnibus volumes.

Bee Train along with Production I.G produced a partial 2008 anime adaptation which saw a US release from Media Blasters.

A live action adaptation, directed by Takashi Miike was released in 2017.

A sequel manga titled Blade of the Immortal: Bakumatsu Arc began serialization in 2019. As it name implies, the series takes place during the turbulent Bakumatsu era during the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Samura is a collaborator, but it is written by Kenji Takigawa and illustrated by Ryu Suenobu.

In 2019, a new anime adaptation by Liden Films covering the entire manga, subtitled "Immortal", began streaming on Amazon Prime.

Blade of the Immortal provides examples of:

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    # - D 
  • Action Girl: Makie is the best swordfighter in the series, even beating out the main villain and the main character.
    • Doa is also seriously dangerous and even Rin can make a reasonable showing on a good day.
    • Hyakurin also qualifies as one, as she's quite competent with her bow and arrow and even a sword when she needs to be.
    • Ryo was trained in person by her father, Habaki Kagimura, and is just as deadly as that would imply.
    • Out of the kunoichi, Meguro, Tanpopo and Hanabusa's stable of kunoichi mostly all qualify.
  • Actually, That's My Assistant: When Habaki assigns the shogun's feared executioner Yamada Asaemon to assist Burando with his experiments, Burando meets the arrival of an enormous, intimidating and ornately-dressed swordsman accompanied by a small, plainly-dressed, withered-looking man with a blank expression, who discusses the nature of the job with Burando... before turning to the small man and confirming things with his master. The tiny man is much more than he appears.
  • Adrenaline Makeover: Rin during her search for Manji in volumes 20 and 21.
  • Affably Evil: Anotsu is quite genteel. His treatment of Hisoka particularly displays this.
  • Always Save the Girl: Played straight and gender-swapped between Manji and Rin. Both of them will go to any lengths to protect each other, and Rin actually states that a stranger's life doesn't mean as much to her as Manji's.
  • Always Someone Better: Makie, particularly in Anotsu's eyes.
    Anotsu: I already knew... instinctively... that she'd walk ahead of me the rest of my life.
  • Anachronism Stew: Dialogue ranges from period appropriate to totally modern, the various weapons and techniques range from primitive to steampunk, punk hairdos are totally common, and a couple people even have sunglasses.
  • Anime Hair: Magatsu sports a pretty impressive hairdo. It is later lampshaded by Master Sori.
  • Anti-Climax: When the long-awaited final duel between Manji and Anotsu finally happens, Anotsu is already so worn-down and injured from his just-finished epic duel with Habaki (and Manji is, of course, Manji) that it's not even a contest- while Anotsu is a far superior swordsman to Manji on a technical level, Manji just smacks him around with ease and hacks off his sword arm. Many consider this to be a Post-Climax Confrontation, with the real Final Battle being Anotsus vs. Kagimura, and even that was ended on another Anti-Climax due to Manji interfering.
  • Anti-Hero: Manji was a violent thug before starting on his quest (and he hasn't gotten any nicer).
  • Appendage Assimilation: Manji's bloodworms don't discriminate when they're healing him, they'll bind together any flesh available, whether it originally belonged to him or not. Cue Burando, the resident Mad Doctor, figuring out how to transfer his immortality through serial limb transplants.
    • After stealing Arashino's massive left arm (and grafting it on his RIGHT side) and using it to kick ass during the climax, Manji ends the series after the Time Skip with Anotsu's sword-arm in place of his own.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted with Shishiya Arashino's armor that makes him nigh-invulnerable.
  • Art Evolution: As well as Samura moving from his painstakingly shaded and more realistic drawings (which are now only used for chapter covers) to a slightly scruffier, yet very dynamic mark-making style, some of the the characters are barely recognizable from the earlier volumes.
  • Art Shift: The art grows much more detailed during the major climaxes of each arc.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Habaki Kagimura, a government official badass enough to rip out his own eye from the socket when it was pierced with a hairpin, while barely flinching.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Manji and Rin need to get a room at this point.
  • Ax-Crazy: Shira, Shira, Shira.
  • Badass and Child Duo: At the end of the series Manji gets assigned to bodyguard Rin's adorable great-great-granddaughter Fuyu.
  • Badass in Distress: Manji, during the Prison Arc, and Anotsu when he contracts tetanus.
  • Beautiful All Along: Subversion: Rin tries to pull this off and gets laughed at by Manji.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Both Yamada Asaemon and his apprentice Benki qualify big-time. They're introduced through an Actually, That's My Assistant moment where The Dreaded "Kubikiri Asa", the Shogun's executioner, is revealed to be the small, withered-looking man with the strange expressionless face rather than the huge, hulking mountain of muscle, but the eccentric Asaemon proves to be one of the deadliest swordsmen in the series despite his bizarre mannerisms (he rates himself as better than Habaki Kagimura), capable of striking multiple times with impeccable accuracy faster than the eye can follow and slicing through metal with no more than a shift of his wrist. Benki also qualifies, despite being set up to look like a comical buffoon (his name is a play on the famous warrior monk Benkei, only shortened to mean "toilet")- while quirky, bombastic and overdramatic, he is also just as strong as his size suggests (not as strong as the monolithic Isaku or Arashino, but strong enough to bend metal bars with his bare hands) and we get to hear his thought when he's attempting to stop Rin from rescuing Manji, revealing him to actually be surprisingly astute, sensible and calculating.
  • Big Damn Heroes: All. The. Fragging. Time.
    • Special mention for the Last Blood arc, where this happens three times in a row- first Rin and Anotsu are saved from the Shingyoto-ryu by Manji, then Magatsu shows up and finally Makie intervenes.
  • Blood Knight: The happiest moment in Shira's life was when he realised he had 'two guys he desperately wanted to kill no matter what.
  • Bloodstained Defloration: Briefly alluded to when Anotsu Kagehisa marries Ibane Hisoka to seal a political deal with her adoptive father Kensui. He's concerned for her on their wedding night due to her poor health, but she replies that she'd be a poor samurai's daughter if she couldn't handle the pain of losing her virginity.
  • Blunt "Yes": By Giichi during his Ain't Too Proud to Beg moment:
    Makie: You , who have murdered so many Itto-ryu, now dare to plead for your life?
    Giichi: I do. I beseech you.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Inverted, in that Rin is the one with the crush on Manji, though he eventually falls for her as well.
  • Body Horror: Way, way too many examples to list.
  • Book Ends: The series begins with Rin, on Yaobikuni's advice, finding Manji and convincing him to be her bodyguard. The final volume ends about 90 years into the future, with Yaobikuni bringing Rin's great-great-granddaughter Fuyu to Manji for protection.
  • Boxed Crook: All of the members of the Mugai-ryu, as well as most of the Rokki.
  • Breaking Speech— Anotsu administers one (including a "Not So Different" Remark) to Rin during their first encounter
  • Broken Bird: Hyakurin and Makie, before their appearances in the story. As the storyline progresses it's more like "Completely Shattered Bird". Also Rin, and Doa, to some extent, though it's only implied from a few flashbacks.
  • Calling Your Attacks: "Flight of the Golden Wasps!", which everyone points out is a stupid name and a stupid move altogether. She keeps using the move, but wises up and stops calling it.
  • The Cat Came Back: Shira just keeps on coming back, doesn't he? More importantly, he always comes back more dangerous and screwed up than last time.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Did ANYONE manage to predict the return of Renzo?
  • The Chessmaster: Habaki at first, but then as time runs out he resorts to more desperate and straightforward tactics.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Ozuhan.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Instigators: Mostly Shira. Victims: Mostly Hyakurin.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Pretty much every character that is not a Samurai, and the basis for the philosophy behind the Itto-ryu school.
    • The Itto-ryu's philosophy is a bit more in-depth than that; as long as a battle is one-on-one then anything is legitimate, no matter how tricky or dirty, because as long as you kill your opponent in the end then all your dirty tricks just meant you were stronger than them. However as soon as anyone lends you any aid, you can't claim to be definitely stronger than your opponent because it wasn't just "you" versus "them" any more, and your victory is worthless.
  • Cool Mask: Araya makes these for a living. Ozuhan is never seen without his.
  • Cool Old Guy: Itto-ryu veteran Abayama Sosuke, who kicks ass even when missing an arm.
  • Cool Shades: Giichi's.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Zigzagged throughout the series, depending on the occasion.
    • Main characters almost always have a much more difficult time against each other than they do when fighting armies of Mooks.
    • Totally averted at the start of the Prison Arc, when Manji is captured by a literal army of shogunate officers.
    • Averted again in "Through The Deep Snow". Manji would have lost to Shira if it weren't for the help of several other members of the cast.
  • Covered with Scars: Manji has scars over every inch of his body. This is proven to gruesome effect whenever he's poisoned with kessen-satsu, which undoes all the bonding the kessen-chu have done to his damaged body, causing his old wounds to reopen.
  • Creator Cameo: The mangaka Hiroaki Samura appears as a pinwheel seller in episode 10. He also did key animation for two episodes and provided a scroll painting in the 13th episode of the series.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Four armed and armored shogunate guards run across Shiranote  and attempt to kill him on-sight. He kills three of them in one panel, and the fourth gets her arm cut off as soon as she tries to attack. You... don't want to know what happens next.
  • Cursed with Awesome: The kessen-chu. Manji was originally given them solely to keep him from committing seppuku and leaving Machi alone and his original motive was to get rid of them by killing 1000 evil men. Of course, he would have died in the first volume without them.
  • Daddy's Girl: Habaki loves his illegitimate daughter Ryo, and in return has her absolute loyalty.
  • Dance Battler: Makie is incredibly acrobatic when fighting, using an almost capoeira-like style at times.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: Given that most kinds of wounds are just a temporary inconvenience to Manji, he's perfectly willing to tank a hit if it allows him to kill his opponent in return.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Shira, who apparently has no qualms about raping young boys along with women. Sometimes it borders on something else...
  • Distant Finale: The final chapter leaps ninety years into the future, to the time of the Meiji restoration. Manji is still around, of course, and Yaobikuni recruits him to protect Rin's granddaughter Fuyu.
  • Doing In the Wizard: The arc where Manji is captured by the bakufu and experimented on by Mad Scientist Burando dabbles with this, as Burando finally traces down the source of the kessen-chu within Manji (a network of six small additional organs implanted into his body) and deduces how they work, as well as the limits of Manji's immortality and how he can actually be killed. However it's never fully explained how Yaobikuni created them, or managed to implant them in Manji.
  • Driven to Suicide: Since the story takes place in a feudal Japan this happens a lot, most notably in the form of seppuku. However several characters openly criticize this, especially how common it is in their society.
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: Rin first kisses Manji after he passes out from exhaustion.
    • Manji does this to Makie when her tuberculosis gets the better of her to pass the medicine he held in his mouth.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Magatsu, due to his dead little sister, has a habit of going out of his way to protect any young girl he comes across, even if they're his enemy. So far it's applied to O-Ren, Tatsu, Meguro, Rin and Ryo.

    E - M 
  • Ear Ache: Both Giichi and later Anotsu suffer this.
  • Ear Cleaning: Once Rin starts behaving more affectionately toward Manji she also starts taking care of him, including offering to clean his ears, an offer he dubiously accepts.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: It's very easy to forget, but Baro Sukezane, a major Itto-Ryu member who doesn't become important until volume 22, makes his first appearance in volume 12 when he delivers news to Anotsu while he's staying at the Shingyoto-Ryu dojo and Anotsu asks him to look for Makie.
  • The Eeyore: Whatever her choices, Makie always ends up depressed. Though to be fair her life has been one big Trauma Conga Line.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Unless you're talking about Shira.
  • Eye Scream: Happens way too often, and nearly always in grisly detail.
  • Exotic Weapon Supremacy: Actually something of a plot point - the reason the Itto-ryu are carving their way across Japan is to get rid of the restrictions on weapons training, and one of those restrictions is that you have to stick to boring old katanas. As a result, the various ruffians who make up the main cast have all sorts of weird and wonderful ways to slice each other up, whilst regular swords are largely the reserve of disposable mooks.
  • Face of a Thug: Dewanosuke, a simple, kind-hearted petty criminal who, in Manji's words, 'looks like a mass-murderer'.
  • Foil: Manji and Shira are this to each other; they're both similar characters, but Shira's lack of a moral compass is meant to highlight Manji's sense of right and wrong. (and vice versa)
    • Isaku and Doa are also this, with Isaku's calm demeanor being a sharp contrast to Doa's hotheaded nature.
  • Foreshadowing: While dwelling on the atrocities he's committed trying to find a way to transfer Manji's immortality, Dr. Burando mentions that he successfully transferred it to some of his patients, as long as they have Manji's limbs attached before abandoning the goal entirely. Some twenty chapters later, Shira's not just back from the apparent dead: he's immortal.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Giichi, a shipwright turned governmental assassin. Also, Shira.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Manji's sister, after her brother kills her husband right in front of her.
  • Gonk: Many minor male characters. Some of them resemble orcs more than anything.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Manji has lost his right eye and has two long parallel scars across his forehead and the bridge of his nose.
    • Of course he has plenty more scars on his body. Heck, there is no way you could guess he is a good guy just by looking at him (and even if you could it is debatable just how good he is actually...)
      • Manji's body is virtually MADE of scars (most obvious when he is poisoned with kessen-satsu and all his old wounds open up).
  • Good Thing You Can Heal
  • Gorn: We're talking about a series that rivals Hellsing and Berserk in this area. That should tell you something.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Two members of the Rokki-dan are apparently Dutch and give out some very quirky one-liners from time to time.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Gets closer to Black-and-Gray Morality each time Shira is involved.
  • Hammerspace: Manji seemingly carries a whole arsenal of bladed weapons inside his kimono and yet there is no evidence of them being present when not in use.
  • Handicapped Badass: Sosuke Abayama, one-armed second in command of the Ittō-ryū.
  • Harmless Lady Disguise: A plot point revolves around the fact that Anotsu plans on travelling to Kaga undetected by disguising himself as a woman. It's then subverted, as Anotsu turns out to have simply leaked some false information and then hired several prostitutes to pose as his decoys.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Magatsu, the only one of Anotsu's Itto-ryu henchmen to survive his encounter with Manji and later becomes his ally.
    • Notably, he is the only one of the original group that attacked Rin's parents that is still alive (aside from Anotsu, of course). In a flashback, we see that he tried to convince his companions to leave Rin and her mother alone before finally walking away in disgust, showing that even then he was more of an Anti-Villain.
    • His participating in the ploy to kill Manji makes him more a Heel–Face Revolving Door.
  • Heroic Neutral: Master Sori.
  • Historical Domain Character: Yamada Asaemon, the shogun's executioner and sword-tester, is based on the same person as the protagonist of Samurai Executioner.
  • Holding Hands: Manji and Rin, a few times.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: O-Ren was just a sweet girl who sold her body since she was thirteen to pay for her dying mother's medicine, and dreamed of being married to the man she loved when she became free.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Isaku and Doa. Manji and Rin to a less exaggerated degree (see image above).
  • Immortality Hurts
  • Immunity Disability: The protagonist, Manji, is not only immortal but can heal from virtually any wound. This comes back to bite him a few times:
    • In general, Manji bemuses that although he's one of the best swordsmen in Japan, his sword skills have slowly gotten worse because knowing he can't die dulls his instincts.
    • There's a special poison that works only on immortals; it doesn't directly kill them, but it basically reopens every single wound they've ever received after becoming immortal. When used on Manji, the results are especially gory, excruciating, and horrific.
  • Important Haircut: Makie, deliberately making herself worthless as a prostitute. Hyakurin cuts her hair as an offering to a fallen friend.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Plenty - see Exotic Weapon Supremacy above. The mangaka admits that most of Manji's weapons are of his own design and have no historical precedent, but the grand prize goes to Giichi, who somehow manages to be one of the deadliest fighters in the series despite being armed with a guillotine-flail.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Subverted. Makie has an apparently incurable respiratory disease, tuberculosis. Fortunately for her, Itto-ryu got a competent doctor to maintain her and during her last fight Manji manages to obtain a superior version of an in-universe tuberculosis cure, Asaemon pills. However, the medicine's effect is only temporary.
    • Subverted again. When she begins to cough up blood during her battle with Giichi, he moves in to kill her and promptly gets his hand cut off. Turns out Anotsu had given her the cure long time ago, but she was hesitant to take it since in the beginning she didn't know if she wanted to continue living as a murderer and later she question whether her she wanted to life so bad that she had to eat the Asaemon pills that is made of human liver. She had faked succumbing to the tuberculosis by biting off the tip of her own tongue so she could appear to cough up blood because Giichi looked strong and she need a diversion
  • Instrument of Murder: Makie conceals her weapon within a shamisen, which she also plays on occasion.
  • Irony: One of the first of many terrible things we see Shira do is feed Rin the dog she befriended for sick kicks. He meets his end when he is eaten alive by wolves.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Manji, to Rin, in the early stages of their relationship.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Averted. While some great swordsmen use the basic katana (most notably Habaki Kagimura and Yamada Asaemon), almost every serious threat uses a unique personal weapon with some kind of trick to it. Tellingly the greatest fighter in the series uses a combination of a pike and three section staff. The Big Bad (sorta, see Gray-and-Gray Morality) explicitly chose a Chinese sword and a enormous and deadly axe as his weapons to prove that the katana is worthless, and has so far succeeded. Particularly when a poor samurai gets a head-crushing object lesson on why a thin sliver of metal isn't the best shield against a twenty kilo axe.
    • The main arc actually revolves around this trope as, due to xenophobia within Japan, a non-katana or foreign weapon-wielding swordsman is considered a heretic and would be cause for expulsion from accepted sword schools. Anotsu's grandfather was expelled from his sword school for this reason and ended up creating Itto-ryu, a school devoted to proving that the katana and its traditional sword-style is not the be-all and end-all of swordsmanship.
    • Another thing is that, since the katana is the most-commonly-used weapon in this era, several characters in this story (such as Giichi) devised a weapon and fighting style that can be defined as "anti-katana" making normal katana-users an easy target for them.
  • Kissing Cousins: Anotsu and Makie are second cousins (grandparents were siblings) and blatantly romantically attached, although their relationship is pretty complicated.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Every time Shira shows up, the series' tone darkens considerably.
  • Knight Templar: Habaki. He was certainly obsessed with eliminating the Itto-ryu before, but now that his seppuku is coming closer, the man is obsessed with erasing not only the Itto-ryu, but anything and anyone that gets in his way.
  • Lady of War: Makie is the strongest fighter in the series, is graceful and quick enough to avoid the blood spray from all of her attacks, and is lovely enough to inspire Rin to jealousy.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Take her Manji away, and the adorable, averagely-strong Rin becomes a force of destruction against anything standing between herself and her man.
  • Light Is Not Good: Shira has a bright kimono with sun painted on it, and later his hair turns white. He is also an extremely sadistic Psycho for Hire.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Manji's trademark black-and-white swastika kimono. Lampshaded in Chapter 141, where Rin is utterly flabbergasted to learn that they're actually sold in stores: she'd always thought he'd sewn them himself.
  • Little Miss Badass: Doa, who is a bit older than usual but still has the body type.
  • Made of Plasticine: The katana is a very effective cutting weapon, but seriously, taking off multiple limbs in one stroke is just ridiculous.
    • Katana sharpness is actually known for this capability, especially the handmade custom katana. The Mythbusters actually tested the "bone question" in a web episode, only to learn that katana is sharp, thin and has enough force to cut through bone easily. Manji (and presumably the rest of the other characters) actually regularly maintain and sharpen his katanas to keep this capability. On the other hand, it's also mentioned several times in this series that not all katanas in the series are well made or properly maintained enough to have the capability.
  • Mad Scientist: Burando, or more precisely a Mad Doctor.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: All the prisoners from the Prison arc wearing otter hoods, though they only attack because they've been driven insane through hideous torture.
  • Market-Based Title: You know how successful the title change is when even the hardcore otaku doesn't refer the series as Mugen no Juunin (Inhabitant of Infinity), which is the original title.
    • Success that passed over to other countries as well, A Lamina do Imortal in Brazil, La Espada del Inmortal in Spain and Miecz nieśmiertelnego in Poland are direct translations of Blade of the Immortal; the German version doesn't even bother with a translation and goes with the English title. It seems only France has taken up the original Japanese title with L'Habitant de L'Infini
  • Master Swordsman: The series is full of them, although surprisingly Manji isn't one of them- he's a great fighter, but leans on his immortality most of the time (he barely has any fights where he doesn't take at least one wound that would be fatal to a normal person). Anotsu, Habaki Kagimura and Yamada Asaemon are probably the most prominent examples. However, the trope is subverted when the two most deadly warriors in the series aren't swordsmen: Habaki's assassin Giichi, who uses a weird flying guillotine on a chain (and later a pair of chained sickles he borrows from Manji), and Makie Otonotachibana, the single deadliest warrior in the series, who uses a sort of three-sectioned glaive instead of a sword (and is also not a "man" either).
  • Mirror Boss: During Manji's final fight against Shira, the latter is revealed to be immortal, just like him...
  • Mistaken Identity: Manji is introduced to the Rokki when, thanks to sharing similar Distinguishing Marks with their target, they mistake him for Itto-ryu member Sukezane Baro.
  • Mixed Metaphor: Doma of the Rokki-dan mentally drops a rather random one near the end of the series while Habaki Kagimura is proclaiming death sentences on their adversaries after casually dismissing Anotsu's claims that they're all murderers here.
    Doma: Sheesh, he's like a black pot in a glass house...
  • Motive Decay: Manji's "kill 1000 evil men to be free of the kessen-chu" story is pretty much forgotten after the first few volumes, although it's briefly brought up again in volume 14 when he reminds Rin that he can't just hack down anyone she tells him to.
  • Mouth To Mouth Force Feeding: When Makie is on the verge of collapsing due to her tuberculosis while being surrounded by Kagimura's men, Manji swoops in and kisses her after drinking some tuberculosis medcine, allowing her to recover and immediately kill her opponents.
  • Mugged for Disguise: In her first appearance, Hyakurin steals a kimono from a woman as part of an assassination plot, leaving the woman and her husband Bound and Gagged in a closet. She actually thanks them for the outfit and apologizes for inconveniencing them before she leaves.
  • Musical Assassin: Ozuhan carries a whistle which causes anyone who hears it terrible pain, though why this is hasn't been explained since Ozuhan is conveniently a deaf mute.
  • Mutual Disadvantage: Shishiya Arashino fight with Manji starts with one having a Healing Factor, and other being Nigh-Invulnerable.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Burando again. He repents by visiting the families of his victims and doing proper doctor work.

    N - Z 
  • Ninja: Took a while to show up, but it's eventually revealed the shogunate have got droves of them.
  • Noble Demon: Anotsu. See the character page.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed / Musical Theme Naming / Named After Somebody Famous: The villains in the first volume are named Gyobutsu Johnny (Johnny Rotten), Shido Hishiyasu (Sid Vicious) and Kuroi Sabato (Black Sabbath). Doubles as Shout-Out given Hiroaki Samura's taste for these bands.
    • Possibly Dr. Brando/ Burando/Blando.
    • Abayama Sosuke have the logo of the band ABBA on the trim of his kimono.
  • No Swastikas: Subversion: The name Manji refers to the Japanese symbol that looks like a backwards "swastika" or sauvastika. He wears the symbol on his back, which is one of the reasons they didn't "reverse the art" in the US publication.
    • In the German version they had to remove the symbol on Manji's back and made it a simple cross, since it's forbidden in Germany to show it anywhere, despite the fact that the story takes place centuries before the rise of the Nazis. For comparison
      • This has actually gotten to the point where Dark Horse Comics put a disclaimer on the inside cover of the book stating the difference between Manji's Buddhist insignia, and the German Swastika.
    • The 2019 anime modifies the symbol on Manji's back to be a bit less recognizable.
  • Off with His Head!: Happens all the time to mooks, and it's very rarely clean and precise.
  • One-Man Army: Manji is the most blatant example, famously slaughtering a hundred police officers. However Habaki and Makie also easily qualify and, following the infiltration of Edo Castle, so do Anotsu, Magatsu, Baro and Ozuhan (well, a Four-Man Army anyway).
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Whilst Manji has an excuse, even the ordinary humans can take ludicrous amounts of punishment and still remain functional, especially when one considers the decidedly primitive medical care available. Magatsu is a particularly big offender, repeatedly shrugging off getting Impaled with Extreme Prejudice like it ain't no thing.
    • This affect Manji's sword skill quite considerably, as the immortality turns him into sloppy fighter that constantly gets hit and bested by his opponent. At some point Manji actually thanks the opponent for giving his "fear" back.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Rin's current stance on the subject of revenge against Anotsu
  • Only Six Faces: At the beginning this tended to occur with the female and minor characters, though it has improved significantly over time.
  • Pain Mistaken for Sex: Makie had sewed her right hand closed so that she wouldn't be tempted to pick up her sword again, and when Anotsu pulled out the strings, she started screaming in agony. Rin was sitting outside Makie's hut as they were doing this, and it's obvious by her expression and what she says to Anotsu afterward what she thought had been going on.
  • Perma-Stubble: Literally with Manji, as his condition makes him unable to either shave it off or turn it into a proper beard.
  • Pet the Dog: Ironically while being eaten by dogs, Shira tells Renzo to stop the Cycle of Revenge, though it's mainly due to the fact that it's nearly impossible to kill Manji. "—And don't ever listen to men like me!"
  • Piggyback Cute: Manji carries Rin this way a few times.
  • Platonic Prostitution: Magatsu and O-Ren.
  • Playing with Syringes: Several volumes are dedicated to the human experiments on immortality.
  • Plucky Girl: Rin isn't strong, but she just won't give up.
  • Pregnant Badass: Hyakurin, after being gang raped in "Beasts".
  • Pretty Boy: Anotsu is remarkably delicate and softly drawn in comparison to the other fighter characters. He himself acknowledges his slender build when explaining his choice of weapon, and other characters call him "pretty." This goes so far as that everyone (including professional government assassins) are willing to believe that Anotsu could sneak around as a woman unnoticed.
  • Psycho for Hire: Shira once he leaves the Mugai-ryu. Or maybe even before then, to be honest.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Itto-ryu is a villainous example of democracy at its finest. The only criterion to join is strength: men, women, commoners, foreigners, thieves, rapists, people over two-hundred years old, people with three heads, anyone is welcome! The Mugai-ryu is a less extreme (but more dramatic) example.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Almost all of the main characters have blood-stained hands, but they are still portrayed sympathetically despite having killed countless of others. Shira, who is a sadistic Serial Rapist in addition to being a killer, is portrayed as a monster.
  • Rasputinian Death: Shira's demise. Also, Shishiya Arashino's death involves being set on fire and then hacked to pieces.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Rin delivers a pretty amazing one to Doctor Burando.
  • Reluctant Warrior: Makie. Her mother taught her that being a prostitute is better than killing people. You can rest assured that when she gracefully kills you, she will look very, very sad.
  • Revenge: Deconstructed, as Rin and Anotsu begin to develop a much more complex relationship than that of "avenger" and "avengee".
    • Shira's last words to Renzo are to stop seeking revenge against Manji because it's impossible. Renzo finds him anyway, but Rin offers to let him cut off her hand instead since she needs Manji's hand to complete her journey/mission. Magatsu intervenes and tells Renzo to learn more about his father and the Itto-ryu before deciding for himself.
    • At the end of the manga, Rin finally kills Anotsu instead of letting him escape as Manji would have done. She later states that it was not for her personal revenge, but to prevent the cycle from repeating itself next generation after Manji defeated him. Unfortunately, Anotsu is still alive when his body is carried to the ship, albeit missing an arm and with some serious wounds.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: Rin and Doa when Manji (and later Isaku) is captured by the shogunate.
  • Sadistic Choice: Shira tries to invoke one on Manji in chapter 169. He has tied Rin to the underside of a dock in frigid water. When Manji tries to cut her loose, she sinks to the bottom of the lake and he find out too late that her feet are tied to a stone with knots too tight and complex to be undone with one arm (as Manji has lost one). Furthermore, Shira has confiscated all of Manji's weapons so that cutting Rin loose is not an option. And last but not least, the water is so cold that even Manji's immortal body can't stand up to it (cold, heat and drowning are explicitly stated to be things that immortality does squat against.
    So, in summation, Shira has created a situation in which Manji has to either try futilely to save Rin's life (only for them both to drown) or realize that it's hopeless and willingly allow his most important person to die in order to save himself. Shira wins either way, but he'd be especially happy to see Manji abandon her and then come back to kill Shira himself in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Sanity Slippage: Burando, who starts out as an idealistic (if immoral) doctor who actually believes that subjecting inmates to horrific experiments will bring progress. After he is locked away, he comes back... different (still a hypocrite, though).
  • Scenery Porn
  • Serrated Blade of Pain: Shira possesses a large cleaver-like sword with barbs, which he usually uses to maim, shred and sometimes rape his (frequently female) opponents.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: At Hyakurin's suggestion, Manji tries to steal a permit to be able to pass through the city borders and chase after Anotsu and Rin, who had left Edo. He tries to get it from a group of Itto-Ryu members, and gets chopped up pretty badly for his efforts, and even after that they failed to get the permit, because it's soaked with blood and therefore unusable. He is saved by Sori, who tells him that he has a bunch of permits that he can give to Manji, if he had just asked. Manji is pissed.
    Manji: Wh... what a fucking waste!! That whole fucking bloodbath, for nothing!!
  • Sinister Minister: The priest who tries to kill Manji in the prologue. Also Eiku, who dresses as a monk.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Rin wants revenge on Anotsu for killing her father, whose grandfather expelled Anotsu's grandfather from his school, while promoting his own son: Rin's grandfather: which is why Anotsu killed Rin's father in the first place.
    • Anotsu (in disguise) and a rather tipsy Hyakurin have a long conversation about how unfinished business is passed down from father to son and results in nothing but a cycle of misery with each new generation forced to carry the burden of revenge.
  • Sleep Cute: Manji and Rin, after she smacks him in the face for teasing her. They switch to each other's futons and hold hands as they fall asleep.
  • Spin to Deflect Stuff
  • Stalker with a Crush: Kuroi Sabato for Rin, and presumably other women in the past.
  • Stalker without a Crush: Rin for Anotsu, particularly when he goes to Kaga. Though he does make her incredibly flustered sometimes.
  • The Stoic: Giichi, until his son dies and he is "released" from the Mugai-ryu, after which he finds no reason to live any more. Interestingly, his eyes were never shown before this.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: During the Prison Arc Burando begins experimenting with Manji's Healing Factor by transplanting his limbs to other patients. However, the constant transplants are very stressful to Dewanosuke and thus his Healing Factor is so weak he's killed just like a normal person.
    • Furthermore, like any transplant or transfusion, blood type is extremely important. Burando got lucky with Dewanosuke and Manji have compatible blood types. When he tries to replicate the experiment on other inmates the body count starts piling up due to most recipients rejecting the transplants.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Manji and Rin join forces with various members of the Itto-ryu fairly often, and how "teeth clenching" their relationships are varies.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Getting out of the Mugai-ryu works like this; while the members get paid a bounty for each Itto-ryu they killed which goes towards buying their freedom, it's not about the value of the money, it's just a way of keeping score. When Giichi tries to use his (massive) account to buy Hyakurin's freedom, Habaki refuses him- the money isn't important, what's important is that Hyakurin earn her own freedom to atone for her crime. Subsequently subverted, however, when Habaki thinks of something worth Hyakurin's freedom Giichi can offer instead- bringing in Manji.
  • Tongue Suicide:
    • After losing to Anotsu for the first time, Rin threatens to kill herself by biting off her tongue if he tries to do anything indecent towards her.
    • The fiancée of an Itto-Ryu member dies after biting off the end of her tongue while being tortured for information about her lover.
  • Tongue Trauma: Makie bites her tongue and coughs up blood while fighting Giichi in order to lower his guard when they think her tuberculosis is acting up.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Rin, during the Prison Arc. Her attack "Flight of the Golden Wasps" is even useful for once!
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub: The English manga keeps certain things in Japanese, most commonly "kenshi" (swordsman) "toshu" (boss) and the titles of various officials and officers. There's a glossary in the back, and occasionally footnotes. The middle volumes, however (when Dana Lewis became sole translator) change "certain" to "a hell of a lot" including perfectly translatable words like "kachi" (soldier) "washi" (Japanese person) and even Japanese pronunciations of English words like "kirishitan" (Christian) requiring frequent flips to the glossary, even when there was clearly room on the page for a footnote. The end volumes fortunately get a new translator who dials it back.
  • Unknown Rival: Rin to Anotsu, at least at the beginning.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Not a "spell" as such, but Rin's "Flight of the Golden Wasps" technique. Anotsu analyses it and assesses it as useless unless she's backed up by a competent swordsman- and later in that same arc, he is the competent swordsman who takes advantage of it to easily win what would have otherwise been an almost impossible battle.
  • Waif-Fu: Makie, Doa, Ryo, Meguro. Rin's getting there.
    • It's explained by Magatsu that, in order for them to attack effectively, they need to learn how to utilise their entire body weight, since they don't have the sheer physical strength needed to inflict damage on opponents (usually bigger and heftier than they are) otherwise. This is done by two characters, Makie and Doa.
    • Makie, armed with a triple staff and a fighting style that contains spinning, jumping and kicking, gains enough momentum to inflict deadly force on the enemy.
    • Doa uses her blinding speed and nimbleness to put her whole weight behind each strike (hence why she jumps around when attacking).
    • Meguro, on the other hand, is mainly a spy, so fighting is not her main forte and she didn't understand or use the above principle. As running is her speciality, she opts to run around while trying to deal death by a thousand cuts. In reality this is also deadly , because the small injuries hamper the enemy's movement, leaving them unable to keep up with Meguro. They also suffer from major blood-loss. Unfortunately, this fighting style is useless against the immortal Shira, who is able to heal those small injuries quickly while Meguro slowly runs out of breath.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Ozuhan, even in midwinter.
  • Weapons Kitchen Sink: The soldiers of the Itto-ryu use a wide variety of weapons, including quite a few exotic ones. This is actually a plot point; they're out to break down the mystique around the Way of the Katana by destroying or assimilating every other dojo in the country, as they promote a philosophy of combat that boils down to "Go with what works" and "Seize any advantage to win," and thus view over-reliance on a single weapon or fighting style to be weakness.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Burando. He does it all For Science!, right?
    • Habaki and Anotsu could also be seen as versions of this, being men who are prepared to go to whatever lengths to benefit their country and their comrades.
    • To elaborate, Habaki main intention is the safety of the current government which he will cross many lines to do so, such as using death-row criminal to do his dirty work to hunt possible threat to the government, do immortality research that cost over 200 lives for the possibility of immortal-shogun and torturing the innocent for information on the possible threat.
    • Anotsu on the other hand wants to prove the weakness of the current government and wants to re-light the age of sword to strengthen the nation even it requires him crushing and killing many "weaker" aspect of the current government.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Specifically called out by Rin in Badger Hole.
    Rin: Truth be told... I've never thought Manji's life weighed the same as some stranger's.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: While several people do, Manji is not one of them. When the story starts, he's bored of life and laments the fact that confidence in his immortal body is causing his sword skills to slip.
    • Eiku Shizuma initially seems like a subversion (wants to rule the world) but lets Manji defeat him when he realizes how tired he's getting.
  • Wisdom from the Gutter: One of the most profound observations on Manji's immortality actually comes from the small-time felon Dewanosuke, a petty thief and arsonist with the face of a thug and a street vocabulary, brought in to serve as a guinea pig in the immortality transferral experiments.
    Dewanosuke: Boss, that carcass of yours is the real thing. But if they're talking about spreadin' it like measles, makin' a world where you don't need no doctor nor priest, well... that'd be one fucked-up world. A body what won't die's gotta be one hell of a burden, right? If a guy gets a body like that, maybe it's a message, see? Like, your sorry ass don't get to die 'cuz there's still shit you gotta do.
  • The Worf Effect: Several characters fall prey to it. Most notably, Manji.
  • World of Badass: Well, it is feudal Japan after all.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Meguro and Tanpopo, who act more like characters from a shonen harem comedy than a dark bloody seinen samurai manga.
  • You Killed My Father: The entire reason why Rin is after Anotsu. Things start to get more complicated as the series goes on, though.
    • Deconstructed with Renzo Araya to Manji. Read the entire series, then go back to the point where most of the bad things that happen to him in the series (including running into Shira) might not have happened if he hadn't chosen the path of revenge.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: In the aftermath of the Prison Arc, Habaki has been given a month to settle his affairs before he must commit seppuku. Additionally, Makie seems to have contracted tuberculosis in more recent chapters.

Alternative Title(s): Blade Of The Immortal