Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman

Zatoichi – Lullaby

From the early 60’s to the early 70’s, numerous movies about the adventures of Zatoichi were made. The setting is feudal Japan, and the scenery is quiet beautiful. From this point on, I will outline the plot, which is essentially the same in every movie, but explored differently.

Zatoichi is blind. He is also an unstoppable swordsman. I think, at the start of the series of movies, Zatoichi is found working for a crime syndicate. He has qualms with commands that he harm innocents. He attempts to solve the problems without conflict, but is forced to kill his way out of the problem or risk harm to innocent lives. Then, with no place to go, he wanders into the sunset.

This is, essentially, the entire series. With one addition. Those lives which he saves, almost always reject him due to his mass slaughtering. Despite that he did everything within his power to prevent that very slaughter. He can also be, not merely rejected, but betrayed. He will also be found to leave people he loves, for their protection – he is regularly being pursued by syndicates. All result in him moving on, wandering into the unknown, alone.

Throughout all of this, he is a jovial and amiable man with strong moral principles, work-ethic, and a deep concern for others. But when trouble comes, he displays the necessary behaviors for those situations – behaviors that scare most people. So, no peace is to be found for our great Zatoichi.

I love this series for the simple reason that I see myself in Zatoichi. There, I said it – I’m a blind, master swordsman who’s left a pile of dead criminals behind me. No, not really.

Oh, the Zatoichi franchise has had many, many iterations. I think a TV series immediately followed the string of original movies. The others I’ve viewed weren’t as good. I think the actor himself paid for a final, much later movie. It was ass.


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~ by Louis Naughtic on August 6, 2016.

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