When You Can’t Move On – Mugen no Juunin Episode 3 Review

This is a review of Blade of the Immortal or Mugen no Juunin episode three. Let’s count this as Day 16: Vengeance and supernatural pacts, part III.

Check out last week’s episode two review here.

Okay I am sorry, but what?

I already feel like I am missing half the plot while watching these episodes, then the baddie of the week turns tail and decides to self-destruct her life? After it was going pretty well for her?

The people in this anime are all portrayed as realistically flawed individuals. It was a different time, in a culture foreign from my own. I have no problem with these things. We all have our own motives for why we do things, our own mental blocks for why we don’t. I can understand a loss of faith, or lack of direction in life…but I cannot understand this.

So this episode we meet Otonotachibana Makie, who is an entrepreneur of sorts. She is a prostitute moonlighting as a swordsman moonlighting as a geisha moonlighting as an assassins and spy. Clearly, Makie has a lot on her plate.

The head of the mysterious Itto-ryu Anotsu Kagehisa has contracted her to kill Manji for the deaths of the two irrelevant men in the last episodes. Apparently, Anotsu brought Makie’s freedom from the whorehouse she worked in and she found a job amongst the geisha. One of her fellow geisha admits that she was a prostitute before coming to the establishment. The woman tells of dreams she had of running off with one of her patrons to start a new life.

It didn’t work out.

The pair were caught and the man hung himself as a result. It wasn’t explicitly stated, but maybe he took his own life out of guilt or heartbreak. Makie seems to really internalize this story and believes that because her co-worker’s dream didn’t work out, neither will hers.

After a failed assassination attempt earlier in this episode, Makie strolls down to where Rin and Manji are staying. Rin, for whatever reason, is jealous. Last episode Rin was calling Manji big-brother and now she is jealous he’s having (what she perceives to be) casual sex with a prostitute. So upset, that there is an entire sequence revolved around her drowning her sorrows in pudding. The shop owner listens to her complaints and then tries to sleep with her before she throws up all over the floor.

I guess this was her version of getting wasted.

Anywho, Manji and Makie resume their fight. Both times, the back alley and surrounding area are literally deserted. No one is around, except for the little girl who popped up after the first fight. Mainly because she wanted Makie’s hairpin.

Aside from that, the section of town is desolate. No witnesses at all. No inquiries on the gallons of blood coming down from the heavens as if it were rain.

The two fight, and I don’t know if this is out of line for me to say, but I’ll say it anyway: these fights are poetic with slight erotic undertones. For instance, when Manji is stabbed it seems like his eyes roll to the back of his head before his blood comes raining down all over Makie. It mirrors an ejaculation. As did episode one, where the old pervert stuck his fingers down Rin’s throat to mimic oral sex. The anticipated suicide would have been his climax.

I don’t know if it’s animated that way on purpose, but mixed with the poetry and precise musical cues to enhance the mood, that is my verdict. It’s a completely mental thing without any stimulation.

But going back to the fight, Manji has been bested. He admits defeat, forgetting his agreement with Rin again for the third episode in a row. The show is called Blade of the Immortal, but Manji was making suggestions on how Makie could end his life for good. The whole time watching the fight sequence I had to wonder if Rin was really that annoying that he was begging this woman to kill him while he told Rin to go wait in a sweets shop.

Just then, as she must have heard my thoughts, here comes Rin to protect Manji from the final blow. Manji is clearly annoyed and just wanted to die. He didn’t want to deal with Rin’s weak attempt at swordplay.

Makie just stands there before questioning Rin if her revenge is really justified. Rin fumbles around, her sword hands tremble and she has a complete breakdown. Through tears, she kind of makes a case for why her revenge is valid? Again…I don’t think she’s there yet. She couldn’t convince Manji of her revenge, or the artist from last week. Rin is just sitting on the ground crying.

The woman moonlighting as a swordsman, assassin, spy, and geisha decides to take pity on this pathetic scene. A scene so pathetic even Manji is embarrassed and would rather be dead than retain his immortality.

Just like that, in a fate worse than death – she tells Manji to take care of and protect Rin before walking off into the sunset. She leaves a note for Anotsu writing of her departure. Anotsu may have had feelings for her, or he may have been using her. Makie decides it was the latter. She then goes to bid farewell to her geisha friend, telling her she is going back to be a prostitute and live out her days spreading pleasure instead of bloodshed.

This is all despite having her freedom brought. Despite receiving a somewhat cushy job for her station in life. Despite cutting down three men who were tasked with kidnapping her and bringing her back to the brothel at the command of the owner. Despite being within reach of her dreams, before just saying “nah” and walking back into her old life.

For no reason at all.

Makie could have had what she wanted. SHE, HERSELF gave up on that dream. No one destroyed it for her, no one ruined it like her coworker. There were no circumstances between her vision of a new life and fully breaking away from the old but her mentality.

Makie mentioned she lost sight of herself working for Anotsu. Which then I would believe she could complete the job and skip town. Not pledge her sword eternally to him, walk away from the job when it was near completion, and decide to put herself back in the toxic situation she left.

What, because your mother was a prostitute? I thought Makie giving away her hairpin to the little girl symbolized her moving on from the path past dictated. Anotsu taking a pin out of her hair and then Makie proceeding to cut it short should have been a rebirth.

So she gets her freedom, and decides to put herself right back where she started? Because she believes this is her own free will? Because she was too afraid to start completely over?

I just don’t buy it.

Maybe I am overreacting, but Makie was such an interesting character. It is a tragedy it ended this way for her. Did she really not know what to do with her life if she wasn’t pleasing others in some capacity? If her life wasn’t being dictated to her by outside forces? Why couldn’t she just live for herself?

Would it really have been that hard?

Sigh. But I digress…

At least this little girl is happy. Blade of the Immortal episode 3.
At least this little girl is happy. Blade of the Immortal episode three.

Tell me what you thought of the episode. Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more Mugen no Juunin episode reviews!

次の巻: Are You Even Trying?

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Blade of the Immortal is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. If you’d like to watch the series now, or even later on and binge-watch the series use this link for a free 30-day trial!

Author: In Asian Spaces

I write in my personal time and I haven't published much at all. I don't know if that qualifies me as a writer or not, but I'd like to change that. I have a deep passion for travel, cinema and (mainly) East Asian things, but I plan on writing various things to keep it spicy. Let's prosper together ~ よろしくおねがいします。

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