Blue Eye Samurai – Season 1 Episode 1 Recap & Review

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Blue Eye Samurai Episode 1 starts in 1633 when Japan closed its borders to the outside world. The on-screen text tells us that citizens have never seen white people and a child of mixed race is considered a monster. In the midst of it all, a legend of a swordsman rose.

We see a Samurai, wearing glasses and a hat, walk into a noodle shop. The Samurai (a woman in disguise) orders food from a server named Ringo, whose arms have been amputated. He’s also the noodle shop owner’s son. When Ringo upsets a raucous customer — a flesh trader named Hachiman who is sitting with two women he recently ‘bought’ — the Samurai steps in.

The Samurai sees that Hachiman has a gun of European make and asks him who sold it to him. When he refuses to answer, the Samurai uses a knife to cut off his fingers. He then confesses that a man named Heiji Shindo sold it to him. Before the Samurai leaves, Hachiman sees her blue eyes and calls her an onryo.

Ringo is awed by the Samurai’s fighting skills and follows her, begging to be her apprentice. She refuses and leaves him tied to a tree. The Samurai then comes across an old, run-down temple. She thanks the gods for giving her a cause and prays they will continue to guide her steps as she kills the man she’s after. She also asks them to take care of the swordfather.

A flashback shows a young Samurai running from a bunch of bullies, wearing roughly hewn glasses to hide her eyes. They call her an orphan whose mother killed herself because her father was a white devil. Just as the bully is about to beat her with a stone, a blue comet strikes the hill the kids are on. The others run away but the Samurai watches an old, blind man try and lift the piece of metal lodged in the ground. She helps him get it out, onto a cart.

After eating a bowl of soup at the man’s house, he instructs her to leave. She pretends to leave but stays in the house, not wanting to brave the storm outside. The man goes to sleep soon, and so does she. In the morning, she realises the man was always aware of her presence. She gives him tea and ends up helping him work on the metal as well.

Just before entering Kyoto, the Samurai stands in a line with people to show the military guard a travel pass. The Samurai doesn’t have a travel pass but a bribe with a few coins gets her through.  

Inside the city, she looks for the Shindo Dojo and asks for directions from some of the Dojo’s members. They make fun of her and direct her to a brothel instead. She asks the women to spend three nights with Ringo, who has followed her all this way. She then gets directions to the real Shindo Dojo house. On her way there, she sees a procession for Princess Akemi and catches a glimpse of the girl inside her palanquin.

The princess, along with an old advisor named Seki, goes to see her father who is a nouveau riche lord. He wants to marry her off to another rich lord but Seki wants to marry a man of her choice. Claiming to want to remain close to her father, she convinces him to consider Taigen, a talented samurai in the Shindo Dojo. Afterwards, she meets Taigen in secret and gives him the good news.

The Samurai reaches the Shindo Dojo and claims she has a message to be delivered to the leader. She’s told that the master doesn’t meet with messengers. She’s almost kicked out but demands that the Dojo show the proper etiquette by offering her a meal.

A flashback shows a young Samurai working alongside the swordfather. He teaches her how to make a sword, how it needs a little impurity to be its strongest self. She makes a kitchen knife on her own. Years later, she’s grown up but the swordfather still hasn’t been able to use the metal from the comet.

He catches her practicing one night and she confesses she wants to become a skilled swordsman. She confesses that she is of mixed race and has taken a vow to kill the man who made her this way. The swordfather reiterates that the strongest steel is a blend of soft and hard, pure and impure. He allows her to train at night and the young Samurai watches other swordmasters and learns from them.

At the Shindo Dojo, the Samurai refuses to leave which allows the members to attack her. She beats them all with the training sword itself, claiming that the Shindo-Ryu techniques are easy to defeat. When nobody can get the better of her, Taigen is called. He leaves the celebration of his alliance with Princess Akemi and faces the Samurai instead. She recognises him as the bully from her hometown.

She finally removes her blade and the two attack each other. The Samurai seems cut down but she then removes metal weights tied to her arms and legs, revealing her true speed. She easily takes Taigen down, cutting his hair as a mark of shame. At this point, the master of the Dojo arrives and tells the Samurai that his brother is in the fortress of Tanabe island, protected by the Genko clan.

The master of the Shindo Dojo meets his brother and apologises for giving away his location.  A man from the shadows instructs them to send the Four Fangs after the Samurai.

The Samurai goes to a waterfall and bathes. We see that she binds her chest with a cloth. In the past, the Samurai tells the swordfather that she will leave for her quest. He counsels her to wait but she insists that she’s ready. She then nearly confesses her other secret, that she’s a woman.

The swordfather does not let her complete, although the implication is that he already knows. At present, the Samurai stitches up the cut she got while duelling. She hears a noise and leaps out of the water, sword at the ready but with no clothes on. It’s Ringo. And now he knows that she’s a woman at the end of Blue Eye Samurai episode 1.


The Episode Review

Blue Eye Samurai Episode 1 sets up the main characters and background of Blue Eye Samurai very well. It is a tad slow but the upside is that we get a clear understanding of this place, its prejudice against people of mixed race, as well as the value of swordplay. The world-building is wonderful and the story is engaging enough to make a viewer stay for more.

In the midst of it all, the Samurai makes for a really interesting main character. She has the right amount of mystery and the perfect stoic nature to make her an anti-hero. And as always, it’s great to watch a woman with exceptional fighting skills. However, it’s the animation style that takes the cake. I think we can expect some really impressive animation through the course of this season if that brilliant action sequence was anything to go by.

 

Next Episode

You can read our full season review for Blue Eye Samurai here!

  • Episode Rating
    (3.5)
3.5

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