The Elusive Samurai – Season 1 Episode 1 Recap & Review

May 22nd

Episode 1 of The Elusive Samurai begins with a look at the distant past. The narrator delves into a tale about a hero named Takauji Ashikaga. The former jokes that Takuiji isn’t this anime’s main star. Then, we cut away to the show’s true protagonist, Tokiyuki Hojou, and learn it’s the year 1333. Tokiyuki resides on the Kamakura Wakamiyaoji Shogunate site. 

Several men chase after Tokiyuki and tell him that he must attend archery practice. Tokiyuki ignores the gentlemen and starts misbehaving. Meanwhile, several nobles are infuriated by Tokuyuki’s behavior because they’re trying to send off Takauji. Suddenly, Takauji finds Tokuyuki hiding somewhere and confronts him. 

Takauji tells Tokiyuki he’s departing to Kyo to quell the former emperor’s uprising. He wants to show Tokiyuki that he sides with the Hojou Family. Takauji departs and a girl named Kiyoko confronts Tokiyuki. She reminds Tokiyuki that he’ll become the rightful heir of the shogunate one day. Moreover, Kiyoko says she plans to have Tokiyuki marry her in the future, much to Tokiyuki’s dismay.

Tokiyuki flees after hearing more men trying to find him. These gentlemen compare Tokiyuki to Takauji, stating how they wish he acted more like Takauji. They fear Tokiyuki will act like a puppet ruler like his father, Lord Takatoki. Kiyoko doesn’t see the issue with that. She argues that Tokiyuki is a kind boy, despite lacking talent and a strong will.

The men call it quits for today, depart, and continue to bad-mouth Tokiyuki. Another boy, who happens to be Tokiyuki’s older brother, greets Tokiyuki. The two head to the rooftop to discuss their father, Tokiyuki’s future position, and why his older brother won’t claim the shogunate role after Takatoki passes. Then, the two gentlemen from earlier find Tokiyuki on the rooftop.

Tokiyuki leaps off the roof and flees the scene while the two men chase after him. Eventually, Tokiyuki hops on top of a cherry blossom tree. He reflects on how much he admires Kamakura town because it’s peaceful and fun. Moreover, Tokiyuki says he doesn’t need high status or honor. Also, Tokiyuki doesn’t mind if folks call him cowardly or lazy.

Then, a girl confronts Tokiyuki, and Tokiyuki is startled by her presence. Suddenly, the Shinano Province’s Shinto priest, Yorishige Suwa, arrives and startles Tokiyuki. Yorishige tells Tokiyuki he traveled to Kamakura to pray for its protection. He confirms he completed his task and wants to inform Takatoki that he did.

Additionally, Yorishige tells Tokiyuki that the girl who recently greeted him is his female assistant Shizuku. Yorishige argues Shizuku is great at secret arts and general affairs. Shizuku confirms Yorishige’s prayers are a sham but he can see into the future.

Yorishige demonstrates his future-sight abilities and peers into Tokiyuki’s future. He knows what’ll happen to Tokiyuki. Yorishige teases Tokiyuki about it, causing Tokiyuki to yell at him. This entices Yorishige to tell Tokiyuki what will happen in two years concerning the latter. Yorishige says Tokiyuki will become an exceptional hero some will fear and others will admire. Moreover, Yorishige says Tokiyuki will change his country’s destiny.

Before he shares more details, Tokiyuki departs and ponders Yorishige’s words. Tokiyuki visits his brother and discusses Yorishige’s remarks with him. His brother argues that Tokiyuki has the skills to become a wonderful hero one day. Meanwhile, we cut away to Takauji and his men. Takauji informs everyone they will raid Kyo to suppress the former emperor’s uprising.

Before then, Takuji murders one of his comrades, causing others to panic. Then, someone reports Takauji’s betrayal. He states that Takauji murdered the army they sent to Kyo. Moreover, he says several samurai gathered around Takauji after hearing this news. He reports the Nitta Army has grown and Takauji’s eldest son, Senjuo, was entrusted to Yoshisada Nitta and became the army’s general. Additionally, he says the Nitta Army plans to attack Kamakura next.

Some time passes. We cut away to several dead bodies, including Kiyoko and her father’s. Then, we receive several title cards and scenes. On these title cards, the narrator says for Tokiyuki to become a hero, he has to lose everything. We receive more details about Kamakura’s current predicament.

We learn that 800 members of the Hojou clan committed suicide. Tokiyuki stands in front of his father and can’t believe the carnage unfolding before his eyes. Yorishige and Shizuku confront Tokiyuki. The former tells Tokiyuki that Takatoki wanted him to protect Tokiyuki. Yorishige says he’ll take Tokiyuki to his territory of Suwa in Shinano.

The former says he foresaw this tragedy via his powers and prepared an escape plan in advance. Tokiyuki wants to commit suicide along with his father and brother. Yorishige doesn’t plan to let Tokiyuki do that. He, Tokiyuki, and Shizuku watch the samurai murder more of Kamakura’s people from afar. Tokiyuki can’t believe Takauji would entice people to commit such horrid atrocities.

Yorishige offers to help Tokiyuki seek revenge but Tokiyuki doesn’t want to trust him. Moreover, Tokiyuki doesn’t believe he and the others can avenge his father’s demise. Tokiyuki reflects on the matter further. He suggests Yorishige let him perish along with his people. Yorishige pushes Tokiyuki off a cliff so he can perish with everyone.

Tokiyuki lands on the ground and Yorishige informs the samurai that Takayuki’s other son survived. The samurai chase after Tokiyuki but Tokiyuki uses his clever elusive tactics to evade them. He regroups with Yorishige and Shizuka on the hill. Yorishige tells Tokiyuki that running and hiding are exceptional skills for heroes.

The samurai fire several arrows at our trio. Yorishige rambles on about how unwise Takauji is for not murdering Tokiyuki. Nonetheless, Yorishige says Tokiyuki and Takauji are heroes with opposed fates. However, Yorishige knows Tokiyuki can’t win with his current tactics alone. Yorishige says he’ll help Tokiyuki gather allies, build military strength, and strengthen his intellect.

Yorishige, Tokiyuki, and Shizuku flee Kamakura on a horse. The former says they must tread carefully as many people aim to kill him now. Yorishige says he’ll tell Tokiyuki why he’s helping him after the latter reclaims Kamakura.

The episode ends with the narrator telling the audience that this is the start of Tokiyuki’s wild journey. 

The Episode Review

Since Demon Slayer ended a while back, manga-wise, many wondered what other new samurai-centric Shonen would take its place. The Elusive Samurai may be that said Shonen series. The first episode was stylish from a visual and animation perspective. From Tokiyuki’s casual running animation to the episode’s nightmarish depiction of suicide, fans will be speechless by Cloverworks Studio’s work here. 

The studio has worked on visual gems in the past like The Promised Neverland, Bocchi The Rockand Spy X Family, so seeing this level of polish with The Elusive Samurai’s anime adaptation isn’t too shocking. Visuals aside, this story was created by the Assassination Classroom author, Yuusei Matsui, and it shows through The Elusive Samurai’s writing. 

Assassination Classroom was known for having strong comedy and some dark moments. Both were handled to fine effect. The same can be said with this episode of The Elusive Samurai. Although it was heartbreaking to see Tokiyuki’s people’s lifeless bodies, the comedy between Tokiyuki and Yorishige during the tragic moments hampers those scenes’ impact. 

Hopefully, the storyline doesn’t have more instances like that. Additionally, Yorishige’s future sight will leave some fans questioning why he didn’t report his theory to Takatoki sooner. It’s possible they could’ve developed a strategy that would at least give some Kamakura folks a chance to escape. Besides those scenarios and other questionable material presented here, this story has the potential to be a fun one. 

I’m excited to see where matters go with our elusive hero. 


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Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!
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