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Review: Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman: Season 1 (TV Show)

Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman: Season 1
Zatoichi Season 1

Starring: Shintaro Katsu

Directed: Shintaro Katsu

Release Date:
Collection 1 – March 11, 2008
Collection 2 – Dec 16, 2011

Run Time: 1,235 Minutes

Format: DVD

Audio:
Japanese / Subtitles: English

Distributor: Tokyo Shock

Film Synopsis

Collection 1 – A threat is uttered, a blade is drawn, a flash of cold steel and then…a dozen attackers now lie silent, dispatched by the lightning sword of Zatoichi. A humble masseur and gambler, Zatoichi wanders the countryside of Japan, going from town to town plying his trade and rolling the dice. With kind heart and lethal sword skills, he is protector of the innocent and the ruin of wicked men. A pop culture icon since his screen debut in 1962, Zatoichi (played by Shintaro Katsu) was a matinee favorite throughout the 1960s. After a dozen years and 25 films, the blind swordsman transitioned to the small screen in 1974 in the series, “Zatoichi Monogatari”. The first 13 episodes have been compiled in this three-volume, six -disc set.

Collection 2 – (Same as the First Collection) Episodes 14-26 have been compiled in this three-volume, six-disc set.

Audio/Video

Audio

The sound is OK with some hiss every now and again. Its in Mono but overall I feel it sounds good and fits the PQ, in a way it feels oldschool.

Rating:3 stars

 

Picture Quality

The Picture quality of the TV series is ok. A warning before every Episode pops up stating “original 1974 film elements. Due to the age of the materials some imperfections do exist.”
But it’s not needed as It looks good in terms of how old the stuff is with no remastering. I have seen some bad stuff with kung fu films that are bootlegs but this is nowhere near that. No pixelation only thing is the color is faded, it doesnt pop. You will have dirt and scratches on the screen but I like it that way. It makes the watch feel oldschool and if remastered I wouldn’t mind if they left that stuff in.

The Film plays Full Screen – leaving black bars on the sides of your tv whole the picture fills you tv from top to bottom.
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Pic 1Pic 2Pic 3
Picture Capture Method – Iphone

Rating:2.5 stars

  • Note: The rating is lower than most of my other reviews but don’t be sadden by it as it is very viewable no distortion from bad processing just faded image colorssome hiss in the sound that I didn’t notice until I needed to review it.
  • Note: Equipment used to watch the film can be found below
Extras

  • Trailers

My Thoughts


Note: Zatoichi TV series ran for 4 seasons totaling 100 episodes. The first season is the only season released in the US. Season 1 contains 26 episodes at around 46 minutes a piece

Zatoichi The TV Series is pretty much an extension of the films. The Journey doesn’t end after film 25 it only continues when we hit EP 1. The Episodes are pretty much just like the films as in the action, the same type of plots, same actor same compassion, same sword speeds but just each journey is crammed in to 46 minutes instead of 85 to 95 minutes that movies run.

Each Episode is a new journey with Zatoichi entering a town at the stat and leaving the town at the end, Classic Zatoichi. After viewing all 26 Episodes there are similarities to the film and even on Episode that is pretty much the same.

Episode 14 – Fighting Journey with Baby in Tow – is the same as film 8 in the movie series Film 8 –  Fight Zatoichi Fight – where Zatoichi lets a female with a baby take his, and the evil guys wanting to kill Zatoichi mistake’s the lady for you know Who Zatoichi, cutting her to shreds leaving the baby motherless.  Now Zatoichi is on the Journey to take care of this baby and bring to the father who at first denies the kid and also we have the lady thief who love stealing following Zatoichi to take care of baby. Over its pretty much exactly the same.
I’m assuming Katu loved that story and wanted to redo it for the TV Show.

The show has its ups and downs, Zatoichi is sometimes less seen or more in the background until his Character is needed to save and kill which is cool as you get a more open Story that doesn’t involve Ichi the whole Episode. My Favorite Episode is the Last Ep 26, In this segment you get to see Zatoichi do something I haven’t seen in the Entire TV Series and or all of his films that I can remember.
He show’s Emotion, sadness hanging his head down feeling shame and complete anger and it radiates and at times you feel it while watching. Of course when this happens the guy heads off to where the bad guys are and destroys all of them and killing the head leader who is always a coward. He takes the guys head shoves it in a barrel of water while putting his sword in the water and slowly pulls out the sword while slicing the guys neck leaving the water red. Another thing you never see Ichi do, that s pretty much torturing the guy. Felt great lol.

The Good: Its more Zatoichi, Great Battle scenes, New story’s, the same Zatoichi as the films as in expressions and comedy.

The Bad: 26 Episode binge watching will make each Episode slow. You will grow tired of it as each story is pretty much the same type of plot as the films were the same way.
I definitely recommend treating this as a TV Show and watch 1 or 2 a week. The TV Show is hard to find and when you do find the Episodes it will cost you.

Overall I loved the TV Series of Zatoichi and wish I can get the other 3 seasons. If you loved the films You will like this, as it’s the same.
It’s a must own for Zatoichi fans. Weird portion is how its set up as in how the show is sold. They are sold in volumes 6 in total. Why not sell the whole season in one package?

Anyway! if you can find it buy it. You can watch any Episode out-of-order as each episode dont relate to each other which is something I wish they did.
I Give Season 1 of Zatoichi a 4 out of 5, ! sat less than the Movie boxset.

Here are my Ratings and the average rating for Season 1 of Zatoichi

EP 1 A Challenge Of Chance 4
EP 2 The Flower That Bloomed With The Lullaby 4
EP 3 A Memorial Day And The Bell Of Life 3.5
EP 4 The Kannon Statue that was Bound 4
EP 5 The Heartless Man, Touched By Compassion 3.5
EP 6 Pouring Rain 2.5
EP 7 A Bird Lands On Ichi 4
EP 8 An Unforgettable Flower 3.5
EP 9 The Second Zatoichi 4
EP 10 The Sumo Wrestler That Found His Home 4.5
EP 11 The Whirlwind Of Kisoji 3
EP 12 Humanity And Justice 3
EP 13 The 1,000 Ryo Raffle 4
EP 14 Fighting Journey With Baby In Tow 3
EP 15 Festival Song Of The Raven 3.5
EP 16 The Wind From Mt. Akagi 3
EP 17 Burning Sunset on the Bridal Pass 4
EP 18 A Rush Trip 3.5
EP 19 A Rainbow In His Hometown 2.5
EP 20 The Female Yakuza Boss 4
EP 21 The Fallen Flower That Bloomed By A Lake 3.5
EP 22 A Father And Son’s Song 3
EP 23 A Lover’s Suicide Song 3.5
EP 24 The Coming Of Spring 3.5
EP 25 The Yakuza Ways 4
EP 26 Traveling Alone 5

Averages – 3.6

Rating – 5 Star System

Film:

PQ:

Sound:

4 stars

2.5 stars

3 stars

 

Buy Film
Product Details

Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman – Vol. 1 1974 Unrated

Product Details

Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, Vol. 2 1974 Unrated

$149.99 used (3 offers)
Best to buy at another place that may have Vol 2 in stock
CDuniverse, Barns&Noble
Will be hard to find

Product Details

Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, Vol. 3 1974 Unrated

Product Details

Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman – Collection 2


Notes:

  • The season has been released by volumes with each volume containing 4 episodes.Tokyo Shock later released a collection box set with the first 3 volumes in on boxset – currently out of print. Same goes for collection 2 but it is still in print.
  • Collection 2 contains Volumes 4,5,6 and Collection 1 is out of print and must buy the first half of the season by Volumes.
  • The TV series is Out of Print and is getting Harder and Harder to find and to find at a reasonable price.

Prices are posted at time of review and most likely before release.
Prices will or could have changed after this review.

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This Film was Played on the listed Equipment below

Click Here To Drop Down the List of Equipment

 

About Masked Avenger

CEO/Webmaster of soreelflix.com. The Name Is James and I love Film ranging from Silent 20’s to highly CGI Blockbusters of today. Westerns, Horror, world film, basically anything that peaks my interest I own it But Asian Films are what I Prize the most and Half of My collection Consists of Asian Films. Thanks to the Film 5 Deadly Venoms

I Hail From The US, Maryland Is where The Ninja Studies and views the Scrolls of Film That Shine on his 46″ Screen. I own a sword, I can do a thousand upside down situps, and I randomly disappear in smoke when I’m not writing movie news and or reviews.

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