Think of this series as very much like the movies. Though they are condensed into about 50 minutes running time they are just as entertaining and have the same production quality feel of the movies.
Equally powerful and at times devastating are the stories they tell. (major spoilers follow)
In episode 3 for example. At the start of the episode Zatoichi is giving a shoulder massage to an old woman and telling her about his mother whom he never knew when he was younger. We see the face of the old woman who’s eyes open wide as if in recognition that Zatoichi is her son. Seconds later though her home is attacked by gangsters and she is killed with Zatoichi never knowing who she might have been. In the same episode Zatoichi also befriends a gangster (one of the same gangsters that attacked the old lady’s home at the start of the episode) whose life Zatoichi spares as he wants no more bloodshed. At the end of the episode he plans to meet his new friend at a bridge but along the way his friend decides to try fight him once more, unknown to Zatoichi, since he is blind, he reluctantly kills the man and then goes to the bridge to wait for the man he just killed. After a while when his friend doesn’t arrive he slowly realizes what has happened and moves on. This is all just in one episode!
While not all episodes are as jam packed as the one above there are some cracking ones. By the end of the first season Zatoichi returns to his hometown and there is a chance it seems that Zatoichi will be able to live life free from violence, but between his reputation and his own sense of justice and revenge things go back to how they’ve always been for him.I wouldn’t have expected anything less for the character.
The series is episodic so don’t expect any arcs or reoccurring villains. After 26 episodes you might feel a bit tired of each episode having similar scenes, themes and action but if you’ve watched the Zatoichi movies and enjoyed them then you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t watch this series.
Favorite Quote: “When i’m sleeping, if the wind blows hard against the door and makes a noise i’m already holding my sword in my hands.” – Zatoichi