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 Post subject: Mutsu Enmei Ryu Gaiden: Shura no Toki
PostPosted: April 10th, 2010, 7:03 pm 
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aka. Shura no Toki: Age of Chaos

The story begins with Yakumo as he stumbles into a young Samurai who is being chased by hostile fighters, and while Yakumo enjoys his meal the young Samurai is saved by Miyamoto Musashi. The Samurai's elderly guardian arrives and asks Musashi to be his master's bodyguard - but Musashi declines and recommends Yakumo.
Yakumo is from the Mutsu family who have been martial artists specializing in unarmed melee for centuries, but he's not making a big fuss about it. All he wants is a worthy opponent, and he finds one in Musashi. They agree to have a duel some time in the future, as Yakumo has different priorities right now.
Suffice to say that Yakumo saves his new employer and gets his ultimate duel with Musashi.
And then 20 years or so pass and we are presented with Yakumo's son, who is now also looking for the greatest opponent of his time: Mitsuyoshi Jûbei Yagyû.
And after that the story even skips 200 years, and we see Yakumo's successor in the quarrels of the Meiji Restoration, seeking a duel with Hijikata Toshizô (of the Shinsengumi).

Mutsu Enmei starts promising. We have a sympathetic protagonist in a classical Japanese martial arts setting who does not use any weapons for a change. The side characters are amiable, too, and we have a good mix of humor and drama. We see a number of interesting fighting techniques and they're not as obsessively drawn out as in many other series of that genre.
And after that first arc we jump to his son and it comes tumbling down. Without any word of explanation we are presented with a set of new characters, except that Mutsu II. looks and acts just like Mutsu I. Side characters are similar, too. The jump to the following generation comes across like an excuse for presenting a new tough opponent without having to change anything else much.
Mutsu III. at least has slightly different support characters, but again that's the only difference to his predecessors.
This third arc receives the most attention for some reason. The 1860s were an interesting age, granted, but the story about the character almost comes to a grinding halt and becomes somewhat boring, until the death of an important support character picks up the pace again, and still it takes so damn long to reach the finish line.

In my opinion this series is weak and I do not recommend it. Mutsu Enmei could have easily done with 13 episodes instead of 26, concentrating on one main character instead of changing from one to the next without epilogue or transition.

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