Blue Eye Samurai review: The best animated show of 2023

Mizu faces Four Fangs in Blue Eye Samurai.

“Netflix’s Blue Eye Samurai is an extremely violent, visceral triumph – and the best animated TV show of the year.”


  • Visually stunning animation throughout

  • Surprisingly sophisticated narrative risks in every episode

  • Maya Erskine’s transformative lead performance


  • Something to do with creative decisions at the end of the season

  • A blunt-force approach to storytelling, which is sometimes frustrating

A lone warrior enters the salon. Slowly but surely, another bumbling patron takes his belligerence so far that the warrior can no longer ignore it. There’s a standoff and bloodshed and – stop me if you’ve heard this all before. Versions of this scene have been at the center of so many iconic Western and samurai films that it’s admirable how brazen it is. blue eye samuraiNetflix’s new adult animated TV series from creators Amber Noizumi and Michael Green (blade runner 2049, logan), uses his own salon face-off as an introduction to his familiar, visually stunning world.

What’s even more impressive is how confidently the scene is paced, edited and stylistically presented, but confidence is such a thing. blue eye samurai Has it in spades. Throughout its consistently captivating 8-episode first season, the series pays endless homage to the works of Akira Kurosawa, Kihachi Okamoto, Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood, and John Ford, and it does so flawlessly. like quentin tarantino Kill Bill Vol. 1It’s an unbridled triumph of pastiche entertainment.

Anyone even remotely familiar with the samurai and western styles has seen something like this blue eye samurai At first, but that familiarity doesn’t diminish the show’s impact. On the contrary, it only enhances one’s appreciation of how beautifully the series transforms each of its recognizable beats and images into individual stages on a sustained, inspiring journey across 17th-century Japan. This is a show that, like its protagonist, is obsessed with a violent, profane instinct that is simultaneously titillating, chilling and – above all – highly infectious.

Mizu sees a Japanese town in Blue Eye Samurai.

After several decades of a strict isolationist policy established during Japan’s Edo period, all foreigners were banned from crossing the country’s borders, blue eye samurai Follows Mizu (Maya Erskine), a soft-spoken, biracial swordsman who sets out to kill four white men who were present in the Japan at the time of her birth. Her striking blue eyes make her mixed-race origins clear to anyone looking beyond her tinted glasses, and Mizu wants to kill any European responsible for her life, having been exposed to intense bigotry and racism since childhood. is marked. As she explains to one of her enemies early on blue eye samuraiIn the first season, Mizuho is not looking for salvation, happiness, or peace – only satisfaction.

The unlikely student of a blind master swordsman (Carrie-Hiroyuki Tagawa), Mizu has spent her entire life preparing for revenge. Her hard work has made her practically invincible with a blade, and her decision to use bindings to physically hide her female characteristics has made it easy for her to move unhindered from Japanese village to village. However, no matter how discreet she is, it’s not long before Mizu attracts the attention of an ambitious apprentice in the form of an armless chef, Ringo (Masi Oka), and rivals a fellow swordsman named Taigen. Darren Barnett).

She soon finds herself on the radar of her latest quarry, a ruthless Scotsman named Abijah Fowler (Kenneth Branagh), as well as her Japanese protector and benefactor, Heiji Shindo (Randall Park). As Mizuho plans her final assault on their well-protected island fortress, she finds herself attacked by various assassins sent by Fowler and Shindo. gives both efforts blue eye samurai An excuse to fill each of its episodes with plenty of violence, and the series often presents each slash of Mizuho’s blade as a well-executed brushstroke and the inevitable bursts of blood as nothing more than her choice of paint. Presents in. In one centerpiece sequence, Mizu fights an entire team of mercenaries while climbing down the edge of a cliff – their dismembered bodies, severed limbs, and blood swirling around her as she leaps from ledge to ledge.

There is blood splattered all around Mizu in Blue Eye Samurai.

The series is easily Netflix’s most ambitious animated production since 2021 of difference, As with that unexpectedly brilliant show, care is evident in every frame. blue eye samuraiThe first season of. Its animation style evokes everything from classic Japanese watercolor paintings to 1940s samurai thrillers and ’60s Spaghetti Westerns. The sheer visual artistry of the show compensates for its occasionally blunt-force storytelling style, which has a habit of overemphasizing certain points. To be fair, the subtlety is not that blue eye samuraiGoing for. The series is a maximalist action epic that succeeds, like many of its predecessors, when its protagonist’s quest is as strong as its onscreen action.

as familiar as they are blue eye samuraiThere are plot beats and characters, the series is compelling in great measure, infusing the drama with its protagonist’s inner world. Mizu is, in many ways, a classic anti-hero: a lonely swordsman torn between her innate goodness and her desire for revenge. blue eye samurai It gradually deepens its protagonist’s mental landscape, however, offering glimpses into his past that reveal more emotional complexity than his idealized silhouette. The series presents many of its characters in a blatantly one-note light, but it gives its eponymous lead the depth needed to make her a formidable and interesting anchor to its story.

Chiaki charges at Mizu in Blue Eye Samurai.

Maya Erskine’s performance proves equally important blue eye samuraiAlso exploring Mizu as its animators. PEN15 The co-creator completely immerses herself in Mizuho’s unforgiving personality – giving her an unnaturally, clearly achieved, plaintive voice that quietly lingers during the character’s rare moments of vulnerability and tenderness. Is. Using nothing more than her voice, Erskine gives the audience constant insight into Mizuho’s psychological state – vocally reinforcing both the constant cruelty and the raw emotional strings. blue eye samuraiConspiracy at every turn.

The nuances of Erskine’s performance, as well as the overall strength of Noizumi and Green’s storytelling, are nowhere more evident than in the series’ extraordinary fifth episode. A nesting-doll installment of television that shifts its focus between multiple layers of reality and time, the episode utilizes an extended chapter from Mizuho’s past, a performance of a famous Japanese folktale, and a seemingly impossible fight in a brothel. Does. It’s a complex, bombastic portrayal of its protagonist’s pain and anger, which is as thrilling to watch unfold as it is devastating in its emotional potency. Written by Noizumi and directed by Green, it represents the perfect synthesis of all blue eye samuraiVarious influences and ideas.

Subsequent episodes never reach the fifth level of the series, and its creative team decides blue eye samuraiA season one finale that could easily break its future installments. However, generally, blue eye samuraiMissteps are very few. This is a series that feels fully realized as soon as it starts, and it has more genuine thrills than most other shows this year – animated or otherwise. As its title suggests, it is a clear-eyed, impressively sharp drama that has the ability to surprise and trip you up by giving you one memorable moment after another.

season one blue eye samurai Now streaming on Netflix.

Leave a Comment