Blade of the Immortal Episode 8

Blade of the Immortal Episode 8

Act Eight – Mugai-Ryu

Although they were introduced just one episode ago, we already have a pretty good understanding of the Mugai-Ryu. They’re an apparent rag-tag group of rogues who have a vendetta against the Itto-Ryu for various reasons. And, although this isn’t confirmed, they have a wealthy, potentially powerful, backer.

At this point in time, however, I’m less interested in how the group is financed and more interested in what they all have in common. Obviously they hate the Itto-Ryu, but why? Are they the survivors of samurai dojo which have been otherwise wiped out? Perhaps some of them are, but not all.

The two members of this organization whom we know the most about are Shira and Hyakurin. So, let’s talk a bit about the potential reasons they each have for joining this group.

Hyakurin of the Mugai-Ryu from the anime series Blade of the Immortal
Hyakurin of the Mugai-Ryu

Shira is probably the more straightforward of the two. Based on what we’ve seen of him over the past two episodes, he’s a psychotic killer. He has no issues with killing innocent civilians, and actually appears to get pleasure out of it. The only reason he likely joined the Mugai-Ryu is because it will give him a chance to kill more people.

And sure, he could have joined the Itto-Ryu for that, but he also probably wants to fight against strong swordsmen. He can’t fight against the members of the Itto-Ryu if he’s one of them himself.

Hyakurin’s motivation appears to be very different. She tells Rin that she has two kids, but it seems to be implied that they’ve already died. She also implies she was once married to a samurai and that Rin shouldn’t get involved with samurai. Is her ex husband a member of the Itto-Ryu? And did he kill their children?

A Mole in the Itto-Ryu

Regardless of why the various members joined the Mugai-Ryu, what’s clear is that their group is highly organized for a bunch of random rogues with little in common. Aside from their wealthy backer, they even have a mole planted within the Itto-Ryu who’s feeding them information on Anotsu’s movements.

It’s implied that this mole is the man we meet at the beginning of the episode, Makoto, but I’m not so sure. He could be the mole — after all, he was asking all the right questions. However, I get the feeling that he’s just there to mislead us and that the real mole is someone else.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised is Anotsu Kagehisa is the mole himself. None of the Mugai-Ryu members apparently know what he looks like, so they could have been in contact with him the entire time without knowing it. This would explain how Anotsu has countermeasures for all the leaked information.

It makes more sense the more I think about it. He didn’t simply have diversions to combat the leaked information, he actually had teams of Itto-Ryu assassins attempt to take out the Mugai-Ryu members who went for the bait.

That’s not the action of someone who’s looking to slip past his enemies. That’s the action of someone who knows his enemies are watching, and is laying a counter trap for them. It’s possible that Anotsu never had any plans to leave for Kaga and instead made it all up to force the Mugai-Ryu’s hand.

If they believe he’s about to cross the border into shogunate-protected territory, they’ll act sooner rather than later to take him down. The only thing Anotsu seemingly didn’t account for is that the members of the Mugai-Ryu are stronger than his own swordsmen.

Cross Dresser

As for the plan Anotsu put into effect, it was said that he would be heading for the border checkpoint disguised as a woman. And it’s this information the Mugai-Ryu latches on to. With the help of Rin identifying the shape of Anotsu’s signature weapon, the Mugai-Ryu splits up and stops each of the many female Anotsu lookalikes on the road.

But, of course, none of them are the real Anotsu. This is why I’m thinking the entire plan was a setup from the start. Since none of the pairs found Anotsu, was he really cross dressing as a woman and heading to the border check point at all? It’s possible, but I don’t think so.

Either he was heading to the checkpoint without a disguise, or he wasn’t heading there at all. And remember, as I’ve already mentioned, even if he wasn’t wearing a disguise the members of the Mugai-Ryu don’t know what he looks like. Having them all looking for a woman would be a great way to slip past them unnoticed without a disguise of his own.

A prostitute pretending to be Anotsu Kagehisa from the anime series Blade of the Immortal
A prostitute pretending to be Anotsu Kagehisa

The one thing Anotsu didn’t count on, or at least the prostitutes he hired to pose as his doubles didn’t count on, is that the Mugai-Ryu doesn’t exactly have a code they follow. Some of these prostitutes were spared, such as the one stopped by Hyakurin, but that’s not true for all of them.

We saw that Shira tortured the prostitute he stopped in Anotsu’s place, and would have killed her had Manji not shown up (she still probably died from her injuries). There are also other prostitutes who were likely killed and then had their identities checked afterwards. After all, even if they aren’t Anotsu, they’re working for him in some capacity.

Conclusion

What did you think of Blade of the Immortal episode 8? Do you think the Mugai-Ryu are bad guys after we saw what Shira is like? Or, perhaps Shira is the only bad one of the bunch — Hyakurin didn’t seem like a bad person. Also, who do you think the mole is? And was Anotsu actually heading to the border dressed as a woman? Let me know in the comments.

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My review of the next episode is available here.

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