ZATOICHI TV SERIES, VOL. 3: EPISODES 10-13
Ernest Jagger | Culver City, California | 09/04/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Zatoichi television series ran for over 5 years, from 1974-1979. And with 100 episodes planned, this first season of 26 episodes will give fans of the Zatoichi films more of the delightful character of Ichi to enjoy. As with some of the other episodes in the first six volumes, there are some episodes that are directly from the film series: Some that are slightly different, and this Volume 3 is no exception. However, there are also some totally different plots in many of them, and this particular volume is a great addition to your Ichi collection. I rate this volume [Stars: 4.5]. The episodes are as follows:
#10: "THE SUMO WRESTLER WHO FOUND HIS HOME." Very good drama, and ending action by Ichi highlight this excellent episode. Zatoichi encounters a young man who is about to kill himself. Moreover, he is an orphan and Ichi sympathizes with the young man. That is until the young man [who is a sumo wrestler] tags along and follows Ichi. To the irritation of Ichi, the young sumo wrestler follows Ichi wherever he goes.In the background of this episode, there is a Ronin, who has been following Ichi. His name is Yaturo Soma, and he is good with the sword. However, Ichi discovers something about this young sumo wrestlers past and resolves to help him. The ending action is superb. There are lots of ending action scenes with Ichi--more than usual for the TV series. I liked this episode quite a lot. [Stars: 5+]
#11: "THE WHIRLWIND OF KISOJI MOUNTAIN." The beginning transfer on this episode is not good, but it does get better. Also, this is one of those episodes that culls a bit from the Motion Picture films. The episode opens with Ichi being accused of stealing a horse, and then thrown in jail. At the same time, a group of assassins are attempting to kill Ichi. Further enhancing this episode, is a side narrative with a doctor who has come to help the villagers while on his search for annual plants to use for medicines. Moreover, a yakuza boss has hired a marksman to kill Ichi, and here this episode will intersect with doctor, Ichi, and the gunmen. The film has a great ending with Ichi's swordplay in action. [Stars: 5]
#12: "HUMANITY AND JUSTICE." Good location shots highlight this particular episode. The scenery is beautiful. This is a very different episode in regards to the TV series, and the films. However, there are similarities, not too much though, to "Zatoichi #12: Zatoichi and the Chess Expert." This episode finds a female yakuza out to avenge the death of her father. In doing so, she dresses as a man, and acts like one. However, Ichi knows that she is a female. As this young woman seeks her vengeance, it is up to Ichi to save her. There are some funny element thrown into this particular episode--especially with boss Gonzo. All in all, a very good episode and a humorous and welcome relief to the TV series. However, there is plenty of ending action by Ichi, and he is incredibly quick with the cane sword. [Stars: 4.5]
#13: "THE 1,000 RYO RAFFLE." This is an interesting episode, and stars the young Yoshio Harada as a recently released prisoner. Shinsuke (Yoshio Harada) has come to seek vengeance on those who have wronged him. Ichi helps him in the beginning, and Shinsuke gives Ichi a raffle ticket. Unknown to either, it is a winning 1,000 ryo lottery ticket. Ichi and Shinsuke have departed ways, therefore, Ichi seeks this former prison inmate out. Going to Shinsuke's seaside village. Yet, Shinsuke does not want the money. He has a code of honor, and this code will not allow him to accept it. For he has told Ichi that he has given it way. Moreover, he has come back to seek vengeance. The new boss is not an honorable man, and it is a woman that Shinsuke seeks out--and that goes for the men who wronged him. Once again Ichi come to the rescue. It was good to see Yoshio Harada in this episode, who would also team up later in his career with Ichi in the film "Ronin Gai." Not a great episode, but entertaining nonetheless, with the predicable Ichi sword slashing ending. [Stars: 3.5]"