When did the story of Blade of the Immortal take place? The Bakumatsu Arc gets a new answer (Part 2)

Dark Horse told you so, but she is not always accurate

Who told you the story takes place in 1782 (Tenmei 2)? Manji? Rin? Hiroaki Samura? From volume 1 to 31, none of them tells or implies it. Yes, it was the “about the translation” in the comics by Dark Horse Comics told you so.

  1. In Heart of Darkness Part 1 in volume 7, Hyakurin asks Rin about her relationship with Manji. Rin counters that “he’s ten years older than me!". In Japanese, it writes “he’s older than me more than ten years!” (一〇歳以上も離れてるんですけどっ年がっ!)
  2. In Mirror of the Soul in volume 13, Hisoka groans that “why should he (Anotsu) come, after twenty years?” In Japanese, it writes “why should he come now after (I was being) tied up here for over twenty years?”(二〇年以上もここに縛りつけられて何を今頃…)
Rin blushes and talks about the age difference between Manji and herself. Left: Heart of Darkness, Blade of the Immortal, ©2001 Dark Horse Comis; Right: Chapter 25, Blade of the Immortal, ©1996 Kodansha

When the glossary contradicts the preface

The glossary in Dark Horse’s publication also provides information that refutes the 1782-theory. In Demon Lair II in volume 21, a nameless old woman yells out “SAMURAI SWINE! IENARI!”, the shogun’s name. The glossary explains that Ienari is “the reigning shogun during this story. The real Tokugawa Ienari was the eleventh Tokugawa shogun and held his position from 1787 to 1837”.

Tokugawa Ienari from the Glossary, Demon Lair II, Blade of the Immortal, ©2009 Dark Horse Comics

Why don’t you ask the editor for clarification? Yes I did

Dark Horse had been working on the English version of Blade of the Immortal for eighteen years. Many talents were involved, and I do not know who should be held responsible. For editing, there are Dave Chipps, Rachel Penn, Rachel Miller, Philip R. Simon, etc. For translation, there are Dana Lewis, Toren Smith (deceased), Kumar Sivasubramanian, Tomoko Saito, Philip R. Simon, etc.

No follow-up from the editor, Philip R. Simon, for seven weeks. Yeah, he hasn’t checked the pm, but he did reply in open tweet that he will "look into it".

Japanese editor has tried his best to keep discrepancy away

On the contrary, the Japanese editor has tried his best to help Samura Hiroaki to make things right. In the afterword of the final volume, Mr. Samura confesses that “the subject I hated the most was Japanese history, and second was world history.”

Professor Hongo Kazuto of the University of Tokyo’s Historiographical Institue, who has provided information of the Edo Era to Samura ©Shinchosha

Be an informed reader

Before examining the other arguments, please spare me some time to share an anecdote of George R R Martin. GRRM is the author of the infamous series, A Song of Ice and Fire. Unlike Samura, he has already created a family tree for the House Targaryen of the Dragonstone, and listed all reign of every King and Queen, back in 1996.

Westeros.org, the premiere fansite for George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, founded by Elio and Linda. ©Westeros.org

Samura Hiroaki, you are the only hope

It is time to tackle the ultimate weapon of the 1782-theorists. Samura Hiroaki himself. He did sort of confirm this theory in omnibus in 2016, four years after the serialization ends, “The historical context of Blade of the Immortal is Tenmei Era of Japan in the 18th century”. Since Tenmei Era is from 1781 to 1789, it strongly implies that Manji and Rin fight against Ittoryu between 1782 and 1783 in Tenmei Era. If the main story takes place in 1792, it will be in Kansei Era, but not Tenmei.

The main story of world line B lies within Tenmei Era entirely.
D&D explains that Daenerys Targaryen kind of forgets about the Iron Fleet. Game of Thrones | Season 8 Episode 4 | Inside the Episode, ©HBO 2019.
  1. Address the mistake, and alter all time references in his work to fit Tenmei Era, including the written record and conversation of the Interrogation at the Kobotoke checkpoint (from Kansei to An’ei), the name of Shogun (from Ienari to Ieharu), the time gap between the main story and reunion of Manji and Yaobikuni (from 90 to 100 years later), the year of birth and biographies of Oichi and Omitsu, etc.

Retcon in the new arc

Bakumatsu Arc embraces the world line B. The narrator announces that it happens more than 80 years after the Ittoryu arc immediately in the second page of the first chapter. Since Manji returns to Japan in 1864, it implies that the Ittoryu arc takes place before 1784, i.e. over 80 years ago, thus fitting the 1782-theory.

It’s been more than more than 80 years after the battle with Ittoryu. Chapter 1, Blade of the Immortal Bakumatsu Arc, ©Kodansha 2019

Blending Manji and Manjiro?

There is an attempt to retcon Manji to be John Mung, a historical figure. In the new arc, Manji makes up a surname, Nakahama, for himself. His full name is Nakahama Manji (中濱 萬次), while John Mung is also known as Nakahama Manjiro (中濱 萬次郎). John Mung was born in Tosa. When he was fourteen, he was shipwrecked and rescued by an American whaleship John Howland.

Nakahama Manjiro ©WHITFIELD-MANJIRO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY, INC.
A comparison between Manji and Manjiro.

Involving Yaobikuni, the key to immortality

Another possible reason to retcon is the timing of Ikedaya Incident. It was a raid launched by Shinsengumi against anti-Bakufu rebels gathered at the Ikedaya, an inn in Kyoto. It is well-known in Japan and the participants are popular in contemporary Japan. This incident is found in many dramas, animes, comics, and games, including Gin Tama, Rurouni Kenshin, Peacemaker Kurogane, Hakuoki, etc.

If Manji and Yaobikuni are to meet in 1874, there will be no horse tram yet, based on the new setting of the Bakumatsu Arc.
Horse tram seen in the last panel should be in operation only since 1882. Final chapter, Blade of the Immortal, ©2013 Kodansha

Conclusion

In an interview with Shonen Jump, Samura Hiroaki said, “I am always a few years behind the world. In the golden age of Internet, I didn’t even get a feature phone.” (Miraculous meeting with Fujimoto Tatsuki and Samora Hiroaki, 2017) In addition to the language barrier, it seems that it is extremely difficult to contact Samura with modern machines.

  1. The official English language version of Blade of the Immortal published by Dark Horse states that the main story takes place in 1782–83, which is absent in the Japanese version, is the root cause of the difference in recognition between Eastern and Western Readers.
  2. The Bakumatsu Arc breaks the continuity with the old story. It may be an attempt to get Yaobikuni involved, but it is not yet confirmed.

Offended by bad writings and layouts very, very easily

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