JP title: 装甲悪鬼村正 贖罪編
Note: Shokuzai-hen is basically kind of a sequel to Muramasa that takes place after the true end. So keep this in mind. If you haven’t read Muramasa (the main game, that is), don’t read this review unless you want to be spoiled on a bunch of things.
Well, this certainly came as a surprise, in more ways than one. Partly because holy shit, Muramasa is back, and also because this particular spinoff story on offer is actually… pretty good! I’d say I enjoyed it more than most of the other Muramasa-related works, including Janen-hen. The story itself (before you get *too* excited) wasn’t written by Narahara Ittetsu, Muramasa’s original author. No, it was actually penned by a fan for a contest held by Nitroplus a couple years back. And it won the grand prize (so that should tell you something about its quality, at least), which was that Nitro would actually turn it into a VN. Well, they sure took their sweet time with it, but hey, whatever. It’s here. It’s good. It’s free. All is forgiven.
JP title: 装甲悪鬼村正 妖甲秘聞 鋼
So as you may or may not have heard, there was a Muramasa spinoff-novel (I mean an actual novel, not a VN) written by Haganeya Jin and released all the way back in 2011 called Youkou Hibun Hagane. Well, four years later, they actually did a re-release of it, with the main difference being that the illustrations (by Namaniku ATK) are now in full-color. The novel’s story takes place during the infamous Nanbokuchou period (hundreds of years before the visual novel’s events) which was actually lightly touched upon in the VN, too: a lengthy and tremendously violent conflict that earned the Muramasa clan its infamy as a bloodline of Tsurugi that brought about calamity, bloodshed and insanity to the lands of Yamato. So now we get to read about how that actually happened! Fun times! (spoilers: lots of people die)
After having read through the other two Muramasa manga adaptations (that is, Eiyuu-hen and Minagoroshi), I couldn’t help but feel a strong urge to check out the third adaptation as well — Makai-hen, being the biggest and most ambitious of the bunch, spanning over five whole volumes, was particularly exciting to me as a Muramasa fan, seeing how its storyline takes place *after* the VN’s true end.
Speaking of which, there are some things I have to mention in advance. First, there will be spoilers for the VN, naturally. This manga is a sequel, so I fully expect you to be familiar with the VN’s storyline, as well as that of Re:Blade Arts (in the Janen-hen fandisc), considering Makai-hen is basically a story showing the events that eventually lead up to Re:Blade Arts. But more on that later. The other thing is that this post will include some major spoilers when I come to discussing certain elements of the manga’s plot — I’ll give a clear warning before the paragraphs in question.
JP title: 装甲悪鬼村正 鏖
Note: My reviews for the other two Muramasa manga adaptations can be found here: Makai-hen — Eiyuu-hen
So, Minagoroshi. Never have I seen a manga title that was so frighteningly accurate in describing the contents of its story. It might be short, it might be over before you realize it and as such, there’s little room for too much character development, hell it might be even a bit predictable if you’ve read the VN, but goddammit it’s still Muramasa through and through. The basic message and pitch black, “no happy end for anyone ever” tone of the original work has been quite skillfully adapted into this quick, 200-page-long one-off volume, and managed to tear out my already bleeding heart, chew it up to shreds and spit it out to the dogs.
Allow me to elaborate.
JP title: 装甲悪鬼村正 英雄編
I know I normally don’t do manga reviews, but since this is Muramasa, I had to make an exception.
Note: My reviews for the other two Muramasa manga adaptations can be found here: Makai-hen — Minagoroshi
JP title: 装甲悪鬼村正
Soukou Akki Muramasa, written by Narahara Ittetsu of Hanachirasu fame, was a VN released back in 2009 by popular VN company Nitroplus, known for their fairly dark visual novels (a well-known example being Saya no Uta). And honestly, Muramasa is probably their very best title to date, as well as a true crowning achievement of the medium.
Note: The review lightly alludes to the main themes of the VN, so if you’d prefer to go into it completely blind, well… you know. Don’t read on.
My translation of the ending song of Janen Hen / Re:Blade Arts.
(As a side note, I get the strong impression that this is basically a song about Kageaki.)