Hiroaki Samura's Mugen no Junin (Blade of the Immortal) has hit TV screens. Difficult to see whether it's going to be any good or not, but Studio Bee Train and Koichi Mashimo at the helm suggests that it will be flawed with moments of inspired brilliance.
A few quick observations:
No Yuki Kajiura this time. This is a bad thing.
Unlike previous Bee Train shows like Noir, they don't have a problem showing blood in this one (it's on TV Tokyo's cable subsidiary rather than the main channel so presumably not subject to the same censorship). This is clearly a good thing.
The "death murals" of Samura's artwork are obviously impossible to recreate fully in animated form, but Manji's death strokes are sometimes stylised in an interesting way. This may turn out to be a good thing.
While it focuses mostly on Manji's background and motivation, the story manages to interweave the beginnings of Rin's and Anotsu's story threads and hints at the Mugai-Ryu arc as well. This is probably a good thing.
Despite her small role, the way Machi's madness is presented is handled pretty well. Key moment is the way she awakes from nightmare recollections of her husband's death with the screams of the dream segueing into her hysterical laughter upon waking. This is undoubtedly a good thing.
The Villain Of The Week deploys the Crazy Voice as a substitute for believable characterisation. This is a bad thing.
Manji's character design has become a bit less of the lean, wiry Sid Vicious-in-a-kimono nihilist punk samurai that he was in the manga and taken on a slightly more conventional square-jawed beefcake look. This is not a good thing.
Has Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei started a new wave of kinbaku-themed opening credit sequences?
Has Shinreigari started a new wave of Shiina Ringo-styled opening songs?