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Zatoichi - Wikipedia Zatoichi (座頭市, Zatōichi) is a fictional character featured in one of Japan's longest running series of films and a television series that are both set during ...
Zatoichi - Wikipedia Zatoichi 座頭市 Zatōichi is a fictional character featured in one of Japans longest running series of films and a television series that are both set during the late Edo period 1830s and 1840s The Master Swordsman The character a blind masseur and blademaster was created by novelist Kan Shimozawa This originally minor character was developed for the screen by Daiei Studios now Kadokawa Pictures and actor Shintaro Katsu who created the screen version A total of 26 films were made from 1962 to 1989 From 1974 to 1979 the television series Zatoichi was produced starring Katsu and some of the same stars that appeared in the films These were produced by Katsu Productions One hundred episodes with episodes 99 and 100 being a twopart story finale were aired before the Zatoichi television series was cancelled 1 Film number 17 of the original series was remade in the US in 1990 by TriStar Pictures as Blind Fury an action movie starring Rutger Hauer A 2003 film Zatōichi was directed by Takeshi Kitano who also starred as Zatōichi in the film The film was awarded the Venice Film Festivals Silver Lion for Best Direction in 2003 A stage version of Zatoichi directed by Takashi Miike starred Show Aikawa 2 Contents 1 Character 2 The original series of films 2 1 List of original films 3 The television series 4 Remakes and SpinOffs 4 1 Blind Fury 4 2 Zatoichi 2003 film 4 3 Ichi 4 4 Zatoichi The Last 5 Production companies 6 In other works 7 See also 8 References 9 Bibliography 10 External links Characteredit Zatoichi at first comes across as a harmless blind anma masseur and bakuto gambler who wanders the land making his living by chōhan playing dice as well as giving massages performing acupuncture and even on occasion singing and playing music Secretly however he is very highly skilled in swordsmanship specifically Murakuschool kenjutsu and iaido along with the more general sword skills of Japan as well as Sumo wrestling and kyujutsu Little of his past is revealed other than that he lost his sight as a child through illness His father disappeared for undisclosed reasons when Zatoichi was about five years old He is described by his swordsmanship instructor as having practiced constantly and with extreme devotion when he was a pupil in order to develop his incredible skills Zatoichi says of himself that he became a yakuza gangster during those three years he spent training which immediately precede the original The Tale of Zatoichi and killed many people something he later came to deeply regret This is reflected in his willingness to involve himself in the affairs of otherschiefly those suffering from oppressionexploitation or some form of corruption Despite that moral reassessment and his new perspective and remorse and most often because of them he usually has a bounty sometimes quite large on his head from one source or another throughout the movies and series However because of his earnestness wit and natural sense of empathy many people who encounter him during his travels grow to respect and even care for him Unlike a bushi he does not carry a traditional katana Instead he uses a wellmade shikomizue 仕込み杖 lit prepared cane or cane sword as the use or possession of true fighting blades was formally outlawed for nonsamurai during the Edo period The decree was virtually impossible to enforce however as evidenced by the Yakuza enforcers being shown wielding katanas throughout the films The blades of Shikomizue were generally straightedged of lowerquality unfolded steel which could not compare with even a lowend katana As a result the blade in Ichis cane sword is broken during the climactic battle in Zatoichi the Fugitive the fourth film The sword has a new blade by the next film which he wields until the fifteenth film Zatoichis Cane Sword The blade which breaks during the film and the blade that replaces it were specially forged at great expense and with far more than the usual care by master bladesmiths and were both of exceptional quality superior to the swords of even most samurai At the beginning of Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo his swordblade presumably the same inexplicably breaks and is sold to a blacksmith along with its hilt and scabbard Its replacement isnt a shikomizue but a jotō 杖刀 lit a staff sword of unrevealed origin that resembles a short thick bo staff which also soon breaks In the next film Zatoichi The Festival of Fire hes once again using his trademark cane sword outfitted with a new blade of unknown origin and quality The principal recurring thematic formula of these films and the television series is that of the everwandering and sentimental drifter who protects the innocent and the helpless from oppressive or warring yakuza gangs stops the worst of general injustice or predation and aids the unfortunate and often through no fault of his own is set upon by ruffians or stumbles into harms way Zatoichis saga is essentially one of an earthy but basically good and wise man almost always trying to do the decent thing to somehow redeem himself and perhaps atone for past failings Nevertheless he believes himself instead to be a stained corrupted and evil man irredeemable and undeserving of the love and respect that some show and rightly have for him This selfdescribed god of calamities is routinely a magnet for troubles of one sort or another Death is his only constant companion as he pragmatically doesnt allow other people especially those he loves or thinks highly of to get close and stay there for long such would lead to eventual tragedy Death does seem like a shadow to actually follow an often reluctant Zatoichi almost everywhere he goes and despite his mostly compassionate nature killing appears to come entirely naturally to him His lightningfast fighting skill is incredible with his sword held in a reverse grip this combined with his unflappable steelnerved wits in a fight his keen ears sense of smell and proprioception all render him a formidable adversary He is also quite capable with a traditional katana as seen in Zatoichis Vengeance and the bath house scene in Zatoichi and the Festival of Fire Similarly he displays considerable skill using two swords simultaneously in Musashilike Nitō Ichi style in Zatoichi and the Doomed Man Almost preternaturally dangerous with blades he is fully capable whether standing sitting or lying down of fighting and swiftly defeating multiple skilled opponents simultaneously Some however have come close to besting him in combat in particular during the final duel in Zatoichi Challenged where extenuating circumstances played a role A number of other standard scenarios are also repeated through the series Zatoichis winning of large amounts at gambling via his ability to hear whether the dice have fallen on even or odd is a common theme as is his catching loaded or substituted dice by the difference in their sound This frequently culminates in another set piece Zatoichis cutting the candles lighting the room and reducing it to pitch blackness commonly accompanied by his tag line Kurayami nara kocchi no mon da暗闇ならこっちのもんだ roughly meaning Darkness is my advantage or Now we are all blind The characters name is actually Ichi Zatō is a title the lowest of the four official ranks within the Tōdōza the historical guild for blind men Thus zato also designates a blind person in Japanese slang Ichi is therefore properly called ZatōnoIchi LowRanking Blind Person Ichi approximately or Zatōichi for short Massage was a traditional occupation for the blind as their lack of sight removed the issue of gender as was playing the biwa or for blind women goze the shamisen Being lesser Hinin lit nonpeople blind people and masseurs were regarded as among the very lowest of the low in social class other than Eta or outright criminals they were generally considered wretches beneath notice no better than beggars or even the insane especially during the Edo period and it was also commonly thought that the blind were accursed despicable severely mentally disabled deaf and sexually dangerous The original series of filmsedit The original series of 26 films featured Shintaro Katsu as Zatoichi The first film was made in 1962 in black and white The third film in 1963 was the first to be filmed in color The twentyfifth film was made in 1973 followed by a hiatus of 16 years until Katsus last film which he wrote and directed himself in 1989 The original series of movies features other popular fictional characters of the genre on two occasions Zatoichi and the One Armed Swordsman 1971 connects with the Shaw Brothers series of Hong Kong produced movies directed by prolific director Chang Cheh and Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo 1970 features Toshiro Mifune as Imperial Shogunate Secret Agent Sassa Daisaka This character resembles the title character of Akira Kurosawas films Yojimbo and Sanjuro The earlier films in which Mifunes character used the pseudonym Sanjuro thirtyyearold are alluded to when Sassa is jokingly called Shijuro fortyyearold List of original filmsedit No Title Year Japanese Romanization Director 1 The Tale of Zatoichi 1962 座頭市物語 Zatōichi monogatari Kenji Misumi 2 The Tale of Zatoichi Continues 続・座頭市物語 Zoku Zatōichi monogatari Kazuo Mori 3 New Tale of Zatoichi 1963 新・座頭市物語 Shin Zatōichi monogatari Tokuzo Tanaka 4 Zatoichi The Fugitive 座頭市兇状旅 Zatōichi kyōjōtabi 5 Zatoichi on the Road 座頭市喧嘩旅 Zatōichi kenkatabi Kimiyoshi Yasuda 6 Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold 1964 座頭市千両首 Zatōichi senryōkubi Kazuo Ikehiro 7 Zatoichis Flashing Sword 座頭市あばれ凧 Zatōichi abare tako 8 Fight Zatoichi Fight 座頭市血笑旅 Zatōichi kesshōtabi Kenji Misumi 9 Adventures of Zatoichi 座頭市関所破り Zatōichi sekishoyaburi Kimiyoshi Yasuda 10 Zatoichis Revenge 1965 座頭市二段斬り Zatōichi nidangiri Akira Inoue 11 Zatoichi and the Doomed Man 座頭市逆手斬り Zatōichi sakategiri Kazuo Mori 12 Zatoichi and the Chess Expert 座頭市地獄旅 Zatōichi jigokutabi Kenji Misumi 13 Zatoichis Vengeance 1966 座頭市の歌が聞える Zatōichi no uta ga kikoeru Tokuzo Tanaka 14 Zatoichis Pilgrimage 座頭市海を渡る Zatōichi umi o wataru Kazuo Ikehiro 15 Zatoichis Cane Sword 1967 座頭市鉄火旅 Zatōichi tekkatabi Kimiyoshi Yasuda 16 Zatoichi the Outlaw 座頭市牢破り Zatōichi rōyaburi Satsuo Yamamoto 17 Zatoichi Challenged 座頭市血煙り街道 Zatōichi chikemurikaidō Kenji Misumi 18 Zatoichi and the Fugitives 1968 座頭市果し状 Zatōichi hatashijō Kimiyoshi Yasuda 19 Samaritan Zatoichi 座頭市喧嘩太鼓 Zatōichi kenkadaiko Kenji Misumi 20 Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo 1970 座頭市と用心棒 Zatōichi to Yōjinbō Kihachi Okamoto 21 Zatoichi Goes to the Fire Festival 座頭市あばれ火祭り Zatōichi abarehimatsuri Kenji Misumi 22 Zatoichi Meets the One Armed Swordsman 1971 新座頭市・破れ！唐人剣 Shin Zatōichi Yabure Tōjinken Kimiyoshi Yasuda 23 Zatoichi at Large 1972 座頭市御用旅 Zatōichi goyōtabi Kazuo Mori 24 Zatoichi in Desperation 新座頭市物語・折れた杖 Shin Zatōichi monogatari Oreta tsue Shintaro Katsu 25 Zatoichis Conspiracy 1973 新座頭市物語・笠間の血祭り Shin Zatōichi monogatari Kasama no chimatsuri Kimiyoshi Yasuda 26 Zatoichi Darkness Is His Ally 1989 座頭市 Zatōichi Shintaro Katsu Notes The English titles shown are the common commercially used titles thus they are not direct translations of the original Japanese titles The television seriesedit See also List of Zatoichi episodes The television series of Zatoichi ran for four seasonsa total of 100 episodeswith Shintaro Katsu in the lead role 26 episodes in 1974 29 episodes in 1976 19 episodes in 1978 26 episodes in 1979 Most of the stories in the television are original dramas but some are essentially redacted remakes of fulllength Zatoichi films of the previous decade such as Season One Episode 14 Fighting Journey With Baby in Tow and Season One Episode 16 The winds From Mt Akagi The first season of television shows has been released with English subtitles from Media Blasters Tokyo Shock Remakes and SpinOffsedit Blind Furyedit In 1989 TriStar Pictures released a remake called Blind Fury starring Rutger Hauer as the Zatoichi character Here Hauer is a Vietnam War vet who is blinded then taught to fence by a local tribe before returning home to America This film is based on Zatoichi Challenged 1967 the 17th film in the original series Zatoichi 2003 filmedit In 2003 Takeshi Kitano wrote directed and appeared in a new highbudget Zatoichi film called simply Zatoichi 座頭市 Zatōichi It premiered on September 3 2003 at the Venice Film Festival where it won the prestigious Silver Lion award and went on to numerous other awards both at home and abroad It also stars Tadanobu Asano Michiyo Okusu Yui Natsukawa Guadalcanal Taka Daigiro Tachibana Yuko Daike Ittoku Kishibe Saburo Ishikura and Akira Emoto Zatoichi discovers a small remote mountain town that has been overtaken by a bullying gang that is extorting money from the townspeople As Zatoichi seeks to liberate the town he encounters a ronin seeking employment to pay for his ailing wifes needs and two geisha who are seeking to avenge the murder of their parents but he soon discovers they are not what they seem to be The soundtrack features contributions from Keiichi Suzuki formerly of the Moon Riders and The Stripes Ichiedit In Ichi a blind female musician who is rescued and later trained by Zatoichi travels Japan to find her mentor 34 Zatoichi The Lastedit Toho released a new Zatoichi film titled Zatoichi The Last on May 29 2010 starring Shingo Katori as Zatoichi The Master Swordsman citation needed Production companiesedit The majority of the films were produced by Daiei Motion Picture Company from the first film The Tale of Zatoichi aka The Life and Opinions of Masseur Ichi to the 19th film Zatoichi Samaritan Toho Studios picked up where it had left offclarification neededthe 16th film Zatoichi the Outlawwith the 20th film Zatoichi and Yojimbo The 22nd film Zatoichi Meets the One Armed Swordsman was released in 1971the year Daiei Studios went bankrupt However starting with film entry 16 Zatoichi the Outlaw in 1967 Shintaro Katsus own company Katsu Productions coproduced the films as well as producing the TV series and his last Zatoichi film After Daiei was out of commission Toho Company took over the films including 1972s highly popular Zatoichi at Large the 23rd film through to Zatoichi at the Blood Fest in 1973 the 25th film Shochiku did Katsus last Zatoichi film in 1989 which was produced by Katsu Productions It was rereleased and retitled Darkness Is His Ally in 2004 this was no doubt sparked by the new 2003 Zatoichi film Zatoichi starring Takeshi Kitano which Shochiku also released Chambara EntertainmentVideo Action of Honolulu held the original VHS release rights to the Zatoichi film series numbers 120 though it only released some of them Chambara eventually expired its North American release license AnimEigo held the remainder of the VHS rights 5 Home Vision Entertainment not Criterion as is often misstated was granted United States distribution rights to the original Daiei films except for the 14th and the 16th was in possession of AnimEigo and released them on DVD films numbered 113 15 and 1719 AnimEigo released seven of the films Zatoichi the Outlaw 1967 Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo 1970 Zatoichi at the Fire Festival 1970 as Zatoichi The Festival of Fire Zatoichi Meets the One Armed Swordsman 1971 Zatoichi at Large 1972 Zatoichi in Desperation 1972 and Zatoichi at the Blood Fest 1973 as Zatoichis Conspiracy Media Blasters under their Tokyo Shock label released the 1989 film The first season 26 episodes of the TV series was released on February 7 2007 Criterion Collection released the first twentyfive films as a dualformat Bluray and DVD boxed set on November 26 2013 67 In other worksedit in chronological order The Crimson Bat film series 1969 1970 was an unauthorized variation with a blind woman named OIchi played by Yoko Matsuyama as the swordwielding hero This series of films was not well received only four films were produced and the producers were chastised for stealing from the Ichi character Blindman was a 1971 spaghetti western variation on the Zatoichi formula starring Tony Anthony as a blind gunman In the second season of the 1985 animated series Thundercats a character named LynxO shares many similarities as Zatoichi Having been blinded by volcanic gasses during his escape from his dying home world of Thundera LynxO develops his other senses to see the world around him He is a formidable fighter and can use pressure points to disable and defeat foes The character of Zatoichi finds homage in the character of ZatoIno also known as the Blind Swordspig in Stan Sakais longrunning anthropomorphic comic series Usagi Yojimbo 1984 This iteration of the character uses his keen sense of smell to find his way and to combat his enemies ZatoIno first appeared in Critters 7 Jan 19870 published by Fantagraphics Books The 1989 movie Blind Fury starring Rutger Hauer was inspired by Zatoichi Challenged the 17th film in the series In this movie Hauer plays a blind Vietnam War veteran trained to use a sword cane in battle thus giving his remake character a more American background In the Shogun update of the 2007 multiplayer firstperson shooter Team Fortress 2 a katana called The HalfZatoichi was introduced for use by both the Soldier and Demoman alluding to the fact that the Demoman uses an eyepatch and is halfblind while the Soldier wears an improperly fitted helmet and therefore has impaired vision In the 1998 Guilty Gear video game series one of the original characters is named Zato1 who also happens to be a blind assassin Although his name is pronounced Zatoone the Japanese word for one is ichi hence Zatoichi In the 2005 episode of The Boondocks titled Grandads Fight Huey has a dream in which he fights Col Stinkmeaner a blind and cruel elderly man who had beaten his grandfather earlier in the episode as a samurai Later in the episode Huey shows his grandfather footage of animated Zatoichi in action comparing Stinkmeaner to the blind swordsman In the 2006 movie Devils Den the main characters while being trapped in the strip club by female ghouls have a fantasy scenario of how Zatoichi would deal with the ghouls himself The Italian heavy metal band Holy Martyr released a song titled Zatoichi on their 2011 album Invincible based on the character The cover artwork of Invincible depicts Zatoichi in combat against two rival warriors In the 2007 American exploitationhorror film8Death Proof Jungle Julia calls Stuntman Mike Zatoichi sarcastically when he fails to notice a billboard Mike responds with a wide grin similar to Ichis In the 2013 online coop game Warframe there is a katana stance called Blind Justice which causes the katana to be held in reverse grip Its first attack combination is called Zatos Creed all of them being references to Zatoichi In the long running manga animated series One Piece the minor character marine Admiral Fujitora is based upon Zatoichi The character of Zatoichi also finds homage in 2016s Rogue One where Chinese actor Donnie Yen appears as Chirrut Îmwe a blind transient wanderer who is secretly a highlyskilled warrior who believes in and has a connection with the Force 9 See alsoedit Blind Fury Samurai cinema Bakuto Chohan bakuchi Lone Wolf and Cub Stick comics Referencesedit Frequently Asked Questions about Zatoichi The Momii Company Retrieved 15 December 2010 Sho Aikawa gets first starring stage role in Miikes Zatoichi Tokyograph 26 July 2007 Retrieved 15 December 2010 httpwww channel4 comfilmreviewsfilm jspid=174111§ion=review httpwww imdb comtitlett1060256 httpwww momii com httpwww bluray commoviesZatoichiTheBlindSwordsmanBluray81690 httpwww criterion comboxsets1012zatoichitheblindswordsman httpswww theguardian comfilm2007sep21quentintarantino horrorgusrc=rss&feed=film How Rogue Ones Plot Ties Directly into The Force Awakens TheWrap 20161216 Retrieved 20161220 Zatoichi 2003 on IMDb Zatoichi Wushu Cinema article Bibliographyedit Silver Alain 1983 1977 5 The Alien Hero I The Blind Swordfighters Zato Ichi and the Crimson Bat The Samurai Film Woodstock New York The Overlook Press pp 76–83 ISBN 9780879511753 External linksedit Zatoichis Musical Journey CDs of the original film music Volumes 1 2 and 3 The Momii Companys Zatoichi sitea commercial site selling Zatoichi on VHS and DVD with comprehensive background informationhistory on the films and television series The Digital Bits DVD Review Index Zatoichi The Blind Swordsman on DVD Zatoichi region 2 disc mixupreview of the infamous Artsmagic box set Rev Antonio Hernandezs twopart history of Zatoichi 1 2 About 18 of the earlier movies can be viewed for free on Hulu com CD soundtrack compilation of Zatoichi film music from LaLa Land Records with comprehensive album notes by Randall D Larson The Official Forum for the UK Arrowdrome DVD Release