‘Blue Eye Samurai’ (Season 1) Review: An Ambitious and Brutally Violent Revenge Series

Nuha Hassan
4 min readNov 4, 2023

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Mizu voiced by Maya Erskine. Image courtesy of Netflix.

In the spirit of revenge and finding the truth about your identity, people will go to great lengths. What catches the attention of Blue Eye Samurai is not only the storyline but also the violent graphic animation, along with slashing swords and blood splattering and defeating armies in beautifully choreographed fight scenes.

Created by Amber Noizumi and Michael Green, the new animated series is set in 17th-century Japan, just as the country closes its border to the outside Western world. The central protagonist of this series is Mizu (voiced by Maya Erskine), a mixed-race blue-eyed woman, also called the “white devil.” Since childhood, she was rejected by everyone. She grew up isolated from the rest of her age group and mocked because of her blue eyes. After she becomes an orphan, a blind sword maker, Eiji (voiced by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), takes her in and teaches her how to wield a sword.

Mizu voiced by Maya Erskine. Image courtesy of Netflix.

Years later, with a desire for revenge, Mizu dons a yellow-coloured glass to hide her icy blue eyes and her sword to find the Irish trader, Fowler (voiced by Kenneth Branagh), one of the few foreigners hiding in Japan despite the strict policy. Mizu believes that he might be one of the four men who destroyed her mother’s life. As she makes her way to the fortress that protects Fowler, she meets Ringo (voiced by Masi Oka) and her childhood enemy and samurai, Taigen (voiced by Darren Barnett). Mizu has nothing to lose, and she knows once she defeats Fowler, she will be closer to avenging her mother’s life.

Blue Eye Samurai stands out for its unique animation style. It’s unlike anything audiences have ever seen due to its distinctive style. There’s flair and drama, mixing 3D and 2D animation styles in series like Arcane. The background set designs look like they have been painted by hand and might get lost in the beautiful scenery in every episode. The fight sequences between Mizu and her enemies are spectacular.

With bones crushing and blood splattering, Mizu’s sword is like a character of its own. The blade swings and turns and slices her enemy’s limbs in pieces as it commands her to do, and she never misses anyone. It’s brutal; it’s violent, and Noizumi and Green take full advantage of the power of animation to portray these visual imageries onto the screen in bold and creative ways.

Image courtesy of Netflix.

The central protagonist of Blue Eye Samurai only has one purpose: she has dedicated her entire life to revenge. This singular purpose leaves no room for romance, even though the series explores her past in “The Tale of the Ronin and the Bride.” It’s one of the ambitious episodes where the animators use the Bunraku puppet show to relay Mizu’s life before she sets out to get her revenge. She doesn’t care about honour and rejects patriarchal norms as a means to fulfil her life.

Even after she meets Ringo and Taigen, she never changes her feelings about revenge because she has nothing and no one to lose. Perhaps this kind of characteristic doesn’t bring a clean arc, but given Mizu’s backstory and the purpose of the revenge, these feelings might change in the second season.

Blue Eye Samurai is an entertaining and brutal animated series. Noizumi and Green create a thrilling world of fascinating characters and beautiful landscapes. It’s too early to assume that Mizu’s fate will change. The final episode opens a lot more to the possibility that there might be more secrets to unfold.

Blue Eye Samurai is currently streaming on Netflix.

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More Palestine reading materials

Read about the BDS movement

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