Fans of the game need no convincing, but… It’s samurai fighting zombies. What’s not to love?
Honestly, if we’re going to choose between the two Netflix samurai releases dropped on Japan’s Culture Day… It’s going to be Blue Eye Samurai. However, Onimusha is a fairly decent Japanese anime, even if it is overshadowed by the Asian-American revenge saga. The show takes the strengths of the original game – samurai fighting oni-controlled zombies – while shifting the show’s timeline to a calmer era that allows it to develop a cohesive plot, unlike old video game adaptations. While the 2D-3D blend falters in exposition scenes, the show’s spectacular horrors, great action scenes, and a cheeky Toshiro Mifune-inspired Miyamoto Musashi makes Onimusha a fun watch.
Video game adaptations are getting better, with works like Netflix’s Arcane and Cyberpunk: Edgerunners overturning the so-called adaptation curse. Onimusha is a fairly decent one, but that’s because it recognizes what made the game work while still making changes to better fit the TV medium. The anime keeps the Japanese history, though it shifts its setting so that the show’s plot occurs later in the relatively peaceful Edo period than the game’s chaotic Sengoku period. The anime also keeps the supernatural element – the oni demons in Japanese folklore – to deliver the spectacular horrific 3D action scenes the game is known for. That being said, the 2D-3D blend falters in the show’s slower scenes. It makes the non-action scenes feel a bit eerie and unbelievable, which is ironic, considering this is an animated show with zombies.