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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful.
A Must-Have Cult Classic
Product: ZATOICHI: The Blind Swordsman (Television Series), Collections One & Two (Season 1, 1974)
DVD Supplier/Format: "Tokyo Shock" DVD (6+6=12 discs total), 1:33 Full Screen, NTSC, Japanese with English subtitles
Rating: 5/5 (excellent) for the TV Series, but only 3/5 (fair) for this DVD collection.
Note: Scroll down for a full list of the episodes included in this collection.
I'm a die-hard Ichi-fan, and it was a brief run-in with several episodes that prompted me to study Iaiado back in the late 1980's. It is widely reputed that the American "Kung Fu" TV series (1972-1975), starring the late David Carradine was directly inspired by this series, and the hit Graphic Novel "Lone Wolf and Cub" was a nearly direct adaptation.
The basic premise is this: blind lower-caste loveable Japanese "peasant hero", wanders the countryside, from village to village, helping the downtrodden, during the Edo period of Feudal Japan. He poses as a masseuse, with a huge appetite for food and sake, but it's his superhuman skills with his hidden cane-sword, and his gambling dice, that make him an irresistible force to be reckoned with, and the bane of local yakuza. Every week featured a new orphan, couple, family, or village in trouble, and Ichi's passage though town is always the catalyst for a dramatic resolution to the conflict du jour. It's a feel-good formula that's been used again and again, in endless permutations, in TV and comic book series the world over, be they sighted or blind ... The Gunfighter, Robin Hood, Zorro, Daredevil, etc. It's rightfully considered a cult classic, and spanned 26 theatrical movies, and a hit TV series that ran for 4 seasons (approximately 100 episodes).
That brings us, at last, to this DVD collection, which unfortunately, was not labeled and assembled very well:
* Collections One and Two together include the complete first season (1974) of "Tales of Zatoichi" (TV Series). Twenty six episodes of pure Zatoichi goodness. Love it !
* Confusing Amazon product description that fails to list much of anything about the series, or the episodes included in this collection.
* DVD Jackets that fails to list the episodes included.
* DVD labels that are confusingly marked by collection, volume and disc number, rather than by season and episode numbers.
* Top Menus that fail to list the episodes included on each disc ... you have to navigate down to, and through, the individual scene selection menus in order to find the episode numbers present, and even then they're not always present, and don't include the English episode titles.
* Clumsy DVD cases with a fragile inner hinge, and holders that grasp the discs much too firmly (you have to nearly bend the discs in half to detach them).
* The digital transfers were apparently made from an un-restored copy of the original series ... the quality is somewhat below average.
Bottom Line: Zatoichi is an awesome series. It's a shame this particular collection (by "Tokyo Shock") was released with such mediocre packaging and confusing labels and digital menus ... but despite that, it's still highly recommended, if only because it's Zatoichi.
p.s. As a courtesy to my fellow Ichi fans, here's a manually typed index of all the episodes included in this collection. Enjoy.
TV Series: "Tales of Zatoichi", Season 1 
Vol 1 Disc 1 Episodes:
1. A Challenge Of Chance
2. The Flower That Bloomed With The Lullaby
3. A Memorial Day And The Bell Of Life
Vol 1 Disc 2 Episodes:
4. The Kannon Statue that was Bound
5. The Heartless Man, Touched By Compassion
Vol 2 Disc 1 Episodes:
6. Pouring Rain
7. A Bird Lands On Ichi
Vol 2 Disc 2 Episodes:
8. An Unforgettable Flower
9. The Second Zatoichi
Vol 3 Disc 1 Episodes:
10. The Sumo Wrestler That Found His Home
11. The Whirlwind Of Kisoji
Vol 3 Disc 2 Episodes:
12. Humanity And Justice
13. The 1,000 Ryo Raffle
Vol 4 Disc 1 Episodes:
14. Fighting Journey With Baby In Tow
15. Festival Song Of The Raven
Vol 4 Disc 2 Episodes:
16. The Wind From Mt. Akagi
17. Burning Sunset on the Bridal Pass
Vol 5 Disc 1 Episodes:
18. A Rush Trip
19. A Rainbow Over My Homeland
Vol 5 Disc 2 Episodes:
20. The Female Yakuza Boss
21. The Little Flower By The Lake
Vol 6 Disc 1 Episodes:
22. A Father And Son's Song
23. A Lover's Suicide Song
24. The Coming Of Spring
Vol 6 Disc 2 Episodes:
25. The Yakuza Ways
26. Traveling Alone
0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
The beginning of a classic series. I rented the ...
The beginning of a classic series. I rented the HD version but later found that I could have rented a SD version but that much of the series is available on Youtube for free. With 26 movies in the series it adds up.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful. See all 68 customer reviews...
Makes me want to continue this right away
By James I. Valdez
Superb film. Not as cinema-artsy as you might like it to be but it's a fun movie.