One of the most popular film series of all time, and definitely one of my own as well, has seen the VIP treatment thanks to the fine folks over at Criterion. This absolutely lovely 25 disc set features the first 25 Shintaro Katsu films on Blu-ray and DVD. There’s a plethora of extras, here taken from Criterion’s own product listing:
- New digital restorations of all twenty-five films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-rays
- The Blind Swordsman, a 1978 documentary about Zatoichi portrayer and filmmaker Shintaro Katsu, along with a new interview with its director, John Nathan
- New interview with Asian-film critic Tony Rayns
- Trailers for all twenty-five films
- New English subtitle translations
- PLUS: A book featuring an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien; synopses of the films by critic, novelist, and musician Chris D.; “The Tale of Zatoichi,” the original short story by Kan Shimozawa; and twenty-five new illustrations inspired by the films, by twenty-five different artistsCover by Ron Wimberly. Additional illustrations by Greg Ruth, Paul Pope, Scott Morse, Samuel Hiti, Josh Cochran, Evan Bryce, Ricardo Venâncio, Robert Goodin, Yuko Shimizu, Jorge Coelho, Vera Brosgol, Matt Kindt, Connor Willumsen, Patrick Leger, Jim Rugg, Jhomar Soriano, Angie Wang, Ming Doyle, Caitlin Kuhwald, Benjamin Marra, Bill Sienkiewicz, Andrew MacLean, Polly Guo, Barnaby Ward, Victor Kerlow.
You can expect a number of reviews to make the rounds here at Film Smash as I take in the epic series again. Having been a huge fan of the series for years, I think this my be the best film set I own. Beautiful artwork and the all important Zatoichi’s Pilgrimage highlight the set though the lack of the 1989 film is a bit of bummer. What we have here is an epic series that will literally have me spending hours upon hours digesting each bit carefully and I cannot wait to jump in.
Also, Check out Criterion’s own Zatoichi Supercut!