For the crew behind Blue Eye Samurai, there was no debate on whether or not to depict graphic acts of intimacy, even when it meant courting discourse. For all its high-impact combat sequences and blood-soaked melodrama, the present was in the end about survival in Seventeenth-century Japan, and for girls of Edo Japan, that concerned sex.
Blue Eye Samurai’s eight-episode first season follows a warrior named Mizu who poses as a person to make it in a male-dominated world — particularly, the financial underbelly of ammunition and prostitution commerce, the place her present goal makes out like a bandit. However threaded all through the sequence are glimpses into different lives, from a brothel proprietor who caters to any fetish with the intention to hold males underneath her thumb to a wayward samurai whose thirst for revenge distracts from the pleasures proper in entrance of him. Sexual encounters grow to be one more venue for exploring the layered human experiences of the period, and a fast technique to convey that this animated sequence is not like every other Western animated sequence on tv. For director Jane Wu, whose background is in motion design and martial arts however who spent a season engaged on Sport of Thrones, getting these graphic scenes proper meant choreographing the sex with as much intention as a piercing samurai showdown.
“[Creators Michael Green and Amber Noizumi] were really great about writing these adult scenes, these sensitive scenes, so beautifully that my job was just to render them, but render them with just as much sensitivity,” Wu tells Polygon. “We always want to make sure that these sex/bedroom scenes have a point of view. When you give them a point of view, it doesn’t become gratuitous. And a lot of these points of view are from women’s points of view.”
Creating that standpoint, and the fixed conflict of delicacy and brutality, began with a imaginative and prescient for the total design of Blue Eye Samurai. She discovered a breakthrough in her childhood: reminiscences of watching bunraku, the classical Japanese puppet theater recognized for daring strains, refined motion, and occasional extreme expression. By animation, Wu and her crew at the French studio Blue Spirit may seize the “eerie” high quality of the puppets in each design and motion whereas sustaining a grounded sense of actuality. When Noizumi and Inexperienced determined to write down bunraku puppets into the fifth episode, the entire expertise got here full circle.
“That was so meta,” Wu says, “because we were already doing puppetry inside of animation.”
The wizardry of Wu’s animated puppetry beams by means of in the varied preventing types seen all through season 1. Whereas Mizu is perhaps the most ferocious killer in Japan, she was by no means formally skilled, giving her swordplay a nimbleness that’s simply translated by means of the bunraku-inspired strategy. Nevertheless it’s additionally key to the sex scenes, the place the viewers must really feel contact and warmth from what can typically be a distancing medium. That is the place an motion choreographer’s mind helped Wu.
In episode 2, Akemi, a princess whose father hopes to marry her off for energy, slips into the bed room along with her actual love, Taigan, a swordsman not too long ago defeated by Mizu. Taigan is spiraling after defeat, his continued life a destiny worse than dying. To tug him out of melancholy, out of affection and desperation for her personal life, Akemi sits him down, explains that there’s no dishonor over being attacked, after which disrobes. Her monologue continues as the two have sex for the first time. “Strike with your blade,” she tells Taigan, as they arrive nearer and nearer. Although wooing him steadies her personal life, for Akemi, it’s nonetheless an act of ardour. However a fast shot of Akemi staring into the mirror when it’s throughout silently speaks to the complexity of utilizing her physique on this manner.
Not like most movies or tv exhibits that may lower from romantic initiation straight to post-coital chat, Blue Eye Samurai follows the couple with out interruption. After the two climax, the drama continues to unfold, Akemi rolling off Taigan, reorienting herself, after which ready for a response on the extra urgent matter of Taigan’s meltdown. The swordsman, to her shock, admits she’s proper about his embarrassment — it’s pointless. Although now he needs to seek out Mizu for an actual problem.
Akemi continues to wield sex and the desperation of males to her will. It’s not the most evident echo of Mizu’s personal quest, however it’s there, and definitely intentional.
“Akemi and Mizu are the opposite sides of a coin of what women can be,” Wu says. “Sex was Akemi’s weapon. That’s all she could use. Mizu uses her knives and her katanas and all that. So [the sex scenes] are just a way for us to show you the diversity of what women at that time use to get what they need.”
Blue Eye Samurai season 1 is now streaming on Netflix.