Just a quick heads up that if you head on over to Hulu you can now find the first 6 films in the Zatoichi lineage online and for free thanks to film preservation heroes, the Criterion Collection. Not familiar with the blind masseur who wanders ancient Japan hiding a deadly skillset? Let's have a quick rundown of Japan's fascination with the character, then. To Wikipedia!
- The cinematic legend first came to life in 1962 in the film Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman.
- There are 26 films in the original Zatoichi line, the last one appearing in 1989. It was never revealed what caused his blindness or how he became such a proficient swordsman.
- Takasehi "Beat" Kitano directed and starred in a 2003 resurrection of the character (this was my first introduction) titled simply Zatoichi.
- Takashi Miike (he of Audition fame) once directed a Zatoichi stage play.
- A television series based on the character ended a two year run in the '70s with 112 episodes under its belt.
- The 2008 film Ichi is a spiritual successor that hints its title character, this time a female blind swordsman, is the daughter of Zatoichi.
- The 1990 Rutger Hauer flick Blind Furry is a loose Americanization with one awesome poster to boot.