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Review of Soukou Akki Muramasa: Shokuzai Hen

SubjectSoukou Akki Muramasa: Shokuzai Hen
Soukou Akki Muramasa: Shokuzai Hen
By730 on 2021-02-23
ReviewBack when I read Muramasa I said I would never read 贖罪編 because what's the point? Muramasa concludes perfectly and does everything it has to do, having a sequel would tarnish everything it stood for, and worst of all, it's not even written by Narahara, in fact, it's nothing more than a fanfic.

But the other day I took another perspective. It's pretty hard to find people to talk about Muramasa to (much less if you want to talk about Hanachirasu and Muramasa as a pair), so it's really hard to have any sort of interesting discussion about it, and it's hard as it is to find in-depth writing about it on the net (best I've found was probably the longer reviews at Erogamescape).
So what better way to find out another Narahara fan's opinions about Muramasa than read a fanfic that was deemed so good as to be made into an official product? After all, it would be strange for a single fan to create something like this for marketing purposes; rather, it would be made out of love and deep understanding for the original work. It might not be the next Narahara work or much less, but it might have something thoughtful to contribute about Muramasa.

So I read it with that perspective, and it did indeed meet my expectations.

The setting, prose, and characters are perfectly replicated, it feels simply like the original Muramasa. Even all the かっこいい narration and the characters' unique ways of speaking are there.
At the same time, it doesn't do anything that could make it end up feeling like a cheap replica. There's no long-winded comedy scenes, nor highly detailed sword fighting descriptions and lore (although there is one slightly involved fight scene, but it's rather short and I'd argue its construction is relatively simple), and the story and characters don't go too far away from the scope that Muramasa already set during the course of its story.
It doesn't try to be Muramasa 1.5, but rather just works with what it has while adding a few new ideas to the mix.

I was expectant to see whether it would fuck up and/or deny Muramasa's message and its true ending, but I'm glad to say that this is indeed written out of love and understanding of Muramasa, thus this doesn't happen. In exchange, it does contribute its own particular message, which is in fact kind of contrastingly opposite with the true ending of Muramasa, while still respecting it. This opposition is also what allows it to stand alone, so instead of feeling like a shoehorned post-ending to Muramasa, it feels more like a "plug-in", maybe what I would call an external, observer's perspective of Muramasa.

If there's something to complain about then maybe it's the fact that you don't really find out about this message until the last 10 minutes of the story, so in retrospective everything before that can feel somewhat pointless. Admittedly, the set up was necessary, but maybe it could've been shortened.
Not much of a point complaining about this though, considering its length (about the length of one chapter of Muramasa, if not less), and how excellently it is all crafted for being a derivative work.

It's not a masterpiece or anything, but if you want to see some cool new ideas that could fit in the world of Muramasa (like 武帝 Kageaki speaking like an actual fucken samurai to regular people that he is (or was) acquainted with), plus a fresh perspective on 善悪相殺, then I recommend this.