Keeping up with the recent trend of video games being adapted into anime shows, Netflix brings yet another presentation of the same genre through the anime series Onimusha. Adapted from Capcom’s hack-and-slash video game series by the same name, the Netflix show introduces a veteran samurai, Musashi, who intends to be a better fighter by facing and defeating demons. During his travels, he comes across a difficult challenge when a renowned samurai in a nearby village is believed to have turned into a demon. With Takashi Miike as the chief director, Onimusha has no shortage of satisfying gore and scenes of extreme violence, and an accompanying strong narrative style makes it a very enjoyable watch.
Plot Summary: What is the Netflix anime series about?
Onimusha begins on one dark, gloomy afternoon as it starts to snow on a private courtyard of a temple. The scene is tense, as multiple men stand still in the courtyard with swords and weapons drawn, waiting for a moment to begin a violent fight. At the center of this crowd is a man, a samurai by the name of Musashi Miyamoto, while everyone else surrounding him is part of a warrior group that intends to fight and kill him. In time, a singular autumn leaf falls to the ground, and the commencement of the fight is announced. It does not take very long for Musashi to come out victorious after taking down each of the eleven men who fought against him.
It is now made clear that this fight was part of a challenge between the samurai and a monk over a certain box that contained some mysterious and powerful objects. Musashi, who had been asking for the object, had been told that every enemy he would be able to beat would fetch him three days with the artifact, and after beating the group easily, the samurai was given the box for thirty-three days. But he must return the box with the mysterious object within this time, and in order to ensure this, the monk also sends with Musashi, a younger monk named Kaizen, who would be responsible for keeping the object safe. The samurai and the monk soon leave and join up with a few other warriors, as it is revealed that Musashi is currently on a mission for which he has borrowed the specific magical artifact.
What is the mysterious artifact that Musashi borrows?
The members of this group, except for Musashi and Kaizen, all hail from the same territory where a mysterious incident has shaken everyone. Around six months earlier, a commotion in the village had led to some bloodshed and the deaths of a few people, following which the lord of the land sent a scout to the village to find out what had happened. However, this scout, a samurai named Iemon, had gone rogue since then, having turned against the lord and holding the villagers captive. In order to find out more about Iemon and his intentions, this group of warriors had been secretly appointed by the lord, and the master swordsman Musashi had also joined to help them. It is also believed that Iemon is now in control of supernatural powers, and this soon comes into display when some of the members of the group are somehow remotely controlled by Iemon, who wants to stop Mushasi from reaching the village.
Musashi now makes use of the magical object he had borrowed, which is an Oni Gauntlet that gives him supernatural powers to fight the evil monsters. The powerful spirits of Oni had all been wiped out by the demonic spirits called the Genma in the past. This gauntlet had been specifically designed with the powers of the Oni stored inside it, and its purpose is to defeat Genma spirits and capture their souls inside it. Every time Musashi and his group of warriors are faced with strong evil powers, he wields the gauntlet by wearing it on his arm. Despite the powers that help him fight the forces, the gauntlet also has a tremendous physical toll on him, for it intends to turn him into an Oni. Although the Oni are not beastly spirits that intend to harm humans or other life forms, like the Genma are, they are still extremely ferocious supernatural beings. Therefore, Musashi knows well that he must not himself turn into an Oni, since that would make him inhuman and most likely lead to his own death.
Who are the three characters that secretly follow Musashi?
While Musashi and his band of warriors make their way towards the village that Iemon was holding captive, a group of three shadowy characters are seen following them. Soon, it is revealed that these three men are actually under the spell of Iemon, just like the warriors earlier and also the villagers at present. Iemon launches attacks on Musashi and his group through each of these different sets of possessed monsters, but the three men are particularly dangerous because of their strength and powers. These three men are actually three brothers from the famed Yoshioka family of Kyoto, and the surprising part of it all is that Musashi had actually defeated and killed the three brothers earlier, and this accomplishment of his had come to be known as his biggest feat.
Therefore, when the Yoshioka brothers now emerge at the scene, they have clearly returned from the dead, with monstrous abilities and supernatural qualities about them. The dead samurai brothers have been able to return only by taking on the powers of the Genma, and the evil spirits have thus turned them into monsters with ill intentions as well. While the brothers want to kill Musashi and exact revenge, they have been strictly ordered by Iemon to capture Musashi alive and bring him to the village with his limbs cut off. In order to carry out his order, the Yoshioka brothers trap Sayo inside a metal bell to divert the attention of the rest of the group while they directly fight the samurai. Sayo was a young girl whom the group found in the village, and she had become part of the group as well, since she was the only survivor at the village and had no family left.
Despite the weakness and physical toil that follow, Musashi once again wears the Oni gauntlet and is successful in defeating the demonic Yoshioka brothers. The brothers, with all their evil supernatural powers, cannot exact revenge on Musashi and are killed by the samurai once again. The others manage to save Sayo, but the monk Kaizen loses his life, and he passes his responsibility of safely returning the gauntlet on to another warrior named Sahei. The group had already lost a number of warriors, and by the time Musashi reaches the mine from where all the troubles in the village had started, only Sahei, Sayo, and Heikuro are left by his side. Incidentally, three other demonic women, who are the sisters of the Yoshioka men, also arrive to take revenge on the samurai, but they, too, are very easily defeated by Musashi. Once all these obstacles are removed from their way, the samurai and his group make their way towards the mine in the village.
What was Iemon’s plan all along?
The exact series of events that had taken place at the village and the mines are now revealed when Iemon comes out of hiding and appears in front of the characters in the mine. Many years ago, the sword master and warrior head of the village, Kensuke Matsuki, spotted a young boy showing a lot of interest in swords and samurai fighting. Despite his reservations at first, Matsuki later started to train this boy and then gave him the official name of Iemon, also handing him a sword to mark the beginning of his official training as a samurai. During that very time, the young accomplice had told his master about the exact beliefs and dreams that he had with regard to the samurais of the land. Since “Ominusha” is set during the relatively peaceful Edo period, the samurais of the kingdom were no longer used to fighting in battles.
According to Iemon, this was a sign of worthlessness, as the samurais only acted upon the orders of the shogun without having any authority of their own. To the young samurai, such a state of his professional colleagues was very concerning, as he was sure that the land of Japan would be attacked by foreign forces within a few years. If such an invasion did take place, then the samurais would not be prepared to fight back, and so Iemon wanted to create a samurai force that would be fierce and ready to kill any enemy in their path. But in order to achieve this, Iemon wanted to recreate the Battle of Sekigahara, which was an extremely bloody civil war that had taken place some years ago. Sekigahara had seen battles fought between groups of samurais, which had naturally led to the deaths of many such warriors. Therefore, young Iemon wanted a second Sekigahara that would weed out the soft and powerless samurais from the fierce and brutal ones.
During the present time, or rather six months ago, an astonishing discovery had been made in the particular unnamed village that has been central to this plot. While the villagers were mostly miners who worked at the copper and tin mines in the hills near the place, the young girl Sayo had one day found a big piece of gold nugget at one of the mines, which was later found to be full of gold. She had excitedly brought it back to the village but did not expect the effect it would have on the villagers. Taken over by greed for the valuable metal, they had an argument with each other, which even led to a few deaths. It was this commotion that had been reported to the lord and the one that Iemon had been sent to check.
After discovering the reason for this argument, which was the newly found gold, Iemon hatched his own plan to finally start working on his bigger dream—to create his own fierce samurai army. Iemon had already sided with the Genma, taking on the powers of the evil spirits to have the supernatural advantage over his enemies, and now the discovery of the gold mine meant that he had almost infinite money as well. While the Genma spirit would grant them other-worldly power, the money from the gold would get them weapons to fight their war. Therefore, Iemon took over the gold mine and the villagers supernaturally, using them to work at the mines as well as to turn them into zombie hordes to fight his enemies.
What happens to Musashi and Sayo in the end?
Inside the mine, Sayo is tricked by Iemon when he makes her parents come to see her, but he also controls their bodies to try and kill the daughter. In an effort to protect the girl, Musashi kills the parents, and this eventually turns him into an Oni for some time since he has lost his human touch. Iemon also produces another old foe of Musashi, a warrior named Kojiro Sasaki, whom the protagonist had also defeated and killed earlier. A similar demonic version of Sasaki comes to the scene looking for revenge, as he, too, had used the powers of the Genma to come back to life. In a turn of events, though, Sasaki cuts off all the limbs of Iemon, making the villain almost immobile, for he intends to fight Musashi without any distractions. Iemon had ordered Sasaki to not kill Musashi, but the warrior had other intentions, and so he now essentially removes Iemon from his way. Musashi and Sasaki indulge in a grand and intense battle, the result of which is not revealed at the end of Onimusha, for only a loud explosion is heard with thick clouds of smoke emerging from the place. In all probability, Musashi either defeats his foe or both he and Sasaki die because of this violent clash.
On the other side, Sahei is given the responsibility of safeguarding little Sayo, but there is a small revelation with regards to these characters as well. As it turns out, Sahei had always known about the gold in the village’s mines, and he had been ordered to ensure that nobody from the outside world got to know of this news. It seems most likely that the lord of the territory had told Sahei to follow this order, for he too had known of the gold but feared that outsiders, as well as his own subjects, might wage wars against him if the news of it got out. After Sahei kills Iemon, Sayo is the only remaining individual who can tell people on the outside about the gold in the village’s mines, and so Sahei considers killing the girl as well. However, he decides not to follow the orders in this case and lets the girl leave, while he himself seems to be trapped and killed by the falling rocks inside the mine.
During Onimusha‘s ending, Sayo finally approaches Musashi on the battlefield and brings him back to his human form, for he is still in the vengeful and dangerous Oni form at present. Following this, Sayo also takes possession of the Oni gauntlet in order to return it to its rightful owner—the monk seen at the beginning of the show. As Sayo travels through the hilly roads, she hears the explosion and pays respect to Musashi, knowing well that she will perhaps never see the man again, even if he has survived the fight. The girl uses a gold nugget as money on her way back to the temple, where she secretly returns the Oni gauntlet without meeting or even informing the monk. Onimusha comes to an end with the monk finding the artifact and remarking about how it had grown heavier than earlier, perhaps because of the weight of the many Genma souls that Musashi had collected during his time with the gauntlet. Just then, a single drop of snowflake falls from the sky and lands on the gauntlet, maybe signifying that the now-fallen Musashi sends his last regards for the weapon that had truly helped him become a better fighter.