Zatoichi (Zatōichi) is a Japanese movie that is classified either as a martial arts film or a samurai drama. Zatoichi has a long history of movies about the main character, starting in 1962. The 2003 version, named simply Zatoichi, is the most recent in a line of 27 movies. This version was actually written, directed and starring a famous Japanese actor named Takeshi Kitano. Kitano has starred in such movies as Battle Royale and Boiling Point. In 2003 he took up the reins and took Zatoichi to a whole new level.
Shintaro Katsu first brought Zatoichi to life in 1962. The original movie was in black and what, and it was not until third film was made, in 1963, that Zatoichi was filmed in color. Zatoichi is one of the very few movies that has a blind hero as its main character. Zatoichi is completely blind but wields his sword as if he were not. He seems to be a harmless gambler who roams around the country when in reality is a man who is used to fighting injustice. He does his best to right the wrongs in the world. He uses his enhanced senses in order to help him in his quest. Interestingly enough, Zatoichi is also ambidextrous, another oddity that makes him a different sort of super-hero.
In 2003, Takeshi Kitano once again brought Zatoichi to the big screen in a long awaited movie. Named simply Zatoichi, Takeshi becomes the blonde do-good warrior. He travels to a small village and meets a woman named Oume (played by Michiyo Ookusu). She is a nice woman and Zatoichi does errands for her in order to earn some money. Her nephew, Skinkichi, likes to gamble. It is a bad habit that he has and he has lost a large amount of money at it. Zatoichi uses his senses to be able to hear how the dice are falling in order to tell if they will land on an even number or an odd number.
Ginzo (Ittoky Kishibe) is the villian in the movie. Zatoichi also comes upon two geisha who are seemingly harmless, until they unleash their formidable abilities. Zatoichi learns that one geisha is not really a woman, but a man masquerading as a woman in order to take revenge on the people who killed he and his sister’s parents. Zatoichi helps them and Ginzo goes to find Zatoichi in order to kill him. When he can not find him, he burns down Oume’s house. This makes Zatoichi mad and he realizes that he has to deal with the crime boss in order for the village to have any peace.
Zatoichi has been compared to both Robin Hood and other superhero movies such as Daredevil. In reality, the Zatoichi franchise is much more similar to the James Bond franchise. While Zatoichi is not well known in the west, he is extremely popular in the East and has been for a very long time.