I am confident that if Samurai 8 gets animated (and that is a big “if”) it will blow up big time. It is true that it has not been popular in the weekly readers polls and that carries a lot of weight with decisions to animate. Many people say that it will be cancelled but there is no way the series will get cancelled before it completes 10 volumes as originally planned by M. Kishimoto. There is a very well-defined storyline with a target of collecting 7 keys to reach completion, and unless this is done I cannot foresee how the title will be axed sooner. We have to remember that Japanese culture is all about saving face and the editor’s head will be at stake if a series as such would be axed earlier forcing it to an abrupt end.
The series has just completed its second arc at 33 chapters. It had a rough beginning wih the artwork being very bizzare and high expectations placed due to the author’s past success, and did not fly with the readers. I must admit that I read 4 chapters initially and put it on hold and then picked it up in the last 2 months and cannot put it down since.
The bizarre artwork is because of a brand new world buidling and we know how rare this is these days (and as such how commentable). As such it does feel fresh and interesting to look at once you understand its nuances. The artwork has become less “messy” since chapter 12 or so perhaps due to readers and editor’s feedback and it feels easier to read. But then again I had trouble reading Naruto in the first place and could only understand the panels after watching the animation.
The 33 chapters (currently in volume 4) are divided in two major arcs with chapter 16 and 17 in the middle explaining most of the basis of this Universe. I must admit again because M. Kishimoto has built a brand new world which is rather unusual these days, one has to read and perhaps reread (or read carefully) to grasp the finer details. It took 16 chapters to flesh out the back story and it is because I did not pay attention initially I could not understand what was happening and lost interest.
However, M. Kishimoto has fleshed out the 3 major characters early enough giving all of them back stories with his characteristic flash backs intros which are satisfying to explain the motives. Although Hachimaru is not such an underdog as Naruto was and perhaps not as relatable he is still a character I sympathise with and root for.
The action panels are awesome predictably and I would love to see those animated. After all, it is a fighting shonen, this time with sword fighting and different styles and schools.
We are waiting for the beginning of the third arc in a couple of weeks and I am really looking forward to it. I intiially thought that this was another “white knight boy saves princess and wants to be the very best” type of shonen manga, but I have a feeling that there are deeper storied to be told. Here’s hoping that the manga will get the recognition it deserves from a wider audience.