Katsu Productions was at a high level of output at this time. Katsu was producing the Zatoichi series, the Lone Wolf series, the Hanzo the Razor trilogy, the Mute Samurai television series and the Lone Wolf television series. All within a span of two years. In addition to acting in several of these efforts (of course) he also took the director's chair on several occasions. This man had a lot of energy.
While sometimes actors who take the helm show a lack of concern with the visuals preferring to focus on the performances, Katsu is an exception. The visual style here is unlike any other Zatoichi I've seen and in fact unlike most other chambara films. Everything is shot in deep focus with moody lighting and stark saturated colors. The style is somber and depressing. The next (and last in the series) Zatoichi film is back to the standard look. If you like this film I would suggest looking into Katsu's Oshi Samurai series which continues the atmosphere.
One of the best Zatoichi films but not similar to the others. Recommended but prepare for a somber experience.
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