Musashi and Kojiro grew up thick as thieves, brothers in all but name, tussling with each other and bandying with swords under the tutelage and stories of Kojiro’s father, who would tell them of the greatness of the Bushi, warriors who banded together to fight against the terrible Kishin. But years have passed since, and the two boys, despite a promise to form their own Bushin band, have become young men and gone their separate ways. Kojiro’s father has passed away and he is vilified by the village, while the bushi are discriminated against and must both register as this lower class of citizen and carry their katana chained to a weighted ball. Meanwhile, Musashi is training to become a miner, where their daily sessions end with the trainees shouting their dream of serving the Kishin and other oni. Still, Musashi has never forgotten his promise. And on the day of his graduation, he tries to convince his childhood friend to join him to form their band. When Kojiro refuses, Musashi marches forward on his own, but discovers that the truth behind the Kishin is more terrible than even he had imagined.
Orient is a series I was eager to check out because of its pedigree and creativity. Adapted from a manga by the same creator as Magi, the characters may feel familiar to any shonen fan, but the world they inhabit is bonkers. It’s a recreation of the Japanese Warring States Period that imagines oni invading the country and ruling over it, rather than a shogunate unifying the nation. But it’s not just the setting that’s different—the colors are vivid (as in Magi), the technology is unexpected (Musashi lands on an oni with his motorcycle), and the stage is big. And that’s all in just episode one. To tell the truth, I don’t know if I’ll continue with the series—I just wanted to see how it would land and how it compared to volume one of the manga, which I read (and it does so favorably). It’s made for viewers who, unlike me, lean toward long-running shonen series. But if you enjoy those shows, particularly Black Clover, with which Orient shares a sensibility, this series could be your next big thing.
Orient can be streamed through Crunchyroll.