Directed by Kimiyoshi Yasuda, written by Shozaburo Asai.
Cast: Shintaro Katsu (Zatoichi), Eiko Taki (Osen, a young woman trying to do good), Jotaro Senba (Shinsuke, Osen’s hotheaded brother), Miwa Takada (Saki, another do-gooder woman, looking for her lost father), Yuzaburo Ii (Giju, an old drunk), Mikijiro Hira (Gounosuke, one in a long line of breathtakingly handsome samurai who challenge Zatoichi), and Kichijiro Ueda (Boss Jinbei, one in a long line of corrupt yakuza)
*NOTE: Thanks to this site for help with the credits. The Criterion package is surprisingly (and consistent) incomplete in this regard, and iMDB was unhelpful.
In Adventures of Zatoichi, it’s Japanese New Year, and that means autumn or early winter. It’s cold out. Leaves fall. Colors change. The natural decay of the season crumbles trees, forests, lawns, and crops. Even the buildings seem affected. People switch their fashions to earth tones, and huddle together for warmth. Plot-wise, Adventures of Zatoichi is almost thoroughly standard—though with more children, less sexiness, and a score that veers from being too Wagnerian to too sappy, and is too intrusive throughout the picture. Visually, though, the movie captures the ambience of my favorite season. As we’re in the throes of my least favorite season, I can look at this film and at least dream of better times.