Zatoichi Darkness Is His Ally – 1989
As the 26th film opens, Zatoichi is still a wandering masseuse traveling the backroads of 1800’s Japan. Zatoichi is noticeably older but that has not affected his sword prowess or aptitude for finding trouble. In fact, the story starts as Zatoichi is imprisoned for burglary. Zatoichi tells a fellow prisoner that the judge almost allowed the charges to be dismissed because he couldn’t believe a blind man could have the skills to be a thief. To prove him wrong, Zatoichi grabbed the judge’s sword and ran from the court. He was caught and serves a small amount of time in jail. In fact, he later tells his friend Norihei Miki after he is released from jail that the lashings he received as punishment in jail helped his “stiff shoulders” and was very relaxing.
Zatoichi befriends a poor ronin that also works as an artist portrayed by Ken Ogata. He feels conflicted because he has been offered a substantial payment to deliver the head of Zatoichi to an enemy. However, Zatoichi is the only person he has encountered in his lonely life that understands him and shares his sense of humor. He also has respect for the way Zatoichi leads his life and his sword expertise. Will he succumb to the pressure or protect his new friend?