Shigurui. Loved It, but the story arc isn’t completed. Should I resign myself that this is all of Shigurui and be grateful or will there be a continuation?
I share your frustration with the Shigurui television anime. After a dry first episode, the anime series quickly becomes increasingly engrossing, but it concludes with a number of tremendously large plot points left unexplained and unresolved. What viewers get is exceptional, but the show leaves viewers salivating for more. Regrettably, I don’t anticipate seeing more Shigurui anime. I think that there’s a singular reason important reason why the Shigurui anime was created. And I think that there are a few reasons why it won’t get any future anime.
The Shigurui manga is written and illustrated by Takayuki Yamaguchi, whose 1994 manga series Kakugo no Susume was adapted into an anime OVA series in 1996. It’s a mysterious trend within the anime production world that manga artists who have one story adapted into anime nearly always have a second work also adapted into anime. (The biggest exception is manga creators who only have one significant published work.) Tangentially, I suspect that certain artists whose drawing style lends itself to easy adaptation into animated motion are favored as source material by animators. However, grim, violent, morose, and adult oriented anime typically don’t fare especially well in Japan. There are exceptions. For example, Madhouse’s recently revealed plans for a third Black Lagoon anime series. But far more shows like Grappler Baki, Texhonolyze, Ergo Proxy, Gantz, Boogiepop Phantom, Speed Grapher, Kurozuka, Soultaker, Samurai Champloo, Tsukihime, Princess Resurrection, Claymore and Berserk don’t get sequels or continuations despite often having endings that allow for further storytelling.
The very fact that dark and violent anime like Shigurui get produced affirms their audience. But the audience for these types of shows is small and therefore less profitable than other types of anime that appeal to a larger Japanese audience. Titles like Death Note and Fullmetal Alchemist are exceptions that are grim and still manage blockbuster success, but most anime fans instinctively realize that Shigurui is not a blockbuster success on the scale of Death Note or Fullmetal Alchemist. Shows like Shigurui get produced to satisfy their small audience, and, I think, because directors, animators, and anime studios sometimes want to produce challenging, grotesque, violent, and shocking anime. But typically production studios can only afford to make the anime that corporate sponsors are willing to fund, and funding the production of an anime with a large audience potential provides a greater return than funding a show with very niche audience appeal.
My predictions aren’t always right, and I don’t now what announcements lay just a day into the future. However, I feel confident in predicting that Shigurui is highly unlikely to get a second anime installment. I’d like to see it as much as anyone, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Shigurui was an amazing and exceptional anime work, and that’s exactly why it will remain a singular event. The Shigurui manga is still ongoing, with collected volume 12 having been just published in Japan last month. While the manga hasn’t been licensed for official English language release, it’s not difficult to envision a domestic publisher acquiring it. The Kakugo no Susume manga underperformed in America, as does most “seinen” manga. But there will always be a small American market for works like Shigurui. Unfortunately for fans of the anime, I think that the manga is where viewers will have to turn for a continuation of the Shigurui anime story.