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The “Zatoichi” series has long been an entry point for non-Japanese into Japanese films. Guys from Bonn to Buenos Aires who nod off after 10 minutes of Yasujiro Ozu’s “Tokyo Monogatari” (“Tokyo Story”) devour the 25 episodes of the original series of films (1962-1973), as well as the 1989 revival directed by series star Shintaro Katsu, and Takeshi Kitano’s 2003 revisionist take featuring Kitano himself as the blind swordsman hero.

There was also a TV series that aired for four seasons (1974-1979), as well as various takeoffs and rip-offs, including the flashy yet forgettable “Ichi” (2008), starring Haruka Ayase as a female Ichi (the hero’s real name, “Zato” being a title signifying the lowest rank in the feudal-era blindman’s guild).

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