Backstory: What’s not to love about a blind, gambler/massage therapist, master of the sword from Japan’s late-Edo Period (1603-1868)? Mr. Ichi, the lowest of commoners, was blinded at an early age (8 years old), lost his father even earlier (at 5), and endured a hardscrabble childhood that included putting in time as a yakuza enforcer, during which he sliced his way through a certain number of the competition. And for these early transgressions, Mr. Ichi (his non de guerre is a mash up of his social status–‘Zato,’ meaning the lowest rank on the socio-cultural ladder of blind workers–and his given name, ‘Ichi’) spent the rest of his life righting wrongs and championing the dispossessed and the unfortunate.
What we learn: Every day’s an adventure! That is, if you’re a single fella with a sword and not a care in the world beyond scoring a hot meal and a warm bed of straw. Well, actually, every day might be an adventure for the married schlub with kids, but he’s pretty much locked into that life he’s chosen, whereas the vagabond lifestyle is a perfectly tailored fit for the loner, the rebel.