"Shurayukihime" is a play on words: "Shirayukihime" is the Japanese name for Grimm's "Snow White". "Shura" means pandemonium or carnage; it's also a reference to Asura, the anti-gods in Buddhism who are born trapped in violence and harmful passions. I was expecting kitsch but discovered unexpected complexities. Children bear the burdens of their parents' sins and hatred, unable to find peace without bloodshed.
A film that shows that it can be best to have nothing to say at all. Many revenge films have a schmaltzy circle-of-revenge sentiment, this just tells an engaging story, with plenty of proto-Tarantino style. Where the Kill Bill films were inspired by this first film, Lady Snowblood compacts the same story into a 2 1/2 hour shorter runtime. It's straight-forward and effective in its fast, minimalistic pace.
Snowblood moves with the cruel efficiency of someone birthed for death, taking names but rarely taking pleasure. Of course it's the opposite for us because Fujita's world is so rooted in joy; colourful and lavishly designed sets, novel and badass editing techniques. But how unsatisfying the task, esp. when she/we're denied the catharsis of 'noble' vengeance until the more bonkers third-act.
Ultimately I wouldn't say it evokes a whole lot in the way of meaning. It is a stylish thriller that wraps with every single character a victim of the cycle of revenge, but it's not REALLY about that and it doesn't try to insult us by paying thematic lip service to revenge's consequences, though it delivers more than Kill Bill in that regard. Also displays a nice sense of visual poeticism.