I laughed uncontrollably when Ichi suckled the baby. Strong, well-rounded and engaging support characters, and a very strong plot setup, definitely make this one of the two best of the first eight films of the serial. And the blind pilgrims were absolutely fantastic. They could've starred in their own vehicle. I'd most highly recommend this one for a first-time viewer strapped for time.
this entry, misumi's return after directing the excellent first installment, is misleading titled; it has perhaps the lowest amount of violent incident in the series thus far. while the plot verges on the sentimental - surrogate father ichi wells up with emotion - misumi's focus on landscape, the elliptical rhythm of travel, and katsu's effortless weight as a performer, make this a genuinely strong entry.
While the story isn't very complex, the mix of pathos, humor, and Katsu's performance make this 8th film a very delightful change of pace for the series. When Zatoichi says he's never been happier, you believe it right down until the logical but heartbreaking conclusion.