after a low-key 8th installment, yasuda brings back katsu's righteous anger, in an episode haunted by broken families and the promise of a new year. feels slightly padded, but once the snow starts to fall the payoff is immense. opening and closing shots are a perfect call and response.
While it doesn't stray too far from the usual story beats of the series, this 9th film is aided not by countless sword fights but the numerous supporting characters that converge on the village. An entertaining film overall.