Criterion have announced that they will release Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman — a massive DVD/Blu-ray boxed set with the 25 Zatoichi films made between 1962 and 1973 — on November 26.
The collection, which will span 18 DVDs and 9 Blu-rays, marks the first time all 25 of these classic Zatoichi movies have been available in a single collection. It is the longest-running action series in Japanese film history (though this just begs the question, why did we never see Zatoichi Vs. Godzilla? Or Gozilla Vs. Zatoichi? Or Gozilla & Zatoichi Vs. The Smog Monster?).
Along with the movies, which have been digitally restored and feature uncompressed monaural soundtracks as well as new subtitle translations, the box will also include the original trailers for all 25 Zatoichi movies, a new interview with film critic Tony Rayns, and a 1978 documentary called The Blind Swordsman about actor Shintaro Katsu, who play Zatoichi in all 25 movies.
In addition, the booklet will feature the original Zatoichi short story “The Tale Of Zatoichi” by Kan Shimozawa, synopses of each film by critic Chris D., an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien, and 25 new illustrations inspired by the movies, with each being done by a different artist.
The box will retail for $224.95, though Amazon currently has it available for preorder for $157.47.