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Boutique home video distributor Criterion commissioned Samuel Hiti (Los Tiempos Finales, Death-Day) and a list of other great comics artists to create artwork for the individual films in the company’s box set for the long-running Zatoichi series starring Shintaro Katsu as a blind, but incredibly quick and accurate swordsman. Hiti designed the cover for Zatoichi the Fugitive, the fourth in the series.
Twenty-five Zatoichi films were produced between 1962 and 1973, making it the longest-running action series in Japanese history. There was also a four-season TV series in the late ’70s. The Criterion box set collects those first 25 feature films in one package for the first time, but doesn’t include 1989’s Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, written and directed by Shintaro Katsu himself.
Hiti submitted two versions of his cover, the one above and another (below) with red blood. The DVD package will feature the black blood version.
The list of artists for the rest of the set is also impressive. Ron Wimberly provided the box cover; individual films are represented by Greg Ruth, Paul Pope, Scott Morse, Josh Cochran, Evan Bryce, Ricardo Venâncio, Robert Goodin, Yuko Shimizu, Jorge Coelho, Vera Brosgol, Matt Kindt, Connor Willumsen, Patrick Leger, Jim Rugg, Jhomar Soriano, Angie Wang, Ming Doyle, Caitlin Kuhwald, Benjamin Marra, Bill Sienkiewicz, Andrew MacLean, Polly Guo, Barnaby Ward and Victor Kerlow. Sienkiewicz also created the artwork used in Criterion’s release of the 1954 Godzilla film.