Netflix Onimusha anime to adapt Capcom’s video game series

Netflix together with video game publisher Capcom have a new anime based on the Onimusha series in the works. Translated to ‘Demon Warrior’ in English, the Onimusha series follows several characters based on historical figures as they absorb the souls of their demon foes to protect their clans.

Little is known about the staff involved with this adaptation beyond the studio animating the project, Sublimation. Given Capcom’s less-than-stellar track record with their video-game-to-movie adaptations — the Resident Evil franchise taking the brunt of this hit — it’s understandable that many are worried this anime won’t do the Onimusha franchise justice. 

But the information currently available does seem promising. As an extra nod to classic cinema fans, actor Toshiro Mifune will serve as the model for Musashi Miyamoto, previously a guest character in Onimusha: Blade Warriors based on the historical figure by the same name. 

If nothing else, fans are still buzzing that this anime may revitalize the Onimusha series and pave the way for a fifth main entry in the game series just as Cyberpunk: Edgerunners has boosted CD Projekt’s sales. 

Promotional imagery for Netflix and Campcom anime Onimusha featuring a battle.
Action-packed gameplay has always been a staple of the Onimusha franchise, but how will that translate to an anime? Pic credit: Sublimation

What is the Onimusha video game series about?

The first game in the Onimusha series, Onimusha: Warlords released in 2001 for the Playstation 2. Set in 1500s Japan, the game allows players to fight through fictionalized versions of historic battles. Protagonist Samanosuke Akechi — a samurai in service to the Saito clan — together with his ninja companion Kaede seeks to protect Princess Yuki. Unfortunately for Samanosuke, however, his goals aren’t achievable without battling through waves of demons and evil spirits alike. 

A second installment was released in 2002 with Onimusha 2: Samurai’s Destiny. While the story world remained the same, the sequel follows a new protagonist, Jubei Yagyu. Like Samanosuke, Jubei makes use of the demon souls he absorbs from enemies to improve his armaments and gain more power.   

Quickly becoming a regular title for Capcom, 2004’s Onimusha 3: Demon Siege wrapped up Samanosuke’s tale, taking him all the way to France as time portals appear throughout the world. Last of the Playstation 2 entries and main series titles, 2006’s Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams continued forward with a new protagonist Hideyoshi Toyotomi although the gameplay and themes remained largely the same.

Like other popular video games series, Onimusha had several spin-off games in the series. 2003’s Onimusha Tactics for the Game Boy Advance and a fighting game, Onimusha Blade Warriors, added even more historical figures to the Onimusha cast — one of which, Musashi Miyamoto, will reportedly serve as the anime’s protagonist. 

While lost media by this point, Camcom released several Japanese-exclusive mobile titles for the series including New Onimusha: Curtain of Darkness. And in 2012, Capcom released their first browser game Onimusha: Soul. But given the long lull in main entries, Onimusha fans are eager for a fifth game.

Will the Netflix adaptation of Onimusha be bad?

Possibly to the dismay of some, Sublimation will be handling the animation for the Onimusha anime. Best known for their recent Dragon’s Dogma adaptation — another Capcom title — Sublimation received mixed reviews for straying far from the game’s story and relying heavily on 3D animation that many saw as ‘stiff’ and ‘lifeless’. 

Beyond several screenshots, however, not much is actually known about the Onimusha adaptation. It’s possible that Sublimation has stepped up their animation quality after several years. Their latest work, Shikizakura, was better received. Although that may have been in part due to the sci-fi setting lending itself better to a CGI art style.

It’s worth mentioning that 3D art in itself isn’t what makes a show good or bad. And the hand-painted backgrounds from the screenshots do give some indication that some attention to detail will be given to the visuals. As to whether that will extend to the story? Fans will have to wait and see.    

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