Blue Eye Samurai is the best Netflix show you're not watching — I see why it’s 100% on Rotten Tomatoes

Blue Eye Samurai (L to R) Darren Barnet as Taigen and Maya Erskine as Mizu in Blue Eye Samurai. Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2023
(Image credit: Netflix)

Don’t let the fact that it’s animated turn you away — Blue Eye Samurai is the best new show on Netflix right now.

While I missed its debut on Netflix back in November, I have been hearing about the show more and more over the past few weeks. In retrospect, this shouldn’t be a surprise given the show has maintained its 100% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes despite being over a month old. But for me, the show came out of nowhere, so I only got around to watching it this morning.

After watching it, my first reaction was wow. My second reaction was that I wished I could keep watching it, but in all seriousness, this show is incredible. 

And for being a historical fiction epic at its core, it doesn’t get too weighty. There’s humor interspersed appropriately throughout the first episode, though you wouldn’t expect it from the Netflix trailer, which is just fight scene after fight scene set to a cover of Metallica’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. I think viewers of animated shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender will feel comfortable with the way the show delivers its laughs, though the humor — like the violence — is decidedly adults-only.

What is Blue Eye Samurai about?

Before anyone raises an eyebrow, I am very aware that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a Chinese historical fiction martial arts movie. But I found it the obvious comparison in terms of the way the more lithe and balletic fight scenes were handled in Blue Eye Samurai, even though the Edo period of Feudal Japan is a distinctly different culture. While there are many great Japanese movies, including those about samurai, I just wasn’t drawn to them when making comparisons to Blue Eye Samurai. 

You’d be forgiven for seeing a bit of Uma Thurman’s Beatrix Kiddo in Blue Eye Samurai’s Mizu (Maya Erskine).

In fact, the film I kept comparing this Netflix series to in my mind was Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, and that’s high praise. Much like the two-part martial arts epic, Kill Bill and Blue Eye Samurai both take distinctly Japanese cultural themes from the past and combine them with Chinese martial arts filmmaking techniques. They’re also both (violent) tales about all-consuming revenge, and you’d be forgiven for seeing a bit of Uma Thurman’s Beatrix Kiddo in Blue Eye Samurai’s Mizu (Maya Erskine).

That being said, the show does a good job of being a historical drama in its portrayal of Edo period Japan. While things are certainly more violent in Blue Eye Samurai, many of the cultural themes from that period are well-represented in the animated series, particularly that Mizu must overcome not only being of mixed-race ancestry but that she is a woman as well. Is it perfect? No, but for a work of fiction, it’s clear the show’s creators gave some care to how they’d handle the historical accuracy of the show.

Watch the first episode of Blue Eye Samurai for free — then binge the rest on Netflix

Sold on Blue Eye Samurai? Then head over to Netflix now and start binge-watching the whole first season. I promise you that you won’t want to stop.

But if you still need some convincing, I have good news. You can watch the first episode of Blue Eye Samurai, in its entirety, for free. The streaming service has made episode 1 free to watch on YouTube for a limited time, no Netflix account is required. You really don’t have an excuse not to watch at this point.  

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.