“You’re done” – Sword of the Stranger (anime) – 10/10 Flowers

Guest Review by “A”

Power is no blessing in itself, except when it is used to protect the innocent. ~Jonathan Swift

Genre: Action/Historical

Review Status: Complete (1 Movie/ 1 Movie)

Licensed: Yes, it is currently licensed in the U.S.

Art/Animation: In a word-Amazing. It appears to employ a technique of blending the animation onto the background of what seems to be a series of oil paintings. This style serves to provide a sense of antiquity to what you are seeing on the screen as though you’re recalling a past event, and, when combined with the stark detail put into every aspect of the artwork, serves to make for truly stunning sequences.

Summary: The story follows a nameless ronin (a drifting samurai), a young boy named Kotaro and his dog Tobimaru in an epic tale of survival, redemption, ruthlessness, and greed. As Kotaro attempts to escape from Chinese assassins, who seek to use him in a strange ritual to create medicine for immortality, he stumbles across a lone ronin who sees something of his past in Kotaro. And so the two set off together in the hope of reaching safety at the Buddhist temple…

Review: Right off the bat you’re thrown into the intrigue that makes this film more than just your average samurai action flick. The first three-quarters of the movie deal with the mystery and intrigue surrounding the Chinese’ quest to create Xian medicine, and No Name’s past; with everyone maneuvering to either just survive or reap great profit from it it’s impossible to say who will live and who will die.

With nebulous alliances, secret agendas, and enough blood to drown a T Rex, this movie will draw you in hook, line, and sinker. Both of the protagonists had very good and uniquely integrated character development throughout the movie, making for some very interesting story progression. Now, some of the side characters could have had more development than they did, but given that they had to work all of this stuff into a single 2 hour movie the fact that they managed to work even a basic background for each of them into the movie is highly impressive in itself.

As many people who watch anime can attest the quality of the voice acting is the one factor that determines whether you’re turning on those subtitles or going English, due to the industry’s, rather disturbing, tendency to ignore one or the other. However, occasionally you come across one of those few gems that actually put time and effort into making both methods of watching equally enjoyable…this movie is one of those gems.

Overall, it’s about greed, atonement, and a guy with a sword who kicks some ass.

Recommended: Definitely. It’s best for 17 and up, and only if you’re not squeamish about blood and gore. If you are not the kind of person who can handle blood and gore very well then I have just four words to say to you: Stay away from it! Other than that this movie is a ‘Must see’ for anyone who enjoys having mystery, intrigue, and action all in one film.

Other titles you might enjoy:
El Cazador de la Bruja (anime)
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles (anime and manga)
Macross Frontier (anime)
Seirei no Moribito (anime)

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