Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sword of the Stranger Anime Review

Sword of the Stranger
Bandai Entertainment
Movie - 103 mins.
$24.98 (2009) $39.98 Blu-Ray
ISBN 669198200120
English/Japanese Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Masahiro Ando
Studio - Bones

Synopsis: Kotaro, a young orphan boy, barely escapes the destruction of the temple where he lives by a band of Chinese Ming fighters.  They pursue him as a sacrifice to create an elixir able to grant eternal life to the emperor of China.  The Ming are aided by a rogue feudal lord and include a ruthless, blond-haired warrior possessing incredible skills.

Hiding out in an abandoned shrine, Kotaro and his faithful dog Tobimaru meet a wandering ronin calling himself No Name.  When Tobimaru is poisoned, No Name helps save his life and a bond is formed with Kotaro as No Name becomes his bodyguard. 

No Name has vowed never to use his sword again as penance for acts he performed as a warrior under a feudal lord.  He has a knot tied around his sword, but is still a formidable fighter without it.  A bloody showdown is on the horizon, but will the three companions survive and can No Name atone for his past?

Pros: Incredibly lush background visuals, thrilling and well choreographed fight sequences, humorous banter with boy and samurai, good ending, interesting characters, Chinese vs. Japanese martial arts, Ming characters actually speak Chinese (Mandarin), decent soundtrack

Cons: Story is a bit cliche, No Name still kills albeit without a sword - makes his vow to never unsheathe his sword a bit hollow, the Ming wanting to sacrifice Kotaro didn't seem plausible, the most powerful Ming warrior was a foreigner - never explained how this guy got so good at martial arts

Mike Tells It Straight: This movie has great visuals, cool fight scenes, and some interesting characters.  Mildly lacking in the story department, but overall very enjoyable.  I think people have been waiting for a truly spectacular anime movie to come along for the past few years and put a lot of expectation on this one to deliver a transcendental experience.  Don't get me wrong, it's a really good movie in the genre, but not quite the calibre of a Princess Mononoke.  It's a solid watch and actually better than I expected. 

TO BUY and Recommendations: