March 2, 2009

Sword of the Stranger is made of WIN

Sword of the StrangerTitle: Sword of the Stranger
Episode: 1
Studio: BONES
Genre: Seinen

It is official: Sword of the Stranger (Stranger Mukou Hadan) is one of my favorite animated movies of all time!!!

Sword of the Stranger is a story about a boy named Kotarou who is being hunted down by the Ming of China. While hiding, he meets a lone samurai named Nanashi (meaning "Nameless") who saves his life as Kotarou is suddenly attacked by the Ming. Kotarou then employs Nanashi to bring him to a temple where he is to meet a monk who has been taking care of him until Kotarou was forced into hiding. As the movie rolls on, we discover why the Ming are after Kotarou and why Nanashi wouldn't draw his sword even if his life depended on it.

Technically, the plot of the Sword of the Stranger is pretty simple: A boy runs away to save his own life, but being a boy, he needs to depend on someone else to help him stay alive. The hero he has chosen is predictably really good in fighting but has his own demons to fight. The two team up together first as an obligation, but later on they build a bond between each other which helps the typical anti-social hero eventually face his past in order to save the boy from the clutches of some powerful villains.

Simple, right? I mean, this kind of plot is recycled over and over - not only in anime too. What makes Sword of the Stranger enjoyable though was how they made this simple plot into an elaborate story that kept me glued to my computer screen for more than an hour and a half. The producers made Sword of the Stranger's plot elaborate enough that it almost masked the simplicity of it all. Add to that some really interesting characters plus awesome, jaw-dropping fight scenes, and you got an award-winning animated movie. (It really did win awards.)

Since I already mentioned the fight scenes, Sword of the Stranger definitely satiated my hunger for good fight scenes - especially after watching that awful, awful movie last night. It was fast-paced and bloody and different types of weapons were put into use too, not just swords. Rarou (the main antagonist) uses kung-fu to aid his swordfighting - a good display of versatility as a warrior, IMO. Also, I liked the way blood splashed on the screen at crucial times, making me feel as if the fights were being captured through my eyes - except that they were in 2D.

My favorite character of all would most definitely be Tobimaru - Kotarou's dog. He is superbly amazing and is a very crucial part in Sword of the Stranger. If you've watched it, I'm pretty sure you'll know what I mean when I say that I wish I had a dog like Tobimaru ^^;

Overall, Sword of the Stranger is a really, really, really good watch. I don't think anyone would regret watching it. The movie ended really well, so there aren't any loose endings that would make you go 0.o I so wish they'd come out with a Nanashi and Tobimaru figure soon!!
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