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Sword of the Stranger – Review March 5, 2009

Posted by Cello in Anime Reviews.

I was lucky enough as a U.S. moviegoer to catch this anime in theaters for a one day Fathom Event in early February.  To the best recollection of my memory, it is the first anime I have ever seen on the big screen. Sword of the Stranger is Bones’ first attempt at an original movie. Masahiro Ando, who had no prior experience with directing an entire anime, was given the director’s chair.  On paper this all sounds like an experimental project resulting in a let-down. Even though you shouldn’t expect too much from the story, it unfolds beautiful with plenty of engrossing characters and action elements to keep you entertained.

Story is fairly simple stuff. Kid has a bounty on head for reasons revealed later, he meets amnesiac samurai whom he manages to convince to look after him. Most of the time in this movie is not actually spent on the fights, but on showing how these two, with totally different personalities come to understand each other amidst their arguing.

Even though the film falls prey to a number of action film clichés, and at times feels like a rehash of bits of the samurai film genre, and even though its plot is undemanding and almost silly, it is irresistibly engaging. With the accompanying music score being of the classical Japanese drums and strings, it all adds up to something special.

Yes, there is copious amount of blood and gore, and for this reason alone I can’t recommend it to kids.  Which is a shame really because this is a story that would make a great family film ala Miziyaki films.  They went the Manga route and you could tell they borrowed heavily from Ninja Scroll in some aspects.  If this movie came out, say, 10 years ago, it would be at legendary classic status among anime flicks.  Being released in this generation muddles it down to just another above average anime.  Buy this movie for the sleek visuals and gorgeous music but check your brain at the door. Recommended.



1. Heather - March 6, 2009

I’ve gotten huge into Anime, but what I’ve seen I really like a lot. What would be a good place to start? My BIL is a junkie for this stuff, but he tends to overwhelm me with info.

2. Heather - March 6, 2009

I meant I’ve NEVER gotten huge into anime. Pardon the typo. 🙂

3. cello85 - March 6, 2009

Well, I am not really big into anime myself, well compared to alot of junkies out there. But I do know that the best place to start is by watching the mainstream popular stuff, because if you don’t enjoy those, you won’t like the other stuff. I’d start with Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Ninja Scroll, Metroplis, Barefoot Gen, and search for a director named Miziyaki. He’s done films like Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, etc. I think you would enjoy them 🙂

4. killmissdaisy - March 17, 2009

I really wanted to see this movie. I know a few months ago they had a one time showing at a local theater and I missed it… Do they have any idea when it will be released time frame wise? I know USA is the last to get most Anime and Over sea’s movies pretty much.

cello85 - March 18, 2009

Glad to posted this, i just found out that the U.S. release date has been set at 6/16/09 with a MSRP of $24.98 and $39.99 for DVD & Blu-ray. That’s a drag you couldn’t catch it in theaters, it was pretty great! I’ll be picking up the Blu-ray for sure.

5. jules - April 4, 2009

this is such a great movie, classic anime and a samurai theme, who wouldn’t like this combination?

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