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Anime Fridays – Sword of the Stranger

Hello! And welcome back to Anime Fridays!

I am super hyped up for this week’s Anime Friday: Sword of the Stranger! This is a stand alone movie produced by Studio Bones and is about 1 hour and 45 minutes in length.

Image credit: Funimation

It is one of my top favorite movies and has one of the best original sound tracks (OST) I’ve ever heard! Then there’s the animation, the fight scenes, the main protagonists…..ahhh!! It’s all so good!

Disclaimer: All the views presented here are my own opinions. None of the material written here is to offend anyone in anyway. Feel free to agree or disagree respectfully if you wish.

As usual, here is a quick synopsis about the movie:

In the Sengoku period of Japan, a young orphan named Kotarou and his dog Tobimaru steal from unsuspecting villagers in order to make ends meet. However, Kotarou is forced to remain on the run when he finds himself being hunted down by assassins sent by China’s Ming Dynasty for mysterious reasons not involving his petty crimes. 

Fortunately, the duo run into Nanashi, a ronin who has taken refuge in a small temple, when Kotarou is attacked and Tobimaru poisoned. Although the samurai saves the helpless pair from their pursuers, he feels that there is no need to help them further; but when offered a gem in exchange for his services as a bodyguard, he reluctantly accepts Kotarou’s offer of employment—just until Tobimaru is healed and the two reach their destination. As the three set out on a perilous journey, it soon becomes evident that their path is riddled with danger, as the Ming Dynasty has now sent a terrifying swordsman after them to capture Kotarou and fulfill a certain prophecy

Source: My Anime List (MAL Rewrite)

(*Warning: There is A LOT of bloodshed that happens throughout the movie. For instance, the opening scene is a group of highway robbers getting sliced up by the Chinese Ming army. However, it’s nothing too crazy or over the top — just…blood…spurting and…typical war scene kind of thing. If you are not too crazy about bursts of violence like this or are faint of heart when it comes to blood, this movie may not be for you…..or you can just skip those scenes as there’s only a handful of them. Just letting you know. )

Art and Animation:

My absolute favorite thing throughout this movie is the OST. Ho-ly cow. It is so beautiful! And very epic! The music direction on this movie is seriously spot on and hands-down amazing in my opinion.

The art uses an earth toned palette throughout. It especially helps in bringing out the realism of the fight scenes and the realistic setting of the movie. The character designs are appealing and more towards realism in style.

Let’s talk animation! Studio Bones is probably reputed for their amazing fight scene sequences by this point. Without spoiling too much, at a certain point in the movie, there is a fighting sequence between two swordsmen and it is so smooth and realistic! I loved how each movement was carefully captured in frame-by-frame! It’s really mind blowing how much detail went into that scene alone. Could this be one of the most beautiful fight scenes of all time? Heck yes.

Characters:

When you first meet him, Nanashi is your typical, disinterested in most things kind of character. He’s just your typical wanderer with no destination in mind. Kotaro, on the other hand, is this stubborn, little kid who has ambitions and plans he wants to achieve in life. Tobimaru is your best pupper with an undying loyalty and a good sixth sense.

As the story progresses, Nanashi shows his true nature of being a gentle person with a traumatic backstory. He is trying to make amends of his past through Kotaro. (To be honest, I don’t even know how Nanashi ended up as a samurai, given how kind he can be to humans and animals)

Kotaro, in living alongside Nanashi, becomes more patient and caring. He develops a soft spot for Nanashi and grows fond of him, even though Kotaro puts on a tough exterior whenever he is with Nanashi. And of course,

Tobimaru is still the best pupper. No change there and none needed.

To put it quite frankly…. Nanashi, Kotaro and Tobimaru become your ultimate squad goals. (And one of my favorite character bunch of all time!)

Storyline/Plot:

The story line itself is linear in nature. There are no flashback scenes or time jumps. There’s just a lot going on in chronological order in different places but I think the movie pulled it off well without confusing the audience.

At the same time, regarding this mass amount of action happening, here’s the only complaint that I have.

To be quite honest, I think the movie would have been a lot more better as an episodic TV-series, just because there is so much happening and a lot of unanswered questions.

However, I still think it wasn’t all too bad, because in a way, the unanswered questions and foggy bits leave you, the viewer, to come up with your own theories about it! Fan-fiction and art, let’s go!

Content:

Adventure? Yes. Action? Yes. Lovable main characters? Flipping yes.

You want an action and adventure movie, that is exactly what you get.

Final Thoughts/TL;DR:

Sword of the Stranger will always be one of those special movies for me for the characters, the animation and that beautiful soundtrack!

I hope you get to see this movie and I really hope you enjoy it, too!

Peace, friends ^.^