Sword of the Stranger (7/5/12)

Movie One Hundred Fifty Seven

In Sword of the Stranger, a nameless ronin helps a young boy fleeing officials with the companionship of his dog.

Kotaro is a young boy on the run from a group of swordsman for reasons unknown traveling with his dog. He meets a ronin without a name, haunted by visions of his past and unwilling to draw his sword as a result. The man helps the boy and when the dog is poisoned, the boy hires the ronin to help them. When a blonde foreigner looking for a worthy opponent finds the ronin and the boy, the clash unravels the mystery of why the boy is sought after and the story of the ronin.

I believe Sword of the Stranger is the first Japanese anime I’ve watched this year. It’s not that I dislike anime, there are just so many similar ones out there that I’ve become somewhat disinterested. I was browsing through Hulu Plus films and this one caught my eye so I gave it a shot. I actually liked it quite a bit, in spite of being a bit generic at times. The animation is spectacular and the voice-acting (I watched the English dubbed version) was serviceable. One of the key dynamics of the story is feuding between China and Japan, which is something I don’t think I have ever seen addressed in anime before.

If you’re in the mood for a bloody samurai movie and don’t mind them being of the animated variety, you could certainly do worse than Sword of the Stranger. While parts may dazzle, it likely won’t blow you away but it’s enjoyable and the story is certainly above average.

I give it 3 sparking sword fights out of 5.

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