When it came time to sit down with this film, I couldn't help that I was already a bit apprehensive. I had recently watched the old Rurouni Kenshin OVAs (again), which some of you may remember were released in America as Samurai X--no doubt due to the fact that shows with the words "Samurai" or "Ninja" in their titles used to sell like hotcakes--but I digress.
Those OAVs were a bit heavy on the drama, and could probably bring the most gar of men to tears if they're not careful. To be honest, I didn't need to experience that again. I mean it, could seriously trigger depression since there was really nothing to balance the story. Needless to say, I braved it and threw Sword of the Stranger into my Blu-ray player. I wasn't disappointed.
Find out why after the jump!
At the beginning of the film, I found myself amazed by the beautiful hand painted backdrops. This isn't uncommon in most of the animated films you see these days, but I felt I needed to mention them anyways. Of course, not to spoil the story, but within the first five minutes, you'll go from admiring the back drops to being blown away by an equally stunning, though violent, fight scene that instantly sold me on the film. Suffice to say, I didn't expect to be bored to tears after that.
The voice acting was surprisingly good in English as well as in Japanese so you're good to go with either audio track. You'll probably want to listen to it in Japanese first, as they managed to land Tomoya Nagase, who is a huge actor overseas. He's been in a ton of dramas, and I absolutely adore everything he's done on that end. For his first voice acting experience, I'd say he really did a great job. Of course, the English wasn't bad either, so if you really want to just sit back and enjoy the visuals without reading, you won't be missing anything by listening to the English first.
Finally, if you're a fan of sword fights, this movie is definitely for you. The various fights that take place throughout the film are beautifully choreographed. You also get to see some heads blown apart by arrows, and everyone loves that, right? I didn't count the number of heads, of course, but it seemed like there were a few. So, in the end, when you combine the quality of the animation itself with the copious amounts of bloodshed, I think it'd be enough to sell you on the film.
You can currently pick up Sword of the Stanger on Blu-ray and DVD at a retailer near you. The extras include interviews with the Japanese cast as well as the original pilot film and a number of trailers for the film and soundtrack, as well as other Bandai releases. I loved this film from start to finish, and I have a feeling you will too. So what do you think, could this film be for you?
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