Sword of the Stranger
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June 16, 2009
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Set in the turbulent period of Japanese history known as the Sengoku period - or the era of Warring states - this feature length anime tells the story of a nameless ronin, robbed of identity and title when the second shogunate falls into chaos. Wandering the beligered countryside of his war torn nation, the former samurai happens across a boy named Kataro, who's become the target of Chinese assassins, who seem to want the boy for use in some kind of mystical ritual. The nameless ronin can't let them take an innocent child's life, and soon finds himself on the most important mission of his career - and that his life as a warrior is far from over. ~ Cammila Albertson, Rovi
Masahiro Ando's Sword of the Stranger (2007) is a no-holds-barred samurai action film that happens to be animated. Accompanied by his faithful dog, Tobimaru, Kotaro is forced to flee when the troops of a feudal lord and their Chinese allies attack the temple where he's been living. Taking refuge in an abandoned shrine, Kotaro meets No Name, a sardonic but extremely able ronin. Kotaro needs a friend, as both Japanese and Chinese fighters are hunting him; They're planning to sacrifice the boy in an elaborate ritual and use his blood to prepare "Xian Medicine," an elixir that is supposed to guarantee the Emperor of China eternal life. Although Kotaro fusses and tries to bully No Name, a powerful bond forms between the designated victim and the warrior who bears the physical and psychological scars of his battles. Their bond proves stronger than the ties that bind lord to vassal and ally to ally. Like Kenshin Himura in Rurouni Kenshin, No Name has vowed not to use his sword in penance for the blood he shed as a warrior. But he breaks the knot that binds the blade to its sheath when he rescues Kotaro in a spectacular series of fight scenes. Voice actors Aidan Drummond (Kotaro) and Michael Adamthwaite (No Name) offer winning performances that match their Japanese counterparts, Yuri Chinen and Tomoya Nagase. Ando uses CG to give Sword of the Stranger a sense of epic scale without detracting from the drawn animation of the characters. Dynamically staged and animated, Sword of the Stranger will delight devotees of live-action samurai movies as well as anime fans. (Unrated, suitable for ages 14 and older: considerable violence, alcohol and drug use, minor toilet humor) --Charles Solomon
- Aspect Ratio : 1.78:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medNotRated Unrated (Not Rated)
- Product Dimensions : 7.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches; 3 Ounces
- Media Format : AC-3, Animated, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, NTSC
- Run time : 1 hour and 43 minutes
- Release date : June 16, 2009
- Actors : Sword of the Stranger
- Dubbed: : English
- Subtitles: : English
- Language : Unqualified
- Studio : Bandai
- ASIN : B001W79MBI
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #42,769 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Fighting is amazing and not the stereotypical samurai or ninja fighting.
Camera angles are very good and giving me the sense of realism on riding or running or jumping scenes.
Overall storyline is simple, I figure out those Ming assassins' goal early on. What really shine is how No Name developed his relationship with Kotaro. Also slowly revealing No Name's background.
It also shown human frailties, such as people in power or commoners succumb to power and greed. Quite a complex movie, if you pay attention.
Interestingly, the epic fight was between a Chinese trained European swordsman and a Japanese trained European swordsman.
I wish Funimation or Amazon would have provided English subtitle for those Ming assassins when they spoke Chinese. Voice actors' accent are rather thick and I can only make out a few conversation. For those who don't know Mandarin Chinese, they would have felt a bit loss, not that those conversation was important to understand the story, still it would be nice to understand those conversations.
The animation is absolutely superb, the soundtrack and voice acting are fantastic. It boasts some incredible fight scenes, and is violent but not overly gratuitous or graphic as compared to some others. Though when I read it was submitted for an academy award and not nominated I fully understood considering the depictions of violence...which let me be clear I love.
I thought it was a unique blend of Chinese vs Japanese philosophies as it related to martial arts and the court. There were good moments of emotion that while maybe slightly forced still overall serviced the story, and were balanced with rock solid production everywhere else. I can see how it lacks the depth to be a true classic, but I am shocked it is not more popular just based on the solid story, quality animation and combat alone.
The main tension is built on a macabre premise that is neither very convincing or even fascinating in its weirdness, though it is weird and could have brought more to the story. The main bad guy was just a one-note nemesis with no motivation beyond that. All of the other characters are flat. I didn't understand why a lot of them were doing what they were doing. On the other hand, things keep moving, so I didn't have to wonder long.
The anime is sound, restrained, sober, nothing striking or particularly stylish. The scenes are cut like live action. There are a couple of scenes set up well, building tension before the action. The score gets cloying, channeling the Hallelujah hymn chords over and over.
Note: We streamed the "Original Japanese Version" which actually has the Japanese soundtrack, despite the fact it is labeled as having only an English soundtrack. The track is even encoded as English in the movie interface (where you pick your audio track and subtitles) We were ready to quit watching because for us there's little worse than watching anime dubbed in English, but SURPRISE, we got all Japanese (and some Mandarin). If you want the supposedly fantastic dubbing other reviewers have mentioned, pick the other streaming version. I guess releasing it as a different version means they can make you buy the movie twice if you want both. Or you can get the Blu-ray, which I assume has all tracks and subtitle options.
Top reviews from other countries
They referenced "Ninja Scroll" which is over 20years old and also this from 2008....
so having Prime I ordered it, got it and watched it last night.
WOW! The story is simple - a boy ends up being escorted by a ronin who keeps his sword tied in the scabbard having forsworn using it - at least as a sword, more a bokken as he can deal out punishment without needing the naked blade. The boy is being hunted by a group of Chinese who converse in subtitled Mandarin whether you watch sub or dub. I watched the dub last night and would say that Funimation did a good job. The animation is by Studio BONES and transports you into a feudal past where there are no kings and men test each other by the sword. The music score is the icing on the cake and I had a fantastic time watching.
The bluray also has a "making of" in sub of course, also the pilot made to sell the concept to the production committee and various teasers and trailers. Altogether a good buy
This version of the film comes with both the DVD and Blu-ray discs.
The box is extremely well made. It feel strong, has a matte finish and everything is covered in beautiful artwork. Nothing about these look or feel "cheap".
It also comes with an art book that fits nicely into the box alongside the discs.
There are quite a few extras but nothing spectacular (No commentary). Mostly trailers and shorts.
It is a good addition for any collection as long as you don't mind the price.
I was a bit worried looking at the other reviews (after I ordered it and couldn't cancel). They said the film was dubbed in Italian or something and couldn't find the English audio option, but mine didn't even have an Italian option and the English option was there and works perfectly so I am relieved.
The best anime movie I have ever seen.
Slightly Pricey. but WORTH IT!!!
Product arrived quickly, as described and is fully functional.
This movie was amazing, a true emotional rollercoaster and great animation and had a lovely collectors box.
Well worth any penny or any anime lover or collector.