Sword of the Stranger is both unusual and refreshing in the way that it seemed to come out of nowhere and prove to be a remarkable anime. It seems, lately, that anything warranting a large budget and a lot of effort from a studio is either a sequel, an adaptation based on a successful manga or novel, or the next dull addition to a creatively stagnant franchise. None of these things, Sword of the Stranger is an unexpected big-budget film, which leapt instantly to the forefront of my favoured anime movies with exhilarating action sequences, captivating visuals, raw, evocative music and simple but affective characterisation.
The look and sound of the show will instantly grab you, and perhaps even carries the film over the insubstantial plot backbone.
Some people have already ordained this film as a classic of sorts, but I’d have to disagree with that, simply because, although it hits hard and fast with splendour, and resonates beyond mere eye-candy, it doesn’t have a crucial element to elevate it into that tier. The characters do have sufficient weight for the audience to empathise with them, and they are also very likeable, but I felt that my appreciation of the characterisation is due largely to the voice talent behind them. So, credit goes to the cast and not necessarily to the way the film was written, which perhaps had more featured characters than it should have. If the film had focused more on the central to characters, I feel it could have been a classic, or at the very least, deliver an even more powerful finale. Perhaps replacing some of the action scenes with more intimate, personal character moments could have helped. But that minor gripe aside, the big problem with the film was the gaping hole where the plot should be.
A plot should always be more than just a vague framework to drive a movie from one scene another all the way to the climax. It should give credence to the movie, so that the film has a certain importance or reason. As it was, the plot, both simple and relatively silly, told me that the film existed for the sake of great action scenes. It’s a valid premise for entertainment, but it means there’s no lasting impact on the audience because it doesn’t really have anything much to convey. There’s no story here I haven’t seen before in this genre, and for much of the time the plot is a little too confusing.
It seems I’d almost forgotten the potential for animation to be so visually compelling. On a technical level, the anime medium has frequent success, but transcending animation quality, it’s a very rare experience for an anime to be truly visually compelling, creating not just mood and detail, but also scenes of beauty. This film achieves that in a way that totally blew me away, and I don’t say that very often (I’m not one of those apt to calling every Kyoto Animation production flawlessly animated). The climax of the film, a roaring skirmish amidst snow and fire, is breathtaking and elegiac. More than just an impressive, visceral action sequence, it is tinged with emotion and dramatic tension, which drives the film up to its climactic pinnacle.
As I say time and time again, the concept of a conclusion is highly important to me. When anything ends I expect more than a bit of excitement, or an explanatory wrap-up, I want the climax to resonate and to pay-off the themes of the series/movie. This film does achieve that, and even though it is devoid of really challenging and engaging themes, it still manages to be moving with likeable characters and endearing score music. In my mind, an anime that can end on a powerful high note, with stunning production and consistent pacing, is a winner. 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. Beyond anything else, this should definitely be approached as an action film, and with that approach, I can safely say it is a great accomplishment in its genre. It is fast-paced and features fierce, clever battle sequences, but more importantly, overshadowing the violence (which any action film can claim on), it is rendered with artistry and beauty, and effortlessly tugs at your heart. Frankly put, the only flaw in this film is the slight lack of depth to the characters, and the completely unremarkable plot. But if, like me, you’ve grown tired of the relative mediocrity of most anime television and want something to renew your love for the anime medium as an art form, this would be a good bet.
Wow. This movie has left me nearly speechless. There are scenes in it that are shocking, jaw-dropping, amazing...if you haven't seen this movie yet, and you like action movies, with a good plot, solid characters, and the best action sequences I've ever seen in an anime, then beg, borrow, stea---er, do whatever you can to get your hands on it. You won't regret it. Take my word for it.
I guess I could just say that and be done, but if you're not convinced yet, I'll pimp it some more.
Story - typical action stuff, set in historical Japan, but has twists enough in the plot to
make me unable to predict exactly what was going to happen next--and I've watched enough action movies and anime to know that this one stands firmly within its chosen genre, yet breaks out of it from time to time. This, I think, makes it interesting to watch (because who wants to be able to predict the whole story?).
Art - Quite good, detailed backgrounds, though there aren't that many grand, sweeping vistas in this movie. There's some CG that's done fairly well. The action scenes is where the animation makes you sit up and question whether what you've just seen is drawn or not. I've never seen sword fights done this well before: without excessive slow-motion, artsy camera angles, just straight up, flat out, swordsmanship. Of course, it's flashy, but much more realistic than many live action sword fights I've seen in other movies. The characters are drawn realistically as well.
Sound -There were distinctly Japanese themes and instruments in the soundtrack. Perhaps a bit over-dramatic at times, but I like dramatic music to set the scene, so though it may bother some people I liked it a lot.
Character -Some cliche/stereotypical stuff here, but for the most part, sympathetic characters. There's no annoying characters, and the main characters are developed/change throughout the course of the movie, which in my opinion is hard to do considering the time constraints.
Enjoyment -Well, if you don't like a lot of blood, then your enjoyment will be lower than mine. I don't particularly like loads of it, but in this movie, since the fight scenes are realistic, with swords and all, there's all the slicing and dicing of enemies you can possibly imagine that goes on.
Ok, enough of my raving about it. Just go watch it already!!
When I decided to watch Sword of the Stranger my expectations were set pretty high and after watching the movie I can gladly say that they were completely fulfilled. I expected good story set in interesting period of Japanese history and great productions values that studio Bones are known for, all of this were there and even more.
The Story 8/10
I was always interested in asian culture and history, it fascinated me as a huge history nerd. It was something different from the European culture that I grew to know and I became interested in Japan's history and culture particularly
when I started watching anime. Sword of the Stranger is set in Sengoku Shogunate period when Japan was greatly divided in lesser clans who constantly declared wars on each other to gain more power. The story's setting is wonderfully presented and characters that that range from Japanese Samurai Warriors to foreigners from China suit it very well. Despite some light mystery plot devices conflicts in the movie feel realistic and in place in this period of cruel politics and war making.
Sword of the Stranger is a story of a boy, a hound and a former Samurai getting to know each other as they are chased by mysterious warriors from China and Japanese government. The Story is mostly about bright themes such as trust and friendship but there are also some darker undertones such as greed for power and egoistic desires. When the story itself isn't especially original it is definitely very well presented. There is always something interesting going on and amazingly EPIC fight scenes thrown in to keep viewers entertain. Only sometimes it may feel that the movie is constantly slowing down to get from the one great part to another. The final climax definitely deserves mentioning, it is everything that action flick's final climax should be. Without spoiling much I can say that there's some awesome battle.
Sword of the Stranger is a type of movie that rewards you if you pay attention to the details, there are many things that are easily missed but matters to the plot. If your eyes did not caught everything, you can just rewatch the movie, it is really worth it.
The Animation 10/10
Let us start with one of things that make Sword of the Stranger one of my favorite anime films. Fights. Such words as EPIC are heavily overused on the internet but there is no better way of describing fight scenes in this movie. You can't call them very realistic but they still manage to suit medieval Japan's setting well enough to maintain the climate. Animations are extremely fluid and movements have real weigh to them. The facial expressions are also amazingly well done. Backgrounds are well done, in fact I would give 9 or 10 to this movie for animation if it would be aired this year and not almost seven years ago.
The Sound 10/10
I found movies soundtrack very emotional, actually I think that music contributes a lot to the feel of a whole movie. Both the amazingly animated fights scenes and what comes between would not have the same impact without this wonderful soundtrack.
I did not found anything wrong with voice acting. The only "problem" that I had was the chinese voice acting. Honestly I can't tell if it's bad voice acting or just chinese doesn't sound that good to me.
The Characters 8/10
For a two hours long movie Sword of the Strangers characters are well developed. There are few characters that goals are explained, there are some greedy characters, good guys or just common folk that just care for the weather and market prices. With good diversity and development of the main cast we already have a group of maybe not completely original but interesting characters. The way different characters behave is fairly realistic and suit Japans Sengoku period and historical accuracy is always a nice touch to any series.
The Enjoyment 9/10
I really liked excellent sword play that this film have to offer and realistic medieval Japan's setting. Story wasn't very original but definitely enjoyable one. Final climax was also excellent and show rewarded my attention to details. Overall extremely enjoyable movie.
Sword of the Stranger is definitely fine piece of art and I can easily recommend it to anyone. Even if your not a fan of Japanese culture you definitely find this movie enjoyable, thanks to its extremely high production values and simple story that everybody can enjoy, more or less.
Stranger is first and foremost an action movie. Because the meat and potatoes don’t lie primarily with the plot, its straightforward and very typical “unlikely hero” premise is forgivable. A wandering swordsman reluctantly agrees to protect a child from an elite Chinese expedition. The local feudal lord joins the pursuit, stacking the odds further against the protagonists.
By no means am I implying that the story is bland. The web of tangled motives creates conflicts between the feudal government and the Chinese, and also internal conflicts within each group. There’s plenty of plot movement here to justify a feature length film
even though the simple premise of “samurai protects child” remains throughout. The overall simplicity is, in fact, a benefit to this historical martial arts epic; the story flows at a brisk pace, but remains cohesive and effortless to follow. This straightforward approach to the plot lends itself to the primal, action oriented appeal of this film.
In the bread and butter aspects of the visuals, Stranger isn’t especially impressive for a movie. Though the character animations show consistent attention to details of weight and balance, the ugly CG and the lack of textural details in the background make the more mundane scenes easily mistaken for a half decent TV series.
As soon as the first action scene shows up-and fret not, for this occurs during the opening credits, the merits in the visuals suddenly become abundantly clear. Aesthetically, these scenes are impressive. The characters are spritely and acrobatic, but grounded with a touch of realism in their body mechanics. Even in the fastest exchanges, the frames of animation are sufficient to keep individual moves distinguishable.
Regarding everything that puts the drama into gratifying action scenes, Stranger delivers in spades. The action choreography moves at lightning speed with elaborate exchanges passing within the blink of an eye, but apart from a few of the villains’ excessively acrobatic flourishes, the characters’ techniques still manage to stay within their weapons and personalities. The main character, for instance, is an unambitious, get the job done kind of guy, which comes through in the action scenes with his simple, fundamentally sound usage of his two handed sword. The fact that he actually cuts and thrusts with two hands may seem like a trifle detail, but it contributes to the continuity of his character. Considering the characters’ personalities in the choreography make it altogether more believable, more engrossing, than if it had been treated merely as eye candy.
This film puts the “acting” of the characters to good, tension building use as well. With their body language and facial expressions, most of the characters show fear as they barely manage to thwart an attack and an eruption of killer intent as they deal a finishing blow. A few of the villains are emotionally unphased by pain, which, by design or not (in this case, it is by the design of the plot), saps a little of the drama out of these scenes. Still, a good majority of the cast members, including the main character, deliver convincing performances that make these fight scenes more like a tooth and nail brawl, and less like a ballet masquerading as violence.
The music primarily consists of the powerful orchestral pieces typical of epics. The ever present leather drum beats and flute solos give the soundtrack a distinct Asian flavor appropriate for the setting. The full onslaught of an orchestra of strings or a blaring leather drum beat are played against the action scenes, while unaccompanied flute solos match well with the more tender segments. Despite the range of emotions that the different tracks embody, the Asian motif keeps the soundtrack cohesive, as if each track was part of a single, larger piece of music.
My one glaring issue is the “dub” put over the Chinese expedition. It’s shown many times in the movie that these characters don’t speak Japanese with any semblance of fluency. Most of the time, their lines will be dubbed in Japanese, leaving the viewer to imagine that in reality, the language they are speaking is Chinese. On the other hand, at seemingly random points, these characters will actually speak Chinese to each other. How the director decided when Chinese was appropriate as opposed to the dub is beyond me. One character may deliver a Chinese line, and the very next line he utters in the same scene will be dubbed. It’s also a little jarring when half of the expedition speaks perfect Chinese while the other half speak it so poorly that had the context not been there, I’d have sooner guessed it to be broken German than broken Chinese.
The characters in Stranger have few nuances. Simply describing the two main characters as lone wolves, one a petulant child, the other a reluctant, carefree ronin, covers most of the complexities you will see in their personalities. From this description you could probably also guess that the two characters eventually bond, and bring out the virtues within one another. The child learns to be more appreciative and apologetic, while the ronin finds meaning in self sacrifice. The rest of the cast is equally simple, only the exact opposite of the two protagonists. They’re not malice embodied ala traditional Disney villains, but they do demonstrate the darker side of humanity: cowardice, ambition, blood thirst, greed, and several other character flaws. The heroism and purity of the protagonists are highlighted nicely next to the backdrop of immorality in the rest of the cast.
The emphasis of these characters is the virtuous courage of our ronin hero; going against the world if need be to save an innocent child. The clash of heroic self sacrifice and greed inspired villainy gives the cast a bedtime story charm that is unhindered by simple and clear characterizations. The two main characters also avoid my two greatest peeves with one dimensional leads; their defining quirks aren’t obnoxiously exaggerated, and they prefer emotional understatement over melodrama. Instead of beating you over the head screaming “this is my unique personality!” or sulking and bawling at their own misfortunes, the two main characters retain a believable mildness that separates them from the droves of corny single-layer characters.
You can, and ought to, leave your higher thought processes behind while watching Stranger. Its story piques our deepest, most primal sense of morality, and the action fuels our savage desire to watch violence unfold. If at any time you are too lazy to follow convoluted plots, too irritable to stomach pretentious lectures on philosophy, but you want to find release in heart pounding action sequences, then there is no title more elegant than Stranger that will satiate such a craving.
An epic tale of a young boy on the run for his life and a mysterious wandering samurai who coincidentially run into eachother at a abadoned temple. The rest of the story falls into place after thier meeting. Within the first 10 minutes of this anime you are engulfed in a small battle of thieves trying to rob a caravan whose guards are these mysterious samurai with red capes, giving you a taste of what kind of action and gore that is to come. Heads and limbs get cut off and arrows pierce necks and heads in a wonderful display of swordsmanship and archery. If
any of you have seen Princess Monoke, this is a very similar anime when it comes to the art, sound, and battles. A must see movie, brilliantly composed. 10/10
I happened to stumble upon a little hidden gem, a couple days back by the name "Sword of the Stranger". I was surprised by how few people were talking about the film. The only threads I found about the anime were very specific and spoiler heavy; no general discussions, no recommendation topics. Naturally this lead me to suspect the worst, but I figured I'd give SOTS a shot anyway. Besides, at only an hour and a half in length I wouldn't be wasting that much time. I'm quite glad I did, because this movie is the very definition of a
Sword of the Stranger takes place in Japan during its Sengoku period; I would estimate the year to be around 1550. It follows the journey of a vagabond rōnin, a young orphan and his pet dog; who are trying to reach the city of Shirato. Hot on their trail is a group of Chinese alchemists trying to capture the young boy for use in the creation of the elixir of life.
The story is well crafted and truly captures the environment of the Sengoku period. The tale starts out grim and holds its tone throughout the majority of the film. In many ways SOTS personifies the transition from the Sengoku period to the Edo period in Japanese history. The characters are made to suffer through great pain, just for the empowerment of others. There are no golden sun sets, just the cold grip of death at every turn. If I was too describe Sword of the Stranger with one word it would be consistent. The narrative flows at a steady rate, never leaving the viewer bored or overwhelmed. All of the action scenes are interspersed throughout the show to keep its audience constantly on edge. SOTS truly understands pacing and uses that to its full advantage.
As for the plot of SOTS I can't be as kind. The story is interesting enough, and definitely has some unique aspects; but turns into more of a back drop for the characters to develop on, than being an actual focus point. It could have been anyone chasing after our characters, and I would have enjoyed it just the same. The movie makes it clear from early on that it does not matter who is doing the chasing, or why; just that the characters need to be pursued so they can grow together from the experience. In addition, there are a couple side plots shoehorned in for no apparent reason. I won't spoil the movie, but these side plots could have easily never existed and the story wouldn't have changed in the slightest.
The art style and animation of Sword of the Stranger is easily its greatest strength. Talk about fluidity; the fight choreography is some of the best I have ever witnessed. The "camera angles" capture each masterfully crafted battle with speed and grace. Many times I was sent into an state of shock and awe from the gory intensity thrust upon me. It's been a while sense a movie has got me so excited that I've stood up, face glued to the scene without even noticing until after the fight subsided. Even the minor details that often get over looked are well taken care of. Horses gallop in a natural way, disabled people limp or hobble correctly, clothing reacts to movement and gravity as it should, etc. The addition of these little details really brings the world to life.
Speaking of the world, the art direction of SOTS is one of favorite in recent history. The weather and season (early winter) chosen for the backgrounds, brings out the harshness of the Sengoku period. The entire movie feels cold and wet; as if even the Earth itself is trying to kill the main characters. This was a refreshing change from the typical colorful, golden draped samurai series. The palate of SOTS is very grey and dreary; other than the color red, that is. Blood and gore is highly exaggerated, so each cut or stab unleashes a fountain of bright crimson. As subjective as the word is, I believe the "Art" of SOTS hits every mark perfectly.
The sound design of SOTS is good. There's nothing special about it, but it does everything it needs to. I never found myself turned off by the design, but it didn't make much of a lasting impression either. The only sections of note are the sounds of impact; be it sword on sword or sword on skin. The crack of bone or squelch of bodily fluids really intensifies the fight scenes. The English dub is quite similar in quality. Each actor fits the character he/she is playing and the emotional projection is spot on; but only a week after watching I'm already struggling to remember any moments worthy of note. Either way, it comes recommended; just keep in mind what I've said.
When it comes to the OST I give Sword of the Stranger a big ol' thumbs up. The soundtrack is mostly comprised of intense war drum solos and saddening flute melodies. My biggest complaint is the lack of variation between most of the pieces. While they are all good, the majority of the tracks reuse similar or the same melodies and rhythms.
As I started describing earlier SOTS is filled with many characters, most of which aren't memorable in the slightest. Beyond our main trio, there are only two other memorable characters. Both of which only make an impression, because of their design and amount of screen time they receive; neither develop over the entire movie. Don't get me wrong, I understand that not every character should have a purpose beyond cannon fodder for the battle scenes; but SOTS gave far too much screen time to side characters for there to not be any sort of explanation and development.
On the positive side the interaction and development between our main characters is quite good and a real treat to watch. This is where the heart of the film comes from. These three characters brought out the light in every dark situation and truly made the movie a whole lot better than it would could have been. It's not often that an hour and a half long movie can bring a tear to my eye; but these guys did it somehow.
All flaws aside, Sword of the Stranger was great fun to watch and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a entertaining and memorable film. As a side note I would highly recommend this as a starter anime for anyone new to the medium. The action is exciting, the atmosphere is tense and the animation is beautiful. I give it a rating of Must Watch on my scale of recommendation.
Try The First Couple Episodes
Run For Your Life-Worst
As usual I recommend you buy a copy, and help support our local dubbing companies and the anime industry as a whole. However, just taking the time to watch it is of greater importance.
As a final statement I recommend that you take my numerical scores with a grain of salt; as numerical scores are easily skewed and each person has their own understanding of the 1-10 scale.
Are you searching for a bland movie with a paucity in character development, predictable plot points, and subpar-to-average animation, then you’re in luck — because Sword of the Stranger (Stranger: Mukou Hadan) exists for your substandard anime expectations. For anyone who does have a shred of self-respect, however, should eschew themselves from this tedious movie watching experience for something with, I don’t know, some modicum of originality. But I digress, on to the review.
Commencing on a positive note, or a non-negative one, is an ideal place to start, primarily because it’s going to be all downhill from here. But let’s not deliver
inappropriate praise where it does not belong, because while the scenery is satisfactory, and the fight scenes are borderline splendid, there is much to be desired in terms of character aesthetics. So much so, that I am having a difficult time remembering what Kotarou and Nanashi look like, and I just finished watching this movie last night; whereas, the characters from Samurai Champloo (Mugen, Jin, and Foo) — a far superior samurai anime, by the way — remain vivid in the periphery of my mind, years after my initial watch. Considering that the main protagonists set the tone for the entire movie, it is crucial to provide identifying characteristics that allow the audience to, not only believe the characters are “real,” but mentally differentiate themselves from other anime characters.
Sadly. This does not occur.
The term one-dimensional gets thrown around a lot these days, yet, to my mind, this overly-used term best describes the characters in Sword of the Stranger. Kotarou is your typical mischievous child with ill-manners, and a bad attitude to match. His parents (SPOILER ALERT!) passed away during his infancy — god forbid an MC doesn’t have deceased parents, it’s damn near a requirement for anime nowadays — thus, he is unyielding to strangers, creating a social wall between himself and others. The other main character, Nanashi, a ronin, obscures his true identity by dyeing his hair black, to avoid people from recognizing him, or, perhaps, from acknowledging the events of his past. Although it was not expressly stated, I am willing to bet that Nanashi’s parents also kicked the bucket — because, why not? The only other character worth mentioning is Luo Lang, an antagonist who cares for nothing/no-one else but attaining a worthy foe (i mean, to be fair, its only the thousandth time I heard that one). All in all, its a pedestrian cast that lacks humanizing qualities due to insufficient effort, on the part of the writers, to create a situation that allows a deeper understanding of who these characters truly are. With that said, I would be remiss in not mentioning the flashback Nanashi has toward the end of the movie. It definitely had the potential of establishing an authentic internal conflict, but it was all ruined with one simple line: “Hurry up and do it — you goddamn coward.” What mother, what human would react in this way, when faced with their own death? It’s beyond cliched, its just straight up ignorant. And another thing, how come when Luo cut off that dude-with-the-gun’s arm, he barely reacted? He either loaded up on high doses of opium prior to entering the battle, or has no sensory symptom to detect pain, because he took those sword slices like a champ.
In lieu of neglecting character development and a competent plot, Sword of the Stranger elects to focus its attention on those “gorgeous” battle scenes. Everyone tells me, ad nauseam, that despite the deficiencies elsewhere, Sword of the Stranger distinguishes itself with superior animation and fight scenes. To counter this point, allow me to present exhibit “A:” Sword of the Stranger was released in 2009; Samurai Champloo was released in 2004 — I rest my case.
I’ll round that down to a 2/10, mainly because I fell asleep two times while watching this movie. But one can hardly be at fault for increased melatonin levels (the chemical that helps you sleep) when observing tedious characters, formula driven plots, and garden-variety animation. In all honesty, I am offended that I didn’t fall asleep more often during this malarkey, it would have been a more productive use of my time. Just an FYI: somebody better let Sanofi Aventis know their sales are about to take a huge drop, because Ambien is no longer the best remedy for curing insomnia. Sweet dreams!
I initially saw previews of this movie while I was in Japan last October. It was being released pretty much right after I left, and I was there for a full month. But there was an awesome display at the Manga museum in Kyoto with an original script, and other memorabilia. When I saw the previews, I knew this movie was going to rock. But I never imagined BONES would deliver such a timeless tale. This movie will become one of the classics as time progresses.
Anyways, lets get to the basis for my extreme rating.
Such a classic formulated tale of a boy, Kotarou, his
best friend, protector and pet dog, Tobimaru, and his new found guardian, Nanashi (nameless). They integrate the archetype of the ming dynasty searching for power, and situate a conflict of interest between them and the feudal lords of Japan and the Shogun. There is also a blond haired warrior fighting with the Ming Dynasty, who is implied to have German blood, I would imagine. The story is incredibly well thought out, and multiple threads are started and finished coherently.
The computer graphic imagery was done so fastidiously, it is impossible to notice when cg images are subtly composited into the hand drawn images. But then there are fight scenes that explode with insane animation. There is one scene where Nanashi blows onto his blade, and the animation scent chills done my spine. The art deserves nothing but a 10 in my mind.
This is Japanese animation at its best, and the sound was equal is importance in the production to the imagery. It really entices me, the way the score appeals to my emotions, and the songs and sounds are used repetitively to evoke emotions at particular events in the plot.
Kotarou, is an angry kid, who has had a frightful run from a higher power. His best friend and dog, Tobimaru, will follow him anywhere. Tobimaru is actually one of my favorite characters. He reminds me of my dog I lost last year. He even looks very similar. But what struck me the most was his dedication towards his master, that my own pet portrayed. I would go for 5 hour hikes, and I would never need to call his name once. He would always be near, and doing an adorable job protecting me from whatever evils are out there. He would whimper when I would walk along some high rock ledge, and would bark at any strange men. My dog would always use his judgment of character to decide whether to bark at a shady person, or to go wag his tale and meet some new friend. It actually made for an amazingly tame dog. Just like Tobimaru. But all dogs have teeth.
Nanashi is an elite ronin, who has history fighting with the army. His past binds him to a promise, and his nonchalant attitude with serious battle side makes for comparison with the great classic warriors of animation.
Kotarou is an excellent character, and develops well throughout the story. It is a growing of age period for him, and he needs his courage for the bloody battle that is fought for him. I liked all three of the main chracters, and also the antagonist side has just enough gray in the evil archetype.
A great action anime. It is essentially Serei no Moribito without fantasy, and with a better ending all in a single high budget movie. I loved every minute of it. My depiction above shows why I enjoyed every moment.
Everything that I needed to say, has been said about Mukoh Hadan. Even the name of the anime rocks. There was nothing that was left out in this movie if you are a fiend for anime action with great plot.
Andy, from AnimeNfo, wrote: "Stranger is a martial arts tale of self sacrificing heroism. This premise is far from original, as are the characters. It is nonetheless solid, and combined with all the dramatic brutality one could ask for from Samurai action, the complete package is a joy to watch."
This is about what you can say in the positive review of SotS, if you go much farther you'd be hard pressed to not mention that the plot is dull or talk about the shallow characters. SotS does its job when it needs to; providing us with pitch-perfect samurai action. Plenty of decapitations you barely
see, a good helping of "hey, I'm pretty tough" followed by "oh shit you killed me without flenching", and some of that good old-fashioned unscrupulous backstabbing and grandstanding. If you want excellent action and visuals, you won't go wrong with Sword of the Stranger.
But if you were expecting a movie with a deep or original plot you've mistaken this movie with something else. The two 'biggest' characters in SotS have backgrounds as follows: The blond-haired guy is a badass who wants to fight someone who challenges his skill and the red-haired guy killed some people in his past and doesn't want to use his sword until he does anyway later. The best character in the whole movie is the second-in-command of the Japanese house, who has ambitions of becoming a territorial ruler one day. He has one of the better scenes in the movie, involving a 'sort-of' coup, but this character and his subsequent rally even at its best (and it is a pretty good scene) feels derivative.
Don't get me wrong, a lot happens in the movie, but most of it fails to make an impact, and the "some guy decides to help a kid for personal gain, when he finishes his job he leaves but realizes the kid is still in danger and decides to help him because he likes him now" aspect combined with a generous portion of cliched animal companionship gave the whole movie an unshakable atmosphere of Disney-esque cheesiness.
When I decided to watch this movie it was without any expectations but I was more than pleasantly surprised! Sword of the Stranger has to be one of the best lesser-known anime out there and for how good it is, it deserves to be much, much more popular.
There isn't anything ground-breaking plot wise. True to the title it is the story of a young boy running from "something" and he ends up meeting a stranger who lends his sword to help the little boy. There is a high degree of predictability and the usual anime cliches abound. That being said the plot does nothing
to detract from how good this anime is. To be honest if this was a series instead of a movie the story would have ranked higher because there were a lot of sub-plots that could have been developed.
In this movie there is a whole theme of redemption, choosing principles over loyalty and making the right choices that most people wouldn't have understood. The philosophy behind this movie is not subtle, but I think a lot of watchers would not have thought about it much since it's very easy to just "go with the flow" and enjoy the movie. It's comfortable that way. I would have rated the story a little lower but the ending was a true class act and kicked it up a notch to 8.
Characters made this anime awesome. All 3 main characters are very well fleshed out. The little boy is loveable, gruff, loyal and innocent. The stranger lives in perpetual anguish over his past actions yet defends the boy. At the start we know nothing about him except from the music you get the impression that he probably has "Bad A$$" martial arts skills. You can't help liking them both.
Best of all is Tobimaru, the loyal dog. He's not just a dog, he's a main character in his own right. Now ... I'm a cat person but after watching this anime I wanted a dog exactly like Tobimaru. I wonder what breed he is and where I can find one, and if they act like him in real life. Ok, I confess, I really REALLY liked the dog. Although I'm sure he was meant to be a plot device to bridge the relationship between the 2 main protagonists, he became much "bigger" than his conceived role. <3 Tobimaru!
The main blonde villian was awesome and the supporting cast and villians were also well developed. There was no fluff or wasted characters.
This was a little shy of perfection. Some of the animation is clearly CGI (water etc) but every now and again you get a landscape scene that is hazy and seems of a lower "fuzzy" quality. I'm not sure whether that was intended or not but it looks incongrous compared to the high quality animation in the rest of the movie's frames. I don't understand why though, because the rest of the background in other scenes is very lovingly rendered and realistic ... *scratch head*
As somewhat of a martial arts aficionado I really enjoyed the fight scenes in this anime. The swiftness of the action, the brutality of injuries - all those were beautifully animated. This anime (along with Seirei no Moribito) is one of the few martial arts anime that shows "realistic" fighting without the "super power up effects" of other martial-arts type anime. Overall, really good animation, would have been perfect if not for the "fuzzy" landscape frames.
Great soundtrack and sound effects fitting with the movie.
Couldn't ask for much more out of a movie, I really enjoyed it. This anime touched me on an emotional level and made me think enough to write a review. Even now I'm still wondering about the ending. I hope more people take the time to watch this because it truly is worth seeing.
Off the bat, after reading the synopsis, you come to the conclusion...Wow this sounds pretty darn interesting but a little sketchy as well. You may seem inclined to feel that this may be one of those animes where the artwork looks great, but the story isn't there at all. Please, I do recommend you watching this, the story is a little out there, but considering the times and how everyone wants the "miracle or everlasting..." it was good. The idea of how they get this miracle..was a little far-fetched. However that doesn't mean the story isn't good. From beginning to end there is a
good flow to story as well as the the character development.
What can I say, AMAZING. This has got to be one of the best artworks. I was pleased to see no fireballs of death coming from the palms of the fighters or spiritual energies radiating from the bodies. What it comes down to, crisp lines with great shadows and beautiful colors. Plus what makes it shine even more is the fact that it is in HD! Can't beat that. Plus the fight scenes were choreographed amazingly. The nice touch of sparks as the swords clashed and blood spewing from the characters were very nicely done. There were a few parts in the movie that I didn't quite like the artwork. It seemed too computer generated with the angles they did, it didn't quite flow with the rest of the amazing artwork. Nonetheless, the artwork rocked this movie!
Again, HD quality, hard to beat. I was surprised to hear 2 languages. It was a nice realistic touch to have two different languages spoken by the characters considering there were the Chinese and Japanese. Would be funny to see Chinese people speaking Japanese considering the timeline. Then again, we always see that happening in anime since it is just easier on everyone. Besides that, spot on sounds, everything sounded like it should have, metal against metal, wood cracking/snapping etc.
Character development was smoothly shown. At first, I didn't understand anything about the characters. There was just bam! Action! But as the story progresses and the characters' paths intertwined, the characters began the open up to each other and seem to be real. Even though it was a little of a cliche to uncover the main character's sudden history revealed to us at such a climatic moment. It was done well and once that happened, it was very easily understood why his actions were as such before.
I give that a 9.5 but I won't round up to 10. Only because I love the romance genre and this didn't have any. *Sobs in the corner* But just amazing on how the story was laid out. I was never bored. I mean, how can you be bored with swordsmen slicing off heads and arms and blood spewing across the screen? It just doesn't happen. As I stated before, loved the whole no super powers from the characters. That would have really killed it. I haven't seen such a well executed anime showdown with only cold steel and skills. I'm just used to the gun fire, spam of explosions, and miraculous powers. So this was a nice change.
Overall: 9 (Can't Round)
Given the formula, Amazing Story + Exquisite Artwork + Realistic Sounds + Great Characters = Phenomenal Blockbuster Hit!
Really, if you haven't seen the movie, please watch it. I mean it's so great of a movie that I am writing a review on it. I have never written a review before but this was that great of a movie, so thats saying something. So stop reading this stupid review of mine and just go watch it. SERIOUSLY STOP READING AND WATCH THE DARN THING ALREADY. YOU WON'T REGRET IT! And if you do regret it, sorry...
This movie did, as someone mentioned in their review, come out of nowhere. I actually learned of it because there was a poster for the dubbed version showing in the US theatres coming in Feb.
Anyhow, the animation is seriously like 10. It's got scenes that make me wish I were there--and not the lame super shiny Miyazaki way that everyone spazzes about. I'm talking things that seem to reach back into the Japanese past and bring scrolls to life sorta animation. It was excellent and I hope to one day own a DVD of this movie so as to see it in its true
The sound/music was also superb. It was well made and definitely captured the mood of what was going on a lot of the time. Regardless there were also times when the music just took you away and you kinda felt like you were in rural Japan...well for me anyway. The dialogue and voice actors were good and it was interesting to hear Chinese occasionally.
Now come the story and character development...it was lousy. I'm not going to sugar coat anything like I think other people did/do. The characters are lame and just too mysterious to care about. The little boy is just in the way and seems like a little bitch and loves his dog too much. Even the main character Nanashi is poorly developed to the point where all I cared about was him fighting the next person. So, all in all, every character is pretty much flat, static, and waaaay under/poorly developed. It follows that the story is pretty bad too. Very cliche and seriously stupid (SPOILER: Boy gets kidnapped, Nanashi must rescue, the end.) I mean come on, its so damn lame that I could have written the entire plot on a napkin (which is what they must have done).
Overall + enjoyment was a 5 because though I really loved the art work and music, the story crept along and never really gave me anything to care about minus the gruesome fight scenes/sequences. I would recommend just watching Samurai 7 or even Basalisk than waste your time/money on this feature...unless of course you admire the animation or some other aspect of the work. So yeah...a winner is you!
This is my first review and I am doing it in order to improve how I judge the anime I watch. Thus, I am sticking to the story/art/sound/character/enjoyment rating, because I think it is a good way to categorize rating.
Story - 9/10
First thing, the story has a great apresentation because it is not presented to the viewers from the start. During the movie, you start to understand what is going on. This is so well done that the story progresses without become complicated, to the point that, by half of the movie, you can completely understant it. This presentation makes you curious about what the
plot is and unable to leave the screen.
The themes adressed by the movie are very diverse, some are very common and others, not that much. The supperficial theme of the main characters is the common trust and friendship theme, but analysing deeper the story, you get to see more profound themes like, ambition and redemption.
Also, one more thing I would like to say, that made me love the story, is that every screentime given to a characters is important, that being for his development or for the justification of how he will act in future events.
Art - 10/10
The animation was one of te things that led me to watch this movie and I can say I am not one bit disapointed. The animation is perfect. It is very detailed and very fluid, something very evident during the epic fight scenes.
The art is simple yet beautiful. The design of the characters and the ambient, which are very detailed, accomplish the mission of setting you in the Segonku period.
Sound - 10/10
I am not an specialist in dubbing, but it sounded perfect to me. Also the dubbers' voice, in my opinion, matched perfectly with their characters.
Now about the soundtrack, boy, what a soundtrack. It not only set the tone, together with the animation and art, making you feel like you are in the medieval Japan, but it also set the tone for the various moments of the movie, they being moments of epicness or moments of sentiment.
Characters - 10/10
As the story, in the beggining you do not know much about the characters, what gives space to some character developing, and how it is well done. All the main characters, and some of the secundary ones, are presented either with a great and sentimental background or with their own ambitions and objectives, which were so well told that made me care about those characters. Also, with that development, all their actions and their behaviours become very understandable.
One more thing, during the movie, the relation of the two(or should I say three) main characters is so naturally developed and so enjoyable that i could not help it, but to cheer for the victory.
Enjoyment - 10/10
The combination of an animation and art beatiful for the eyes and relations between characters that progress so naturally makes watching the movie a very good experience, but the main reason of its enjoyability are the fight scenes. Those happens in various points of the movie and act to keep you thrilled until the end of the movie, which happens with one of the more gorgeous and epic fight scenes ever.
The fight scenes in the movie are epic , very fluid, very detailed and well choreographed. Like that, any one of them, from the first to the last, pushes you to the edge of excitment.
Overall - 10/10
The combination of the various good aspects of the movies makes it really easy to watch it. Not just that. It actually makes it a truly fantastic experience. That being, in my opinion, this is definitely a must-see.
Some men kill in order to live. Some don't need a reason...
When I first heard of Sword of the Stranger about a year ago I'll admit I was skeptical. It seemed like every samurai anime cliche rolled into one. But I watched it the first time in absolute awe, and after four times I am compelled to write a review on this revolutionary anime.
Yes, that word was "revolutionary", and by this I am referring to the spectacular animation used in the movie. As aptly put on Anime News Network, it has "some of the most intricately staged, gorgeously animated fight sequences
in anime history." Bones has raised the bar so high with Sword of the Stranger that just about every other anime fight scene you see will seem slow and uninteresting in comparison. Every swing of a sword, every step the fighters make is meticulously animated, all down to their heavy breathing and realistic gushes of blood as they cut down one enemy after another. Absolutely no shortcuts are taken, resulting in samurai that actually FIGHT, rather than reverting to cliches like two samurai simply walking past each other and one falling down in a gush of blood, cut down by a stroke too fast to see (or one that was too hard to animate). It's not just the fight scenes either. The condensation from a person's breathing, drops of blood on the snow and countless notches on a sword; these are just some examples of the detail that the animators have gone to. Bones has definitely given other studios a good lesson in animation with this movie.
The story itself is quite cliched I'll admit. A master swordsman that will not draw his sword, a foreign samurai who's only desire is to find a worthy opponent and the search for immortality. It's all been done before. The story does have some depth to it, but it's very easy to be swept up in all the fights and take no heed of the plot at all. However, it does require you to watch very closely to get all the intricacies of the storyline, some of which is presented in quite a subtle way. The web of interwoven motives and conflicts between the characters also adds an extra layer to the plot. Overall its not the deepest or best story ever told, but it is enjoyable.
The character development is the greatest force pushing the story along. From the nameless samurai Nanashi (or No-name in the English version), to the western "demon" Luo-Lang, the innocent victim Katarou and the feudal lord's general Shogen, each character has their own motives and reasons for fighting. Inevitable conflict ensues, culminating in possibly the most epic duel in animation history.
The soundtrack to the movie captures feudal Japan perfectly and adds a great atmosphere, making the final confrontation all the more epic. The voice actors also fit their characters very well. In particular the torment of Nanashi and the ruthlessness of Luo-Lang are excellently portrayed, proving once again that this is not the typical shallow-plot samurai anime.
Sword of the Stranger is a movie that has to be seen to be believed. With good character development, a somewhat cliched yet good, subtle storyline and utterly groundbreaking animation, the enjoyment level is quite simply off the scale. If you're looking for a anime movie that'll provide quality entertainment time and time again, look no further...just make sure you watch it in 1080p Blu-Ray on a giant HD TV with surround sound so you can fully appreciate it. Overall score: 8.6/10 (rounded to 9)
Sword of the Stranger is not a groundbreaking or innovative dish you would find in a five-star restaurant, but rather an average dish with all your favorite ingredients which you love to savor day after day. This film doesn’t fall into the trap of constantly trying to be what it isn’t, that being a frequent issue with many shows and movies alike. It knows its limits, explores the possibilities within the boundaries, and milks every bit of essence out of it making a simple, yet delightful experience. It is neither groundbreaking nor the pinnacle of story telling, but it was a whole damn lot of
Our two main characters, the young boy Kotarou and the lone samurai Nanashi whom he hires, are identified by their roles in the story, as well as their own personalities and morals which happen to be different from one another. It is because of these differences that they don’t get along at first, but they eventually grow a bond and accept each other. This is a simple yet engaging tale thanks to the delivery and how it’s handled.
Nanashi is a cynical, no-nonsense kind of guy. He mainly acts according to logic as opposed to emotion. This makes him a rather arrogant, and frankly annoying person, which is mainly why he has such a shaky cooperation with Kotaru, who acts mainly on emotion. The only reason Nanashi bothers to help Kotaru is because of the reward he receives at the end. But Kotarou’s dog, Tobimaru, who was poisoned by Chinese soldiers, was healed all thanks to Nanashi’s knowledge and act on logic, as well as Kotarou’s cooperation. Through a series of events and compelling dialogue, Kotarou learns to cooperate better with Nanashi, and the two even grow a valuable friendship. This kind of resolution was immensely satisfying to watch. Nothing feels forced or overdone, it all feels natural and well handled.
We also get to know about Nanashi’s past as a samurai, which is where his change of heart through Kotaru comes into play. This leads to his development and growth as a character, coming to realization of his emotions and inner desires later in the story. After a long history of working for numerous military organizations without a care in the world, he learns to act on his own volition and to find who he truly wants to protect as a samurai. This results in a climactic part of the film that is wonderfully and beautifully executed. Great directing, beautiful atmosphere, and overall satisfying conclusion.
Unfortunately, the other aspects of the story aren’t quite as engaging. I frequently found myself zoning out whenever a dialogue scene between the Chinese militia popped up. They just aren’t all that compelling when compared the main plot. On top of this, our villain, by the name of Luo-Lang, is a villain you would typically find in a Saturday morning cartoon. He is pretty much exactly what you’d expect to see in a “tough-guy, I-fight-alone, always-looking-for-a-good-fight” kind of villain. He keeps his eye on Nanashi in hopes that he will give him the battle of a lifetime, and betrays his team as a result. While it works and is handled well, practically no unique trait is to be found. Of course one could say that he doesn’t need one, considering the kind of approach this film is making. That is indeed understandable. Though while Luo-Lang is a charming character in his own right, I can’t really help but have asked for more.
Supernatural elements are also introduced later in the story. They just kind of come out of nowhere and feel like a cheap way of operating the plot. It feels rather out of place especially considering the strictly historical aura the film had at first intended to capture.
Moving on, a major contribution to one’s enjoyment of the film is an audio-visual experience. Not only in production value, but in execution. The film looks gorgeous from a technical standpoint, as expected of Studio Bones, but that’s not where it ends. The artwork mostly consists of dim colors, bringing the Sengoku period to life. Each shot is filled to the brim with atmosphere. The lovely backgrounds, the soothing music reminiscent of historical Japan, the attention to detail, and the clever camerawork will immerse the viewer in nearly every scene, making them feel as if they really have been brought into the Sengoku period, witnessing every event from the length of a hair away.
Another thing we'll get into now is what this film is vastly praised for: the sword fights. Once again, they already look spectacular based on technicality and animation fluidity, but what really makes them so special is the thought process put behind them. The choreography is brilliantly done, carrying one shot to the next in such a natural and fluid way that is guaranteed to bring the viewer on the edge of their seat. What’s also worth noting is that the battles are not only limited to the clashing of swords. One scene in particular will have Nanashi evading an attack, and swinging a pot of hot water with his hilt right onto the enemy’s face. A variety of weapons are also used including arrows, throwing knives, a whip, and even Tobimaru’s canine teeth. You can see how the creators took the effort to expand their imagination beyond simple sword clashing, making each battle fresh in its own way. An example of a nice touch in the film is how the beginning of a fight and a man fishing are put in the same shot, coincidently moving 1 on 1 right as the fight starts, for added effect. This kind of clever directing is worthy of praise, and a huge part of what makes Sword of the Stranger such a blast.
The soundtrack is also a job well done. Not only are the tracks beautiful on their own, they are executed wonderfully and implemented right where and when they need to be used, ranging from calming and atmospheric, to epic and fast-paced. However, most of these tracks contain a very similar theme used again and again. That can be a little annoying to some, but regardless the work and effort put in is still worthy of admiration.
So in conclusion, if you are a viewer looking for something new, original, and groundbreaking, then I honestly think you would be better off looking through the works of Masaaki Yuasa. But if you don’t really care about originality, and just want something standard, with numerous great elements bunched into a nifty little package, then I would not hesitate to recommend you this film. And if you’re a fan of samurai, then this film is most definitely for you, because you’ll find pretty much everything you want. Lovable characters, atmospheric historical setting, brilliant cinematography, fluid animation, and memorable sword battles. While not innovative, and in spite of its shortcomings and flaws, Sword of the Stranger is truly a remarkable experience to behold and remember.
Let me start by saying this movie has great animation and great action BUT that's where the praise ends for this movie.
(I personally think this movie is hyped for those reasons only if you want a movie with any dept avoid this now)
Characters - only one word to describe the characters in this movie and its shallow! there is no character development at all I know its a movie and they don't have a major time span to work with but seriously you won't see characters as shallow and dull as this.
Story - Cliché, Dull and predictable a group of about 10 Ming
dynasty warriors arrive in Japan looking for a kid that they have to sacrifice on top of a tower or some weird shit (I bet just from that you want work out whats going to happen and how its going to happen)
I watch anime for great stories and plots not mindless action and great animation this movie frustrates me because it could have been awesome but because of its lackluster story and horrible characters it gets a poor score from me.
Story (9.1) - Well, its true that it isnt anything new...stories like this one i have already seen ...it nothing different its true. But even beeing similar to other stories, it is with no doubt still very good. Has suspense, action, misteries...its a solid story and deserves the 9.
Art (9.9) - Art is something amazing. Great design, great graphic aspects, great animations, great environment design, characters looking good, everything i could ask for. Surely 1 of the strongest points in this movie, if not the strongest.
Sound (8.9) - Fits very well with the movie, in my opinion. I liked it but definitively its not that
special to get a 10.a 9 here.
Characther (9.3)- Characters look good, have some amazing abilities, are well develloped, well not much to point here. its a solid 9.
Enjoyment (9.6) - Surelly a nice show. Lot of action, fighting and also some blood. It was easy to pay attention to the details and that means the movie itself its interesting and i didnt get bored. It worth the time ...10.
Overall (9.4) - All aspects very strong indeed. Its a high 9, very close to 10.. Flaws are very few, and as i said before art is something to consider.
I strongly reccomend this movie as a must watch for those who like action type series.
This is the third time I've given an anime a straight 10. I tried for about 5 minutes even flicking back through the film, and I honestly can't find anything wrong with it. So here it goes.
This to me was a pretty original story I can't think of anything that has this kind of story to it although I havn't seen every anime, this story line is far from common. At the beginning it starts like a normal adventure anime, a boy trying to find his way. Then he meets up with a Samurai (whose past I won't give away) They basically travel together
for reasons I won't mention to safely take this boy to where he needs to be but theres one set of people trying to stop them. On top of this when he arrives everything isn't quite what he seemed and so it continues.
The animation in this was very nice there was alot going on in the anime and I think it was all captured beautifully, fast fight scenes also with a dash of gore...stunning.
The closest thing I can think of the sound for this...is a masterpiece, to me it was like The Last Samurai... not because of the music but for how well it captured the escence of everything in the anime and how the samurai nature and ancient japan was perceived, very oriental also.
The characters in this anime went through alot and you could see how their personalities was changing as events was hapenning. You see the main character develop alot through out the anime.
Well as the third anime I've rated a straight 10 10 10 10 10 10. I think that answers this section.
I recommend this to anyone that fits into ANY of these catagories;
Action, Samurai, Adventure, Blood and Gore. ENJOY!
Entertainment factors: Fight scenes, insane choreography, subtle social themes, Japanese culture, hand-drawn animation.
Genres: Action, historical, drama.
Studio Bones animated Sword Of The Stranger (2007) to feature the most spectacular hand-drawn sword fighting scenes ever. With a high budget and big studio talent behind it, this movie is violently wonderful.
The main and side characters depict the social hierarchy of medieval Japan: child, bandit, peddler, soldier, priest, lord, etc. Watching their interactions, you get a good sense of who stands below the other. Some try moving upwards in class, others simply die in the crossfire.
You can watch this movie as just another cool action flick. But, when a
story is this tight and spans only an hour and 40 minutes, it has the side-effect of including intentional and unintentional subtexts. There is much intrigue to defer from the movie’s historical setting and cynical vision of human nature.
The focus is certainly on the spectacle. Unlike the ultra realistic fights in Nitroplus’ Hanachirasu, the battles in Sword Of The Stranger last long glorious minutes. It’s a feast for the eyes.
The movie is old. Your best bet at watching it is to type its name in a search engine and going from there.
I can’t let this movie go without a review. I’ve just finished watching it and actually I’m kind of speechless. There’s so many good things about it that I don’t know what to say. “Good” isn’t enough, that for sure. The movie is exceptional, impressive, stunning, and I could put here every positive adjective I can think of.
Here we have a beautiful story about survival, friendship, hardships and will to live and protect. It isn’t presented in a cheesy way present in most of the series. A boy and his dog, living on his own since he was six years old, due to parents’ deaths,
and a mysterious stranger, former soldier with intriguing past. He never draws his sword, never to protect himself. A one hour and forty minutes adventure of the two getting to know each other, fighting for priorities, and loved ones. It’s a beautiful story that I believe moved to tears a lot people. Somehow I can’t help the comparison to “Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron”, Dreamworks’s animated movie. Although the main theme is entirely different, after watching it I get the same feeling. In both we see fight for freedom, however shown in a different way, and friendship building despite all the problems occurring at first.
The music is absolutely amazing. As a fan of the soundtrack from “The Last Samurai” I was impressed by the music here, in this anime. I won’t say it’s better or worse, I don’t have enough comparison yet.
As for the art and the fights. The only thing that was a bit irritating to me was that some parts were looking like computer-rendered 3D, not hand-drawn art. Except that the art was really good, very realistic and pleasant to watch. Same goes for voices. I actually wonder why MyAnimeList.net doesn’t list the voice actors, they’ve done a lot of a good job and they’re not even credited here, it’s a shame. But back to the art, some people might find discouraging the amount of blood and some scenes disturbing. Let’s face it, wars and conquests have always entailed a lot of blood. And definitely at a time like that. It’s a huge advantage that the authors didn’t try to smooth the history. However, personally, I thing they’ve overdone it a bit, too much of blood splattering, at times.
My overall score is of course 10. I couldn’t give any other nmber. “Sword of the Stranger” fully deserves the highest score possible.