"A man with arms which can kill people like puppets is not aware that he himself has already become a puppet." In this short hand-drawn silent animation, a wandering samurai learns this lesson firsthand.
Along his travels, the samurai comes across a straw dummy at the base of a tree, with a sword lodged in its body. Upon drawing it out, the samurai learns that the blade is imbued with magic, and immensely powerful. The power comes at a price, though, and wielding the blade begins to slowly drive the warrior mad. He now has a choice to make: remain himself, or sacrifice his sanity for ultimate power?
Welcome Lovely fans to the second review of horror anime month. Today we're looking at a short offering from the legendary Tekuza Osamu. You may know him as the creator of Astro Boy, Black Jack and many others. Today's selection is a rather odd choice for him. A lot of his works are lighter-hearted action series. A horror film is pretty atypical. Let's take a look at Muramasa and find out what he did with it.
The plot is really basic, it would have to be given that Muramasa is all of nine minutes long. A wandering warrior finds a sword stuck inside a straw dummy.
He takes it along with its scabbard. He uses it in practice and finds that it's incredibly sharp but then things start to go wrong and he begins losing his mind. That's as far as I'm going to take the description. Now, the plot is simple but it's actually really well done. Especially when you factor in the time constraints. The inner struggle that the warrior goes through is portrayed poignantly and, although events move quickly, they never feel rushed. I will say, however, that it's not scary. The struggle is poignant, yes, but that doesn't make it frightening in any way. Psychological, yes. Horror, no.
The characters aren't as interesting. The one character you get is the warrior and you know virtually nothing about him. Since the story is all about the struggle there's very little nuance to him. Not that I can really blame them since, again, it's all of nine minutes long.
The art... Well, the images themselves look almost like Watercolour paintings. Which does look really good, mostly. There are some cases where the expressions just look really bizarre. The animation, however, is really slow and choppy. There are also several scenes that get repeated. I remind you, this anime is nine minutes long. Is there really an excuse for being lazy with the artwork?
There is no voice acting. Which actually works really well in this. The story is told without any dialogue and that helps heighten the mood, I think. As for the music, it's a little boring. Even with the short length there's very little variation and it doesn't change to suit the mood so the anime might just be better if it's watched in total silence.
The yuri factor is a 1/10. There's no yuri in this, although you probably figured that out already.
My final rating for Muramasa is a 7/10. It's a good little piece with some power behind it. The biggest issues are the choppy animation and lackluster music, but I'd still suggest checking it out. It is well worth the nine minutes.
Muramasa is, in my opinion, an anime which is underrated and certainly requires reexamination. While it might not have stood out for some reason or the other, to me (a person who finds himself appreciating and has recommended this anime alongside Shigurui) it certainly holds strong and for some interesting reasons.
As a story, its actually bare boned - the synopsis itself is a bit of a spoiler on its own, hence watch it without actually reading what the anime's story is (or blackout as soon as you start seeing it). In itself, the story was in my opinion, something which could be considered straight from
Japanese folklore and certainly from the samurai age. It has all the aspects covered in that respect.
What makes this anime standout is its use of art, sound and character. Even if the art is very low-budget and lacks the fluidity expected of anime from the eighties (Akira, for instance), this anime delivers on the grounds that the characters - without having a single dialogue - represent their emotions and moods through well drawn features. Interestingly, there is no blood which is actually shown in this anime - and the way it handles the reason for why it doesn't show blood is unique and actually made sense to me. Combining the art with a slow, brooding, Japanese centric sound that is haunting, stirring and worthy of a cringe on the back, both the art and the sound bring out the character's dilemma as the story progresses. In fact, without one dialogue, we have all aspects of the tale - the beginning, the protagonist's struggle, the climax, and the conclusion - all covered, in record time, and with a conclusive resonance that lasts even after the anime has ended. And the art and sound give this a high rewatch value, for the reason that its art is quite good, if not well animated.
Muramasa is an 80s classic short film which is underrated - especially to those who have a liking for Shigurui, this is certainly a phenomenal short film which carries itself really well.
Rate a 7
few subtitles in the beginning but none throughout the film
Modern art film
A life lesson based on reality without much in terms of fiction. Goes with the old saying with power comes responsibility. Anyone can buy a weapon. A gun or knife are most common. Question commonly asked is it more protection based or harmful? In the this anime they make a case for harmful you be the juror. Introduction and conclusion both had their strong points. In introduction they were blatant with the goal by showing it in quotation form. As for conclusion it related back to the introduction in a symbolic manner
as well as literal.
A little high pitched but worked nicely with the art. With no vocals i find adding vocals would harm the film. Although, they could benefit slightly with animation sounds.
A clever deception to demonstrate there message without blood and gore.
Enjoyment a nice lesson most ages can benefit from.