Sword of the Stranger is an undoubtedly top notch execution of animated combat. If that tickles your fancy, then maybe stick around for a while?
Howdy! I might not have an anime avatar anymore, but that does not disqualify me from rambling about the medium on this here website. I'd like to think that I sample media from a broad spectrum of genres and styles, especially in anime, but I'll honestly admit that a simplistic action flick is something I'll never get tired of, granted that it's well executed. I love to drink in the hand crafted choreography of a fight scene, and I bet I'll surprise you when I say, Sword of the Stranger is pretty fucking "Sugoi" in this aspect.
Stranger is a film from 2007, directed by Ando Masahiro. That name might sound familiar, as it should, being involved in other critically acclaimed pieces like the Cowboy Bebop film, Ghost in the Shell, Fullmetal Alchemist and The End of Evangelion. There are more, but hey, you get it. This guy has experience. Stranger is also animated by Studio Bones.
This movie is gorgeous. Not much else to say other than that. Care was obviously put into each gorgeous set piece, containing very little CGI that only lasts a few seconds each time. These fine gentlemen, along with Ando, are fucking masters of choreography. So you can probably guess that Stranger is no slouch. Any film can sprinkle in a fight scene between plot points to keep it interesting, but the artful fights throughout Stranger practically reach out of the screen and slap you with their awesome. Below is a scene for a little bit of proof. If you trust me, I would suggest not watching it, the video below isn't a spoiler in terms of story, just in action.
There is also a story, if you are into that kind of thing... I guess... Nerd. A young boy and his dog escape some evil Chinese dudes trying to conduct some evil mysterious ritual thing, only to run into a roaming samurai named Nanashi (Or No Name) who has vowed to never unsheathe his blade again... So you're kinda just waiting for him to unsheathe his blade for the entire film... BUT I DIGRESS! The boy hires Nanashi to protect him as they go on a journey as the Chinese bad dudes are on their tails. This story will not win any awards, that's a fact, but the likable characters and exceptional pacing make for an experience that doesn't feel like a slog to finish.
Sato Naoki is also here composing the films music. He's worked on some stuff before as well. The music is very subtle throughout the film, you never get a "DON'T LOSE YOUR WAY!!!" al la Kill la Kill, but that's totally fine. It's better that way. The music never gets center stage, but it sure does help create the atmosphere and emphasize the emotional moments in the film. This isn't the best dancing music, but it's a perfect score for this film.
My wife would like to add that the Chinese VA is apparently "Atrocious and bad" as she is fluent in both Mandarin and Cantonese. It's few and far between but apparently it's bad.
There is never a boring moment in this movie, unless you're incapable of enjoying some kick-ass hand animated samurai sword ballet, in which GET OUT OF MY BLOG POST. Just kidding... Maybe.