Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Review - Sword of the Stranger (2007 - Dir. Masahiro Andô)

One of the things that I love about anime is the anime sky. A gorgeous unreal blue with fluffy white clouds, they make you nostalgic for childhood summers that only exist in your memories. Forget all that in this anime. 

When films are made normally the cinematographer will film in the 'Golden Hour'. Sword of the Stranger looks like it has been filmed on a bleak, overcast autumn day. As an anime, they've got full control of the lighting, so it feels a strange choice to shoot in grey-o-vision. But it does make for a different viewing experience and some of the views are beautiful.

There are loads of characters; although it boils down to a young boy, his dog, a stranger with no-name, a Japanese contingent and a nutter master swordsman working with the Chinese. I said there are a lot of characters. At times, it can all get a tad complicated, but stick with it and you are rewarded with some cracking fights.

Ah, the fight scenes. All flashing blades, blurred figures, cool poses and lens flare on swords. Oh, and blood. Plenty of blood. And limbs being further away from a person's body than they would ideally like. The fights bring life and colour to the film, contrasting with the overall look. The drab palette  ends up becoming a positive feature.

Definitely more Kurosawa than Miyazaki and if you're in the mood for a period Japanese anime that has at least two really cool characters, then you're in for a treat. Oh. Almost forgot. Tobimaru the dog is great. 

If you like this you could also try:
Seven Samurai, Jin-Roh, Ninja Scroll, Hero, House of Flying Daggers.

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