[I should have another game design post for next week where I will be taking on the horrors of dungeon crawling! For now, here’s something that’s been in my drafts for a while.]
The title may sound make it sound like pr0n set in medieval times, but it’s actually a 2007 anime film that I happen to have caught recently.
The story is pretty competent, but nothing too special. The writing is surprisingly good though. Excluding the nameless protagonist’s flashback nightmares, the movie tends to stray from anime cliché. It actually feels quite Western in it’s tone, dialogue and humour. (this can’t all be put down to subtitle translation either) The historical aspect is intriguing, although much is lost on me.
I noticed people complained about the kid and found him unlikeable. These people can’t be watching the film right. Considering his situation, I found him pretty relatable and reasonable. I thought him and Mr. Nameless made for decent leads.
Obligatory list of complaints:
- The villain is underdeveloped (it would have been nice to know where he’s from and how he got involved) and he just lacks a certain something to make him more compelling.
- There seemed to be some inconsistency about when the Ming spoke their native language (Mandarin, I would think?) and Japanese.
- The scenes with the two ‘factions’ early on tend to feel dragged out. It’s important plot, but it’s better to put the spotlight more on the main characters.
- Too much sword throwing. Including one that defied physics so hard that I’m typing this upside down.
- The ‘mystery’ of the kid was a bit of let down and didn’t amount to much.
The artwork and animation are incredible. From the skies, to the weather – rain and snow. The fight scenes are fluid, stylish and intense. But you can’t just watch it for the action, you definitely have to invest in the whole film.
I must confess the combat did not satisfy my desire for badass samurai action though. The one handed Chinese swords, the crazy acrobatics and weirder weapons are cool, but I wanted hot katana on katana action. With a protagonist that likes to keep his sword sheathed, that left me a little disappointed, personally.
The soundtrack was pretty good, especially near the end, but the whole score seemed recycled. First of all there’s that drum beat in the intro that obviously comes with music composing software these days. Most of us heard it here. You’ll probably have heard it in adverts and the like as well. Then there’s a recurring theme that I swear is the Frodo and Sam love theme thing from Lord of the Rings. And more!
But overall, Sword of the Stranger is a pretty enjoyable film. It’s well made, even if it’s never much more than the good side of ‘alright’. It’s not good enough that I’d recommend seeking it out, but if you catch it on somewhere, it won’t hurt to check it out.
(Update on The List: I finished Trigun and am waiting to publish the write up for it. I watched two episodes of Wolf’s Rain and hated every second of it. I plan on watching two more at some point, but I’m giving up if it doesn’t improve.)