Anime Review: Sword of the Stranger

August 22, 2017

Monk talks to Kotaro

I hope that everyone is have a good week, and not letting
the monotony get you guys.

Things have been going well, though I have been busy doing
some maintenance behind the scenes, and I can still do something that I can
enjoy.

Earlier in the month, I decided to transition more towards
anime, even though I am expecting a book to arrive soon, and I finally got
around to where I can start looking at the services I am subscribed to and
found something that might be interesting.

Today, I will be reviewing that title, which is called Sword of the
Stranger
.

Kotaro's group traveling

Things not that peaceful for in Japan, as people are
searching for a boy, Kotaro, traveling with a dog, and the boy is only trying
to stay alive another day.

However, one day, when they return to their hideout, they
encounter a nameless wanderer who gets tangled up in their mess and hires him
to take them to stay of a certain temple before their pursuers catch them.

Kotaro smiling at Tobimaru

I kind of liked this movie.

From the moment that I started watching the first few
minutes, I did not want to stop watching for any reason, though I do have to
satisfy the same needs as everyone else and my Internet connection has been
quite bothersome recently.

While there was not necessarily the somewhat slow start that
I kind of prefer to see, and was there for a bit in Wolf's Rain,
it would become kind of boring if things started off like that all the time,
especially because it does not particularly work for every kind of fiction.

In fact, a slow start works best for series like Spice &
Wolf
, where the journey itself is the main focus of the story, because we
need to get to know the characters right from the beginning so that there is a
reason to keep on following them.

What made this so engrossing within the first few minutes
was how something seemed to be happening right from the get go by showing a
building on fire and Kotaro and his dog fleeing.

Like Pandora
Hearts
, the fact that it started off in a way that something was going on
made me wonder what was going on and how things ended up like this.

The most important thing for any work of fiction is that the
audience is made to ask question, whether they are basic ones, which some
people, such as the fans of Attack on
Titan
, think are deep, philosophical questions, or something that can be
pretty deep, and the way that this movie started off is the quickest way to
generate those kinds of questions in the audience.

If things had not started out that way, I do not think that
I would have found myself as engaged with the work, because things would not
have made too much sense, such as why Kotaro was actually on the run and why he
would be so suspicious of people, not to mention that it would have ruined
Bones' reputation that earn through titles like FMA.

Fortunately, that did not occur, and things were easy to get
right into because of that, which makes me want to give Bones Studio a good
round of applause.

I also liked how there was quite a bit of action to be seen.

Back when I got into anime, many of the titles were mostly the
kind of action flicks that you would find in Hollywood, though there were some
that did have a story line or some character development, such as Yu Yu Hakusho
and Rurouni Kenshin, and action series are still some of my favorite
kinds of series, seeing as I do enjoy A
Certain Scientific Railgun
because the fights are interesting to watch, so
I can kind of see what a fan of action series are like.

Fans of action not only want to see a lot of action in their
entertainment, but they do not want something that is just too boring to watch,
such as was the case with why the second
volume
of A Certain Magical Index.

Yes, this movie is not exactly like Magical Index are not
exactly the same kind of series, as this does not really have any of advanced
science and takes place in Japan's past, but the big difference here between
the second volume of the Magical Index series and this is that the staff at
Bones actually made the fighting and chasing quite interesting, whereas the
action parts of the aforementioned installment of A Certain Magical Index.

If the staff at Bones failed to deliver in this area, I
would have been really disappointed in them because this kind of series is
their specially, and they should know that great fights is one of the hallmarks
of a good story, when there is not some underlying story or the series or movie
takes place during a time that would be rather violent.

Thankfully, they did not do anything that horrible, and I
can give them another good round of applause.

This is how an action flick should be delivered, and the
staff at Bones succeeded.

Another nice thing about this movie is how I could get in a
few chuckles.

While many anime and manga tend to have a lot of common
elements, from things like fan service or things bordering on the side of what
people he would call slapstick, there was not too much of that to be found here
and it ended up being rather enjoyable.

Yes, the mundane comedic moments can be funny if executed
properly, but that does not change the fact that those humorous moments can
still grow stale, as was the case with what happened with Detective Conan,
one of the few series these days that does not have a huge amount of fan
service.

Here, the humor came about because of the interactions between
Kotaro and the nameless wanderer and how the two bonded during their travels to
the temple where Kotaro needs to go.

Without the small moments of humor, such as when Kotaro
first started learning how to ride a horse, I do not think that the characters
would have been able to be fleshed out, and the audience would not have been
able to see how the two characters bond with each other, not to mention that it
would not feel too believable.

After all, I do not think that a child would let remain
serious for too long, since they do not understand how the world works to much,
and it is for this reason that I actually feel like giving the staff at Bones a
good round of applause.

Hopefully, Bones will be able to churn out more stuff like
this, as they have already done quite a bit to impress me.

Then again, Bones Studio could find themselves in a downward
spiral someday, much like how Agatha Christie was not always able to write
great books while she alive, so I will just have to see where things go from
here.

Still, it is nice to see that their original content is
quite good, so they do not deserve to have their headquarters burned down any
time soon.

The thing that I liked the most though is how the company
that did this dub handled things.

Even though the dub sounds just as good as many of Bandai's
other title, I liked how things were handled here by providing English
subtitles.

Now, some of you guys might be groaning and saying that of
course there are subs present, since this is an official release, but I am not
praising it for the fact that it is subbed, especially since I am not always in
a good enough condition to watch anime subbed.

Over the course of my time with anime, I have seen numerous
titles dubbed and how each company has been handling them by releasing the
title where I live, and some of those companies delivered some poor products in
some form or another.

For example, when Aniplex of America released Durarara!!, their
dub was mostly good and was able to show that Ikebukuro was a somewhat of a
melting pot, but when there were people speaking a different language, Aniplex
failed to provide the proper subtitles, instead putting up Japanese subtitles,
which hardly any average person in North America can read, and it was quite
irritating.

When something is dubbed, the company responsible for the
dub has to take into account who will be watching this stuff and by not
providing the right subtitles at the right moment, it would make the whole
thing look worse that it might have if things had been done properly.

Fortunately, Bandai did not make this mistake and English
subtitles were provided when characters from the different nations encounter
each other, which makes me want to give them a good round of applause.

If Bandai had done what Aniplex did, I would have been
disappointed enough to say that I am glad that they are no longer distributing
titles where I live directly any more, since the people over at Bandai would
have seemed to be as competent as they appeared to be before they closed shop
in my area.

However, because they did not do that, they were at least
able to leave things off on a high note, though this plus side to the movie
might be because of FUNimation, since they rescued a few titles from Bandai,
even if they do not bother redubbing any of the title Bandai held.

Hopefully, people can look at the dub presented here and see
how things should be done when localizing content and it is decided to have
characters from different country, as that is the only way that a dub can be
any good.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else
that I particularly liked, at least that could stand out as much as what
already has.

Because the movie was able to grab my attention relatively
quickly and hold it for the entire duration, as it started off properly, had
some decent action sequences, and gave me a few laughs, this movie was
relatively decent.

Nanashi irritated

Although I did like the movie, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about,
one thing bothered me.

I did really seem to understand what the nameless wanderer
was going through.

Yes, there are some sign that it might be something similar
to PTSD, though I cannot really confirm that, and he has sworn to not draw his
sword again, just like Kenshin Himura, but the only hints at what is troubling
him is the nightmares that he experiences from time to time.

This movie is supposed to have some focus on the bond
between Kotaro and this nameless wanderer and that means that the audience
needs to see how he overcomes his obstacle, yet he seems to get over things
without any troubles, so that he can save Kotaro.

Really, Bones Studio, is this anyway to handle a movie where
I am shown the wanderer's nightmares multiple times?

If this is indeed what you think, you should be ashamed,
because the wanderer and his concerns over Kotaro do not make too much sense
when he is not fully fleshed out.

Nobuhiro Watsuki dealt with this problem way better during
the manga exclusive Jinchu arc of Rurouni Kenshin by showing Kenshin
suffering and what brought him to his feet, but the only thing seen here is at
least one more occurrence of the wanderer's nightmare.

Now, I know that there are limits to what can be covered in
a two-hour movie, but the fact that things like this needed to be covered but
were not makes me think that the staff at Bones should have produced this as a
series instead of a movie, as that is the only way that this issue could have
been resolved.

However, because the Bones delivered this as a movie, I am
truly disappointed in them, seeing as their last original work was actually
quite decent, and this just let me down.

Hopefully, this same problem does not rear its ugly in
future works from the series, as I do not want to see Bones studio going
downhill already, but, as they are only human, I cannot expect them to
continually produce gold time and again.

Thankfully, that was the only big problem with this work, so
I do not need to tear further into things than necessary.

While there was only one noticeable problem with this work,
it did enough damage to take this movie from being great to just okay.

Despite the fact that there were a few things to like, the
only negative present was bad enough that it only made this movie good enough
to kill time.

I recommend this to fans of action, as they will like this
the most.

As for everyone else, it might be worth giving a try, but do
not expect anything outstanding enough to satisfy the desire of a good movie.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please
consider supporting me on Patreon
or buy the reviewed title from Amazon, so
that I can continue finding more worthwhile anime for you guys to watch, and do
whatever you do when you find something that impresses you.

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