Produced by the studio Bones, Sword of the Stranger isn’t the most well known feature to come out of Japan. Despite being released in 2007 to sporadic screenings, it still managed to pick up multiple awards around the world. In Ireland it was only screened a few times, most notably as part of the Irish Film Institute’s Anime Weekend back in 2009. Apart from this, the film came and went relatively unnoticed. Regardless of the few screenings it garnered outside of Japan, Sword of the Stranger is a powerful film worthy of your attention.
From the beginning, director Masahiro Ando propels the viewer into feudal Japan: a world filled with beautiful imagery, fearful monks and duelling samurai. The story centers on a nameless samurai hired to protect a boy named Kotaro from a band of warriors. Don’t let the fact that its an anime fool you, this isn’t one for kids. Characters you naturally come to care for hang in the balance amidst the impressively animated (and bloody) fight sequences.
Although it’s been released on DVD and Blu-ray, Sword of the Stranger isn’t an easy film to find. The only way you might find it in Ireland is by trawling through countless specialist shops. The easiest place to find it is online. For the average price (make sure you shop around!) of seventeen euros, it’s well worth the investment.
Link to the trailer: