In September of 2007, Studio Bones released an original anime movie called Sword of the Stranger. While exceptional in its storytelling and overall execution, the movie went vastly unnoticed by the public and only few know of it. In 2010, a video surfaced on YouTube that showcased the final battle between two characters, the upload gaining over 8,600 likes as of January 2019. This was the video that introduced most to the existence of the movie – but others learned about it through other means. Regardless, as part of the Underrated Anime series, we’re here to introduce the masterpiece that is Sword of the Stranger! Ni hao, bitch! Taking place hundreds of years before the present in the Sengoku period, the Japanese and Chinese were at war. The Chinese of the Ming Dynasty have invaded Japan, looking for a boy to sacrifice under a full moon, to make an immortality elixir for their Emperor. The sacrifice must be in Japan at a certain date under a full moon at midnight – if they are to fail, they cannot return to China until they are done as instructed: kill the boy and take his blood. In the beginning, we see the boy, Kotaro fleeing from house to house, gathering food and water for both himself and his dog, Tobimaru. Just as Kotaro is finding shelter in an abandoned building, he comes across another boy, years older and armed with a Katana. This stranger has no name, though he’s very competent in his swordsmanship. When the two of them are attacked, Tobimaru is poisoned and Kotaro begs the mysterious swordsman for help. Willing to do anything, he makes a deal with the mysterious swordsman: if he takes him to a temple outside of town for refuge, then he would reward him with a treasure he stole. From then on, the two of them bond and become closer as the story line progress – almost as if they were brothers. Things only go downhill from there when the two travelers encounter an equally skilled swordsman who is evidently, a foreigner. As expected from the studio that animated My Hero Academia, the animation is phenomenal. The cinematography is arguably one of the strongest aspects of this film. For something that was made over 10 years ago, the visuals and choreography aged quite well. I was very impressed with the overall production and aesthetics. To further add-on, the fight scenes were incredible, no talking – just fighting. None of the characters were naturally overpowered either. Sword of the Stranger‘s soundtrack also does an exceptional job at staying true to the overall theme. The beautiful instrumentals only add to the scenery and enhances it, rather than distracting the viewer. Whenever you hear a track from the movie, you will go straight to remembering the scene it played in; giving you both a nostalgic and evocative feeling. I really love Naoki Satou’s musical talent, being an infamous composer for various live action movies and dramas, including Rurouni Kenshin. There was some comic relief, heartfelt moments, and times where one could simply just relate to Kotaro. Definitely one of my all time favorite movies! Sword of the Stranger is available for streaming on Amazon Prime, Crunchyroll, and FUNimation. Please support the official release!