Stranger-Mukoh Hadan – Sword of the Stranger Review


The story is set in Japan.
A boy named Kotaro, accompanied by his dog, is being chased and hunted down by the Chinese soldiers (The Mings) and along the way he meets a samurai named Nanashi (means nameless).
Nanashi is a mysterious samurai that is constantly being haunted by dreams of the past which prevents him from drawing his sword.
After a series of events, Nanashi ends up accompanying Kotaro on his journey.
Among the Mings is a westerner named Raou.
Raou’s purpose for fighting is unlike the reasons behind the actions of the Chinese – his main purpose is to fight against the strong and he thrives on that fact.
He has been nicknamed a monster due to him being well known for his superior sword fighting skills.

[Click Image to Enlarge]


Alright, I know that that was not a good summary.

Basically this anime contains:

– Action
– Good Animation
– A nice storyline
– Blood
– Some sort of warm and fuzzy feeling (where you go, awwwww, that is nice)
– And it is interesting
– It is done by Bones Studio


While the plot may not be the most original ever, and I agree with those that say that this might seem to give you the vibe of another-one-of-those-kenshin-wannabe, I actually liked it.

It might be weird for me to say that it is a simple storyline, but I felt that the main point of this anime was pretty simple. To provide entertainment.

There is no deeper meaning or a huge moral to the story.

Actually, this anime is a very realistic animation with nothing too out of the ordinary or unbelievable happening.

While the plot could have easily walked down the road of imparting great “hidden messages” in its dialogue, it avoided that cliche path and I am pretty thankful for that.

The animation is nice and exciting, might be pretty bloody at times, but hey, that is what happens when you are fighting with a sword. None of those bloodless death things.

The Chinese’s ulterior motive(to obtain immortality) is also another one of those interesting things that make you think, but at the same time that is not the main focus of the plot.

The story might be filled with fighting but it is not filled with high speed action fighting scenes that will make you go WOW at every super move made. There are those fight-scenes, but many of them is pretty much simple sword fighting amongst the soldiers.

And when they are not fighting, they focus on the storyline and the progression of the storyline.
I know that it is a movie so they do not waste time with useless information (but some movies do).
There is nothing unimportant in this anime.

Basically, I enjoyed every moment of it.

Perhaps the most disappointing part was that I had expected a complex storyline and a complex past behind the main character. His past is pretty simple and understandable. But like I had said, it is a relatively realistic anime movie.

The only funny part of this anime would be the Chinese spoken in it! LOL, god, it was so funny!
When they spoke one or 2 lines it was fine, I thought it was a foreign language.
But when they had a conversation in Chinese, boy was that mistake sticking out like a sore thumb.
They sounded like aliens. LOL. I am NOT joking! (it was okay for most of the part, tolerable, but the worst was when Kotaro and Raou had the conversation as they were ascending the stairs towards the top where the sacrifice ceremony was held)

– It might be a bit serious of some peoples taste, if not, it might be a bit too ‘real'(?)/bloody for some people?
The blood is really not that bad (not like in Gantz).

– If the story does not appeal to you, you might want to watch it for the action. Plus it is animated by Bones, so yup!

An afterthought that you might take away with you from the anime might be to question the idea of fighting and killing. It seems that though this is set in the past where wars occurred on a regular basis, the idea of fighting has yet to change and even now it is happening. It has never stopped and many of us live our lives without even knowing about what is going on.
I mean you are not going to get a great deal of information out of this movie, but it made me just wonder about the way people die.

-ra out
(Errors edited after being pointed out by dowamaru. Thanks for the help!)


About Saranaufogus

An Anime fan who can't seem to keep her thoughts to herself. Find me on: Instagram | Twitter

Posted on April 18, 2008, in Stranger-Mukoh Hadan and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. Might check this out sometime. Good action and fighting moves that are well-animated are always nice to watch. If it has a good storyline, I’m in. Plus, as you said, Bones animating it is worth checking out too. ^^


  2. Just for the record, the story is not set in China but in Japan. The Ming warriors came from China.
    – The bandits and all warriors fighting against the Ming, were all armed with Japanese weaponry (yari, naginata, katana…)
    – Multiple mention the Ming wanted to leave “that” country asap (Ming leaving their own country wouldn’t make much sense)
    – Toward the end, you hear one of the warrior suggesting to the boss that he needs to cross the sea.
    – The lord of the province is a daimyo.

    Just so you know, the credits mention the voice actors and they are Chinese. Sure their Mandarin sounded a bit odd but it was to pace with the lipsync.

    You keep on referring to the Ming convoy as militia. I don’t believe militia would be able to take on a whole army (or 2) with such little number. They were elite warriors/assassins but nowhere as low as militia as you described them to be. By the way, militia would not have access to the weaponry and armor quality they were wearing.

    All in all, I don’t want to sound a bit arrogant here but I couldn’t help post after reading your review.


  3. haha, with regards to the chinese. I thought that it sounded really weird when the main cahracters spoke it.

    And you are not sounding arrogant. Thanks for the heads up, i shall change the stuff that you mentioned. 😉


  4. From one anime fan to another, cheers. 🙂


  5. Just watched the show too and I was casting around for other references to the movie to link to. Yeah, I enjoyed the show too. But I agree, the Mandarin was weird. Didn’t see if the voice actors were Chinese, but .. even if they were racial Chinese they may not speak good Mandarin (I know I don’t!). Eg a lot of HK actors have accented Mandarin because they speak Cantonese. Some of the characters’ Mandarin are better than others – Raru’s conversation with Kotaro was pretty bad, but then again, they ARE both foreigners to the Chinese language, so that’s understandable, right? :>


  6. haha, yup. it is understandable cos they are both foreigners. however, if that were the case, i was wondering why they were even speaking mandarin?
    If Kotaro was Jap, and this was in Japan, then wouldn’t Raou speak Jap to Kotaro instead? And how come Kotaro is able to speak mandarin? i thought that part was weird
    (i can’t remember where kotaro came from, but i presume he is jap due to his name)


  7. Hi!
    Just some enlightenments about the origins of everyone:
    * Rarou is Chinese but with Western origins (which explains the color hair)
    * Nanashi is also a Gaijin but they didn’t say where he’s from exactly, all what has been said is that he has grown up in Japan after being picked up from a foreign ship.
    * Kotarou isn’t Japanese either, he’s Chinese (which explains him speaking in Mandarin) he’s only been living in Japan for the last 2 years.


  8. @Zim:
    I noticed the strange accent too 😀
    All of the Seiyuu (Voice actors) are Japanese, I guess that explains it all 😉


  9. Rarou is chinese but of western origins? interesting, i never knew that. No wonder he was speaking mandarin.
    I know that Nanashi’s orgins was never explained… which is funny cos even though his origins has the most mystery behind it, it is probably the easiest to understand.

    Thanks for the enlightenment!


  10. Overall, what do you think of the whole thing?
    I can’t help but think that it was a bad decision to go for a Movie!
    It’s really hard for them to develop the story in 100 minutes. Maybe they could have considered 2, 3 or 4 OAVs…
    A good anime isn’t just about fancy art and fluid animation, it needs some serious plot behind!


  11. you do have a valid point there, an ova would have been a better idea.

    I kinda liked it in the sense that it was entertaining. I won’t say that this is one of BONES studio’s better ones, but it was not horrible. The animation was good, but as for the plot, well, the fact that i am so confused about it kinda proves that it was not that great for me.

    It was too serious for my liking as well. I would have liked it better if they had an explanation behind the past (the whole prophecy thing) and an explanation to Nanashi’s past too.

    Like you said, it was a 100 mins thing, they could not tell the whole story in such a short time.


  12. Heh.. I hadn’t considered the possibility of an OAV. It would have given them much more opportunity to develop a slightly less one-dimensional plot… There’s quite a few opportunities, plotlines which were made and then cut off without much elaboration.


  13. ohwell.
    Lets just hope soul eater is going to be one of BONES studio’s better productions. So far it seems to look good, but i can’t say that i am happy with the 4th ep of soul eater.


  14. IMHO, it does indirectly have a moral standpoint. A vague one maybe.
    As far as I understood, each of the characters had ulterior selfish negative motives behind them that was going to involve blood whereas we see later in the story that Nanashi was the only one who was different. His past experience and guilt have led him to travel and eventually led him to Kotarou. The circumstances were different but in meeting “Kotarou” he prolly realized that this was his redemption.
    We’ve seen greed and selfishness in play here. Too much of those can kill you. 😉


  15. I now wonder what was the role of the princess… For one, I’m sure it was to show that “she” was the negative desire of that archer dude. Other than that, I’m not sure why she was there. Her dialogs didn’t seem to bear much significance imho. Of course, this is just my 2 cents.


  16. the princess… the princess.. (i am trying to remember who she is…) =_=”
    i guess that pretty much proves your point about the princess.


  17. Aha. Yes I did believe the Chinese was…weird. Their Chinese was so thickly laced with an Japanese accent that even as a Mando myself, I found it utterly impossible to even understand one full sentence uttered from a character. The only time I actually did understand the Chinese was during that whole explanation about Byakuran and co. where the voice didn’t even have a face.

    It was also kind of weird how there were times when the Chinese would speak in Japanese, even though they allegedly did not understand Japanese. (I only realized that after watching the movie a second time) It felt as if they were just too lazy to translate the Chinese. Like even in movies such as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” they would keep everything authentic by having absolutely everything in Chinese. (Though it did pretty much fry my brain trying to translate everything in real time)

    So basically, it was just the Chinese that felt like it was downplayed too much. Authenticity is good. And I just loved how for once, the blood was RED.


  18. Nice review-and I agree with you that there was nothing unimportant in this anime; I loved the fact how everything was clear-cut and adequately set up within the 104-minute framework. The action was fascinating precisely because it was probable and realistic, but expressed in a way only animation is capable of. I read a talk between the director and the screenwriter and it seems they were aiming for “a purely entertaining B-movie” and got pretty much what they wanted. The writer also went on to say how the story was to him “a love story between men” but skip that…
    I think the bilinguality (the Chinese characters switching from Mandarin to Japanese) was there to avoid overly “othering” the Ming assassins and also allow the (Japanese) audience to sympathize with their perspective somewhat. Aside from Raroh, all the Ming characters have two voice actors; Japanese and Chinese (according to the ending credits), so I assume at least their Mandarin should sound authentic. I don’t know why they didn’t get Chinese voice actors for Raroh or Kotaro-perhaps because they were main characters and acted by expensive voice actors? I mean, I’m only familiar with Mandarin through films but I could still sense their conversation sounded terrible; possibly the most embarassing moment in Yamadera-san’s career. Or maybe Raroh’s Mandarin is horrid because he’s what Byakuran calls a 西戎 or Western barbarian; it’s just the Western accent! And perhaps Kotaro forgot most Mandarin after living in Japan for two years-kids learn fast, but they forget fast too.
    Overall Sword of the Stranger reminded me of the golden age of OVAs, the kind of anime that got made just for the heck of it. Also features one of the best-animated dogs in the history of anime.


  19. Hi. ummm, just saw the movie. Really liked it. Great review. And you’re right, the Chinese or Mandarin or whatever was kinda distracting (even if they were “trying to match the pace of the dialogue”). The only thing that kinda did it in for me was the ending. Does Nanashi live? I mean, even the look on Kotaru’s face was daunting for like a split second. Then he’s like “Let’s go!” w/ a smile…. hmmm…. I don’t like to think that he dies in the end – even tho that’s supposed to be keeping in line w/ “honorable death” scenarios. I’m just saying, I could’ve done without it. Just them talking and riding off would’ve been nice. Not the look, not the glimpse of blood on the snow. Just…. a happy ending. You know?… But then again, I’m a “girl who likes girlish endings” – according to my otaku friends. (^.^)


  20. i just watched this awesome movie, the character is awesome, the storyline is awesome, n everything is awesome…i love the music background.


  21. Wonderfull anime ! One of the bests ! I cryed when I watched it ! ( I don’t know why …)


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