Reviews of yesteryear: Muramasa

Welcome Lovely fans to the second review of horror anime month. For a while, I referred to the people who read my reviews like that consistently. But I stopped because I didn’t want it to seem like I was just trying to disingenuously flatter you all. It was meant as a sincere expression of fondness, but that’s not how a lot of people took it. Today we’re looking at a short offering from the legendary Tekuza Osamu. You may know him as the creator of Astro Boy, Black Jack and many others. Today’s selection is a rather odd choice for him. A lot of his works are lighter-hearted action series. A horror film is pretty atypical. Let’s take a look at Muramasa and find out what he did with it.

The plot is really basic, it would have to be given that Muramasa is all of nine minutes long. A wandering warrior finds a sword stuck inside a straw dummy. He takes it along with its scabbard. He uses it in practice and finds that it’s incredibly sharp but then things start to go wrong and he begins losing his mind. That’s as far as I’m going to take the description. Now, the plot is simple but it’s actually really well done. Especially when you factor in the time constraints. The inner struggle that the warrior goes through is portrayed poignantly and, although events move quickly, they never feel rushed. I will say, however, that it’s not scary. The struggle is poignant, yes, but that doesn’t make it frightening in any way. Psychological, yes. Horror, no.

The characters aren’t as interesting. The one character you get is the warrior and you know virtually nothing about him. Since the story is all about the struggle there’s very little nuance to him. Not that I can really blame them since, again, it’s all of nine minutes long and studying all of the nuances of a character in that time frame is not going to happen.

The art… Well, the images themselves look almost like Watercolour paintings. Which does look really good, mostly. There are some cases where the expressions just look really bizarre. The animation, however, is really slow and choppy. There are also several scenes that get repeated. I remind you, this anime is nine minutes long. Is there really any legitimate excuse for being lazy with the artwork?

There is no voice acting. Which actually works really well in this. The story is told without any dialogue and that helps heighten the mood, I think. As for the music, it’s a little boring. Even with the short length there’s very little variation and it doesn’t change to suit the mood so the anime might just be better if it’s watched in total silence.

The yuri factor is a 1/10. There’s no yuri in this, although you probably figured that out already.

My final rating for Muramasa is a 7/10. It’s a good little piece with some power behind it. The biggest issues are the choppy animation and lackluster music, but I’d still suggest checking it out. It is well worth the nine minutes

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