Stranger: Mukou Hadan is a 2007 film brought to us by Bones. That’s right, the studio behind Fullmetal Alchemist, Wolf’s Rain, Heroman and more. So far, the works I’ve looked at by them have a strong track record. Will this one continue that tradition? Let’s take a look and see.
We open with a boy, Kotarou, and his dog, Tobimaru, running away from some kind of danger. We cut to a strange group of travellers being attacked by bandits and easily staving them off. We then go back to Tobimaru and find him helping his boy steal some food. The two of them encounter a wanderer with a sword. They’re sharing a meal, much to the boy’s displeasure, when soldiers arrive to take the boy. The wanderer gets dragged into it and ends up agreeing to travel with Tobimaru and his boy. But who is this lad and why are these soldiers chasing him? For that matter, who is this strange wanderer?
Honestly, there aren’t many narrative problems with this film. About the worst I can say about it is that it does delve into long action sequences for the spectacle of it a bit. There are also some kind of pointless scenes. The whole thing with Nanashi dying his hair, for example, contributes nothing.
That being said, those moments are few. On the whole, the film is very well paced. The whole mystery behind this kid and why they’re chasing him does keep you interested. I also quite liked the ending and the specific way it uses ambiguity.
There are some interesting characters in this. Tobimaru and his little group are pretty compelling and have interesting dynamics. There is also effort put into giving a lot of the side characters motivations. They aren’t particularly complicated, but they work pretty well when you factor in the length.
The artwork mostly looks pretty good. The action sequences are bloody and intense. The character designs are good. The backgrounds are detailed. The animals look like what they’re supposed to be. Tobimaru is bloody adorable. That being said, there are flaws to it. There are action sequences that go overboard with trying to be intense and end up being a bit silly. There’s a scene where we see a bloke’s hand hanging on by a thread of flesh and he starts lecturing the person who cut it. I’m sorry, Bones, but at that point it stops being an intense action sequence and delves into unintentional hilarity.
There are some great performances in this film. From the likes of Nagase Tomoya, Yamadera Kouichi & Chinen Yuri. The music is actually by a bloke I’ve talked about this week, Sato Naoki. Yes, the same gent who was responsible for the music in Futari wa Precure. The music in this is completely different for obvious reasons, but it’s still really good. Never let it be said that this man doesn’t have range.
There’s a little bit. One of the male antagonists is implied to be romantically attracted to another of the male antagonists.
Stranger: Mudou Hadan is a really good film. While it is action heavy, it also has a strong underlying narrative to go along with it. As well as a good sense of character. The film actually reminds me a bit of Rurouni Kenshin, and that’s not a bad thing. Ultimately, I give it an 8/10. Tomorrow, I’ll end this year’s film festival week with a look at Windaria. Which isn’t to say that I won’t review any more films this year. I might if I get requests (because I love you guys and can never say no to a reasonable request from you) or just need something shorter to review while working on a long request. I just shan’t be doing another entire week with reviews every day until next year.