Since my copy of Bandai Entertainment’s US Blu-ray Disc release of Sword of the Stranger (Mukoh Hadan) arrived a few days before the official release date on June 16, here’s my short review on the disc itself. Luckily and unlike on their Ghost in the Shell: Innocence release, Bandai has decided not to use region encoding so feel free to (pre-)order, there’s no need to wait for the announced Region B release.
Bandai also does not repeat the audio track mistake from their first BD release (lossy DD only), as both audio tracks (original Japanese and English) on Sword of the Stranger are available in sweet and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 that especially shine during the grand finale and the fight scenes accompanied by Naoki Sato’s gripping score. The English subtitles are available for all dialogues or signs only which is a nice gift to fans of the English dub.
The visual presentation of Masahiro Ando’s adventure tale should also convince those who keep on repeating the same “animation does not benefit from higher resolution” jabber. The characters as well as the detailed background art just look great, especially the stunningly animated fight scenes. Studio Bones’ artists did really flex their muscles in these scenes when it comes to animation quality and choreography. The picture is virtually free of compression artefacts and banding effects, which sometimes are issue on Anime releases on Blu-ray Disc.
I’ve uploaded 40 full resolution screenshots to the Asian Blu-ray Disc gallery.
To fill the BD50, Bandai has included some interviews and Japanese press events (HD), several trailers and TV spots (SD & HD) for the main features and even a three minutes long pilot film (HD).
All in all, Bandai Entertainment has shown with this release that they can indeed rival the Japanese release when it comes to picture and sound quality. Meaning good times for high definition anime fans are coming if Bandai can keep this up with their following releases (The Girl Who Leapt through Time, please?).