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Blade of the Phantom Master: Shin Angyo Onshi

2009 Movie. Director: Joji Shimura. 90 minutes. DVD, bilingual, $19.98. Distributor: Funimation

The land of Jushin is all but a memory, fractured into numerous kingdoms run by corrupt tyrants. Once the Amen Osa, magic wielding warriors charged with upholding justice, kept the peace. But when the king was assassinated, they too disappeared. Or did they?

Enter Munsu, a pistolero who wields the power of an Amen Osa. But is he one? His roguish charm and apathetic demeanor say otherwise. Accompanied by the delicate flower Sando, his oddly petite bodyguard, Munsu wanders Jushin’s landscape. Hero or scoundrel, he’s definitely a thorn in the side of authority.

Finally, something different! What I love about Blade of the Phantom Master is its stark departure from the contemporary, and much abused, anime setting. No, there are no high school students fighting ghosts or monsters on the streets of Tokyo. Instead, we’re transported to a world that mirrors feudal Korea. This is a charred, mythical landscape marked by guns, swords, and Asian castles. In fact, the entire story is inspired by Korean folktales and myth.

Sharpshooting heroes, armies conjured up by magic, mythical villains, and one cute swordswoman; this is anime! What more can I say? Pick up Blade of the Phantom Master and get lost in a different kind of fantasy, one that only the creative talents of South Korea and Japan can produce.

Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. Munsu is just too damn cool. He’s the guy you want to have a beer with, or two. No, probably three.