Path of Blood review
Path of Blood is a cut paper animation film from Eric Power, a full-length (hour long) samurai/ninja storyline that takes the concept of an original short and turns it into a sprawling experiment in what paper can do. The film is inspired by classic samurai pictures (Power cites Lone Wolf and Cub among others in his making-of video) and was made on a very low budget, with Power forced to take breaks to work on actual paying jobs just to support the film’s production.
The result of all of this hard work and dedication is quite impressive. Power gives viewers a compelling plot about a wandering samurai named Kazuo (Kenji Kiuchi) who teams up with a couple of other ronin on his adventure, only to find that his trek to the Path of Blood is fraught with ninja fights and what could be considered a final boss battle. Path of Blood follows a fairly generic formula for samurai films, and it never really gets more complex than what one might find in a standard ronin anime series; its weakest aspect is the plot itself, which is sufficient but lacking some crucial elements of rising action development. The reasons for this become even clearer during Power’s making-of featurette because he reveals that there was no storyboard for the film, and that is reflected since the film at times lacks direction.
But the story isn’t a huge detraction thanks to the rest of Power’s animation, with some stunning graphical achievements including different types of stylistic shots and immense attention to detail, especially considering the film’s high-foliage setting. It’s even quite gory for a film made with paper, and Power recreates the epic fight styles of classic samurai film – including the slow-motion slicing and dicing and also some more cartoonish displays of violence.
Path of Blood is commendable because of its experimentation, and Power’s devotion to cut-paper filmmaking is profoundly apparent. This is a movie where the actual production is most striking, with the plot taking a backseat to the complexity of the movie-making process; it’s also a great ode to the samurai style that many film fans love. Anyone with an affinity for those samurai classics or more contemporary anime should absolutely check out Path of Blood.