The film begins when the legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi is still named Shinmen Takezo. After being on the losing side of the Battle of Sekigahara, Takezo and his friend manage to escape and come across a young woman and her mother.
Bit of a let-down after the terrific first instalment. There is decidely less action in this one, and Kinnosuke's acting is not as compelling.
On the upside, many of the characters from the first one are still around. The feisty old couple who feel wronged and try for revenge are hilarious. And Akemi and Otsu, the two main female characters, are as lovely as ever.
And the overall story begins to make more sense. The film opens with Takeno deciding to leave the castle and, therefore, is given a new name for his new life. His new personal name, Musashi, is in fact the same name as Takezo. That is, the same kanji characters. But because of the (to outsiders) baffling lack of consistent phonetics, this is perfectly acceptable and understandable, and the story makes some attempts to at least make it clear. The newly rechristened MM sets out to learn swordsmanship from only the best practitioners, in a time when ronin (landless samurai) are legion and times are tough.
There is some clever strategy and thoughtful plot points, and the final sword battle caps things off rather well. Overall, I'd say this instalment would be good for those who want to understand the series as a whole, but not so compelling as a stand-alone viewing.
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