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Shigurui is an anime that centers around the lives of the 2 foremost disciples of the Kogan style - a form of swordplay that allows the user to deliver lethal strikes from extraordinary distances and with blinding speed. One disciple is driven by his ambition to ascend through the social rungs despite his common birth; the other is driven by his blind devotion to his master and to preserving the legacy of the sword school. They have been dubbed the twin dragons of the Kogan, but only one can emerge as the successor to inherit the school and its fortune, and for this honor only the strongest will be chosen.
The swordplay depicted in Shigurui is markedly different from the variety you'll commonly see in anime (where people smack their swords together while performing gymnastics). The katana is a weapon designed to kill with a single stroke, and Shigurui adheres to this basic principle. This is a large part of what sets the action in this anime a cut above its peers. Shigurui features true swordplay in which every stroke has meaning, and where the first clash is often the last.
The art, visual effects, and soundtrack are all top notch. Every scene is crafted with painstaking care and it all sums up to an experience that is nothing short of a masterpiece.
It is important to note, however, that this is not a simple anime, so unless you're prepared to invest yourself in the narrative, and possess a certain degree of 'mental refinement' (for lack of a better term) Shigurui probably won't speak to you as deeply. The anime is also gore-heavy; it shows you exactly what happens when a swords comes into contact with flesh and it isn't pretty. This may be a deciding turnoff for you, and that's understandable. Some people have a stronger stomach than others.I would encourage you not to simply dismiss the content as gratuitous however.
-In closing: Ever since Shigurui I have been searching for an anime in the samurai genre that could provide me with an experience on par with death frenzy, and sadly nothing seems to come close. I can't even watch most anime anymore because they bore me in comparison to Shigurui. I truly believe that this is the pinnacle of production in an anime to date.
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