Path of Blood’s Cartoon Samurai Code

[Asian cinema is in my blood, especially the samurai strand made famous by the masterful Akira Kurosawa. The same legendary director influenced cut-paper animator Eric Power, who I interviewed for Cartoon Brew about his indie homage, Path of Blood. Hide the kids.]

Path of Blood‘s Eric Power on Making A Super Low Budget Cutout Samurai Feature

Can a cut-paper, stop-motion feature film capably and faithfully represent the tortured psychodrama and indulgent gore of samurai cinema? Or will it end up being, for lack of a better term, a poor cut-and-paste job?

For the most part, from its first bloody corpse to its body-ridden showdown, the mounting carnage of Eric Power’s Path of Blood—available on demand for stream or download exclusively through Vimeo—is genuinely shocking. Its sub-narrative, of banished samurai in search of restored glory at the end of a blade, still resonates even after its antihero spectacularly takes down the big baddie.

“I looked to the chanbara films of the ’60s and ’70s for inspiration,” the Austin, Texas-based Power told me. “I was modeling my approach to the violence along the lines of those films like Lone Wolf and Cub and the Zatoichi series. “I wanted to steer away from a cartoon aesthetic and realize the cut-paper world the way a live-action film would be shot. My hopes were that people could get lost enough in the film to forget they were watching a cartoon. Adult animation is a hard sell, so instead of going too over the top, I decided to take it more seriously—as seriously as you can take a film with eviscerated paper ninjas, that is!”