Japanese anime guru Kazuaki Kiriya ascended to prominence with his sprawling fantasy Casshern
(2004), a tale that coupled post-apocalyptic visions with early 21st century design, and shared the success of the manga and anime from which Kiriya and his colleagues adapted it. Kiriya waited five years before emerging with this follow-up, produced by J-horror godfather Takashige Ichise
). Described by more than one source in the press as a Japanese equivalent of Robin Hood, it unfurls in the late 16th century. The year is 1582, and the most miserly warlord in Japan, Oda Nobunaga, promptly falls prey to an assassin's blade and is succeeded by his own right-hand-man, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (voiced by Eiji Okuda). Unfortunately, all is far from well on the sociological front: a huge chasm exists between rich and poor, and evening things out is super-thief Goemon (voice of Yosuke Eguchi
), who spends his day redistributing wealth to the lower economic classes. Fate takes an intriguing turn when Goemon acquires a small, ornate, handcrafted box of foreign design that he swipes from a merchant and hands to a homeless kid (voice of Arashi Fukasawa). Also after the box is the bugyo
(or administrator) of Hideyoshi, who sends a vicious ninja (Kirigakure Saizo) out to take care of Goemon and retrieve the item; Goemon recovers it first, however, while saving the young homeless boy from a bellicose swordsman (voice of Tetsuji Tamayama
). In no time at all, Goemon finds himself being pursued by everyone under the sun including Mitsunari, re-encounters a lost love from his past, Cha Cha (voice of Ryoko Hirosue) and realizes that the box will play an integral role in the nation's future.