Hellboy: Sword of Storms is the first of the Hellboy Animated series based on Mike Mignola's popular comic book series Hellboy and the live-action film of the same name. It was released in 2006 on DVD and premiered that later same year on Cartoon Network. The second animated straight-to-DVD film, Hellboy: Blood and Iron, was released on 17 March 2007.
The film was produced by Starz Media's Film Roman and Revolution Pictures and co-produced, co-written, and directed by animation veteran Tad Stones. Stones is perhaps best known as the creator of the popular Disney Afternoon series Darkwing Duck. He worked with Mignola on developing Atlantis: The Lost Empire into an animated series.
Hellboy: Sword of Storms was nominated for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or More) at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards.
The film starts in the middle of an unspecified mission which sees Hellboy, Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien battling bat-worshipping Mayan zombies who are led by a gigantic zombie bat. The group are eventually able to defeat their opponents when Liz unleashes her pyrokinetic powers, although she is still unsure of her ability to control her powers.
Meanwhile, Japanese folklore expert Professor Sakai obtains an ancient scroll containing the myth of two demonic brothers, Thunder and Lightning. Hundreds of years ago, the brothers roamed the earth, unleashing storms on the lands of a Japanese Lord. In exchange for mercy, the Lord promised to give them his beautiful daughter. One of the Lord's samurai warriors was in love with the daughter and hid her in a shrine to protect her. Armed with the Sword of Storms, a mystical sword imbued with an ancient spell to defeat Thunder and Lightning, the warrior fought the brothers and trapped both demons' spirits in the sword. Although his lands and daughter had been saved, the Lord was not pleased since the warrior's actions meant the Lord had broken a promise. In an act of vengeance, the Lord summoned the gods to turn the warrior to stone and then killed his daughter in the shrine.
In current-day Japan, Professor Sakai is possessed by the spirits of Thunder and Lightning while reading the scroll. The demonic brothers send the professor in search of the mystical sword. After he attacks the sword collector who currently owns the sword, the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense is alerted and Hellboy, Kate Corrigan, and a psychic named Russell Thorne are called in with a team to investigate. During the investigation, Hellboy picks up a discarded katana and vanishes to another dimension that is reminiscent of ancient Japan. Hellboy meets a wise kitsune, who tells him that the sword he holds is the Sword of Storms and that the goal of his journey lies to the west. Hellboy travels through the alternate universe and learns that he can only return to his own world by breaking the sword, although that will also free the demonic brothers. Along the way Hellboy encounters several mythical Yōkai, sent by the still possessed Professor Sakai, who try to steal the sword from him, including the kappa, a trio of rokurokubi, a group of nukekubi, a Jorōgumo, Gashadokuro, tengu, Yomotsu-shikome, and the restless ghost of the Lord's daughter. Hellboy is able to outsmart or defeat all of them.
Meanwhile, Abe Sapien and Liz Sherman are called to the sites of disturbing earthquakes and discover that Thunder and Lightning are summoning their brothers, the dragons. They meet the same kitsune who guided Hellboy and are instructed to stop the dragons. One of the dragons attacks them but Liz manages to hold it back using her pyrokinetic abilities.
Professor Sakai, in the meantime, has gone to the shrine where the Lord killed his daughter, followed by Kate and Russell who have just survived an attack by several objects from Japanese folklore. At the same time, Hellboy is tricked into destroying the sword by the giant Oni (who faded away before the final blow can be struck) which releases Thunder and Lightning, frees Professor Sakai, and sends Hellboy to the shrine as well. Hellboy eventually manages to trap both spirits in the sword again. As a result, the dragons are sealed back into the underworld. The ghosts of the daughter and the Lord possess Kate and Russell, in order to replay the daughter's execution. Hellboy accidentally frees the ghost of the samurai warrior from its stone form and then convinces the Lord to forgive his daughter and the warrior, thereby breaking the cycle of their unending deaths. The spirits depart, thankful to Hellboy and the others for helping them.Ron Perlman - Hellboy
Selma Blair - Liz Sherman
Doug Jones - Abe Sapien
Peri Gilpin - Professor Kate Corrigan
Dee Bradley Baker - Lightning, Kappa, Pilot
Keith Ferguson -
Kim Mai Guest -
Michael Hagiwara -
Yuriana Kim -
Clyde Kusatsu -
Phil LaMarr - Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense Member, Pilot
Liza Del Mundo -
Paul Nakauchi -
James Sie -
Mitchell Whitfield - Russell Thorn
Gwendoline Yeo - Kitsune
Ginny McSwain - Voice Director
The reaction to the film was generally positive. It scored an 8.7 from IGN, although a critic for JoBlo.com gave the film one star out of five. The DVD special features, which include several commentaries and documentaries about the making of the film, were roundly praised. The voiceover work from returning cast members Perlman, Blair, and Jones was well-reviewed, as well as new addition Peri Gilpin as Kate.
Sword of Storms made its U.S. television debut on October 28, 2006 on Cartoon Network's Toonami Saturday action block (and aired again on December 30, 2006) and was released on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment on February 6, 2007. It aired alongside Hellboy: Blood and Iron on July 19, 2008 to promote the release of Hellboy II: The Golden Army.