Anime Reviews:

Sword for Truth

(Tsutomu Dezaki, 1990)

Touted by label Manga as "The best sword fighting action since Ninja Scroll", this relatively obscure 1990 OAV manages to live up to its billing with some style. It is ancient feudal Japan. A wandering swordsman named Shuranosuke Sakaki is hired by the Tokugawa Shogunate to rescue their Princess Mayu from the Seki Ninja - a group of bandit ninjas - who want to use the girl to get to the Tokugawa clan's legendary shogun sword.

This fairly predictable scenario is given great lift in a good package with a narrator who sets events in an historical perspective, and contains period details scattered throughout. Well-directed by Tsutomu Dezaki (not Osamu Dezaki as promo sleeves credited), Sword for Truth is a worthy addition to the few Samurai-related titles available in the UK. Good-looking and well-paced, this was actually released three years before Ninja Scroll and in the same year as the first four volumes of The Hakkenden with which it shares its subject matter.

Based upon a novel by Takeshi Narumi (who also provides the screenplay for this OAV), Sword is graphic and violent but not to excess. It also has supernatural elements that are kept in check and add to the overall atmosphere rather than detract from its packed 50-minute running time. Ignoring the somewhat cheesy sleeve design, I rather watch this again than have to sit through Pioneer's Hakkenden saga any day. 7/10

Rob Dyer

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