Sword for Truth (1990)
"Shuranosuke Zanmaken: Shikamamon no Otoko" (original title)

TV-14  |  Video  |   |  Animation, Action  |  30 June 1998 (USA)
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Feudal Japan: Amidst the absolute rule of the Shogun, one man, Shuranosuke Sakaki the master swordsman, furiously protected his independence. Bearing the legendary blade Onimaru he walks ... See full summary »


(as Tsutomu Dezaki)


, (dialogue: english version)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Kazuhiko Inoue ...
Rei Sakuma ...
Princess Mayu (voice)
Tesshô Genda ...
Maroji (voice)
Kazuhiko Kishino ...
Imura (voice)
Masashi Sugawara ...
Gunbei (voice)
Yûko Mizutani ...
Mio (voice)
Ginzô Matsuo ...
Kagero (voice)
Minoru Inaba ...
Shinemon (voice)
Miyuki Ichijô ...
Osono (voice)
Run Sasaki ...
Oren (voice)
Saburô Kamei ...
Tadasumi (voice)
Takashi Taguchi ...
Ubito (voice)
Masashi Hirose ...
Ryusen (voice)
Takeshi Watabe ...
Tenkai (voice)
Toshiko Fujita ...
Okuni (voice)


Feudal Japan: Amidst the absolute rule of the Shogun, one man, Shuranosuke Sakaki the master swordsman, furiously protected his independence. Bearing the legendary blade Onimaru he walks alone and unafraid, cutting a swathe through those who stand in his way. Hired by the Tokugawa Shogunate to rescue Princess Mayu from the clutches of a group of bandit ninjas - the Seki Ninja, Shuranosuke must rely upon all his skills as well as the aid of the beautiful ninja thief Orin to stand against the summoned undead spirits of Hell barring his way. Featuring direction by Osamu Dezaki and character designs by frequent collaborator Akio Sugino, Sword for Truth was based on a novel by Jo Toriumi (Yotoden) which also inspired the 1998 live-action film Legend of the Devil. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Ancient Japan was ruled by clans of shoguns - and their rule was absolute!


Animation | Action


TV-14 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

30 June 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sword for Truth  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Based on the first of five novels by Takeshi Narumi. See more »


Sakaki Shuranosuke: Tell me if I'm right, you used some sorta drug to excite the tiger, and it created a useful diversion for you. You then kidnapped Princess Mayu daughter of the Nakura Clan's leader. I'm curious why you should bother going through so much trouble just to get an old sword. What's so special about it? Perhaps you'd care to explain. It'd be an interesting story. One that I'd like to hear.
See more »


Followed by Legend of the Devil (1996) See more »


Koibito to Yobasete
Performed by Chikako Sawada
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User Reviews

SWORD FOR TRUTH – Short, made-for-video Japanese animated ninja tale
26 January 2008 | by (Bronx, NY) – See all my reviews

SWORD FOR TRUTH (1990) is a compact (51-minute) ninja OAV that looks forward to NINJA SCROLL (1993) and even shares some of its stylistic touches. At half the length it's nowhere near as intricate or compelling as the later film but it should satisfy fans who are looking for a quick fix of nonstop gory ninja action. It tells the story of Shiranosuke Sakaki, a lone swordsman who intervenes when the Nakura clan is attacked by an outsized, bloodthirsty white tiger which makes short work of the clan's first line of defense. The tiger is a diversionary tactic to lure the guards away from Princess Mayu who is abducted by the Seki Ninja and held hostage until the Nakura clan can turn over the treasured Ginryu sword to them. The clan leader, Daizen Imura, is so impressed with Sakaki that he hires him to take the sword to Benten Island, where the Sekis are waiting, to bring back the princess in one piece. That's basically all there is to the story, which ends in such a fashion, including the introduction of new characters and a possible new conflict, that it's clear a sequel was planned that was never made.

Still, it's filled with all kinds of elements designed to please fans of hard-edged ninja anime: "kunoichi" (female ninjas in striking red outfits); sex (the hero is quite a ladies' man); nudity; an "Invincible" ninja who can eject swords out of his body after they've been plunged into his flesh; a monstrous underwater ninja; and plenty of decapitation, dismemberment, and spurting blood. The chief problem is that the blood is usually colored black, making the whole thing look a lot less bloody than it should be. One wonders if the colors were changed in the transfer process to avoid a harsh rating, which makes no sense since anime isn't subject to a ratings system. So much ninja anime is notably bloody; why the sudden caution?

For anime buffs who may be put off by the bloodshed, I should point out that the artwork and design are of singular high quality and worth examining even if the animation is stiffer than usual and uses short cuts in the action staging. The linework is bold, the colors are rich—despite the nighttime settings for most of the action—and the backgrounds are rendered in exquisite detail. The character design is particularly strong, with great detail and distinct facial features accorded even the most minor characters. The director is Osamu Dezaki (under the name Tsutomu Dezaki), with character design and animation direction by Dezaki's longtime partner, Akio Sugino, and the piece reflects the distinct animation style of these creators, as seen in such other notable titles as SPACE ADVENTURE COBRA, GOLGO 13, and BLACK JACK, among other titles.

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