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AKA: Shuranosuke Zanmaken, Demon-Slaying Sword of Shuranosuke
Genre: Ninja action
Length: OAV, 60 minutes
Distributor: R1 DVD from Manga Entertainment
Content Rating: 17+ (excessive violence, sex)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Jubei Chan, Ninja Scroll, Rurouni Kenshin, Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal, Yotoden
Notes: Loosely based on a story by Narumi Takeshi (Yotoden).
Rating: One Star

Sword for Truth

Synopsis

Sakaki Shuranosuke is a wandering samurai who bears the cursed mark of the twin scythes, also known as the "Scythes of Death." He is hired by the Tokugawa Shogunate to rescue the princess Mayu from the evil Seki ninja.


Review

The cover of this title proudly proclaims itself to be "the best sword fighting action since Ninja Scroll", and I hope to God that isn't true. You see, this is the WORST ninja action movie I think I've ever seen, and that's including some of the outrageously bad US and European live action efforts. For this one to have the audacity to compare itself to Ninja Scroll is quite frankly laughable.

If there is anything good to say about this OAV, then I will have to admit that the art is pretty good, and the animation isn't too bad either ... when there are no battles, mind you. Also, some of the settings are pretty neat, like the lake with the floating lanterns. But that's where the good points stop.

Like I mentioned, since this title has the audacity to compare itself to Ninja Scroll, I will follow up by doing the same.

First, Ninja Scroll's art and animation are beautiful. The fight scenes are fast, fluid and simply jaw-droppingly impressive. Sword for Truth shares none of these traits. In fact, the battle scenes are composed of the laziest animation sequences I've ever had the misfortune of seeing. Almost on par with the ones in Crying Freeman. No, scratch that. The fighting scenes in Crying Freeman are better.

For second, the characters and plot in Ninja Scroll, while not being award-winning material, lay all the cards on the table and make sure to tie up all the loose threads by the end. Sword for Truth doesn't care about any of that. In fact, in the one hour span of this movie, new characters get presented left and right, then abandoned almost as quickly, leaving the audience to ask themselves, "Who the hell WERE all those people?" And the plot doesn't make any sense at all, save for the princess that needed rescue. (Though even THAT leads to a scene that doesn't make any sense either.)

Now, for the hero. I agree that any hero doesn't need to be the most likable personality in the world as far as a ninja features go. Jubei from Ninja Scroll wasn't intended to be, but they did, after all, play out on his quirks and beliefs and his "go onwards" attitude. Shuranosuke doesn't seem to do anything but travel around, killing random people or animals, and having sex with various girls for weird reasons. I wouldn't be terribly surprised if he was Golgo 13's distant ancestor.

And, again, Ninja Scroll creates tension by having our main lead actually STRUGGLE to attain his goal or just get through the movie in one piece. Shuranosuke, however, is SUUUPER NIIIIINJAAAAA. I actually have a hard time remembering any of his battles that didn't end with him winning it with one, deft stroke with his sword and a bored expression plastered on his face. There's not much tension to be scrounged up from that, let me tell you.

Oh wait, there are two more things Ninja Scroll have in common with Sword for Truth: lots of excessive violence and casual sex. But Ninja Scroll can get away with it by presenting us with a solid package of furious action animated fluidly and plotted decently. Sword for Truth fails in all those aspects and thus receives a failing grade. A SOLID failing grade.

There aren't enough good points to save Sword of Truth from the abyss.Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: With the rather excessive violence that throws severed limbs left and right, it's unsuitable for anyone but adults. The sex scenes are rather mild in comparison, but should be mentioned anyway.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Sword for Truth © 1990 Narumi Takeshi / Promise Co / Toei Video Co
 
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