Manga Video // 1990 // 50 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Norman Short (Retired) // May 9th, 2001
Swords-a-plenty. Truth? I don't think so.
Sword For Truth is a manga title turned into an anime OAV, but sticks very close to its manga (Japanese comic book) roots. This tale of swords, demons, and betrayal is presented on DVD from Manga with a decent presentation, but the animation is poor, the story less than compelling, and thankfully over in less than an hour.
This rather typical title is of the lone warrior, in this case a rogue samurai named Shuranosuke Sakaki. He is a warrior for hire, and happens along just as a giant tiger is making mincemeat of a fortress guard, only to slay the cat with one stroke. Unfortunately the tiger was only a diversion; the real threat was from the Seki Ninja, who kidnapped the Princess Mayu. Sakaki is hired by the defeated clan to retrieve the princess, and must face the demons of hell who protect the Seki, rescue the princess, and then watch his back because nearly anyone could betray him.
That story sounds a lot better on paper than it did while I watched it, as I fought off boredom for most of the 50 minutes of the show. Except for the gratuitous gore and nudity I had little to keep my interest, and unfortunately the action scenes were stilted and so poorly done as to kill any other enjoyment I might have found. Even the gore was half-hearted, as all the blood was black instead of red and sprayed liberally in fountains that were crudely drawn as lines leaving the numerous hacked bodies. The nudity seemed to be there for almost no reason whatsoever, except in a couple scenes as women threw themselves at the icy, aloof samurai.
The real problem is the animation and pacing of the show. The animation is nearly non-existent; jerky movements give way to still pictures as in a comic book, and those stills sit too long, resulting in a slowly paced story that always threatens to provide excitement while never actually delivering on its promise. I'd normally be interested in such a story that is mostly made up of one sword fight after another while defending a beautiful princess, but it is so poorly done as to defeat the intent of the story.
The sex almost makes up for the exceedingly slow and poorly done action scenes, but even lesbians going at each other seem only there to provide fanboy service. The sex scenes are also poorly animated, which means the only titillation is seeing still pictures of cartoon breasts. I'll pass.
If this stylistic choice is to your liking, then the disc might satisfy. The full frame transfer is decent; colors are from a dark palette but are well saturated. The image quality is a bit soft from the ten-year-old source elements, and there are some instances of artifacting, mainly pixelization. The sound is a bit better than the video; both Japanese and English stereo tracks are offered. The sound is clear on both tracks and there is some limited left to right directionality to the mix. As usual, the subtitles are much different than the English dub, but I found the subtitles a bit obtuse to understand the story, and the English dialogue sometimes insipid. They did seem to find some outlandish voice actors for the English dub; some of them sounded like back-country hillbillies from Tennessee. Rather odd considering the Japanese settings and characters.
Another big lack on the disc is the lack of credits for the Japanese voice actors, the original ones. This is a port of an English dub and only the English dub team gets credit. Otakus may well feel scandalized. Extra content consists of trailers for Ninja Scroll, Perfect Blue, Sword for Truth, and other Manga titles, along with other promotional materials for Manga products.
I'll admit up front I'm no otaku; my interest in anime is more casual. But I know what I like, and I like animation that actually lets the characters move about, and a story that flows instead of plods along in stops and starts. Sword For Truth fails in both these areas, and requires a different type of viewer than I to appreciate. I'm not saying those viewers aren't out there, but I'm not one of them. There are plenty of better anime titles to add to your collection; I'd let this one pass by.
Guilty! Off with their heads! Oh yeah, most of the characters have already been decapitated. Never mind.
Review content copyright © 2001 Norman Short; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Manga Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 50 Minutes
Release Year: 1990
MPAA Rating: Not Rated