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Jiro, a foundling boy, loses his adoptive parents to an assassin. Avenging their death by murdering a one-armed man, he falls in with the priest Tenkai, who trains him in the black arts of the ninja. Learning that the one-armed man was really his true father, a distraught Kamui searches for his true mother, an Ainu princess. He also goes in search of Captain Kidd's treasure in order to take from Tenkai the only thing that he values. Tenkai wishes to use the treas-ure to overthrow the antiisolationists and close Japan once more to the outside world-the action takes place just before the Meiji Restoration that would throw Japan open once and for all. Jiro's quest takes him all the way to the American West, with time out for a brief meeting with Tom Sawyer-creator Mark Twain, where he is saved by a defecting servant of Tenkai's (who turns out to be his long-lost sister) before returning to exact revenge for all his family.
This Kamui is no relation to Sanpei Shirato's Manual of Ninja Martial Arts; it was based on a series of novels by Legend of the Paper Spaceship-author Tetsu Yano, who was also Robert Heinlein's Japanese translator. Though not one of his best works, Dagger of Kamui contains much of the clash of old and new that distinguishes his writings-the idea of foreign assistance in sending Japan back into the past would be reused by animator Kawajiri in Ninja Scroll. Blade of Kamui, an earlier U.S. dub of the movie, rewrites the plot completely, claiming that it is set on an alien world, where Kamui's dagger is a "powerful weapon [that] controls the future of the universe." NV