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Lone samurai Shuranosuke strolls into 1636 Edo (the capital of Ieyasu, first Tokugawa shogun) and with one swipe of his legendary blade Onimaru, nonchalantly dispatches the giant white tiger that has been terrorizing the citizenry. The tiger is only the first wave of an assault by evil forces using demonic powers to kidnap Princess Mio then swap her for a magical dagger. Shuranosuke agrees to make the exchange but must then get the princess safely past a series of magical traps to return her to her no less treacherous household. But while the enemy has magic on its side, he has his own superb skills and the love of beautiful ninja-thief Orin.
Based on a novel by Yotoden-creator Jo Toriumi, SfT oozes style and mystery, with gorgeous art direction by Yukio Abe. However, the limited animation that characterizes Dezaki's direction (e.g., Black Jack) lets it down-though optioned by Manga Entertainment in the hope it would be another Ninja Scroll, it is nowhere near as good. To add insult to injury, the anime was infamously advertised with the fiendishly inaccurate line, "Ancient feudal Japan was ruled by clans of shoguns." A live-action version, Legend of the Devil (1998), directed by Masaru Tsushima and starring the incandescently gorgeous Masaki Kyomoto as Shuranosuke, contains more of our hero's story than SfT, and retains plenty of the sex scenes, but has less convincing supernatural perils. NV