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Shintaro The Samurai "Intro"

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Published on Oct 15, 2009

The Samurai was a Japanese television historical drama series of the 1960s made by Senkosha Productions. The series premiered on October 7, 1962 in Japan and ran until March 1965. Its original Japanese title was Onmitsu Kenshi ('spy swordsman').

It was the first Japanese TV program ever screened in Australia, where it premiered in 1964, and it built up a remarkably large fan-base among pre-teen children. Despite its massive popularity in Japan, Australia, and the Philippines, the series was not widely screened elsewhere and its fame remains largely restricted to those countries.

Filmed in black-and-white, the series was based in part on historical events, but it borrowed heavily from the Japanese historical romance genre. The producers compensated for its low budget by using real historical locations around Japan, including the imposing feudal castles from the era.

The series portrayed the adventures of a roving samurai, Akikusa Shintaro (whose real name is Matsudaira Nobuchiyo), played by Ose Koichi. Shintaro is the older half-brother of Ienari, the 11th Tokugawa shogun. Because he is the son of a concubine, he has no claim to power, so he assumes the guise of a wandering spy-swordsman (along with the name Shintaro) to seek out and eliminate plots by rival warlords, in this way protecting his younger brother, who is still a minor. Acting on secret orders from roju (chief councillor) Matsudaira Sadanobu, Shintaro gathers information in the various fiefdoms and battles rival warriors and spies, aided by his Iga Ninja friend Tombei the Mist (Japanese: Kiri no Tonbei), as played by Fuyukichi Maki. Shintaro is also helped by Shusaku (played by the 9 or 10 year old Omori Shunsuke ), whose father has been kidnapped by Koga ninja, and whom Shusaku and Shintaro are also trying to find.

The series had some memorable villains, especially those played by Bin Amatsu, including the imposing Kongo of Koga, the other-worldly Fuma Kotaro (a descendant of the famous 16th century ninja Fūma Kotarō) and Gensai the Wolf. Genkuro Momochi, played by Toshiyuki Katsuki, was another villain who had a genuinely menacing screen presence; as well as a prominent scar in the middle of his brow. The Negishi (Negoro) ninja leaders Garidoshi (played by Yoshio Yoshida) and Onime the Bat (a one-eyed evil-doer with a shuriken for an eye-patch) also projected an aura of menace.

The Samurai was shown in 10 stories (or series) usually of 13 episodes each. It was only at the start of the second story (Koga Ninjas) that the shows signature feature ninjas was introduced. And it wasnt until the first episode of Story Three (Iga Ninjas) that the audience was introduced to Shintaros faithful assistant Tombei The Mist.

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