1 9 6 4 – 1 9 6 5 (Japan)
128 x 30 minute episodes
Shintaro, Master Swordsman (Koichi Ose), travelled 17th century Japan with his trusted companion Tombei The Mist (Fuyukichi Maki), battling the enemies of the Shogun and the dreaded evil Koga and Fuma Ninjas.
The Shogun had to subdue the warlords of the 73 provinces before he became Shogun, and Shintaro – a solemn-faced hereditary Samurai warrior – moves between the warlords as a spy for the Shogun, and as insurance against provincial uprisings.
The Ninjas are the henchmen of the provincial warlords, many of whom are naturally antagonistic to the Shogun and Shintaro.
All of this takes place amid beautiful rural scenery, exquisite temples, and strange and picturesque villages and shrines.
Produced in Japan between 1962 and 1965 as Onmitsu Kenshi, this series was renamed The Samurai and dubbed (badly) for release in Australia in 1964, where it aired on Channel 9 and rapidly became a major hit.
The sword and knife play was outstanding and the Ninjas were terrific fun to watch, travelling at speed, jumping backwards into trees, hanging upside down by their knees, and throwing star knives at every opportunity.
Children all over Australia leapt about in dressing gowns and other robes made from curtains and sheets, emulating their hero and battling each other with sticks and fake star knives.
In January 1966, at the height of the series’ popularity down-under, Koichi Ose visited Sydney and Melbourne to perform in a series of stage live shows.
The startled actor was totally overwhelmed and bewildered when he stepped from the plane at Sydney Airport to be mobbed by thousands of suitably costumed fans, who screamed with delight and flung star knives about.
He performed to huge crowds – supported by 13 Ninjas – in several live shows based on the TV series, where he displayed his genuine skills with the sword and martial arts.
Soon after his return to Japan, Koichi Ose was offered a lucrative film contract which he accepted and left The Samurai. It was a blow to fans and to the Senkosha Film Company who produced the show.
A new lead actor was brought onboard – Shinichiro Hayashi who became Shinnosuke, the new hero of the show.
Shinnosuke was a Samurai, but also a Ninja. He was also shorter than Shintaro, and with a merrier face, but to Australian viewers, Shinnosuke had exactly the same (dubbed) voice as Shintaro!
Tombei the Mist
Kongo of Koga
Shintaro Akikusa/Shinnosuke (Dubbed voice)
Tombei the Mist (Dubbed voice)
The Man from Edo | Duel at Kiritap | Sword Storm | Revenge of the Ainus | Imitation Prince | Sudden Death | Ambush at Hell Valley | Outlaw Brothers | Blind Swordsman | Pirate Treasure | Master of the Sword | Return of the Outlaw | Code of the Samurai | Secret Treasure | Stolen Face | Track of the Ninja | Deathless One | Unseen Enemy | Danger in the Temple | The Spider | Die Like a Ninja | Double Agent | The Hunter | Mystic Bridge | Star Jumper | The Magic Kite | Secret Mission to Kyoto | Rocket Attack | The Bribe | Betrayed by a Ninja | Spy’s Revenge | Poison Blade | The Face Stealer | Mysterious Pilgrims | Hide and Seek Death | Dogan the Master Ninja | Stolen Case | Wolf Ninja | The Last Duel | Lure of Edo | The Plot | Disappearing Trick | Secret of the Chest | Hidden Leaf Ninja | Flying Robe Ninja | Puppet Ninja | Hawk Ninja | Flying Eagle | Ring of Fire | Ghost Ninja | Tendo the Dragon | The Thirteenth Ninja | Mark of the Fuma | Search for Marishoten | Clue to Wind Thunder | Dragon Ship | Jinnai’s Secret | Fuma Spider Attack | Musai’s Curse | A Brave Death | Trapped by Spider Dojin | Fate of a Ninja | Danger Is the Same Face | Fuma’s Treachery | Secret Cave | Touch of Death | A Trap for Tombei | Taroza the Toad | Secret of the Wind Fort | The Barrier Gate | The Deserter | The Stolen Map | The Water Castle | A Narrow Escape | Return of Kitobo | Saved by a Ninja | Yeheiji the Typhoon | The Fire Tower | The Conspiracy | The Oath of Revenge | Brotherly Hate | Black Shadow | The Trap | Ninja Decoy | Ninja of Death | Living Death | Devil Mask | Bloodthirsty Swords | The Turncoat | The Three Monks | Follow the Leader | Master Ninja | The Book of Death | The Face-Stealer | Promise of Death | Butterfly Spy | House of Night | The Clue | Explosive Gold | Reign of Terror | The Spider | The Spider’s Daughter | Phantom Captive | Lord of Night | Ninja Training | The Puppet Master | Chinese Poison | The Magic Stick | The Impersonator | Kongo’s Revenge | Strings of a Puppet | Spy’s Execution | Bring Me His Head | Deadly Hostages | Cut the Puppet Strings | The Flame of Hate | The Challenge | Hidden Assassin | Return of the Dead | The Pickpockets | The Convert | The Poison Dart | Revenge | The Devil Mask House | The Secret Passage | A Friendly Enemy | Kongo’s Warning | The Duel