Yōtōden (戦国奇譚妖刀伝 Sengoku Kidan Yōtōden?, lit. "Warring States Tale -- Legend of the Enchanted Swords") is 1987 a Japanese historical fantasy direct-to-video anime series created by J.C.Staff, based on a novel by Takeshi Narumi. In 1989, Yotoden was re-edited into the feature film and a manga version was created as well.
The series was released in three episodes from 1987 to 1988. The OVA series was released in the United Kingdom on VHS by ADV Films in 2002 and has been available for digital download via Direct2Drive. In 2006 the series was also released on DVD by U.S. Manga Corps under the title Wrath of Ninja - The Complete Yotoden Saga.
The story takes place during Japan's Sengoku period, at the time of Oda Nobunaga's rule. In the anime, Nobunaga is a demon warlord killing everyone who stand in his way. A legend says three mystical weapons from three different ninja clans can end Nobunaga's unholy campaign. The story follows Kasumi no Ayanosuke, a young kunoichi who escaped her village's destruction, in an effort to reunite the enchanted weapons.
- Ayanosuke (Ayame) Hayami (voiced by Keiko Toda) - The sole survivor of Kasumi village, which was burnt down in an attack by a huge three-headed demon monster. Ayame (she transformed the feminine name "Ayame" into "Ayanosuke" after her village was destroyed) is a strong fighter, but gets emotional at times. She wields the Short Sword of Sorcery.
- Sakon Hayate (voiced by Kazuhiko Inoue) - The sole survivor of Hyuga village, which was also destroyed by Nobunaga. Sakon is calm and puts on a facade of coolheadedness, but when he abandons Ayame and Ryoma to fight the battle between Iga and Nobunaga's army, he is raging with inner turmoil at his decision. Later, he develops a love for Ayame. He wields the Sword of Sorcery.
- Ryoma Kogure (voiced by Takeshi Watabe) - A headstrong ninja who has a good sense of right and wrong. He witnesses his father death's during the invasion of Hagakure-no-Sato, as well as the death of his sister, who is killed by Jinnai Saegusa, one of the seven Oboro Ninja. Ryoma is also forced to kill Kayo Momochi, whom he has developed a crush on. He wields the Spear of Sorcery.
- Kikyo Kogure (voiced by Mika Takenaka) - Ryoma's younger sister who died in Ayame's arms. Before her death, Kikyo befriended Ayame and tried to comfort her when she was upset and reminiscing about her tragic past. She is killed by Jinnai Saegusa when she took four finger darts meant for Ayame.
- Lord Tanba Momochi (voiced by Tomomichi Nishimura) - Kayo's older brother, and leads the Iga ninja into the war. He tries to kill his sister when her body is possessed by the Masago.
- Shinosuke Hayami (voiced by Kei Tomiyama) - Ayame's brother who was killed in the attack on Kasumi; he was the one who gave Ayame the Short Sword of Sorcery. Since his and Kikyo's death, Ayame vows to destroy the three-headed demon who killed her brother and her friends.
- Nobunaga Oda (voiced by Kazuki Yao) - The adversary of the main characters. He used to be a ruler of a small region of Owari, until, as it is revealed during the showdown between Mori Ranmaru and Ayame in the final part of the OVA series ("Flames of Anger"), Ranmaru gave him control of the Host of Oboro and the power of the "black demon god" to conquer whole Japan. Nobunaga commands the host of Oboro and the three-headed monster, but unknowingly to him he is in turn himself controlled by Ranmaru. In the anime, Oda didn't die at Honnō-ji, where Ayane and Sakon kill only his and Ranmaru's body-doubles. At the end he becomes the "black demon god", but is killed by the combined efforts of Ayame, Sakon and Ryoma, and their respective enchanted weapons.
- Ranmaru Mori (voiced by Kaneto Shiozawa) - In the anime, Ranmaru is a powerful demon who has descended upon the earth 500 years before the plot in a meteor along with the Host of Oboro. Thinking he will gain ultimate power, Oda follows all of the advice Ranmaru gives him, tricking Nobunaga into allowing him to rule the Earth. Ranmaru is the one who foretold the prophecy (Yōtōden) and gave the three ninja villages the enchanted weapons in the first place. He attempts to open the gate to the underworld, but is destroyed by the combined efforts of Ayame, Sakon and Ryoma.
- Jinnai Saegusa (voiced by Norio Wakamoto) - Jinnai is the first Oboro ninja to appear in the anime. He comes back later at Hagakure-no-Sato and attempts to kill Ayame, but fails and accidentally ends up killing Kikyo instead. He is then killed by Ayame.
- Masago "The Silk Spinner" (voiced by Reizô Nomoto) - Masago possesses Kayo and causes her to kill her own comrades at Iga; he also powerful ability is to cause the instantaneous explosion of enemies heads, as well as transformation into a monster. He is killed by Ryoma.
- Kagami - Kagami, child-like in appearance, has the ability to reanimate dead corpses as undead warriors. She makes an attempt to kill Ryoma, but fails and meets her death at his hands.
- Kiheiji "The Quiet Doom" (voiced by Shōzō Iizuka) - Khiheji is extremely quick fighter and this makes him a tough adversary for Ayame and Sakon. He is eventually killed by Sakon.
- Genzo "The Harpist" (voiced by Ritsuo Sawa) - Genzo uses genjutsu (illusion magic) against his foes. He is killed by Ayame in the movie, but is killed by Sakon in the OVA.
- Ryoan (voiced by Eken Mine) - A Buddhist monk who didn't know he was Oboro, and is actually helpful to Ayame, Sakon and Ryoma and guides them throughout the story. He dies when he is impaled by a piece of wood and killed by Ranmaru.
- Kayo Momochi (voiced by Tomomichi Nishimura) - A female ninja who Ryoma has an unrequited love for. Kayo is possibly the most tragic character in the story. Her body is possessed by Masago, one of the seven Oboro ninja, turning her against her comrades and this forces Ryoma to kill her.
English voice cast
- Rose Markisello as Ayame
- David Hayter as Sakon
- Peter Patrikios as Ryoma
- Bruce Winant as Jinnai
- Flavio Romeo as Nobunaga
- Frank Frankson as Jinpei
- Greg Wolfe as Genyusai
- Jack Taylor as Ryoan
- Nick Sullivan as Kiheiji
- Shannon Conley as Kayo
- Sharon Becker as Kikyo
- Vinnie Penna as Ranmaru
A compilation movie, from screenplay by Shou Aikawa, was cut together by MTV Japan on May 27, 1989. This version is 45 minutes shorter than the OVA series. It has been released in the United States by U.S. Manga Corps on VHS in 1998 and on DVD in 1999 and again in 2003, under the title Wrath of the Ninja: The Yotoden Movie.
Yōtōden manga was published after the anime and ran for a year (September 1989 - September 1990) in the Japanese magazine Newtype. The manga differs from the anime in some significant ways, but the main characters remain the same.