Though at the time I saw it I did not know it, this would be called "anime" today. It was in English, and I don't remember if the characters lips matched the audio track. I couldn't have been older than about 3rd grade, so that puts it around 1985ish I believe.
It was released theatrically in the United States, I do not know if it was a limited release. I saw it in Cincinnati, Ohio. No idea what movie theater chain.
The story was rather typical, young man who goes on the hero's journey. Definitely science fiction elements (flying vehicles, maybe spaceships). He comes across or is given a sword hilt without a blade. He learns to use it, and when he does it acts as if the blade is there. At the finale, he has lost the hilt entirely and, thinking that he has lost, almost gives up. But a (voice in his head, his mentor, can't remember what) something tells him to try despite this, and it's as if he has the sword even without the hilt. He then triumphs.
Can anyone identify this movie?