A peak achievement of Japanese anime, Ninja Scroll is a propulsive mix of samurai action adventure and supernatural fantasy from writer-director Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Supernatural Best City). This is defiantly animation for g... more »rown-ups, complete with fountains of blood, plenty of naked flesh, and (in both the subtitled and dubbed versions) some decidedly strong language. (Students of Japanese language could pick up some useful expressions.) The plot sounds like a 16th century variation on the X-Files: An entire village has been wiped out by a mysterious plague and an anti-government conspiracy of invulnerable demons seems to be responsible. A wandering ninja, Jubei, and his female counterpart, Kagero, team up to defeat the plotters. Jubei is a classic reluctant hero, agreeing to participate in the mission only after being fed a slow-acting poison; the antidote will be supplied after he cooperates. And Kagero, a looker whose embrace is lethal, is a femme fatale with a difference that seems distinctively Japanese: sexual contact itself is poisonous, especially for a warrior with a pure soul. --David Chute« less
"Ninja Scroll is an excellent work of anime and cannot be praised too highly, but the new 10th Anniversary DVD edition only offers only a false widescreen - they have merely cut off the top and bottom of the view to give the appearance of widescreen. The DTS sound is not any fuller or crisper than the original fullscreen DVD, merely converted to DTS format. In short, this DVD is not worth upgrading to, and the fullscreen side is the only one worth watching. Save your money if you hope to improve on the original DVD's quality - the new anniversary DVD is actually an insult."
Breaking the Samurai Code
Marc Ruby? | Warren, MI USA | 12/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One tradition of Japanese manga and anime is based on the legends of Yagyu Jubei Mitsuyoshi, who was a very real swordsman serving the Tokugawa Shogunate at the beginning of the 17th century. Jubei was known for wandering Japan, sometimes as a spy for the Shogun, and righting injustices with displays of his extraordinary swordsmanship. Kind of a Japanese Knight of the Roundtable.In 'Ninja Scroll', this part is played by Jubei Kibagami, an itinerant ninja. He is drawn into clan politics when he comes to the aid of Kagero, a female ninja in service to the Yamashiro clan. To save Kagero, Jubei must successfully challenge Tessai, an evil ninja (one of the Eight Devils of Kimon) with the ability to turn his skin into stone, and the strength to chop walls down. Jubei succeeds, but Tessai swears vengeance, leaving Jubei deeply entangled in a struggle with the Shogun of the Dark. The third player in this contest is Dakuan, the Shoguns spy. He is a deadly old man who recruits Jubei by giving him a poison that will kill him in a day and a night. Dakuan informs Jubei that Himuro Gemma, an old enemy that Jubei was sure was dead, was still alive, and, in the company of the Devils, was at the center of the plotting. Jubei, Dakuan, and Kagero must defeat the evil ninjas and discover the purpose behind the killing of an entire village.Kagero is a poison taster, and, as a result, is permeated with deadly toxins. She can never take a lover, because even her kiss would kill. At this point in Japanese history such a woman was an outcaste, having little value in the eyes of her society. Jubei shatters her world when he insists on treating her as an honorable human being, creating a strong emotional tension that plays against the simple samurai action of the main plot.Production qualities of the film are beautiful, echoing traditional Japanese art forms with a fine sensibility. Line and color are strong. Violence, of course, is present, but is tightly controlled, not dwelt upon. This is one of the best and most representative films of the more conservative Japanese traditions of anime. Worth seeing for its historical status as well as for its outstanding artistic values."
A story of epic proportions
email@example.com | Chicago, IL | 12/05/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First, regarding its name: a more accurate translation from the original Japanese would be "The Chronicles of Ninja Jubei."Second, regarding the "misogynism" in the film: While I understand how it might be interpreted that way, that's not quite true. Kagero is a fascinating character due to the tragedy of her curse. She plays a pivotal role in the story, but most importantly, the ultimate point of the love subplot is that Jubei's sense of honor is so strong and his heart is so pure that he will not use her as just a weapon or an object of lust, the way everyone else has used her. Even at the cost of his life (you will understand when you see it). That's what makes it such a powerful story.This movie isn't for everyone, but it's an incredible film. It's extremely intense, so sensitive viewers should beware. The animation is beautiful; the action is intense and intelligently choreographed, not mindless and brutal; the plot is highly intricate and very well written.The best anime that I've ever seen, period."
Decidely My Favorite Film
The-Bus | Delaware | 12/15/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As far as relatively empty, popcorn action anime is concerned, you always leave the theater (or your living room) rather disappointed. Yes, there's huge robots, or ninjas, or whatnot, but unless you are a (big) fan of the genre, not every anime movie is really that watchable.Enter Ninja Scroll.While sidestepping the usual tenets of anime that every film must have robots or cute schoolgirls, it still deals with something fairly Japanase: the Ninja. And while I'm sure profound dramas exits about how difficult it is to lead the life of a ninja and what not, 'Ninja Scroll' is not one of these movies.Playing out like a video game, 'Ninja Scroll' establishes its introduction (let's call them 'cut scenes') and within a few minutes brings you into the storyline, which goes like this: Jubei, our hero and protagonist, must fight a menagerie of bad guys, all with cool powers. One has a weapon that splits opponents in half, another houses a beehive in his back, yet another can transport himself through shadows.Sounds cool, eh? The animation and pacing live up to their name... Ninja Scroll has the possibility of ruining all other anime for you...Granted, it's not as extensive as 'Neon Genesis Evangelion' (apparently the apex of anime) or 'Perfect Blue' (another good film from this year), but it is damn good nonetheless and a fine first DVD for anyone interested in the genre.For kids? There's plenty of gore and blood, and a heap of oversexual content (including a rape scene)... Wouldn't recommend it for anyone under 13 or younger."
Very good and very mature.
aurapsi | Arlington, Virginia | 02/05/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ninja Scroll is pretty much the stereotypical fantasy anime movie. Over the top gore, over the top sex and perversion and over the top demons and monsters. But does that mean the movie is bad? No, it just means that you should probably keep the kids away from this one.The first thing to realize about Ninja Scroll is that it really is not for the squeamish. Throughout the movie there are gallons of blood, limbs, bodies, a rape scene and also a scene with a snake and a woman (actually, there are tons of snakes but there is one in particular that will probably surprise you at least a little). There really isn't any time when there isn't either nudity or death after the first few minutes in the movie.If you can stomach the violence and perversition you will find a well animated movie with a good, if standard, plot. The animation is very well done and the action sequences (and there are a lot) are easy enough to follow. While I thought some of the character designs were fairly annoying (especially the snake lady's face), they are animated well and individual enough to be able to identify each character with no problem (even those that you see only twice throughout the movie). The plot itself is fairly stock, but it works well in the context. A wandering swordsman is recruited by an old man to fight eight demons as well as a man that swordsman thought he had slain years ago. The two are also joined by a woman swordsman whose body is too toxic to for any intimate contact (though that is by no means a deterent of her getting naked a few times). After the characters are introduced it basically becomes one long drawn out fight with the plot trudging along in the background.The music in this film is pretty good. Maybe not something you would rush out to buy on a CD later, but it moves the movie along well enough and contributes to the action. The sound fx fit very well and seem to work well with the action on the screen.In the end I would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys a good samurai flick or to anyone who likes tons of bloodletting. Again, though, keep it away from the youngins."