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Ninja Scroll
Copyright: © 1993 Kawajiri / Madhouse / JVC / Toho Co. Ltd., © 1995 Manga Video
Genre: samurai action
Length: 94 minutes
Rating: NR, Recommended for Mature Audiences
Format: Original Japanese Dialog, Subtitled (VHS/LD), English Dubbed (VHS), Spanish Dubbed (VHS)
Screenplay / Director: Kawajiri Yoshiaki
Recommended for Mature Audiences - Violence, adult language and explicit sexual content. Definitely not for children.
Feudal Japan. The entire population of a small village is wiped out by a mysterious plague. A team of ninja are sent to investigate, but they are ambushed by a monster who can turn his body into solid rock. The only survivor is the beautiful and equally deadly Kagero, the lone female ninja of the group. She is captured, and her situation seems desperate. But she is saved by Jubei, a ronin -- masterless samurai and mercenary. They part, but fate brings them together again to fight a plan which aims at overthrowing the current goverment. Manipulated by a mysterious master of the arts of stealth, they are forced to work together to fight their common enemy... and to survive.
Ninja Scroll is considered to be the yardstick by which all other sword-fighting action anime is measured. You often hear expressions like " the best sword-fighting anime since Ninja Scroll" but I think that it's still unmatched. There are few anime capable of combining the great story, action, character desing and animation of Ninja Scroll. To my mind, Jubei is one of the coolest characters I have ever seen. Case in point: in the first scene of the movie, he is ambushed by three warriors. In an incredible display of finesse and skill, he throws the rice ball in the air, draws his sword, and dispatches his enemies... and plucks the rice ball out of the air before it has a chance to touch the ground. Kagero, the lone survivor of the expeditionary ninja team, is case study in tragedy figures. A woman longing for love, but always unfulfilled. The animation is very good and the fights are fast paced and well choreographed. Jubei's fight against the blind swordsman in the bamboo forest is simply awesome. What I liked very much is the story. It is certainly not a masterpiece, but its very good and, to a certain degree, realistic. Most action anime released of late are based on the idea that the more people are hacked into pieces, the more popular the anime will be. While Ninja Scroll certainly has more than its share of violence, it still has a noteworthy story.
I was really disappointed by the music featured in Ninja Scroll. There are only two or three themes in the whole movie, and they are not even very good. While I didn't expected much in that category, I still wish they would have paid more attention to it. If you have seen Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, you know how much good music can contribute to an anime.
- GS, 98.10.12