The year a comet races across the sky, splitting the heavens, from the depths of the Earth the dark god shall arise once again. Then, the dark evil lurking in the shadows shall come out of the depths of Hell and show itself in the present world. The emotions of the blade of the wind shall collect at the source of the blue light. And the three blades shall become one, vanquishing evil.
The year is 1580, and the unholy armies of Lord Nobunaga Oda steadily spread across Japan. Narrowly escaping the slaughter of her clan, a young ninja steals into the shadows. She is Ayame, the last of the Kasumi clan, and the dagger she wields is one of three, mystical blades. She is joined by Sakon and Ryoma, renegade ninja and the possessors of the sacred sword and spear. Now, these shadow warriors must unite their weapons and skills to fulfill `The Prophesy of the Enchanted Swords` or die trying...
Wrath of the Ninja is the 87 minute condensed version of the original three episode OVA Wrath of the Ninja: The Yotoden Saga, which ran for 138 minutes. Unlike other anime films that have been sliced and diced from series into movie format; Wrath of the Ninja is pretty coherent and really doesn't feel as rushed as some claim it to be. The anime does manage to tie up its major plot elements leaving nothing left open. In all honesty though, someone whom has never seen the original OVA probably won't even notice much of a difference.
Wrath of the Ninja is an action packed fantasy
with horror elements that not only features battles between man, but also against grotesque demons that will be seen feasting on human corpses. To include, one character raises the dead which is made up of headless and torn up bodies to do battle. The anime pulls very little punches with its violence and dark tone. I enjoyed the dark atmosphere in several segments. It's also a plus that the anime does not at all contain comedic moments to lighten up the mood. This one element actually harms many titles, and sometimes can make it difficult for me to take serious what I'm watching.
Wrath of the Ninja has a pretty straight forward story and plot utilizing the good vs. evil theme, along with old legends bringing together a small group fighting for peace or revenge. The anime does kind of lack in character development though. The three main characters Ayanosuke, Sakon, and Ryoma are well developed for the most part, and I also enjoy how some of the character development isn't completely spoon-fed. I don't prefer my stories or characters motives to be spelled out for me at every turn. However, the villains seem to suffer from the same issues the villains in Ninja Scroll suffer from, which is the complete lack of diversity. They're all completely one dimensional stock bad guys. The secondary cast are very poorly done, and several of them die dramatic deaths. I can't imagine any viewer truly growing a liking to any of them, much less caring about their fates. Believe it or not despite the longer length, the OVA makes this exact same mistake.
The animation is pretty good and doesn't have much of a dated feel. The backgrounds are well lit when called for, such as during the burning of towns and villages, and the darkness seemed to fit comfortably when necessary. The action scenes can also be pretty good with a few hand to hand and sword exchanges. There's a real good amount of gore and graphic deaths, such as characters being shot to death with muskets, and heads exploding in very graphic detail. However, there were numerous shortcuts taken with reused cels and stills on static backgrounds.
I thought the artwork was well done with nice traditional character designs, along with the freakish designs for some of the monsters. There's also a small bit of nudity that is actually within reason. Although I can't say it was great or memorable, the soundtrack did its job by enhancing the viewing experience for me.
The voice acting is a mixed bag here. Normally, I prefer to watch dubs but the English version has several annoying voice actors, and this goes for the villains as well. Although the voices did fit well with the characters overall appearance. I felt some of them went a little over board trying to be evil and the performances felt too forced, but the main character was notably awful. The sub doesn't make this mistake though, and the Japanese seiyuu felt a lot more natural with some of the villains having a menacing feel to them. When compared to the three episode OVA, the story really isn't as engrossing because it feels too by the numbers. The OVA takes a lot more time actually telling a story, and it utilizes a narration covering moments of the war, and the viewer can have a better understanding of at least one of the ninja clans dire situation.
Overall, Wrath of the Ninja is a decent movie but I only recommend picking up the two disk version. The movie on its own is not something I would consider to be a must see, in fact I don't consider the OVA to be a must see either, especially for the casual anime fan. I would only recommend this to the most serious otakus.
Highs: Action, good Japanese cast
Lows: Secondary characters, movie is weaker than OVA
A real mess. I have a vague understanding of what the main plot is, and when the story thinks it's ok to throw a twist in at the end without solidifying what the primary conflict is, you know that I'm sitting here going, "I have no idea what's happening."
Characters have unknown connections that are so important that they react adversely to their deaths, decisions are made that don't make a lick of sense in regards to the potential canon (I say potential because I don't know a single law about this world), and things just happen because "oh right, we're at war."
Tropes take place that
have no value other than being tropes. Most notably, whenever someone dies, someone else says something profound in regards to their life, but since we never are shown anything about anyone, or anything related to character development, the whole thing is a ton of schlock.
I will give credit where credit is due. There are some tropes that had potential to be of real interest. A narrative shouldn't be reliant on tropes, but effectively use tropes in ways that haven't been experienced before. This is difficult, and it's the reason not everyone is a writer. To that end, this narrative is one such story written by someone who, quite literally, merely had the resources to produce his poor narrative.
No, I am aware of this film being a condensed version of a 3 part OVA, and that could be the cause of so many events that lack any value, but that doesn't disregard the issues that this film still holds.
Animation is fairly decent, but some scenes are incredibly dark, a few animations are repeated, and for some ungodly reason, instead of showing us the combat in a fluid format, we're treated to a lot of black background/slash animation cuts. They are kind of neat at first, but since they're shown over and over and over and over, it grows tiresome and I wonder if it's used for nothing other than laziness.
Settings all look the same and there's nothing to define one location from the next. Body proportions are a mess in the early section of the film.
Some of the songs are ridiculously dumb, one of the songs were really cool, and the sound effects themselves sounded fine. With monsters, I would have enjoyed hearing unique sound effects, but it would have been neat to hear something humbling or terrifying when the demons were in frame. A missed opportunity, that's for sure.
Oh man, it's just terrible. There's nothing here, nothing makes sense, and people just do stuff because reasons. Only one character has any real resolve in this narrative and even then, the way we learn it is so poorly executed, and the way it's used as the story moves forward is just pure crap. Holy cow.
The animation was kinda neat, the ideas thrown around during the film were so-so, but the execution of the entire product made for one giant mistake. I wasn't bored the entire time, but somewhere along the last quarter I found myself checking out. At that point, things happened that made no sense to me. I didn't really know why anyone was doing anything at that point. I was just confused. A real mess of a film if I've ever seen one.
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Since Channel Awesome will be reviewing this "classic" in the next few days, I decided to beat them to the punch and review it first! Time to look at the 1980s OVA "Wrath of the Ninja", yet another terrible ninja anime that Central Park Media adapted in the 1990s to cash in on Ninja Scroll's popularity after its cult hit success of 1993.
Wrath of the Ninja is an absurd historical fiction in which the Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga who ended Japan's feudal period and reunited the country, was actually an evil demon using dark sorcery to slaughter all that oppose him. The only way to
stop the Demon Lord Nobunaga and his demon army? Ninjas of course! This would be like the United States making a movie in which George Washington was a demon and he must be stopped from forming the US by a team of stereotypical Hollywood Cowboys! Many poorly animated, ridiculous fight scenes ensue!
This is a Central Park Media production, so you KNOW the voice acting is going to be special. I haven't seen a combination of hammy, bad voice acting and ninjas like this since I last played Tenchu for PS1! This HORRIBLE voice acting is one of the highlights of this OVA, because it brings it into the territory of laughably, enjoyably terrible. The only part of this anime that actually IS legitimately decent is the soundtrack. For some reason, even the worst OVAs in the 1990s and 80s often had surprisingly decent soundtracks. The Geist Soundtrack was written by the same composer who created DBZ's famous opening Head Cha La!
Wrath of the Ninja is cheesy, nostalgic, and enjoyably bad. Don't expect an artistic masterpiece and don't take it too seriously! Just sit back and enjoy the ludicrous bullshit!
I feel compelled to write this review because of the previous dislike review.
--Personal Back story--
As a young girl I grew up watching all the shows my eldest brothers enjoyed and brought home. One day my eldest brother Ira brought this movie home. Ira's favorite movies at that time included Ninja Scroll and many more action packed films. As a female finding a movie that is compelled to have a womanlike lead with sentiments and has influence you could only guess this movie appeal to me most.
--Personal Back story over--
First, the soundtrack to this film is phenomenon! Moving past that
you get a standard film in regards to a female lead with two male acquaintances. Each character shows signs of unpleasant back-story that manifest in various means. Regardless of what the others have stated previously, this film is a classic in its own rights and should be held to delicate regards.
All characters appear to come from strong family tides, which is to be expected in such genre. With all their villages destroyed the three main characters must work together to destroy their enemy. With the falsehood that occurs throughout this film one could only ask, “What will happen next?” Many will be lead astray and some where just plain outright selfish!
Of course with all this tension, one could only guess that sexual tension would transpire too. All three main characters must follow a similar fate, but in the end this movie shows friendship and compassion. I watched this this film when I was ten to eleven years old and I still love it today. I learned the Japanese song, "Not Up To/Red Nails" and used to sing it on my walk to school as a child. In closing, this is one of those older anime movies you enjoy for the story, action and music.
Favorite Character: Ranmaru, Mori
Favorite Track from 1st OST: Track 12: Stirrings of Legend
Favorite Track from 2nd OST- Track 4: Bloody Fight Staying Behind