The year is 1580. Using an army of soldiers equipped with sophisticated weaponry, Nobunaga Oda is on the verge of ruling Japan with an iron fist. One of his enforcers is Ginnai Doma - a fallen samurai reborn into an indestructible killing machine. As Ginnai continues his killing spree on ninjas and those who oppose Nobunaga's rule, Shishimaru of the Iga Ninja - going against the Koga Ninja's plans - pursues a one-man vendetta to avenge the deaths of his comrades and kill the immortal warrior.
I like to imagine that every anime ever was started by reefer-fueled brainstorming sessions among the creative staff. In this session, Go Nagai has just finished coughing after a monstrous bong hit, and he's waving his hands around to punctuate his speech:
Uncle Go: "Okay, okay, dude, get this:... Um, like, so back during the Warring States period, like, frickin' Nobunaga contacts aliens to get special technology like mechs an-an shit, and he augments his warriors with cyborg parts and nukes and lasers and stuff. So like, these ninjas go after his most hardcore cyborgs so like... They fight and shit".
Go: "So like, the
main ninja dude looks like Koji Kabuto from Mazinger, down to the sideburns."
Producer: "Christ, dude. I'm puttin' money down for that."
So, back to reality. Remember ninjas? The silent assassins that poison people in their sleep, and wear costumes to sneak into enemy fortresses? You know, those cherished fake ninja stock characters? Black Lion has some of the best fake ninjas this side of a Scroll, and they come in spades. No "kah-ghey busshy no jootsues" or goofy furry transformations for these guys. They cut people in half, throw explosives, punch people's heads off, run really fast, and burn marijuana to confuse their enemies... in homage to the brainstorming sessions that created them.
There is no real plot. Sure, Koji- um, the main character wants REVENGE for the death of his clan by the machines, there are aliens, and it plays out sort of like Predator/Terminator (heh) but why do you care? Limbs are severed, the ground is soaked in blood, and heads fly off; it's really cool stuff. You don't need to know anything else, really. The film's strength relies in how ridiculous the whole ordeal is. Hell, it could have been called "Ninja Koji Kabuto Versus the Cyborg Samurai from Space", like all of those so-bad-it's-awesome Go Nagai crossover movies, and it wouldn't detract from the spectacle at all.
Now, the movie's real claim to fame is the copious amount of organ meat spilled and thrown around. This OVA is only 44 minutes long, but they on't spare any time at all: the first FIVE minutes has enough violence to desensitize a small colony of hippie children and Baptist ministers.
I feel like watching it again to count all of the decapitations and bisections that happen (I did. I lost count.). There are so many...inventive ways that some of the characters meet their ends that it deserves a graduate thesis. The fights are fast, brutal, and effing INTENSE. Brains gush out. Ninjas are trampled by tanks. Ninjas dash in a blur of sketchy lines over brush and reeds and rocks in high-pitched battles with absolutely no mercy.
It's a symphony of blood and guts and eyeballs and whirling intestines and fecal matter that takes off like a rocket from the first headstab and climaxes in the most royally epic bisection of all time. In other words, it's really awesome.
Now, after re-watching this with the ENGLISH DUB, and actually being able to pay attention this time, I have to say that this is one of the most profoundly awesome OVAs of all time.
No, seriously. The dubbed dialog is pretty badly-written and acted, despite some good voices. However, it just adds another layer of crunchy ridiculousness to the whole shebang. I can't help but love anything that insists on using the verb form of REVENGE at the most awkward moments.
There are also several whiplash-inducing "whut" moments near the end, and some unfulfilled sequel potential that needs to be addressed.
Whoa. I was so drained for man-freaking over the final battle that I completely glossed this over.
Come on, Dynamic Pro guys. Make this happen.
Black Lion is pretty, pretty ridiculous, has tons of gore and ninjas that don't spend half of the movie weeping about their TRAGIC PAST. I'd say it's worth a download.
Ladies and Gentleman...It's GO Time! It's only February, but Go Nagai's Devilman Crybaby with Yuasa at the helm looks unbeatable in its quest for Animu of the Year. As far as MAL is concerned, the only anime in its way is the New Galactic Heroes, which is highly condensed and being directed by a guy known only for Koroko no Basket. Basically, Yuasa is just going to easily cruise to victory again like a heavyweight boxer fighting against small children. However, we aren't here to talk about anime Alan Moore. Even though I think Yuasa, like Moore should be given his own category like "Graphic
Novels" to separate him from mere Comic Books.
Nope, today we once again are discussing Uncle Go! Black Lion bares all the hallmarks of a Nagai anime. It's crazier than a rabid, shithouse rat. It's fucking retarded. Most importantly, it is GLORIOUSLY hilarious and entertaining for every single second.
Plot and characters:
The plot is that Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga was actually an evil space alien and conquered Japan using laser guns and robots. This minor detail was somehow lost to history. The main antagonist is a samurai whose family was killed by ninjas. Alien scientists transformed him into a cyborg and gave him the order to exterminate all ninjas! Our heroes are a group of Ninja, who are fighting against Nobunaga and must figure out how to kill this unstoppable cyborg. The main male ninja is named Shishimaru and judging from his Wolverine sideburns, he is likely the ancestor of Devil-man/Violence Jack. When Shishimaru's girlfriend is killed by the cyborg samurai, he happens to find her twin sister and plans revenge! They set the samurai on fire, poison him, use explosives, and stab him dozens of times, but NOTHING will put this dude down. Eventually, they use dynamite to cause a rock slide and this somehow overloads his nuclear reactor. Cyborg Samurai goes BOOM, but our heroes are saved by a rival alien civilization that opposes the one Nobunaga is from. The anime ends with our ninja hero smiling up at a giant spaceship.
The soundtrack is really nothing special and the English voice acting is...questionable. This was one of ADV's first licenses and they used the same crew as for Ninja Resurrection, and the infamous Tekken Movie. You can instead watch it in Japanese and laugh hard at the fact the cyborg samurai is clearly voiced by the Narrator from Galactic Heroes. Imperial Date: time to kill all Ninja!!!
The animation is brought to you by Nippon Columbia, whom you might recall for their outstanding work on that seminal classic, MD Geist. While the motion and smoothness might be sub-par, at least there is TONS of gore. Cyborg samurai likes to squeeze heads until the eyes pop out and they explode.
This is 45 minutes of sheer, enjoyable schlock. This perfectly encapsulates that trashy, late 80s, vintage MANime that I love so much. This anime also has a special place in the hearts of American anime collectors, because ADV used the villain as their mascot. He appears at the beginning of basically EVERY ADV anime and yells at you to get the ADV Anime Network. Yes, I want to pay 10 dollars a month to a defunct Dub company to watch all 4 seasons of Ikki Tousen! Thanks ADV! God bless Go Nagai and God bless this awesomely terrible anime!
Style of animation is like Puppet Princess or even Ninja Scroll. Pretty good story with decent violence and graphic gore. Nothing too outstanding, but I feel Puppet Princess was better. Rewatchability is high because of it's short runtime.
1580's Japan with a futuristic twist. I found the action of the movie to be enjoyable, yet the characters and the story line development was mediocre. There was not much explanation to the circumstances surrounding the characters and the technology. There was a "greater evil" that was discussed but never encountered by the main characters. I feel as though the story was rushed for the length of the movie, or the intent was to have a continuation after this movie.
Overall I enjoyed the movie, but really expected more out of it. I watched the English dubbed version and the dialogue to be