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.
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.
before i start this review i want to thank bobsamurai for his youtube video about this OVA without it i wouldn't get the chance to watch this hidden gem.
the creator of this is GO NAGAI so you should know what to expect from this anime,it is not meant to be philosophical or deep or thought provoking ,it is just a non stop action movie about ninjas , invincible robots and a mysterious alien power that work in the shadows ,yes robots and ninjas the story is one of the craziest i've seen in anime ,robots slaughtering ninjas by dozens in feudal japan,oda nobunaga
is possessed by an alien force that give him all the meanings he needs to annihilate his opponents,it is a blend of science fiction and historical fiction,it sounds crazy but it works,all of these are background for the main story which is a manhunt that turns wrong and the hunter became the prey ,to simplify it imagine if the terminator was sent to feudal japan instead of 1980's US and suffered from an error in his program that make him view every ninja as sarah conor.
the characters aren't all that special you have the hot headed cocky teenager who thinks he is too cool for school and ends up failing miserably ,we have the ninja girl which was obnoxious towards the main hero at the beginning then she develops some feelings towards him by the end, the most memorable was ganai he is a non-stoppable killing machine ,each time they think he is killed he come again, he remind me of alucard from hellsing,or t800 from the first terminator movie, he is just too ruthless and powerfull to the point his opponts feel completely helpless after all their failing attempts to kill him,oh and the guy also has a backstory that explain his origin and motivation.
the animation is bad it isn't fluid or good at all but somehow they managed to have some good fighting scenes,the gore and violence will make for the lack of animation quality along with the terminator feeling throught the ova.
the character design is an old school style ,bushy and thick eyeborrows ,no androgynous male character,beautiful female design,i like it.
there is nothing great to mention about the soundtrack.
overall it was quite an enjoyable experience,if you like ninjas, feudal japan, crazy science fiction elements and don't mind gore and violence or you are just an old school anime fan then you will enjoy this.
i recommend this for people who enjoy ninja scroll,hellsing ultimate and the terminator.
A 1990s OVA full of ninjas, over the top violence and set in feudal Japan? I’m sure plenty of people think they’ve seen the same set up plenty of times but trust me, Black Lion is very much its own beast. Within the first minute you know you’re in for something very different as the future collides with the traditional setting with enough blood splattered across the screen for even the most diehard fan of this sort of OVA to be suitably impressed, from there on out Black Lion grabs hold of your eyes and takes you on a 45 minute thrill ride without ever
Without wanting to spoil the plot to any great degree it is in short a vengeance tale as one young Ninja sets out to avenge the deaths of his clan at the hands of a supposedly immortal Ninja slaying swordsman all of which is set against a delightfully twisted depiction of feudal Japan where one side has access to futuristic weaponry which has no place in the time period. It is absolutely as ludicrous as it sounds and while there is some exposition of what is going on during the story there is no real in depth rational or character development offered. While that might sound like a bad thing it actually isn’t, Black Lion wears its heart very much on its sleeve and due to the relatively short running time the frankly surreal set up never out stays its welcome and that is one of the great strengths of Black Lion, it knows exactly what it wants to do and carries it off exceptionally.
The artwork works very well with a decent level of detail added throughout the environments and it comes together to provide a lovely aesthetic whether it is the futuristic or the period environments on screen. It is to Black Lions credit that despite it being a fairly low budget affair the visuals are still very enjoyable today and compare quite favourably with for example Ninja Scroll. The sound design again is good, not outstanding by any means but when something gets hacked off the feedback gets the point across. As for your viewing options the English dub is terrible as to be expected with almost any OVA of this vintage however it is fairly simple to find a subbed version of Black Lion and this is definitely the recommended way to watch unless you simply hate subbed anime.
In summary therefore Black Lion is an utterly bonkers piece of work but if you just want to sit back, switch your brain off and watch something that will take you and a crazy, exhilarating and visceral journey then I can’t recommend it highly enough. It must be said that if you do not like violent anime then this is certainly not one for you!