Jubei Kibagami wanders feudal Japan as an itinerant swordsman-for-hire. After a past betrayal left him masterless, he has no more patience for warring political factions and their schemes. Unfortunately, both past and political intrigue collide when he meets and saves a female ninja named Kagero from a man with the ability to make his body as hard as stone.
The sole survivor of a ninja clan, Kagero continues her team's last mission: investigate a mysterious plague that wiped out an entire village. Jubei wants nothing to do with this, but the stone-like man's allies, a group of ninja with supernatural powers known as the Devils of Kimon, make that option difficult. To make matters worse, a government spy poisons Jubei, promising him an antidote if he can unravel the true intentions of the Devils of Kimon and their connection to the plague. The trail leads to shadow leaders, a plot to overthrow the government, and a man that Jubei thought he would never see again.
Ah Ninja Scroll, the epitome of everything a ninja anime needs and tries...and fails to be. My friend and I saw this at our local Blockbuster and he had heard of it from a coworker who said "WATCH THIS MOVIE!" Now generally when I get recommendations from my friends I don't enjoy them all too much but Ninja Scroll was and is possibly one of my favourite films.
Story: Ninja Scroll in a very realistic sense is an anime B-movie. So the story was pretty heinous. Essentially the entire plot can be seen as a device to switch setting and to move to the next fight scene. However the story itself (if you're actually paying attention) isn't all too bad. There were some interesting little character developments and a couple neat twists and turns. It gets slightly weird towards the end and the actual ending itself was a little lacking. But the forte of the anime is the action scenes. Almost all of them were brilliant, I say almost all because frankly I wanted to see a couple stretched out a little longer. Each enemy that Jubei faces is different and even though it's pretty clear that he can't be beaten it's interesting to see him face some of the tougher opponenets.
Art: The art completely and perfectly suits the feel of the anime. The art isn't good, it isn't bright or colourful....it's mediocre. But the movie wouldn't feel right without the style of art that's used. Granted there were 2-3 moments where I was forced to turn on the lights because I felt like I was going to have a seizure. Most of the screen flashed red and black really quickly and I quickly averted my eyes. But that's my only qualm about the art.
Sound: Cheesy, oldschool....perfect for the movie.
Character: Jubeii is....the best and most powerful swordsman ever. Well, maybe not ever, but he's still pretty amazing and he has a good heart. All the characters are pretty one dimensional are never developed. You get a couple "reveal" moments, but they're a little bit boring as well. About the only noteworthy character is Kagero. I felt really sorry for her during pretty much the entire movie. However the interactions and "development" of characters is meaningless to the film. The film is about action and fighting so, for me at least, it's understandable that the characters are pretty flat.
Enjoyment: I love Ninja Scroll. It's a seriously fun ride. There's nothing deep about it, there's no meaning to it....the film is about action and that's exactly what it delivers. The movie is also quite gory and has a lot of nudity in it. There's also a really hilarious sex-scene...well...it was at least funny to me. There's also rape...so if you're offended by that you probably should steer clear.
If you enjoy Ninja Scroll, which I can only hope you do, you should definitely check out Wicked City, which is from the same director and in many respects is practically the same film.read more
This was the very first anime film I ever saw. This takes me back to a time before even pokemon was in the US. Although a lot of people today will say that the art isn't that good. Or that the character development is terrible etc. etc. Those are also the people that have only been watching anime since it became popular in the US.
The story is amazing. Demon ninjas with terrible powers, each unique.
The Art for it's time is also excellent. This is the movie that made me realize that cartoons could be serious, not just Bugs Bunny style.
If you like movies that have amazing villians, and a hero willing to fight them, and not cry about it the whole time. Violence. Great visuals. Imagination. Very good storyline. This movie is for you. I'll also mention that this is one of the only animes that I can watch in either English of Japanese. The English dub was done very well.
Do yourself a favor and watch this movie. If you don't like it, then you have only lost an hour and a half of your life. A small price to pay for anime history.read more
Ninja Scroll was one of the first examples of anime I ever saw, and it made a lasting impression on me - a bad one. Luckily, I was already convinced of the ability of anime to stand up to anything that live action could throw at it. This, on the other hand, went a long way towards making me realise that, as with anything else (I now realise - I was young and had no sense), not all anime is superb.
So, what's wrong? Well, ninjas. I await the day when I can see a ninja character that I can even begin to believe in. However, it seems it is illegal to have ninjas that you can actually believe in; they all have to be supernatural and/or sublimely skilled, to an order of magnitude above and beyond your garden variety trained killer. Ninja Scroll is the very epitome of this attitude. They're not just sneaky guys with throwing knives, they turn to stone and have steerable mystic claws on endless chains and can hold off their own deaths until they deliver that one vital message. All the most hackneyed and OTT things you can imagine ninjas doing, in all the most trashy b-movies and cheesy games, they happen here. It's also, to my eye, unnecessarily nasty in its graphicness, tone and inference - I'm not squeamish, but I would rather gore had some point. Think Naruto meets Urotsukidoji, but with rather less sex and filler episodes, and zero lightheartedness or charm.
Everything in Ninja Scroll is resolutely (tediously) grim and opressive all the time. It's actually quite tiring. All the characters are also gratingly simplistic. There's a hero, a heroine who is not allowed to be strong enough to look after herself in order that our hero Jubei can save her from a nasty fate, assorted sneaky buggers and of course all those supernatural ninjas. No-one is remotely credible as a character. Of course, they're not supposed to be, really, Ninja Scroll is clearly a very long way from realism. The point is, this is a genre piece, and if you're not enamoured of the stereotype of ninjas, well, this'll not do anything to persuade you. Then again, if Magikal Ninjery is your line, I'm sure you'll think I should rate this way higher.
To be fair, it's not the worst thing ever in the history of ever. The art style isn't really my cup of tea, but is distinctive and unique, with bold outlines, solid colours and overall a very stylised look. Some of the ideas, if you can get past the basic ridiculousness to suspend your disbelief, are inventive and unexpected. However, I was unable to make it that far.
I'm not going to pretend to be objective or anything, this is what I think, and I think Ninja Scroll is terrible. There are likely many who will disagree, but there it is, it's the kind of thing that polarises opinions.read more
Ninja Scroll has more realistic atmosphere than other action-oriented shounen animes set in medieval japan, because it actually managed to preserve historical background, along with prevalent philosophical and existential thought of the era.
The story follows a wandering ninja and his interactions with a government agent, with a kunoichi and more importantly with criminals who are plotting to overthrow the Tokugawa regime. Love is also one of the motifs and is presented as cold and suppressed relationship, as the historical context demands it. Duels and battles make up a considerable part of the story.
There are three characters worth mentioning; The protagonist Jubei, a skilled warrior with high moral values and a kunoichi Kagero, struggling with being a woman in love and a cold-hearted ninja. Their characters develop slowly and imperceptibly, as does their relationship. The third character, old ninja, represents a harsh philosophy of Tokugawa warriors.
It's hard to imagine a 90's medieval anime without old-school art and Ninja Scroll is not an exception, as it was released in 1993. The style, with red and black dominating, is very fitting and puts an emphasis on the right moments, but sometimes the lighting is too flashy, especially during the battles. The sound is also nicely done, with subtle touches of folk music.
So, the visual form of the show does not lack anything, while the story and characters are quite complex and interesting. By exploring political, social and personal themes, distinctive climate of the mentioned period is successfully reconstructed.read more
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