On a dark, late night in New York City, Ryu is chased and attacked by assassins. After disposing of them, he finds an I.D. card for the Friedman Company. The next day, it is announced that Dr. Ned Friedman has discovered a cure for cancer. But after providing no information at his press conference, a reporter named Sarah decides to investigate with the help of her friends Robert and Jeff. When passing by Dr. Friedman's house one day, Ryu hears the voice of a young girl calling for help. When Sarah and her entourage investigate the house as well, they run into their colleague, Ryu. Upon that, they discover Dr. Friedman has been conducting experiments on live humans using biotechnology, and that it may have something to do with the power of the Evil Gods, whom Ryu had defeated in the past. But when Ryu's friend, Irene, is kidnapped, he must dawn his role as a Dragon Ninja once again to defeat this new enemy and save her.
First things first, you have to remember that this anime is now 17 years old. The art style is definitely dated as well as the story line and action sequences. Also, if you could find a good release of this I'm sure it would help out immensely in your enjoyment of this anime. As a result, my review is a little biased since the version I was able to get my hands on looked to be a rip of an old VHS that was watched too many times.
Putting that aside, it is a decent OVA. Unlike most OVA's, at least now, it would appear
that it didn't have that high of a budget. This is no Akira which was done three years prior to this OVA's release. The voice acting was average at times and the story really seemed to have started late. It started off strong for the first couple of minutes and then died off and didn't come back around until about 15 - 20 minutes in; which would be fine if this was a movie but its a 45 minute OVA. Becase of the time constraint you could tell that they wanted to rush things along the last 10 minutes so everything could wrap up when the credits rolled. If they turned it into a 4 part OVA or into an actual movie the story line and art would've been much better.
With that said, the action sequences were rather fun. You definitely got to see Ryu lay down his ninja awesomeness but it unfortunately wasn't enough to make this a must watch. Its something I would recommend people checking out if they are a fan of the games (old or new) or don't mind the old school art style. Just prepare yourself for a rather average OVA and check your brain at the start of the show. 6.5/10
The NES Ninja Gaiden games are known for their high quality and challenging gameplay. They also don't have very complex stories, so you'd think a fifty minute adaptation would be able to provide a pretty good experience, if only for fans of the series. You would be wrong.
Let's start with the story. A scientist supposedly develops a cure for cancer, although this entire piece of information turns out to be completely pointless but I'll go into more detail about that later. Some reporters hear rumours that he's been performing unethical human experiments so they break into his house to find out that the rumours
are true and the scientist is involved in a plot to revive the evil Gods. To be fair scientists trying to revive the evil Gods could be a good Ninja Gaiden plot. The problem is that the execution is horrible. You'll notice that the entire cancer cure could've been left out without losing a single thing. There's actually a lot of padding involved in this. Establishing shots drag on and there are several scenes in the beginning that don't have any impact on the plot whatsoever. There's also a lot of clunky dialogue that really doesn't serve a purpose. You might ask, are the action scenes at least good? Well, no they aren't. Part of the problem is the monsters themselves, I'll get to that later. There's also the more serious problem of them being boring. The characters go through the enemies very quickly and they don't seem to pose any real threat which causes a complete lack of dramatic tension. In the games slicing thorough hordes of enemies works because you know that a slight error could result in you dying, but in this it's just boring.
As for the characters, Ninja Gaiden II has very few important characters. There's Ryu, Irene, and Robert. This OVA takes place directly after Ninja Gaiden II. All three of these characters are included along with Sara, Jeff and a random girl with glasses. This is another problem. They have too many supporting characters. None of whom are given developed personalities or characters. The worst part is that the story focuses more on the support characters than Ryu, and he's the bloody protagonist of the games. Aside from the cardboard cutout support characters, let's look at the characters we actually know from the games. Robert is reduced to the cliche, grumpy, ex-soldier. As for Irene, remember in the NES games when she was actually competent and the only reason she got captured was that the odds were heavily against her? In this she's a completely incompetent and cliched damsel in distress. She can barely shoot a gun, when she tries to use a sword she fails miserably, and she gets captured by two guys without even struggling. It's really a disservice to her character since she was a CIA agent in the second game. Where did all her skills go? Ryu isn't even done well. What little we get of his character makes him look like a melodramatic moron.
Let's move into the art. It's bad, even for 1991. The backgrounds are just lazy. When they're actually present they're done as simplistically as possible. There are a lot of cases of characters going cross-eyed for no reason. As for the monsters, I told you I'd get to this, they look ridiculous. Any dramatic tension that the battles might have had vanishes when you see the monsters. They look like they belong in a children's fun house rather than a legitimate threat.
The sound is bland and the voice acting is pretty bad. None of the actors emote very well. This is especially a problem with Ryu and Irene, voiced by Nanba Keiichi and Touma Yumi respectively, since they both get some lines that should be emotional. I honestly blame the Direction since I've heard both Nanba Keiichi and Touma Yomi deliver very emotional lines. Zoisite in Sailor Moon and Refill Sage in Tales of Symphonia being two obvious examples.
There's no yuri in this. So its yuri factor is a 1/10. It's just as well. Given the writing it wouldn't have been any good anyway.
My Final rating for Ninja Gaiden is a 2/10. It's very bad. The premise could have been good but everything else is just terrible.
Do you have an older game console sitting in the cupboard, basement or attic? Perhaps it's time to dust it off, plug it in and start enjoying it once again. We're about to discover some fascinating retro games based on anime franchises we've grown to love over the years.