Ninja Scroll (獣兵衛忍風帖 Jūbei Ninpūchō?) is a Japanese action thriller anime set in feudal Japan, by critically acclaimed director/writer Yoshiaki Kawajiri who was best known for his previous thriller Wicked City (Yōjū Toshi). The character designs were … see full wiki
Jubei Kibagami is a vagabond ninja, who finds himself caught in the middle of a pending takeover, which forces him to ally with a government monk named Dakuan and a female ninja Kagero. Together they engage in a bloody feud with a clan called the "Eight Devils of Kimon". During the feud, Jubei learns that an old enemy of his named Gema could be working behind the scenes. What puzzles Jubei the most is, this man named Gema is supposed to be dead.-summary
Considered by some(not me) to be one of the best anime films ever. Ninja Scroll aka The Wind Ninja Chronicles, is an action anime that has gained quite a solid and very rabid following. I have seen reviewers attacked mercilessly for saying anything negative about it. I'll never hear a reason good enough on why someone should be attacked for expressing their opinion on anything. But those things happen, and I only mention that point, with intentions on providing insight on how loved this animated feature is.
Ninja Scroll is definitely one of the most violent and action packed anime films ever. To include, the film boasts some of the most incredible visuals for its time, which still holds up until now. For being a film that was released in 1993. It really doesn't show its age.
Director and writer Yoshiaki Kawajiri is no stranger to me, when it comes down to flooding the screen with gratuitous violence. Over the years, this style of anime has become his trademark. Ninja Scroll is cut from the same cloth as his earlier anime film Wicked City. However, Wicked City is clearly edged out when it comes down to the violence.
The action scenes are brutal. There is really no other way to describe them. Kawajiri was never a slouch in the violence department, and in this area, Ninja Scroll continues to be the pinnacle of his work(that I've seen). The viewer is treated to gory blood soaked battles with a bit of dismemberment. The battles are very stylish. They consist of sword clashes, and wild displays of superhuman skills. If there is anything I can say for Kawajiri's works, is that they can definitely leave you with a lasting impression, with this being no exception.
The artwork is gorgeous and rich in detail, with some very good and well detailed character designs along with backgrounds. The villains are by far the best looking, with their creepy and imaginative designs. This is the way an intimidating antagonist should be portrayed. The soundtrack uses traditional Japanese drums, and it compliments the setting well. Plus, the music is used at the right times, and silence is provided when the situation calls for it. This is a very wise move, since the movie does have some incredible sound effects, which ranges from running water to intense sword clashes.
The animation is very fluid without the slightest bit of jumpiness during the faster paced scenes. The action scenes are simply a joy to watch. However, the animation is not as "perfect" as some would force you to believe. The last few minutes leading up to the end does contain a good amount of stills, as well as a small bit of re-used animation. This was obviously due to budget issues, but I just can't let the flawless animation claim slide like that. I never had a problem with the cast for either languages. But as almost always, the English cast is my personal choice.
Ninja Scroll does have its flaws that bothers me. The action to some degree actually works against it. The story does provide a stable foundation, but it's pretty much forgettable and one can find themselves waiting only for the next fight.
I also have a problem with the "deus ex machina" factor coming into play at some weird times. Although there's slight character development, this is an area where the anime is weak at. The characters really don't have much, if any dapth at all. As interesting as the villains are, they're way too one-dimensional, and their personalities are too alike for my taste. The film also contains some sexual content, nudity, and gay references. These things don't bother me in the slightest, but may be offensive to others.
Even though Kawajiri borrowed a bit from Wicked City, and Ninja Scroll does have its flaws. It's still a title that I always recommend to new action oriented anime fans. There are other violent titles, but not too many do it quite like Ninja Scroll.
Again, this is a film that is meant for the action fan, who doesn't mind sex, rape, and violence. If you're offended by any of these things or just find them boring. Then skip it completely because it may not be for you. The film has a 99 minute run time.
Some additional advice or perhaps a warning. Do not be fooled by the supposed sequel Ninja Resurrection. It's a piece of pure trash that shares no relation to this film here at all. The attempt was to bill it as the sequel for this to boost sales, but it's definitely among the worst anime titles ever made.
-Quality animation & artwork
-Excellent & stylish action scenes
-Too much "deus ex machina"
-Short cuts in later action scenes
What did you think of this review?