NINJA SCROLL (1993)

 

Format: 91-minute feature

 

Rating: NC-17 (N, R, AC, AL, GV, EG)

 

Type: Action (ninja/supernatural)

 

American Production:  Manga Entertainment/Animaze

 

Japanese Production: Mad House/JVC; Toho Ltd; Movic, Inc.

 

Grading

 

Premise:

B

Story:

B+

Writing:

B+

Character Design:

B

Animation:

A-

Artistic Merits:

B+

English Dub:

B

Musical Score:

A

 

 

Humor Content:

n/a

Action Content:

A+

Drama Content:

B

 

 

DVD Presentation:

B

DVD Extras:

B+

 

 

OVERALL:

B+

 

Synopsis

      In early 1600s Japan, the legendary warrior Jubei reluctantly teams up with government agent Dakuan and ninja girl Kagero to combat the Demons of Kimon, who are running a deadly scheme apparently in support of the Shogun of the Dark in his efforts to topple the Tokugawa Shogunate.

 

The Long View

      Powered by great animation, defined by well-choreographed fights, and driven by a pounding musical score, Ninja Scroll remains the ultimate high-end action anime. It throws one spectacular battle scene after another at you as the trio of heroes battles the diverse powers of the Demons of Kimon. This is super-powered demon/ninja action at its finest. Along the way it even manages to throw in some (not a lot) of plot and character development and the inkling of a romantic story.

      Although Jubei, as the central hero, gets the most screen time and the best fight scenes, the tragic Kagero is actually the most interesting and compelling character. Though beautiful and skilled, she is – literally – poison. She is immune to it, but her body is also so thoroughly infused with it that to become intimate with her is to invite certain death. Thus she cannot be touched safely, which gives her a powerful defense against those who would take advantage of her but also leaves her doubting her self-worth in a time and society where a woman is defined and objectified by sex. Although she puts on a tough front, she is not above being affected by the horrors that face her. Compared to her, Jubei and Dakuan come off a bit underdeveloped, although Jubei does get his chance at emotional moments, too.

      Ninja Scroll is best known for its terrific action sequences, but it was also a standard-setter on graphic content. It is one of the most intensely gory anime movies ever made, as well as having good doses of nudity, sex, and molestation. Though I’ve heard that this movie was made with teenagers in mind, I am convinced that an NC-17 rating is appropriate here in the States. It is not for the squeamish or faint at heart and absolutely not for the younger crowd!

      If you’re a fan of action and can handle the bloodiest American movies around then Ninja Scroll is a must-see for you. Just use discretion when showing it to friends who might not know what they are getting into.

 

DVD Extras

      This review is based on the 10th Anniversary Edition release; the original DVD release may have different extras.

 

      This double-sided DVD includes the Full Screen version of the movie on one side and the Wide Screen version on the other. It also includes a postcard and movie poster. The DVD itself includes Spanish and French language tracks as well as multiple sound options for the English and Japanese language tracks and an independent subtitle on/off option. Other extras (duplicated on both sides) include:

·  Company previews

·  Character descriptions

·  The Real Jubei – details about the historical figure on which the main character is loosely based, available off the Characters heading.

·  English Actor Interview – a 16-minute Q&A session with Dean Elliot and Wendee Lee. Done recently, but with grainy picture quality.

·  Director Interview – 21-minute Q&A session with the Japanese director

  

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Jubei

Dean Elliot

Kagero

Wendee Lee*

Dakuan

Rudy Luzion

Lord Gemma

Richard Epcar

Tessai

Dougary Grant

Benisato

Jenny Haniver

Mushizo, Shinkaru

Richard Barnes

Mujuro Utsutsu

???

Yurimaru

Richard Hayworth

Zakuro

Maureen O’Connell

Shijima

???

Chamberlain

Ed Mannix

Hanza

???

bandit

Doug Stone

Shogun of the Dark rep

Alfred Thor

 

 * - listed as Wendee Day in the end credits

 

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