Ninja Scroll

Genre: Period Ninja Action (Action)
What’s in it?: Hacking and Slashing, Samurai, A Little Nudity, Demons.

Ninja Scroll, set in the days of Samurai, Shogun, and Ninja, follows Jubei Kibagami, a wandering rogue ninja, and Kagero, a cold and deadly female Ninja. Pulled unwillingly into a plot by the Shogun of the Dark and some very nasty demons to overthrow the Shogun and conquer Japan, the two are forced into an uneasy alliance against the forces of evil.

Ninja Scroll is everything you’d expect from a gory anime ninja action movie: slick animation, lots of ninjas, a corresponding volume of blood, a big group of super powered bad guys, a cool good guy to cut them into little pieces, a sufficient selection of strange erotic situations, and a convoluted plot. But Ninja Scroll is more than just a ninja hack and slash flick that’s got it all – by taking all the earmarks of a tried and true formula and nailing every one of them, it has distinguished itself an excellent entry in its genre. Although its quality, depending on your definition, is debatable, one thing is certain: for lovers of violent ninja anime, Ninja Scroll is about as good as it gets. A true instant classic.

To its credit, Ninja Scroll deserves its rank as an instant classic because it goes a bit farther than just rehashing the formula perfectly. The main characters aren’t entirely familiar and the interplay between Kagero and Jubei is both more creative and has more emotional complexity than you might expect. Some of the bad guys also have creative powers, though that’s not to say that you won’t recognize a lot of things: the bug guy is straight out of Vampire Hunter D, with the spiders replaced by wasps, the big guy with rock skin is probably an ancestor of the metal giant in Fist of the North Star, and the blind swordsman feels like an old friend.

The plot (not that most people will care) deserves a nod for some originality, though it seems a little weird to have a bunch of demons involved in a scheme that boils down to stealing gold. No dark manipulations or demon armies from hell, just a bunch of money. Huh. Still, it’s got a sufficient volume of semi-random political intrigue for a proper samurai-era story.

The story may not be the primary reason to see Ninja Scroll, but even if you’re not the biggest fan of gore and too-cool-for-their-own-good ninjas, the visuals may be enough to make it worth checking out. Starting with the obvious (and most important), the action is top notch: smoothly animated, well choreographed, and there are even some really nice little artistic touches (mostly with the supernatural powers of the bad folks – a guy who can literally slip into shadows, for example). In the non-action scenes, the character animation is also pretty good, although some of the dialogue scenes are a little static. Backing the animation is a combination of slick art and rather original character designs. Hard-edged but attractive and relatively realistic. The backgrounds are somewhat less memorable, but even those are quite well drawn, from detailed bamboo forests to rooms at sunset crisscrossed with hard shadows.

The acting in Japanese is well cast and features several big-name voice actors. I didn’t notice any particular standout performances, but from Jubei’s aloof, slightly bemused tone to Kagero’s appropriately harsh (and dramatically well acted) voice to a whole collection of classically creepy sounding demons this is an all-around solidly acted production. The translation in the subtitles, however, was occasionally a little… strange. I really like it how every power is referred to as a “technique”. We have techniques for turning your skin into rock, techniques for turning yourself green and sprouting leaves (I’m not joking), and I couldn’t help but laugh when they called reassembling dismembered limbs (and reattaching your own head) a “technique”. As for the dub, the dialogue is awkward and much too modern sounding, more or less what you’d expect from your average kung fu movie dub (ok, not quite that bad).

In all, though it’s hard to call original and it occasionally pushes the limits of good taste, Ninja Scroll has all the antisocial relationships, dismembered bodies, magical powers, building-jumping ninjas, and blood any fan of the ultra violent ninja genre could wish for, and the production values are high enough that even people who don’t usually go for that sort of thing might find it worth watching. It is, for all intents and purposes, the quintessential animated gory ninja movie.

By Raven

Ninja Scroll TV

Title: Jubei Ninpucho, Ninja Scroll TV
Genre: Action
number of episodes: 13

Plot = B+
Characters = B-
Music = B-
Overall = B

General Outlook:

This is the direct continuation of Ninja Scroll as we know it. Some fans may know about that “resurrection” thing, but as far as this is concerned and you as well, lets pretend it never happened.(seems the creators do that anyway so play along its better that way). Jubei is a wayward ninja, who is content to travel the highways and byways of life. His dark past has been settled and he doesnt wish to fight anymore. However life often has other plans. Jubei finds his restful existance disrupted one night by a fight between two groups of enemy ninjas, both chasing one man who is carrying a sacred jewel. Obligated to intervene, lest he get no sleep, he finds out that despite his best efforts(refusing to work for the man with the jewel and leaving his seperate ways) he cant escape this strange fate surrounding this jewel. On his journey he meets the rightful “owner” of the jewel. A young woman, whom the two organizations call the Priestess of Light. A young woman in charge of a small hidden ninja village, she too finds herself and her fate intertwined with the jewel, and Jubei. Along with some other faces, both new and familar they must make a journey to discover the secret behind this gem and those who are after it.

Well the opening is kinda themed for the period, but not too enticing after a while. I always skipped through it, as i imagine you will too. The ending theme was similar, but i still enjoyed it all the way through. The other music ranges from dramtic overtones, to heavy battles, and varies in between. It is all fitting, but not standoutish in any way.

Character design is excellent. From the assortment of villians and compatriots, to the main characters themselves everything is quality. As a female compatriot added while watching the series “Oooh, They made Jubei hot in this”. The characters on the main side are:
Jubei- Wandering ninja, swordsman. He has lived by his sword and his wits for years and wants nothing more out of life than he has. His skills are often called upon by both enemys and friends alike.

Shigure, Priestess of Light- Young, unknowing of the world and with a fragile veneer of strength over all her fears. She carrys the burden of the journey and what happens as a result with her and ultimately all the fates of those with the jewel rests with her.

Dakuan,Old Man- Dressed like a monk, but clearly not a member of the clergy. This familar face helps out with his advice when he can and his sneaky hands whenever.

Tsubate- A young thief, who finds himself helping the group despite his best interests. Not a great fighter but very adapt at running away, he helps Shigure more often than not but still trys to get his hands on the jewel she has(which he figures must be worth something if others want it so bad)..

The Hiruko Ninja- They want the Priestess to help them for some unknown cause, and often come into conflict with both the main heroes and the enemy ninja group the Kimon Shu.

The Kimon Shu- They also want the jewel and the priestess but there purposes seem much more dark and their aims far more violent. It is they who target the priestess and all those around her, and ulitmately are the real villans of the series.

My Thoughts(and spoilers):
I had originally watched the first 3 episodes of this series, close to 2 years ago when it first aired in japan. I thought it was good then, but i never got a chance to finish it as it was quickly licensed by an american company. Having finally watched it, im glad i did. It is an excellent series. I have had the bad taste of Ressurection in my mouth for years, and finally something came along and took it out. Ninja Scroll TV is everything i could have wanted, just a lil shorter than i could have had. I was easily settled in for a long haul, 26 episodes series, but ended up with 13. It still finishes with a ending that made me happy, but perhaps others would call rushed. Though i feel some of the enemys could have gotten more attention and work thus improving the series as a whole, i feel it was still pretty good for what it was. A nice short lil OVA-ish shot of Ninja Scroll. Lots of action, some interesting characters, good story, and oh yeah action. Just the thing to remind you that NO Ressurection isnt what happened after the movie, and make your day so much better for it.

By Darknight ZP

Work in progress... not home!
Trying to get all/most of the new code working before I start on the eyecandy.