Blu-Ray Review: Ninja Scroll (1993)

Posted by Retrokaiser On Thursday, January 8, 2015 0 comments

"Ninja Scroll" is an animated action film set in feudal Japan.  This film opens up with a swordsman named "Jubei" whom has just retrieved a valuable sword for a small village.  Jubei ends up getting attacked by a gang but Jubei puts a stop to them and continues his way.  Meanwhile in a small village we see that all of the people have fallen ill to a supposed plague but some people are thinking something bigger is going on.  A group of ninja are sent to investigate only for nearly the whole squad to get wiped out with the only surviving member being a female ninja named Kagero.  Kagero gets knocked-out by the guy that took out the team and then taken to a small building to where the attacker has his way with her.  While Kagero is getting licked and penetrated we see that Jubei has stumbled into the house and is lost and so he asks for directions.  Jubei's presence makes the attacker very angry and then they fight only for the attacker to get away.  Kagero is very grateful and helps Jubei on his way by giving him directions.  Jubei makes it to the place but is then ambushed by the attacker and the attacker isn't any normal man as this guy can make his skin rock hard to where no sword could penetrate or slice his rock hard abs (ba dum tish).  Jubei ends up using the sword and finds out that he can hurt him with it and thus defeats him.  Sadly this is only the beginning of his journey as there are more warriors like the stone-skin guy that want Jubei's head and these guys are stronger and have even more crazy powers.  Jubei also has no choice but to stop them anyway as he was visited by an old ninja named Dakuan.  The reason why Jubei has "no choice" is due to Dakuan saying the word "please"...  By "please" I mean that Dakuan poisons Jubei so that he'd have no choice but to accept.  Will Jubei put a stop to these monsters and gain the antidote so he can live his life normally again?  (Click "Read More" to read the full review).

As you can tell, this isn't a movie you watch if you want a film that makes sense as there is a lot of insanity that goes on in this film and you know what?  That won't bother you at all as it was done in a very fun way to where you won't care if this film makes sense or not.  I did not like the story in this film as it felt tacked on and was also very jarring.  The story in this film is also barely there and that leads to the best thing about this film.  The best thing about this film is the action itself as from start to finish you'll get nothing but action scene after action scene and while that might sound like it'll get boring fast, you'd be wrong. 

The action scenes in this film were spectacular with well done fights that'll keep you in your seats from start to finish.  Not all action scenes act out the same way as every single action scene are all unique and that's one of the things that help make this film a good watch.  The action scenes are also very violent and brutal to where it deserves the 18+ rating still to this day.  It wasn't just the action that was brutal but also some sex scenes that add an unsettling element that make the villains more menacing.

Despite how cruddy the main plot is, you'll find that the characters are really well done.  All of the main characters have such unique personalities and attacks and are also really charming and likable to where you will love them in an instant.  The heroes of this film are also heroes you want to follow and wish them well on their journey.  The villains in this film are also very unique to where I say that these are characters that I have never seen in any other anime and feel very original.  The villains also have an aura to where you take them very seriously and helps build up a "ain't got time to mess around" vibe

Artwork in this film looks incredible with classic character designs and some very beautiful and detailed backgrounds.  Sadly while the art is great, there are a few problems with it as it does have some fading and there are times where some of the backgrounds look very flat and lack depth.  Animation in this film is great and is very smooth through out most the film but you will see a few scenes with some choppy animation.

The English dub is one of the best English dubs I have ever heard as all the voices matched up with the characters.  The voice acting itself is very strong but not all the time as just like the art, you'll have some scenes where the acting isn't as strong but rather quite cheesy.  Soundtrack to this movie is very classic with music that helps add some drama and atmosphere to the scenes and helps make you take this film seriously despite the crazy stuff that goes on.  The soundtrack was so good that I'll buy the album if I ever saw it on sale in the shops.

There isn't much in the special features section of this disc as you only get: An audio commentary from the director (Yoshiaki Kawajiri), the Japanese theatrical trailer, and the Japanese television commercial.  The audio commentary is English subtitled and the concept alone sounds very exciting as you finally get to hear what he was thinking (or what he was on) while making this insane film.  I'm finding it very nice that more and more anime releases are getting more commentary tracks and especially nice getting them on older classics like this (just need one for "Ghost in the Shell (1995)" and "Plastic Little (1994)").

I wasn't a fan of the trailer and commercial as the trailer gave away way too much of the film and spoils it from start to finish...  Excluding a few things that were too graphic to air in the trailer but other than that the trailer is a shortened version of the film.  My problem with the television ad was that it gave away way too little of the film as it doesn't hook you in and make you want to see the film.  The TV commercial gives you so little info that the ad was only saying "Ninja Scroll.  It's a thing.".  I did find it very funny that the trailer and commercial were more insane than the film due to the balancing of time and information issues that they had.

Also included in the cover of this release is another special feature but not just any special feature but a physical special feature.  Included in this set is a booklet containing: An essay on the director, a short article about ninja titled "Mission: Impossible" (do do doooOOOOooo, do do dooOOOOoo, do do), and some neat looking art pieces.  The essay on the director was a very nice read and it does compliment the film really well.  The "Mission: Impossible" article was alright as you do get some nice info but it is also long winded in parts and can get a bit boring.

Overall this film is crazy, insane, brutal, bloody, and classic and I do recommend that all anime fans should experience this film at least once in your lives.  I know that I'll be watching this film over and over again and I know the same will happen to you too.  Classic stuff.

Title: Ninja Scroll
Animation/Production Studio: Madhouse
Genre: Animation/Anime, Action
Running Time: 88 minutes
Distributor: Madman Entertainment
Rating: R18+ (High level violence, medium level sex scenes, nudity)
Price: $34.95
Recommended: Yes


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