Animated story of a ninja-for-hire who is forced into fighting an old nemesis bent on overthrowing the Japanese government. His nemesis is also the leader of a group of demons each with superhuman powers.
"The name Yoshiaki Kawajiri on the credits is an automatic quality guarantee of this
Japanime entry. The director whose ouvre includes the classics Vampire Hunter D (2000) and
Wicked City (1989) delivers the goods in this bloody and action-packed saga set in feudal
Japan. The intricacies of the plot can be a little difficult to follow (the complete movie
synopsis provided is most welcome) but the big picture is one of classic heroic labours.
Jubei is a wandering, masterless ninja who becomes caught up in a sinister plot to
overthrow the ruling Tokagawa Shogunate. A plague has swept through a village and behind
it lies the evil intentions of the Shogun Of The Dark whose minions include the Devils of
Kimon - a fantastic collection of shape-shifters, snake-women and a blind fighter whose
lack of sight is hardly a handicap. This Japanime sits firmly at the bloody end of the
scale and there is no shortage of severed limbs and spurting arteries to keep gorehounds
At the same time, it's well written (the subtitles are a far better option than the
jarring American accents on the English audio version) and even has a sweet love story
between Jubei and lady ninja Kagero thrown in. As with the best of its kind there is
nothing "cartoonish" about Ninja Scroll. It's executed in a richly cinematic way
and the attention to detail is stunning. The pace never slackens and some of the set
pieces - a fight on a flaming ship and an attack by a swarm of wasps come to mind
immediately - are among the most exciting you'll find in any animated feature.
My only complaint is that it's not presented in the 1:1.85 aspect ratio but that's
about the only thing this topnotch release doesn't have going for it. The bonus materials
are mainly of interest to aficionados of the genre, whose ranks you might join after
watching this." Richard Kuipers