Urban Cinefile
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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 happy.

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

Published February 22, 2001

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(JAPAN 1993)


DIRECTOR: Yoshiaki Kawajiri


DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Madman Entertainment / distributed by Siren Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: January 16, 2001

Character Gallery
Theatrical Trailer
Movie Synopsis
Manga Fan Club Menu
Manga Promotional Trailer
English 5.1
Japanese 2.0
English with Japanese subtitles 2.0

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