Ninja Scroll

Alt title: Juubee Ninpuuchou

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VivisQueen's avatar
Jan 15, 2008

Story

Some anime were just built to age well - confident, efficient, classic, timeless, they continue to thoroughly entertain long after their era has passed. This is one of those movies that sits comfortably on my shelf amidst Bebop, Evangelion, Princess Mononoke, Escaflowne, Trigun etc. It's not groundbreaking or sophisticated or heart-warming like the others, but it does show you a bloody good time.

Ninja Scroll is a fast-paced festival of violence which hits the ground running by offering a riveting combat scene within the first thirty seconds. To their credit, the creators managed to retain a firm hold of the racing plot. How did they do this? By alternating between politics and action and allowing one to drive the other in a very logical, stage-like structure - which means that just before one element has the chance to get tedious, the show changes tack to give you something new. Moreover, at any point in time, you know exactly where you are in the story, how you got there, and what has to be achieved next.

Throughout, the plot also maintains a good balance between delightful fantasy and harsh reality in order to keep the viewer believing. Take for example the uncomfortable scene in which Tessai has captured Kagero and proceeds to have his fun with her. Sure, Tessai is an unrealistically sized brute who can change his skin to rock, and the way he manhandles her like a rag doll is odd to watch, but nonetheless these factors don't dispel the cringe-worthy reality of Kagero's ordeal.

There are really only two plots (the personal tensions and the external politics) which, in the end, all boil down neatly to one climactic conflict. Ninja Scroll is thus streamlined from beginning to end, neither diverting the audience's attention with subplots, nor fragmenting in the face of poorly realised ideas. Towards the end, the show may seem to lose a little of its initial impact, because the twists revealed are not exactly earth-shattering, but a tragic angle and an extravagant final battle provide the necessary knock-out factor. I just never tire of this movie, no matter how often I watch it.


Animation

Movement is fluid in a way that still rivals more recent shows. When characters leap or parry, the combination of cuts and well-budgeted animation really hits the spot. The individual battles are also unique e.g. no two antagonists look the same, no stunts are repeated twice, and part of the enjoyment is watching Jubei and Kagero get themselves out of bigger and trickier situations at every turn. There's gore aplenty to be found here, with blood gushing freely from massive wounds and limbs flying like leaves in the wind. I have only one criticism in that there are notable instances where frames are obviously repeated, but luckily these occur only in situations where lots of people are moving at once.


Sound

With a lack of an opening theme, little variation in soundtrack, and a pretty unimpressive ending theme, the voices definitely did the most work. They are performed very well in Japanese and decently enough (although with more cheese) in English. Whilst I'd consider Jubei equally good in English and Japanese, Kagero's Japanese voice was especially enjoyable because she pulled off dispassionate femininity so well. Overall, I view the Japanese voice acting as more effective because the pacing of dialogue fit the scenes far better.


Characters

Jubei is a typical hero figure who casts witty one-liners when least appropriate and gets involved in some visually exciting scrapes. However, he doesn't actually ever develop as a person, with the assumption being that he did all the growing he needed some time in the past and this story is about him dealing with some unfinished business. For that reason, it is a good thing that they treated Kagero, his love interest, with more care, since it allowed the audience to treat Jubei more as a guide than the main object of empathy. Attached to him is Dakuan, the old spy, whose worth is mostly in providing a sort of cynical comedic relief.

My favourite character by far is Kagero as she turns out to be the most layered of them all. She is easy to understand in the sense that she is an efficient killer who is used to working alone; on the other hand, there is a side to her which is revealed incrementally, a side that doesn't want to be isolated yet still feels too worthless to expect anything more. I did not anticipate that kind of attention being paid to her since she initially appears to be a sidekick, but in the end, it's the film's surprising ability to delve a little deeper that made it so enjoyable.

Much of Ninja Scroll's strength lies in the variety and creativity of the Devils of Kimon; each one has a different talent and a different personality that comes across very well despite the little time we spend with each of them. In particular, I was pleased to find that, far from being a line up of fodder for Jubei's sword, there existed a certain dynamic amongst them as a group. Especially noteworthy were Tessai the man made of rock, Yurimaru with the electric string, Benisato the snake woman, and Mushizo the wasp man. In sum, for a ninety minute production, we get treated to a commendable cast of interesting personalities.


Overall

This is a sturdy action movie along the lines of Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust which delivers exactly what you want when you want it. The cleverly edited action sequences make for an enjoyable visual journey, and the colourful pic'n'mix of gimmicky antagonists add a generous helping of fun. Streamlined, fast-paced, and with a keep-it-simple approach, Ninja Scroll has and continues to provide top-notch entertainment.

7/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
7.5/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
Garyuu's avatar
Oct 7, 2009

Pretty cool. It felt like some guys wanted to draw some gore, and nudity, then they decided they could make a movie out of it. So they did. The way most of the battles ended were very anticlimactic. Big epic fight, and suddenly a rat comes in and blows up.

6/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
8/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
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eyepatchryomou's avatar
Jul 28, 2011

I have to admit, I love this anime. The only problem I have with it is the fact they never finished it. At least not to my knowledge. I did research on it and could not find the next part. But that is not the case. The story is intriguing and romantic. A wandering swordsmen who really cares for just himself gets caught in a fight that could very well end the world. Strong recommendation to anyone wanting to watch a die hard killer anime. If you Like Gutts, you will love Jubei. I also love this rendition of Jubei. His name has been used in numerous animes and the basis of who he is always gets twisted. This is my faavorite version of who I believe Jubei is.

9/10 story
9/10 animation
10/10 sound
8/10 characters
9/10 overall
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Quantumcaliber44's avatar
Jun 30, 2018

ninja scroll is often an anime of old people are fond of and can also be found at the top of alot of favorites list and i can see why . but dose it really hold up as well as people think ? well yes AND no.

Story: ushaly the most important part but here it dose take the background for the action and animation , and it very much is a product of its times , its full of cliches like the sexy woman falls for our aloof lead in a mere matter of in universe days , the badguy spouting " i should have killed you when i had the chance " , or even among the villians haveing a "he died because he was weak " mentality , and the villian wanting total control over blank thing and alot of other action movie tropes that are tired and exausting to watch , but this is a product of its time and being its age , some anime age well because of their storys like gundam and cowboy beepop and some hold up because of other things 

Animation: LIKE ANIMATION seriously this animation is better than most anime films today , its dark and gritty and artsy at times , everything really detailed and physics are portrayed really nicely , even the ninja magic physics . the fight choreography is really well done even if it dose have a few sections of wonky reused fottage but for an anime of 1995 thats a minor gripe , the lighting is exalent even for a dimly lit anime 

sound : sound is ushaly a weird one to judge because you dont really notice it and to be truthful i watched the English dub and i thought it was pretty good a cut above the early dubs but i wouldnt say up to todays standards , jubies voice fit him perfectly at least to my ears . now i wanna give a special mention to the sound design witch for the most part in anime isnt really thought of BUT the anime of today seem to use most of the same sound effects ESPECIALY for sword fights , The cast iron pan sound seems to be put in almost every sword fight in anime now a days , beserk 2016/2017 being the worst offender , princess principal as well and it was really nice to see rather hear a pleasent early dub and great sound effects , sadly i never noticed the music 

charcters: our lead and our heroin are pretty much the only charcters of note , ones a girl who is imune to poisen and her self is poisines and i thought that was interesting , and jubei a wandering merc who will lend his sword for money but Ultimately dosent really wanna get involved , but dose and gets emotionaly attched witch is another troupe but i digress , it feels like its better here than in other media 

in the end the animation carrys this like i think i carry in overwatch boged down by just ok charcters , an outdated story but helped to the finnish by a good cheering sound 

2/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
6/10 characters
6.3/10 overall
MarkoSinadinovic's avatar
Nov 11, 2010

I'm of two minds about this movie. One one hand, Ninja Scroll features the fastest, most fluid, and best animation outside of Akira that I have ever seen. The plot is intriguing, the fights way cool, and the characters bizarre and perversely interesting. On the other hand, Ninja Scroll also contains some of the most graphic and gratuitous scenes of violence and rape that I have ever seen in anime, movies, or otherwise. Definitely not something you'd want to take home to the family. As I said before, the art and animation of Ninja Scroll are astounding. You can see individual leaves rustling on every tree when the breeze blows, and you can see every slash, cut, and parry done by Juubei and his antagonists. No stylization here. Of course, that makes the gore scenes all the more graphic. I guess it's a kind of tradeoff. Soundtrack is simple, but effective, using instruments and melodies from the era to augment authenticity. Characters are all done well, too. No hero or heroine is flawless (actually, they're all pretty flawed), and each has his or her own inner demons to wrestle with. It certainly makes for some good drama. The plot is also better than most; although it does use the tried-and-true "kill x legendary demons" in places, it's done so it's not the main focus of the film, but just part of the film's events. Unfortunately, Ninja Scroll is VERY graphic, more than any non-hentai anime you'll see in all probability. If you're easily offended in any way, you'll be in for trouble. All in all, an amazing anime that should definitely not be overlooked. You won't need popcorn, though.

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
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