Ninja Scroll TV
Fourteen years after the destruction of the Shogun of the Dark, Kibagami Jubei is a masterless ninja who wanders through the forests and towns of feudal Japan, willing to take on various jobs if there is money involved.
Along the way he finds Shigure, a priestess whose village was destroyed by demons in each of the Dragon Stone, which holds an unknown power that is critical to several clans who battle for supremacy in Japan. Jubei acquires the stone from a dying combatant whose final wish is to have it returned to its rightful owner. As Jubei travels, he is soon joined by Tsubute, a useless thiefwith delusions of grandeur and Dakuan returns once again. Together they travel to Yagyu, but are chased tooth and nail for a stone that is more valuable than the four can imagine.
It's been over four years since I last did a review for THEM. I went through my old VHS collection and just popped in the Ninja Scroll movie. Like the first time I saw it, I enjoyed in thoroughly and thought that it would be great to return to THEM with a positive review of a solid anime.
Unfortunately, I chose the wrong anime.
Perhaps the movie set my expectations too high, but I cannot think of another anime that was a bigger letdown than this series. I knew what was expected of the anime. It was supposed to be an action-packed anime with plenty of blood and overall a lot of fun.
It was none of that at all. The action just became cheesy, over-the-top and redundant. Every episode, an enemy would pop up asking for the stone and attack. Sometimes, they would attack Jubei even if he didn't have the stone just because he was Jubei. Rather than looking like your typical ninja or samurai, these clan members look like botched Frankenstein experiments. Whenever a weird enemy from the Kimon Shu or Yagyu clan shows up, Jubei promptly disposes of them. I couldn't help but shout "Lemmings" when a battle occurred. Within the context of such lame battles, the excessive blood is more humorous than anything else.
The plot is no better than the action, even by Ninja Scroll standards. Though the movie wasn't predicated on anything philosophic, I expected something better since there was a lot more time to flesh everything out in a short TV series than in a feature-length movie. Instead, we're left with filler episodes. Yes, there are filler episodes in a 13 episode anime. I really didn't think it could happen, but it did.
Until the final 2 or 3 episodes, nothing is really revealed about the meat of the story. You get the occasional hint here and there that keeps you just interested enough to watch the next episode. Finally, when you get to those episodes, the payoff just isn't there. It just falls in theme with the action of this series: generic and boring. The incentives and desires of each clan involved turn out to be templates of the several hundred anime that are like Ninja Scroll (wealth, power etc). Our travelers have limited backstories and nothing is really fleshed out for any of them.
From a technical standpoint, Ninja Scroll is pretty good. Mad House does a reasonable job with the production of the series. The character design are unique, though in some cases they may induce your gag reflex. The backgrounds are nice and the animation is reasonable, thought not great during combat. Although the opening and ending themes contain no actual lyrics, they are catchy and can cause Last Song Syndrome.
There is nothing original or interesting about Ninja Scroll. It's a very bland anime which relied upon its action and combat to keep you interested and it failed in that regard. It isn't atrocious; it's just bad. Leave this one on the shelf where it belongs.
Ultimately, Ninja Scroll is a lifeless and lethargic "action" anime that failed to meet the lofty expectations set by the quality of the movie. — Robert Nelson
Recommended Audience: Like the movie, this is not for children. Though nowhere near as pornographic as the movie, there is a ton of grotesque violence and an implied rape scene to go along with it.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, bilingual
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Ninja Scroll TV © 2003 Kawajri Yoshiaki / Mad House / Jubei Ryunohodyokugumi
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