During feudal Japan, a mysterious plague strikes a village, killing all of its inhabitants. When a team of ninjas goes to investigate, a hideous (I do mean hideous; he makes Cologne look like a beauty queen) monster slaughters every member, save one female ninja.
Enter Juubei, a ninja without a master who offers his services for hire to those with money or a noble cause. When he stumbles upon the female ninja being raped by the monster, he intervenes, saving her life. Juubei is quickly drawn into a complex web of intrigue (I've always wanted to say that) involving an ambitious overlord, the Japanese government, and his own past. Of course, there's always the Eight Demons who want to see him dead before he discovers their plans.
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.
I give this rating with STRONG reservations, given its graphic nature. — Raphael See
Recommended Audience: DEFINITELY NOT FOR KIDS. Sexual nudity, graphic violence, and gore are quite present in this movie. There are a few especially repellent scenes of rape, which especially bothers me, more than the brutal and bloody killings would ever do. Again, be prepared before you see it.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with subtitles
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Ninja Scroll © 1993 Kawajiri Yoshiaki / Madhouse / JVC / Toho Co Ltd / Movic
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