Ninja Scroll

Genre: Action
Format: 1 Movie
Allegiance: Toho
Director: Kawajiri Yoshiaki
Vintage: 1993
Intelligence Agency Report by: Phate
Jubei is a wandering swordsman without any clan or master; a sword for hire, one could call him. However, after being poisoned, he is coerced into joining with an old monk named Dakuan, the only person who knows the cure. They team up with the beautiful but deadly kunoichi Kagero after Jubei rescues her from a vicious rape, and the trio begins their conflict with the Eight Demons of Kimon. A group whose aims aren’t clear, they seem to be working for someone even more evil…

Field Agent Report by: Phate
Overall 7.00

Shows that put particular emphasis on action and violence rather than story and characterization are a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. “Guilty pleasure” in that I still find some enjoyment in them even though, in the grand scheme of things, it’s obvious that what I’m watching is mediocre at best. Ninja Scroll, however, proved better than the standard blood-and-guts fare; superior animation and a slightly better story being the two principal reasons.

Even though it plays second-fiddle to the show’s visuals, the story of Ninja Scroll is nonetheless entertaining; straightforward and easy to follow, with some spice in the form of a couple minor surprises mixed in. Not trying to be a grand storyteller, it at least does its job nicely, and is significantly better than the stories found in anime such as Ninja Resurrection or M.D. Geist. However, the characters are less indulgent. None of them are very enthralling; they are just basically shells used to further the story along.

The visuals in Ninja Scroll are undeniably the best part of the movie. While they did seem a bit outdated to me, the animation is still smooth and stylish, making the frequent but quick fights much more enjoyable. The art fits the general atmosphere as well as the characters; it’s dark, gritty, and helps make the already seemingly outré characteristics of some of the antagonists even more freakish. However, some may be especially put off by the amount of emphasis placed on the gut-spilling aspect of the battles. Thankfully, after the beginning, the violence doesn’t go much beyond showing large handfuls of blood, and the deaths are more imaginative than actually sickening.

An affair with greatness is not to be expected if you plan on watching Ninja Scroll. Still, it’s a satisfactory anime overall. Those who enjoy healthy animation along with relentless violence kept up by an okay story will have the most fun here.