a.k.a. Juubei Ninpuuchou
Jubei is a wandering, clanless ninja who becomes entangled in a conspiracy against his own will. Reluctantly teaming up with the ancient monk Dakuan and forbidden female ninja Kagero, the trio must race against time to uncover the mastermind behind a plot to, what else, conquer the world. The Eight Demons of Kimon stand in their way, and won’t make matters easy for Jubei and his friends.
summary by Kain
Highs: Stylish animation; some truly unique (and freakish) bad guys
Lows: Style over substance; one-dimensional characters; a poor man’s Rurouni Kenshin
Granted, I wasn’t expecting a psychological thriller. Ninja Scroll is like a faithful soldier; it does what it’s set out to do, but doesn’t aspire to anything higher.
For mindless fluff, it’s actually pretty good. The story even surprised me in places. I was bedazzled by the inventive action sequences, and the Eight Demons were each unique and interesting.
What I appreciated about Ninja Scroll is that it knows exactly what it is, and doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not *cough Ghost in the Shell cough*. The story is very linear. You know what’s going to happen, but not exactly how. And yet, I couldn’t get over the fact that character depth and development are nonexistent, despite the fact that a movie format leaves little room for either.
It’s no Rurouni Kenshin, but then again it doesn’t claim to be. This makes a great introductory anime for guys (given they have the stomach for the violence). And for the rest of us, once in a while it’s good to switch off the brain for an hour and a half and drool over the flashing pictures.
Highs: Generally well-laid out story; action doesn’t let up
Lows: Hyper-violent; mundane bad guys
Ninja Scroll has always been far from a favorite for me, partially because the blood-and-guts genre isn’t usually my type of anime. Looking back on it, I think I have a better appreciation for it despite its shortfalls.
For an action movie (which has nothing to do with scrolls), it’s definitely impressive to find a story that is fairly linear, doesn’t attempt to confuse you with numerous plot holes and actually makes some sense. Granted, it is nothing stellar by a long shot, but there’s enough story here to act as the support structure for introducing numerous, hairy action scenes into the mix. And believe me, those action scenes just keep coming at you again and again, featuring wicked monster designs that will have your skin crawling. Five minutes never go by without a large dosage of sword fights, crazy powers and blood.
Speaking of which, the violence never lets up, either. With plenty of pornography and a high body count, Ninja Scroll is easily one of the most violent anime you’ll ever see. When someone gets sliced up, they suddenly become a blood fountain; simply put, the gore never stops flowing once it starts. Most of the blood is spilled by the Eight Demons of Kimon, but with exception for their differing character designs, they all have the same personality. Whatever happened to baddies with better reasons to kill than “because the boss said so”?
If you want to become numb to rape, human dismemberment and spilled guts, or even if you’d like to pass the time by watching a boatload of action scenes, check out Ninja Scroll. If you don’t fall into either category, then stay far away.
Ninja Scroll can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.