Exclaim!

Ninja Scroll

Yoshiaki Kawajiri

Ninja Scroll
As anime continues to crossover into the American mainstream (Spirited Away's staggering success, Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 1 anime segment/homage, anime's impact on The Matrix, etc.) one of its best offerings, Ninja Scroll, is being remastered and re-released on DVD nearly ten years after its inception. And considering it was created nearly a decade ago (and without the help of computers, as director Yoshiaki Kawajiri reminds us in an interview for its extras), Ninja Scroll's animation holds up remarkably well. Lush and striking, and incredibly violent and bloody, Ninja Scroll is a visual treat for the deranged, full of ninjas, swordplay, demons, blood, violations and violence. Straightforward in its plot, Ninja Scroll sees an honourable ninja for hire swordsman known as Jubei battle the Eight Demons of Kimon as he attempts to unravel the political plots of Feudal Japan that have engulfed him, discover the source of a plague that has decimated a village, defeat every supernatural adversary that is placed in his path, fall in love with a poisonous ninja girl and confront a nemesis from his past. Of course, the story isn't what makes Ninja Scroll, it's its look, its absurd level of violence and its peculiar menagerie of creatures that elevates Ninja Scroll to one of the genre's best, but unlike some other Manga/anime titles, the story doesn't fail its look, being strong enough to spawn a TV series and a forthcoming sequel. For its extras, Ninja Scroll wrangles an interview with director Yoshiaki Kawajiri and its two American voice leads, and neither are terribly in-depth, with Yoshiaki's being more of interest, as he voices his opinions of why the film has been so successful and the difficulties creating it. Also included are brief character synopsises, widescreen and full-screen versions of the movie, a slightly longer examination of Jubei's history and a number of featurettes hawking Manga titles. But it's the remastered movie that's the reason to buy. (Manga/Sony Music)
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