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I can normally take or leave most ninja anime, I love mecha and enjoy most sci-fi, horror and Miyazaki stuff, but ninjas don't normally push my buttons. Ninja Scroll though, is a pleasant exception.
This 10th anniversary edition contains two discs with different versions on each disc. Disc 1 has the 4:3 ratio pan and scan version and disc 2 the 16:9 anamorphic version.
Disc 2 also has several soundtracks including DTS 6.1 and proper DD 5.1 EX tracks. Plus a number of other interesting extras, especially the interview with the director.
I won't go into the plot as several other reviews describe it in plenty enough detail already. Although I will say that the plot is very good, it moves along at a sensible pace with a good balance between dialogue and action and unfolds cleverly, giving the viewer snippets of what's going on along the way and piecing it together thoroughly at the end.
Ninja Scroll is very Japanese, more so than a lot of other anime, and makes many cultural references throughout. This, I think, gives the story more depth and weight and makes it less fantastical (even though it's about ninjas and demons). But through this 'Japaneseness' the film fully deserves it's 18 certificate as Ninja Scroll is very violent and has many other scenes and themes of an adult nature as a warning to those who decide to watch it lightly.
Jubei and Kagero, the lead male and female, are excellent characters and they develop and interact very well and much thought has been put into them. But that's not to say the other's are bad or underdeveloped, as entire animated cast is excellent.Read more ›
Thats the positive side though...the main problem is the lack of character development, it seems like you are expected to know the main characters before you see the film, and everytime they get into a tight spot they reveal a new skill thats totally unrealistic given what you know of them. They are also cold and unemotional, and you simply dont get emotionally engaged in their efforts to save feudal Japan.
It does however introduce some very interesting opponents, one guy got a beehive in his back, another one is a blind ninja that fights through his hearing, unfortunatly these ideas arent followed through -- they suddenly appear and is killed of ten seconds later, I ended up thinking that everything could have gotten so much better with some rewriting in the script..building up the suspense some more prior to the encounters, the movie doesnt last much more than 90 minutes anyway so they have room for it as animemovies are so expensive.
The film has also been censored, wich is okay at times, but this particular movie revolves strongly around being for adults, and looses some of its purity as its essence has been sliced, you get the feeling that something is missing in here, and the atmosphere gets unsufficent.
The plot features a lovestory, but this bit is seriously cut short by the lack of characters, and its not given enough priority to be emotionally engaging.. Its like putting a block of ice in the micro for ten seconds, it has the potential of getting hot, but it ends up being just as cold.
As a conclusion I would have to say that even if the movie is good slasher-entertainment its not something you will go around remembering a long time after, and this is a shame, because the movie had the potential of being a classic..