Ninja Scroll (the movie) ranks up there with Akira and Ghost in the Shell in terms of gateway drug anime. I remember, in the mid 90's, being blown away by Akira, but Ninja Scroll is what got me hooked on anime, and prompted me to scour the world looking for more. This series resembles nothing of the film. I'd be ok with a fresh, new approach, but this is an uninspiring product all by itself, and takes its place as a leader in low quality anime. I won't crap on it too hard. I believe there's an audience for everything. My goal is to help steer away those who are bothered by low quality, regurgitated themes, plastic characters, and truly thin storylines. Here we go.
There are some ninja battles. They are poorly drawn, covered in 2 frame movements, one-hit-kill lazy choreography, and not reminiscent of the vicious style showcased in Ninja Scroll (film). The action is still there. It's just doesn't hold a candle to 90% of other anime. Jubei swings his sword once a battle (sometimes twice) to kill his foes. His single swing is also a long range attack, so it doesn't matter where the villain is, they're dead. If that satisfies you then great! They try to amass an evil crew of villains, each with their own power (much like the 8 Devils of Kimon from the movie). A couple of them are intriguing, but are used unimaginatively. The story resembles the thinnest of video game quests. Let's find the Dragon Stone. You can follow it from the kitchen while you cook and never miss a thing. That can be a plus.
The darkness of the film is nowhere to be found. It's abrasively bright with vivid colors that resemble the palette from Pokémon. There is only 1 level of shading used in most scenes, which makes the characters look like 2 dimensional cutouts. Juebi's clothes are missing detailing that makes him look a bag of potatoes. There are 2 frame movements, choppy animation, and pathetic gimmicks used to make fights feel epic, but actually just let animators avoid having to draw out battles. A slash cuts the screen, then a body lies there to inform you of its success. I expect a lot more Japanese animation and I think most fans do too.
The cast of this show is for ages 14 and below. While Jubei is not too bad, he is joined by a token, tough female who needs help but won't admit it, and a punk, street thief that carries about as much charm with him as Jar Jar Binks. The master villain is a Doctor Robotnic Buddha mixed with a Harley Davidson.
Single track, basic storylines can work if executed with purpose. This, however, is about as intriguing and thought provoking as playing a game of Candy Land sober. Find the Dragon Stone, stop the bad guys, and stumble all over a bland world engaging in side quests to satisfy the worst of regurgitated fables. Its fine for kids, but not for Ninja Scroll.
Horrible grunge/rock that has no place in feudal Japan. It's jarring and pushy.
All in all, this is just a mis-marketed piece of work. The title needs to be replaced. Call it, "Dragon Stone," and park it next to Bleach and Naruto. Just don't confuse it with Ninja Scroll. This is it's polar opposite. If you want a ninja series that's adult, full of fantastic battles, gore, and twisted ninja's endowed with special abilities, watch Basilisk. If you like a series that is colorful, action packed, adult and funky, watch Samurai Champloo. If you want a youthful, fun, ninja adventure with some plain characters, watch Bleach or Naruto. There are better versions of EVERYTHING. This is the lowest doppelganger of them all. If you haven't seen it yet, and are bothered by what I described above, then save your money and the health of your neck, for if you get this, you'll be shaking your head for hours.
LIST OF BETTER NINJA/SAMURAI TITLES:
- SAMURAI CHAMPLOO
- SENGOKU BASARA
- SAMURAI X: TRUST AND BETRAYAL
I'm an animator and writer, so I frequently pour through stacks of anime. If this was helpful or our tastes seem to align, follow along. I'll try to steer you straight.