Kenshin is for pussies!
Written by: Face
Yoshiaki Kawajiri, director of Wicked City, creates a picturesque thrill ride through a world of supernatural bad guys, ultra-strong heroes, and more bloodshed than you can shake a stick at (well, many sticks), with Ninja Scroll. The results, I'm pleased to report, are equally as striking, but not for the faint of heart, not at all.
The tale begins with Jubei Kibagami, a ronin samurai with a tender heart. He wanders throughout Japan as a mercenary for hire. His skill with the sword is incredible, but when he gets involved with the Koga ninjas from Shimoda Village, he finds himself in a situation much more dangerous than he originally bargained for. A group of otherworldly villains, the Eight Devils of Kimon, threaten the security of the entire country, not to mention Jubei's life. But are 100 gold pieces really worth all that effort?
Over the past 10 years, Ninja Scroll has amassed a fan following of almost cult proportions. Why is this? I believe the reasons are quite simple: because there is enough ultra-violence for even the most maniacal of megalomaniacs. Because there are more than enough sexual perversions for even the most perverted of perverts. Because well Ninja Scroll is one of the most violent and unchaste animated films to ever follow an enthralling linear storyline. The Tokugawa-era plot never reaches a level of complexity beyond just a few character situations. The story is not new, but it is very simple, and anyone with half a brain can follow it, which makes it all the more accessible to a universal audience.
However, plot and story aside, Ninja Scroll's fundamental allures are those which anime has long since been famous for: violence, sex, and more violence, and I love it. The whole film oozes with stylized depictions of superhuman battlefields. From the deaf samurai to the indestructible immortal Gemma, every fight scene has its own unique feeling of artistry, and every villain has their own distinct personality. Each battle features Jubei performing one incredible stunt after another. He flees from angry swarms of menacing insects, squirms under blankets of hungry poisonous snakes, fights to the death with a rock-skinned mad man, battles against an indestructible foe in a sinking ship, and all the while he manages to keep his cool, collected sense of suave. And although, Ninja Scroll's artwork may appear a little outdated, there is no denying the incredible skill in which it was rendered. And unlike Kawajiri's more recent film, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, the coloring is dark and lamented, very different from more modern anime.
Ninja Scroll is a classic, entry-level anime film. It's a tale about ghastly looking devils with a knack for bloodshed. It's about arterial carnage and visceral thrills. It's about ninjas fighting for their lives in their entire excessively gory splendor and it is awesome.
If you can stomach violence and sexuality, by all means Ninja Scroll is meant for you. It has my recommendation.
* * * * * (Excellent)
Posted: July, 2004