PicturePresented both in the original 4:3 aspect ratio on one side of the disc, and in anamorphic widescreen on the other (framed at approx 1.77:1), the picture quality here is surprisingly good. Although betraying marks and scratches in places - you can't quite hide the movie's roots - we have on the whole a very clean transfer.
With colours looking well saturated, lines are clean and crisp (essential for an animation title) with not a hint of any bloom or jaggedness. Thankfully, too, compression artefacts are absent, and where we see large blocks of colour they remain bold and solid. Black levels are good - revealing everything that the animators intended - and with a lack of edge enhancement which only appears in some mild instances, we have a transfer which does justice to the “Remastered” title.
It is, however, worth noting that the widescreen version is simply a cropped 4:3 image, so those who already own a copy of the movie may find they prefer the original.
SoundThe good news here is that we are offered the choice of both DTS-ES discrete and Dolby-EX soundtracks, both in the original Japanese flavour or dubbed English. In both cases, DTS is the more forward of the options, with more emphasis placed on the higher frequencies and a little more grunt in the bass department.
Regardless of your choice, however, we have a largely functional soundtrack. Dialogue - both on the Japanese and English language tracks - comes through clean and crisp with no sibilance, and the front left and right channels support the centre with the majority of the action. If not inspiring, the front soundstage is at least a solid affair. Surround action is reasonably low key, but there are some split surround effects in places that adds nicely to the front. Bass is particularly restrained on the whole, though, and it's here where improvements could have been made: whilst there is some weight added to the action in places, more extension would have been welcome.
Overall not a bad effort, what we have is a very functional sound mix.
ExtrasFirst up we have a Director's interview, which I imagine will only be of interest to die-hard anime fans. Shot on a camcorder, and with poor sound, it takes so long for the questions to be asked and the director equally slow in answering, that this quickly becomes a chore to sit through. Next up is a slightly more interesting English Cast interview, where two of the American voice actors offer their thoughts on the movie, and amongst other things, how they got into the industry. It's worth noting that the video quality here is a significant improvement over the Director's interview.
Added to the extras package are a couple of static features - History of the Jubei and a Character Synopsis/Photo Gallery - and rounding off the package are the “Manga Extras” which is essentially an extended promotional trailer for Manga showing clips from some of their biggest releases - those familiar with the genre will undoubtedly skip this, though others may find it of interest.
Overall the extras are something of a disappointment given that the packaging touts this edition of Ninja Scroll as being the “10th Anniversay Special Edition”; the extras are pretty unremarkable at best.
VerdictWithout a doubt this movie is one for anime fans, though the extras are disappointing: newcomers to the genre may find it of limited interest, but if gushing blood and ninjas are your thing, then this adult-orientated title - which packs a good picture and reasonable 5.1 soundtrack - is worth a look.
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