Feudal Japan - a time of danger, intrigue and deception. After an entire village is decimated by a mysterious plague, a master swordsman named Jubei undertakes a desperate quest to find The Shogun of the Dark, an evil autocrat who plans to overthrow the Japanese government. But in order to capture him, Jubei must face The 8 Devils of Kimon, the Shogun's fearsome force of demonic henchmen, each possessing awesome superhuman powers. Joined in his journey by the beautiful and deadly female ninja Kagero, they must together defeat the dominion the rules in terror and restore order to the land.
Well that's the basic premise of Ninja Scroll - one of the more popular anime titles to come out of Japan, and directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Animatrix “Program”, Vampire Hunter D). At 10 years old, this remastered and unrated edition is - to my eyes - something of a mixed bag. It's without doubt that anime fans will lap this up, containing a mixture of good animation, half-naked women and lots of gratuitous blood-letting, along with a suitably mystical theme with ninjas featuring highly. However, aside from the fact that the sex-scenes and excessive gore are largely unnecessary (especially the rape scene), the script is rather clunky and at times confusing. Dialogue in many places is incredibly cheesy (almost too much so), and overall the general flow of the film is inconsistent. The action is good, but the main “hero” instills no empathy in the viewer, something which is essential regardless of the film genre, and this is the main area where Ninja Scroll falls down.
If anime your thing - and gory anime at that - then you may enjoy Ninja Scroll, but otherwise you will likely find it a little too easy to find fault.
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