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Ninja Scroll – Review April 29, 2009

Posted by Cello in Anime Reviews.

Any anime enthusiast who doesn’t rank Ninja Scroll as one of the most stunning animated features of all time should turn in their membership card. Even by today’s standards, it’s a classic that strikes the perfect balance between mystical fantasy and gritty swordplay, offering a thrilling series of otherworldly battles amidst a sweeping saga of love and honor. Ninja Scroll was one of the first anime movies that I had watched before I had started to really get into Japanese anime. I supposed I either lucked out or I became spoiled because I always expected every anime movie I saw to be as good as this one. Usually when martial arts action flicks are made, things like character development and a decent plot are placed on the backburner. It’s refreshing to see a martial arts anime that delivers on all counts. It takes all the earmarks of a tried and true formula and nails every one of them, wrapping the whole package in slick art with lots of style, seasoned with plenty of smoothly animated action.

Ninja Scroll, set in the days of Samurai, Shogun, and Ninja, follows Jubei Kibagami, a wandering rogue ninja, and Kagero, a cold and deadly female Ninja. Pulled unwillingly into a plot by the Shogun of the Dark and some very nasty demons to overthrow the Shogun and conquer Japan, the two are forced into an uneasy alliance against the forces of evil. He must do battle with the Eight Devils of Kimon, uncover the secret behind the mysterious Lord Gemma, and try to stay alive in the process. Ninja Scroll has everything a fan of the ultraviolent ninja genre could wish for, and the production values are high enough that even people who don’t usually go for that sort of thing might find it worth watching. The first thing you’ll notice are the incredible visuals. The artwork and animation are superb, with a realistic style seen too rarely in anime. The voice acting was also pretty good.


The villains featured are simply excellent. Each of the Eight Devils of Kimon are unique in appearance, style, and personality. Directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri (The Animatrix’), This movie is one of a select few that can bring in new fans into the world of anime. I saw this film at a very young age, and it was basically my gateway drug into the world of anime. The action sequences are rather inventive with some neat tricks on part of the combatants. With that said, the content is very mature oriented. There’s a lot of gory-violent goodness packed throughout the movie. Such as the rock giant drinking the blood from arms that he torn off from Kagero’s friend with brute strength.

If you can look past the sex, rape, and molestation, then you can definitely enjoy Ninja Scroll. Keep in mind that certain crowds of viewers. Intellectuals will find this an interesting piece of work. Liberals might find it interesting. Feminists around condemn Ninja Scroll because of the objectification of females. Right-wing neocons would condemn Ninja Scroll in general because they’d deem it as “Anti-Christian”. Any film that works on that many levels and has that many layers exhibits a deep and worthy film and has a place in my top 10 anime movies of all time.



1. floreta - April 29, 2009

i hadn’t heard of this but i’ll have to add it to my list of things to see!!

2. hagiblog - April 30, 2009

I’ve watched this one a few times and have enjoyed every viewing of it. I didn’t get to see thisn until much later in my anime viewing and I don’t know how I waited so long.

3. Heather - May 1, 2009

This looks awesome! I really have to broaden my horizons in this genre………I feel like I’m missing so much…….

4. Terry - October 1, 2009

The reviewer writes: “Ninja Scroll, set in the days of Samurai, Shogun, and Ninja, follows Jubei Kibagami, a wandering rogue ninja…”

Jubei is not a ninja. He is a “wandering samurai”. This role of the “ronin” who finds himself in the middle of someone else’s mess is a well studied one in Japanese films and television.

Most likely, Jubei is a shadow of such an archetype. The name Jubei is probably borrowed from the famous samurai Yagyu Jubei of Japanese history.

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