Along with animated classics Ghost In The Shell and Akira, Ninja Scroll is one of the most influential works of anime action cinema. Written and directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Wicked City, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust), Ninja Scroll was made by the same animation house that gave us Paprika, Perfect Blue and the celebrated series Death Note. The success of the movie spawned a 13 episode TV series back in 2003, and its influence on our shores has been felt ever since its 90s debut.
Ninja Scroll has not only stood the test of time, it still stands head and shoulders above most of the movies made today, in terms of animation, style and sheer brutality. Combining everything that is popular about Japanese filmmaking, Ninja Scroll takes shocking violence, sex, death, action and intrigue, and positively drowns the screen in anarchic entertainment. Not to mention fountains of blood, surreal imagery and exhilarating fight sequences.
It was a sight for sore eyes when it first appeared on UK shores, and none of the magic has died in the years since then. Prepare to be blown away all over again by the birth of Ninja Scroll in glorious high definition. Kawajiri’s classic makes its first appearance on Blu-ray, courtesy of Manga Entertainment, available in a limited edition Double Play Blu-ray/DVD Steelbook as well as separately on both formats.
Unlike Akira and Ghost in the Shell, the storyline is relatively straightforward. Ninja Scroll opens with female ninja Kagero sent to investigate a plagued village. Tessai – a monster of a man who can turn his skin to stone – kidnaps Kagero and claims her as his sex slave. At least until he gets bored with her or finds another playmate. Fortunately for Kagero, she is rescued by a wandering ronin called Jubei, and before long they discover that Tessai is one of the Eight Devils of Kimon.
Jubei joins forces with Kagero and Dakuan (a shady Yoda like spy) in order to take down the Eight Devils - a relentless stampede of bizarre but brilliant monsters and demons that test his skills to the limit. Events take a turn when Jubei discovers that the band of super ninja are led by his old nemesis Himuri Genma, whom he claims to have beheaded years before. A rematch is on the cards then, but not before he takes down the shadow assassin, a blind warrior, an explosives expert, and all manner of animated delights that daze and dazzle in equal measures.
With striking animation that oozes style from every frame, stunning martial arts action, a whole host of hideous delights that take your breath away, and an energetic pace that refuses to slow down, Ninja Scroll will grab a hold and not let go until its deafening conclusion. Some films lose their sparkle over time, but in glorious high definition, Ninja Scroll shines brighter than it ever has before. Chaotic, dramatic and at times truly monstrous, Ninja Scroll is a twisted treasure from start to finish.
In a world besieged by movies claiming to be ‘modern day classics’, some films genuinely deserve the praise that’s heaped on them – Ninja Scroll is one such film. As shocking today as it was in ’93, Ninja Scroll is one of the best examples of this genre. If you have yet to witness its ruthless majesty for yourself, there’s never been a better time. AW