Virginia... there is a Todd Doogan
off, I'd like to thank Jahnke for putting my name in print. It's so
hard for me to do that myself these days.
Next I want to ensure everyone out there that I do in fact exist.
It may not thrill all of you out there, but it's true. I am a real
person and not just Bill's bad boy persona.
I think what Jahnke said about our work and our place doing it
speaks better than anything I have to say this week, so I'm just
going to review a DVD that came out this week that I think is worth
And, Jahnke... if we ever meet, I'm going to show you just how real
I am. Sailor.
Oh, and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club
Band is in stores now, in case you want to inject pure
evil into your collection.
Instead, I give you...
Scroll: The Series, Volume One - Dragon Stone
2003 (2003) - Urban Vision Entertainment
It's no secret, my all-time favorite anime is Ninja
Scroll. I love it more than any other anime I've ever
seen, and I've seen a lot of anime. I don't find it as "important"
as Akira or as epic as
Neon Genesis Evagelion or even
as fun as Gunsmith Cats or
Cutey Honey -- but in terms of
sheer cinematic wallop, Ninja Scroll
is the best there is in my book.
So it shouldn't be a surprise to know that I was incredibly excited
when I found out a TV series was being made by the original creator
Yoshiaki Kawajiri. I was thrilled, and couldn't wait for the
subsequent DVD. This week, that wait is one-third over.
story starts years after the events occurring in the original
Ninja Scroll film, our hero
Jubei Kibagami, skilled ninja and sword-for-hire finds himself
standing smack dab in the center of two warring ninja clans. One,
the Hiruko Clan, is forever doomed to live in darkness -- never to
know the light. They are the protectors of a mystical treasure known
as "the Dragon Stone". Their enemy, The Kimon Clan (who
fans of the original film should already know of, thanks to Jubei's
previous run-in), is hell-bent on taking the Dragon Stone and
unleashing the power within. So when Jubei is asked by a dying
Hiruko to protect the stone and see that it finds its way to a
unwitting girl named Shigure, he does so knowing a hard road is
ahead of him, but Jubei knows that he must find the one known as The
Light Maiden, and ensure that the power within her and the stone
never fall into the wrong hands.
The Ninja Scroll TV series is
13 episodes long and debuted on WOWOW in Japan in April of this
year. Although conceived by Kawajiri and supervised in hands on
fashion, the series was actually written by Toshiki Inoue and
directed by Tatsuo Sato. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because
all was done at the original's animation studio Mad House. But even
with that, fans of the original should expect some tonal changes.
The style is a bit different, the pacing isn't the same and, even
though each of the little over 20-minute episodes plays out like a
mini version of the original film, the raw sex and violence are
understandably down-played. None of these things are meant to be
negative, just something to consider coming in through the front
The things that are the same are Jubei and his skill, the great
demon ninja enemies and of course, Dakuan makes his return. Dakuan,
in case you forgot is the mysterious agent of the Tokugawa
shogunate. Think Yoda.
Volume one contains four volumes. They are: Episode 1 -
Tragedy in the Hidden Village,
Episode 2 - Departure, Episode
3 - Forbidden Love, and
Episode 4 - Broken Stone.
Mostly this disc sets up the tale, but it's far from boring. The
action scenes are fast, the demons badass and the characters well
developed. The true coolness factor is yet to rear it's head, but
the potential is huge.
Video is presented in a crisp and clear full frame transfer, which
represents the original aspect ratio well. It's actually a very nice
transfer, with no blemishes, solid colors and good definition and
detail. Sound is presented in Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 and English
5.1 and 2.0. All three sound fields are well rendered and provide
excellent voice acting, which is a huge plus for those you want to
listen to the English dub.
Although not a full-blown special edition, Ninja
Scroll has on board a few extras to tide you over.
There's a gallery of character sheets in various costume choices, a
promo trailers for this and other Urban Vision titles, a cool
storyboard to film comparison you can angle through, interviews with
the composers Kitaro and Peter "Peas" McEvilley as well as
a cute cover art creation video showcasing the making of the cool
cover you see above. All in all, not a bad start to a pretty cool TV
Ninja Scroll, always the
fan-favorite, gets new life here in this TV series. Though not as "cool"
as the original movie, it's still "cool enough" to be
worth your time and money. Give it a spin.
I'll be back sooner than later. Until then, see you in the funny
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