Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 10/21/98
1995 (1998) - Magna Video
review by Todd Doogan,
special to The Digital Bits
This is one of my all-time favorite animes -- and I've seen a boat
load of anime.
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/B+
The audio and video are great, and the supplements are interesting.
A trailer and summation of the film and it's characters. It's more
than you get with the video -- and it looks better in DVD than it
ever has before.
Overall Rating: A
Highly Recommended. For those of you who have problems with Ninja
Scroll's quality -- keep reading for info on replacing
your defective copy.
94 minutes, unrated, full frame (1.33:1), single-layered,
single-sided, Amaray keep case packaging, complete guide to Ninja
Scroll, key character art and synopsis, trailer, Manga
Video Fan Club trailer, Manga Video commercial, film-themed menu
screens, scene access (24 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1),
Japanese (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Close Captioned
First let me start things off by saying that I love anime. Cute
movies like Kiki's Delivery Service,
middle of the road fare like Ranma 1/2,
and even the borderline porn featuring spewing tentacles and white
underwear. I admire the art, the use of color and the mythology that
these Japanese cartoons evoke. It's all quite charming. Of course I
have my favorites, and they're not just the Akiras
and the Ghost In The Shells.
My favorite titles are Giant Robo,
Gunsmith Cats, and The
New Cutey Honey -- oh, and Ninja
Scroll. Honestly, Ninja Scroll
is my all-time favorite anime. It's self contained, it features some
of the coolest monsters ever created and it doesn't look like any
cartoon ever made before it. And when I found out it was coming to
DVD -- I went loopy.
Ninja Scroll is the story of
Jubei, a masterless ninja who stumbles into a huge adventure, and
ends up going head to head with a group of monster assassins and
thieves. Actually, Ninja Scroll
has always struck me as one of the Star
Wars prequels -- most likely the third one. Here's my
theory. Jubei is Obi-Wan, a wandering warrior who has a dark past
that we aren't quite sure of. Someone he trusted has turned to the
dark side of life and tried to have him killed. During this
betrayal, Jubei thinks he's killed his friend and new nemesis,
Gemma. But Gemma has made a pact with the devil and has the power to
regenerate himself -- so he's not quite dead. While wondering the
Earth, Jubei bumps into Dakuan (read: Yoda), a small, cryptic
emissary from the king who is investigating the goings-on
surrounding a load of gold that's turned up missing.
The gold is not the only mystery in this story. A town has suddenly
turned up dead -- and a warning from a dead woman to keep away from
the town, only causes a team of ninja from the Koga clan to try and
find out what's going on. The group of Koga ninja, on route to the
town, stumble onto the monster henchman of Gemma, who proceeds to
rip everyone to shreds. He's a huge monster that can turn himself
into stone and throws a huge boomerang/sword that cuts through
everything in its path, including trees.
The only ninja who has survived the initial attack from Gemma's
crew is the beautiful, but tortured Kagero. She is the clan's poison
taster and because of her profession, she is left poisonous herself
-- any man who dares make love to her, dies.
Joining Jubei and Dakuan on their quest to stop Gemma and his
devils from carrying out their nefarious plan, Kagero must herself
battle the rest of Gemma's henchmen. Along with the stone monster,
there is a hermaphrodite who can electrocute people using a thin
metallic string he keeps tied to his hand. There are two evil women,
one who can cause things to explode and another who plays host to a
living tattoo of snakes. And there's a hunchback who keeps a swarm
of killer bees in his back, and a puppetmaster of the dead who can
replicate himself and hide in the shadows. All in all, it's not a
good thing that Jubei has gotten on the bad side of this crew --
aptly named the Eight Devils of Kimon.
Yes, it's pretty complicated -- but it is one of the best pieces of
animation I've ever seen. It's beautiful stylized, has a great
story, and has some really cool monsters (designed in several killer
As for the DVD, there were many reported problems with this disc
when it first came out. Among them were audio dropouts, the disc
would default back to the main menu after it played the first
chapter, and so on. It seemed everyone had a story to tell about
this disc. Me? I never experienced a problem. Not on a Sony player,
a Panasonic, an RCA or a Toshiba. That doesn't matter though, the
issue stands that many did have those problems. So, I have good news
for all those of you that love the movie, and are pissed that it
didn't work. There is a new "fixed" version in stores now.
You can spot it by the "QC" sticker on the packaging. Pick
it up and you get a perfectly good copy of one of the greatest
For those of you who already spent your hard-earned money, you too
can get a brand new (read: working) copy. Just send your faulty copy
"Please replace my Ninja Scroll"
727 N. Hudson St., Suite 100
Chicago, IL 60610
Upon receipt, they'll send you the working copy (via UPS), and a
free Magna Video cap. What could be better? All the new copies have
been tested and work just fine. And here's why you need to get one:
DVD is the only way to watch Ninja Scroll.
The colors are cool and crisp, the sound is high caliber, and this
is the only way you'll get a Japanese tracked, English subtitled
version of the film. It sounds so much better in Japanese than it
does in English -- only because the guy playing Jubei in English is
so jovial. Supplements include a trailer, a summary of the film, and
a listing of all the characters in the film. It's a great anime with
Fans of this film now have a reason to pick it up on DVD: it
finally works. And if you spent your money on a defective copy, the
good folks at Manga will replace it for you. It looks great, sounds
even better, and you won't find a better anime film on DVD. That is,
until the special edition of Akira
finally makes it to the format.