In feudal Japan, a villages are being mysteriously wiped out. Nina are dispatched to investigate, but none survive aside from Kagero. And the only reason she makes it out is due to a chance encounter with a wanderer named Jubei.
Jubei is unwillingly enlisted to help solve an ongoing mystery, causing him to cross paths with Kagero again. With mutual goals, the two seem destined to work together. They'll need each other to unravel the mystery, as they face off against the Eight Devils of Kimon: exceptionally deadly ninja, each with unique traits. Jubei may find his mission isn't as important as settling an old score with the man who double crossed him years ago.
Anime has a never ending stream of ninja shows which vary in approach and success. One of the top tier titles in the 1990s was yet another ninja show, but so awesome it was often thrust in the spotlight as proof of how great anime could be. Year after year more ninja martial arts anime titles appear, so it's expected it would be surpassed and lost among the many. And yet 20+ years later, no other anime has perfectly hit the point of being quintessential ninja anime like Ninja Scroll.
Ninja Scroll has a simplistic plot, but that becomes one of its strengths. By not getting mired in plot twists, complex characterisation and other distractions, it stays very focused. Remember, this has movie time constraints. That isn't to say that the characters are bad. In fact they're exactly as deep as they need to be. I still think Jubei takes the martial arts ethic a bit too far. Would you bone a hot ninja chick throwing herself at you? I would. Jubei apparently doesn't think that's noble. Well more hot ninja chicks for me I guess.
Ninja Scroll seems to have hit a sweet spot in timing that led to exceptional quality all around. It has fluid high budget animation, and consistent detail in design. Where it may become objectionable is with the violence. Also due to its vintage, Ninja Scroll comes on the tail end of the "extreme carnage" phase of anime, and the graphic detail in violence and gore is pretty amazing... or disturbing depending on your perspective. Aside from that, a few graphic sex scenes may also be objectionable. Really, I'm not kidding when I say this movie is graphic. This makes Ninja Scroll extreme in a no holds barred way, and probably impossible to reproduce in today's environment.
Ninja Scroll is solid in its place as an anime classic. It doesn't have the kind of story or memorable points to bring up in discussion these days, but as a raw action packed ninja ass kicking extravaganza: you can't go wrong with Ninja Scroll. Highly recommended provided you're okay with explicit violence, sex and more violence.
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