Ninja Scroll – Classic Anime


The following article excerpt is an introduction to Ninja Scroll – Movie, by Arpad Lukacs of Static Mass Emporium

If a Japanese anime fan asks an average person about Japanese anime, the number of answers is limited and quite predictable. They might mention a title by Hayao Miyazaki, the most well-known and successful animator outside Japan. His Spirited Away (2001), Princess Mononoke (1997), My Neighbour Totoro (1988) and many others enjoyed worldwide success and critical acclaim.

If not Hayao Miyazaki, then the answer will probably be one of three titles – titles that also served me as a sort of triangular gateway into the world Japanese anime some years ago. They might say they liked the post-apocalyptic action-thriller that brings science and theology just about as close as they can get in Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, but answer could also be Mamoru Oshii’s cyberpunk classic Ghost In The Shell; a profound and unparalleled exploration of the human condition in the context of our relationship with technology.

The third probable answer to a general enquiry about Japanese anime will be Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s Ninja Scroll.

Unlike Akira and Ghost In The Shell, both of which take place in a bleak cyberpunk setting, Ninja Scroll is an animated period piece that nevertheless has themes that are just as relevant to the world of today. The story takes place around the 17th century in feudal Japan during the Edo period with several players and agendas; making the narrative nearly as complex as that of a film noir.

In the centre of the plot, there’s a mysterious plague that claims the lives of everyone in a small village in the territory of Mochizuki clan. As a result, no one dares to go near the village and it turns out that the plague was in fact deliberate poisoning; a conspiracy to keep people away from the area. A team of Koga ninja sent to investigate by the leader of Mochizuki clan are all slaughtered but one; the only survivor is Kagero (Wendee Lee), the only female member of the team.

Ninja Scroll

Her nearly lethal encounter with Tessai (Dougary Grant), a stone golem is interrupted by vagabond samurai Jubei (Dean Elliot) who also gets reluctantly involved as events unfold. Adding to the mystery, manipulative government spy Dakuan (Rudy Luzion) joins in as they find themselves up against supernatural demons led by Gemma (Richard Epcar), who was thought to be dead as Jubei personally decapitated him five years prior in a conflict over a secret gold mine … read more of this this excellent article atStatic Mass Emporium

WARNING: This anime movie has some very violent scenes and some sexually explicit content that may not be suitable for younger viewers

…  there’s much in Ninja Scroll that makes it recommended for adults only. Two scenes with rape, another with sexual intercourse, homosexuality openly discussed, the corpse of a child in the poisoned village and the general level of on-screen brutality all make the film restricted to an adult audience.


Original article and image source: Static Mass Emporium



… the following video is an original trailer video for Ninja Scroll – Movie (1993)



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1 Comment

  1. I haven’t seen this for many years, but it’s still great

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