Ninja Scroll

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“Ninja Scroll” was released in 1993.

The story takes place in 17th century Japan. The Toyotomi have been defeated and the Tokugawa rule the lands. Before the fall of the Toyotomi, the clan secured a large sum of gold. This gold was lost when the ship that was carrying the gold was caught in a storm.

Though defeated, the Toyotomi have not disappeared. The remnants of the clan have formed a secret organization under the mysterious “Shogun of the Dark”. This sub rosa clan finds the location of the lost ship and hires a group of monster ninja, the 8 Devils of Kimon, to secure the gold.

The ship was found in the harbor of a small rural village. To keep the gold hidden, the 8 Devils poison the villagers and spread a rumor that the village has been struck with plague. To verify the rumor of plague, another clan of ninja infiltrates the village, but is massacred by the monstrous 8 Devils.

Unbeknownst to the Devils and the Toyotomi, they are being watched by a Tokugawa Shogunate spy, Dakuwan. To stop the Toyotomi from acquiring the gold, Dakuwan secures the help of two trained killers, Jubei and Kagero. Kagero is the only surviving member of the massacred Ninja Clan. Jubei is a masterless swordsman who used to be in the service of the clan located where the gold was originally mined.

The leader of the 8 Devils is Gemma. Gemma is from the same clan as Jubei, and is the man who originally helped the Toyotomi acquire the gold. Though he seems to be working to help the Toyotomi, Gemma’s real goal is to steal the gold, use the money to form a large secret organization of ninja, and conquer Japan.

To avenge the deaths of all his former comrades, Jubei must kill Gemma. But Gemma’s unholy ninja art makes him invincible.

The plot isn’t very well thought out and it suffers from continuity problems; such as the moment in the story when Jubei suddenly appears to save Kagero from Tessai, even though at this point in the story Jubei believes Gemma to be long dead and there is no reason why he should be in the village. There is some attempt at romance, but the characters are stereotypical, and there isn’t enough back-story to make it interesting. The story only exists to pit Jubei and Kagero against Gemma’s gang, in a series of highly imaginative, sleazy, homophobic, misogynistic, ultra-violent, gory fights. Exploding corpses, disembodied limbs, and fountains of blood are "Ninja Scroll’s" strong points, and make this movie a badass Anime Classic. Like most of Kawajiri’s other works of this vintage (e.g., "Wicked City", "Midnight Eye Goku"), an almost lack of motion in the animation is made up for with slick cutting, lurid coloring, and highly detailed character design.

 Ninja Scroll 01

 Ninja Scroll 02

 Ninja Scroll 03

 Ninja Scroll 04
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