Ninja Scroll: The Movie is a 1993 Japanese animated Samurai Cinema, and Period Drama movie that’s directed and written by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, and was made and released by Madhouse Studios (along with Toho, JVC, and Movic). I should also say that the movie is a homage and influenced by the novels of Futaro Yamada. I haven’t read of any of his novels at the time of this review, so I am very uncertain what elements from the novels were being used when making the movie (the movie even has an alternate title called Jubei The Wind Ninja).
The story of Ninja Scroll: The Movie is that a lone wanderer (Vagabond in the English Dub) named Jubei Kibagami, ends up getting involved with a plot by the Eight Devils of Kimon who were hired by The Shogun of The Dark to overthrow the Tokugawa Shogunate. In order to now stop the Eight Devils of Kimon, Jubei gets the help from a government spy named Dakuan, and a female ninja named Kagero (I really don’t wanna say anything else about the movie’s story. If you wanna know more, please watch the film).
When Ninja Scroll was first released back in 1993 (and brought over to the USA thanks to Manga Entertainment), it was met with strong critical acclaim and financial success, and also contributed in helping Japanese animation become very common among the USA (with other critical and financially successful Anime movies such as Akira, and Ghost In The Shell 1995 doing that as well). A TV show titled Ninja Scroll: The Series also aired in 2003.
As far as how I feel about the movie, I’ll go over each aspect of it in good amount of detail like I did with my reviews for Akira and Ghost In The Shell 1995 in order to get my overall opinion about the movie across. With that said, I will be saying a lot, but please enjoy.
-The Story and Writing: While there isn’t anything deep and/or compelling about Ninja Scroll’s story, what works very well is the overall element and feeling of fun the plot has. Ninja Scroll definitely has some very cool and memorable action scenes, but if I am going to nitpick a few things about the story, it is that it does at times like a lot more could’ve been included to the story regarding. An example is that The Shogun of The Dark is only mentioned in the film and never makes a full appearance at all in the film. Another nitpick is that there isn’t an explanation for how and why Jubei’s sword can create and wind slash powerful enough to cut through his enemies. The plot in the movie does at times really feel like it’s part of a much more larger story that didn’t happen, but that doesn’t really bother me as what is presented is still very solid, and works fine. So while I will way that the story/plot in Ninja Scroll: The Movie ain’t as strong, epic, and/or revolutionary as in Akira: The Movie, and Ghost In The Shell 1995, Ninja Scroll is still a very fun movie to watch because of what is presented story and script wise. I do gotta say that the film does indeed have gore and nudity, so please DO NOT have a child under the age of 18 watch this movie.
-The Animation: As expected from an Anime movie by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, the animation in Ninja Scroll: The Movie is absolutely amazing (and even more so back in 1993) with all the character designs, movements, and backgrounds looking awesome. While I will admit that Ninja Scroll’s animation isn’t as groundbreaking as the animation in Akira, and Ghost In The Shell 1995, Ninja Scroll’s animation is still very impressive to look at and admire for what it is.
-The Music/Score/Soundtrack: The soundtrack for Ninja Scroll: The Movie was made by Kaoru Wada. In my honest opinion, the music isn’t as memorable and iconic as the music from Ghost In The Shell 1995, and Akira, but for what it is, Kaoru Wada’s score is works perfectly well with Ninja Scroll’s tone and setting. The best way that I can describe the music is that it really does belong in a film set in the genres of Period Drama and Samurai Cinema as the instruments used to make the score do have the feeling of a feudal setting. So just to recap, Kaoru Wada’s soundtrack in Ninja Scroll: The Movie is very fun to listen to (even if it doesn’t hold up to the epic scores from Akira, and Ghost In The Shell 1995).
-The Voice Acting: I will talk about both the Japanese Language, and English Dub that was done for Ninja Scroll: The Movie. The Japanese voice acting is very solid as all the voice actors do a great job sounding their parts very well. The English Dub that was done by Manga Entertainment is also very good, but if their was one thing I have to nitpick about the English Dub is the voice actor who voices Jubei (Dean Elliot). While he does a solid job with his voice acting, the accent that he provides for the character doesn’t fit with the setting the film takes place in. But like I said, it’s just a nitpick because the overall English Dub for Ninja Scroll is fine.
-The Subtitles: The English subtitles that I saw when watching Ninja Scroll: The Movie are colored Yellow, and are easy to read and stay on the screen for a good amount of time for the viewer to see them. I do gotta say however that the subtitles seem to be worded differently depending on what version you see. To clarify, I noticed how the words in the subtitles differ from the DVD I own, to the version that I watched on HULU (where is how I first saw Ninja Scroll to begin with). The best example of what I’m talking about is when in the DVD that I own, The Shogun of The Dark is subtitled “The Dark Shogun”, the subtitles on HULU just say “Shogun of The Dark”. But regardless, that really isn’t a massive flaw with the movie itself. It’s just something I wanted to bring up. So if you want to watch Ninja Scroll: The Movie in English subtitles, just expect the subtitles to be worded differently depending on what home video release, and where you watch it from.
So that’s really all I gotta say about Ninja Scroll: The Movie. While it may not be as legendary as Akira, and Ghost In The Shell 1995, Ninja Scroll: The Movie did achieved a good amount of critical and financial success when it was first released, and did contribute greatly to the Anime rise that was starting in the 1990’s (meaning that it helped people in the USA get into Anime). So if you wanna watch a very fun, and well-animated Samurai flick, please give Ninja Scroll: The Movie a watch.
I give Ninja Scroll 5/5 Stars, and Two Thumbs Up.