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.
Disclaimer: The version of the movie that I’m reviewing is NOT the 2.0 version. This is a review of the normal version of the film which I own on DVD. With that said, please enjoy the review.
The 1995 Ghost In The Shell movie is a Japanese animated science fiction and cyberpunk film directed by Mamoru Oshii, made and released by Bandai Visual and Production I.G, released into English by Manga Entertainment, and is adapted from the Manga series of the same name by Masamune Shirow (the movie even has an alternative titled called Mobile Armored Riot Police: Ghost In The Shell).
The plot of the film is about an intelligence department named Public Security Section 9 who is on the task of hunting down a massive ghost hacker called The Puppet Master. The world of Ghost In The Shell is that there exists a special technology that allows the consciousness of a human being to enter an enhanced cybernetic body (hence the title of the movie), and for there to be someone who can hack into the cybernetic bodies is a very big problem. The movie mostly centers on the main character for the film; Motoko Kusanagi, who while going along with the mission in trying to capture the Puppet Master, ends up wanting to know more about the hacker (which ends up leading up to a pretty clever and surprising plot twist that I won’t spoil in this review).
In the same vain of other Anime movies such as Akira, and Ninja Scroll, Ghost In The Shell helped introduce Japanese animation into the USA, and was the huge critical and financial success when it first came out back in the year 1995 (the movie also served as inspiration for The Matrix franchise). Does the movie hold up and aged well from it’s grand reputation though? Yes it does. Similar to what I did in my review for the Akira movie, I will talk about each aspect of Ghost In The Shell (1995) in good amount of detail, and then say my overall final thoughts on the movie.
-The Story and Writing: In a very good way, the story in Ghost In The Shell 1995 is very deep and complex, and moves at a great pace thanks to how the script is written. If there one small thing about the story (and how it’s written) that I should mention however, is that because of the complexity of the plot, the story can sometimes be hard to follow, so I would strongly recommend watching this movie multiple times in case you are unable to fully understand the story from just one viewing. As far as the character development is concerned in the story and writing for Ghost In The Shell 1995, while there aren’t any flashbacks that show each of the characters origins in great amount of detail, the characters that are mostly presented in the film do at least have solid motivations for what they are doing, and serve a good purpose in the film. So as far as Ghost In The Shell 1995’s plot and writing goes, it’s excellent. I should also mention before I forget that the movie does have a very good way of foreshadowing things that happen. I won’t go into the specifics about if for this review, but it is something I wanted to bring up about the film’s writing and plot.
-The Animation: One of the truly most memorable things about Ghost In The Shell 1995 is its animation. The movie was (at least to my best of knowledge) the first Japanese animated feature film to use an animation making process called DGA (Digitally Generated Animation). This is the result of combining cel animation, and computer graphics together. As far as how that process of making the animation for Ghost In The Shell 1995 went back then, it was done incredibly well as the backgrounds have such strong amount of detail put into them, the character movements are very strong and help the character feel real, and even the animation regarding character facial movements also does a good job at helping the characters feel alive. The use of computer generated graphics for this movie also help make the animation even better as the visuals are groundbreaking for the year that the movie came out. So without rambling on and on, the animation in Ghost In The Shell 1995 is amazing and holds up very well to this day.
-The Music/Score/Soundtrack: Another memorable part of Ghost In The Shell 1995 is the outstanding soundtrack for it that was created by Kenji Kawai. What’s very fascinating about the music is that a majority of it is actually created using the ancient Japanese language; Yamato. The overall score by Kenji Kawai in the film is beautifully haunting, and helps fit with the movie’s very deep and complex tone. There are moments however when the movie is devoid from the soundtrack, but that at times is actually a good thing because the silent moments in the film actually work with how the overall movie is made. I honestly got nothing else to say about the movie’s score, so let me just say that overall, the soundtrack in Ghost In The Shell 1995 is fantastic.
-The Voice Acting: Both the Japanese language, and English Dub voice acting for Ghost In The Shell 1995 are really good. I do have to say however that because of me watching this movie mostly in the English Dub, I will say that I strongly recommend watching the movie in the English Dub of Ghost In The Shell as all the voice actors in it do the great job with their roles as each voice actor matches the character they are voicing very well. As far as the Japanese voice acting is concerned, it’s done very well, but not as memorable as the English Dub in my opinion. So in a strange way, I will have to say to mostly stick with the English Dub of Ghost In The Shell 1995.
-The Subtitles: The DVD that I own of Ghost In The Shell 1995 includes subtitles that are colored white. The subtitles that I saw when watching the movie in the Japanese language are done very well as all the words are very easy to look at, and they stay on the screen for a good amount of time for the watcher to read them. So if you want to watch Ghost In The Shell 1995 in Japanese with English Subtitles on, be glad to know that the subtitles (at least in the DVD copy that I own) are well made.
With all that I could say about Ghost In The Shell 1995, I’ll finish up this review of it by saying that the movie truly does deserve the strong reputation that it has gotten since it first came out thanks to its deep and complex story, themes, and tones, groundbreaking animation, and breath taking music. To anyone who is a fan of Anime, Sci Fi, CyberPunk, etc, should really give Ghost In The Shell 1995 a watch.
I give Ghost In The Shell 1995 Two Thumbs Up, and 5/5 Stars.
Akira is a post apocalyptic, science fiction, and Japanese animated feature film directed and written by Katsuhiro Otomo, made by TMS (Tokyo Movie Shinsa), and originally released theatrically in Japan in the year 1988. The movie is also adapted from Katsuhiro Otomo’s own manga series of the same name.
The setting of Akira is that it is the year 2019, and Japan (more specifically, Neo Tokyo) is going through a massive economic crisis due to them trying to recover from the aftermath of World War 3, and spending most of their money for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Sports Olympics (the reason for why World War 3 happened in the movie is explained, but no spoiler about that will be said in this review). The movie’s basic plot is about a boy named Kaneda Shotaro who gets worried for one of his best friends named Tetsuo Shima after Tetsuo is taken by the Japanese military after an incident in which the biker gang that Kandea and Tetsuo are members of were fighting another biker gang (to clarify, this isn’t the very start of the movie. This only happens during the beginning of it).
The reason why Tetsuo was taken by the military is because when he got injured in the incident, he ended up getting physic powers (I recommend watching the movie for more details as to how and why he got the powers). Because of these powers he’s gotten, Tetsuo falls into madness, and is determined into re-awaking a character named Akira (who he keeps hearing about in his head) even if it means destroying the world just to do so (and yes, the movie is actually named after that character). Later on in the story, Kaneda finds out about Tetsuo’s powers and goal, and is determined into stopping one of his best friends in order to save the world.
When Akira was released in 1988, not only was it met with high critical praise and financial success, it also served as a landmark in Japanese animation (or Anime to say it more simply), and is also one of many animated products from Japan that helped introduce Anime into the West (with the others being the 1995 Ghost in the Shell movie, and Ninja Scroll from 1993). So with all that info about Akira said, does the movie live up to all of that recognition? Indeed it does, and I’m going to try talk about all the aspects of the film so that you can know why I think it is a spectacular movie (also, there will be NO spoilers in what I’m going to say, so you don’t have to worry about that).
-The Story and Writing: While the story of Akira (for the most part) ain’t anything new (even for the time that it was originally released), the story is greatly supported by a strong script that contains solid pacing, excellent character development, and just overall all the aspects good film writing needs. All the important characters are each well-written, and entire movie in general just has an epic feel to it thanks to how the script was written into allowing that. I must also include that the movie also has a satisfying ending to it (and ending I won’t go into detail about for the sake of this review). Earlier in this review, I did mention that Akira is a movie adaption of a manga of the same name by same person who directed and written the movie adaption of it (Katsuhiro Otomo). I bring this up because to anyone who’s read the manga, would know very well that there are a lot of changes made for the film adaptation in regards to some of the characters and the ending of the story (stuff I will not spoil). For how the movie adaptation of Akira was made, the changes work very well, and help the movie maintain its legendary status without alienating people who read the manga. Before I forget now I’ve just remembered, while the story and writing in Akira are very good, the film is (at times) a very dark plot that contains a lot of scenes of violence, so I certainly CAN’T recommend watching this movie if you are under 18 years of age (trust me. The movie is rated R for a reason).
-The Animation: For a animated theatrical released movie from Japan that came out in 1988, It felt more like a movie that came out in 1998. The animation in this movie truly is revolutionary as for the time, this film utilized backgrounds and character designs with strong amounts of detail put into them. All the characters have excellent facial expressions for whenever they are happy, mad, sad, etc. This a good for the animation because it helps the characters feel alive. The animation regarding the movements is also very impressive, and helps make the animation in the entire film work. I should also talk about this movie’s use of colors as I’m sure that even the colors used in the animation for this film were also revolutionary. I say this because there is just so much detail put into this movie’s colors that helped make the animation look even better.
-The Music/Score/Soundtrack: The soundtrack in Akira was made and provided by Geino Yamashirogumi, and Tsutomu Ohashi. This movie’s music is without a doubt one of the greatest movie scores of all time thanks to all the instruments, notes, and how it fits the tone of the film very well. The music is also another novelty as (at least to my knowledge anyways) I don’t think any other Anime film at the time of its release (or possibly even before that time) had music this epic. So overall, Akira’s music is great, and definitely worth listening to.
-The Voice Acting: I must state that for this review that I am going to talk about both the original Japanese language and English Dub. While I myself don’t speak Japanese, I have watched numerous movies made in Japan to the point that I am able to notice how the performances are. With that said, the Japanese voice acting in Akira is great with each voice actor and actress fitting the character they are voicing very well. The English Dub by Pioneer/Geneon is also excellent with each voice actor to voice their characters in English fitting the roles perfectly without a single one standing out. In conclusion, the voice acting in general in Akira is good.
-The Subtitles: Originally, I didn’t feel like talking about the subtitles for this movie that were included in the Pioner/Geneon DVD that I own, but to those who are reading this review, and are interested in watching this movie with the original Japanese speaking language with English subtitles, the good news about that is that the subtitles for this movie are solid. The subtitles for the DVD that I have are colored yellow, and the way that all the words are presented whenever a character is speaking look well enough for the watcher to easily see them. The words also stay on screen for a good amount of time for the watcher to see them without them having to pause the movie just to read the subtitles. So if you are looking for good English subtitles when watching Akira in Japanese, expect the subtitles to do their job just fine.
Now that I have said and pointed out all my reasons for why I believe Akira is a fantastic movie, I can certainly recommend giving it a watch as the film truly is a legendary groundbreaking work of cinematic art that has helped introduce Japanese animation to Western audiences thanks to its very strong story and writing, fabulous animation, and epic soundtrack.
I give Akira: The Movie 5/5 Stars, and Two Thumbs Up.
Jeff McComsey’s Mother Russia is a zombie graphic novel that takes place in an alternate time in history (the 1940s) in which Soviet Russia has become victim to the Zombie apocalypse (there really isn’t an explanation for it either). The story mostly focuses on a female sniper in Russia who is trying to survive from the zombies, and she ends up rescuing a little boy only to also be saved by a former German soldier along with his pet German Shepard dog.
As far as zombie survival stories go, Mother Russia surely is an entertaining read with interesting characters and a nice concept. I most certainly recommend getting the graphic novel collection as after the main story ends, the collected edition includes bonus stories giving origins to all the main characters. They are all written by Jeff McComsey, but each one is illustrated by a different artist.
Speaking of the artwork, not only did Jeff McComsey create and write Mother Russia, he also drew it as well. His artwork in the interior pages are in black and white, and it is decent to look at, and fits the tone of the story very well. The bonus stories (like I said earlier in this review) are each illustrated by different artists. While each artist has a different style of penciling and inking, each one works for the respective stories they worked on, and doesn’t really distract from the fact that they are each a huge contrast to the main story’s art.
The only nitpick I have with Mother Russia is the ending. I won’t spoil how the ending goes, but I will warn that is does give the reader a “really? That quick?” vibe. It wasn’t a terrible ending, but I felt it could’ve been better.
While Mother Russia may not be something new, ground breaking, and mind blowing, it’s certainly a good enough read if you are someone who enjoys zombies and horror.
I give Mother Russia Two Thumbs Up, and 4/5 Stars.
Methaphase is about a young boy named Ollie who is the son of a famous superhero named Sentinel. Ollie wants to be a superhero just like his father, but Ollie’s father is worried and doesn’t feel like he should because Ollie was born with Down Syndrome (meaning that Sentinel is only looking our for Ollie with good intentions). I should clarify that there is much more to the plot of Methaphase than what I just said, but I feel that saying more would just ultimately ruin anyone else’s chance of wanting to buy and read it, so I’ll just say the basic summary of it for this review.
There exists a message in Methaphase which is that no matter what condition you have, you can always achieve the best at what you wanna be, and that message is handled very well in the story. Methaphase’s writing is done very well, and story moves at a quick but solid pace. I should inform the people who are reading this review that Methaphase is only 82 pages long, but despite the short page count, the story is still a very good one thanks to the strong and powerful message that it carries.
The pencils, inks, and colors in Methaphase are all very good. Each character is designed very well, the inking helps the art look clear and easy to see, and the coloring does a fantastic job and bringing the artwork to life. Before I forget now that I’ve just thought about it, the lettering on Methaphase is done by none other than Alterna Comics owner and founder; Peter Simeti, who turns out a very solid job as far as the lettering is concerned as all the words are very easy to see.
While I don’t have anything negative to say and nitpick about Metaphase, I should inform people that this is not a single story. Meaning that there is a strong chance of a sequel happening (I won’t go into the specifics of that as you would have the read it yourself to know).
In conclusion, Methaphase is a well-made graphic novel in the superhero genre that I can totally recommend purchasing as a means to giving it a read.
I give Methaphase 4/5 Stars, and Two Thumbs Up.
Disclaimer: This review is a very short one. I normally try to have my reviews be long, but this one is an exception. I hope everyone is okay with that.
Horror in the West a western graphic novel anthology from Alterna Comics that contains 11 stories each by different creative teams. These stories include Star Calf, Under The Mountain, The Devil’s Promenade, Lawson, Brother’s Keeper, The Hunters, Pinkerton Express, Sacred Heart Of Hell, The Amulet, El Tigre, and Captured in a Flash.
Normally, I don’t read a lot of anthologies, so I tend to not be to knowledgeable of how they are suppose to be structured. With that said, I found Horror in the West to be average at best.
While each story is separate from one another, the one thing they all have in common is that their artwork is black in white. As far the art goes, some stories looked fine, while others looked a bit bad as far the artwork is concerned.
Each stories did have very good premises, but because of how short they are, I couldn’t really get invested into them. If the stories had been longer, than I would’ve gotten to appreciate them for.
For what Horror in the West is, it’s an interesting experiment in trying to combine horror with western (specially as an anthology with each story made by different teams), but in the end, it didn’t really leave much of an impact for me. I DID NOT hate it, but I’m glad to have at least read it just because I was curious.
I give Horror in the West 3/5 Stars.