With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

ACF 1744: NINJA SCROLL streets today on DVD and Blu-ray

Ninja Scroll / Jube ninpucho
Written and directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Japan, 1993, 94 minutes
Published by Sentai Filmworks
Dstributed by Section23 Films
SRP: DVD $14.98, Blu-ray $24.98

Hot on the heels of last month's release of the classic Grave of the Fireflies (my review here) comes another fantastic offering from Sentai Filmworks and Section23 Films, a classic in the action anime´ genre, Ninja Scroll. It's available on DVD and Blu-ray today. This review is based on the Blu-ray version.

Kibagami Jubai is a master swordsman who's just completed an assignment to recover a stolen sword. One night he happens upon a lovely young woman being sexually assaulted by a brute. The woman is Kagero, a poison-taster and member of the Koga ninja. Her assailant is Tessai, who has a rock hard body, sort of like The Thing from The Fantastic Four only not quite so ugly. Jubai and Kagero manage to escape, but they have not seen the last of Tessai, one of the Eight Devils of Kimon who are in cohorts with forces who would overthrow the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Jubai and Kagero find that their individual purposes and paths are inextricably intertwined not only with each other's but also with that of Dakuan, an elderly Tokugawa spy. They will have to overcome not only their antipathy, if not outright animosity, towards one another, but also the formidable enemies they will come up against if they are to survive.

The Blu-ray edition of Ninja Scroll (which has a 4:3 aspect ratio) has drop-dead vibrant colors, lovely artwork and imaginative action animation. There are three audio tracks to choose from. There's an English audio version, and a Japanese one with easy on the eyes yellow English subtitles. Finally there's a commentary audio track with director Yoshiaki Kawajiri and animation director & character designer Yutaka Minowa that is moderated by writer Hiroyuki Ohnuma. It has English subtitles in yellow and white lettering that makes it easy to follow what each person is saying. Needless to say, these audio options make for three distinct ways to experience the film, each worth repeated viewings.

While I imagine that the regular DVD version is fine, I don't think sensible fan would regret laying out a few more dollars for the Blu-ray version. It's stunning.

ACF Rating: 4/4 for the film (highest recommendation), 3.5 for the extras (based on the audio options; there are also some trailers of other offerings from Sentai Filmworks). Buy it for yourself, or "suggest" that someone buy it for you as a gift. But don't fail to add this fine film to your collection, along with Sentai's Grave of the Fireflies.

Note: Ninaja Scroll has numerous scenes of extreme animated violence and one of nudity and sexual abuse. Just make sure the intended recipient is of an appropriate age for such material if you're thinking of buying this for someone else.

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