directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri (1993)
The words “Ninja Scroll” echoed in the halls of my freshman dorm. Nerds coming from all corners of the country and globe were getting introduced to anime with this bloody action packed oddity, all thanks, if I remember correctly, to one Hal Lee who passed a well worn VHS around Nickerson Hall. With explicit sex scenes, demon monsters, and arm ripping/blood soaked fights, well, needless to say the dudes were INTO it. I however, never saw it til last night (thank you Netflix + AppleTV).
Like most things Japanese, Ninja Scroll is somewhat inscrutable, but that hardly matters. Whether you follow the story about a secret gold mine, an old man spy, and a bisexual who plays a deadly game of telephone or not, there’s just so much good stuff to look at. From rape minded rock monsters to ninja birds, from vagina snakes to magic bee swarms, the movie hits the ground running and never stops.
In short, though, Jubei is a ninja for hire who talks with the insensitive staccato of a teenage boy that just learned the word ‘shit” as in “Shit! A cast off skin!!”. He meets up with a girl ninja Kagero who is poison to any man that sleeps with her. Together they reluctantly (since they are fiercely independent, of course) join forces with a sneaky old man to defeat a team of demons with strange abilities who want nothing more than world domination through destruction and a pirate ship full of gold.
In a huge sea of anime, which is daunting to traverse, this one stands out with it’s inventive monsters drawn from folklore, stunningly beautiful artwork and a plot that speaks to my D&D heart.
The movie spawned a sequel series and word has it that Leonardo DiCaprio owns the rights to a planned live action movie coming next year.