Saturday, February 8, 2014

FROM THE ASHES: Segment # 2

Simply the Bees Knees

   Ahh, Ninja Scroll. How can one film contain so much shiny goodness? I'll tell you. For starters, it was written and directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri (1950 - ), who has worked on numerous successful projects such as: Wicked City, The Animatrix, Highlander The Search For Vengance, and my personal favorite of the list, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. The character designs, which are ever so drool worthy, were done by Yutaka Minowa, who has pretty much worked on all of my favorite franchises in anime such as: Record of Lodoss War, Metropolis, Escaflowne The Movie, Devil May Cry the animated series, X, and again, Highlander The Search For Vengance, and Vampire Hunter D : Bloodlust. Hot damn! 

   The 1990s there were the big three movies in anime and they were: Akira, Ninja Scroll, and Ghost in the Shell. As far as the vhs sales for the original release of Ninja Scroll, that sold more than 70 thousand copies in the North American continent. That's quite a lot especially for vhs. The success of the feature film prompted a 13-episode series to follow. It was sadly considered subpar an unnecessary by many fans. Sure, we wanted more Ninja Scroll, just...not...that. On a happier note, yay comics! Yes there are comics. Published by Wildstorm in 2006, a12 issue series that continues where the film ended was released. And I can at least personally say ( because I own it and read it all ) that it is a far more satisfactory continuation.

   Now the film itself. Holy caricatures Batman! This film has so many character types that long time anime fans could point out and giggle at when they see them: the creepy old perv sage, the silent and tough hot ninja chick, the blind swordsman who only speaks in riddles, the overblown bad guy with muscles so sculpted that Michelangelo's David looks downright scrawny, oh the list goes on. Outside all that silliness however, the film has a truly dark tone with only its hero at the softly lit center. To fulfill my best efforts to not have spoilers I shall continue with a general overview. This is a timeless story in its esscence, with many strong themes such as: the value and journey of discovering one's own self-worth, the pursuit of justice and goals at any cost, respect for both sexes, the prices man pays for greed fueled endeavors, among countless others. In one interview director Yoshiaki Kawajiri stated that he wanted Ninja Scroll to be a period piece focusing on the artistry of ninja tactics, but to also have it be enjoyable and accessible to general audiences who would not have a background knowledge of Japanese history. Personally, I feel he highly succeeded. Ninja Scroll is an eloquent masterpiece of dark beauty, taking a peek behind the thin veil of propriety and tradition that the greedy hide behind when scheming for power and control. This film is a buffet for the senses, filled with such diverse sights and sounds to enchant and ensnare any audience. Both the Japanese cast and English cast are memorable, but for my own nostalgia I always go with the English cast. And there you have it: Ninja Scroll. Well worth a view for any anime, martial arts, feudal period piece, and all around film fan. Don't miss out!

From The Ashes, V.~

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