‘Ninja Scroll’ is the 1993 anime directed and written by Yoshiaki Kawajiri. It was released in the US in 1995. Upper management of the Yamashiro clan finds gold inside a mine on their Lord’s property. They should inform him or the government. Neither is done. They’re going to keep it for themselves.
But they’re betrayed. One man wants it all for himself. He deploys his ninjas as an assassination squad. They take out the rest of upper management. Ninja leader Gemma orders his men to eliminate Jubei. He’s falsely accused of treason. A lie told to get rid of witnesses.
Jubei is the only survivor. He in turn murders Gemma. Jubei proceeds to exist as a freelance mercenary. But Gemma comes back from the dead. And he’s made friends. Collectively they’re known as the Devils of Kimon. An unholy brotherhood of mutant ninjas.
Gemma is a combo of Kitty Pride and Wolverine. While he can’t phase or have unbreakable claws, he processes absolute control his body right down to the cellular level. Able to instantly heal from any fatal wound or injury. Tessai is like Colossus. Only his skin turns to stone instead of steel. Mujuro is their version of Daredevil. Without the gymnastics or agility.
Shijima is Multiple Man. Yurimaru is Electro. Mushizo is Quasimodo with a beehive under his hump. He commands the swarm to attack. There are two equally deadly sadistic female ninjas. Benisato makes her snake tattoos become the real thing. To do her bidding. Zakuro can detonate gunpowder at will.
Jubei, trying to mind his own business, is drawn into a fight. There’s a price on his head. Strangers try to collect. Then he’s spotted by Tessai. Killing Tessai puts Jubei back on Gemma’s radar. Two obstacles to vengeance are Dakuan and Kagero.
Dakuan is a shape shifting government spy. He throws roadblocks in his way. Kagero is a food taster turned Poison Ivy. Her body is a vessel of poison. As the lone survivor of an ambush she struggles with guilt. She’s beaten, kidnapped and almost raped. These traumatic events make her suicidal. Instead of helping Jubei, she’s constantly trying to get herself killed.
The good: Inspired by the Ninpocho novel series by Futaro Yamada. Nonstop action, mayhem and epic fights. Many cool villains and one great anti-hero. Kimon Devils take out a village. To hide their evacuation of shipwrecked gold from the harbor. The honorable Mochizuki Koga ninja clan.
The bad: The convoluted plot. Very hard to follow who’s who. Multiple double and triple crosses. Why is Gemma working for the Shogun of the Dark? Shouldn’t the big bad his own boss? Conducting raids and stealing soldiers from his enemies? Forming an army with promises of gold, glory and spoils of war.
The ugly: 94 minutes good. Two hours better.
Need 400-500+ book review, blurb & posts on social media? Done in 3-4 days. $75 US via PayPal. Post on Facebook, Word Press, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads & Twitter.