Fans of the original story and newcomers
alike will be delighted with the tale of Ninja Scroll the series. Following
the exploits of ninja for hire, Jubei Kibagamu, volume one of this series
deals with the Dragon Stone and those who would destroy everything in order to
We are introduced to the characters in this
tale gradually and at a pace that you can get to know them and therefore bond
with them more. I found it interesting that Jubei is introduced to this series
in pretty much the same way he was in the original feature with him
interrupting an attack by clapping his hands. This scene alone lets new viewers
know how cool this character is and pulls old fans back in with something
Set in feudal Japan, the action is thick and
fast in the series as is the nudity and gore that made the original such a
hit. Ninja Scroll is bound to get the attention of anyone that watches for a
number of reasons! Combine the visual feast with a brilliant storyline and you
are setting yourself up for some fantastic viewing.
Ninja Scroll gives us the chance to see the
different clans that inhabit this world and how they interact with each other.
The Hiruko clan protect the Dragon Stone and the only person who can wield it
is the Light Maiden, whom Jubei unwittingly is set to protecting after her
village is destroyed in a brutal attack. The Kimon clan is after the Stone for
the power that it represents. Jubei is caught in the middle of this action and
in one shocking moment the Stone is broken in two with Jubei taking one half
and the Kimon stealing the other.
One of the strengths of this series is that
you will actually care about the characters and what they are doing on the
show. The storyline is solid as a rock and the animation style is second to
none. It's not for the faint of heart with plenty of blood, nasty monsters and
a little bit of nudity thrown in for good measure.
Based on the strength of this first disc in
the series I'd say that we are in for a hell of a ride and I am really looking
forward to checking out the rest of the discs. Recommended for old fans and
newcomers alike. There are four episodes on this disc.
The disc is shown in
4:3 full screen and looks wonderful. Everything is nice and clear with no
problems to report. A widescreen option would have been far nicer and some of
the scenes certainly demand it, especially the battle scenes. The show really
does have the look of something that should be in 16:9 and just isn't. For the
most part it doesn't hurt the show too much but there are times that you can
see just how much more it would benefit it. The menu system is pretty simple
and just flashes from one screen to the next without any animation. In the
main menu, the text is quite blurred.
You have a choice here
of Dolby Digital 5.1 surround in English and a 2.0 mix in Japanese with
English subtitles. The DVD is a pleasure to listen to, especially in English
as all channels work well and the sounds of combat are excellent. The actual
soundtrack itself is of a high quality and every character can be heard
clearly and the timing for the English dub is very good too.
There are a few extras on this disc and for the most part I wasn't too
enthused by them as they were just a series of tacked on parts. My favourite
parts were the Interview with the Composer which featured two interviews with
both Main and Closing theme composer Kitaro, whom I have heard of before and
it was interesting to see what he thought of the whole animation process.
We then see an interview with composer Peter McEvilley that illustrated the
technique used to do the music within the show and throughout, creating themes
and the fun he had working with Kitaro. It's a real eye opener and well worth
The other section I thought was good was the storyboard to feature
comparison with the option of hitting the alternate angle button to see the
original sketch and the end animated result. It's interesting and worth
watching. The other small part is watching an artist draw the DVD cover art on
a small piece of paper, I have no idea why it's there. It's briefly
interesting. The rest is hit or miss.
Ninja Scroll the
Series Vol. 1: Dragon Stone Features