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DVD Reviews:  Ninja Scroll the Series Volume 1: Dragon Stone

The Final Say!

Feature Score:
DVD Extras Score

Reviewed by Tory Favro
Distributed by:
The AV Channel
Running Time: 90 Minutes

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 get it.

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 familiar.

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 listen.

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

  • Interview with Soundtrack Composers

  • Storyboard t Feature Comparison

  • Creating the Cover Art

  • Art Gallery

  • Original Trailer

  • Motion Menus


 Copyright 2004