Mania Grade: B-
0 Comments | Add
Rate & Share:
- Audio Rating: A
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: B-
- Menus Rating: A-
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 17 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Ninja Resurrection
By Edward Etkin
February 16, 2002
Release Date: November 16, 1999
I have been waiting for this disc for a while having often picked up the VHS box in a local store. While the title (even the font!) and the main character's name "Jubei" may seem familiar to fans of Ninja Scroll, these OAVs have nothing at all to do with that movie. An obvious attempt to cash in on the popularity of Ninja Scroll....
The packaging is fairly standard for current ADV releases with some very nice cover art. I had a bit of trouble getting the disk out as ADV seems to be trying out various retaining mechanisms (this one is different from the one used in Battle angel -- a simultaneous release).
The menu is VERY nice - animated with music and nice transition effects w/o noticeable slowdowns. Extras include the previews as well as scene selection and a nice slide show.
The quality of video is excellent. While many of the colors in both episodes are dark and muted, the imagery is of exceptional clarity and sharpness (although I must confess that using $100 binary s-video cables throughout does make a visible difference). There is no pixellation or artifacts of any kind.
The audio is of excellent quality as well. Nice surround effects in places and crisp precise speech and music. The English dub is OK, but I skipped it in favor of the Japanese language track (as I always do). The subtitles are nice and clear but there are a few small timing issues where they move too fast to read.
The animation style is unusual and very artistic with some interesting effects. The action is furious in places and is well-animated. There are many "cool scenes" with reflections of action on weapon surfaces, etc. However be warned -- these movies are ULTRA-VIOLENT! People, and even little children get sliced and diced with intestines and flesh gobbets flying and splattering all around. The severed heads of two little kids are a significant plot point... Also there is sex (between a mutilated dying man and a woman) and a very violent rape scene with the victim being bloodily murdered at the end. Do not watch this with your kids!
Onwards to content. This is where the release falls down a bit. The first episode is concerned with a group of late 17th century Christian Japanese farmers led by a young man who is believed to be the reincarnation of Christ (but a prophecy states that if he is deflected from his path of goodness he will be reborn as Satan). The farmers rebelled against their lord and have holed up in a fortress under this man's leadership. The lord wants the rebellion crushed, but the young man's magic and the faith of his followers prevents any successful attacks by the lord's forces. Did I mention that these followers wear Medieval-looking European Plate armor?
The Lord has no choice but to send in his elite ninja death force (including a ninjas with rocket pistols, a ninja with a folding wooden rocket launcher and a ninja with an automatic folding flying mecha suit -- don't ask!). Overall the first episode is OK if a bit over-the top. Its is not clear who the main character is -- it seems to wander between a few characters.
The second episode is confusing -- it shifts focus to the leader of the ninja death force from episode 1 an unknown time after the battle with the Christians -- he now seems a samurai relaxing at his country estate (what happened to his ninja force friends? They never re-appear!). A complex plot begins to unfold. The plot involves political maneuvering by Daimyo lords, undead famous Japanese warriors and re-birth of Satan. Curiously, Jubei is not at all involved in these plots!
The undead samurai curiously decide to work with Satan and begin slaughtering crowds of people and then the show ends abruptly with no conflict resolution at all.... Jubei never even shows up. Huh? There are about 15 plot strings left completely hanging and ignored. I am not aware of any planned sequels and if none are planned then the 2nd episode is completely idiotic. If a sequel is planned then I would be curious to see how some very bizarre plots work out.
Overall, if you are a fan of ultra-violent fighting anime with nice action animation and great sound, pick this up as eye candy. Don't watch this for the story -- you will be disappointed (esp. with the second episode).
Sony Trinitron XBR 32" TV, Toshiba 3109 DVD player, Pioneer ELITE VS26TX DD/THX A/V Receiver, Binary S-Video and Optical Link Cables from CinemaQuest, BOSE AM7 / Polk Studio Monitor Speakers