Ninja Scroll 10th Anniversary Special Edition - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: A-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A/B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Manga Entertainment
  • MSRP: 34.95
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1/1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ninja Scroll

Ninja Scroll 10th Anniversary Special Edition

By Andrew Tei     October 14, 2003
Release Date: September 30, 2003


Ninja Scroll 10th Anniversary Special Edition
© Manga Entertainment


What They Say
Feudal Japan - A time of danger, intrigue and deception. Jubei is a masterless ninja who travels the land alone, hiring his services to those with gold... or a worthy cause. His fearsome abilities have served him well, but a hideous plot to overthrow the government threatens to end his wandering ways and possibly his life.

When a small village succumbs to a terrible plague, a team of ninjas are sent to investigate, and realize that all is not as it seems. Ambushed, they are wiped out by a fearsome man-monster with incredible powers, leaving only one alive - Kagero, a beautiful female ninja, whose touch can bring instant death. Jubei saves her from a fate worse than death, and unwittingly becomes drawn into the web of treachery. He is soon faced with his greatest challenge, an enemy for whom death holds no fear, with the power to destroy Jubei's world.

The Review!
Manga Entertainment has released a Tenth Anniversary edition of the Ninja Scroll with remastered video and sound. If you already bought it though, does it make sense to buy it again?

Audio:

Manga went full on out with all the different sound tracks that they made available on this DVD. There are EIGHT different audio tracks on this DVD. The English and Japanese language tracks come in stereo, DD-EX, and DTS-ES, while there are also stereo tracks in French and Spanish. I'm sure if the DVD standard didn't specify just eight audio tracks, I'm sure Manga would have tried to stuff more on there.

For my primary listening session, I took advantage of the Japanese DTS-ES 6.1 track, since I did have a rear center speaker. The mix was quite well done. Directionality was very well done, and the experience was immersive. The rear center was lightly used, but that's the way it should be. Everything was easy to understand, and the music and dialogue were distortion free. Possibly the only problem was the volume level of a character's speech during one scene.

I took a quick spot check of the other sound tracks, and didn't notice anything out of the ordinary.

Video:

Video Grade Detail:
A(full screen)
B(widescreen)

Manga Entertainment delivered two versions of Ninja Scroll on a single DVD-18. On one side, we have the original 4x3 full screen, which I used for my primary viewing session. For a film made ten years ago, the source material was obviously in excellent condition. I didn't notice a single scratch on the film. The transfer was beautiful all, colors were bright and clear. Cross coloration and aliasing were nearly nonexistent.

One of the big parts about the Tenth anniversary release is Manga placing a 16x9 widescreen version on the DVD for "home theatre enthusiasts". Of course, this is pure marketing speech, as someone really into home theatre would want something in its original aspect ratio. Manga doesn't even both to list the correct aspect ratio for the film. It looks to be 1:78:1 to me. In order to do this, Manga chopped off parts of the bottom and top of the picture. Sigh. It also looked grainy to me, and the colors were not as bright as the 4x3 full screen version.

Packaging:

The cover for the Tenth Anniversary edition of Ninja Scroll contains the same picture as the original, except Manga flipped the image horizontally, made it only take up part of the cover, but they did zoom out on the picture so that more characters are seen. Every major character in the movie can be seen. There is a black background on the front that contains the same image. The back features one paragraph about the actual movie, and the rest of it is filled with marketing speech.

Ninja Scroll comes in a cardboard slipcase, and inside is a digipak. The digipack unfolds with the chapters listed on one side. A single DVD-18 is presented in the middle. There is a postcard with Kagero on it, and a poster that features the front cover. The poster picture is blurry. It seems Manga just blew up the image, and lost all detail.

Menu:

The main menu comes a few images from the show are displayed, including Jubei chopping up some snakes. In the upper right hand corner, depending on which side of the DVD you set, it says Full Screen or Widescreen. You can select Play, Scenes, Setup, and Extras. Menu time was responsive. The Setup menu allows you to choose from the 6 Japanese and English audio tracks and English subtitles, but there is no indicator on which choice is currently selected. Spanish and French are in a submenu off the setup page. The scene selection menu isn't animated. It's a passable menu.

Extras:

For a special edition, the amount of extras seems a bit small. There is a character synopsis featuring our 3 heroes, The 8 Devils of Kimon, and Lord Gemma. Six screens include information on the real life Jubei. Two interviews are also included. One with Wendee Lee (Kagero) and Dean Elliot (Jubei), and the other is with Director Yoshiaki Kawajiri. Both are twenty minutes long each. Topics go all over the place, and Kawajiri is even asked about his Animatrix work.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

It's been over 6 years since I saw Ninja Scroll, and I had never seen the original Manga DVD release. The movie still has the perfect blend of action and conversation though.

During the Tokugawa era in Japan, there are forces in Japan conspiring against the government to take it down. When a village falls to a mysterious epidemic, a spy named Dakuan is sent to discover what is going on.

A man is walking across a bridge when three thieves he had recovered a sword from for the village they stole it from suddenly accost him. He is a swordsman and takes them out easily, and his name is Jubei.

The Mochizuki Clan rules the area where the village of Shimba, and the Chamberlain sends the Koga Ninja to the area to investigate reports of several people leaving the village afterwards. Joining the ninja is Kagero, a young ninja woman who seems to be immune from poison.

The ninja proceed to the village, but a man with rock skin who can throw a double-sided blade like a boomerang, proceeds to massacre all the ninja, except Kagero who he attempts to rape. Unfortunately for the rocked man, whose name is Tessai, Jubei just happens to be resting in the small temple that was chosen for the rape. Jubei rescues Kagero, but she runs off.

Jubei continues on his journey, but Tessai does ambush him again later. After Jubei finally defeats him, Dakuan shows up to recruit Jubei to help him on his mission to figure out, but Jubei doesn't feel like helping. Unfortunately for Jubei, Dakuan makes sure to get his cooperation through other means. Later on, Kagero is brought into the cause since their enemy is the same.

The enemy turns out to be a man named Gemma, who Jubei beheaded years earlier. Somehow, he has reincarnated himself, and now leads the Eight Devils of Kimon. They are fearsome warriors, and Tessai was a member.

Each of the Devils come at our heroes one by one, and Jubei goes through challenge after challenge. Through the journey, a relationship begins to develop between Jubei and Kagero, a woman who believes love is something that isn't meant for her, yet she finds herself falling for Jubei.

Ninja Scroll is one of the most bloody and violent anime flicks you'll ever find, but it also is a good tale surrounded by those action sequences. The action scenes are fluid and beautiful to watch, despite the gore. Hell, sometimes it's just a bit fun too watching someone get their arms ripped off. The story isn't the deepest item in the world, but it serves it purpose to tie everything together.

Mad House animation studios did the animation work, and it just looks beautiful. The studio would go on to animate Perfect Blue and X. Manga provided an excellent release here in terms of the original film. I'd ignore their inane attempt at a widescreen version though. Definitely recommended though.

Features
Japanese 6.1 DTS Language,Japanese 6.1 DD Language,English 6.1 DTS Language,English 6.1 DD Language,English Subtitles,Ninja Scroll 10th Anniversary Poster,4X3 Full Screen,Digitally Remastered Enhanced 16X9 Widescreen,Director Interview, History of Jubei, English Cast Key Character Interview

Review Equipment
Toshiba 3109 to a Toshiba 36? Cinema Series via component, Pioneer VSX-810S receiver via optical, Cerwin Vega front speakers, Pinnacle center and rears


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