Ninja Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Adult Source Media
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 30
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ninja

Ninja Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     August 18, 2006
Release Date: October 25, 2005


Ninja Vol. #4
© Adult Source Media


What They Say
What is the mystery behind the hidden past of Shinjyo Reiko ? How did Mashiba Aya, who was killed by the parasite bug reappear again? Trouble after trouble comes in front of Yatsurugi Shinobu. The drama in the institute has finally come full circle.

The Review!
After some less than pleasant best of kind of releases, Ninja presents a full single episode story with an actual plot.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. This is also the only language available on this release as no English language version was made for it. The Japanese track is a pretty straightforward stereo mix that does have some minor moments of directionality but it's mostly the music that does a nice job of giving a full feeling performance. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Video:
Originally released a few years back, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The animation for the show is much more cartoonish than normal but it's full animated and rather fluid at times but it also has something of an older feel to it at times with its design. It isn't traditionally animated but it has some of that flair to it while being more cartoonish. It's filled with lots of simple vibrant colors that look good but it does suffer from some aliasing and jagged lines, especially during panning sequences. It's not a bad transfer but it's one where the actual enjoyment of it will stem from how you feel about the animation. In some ways it may look cheap but it again comes back to the more cartoonish style it has.

Packaging:
The artwork on the cover is pretty good but not quite as attractive as some previous volumes and not representative of what's inside. The front cover has a shot of Shinobu in her ninja outfit with sword out while images of other girls are behind her, some in bondage and others in fighting mode. The back cover goes light on the color and has soft pink leaves falling across it while there are images from the show filling up most of the cover underneath the minimal summary. The bottom portion has the limited information available regarding the technical aspect and really overplays the running time. No insert is included in this release. The covers are reversible where the other side is much more tame and covers up the obvious nudity either with new images or carefully placed clothing.

Menu:
The menu layout is similar to other releases from this studio in that the background is a simple wash of brownish/gold that changes out the character artwork on the right side with images from the cover art. The basic menu selections are lined along the left side as a bit of music plays along to it. Access times are nice and fast and there's little here beyond the show and a few trailers. Since there are no real selections for language other than turning the subtitles on, the discs defaults mirror our players' defaults.

Extras:
None, unless you count the bonus video episode which is at least subtitled.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Ninja series has been a real hard one to enjoy at times because while the first episode started out with something resembling a plot and characters, it devolved quickly into something like a best of clip show that made no sense, filled with far too much repetitive and bad animation that it just offended almost.

Thankfully, the fourth episode presented here breaks that trend and we get a 35 minute storyline that's fairly decent but still doesn't rise up all that much, partially because of the cartoonish animation that just feels wrong for the content. We're brought back into the Iga academy which is about to celebrate their five hundredth anniversary with a festival and young Lena and Shinobu are responsible for getting their parts of it ready since it's only five days away. They're slacking pretty hard though since Shinobu is dreaming about Saizo, so much so that she's getting off every night, which leaves Lena trying to figure out how to get some sleep.

Lena's time out of the room at night has her coming across Aya though and her apparent death some time before isn't quite all it was made out to be. With the Kouga intent on messing up the festival and continuing their centuries long war with the Iga, they start messing with some of the students and making plans against our two leads. With the death of one of the students though, Reiko sends Shinobu and Lena to figure out what the objectives really are and to help defend against any kind of attack that may happen.

Reiko's past with the Kouga is pretty deep as we see during a flashback rape scene that the Kouga had put their mark into her rather well. This has given her something to hold onto as she's worked her way up the Iga academy and in training other students so that now that the Kouga are making a move, she's able to exact her revenge. With Aya being drawn into things where she's now seemingly on the Kouga side, it puts a bit of angst into things as the two sides that were formerly friends now have to fight against each other.

The sex scenes for the show are far better than the clip shows and avoid using those horrible visual tricks to extend sequences with repetitive animation, but the animation itself here isn't all that engaging and with the rather flat dimensional characters, there's little appeal to seeing them really get going with the enemy or friends that come up along the way. The storyline does help make things more enjoyable and actually worth following but only barely.

In Summary:
The Ninja series had some slight potential at the first but it just went downhill ever since and up through this volume. I was glad to see the return of an actual plot this time around but even that doesn't help too much in the long run with relatively weak animation and uninteresting sex scenes. There's little good to say about the show and that's been said, so this show is really just for those who can't get enough of ninja adult shows or are completists that have to have everything. Though better than past volumes, this show is still a pass overall in my book.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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