Ninja Scroll: The Series

I’ve just finished watching Ninja Scroll: The Series which is a 2003 follow up series to Ninja Scroll movie. It has some pretty big shoes to fill, considering the original 1993 movie received a “100% fresh” rating from Rotten Tomatoes with 5 star from all critics.

Ninja Scroll Movie

I have high regards for the Ninja Scroll movie, and consider it to be the best Ninja anime movie by far. In terms of live action Ninja movies I definitely rank Shinobi: Heart Under Blade as top of my list.

Now, back to the Ninja Scroll series.

The good:

  • While the series is supposed to be standalone, there are plenty of hints to the movie. I.e. the cut on Jubei’s hat and also Kagero’s headband on Jubei’s scabbard.
  • There are some more insights into Jubei’s personality and the deep remifications of his past kills which he can’t even remember.
  • Contrary to most Ninja films, Jubei actually has a head and thinks for himself. Similar to Mugen from Samurai Champloo. In contrast to the dumb group of Ninjas who takes orders blindly in Azumi.
  • The famous Jubei Yagyu makes recurring appearance as Yagyu Renya, clearing up all rumours that Jubei Kibagami and Yagyu are the same person.
  • Story was good enough to make you want to see more even after the series finished with a somewhat disapointing ending

And the bad (spoiler alert):

  • Artistic style was not as good as the movie, it seems like they got a completely different artist who didn’t know what he/she was doing.
  • Stupid plot - why can’t the Haroku people just explain themselves in episode one instead of randomly attacking the girl who is their saviour.
  • Stupid supporting character - basically in the end an entire civilisation died for nothing because their chosen saviouir just wants to live a cliched normal life.
  • Combat was too simple, one slash from Jubei’s sword is all that it takes to kill most enemies. He is more of a overpowered “boss” character in the series, compared to the struggling underdog when facing the Devils of Kimon.
  • What’s up with Jubei’s celibracy factor, even Mugen from Samurai Champloo has a romantic side.

Being an old series, it can be found widely available on Youtube:

You may want to watch it if you are also a fan of the movie. But if you haven’t seen the movie, I would avoid you avoid the series until you see the movie first.