Can you believe that I got through ten years of life without ever having seen Ninja Scroll? I can’t either but I’ve just made up for it, with the 10th anniversary edition. And wow, what an experience. The colours are brilliant, the remastered animation is crisp and clear, and the action never stops.
What can I say about the story? Well, this classic of the genre takes you back to a mythical Japan where historical samurai meet demons with some really odd powers. Where all the men have powerful chins and shoulders at least five axe-handles across. Where all the women are beautiful and deadly. Where villains have hordes of identical minions who scurry up a gangplank carrying trunks full of gold then waste their lives in a fruitless attack on the hero. And where everybody is trying to kill everybody else. I’m surprised that anyone survived long enough to make it to adulthood.
Particularly favourite moments involve the beautiful demon with more snakes than she knows what to do with, although she comes up with some enterprising options. I must admit that, though I admire her tattoos, I’d prefer mine to stay attached: after all, they cost me a bundle of cash and 6 hours of pain, and I don’t want that just swimming away. Another favourite involves the hero, in the midst of a burning hold (that’s ship-talk for “bottom bit of the ship where you store stuff”), trying to kill the villain who just keeps restoring himself in a very smug way. The hero, following the tradition of bar-brawlers everywhere, resorts to the ultimate tactic: a “moothful o’ heedies” (that’s Scot for “a mouthful of forehead”. A headbutt).
Overall it’s eight demons, two ninjas, no waiting.