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  • Full Frame
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • French: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX
  • Japanese: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX
  • English: DTS 6.1 Surround ES
  • Japanese: DTS 6.1 Surround ES
  • 6 Theatrical trailer
  • 11 Cast/crew biographies - Actually character biographies
  • Featurette - The Voice Actor's Studio
  • Interviews - Director Yoshiaki Kawajiri
  • DVD Text - The History of Jubei
  • Jacket picture

Ninja Scroll: 10th Anniversary SE

Madman Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 91 mins . R . PAL


My old animation classmates were always going on about how cool this film was, but I, in my former anti-animé mindset, didn’t choose to watch it. Recently though, and in light of my coming around to animé, I relented and finally saw it.

Wow. Pretty cool alright.

I won’t go into the story detail here - you can visit the original DVDnet review for that. What I will discuss though is the difference this film bears to so many others among the animé set.

Perhaps granted a clean vision in that I’ve only truly entered into the animé debate since starting here at DVDnet, plus having worked in animation, I can see the difficulty of scenes that may flash past unnoticed by the average fan. With these two factors in mind I can say that Ninja Scroll has some very complex animation on top of a quite different story to the regular mecha-type animé. Using factual and historical characters and telling traditional legends here, we are granted a subject not really covered as well as it should be. Given that the country of origin is Japan, there must be a wealth of ancient tales and stories ripe for the telling yet instead animé chooses to mostly go with fantasy or future tales. No doubt there will be a flood of animé fans writing me saying ‘Oh yes, but there’s...’ or ‘What about...?’ and that’s cool, you’d be right. I am probably omitting many titles from my overall viewpoint, but my point lies in the wish that more animé was of this or the Crouching Tiger variety.

"...My best hat...!"

Some truly awesome fight scenes and liberal waves of explosive bloodletting interspersed with some (probably needless) sex scenes contribute to making this a very adult vehicle indeed. And that’s good. It’s still commonplace for many unenlightened adults to think ‘cartoons’ are just for kids. I’m sure the 91 minutes it takes to view this particular edit would change that peculiar idea in them forever.

So, did I like it?
While it isn’t always easy to follow the storyline, with so many characters and a complex web of intrigue, it’s still an awesome adventure story with a little comedy interspersed for comic relief. To fans of the original edited version, I’m sure the additions I’ll describe in a moment are more than enough to warrant the purchase of this 10th Anniversary Special Edition.


Shot back in ancient times when digital wasn’t commonplace, this is taken from hand painted cels to film. Delivered here in the 4:3 ratio, (just like its predecessor, unfortunately) the film’s layouts seem to work for that size screen and so we still have some nicely framed shots and some beautiful imagery. I would have believed this made for cinema though, so I was disappointed it wasn’t widescreen. I've since learned that this has been 'sculpted' into widescreen by removing pieces from both top and bottom of the original print. Brutal, but it still looks kickarse, so don’t fret.

We do get occasional cel artefacts, but these are unavoidable given the original technology. Film artefacts are less apparent throughout though. Mostly the picture looks beautiful. Colours are fresh and bright and alive and truly add depth to the fully rendered backgrounds. There is one sequence late in the film of some punching that looks a little video-gamish and some mild compression in a few frames between 1:11:58 – 1:12:08. These are small faults though and don’t disparage the overall appeal of the visuals much, if at all.


Well the technology here outstrips my system. Granted us in both Japanese and English DTS 6.1 ES plus regular Dolby Surround 5.1, I was forced to listen to the 5.1 Surround. It rocks anyway.

The film sounds perfect with some deeply resonant music from cellos and progressively paced orchestral movements. Dialogue is all clear and well spoken, with the occasional humourous inflection for the audience. I listened to both versions and while I don’t understand Japanese I’m sure it’s as perfect as the English is. The only hassle with the dialogue is in its delivery being a teensy bit softer at times, requiring a nudge of the remote volume.

Sound effects are great here, with plenty of swishing and splashing of claret. Fight scenes in the bamboo forests are awesome in the surrounds, as are some of the ocean sounds in the last third of the film. Overall, a dynamic mix that wholly impresses.


As some of these extras directly mention the tenth anniversary edition, it’s obvious they were created for this release. Our first is a recent interview with director Yoshiaki Kawajiri, which runs for 20:48 and is a video camera on a tripod or countertop pointed at him only for the entirety affair. There isn't even a zoom at any point, so it gets a little boring visually, however the soft-spoken director does reflect upon some interesting things.

Next up is the Voice Actor’s Studio. This featurette gives us some recent interviews with the lead English cast of Wendee Lee (Kageiro) and Dean Wein (Jubei). It’s a little grainy ocassionally, but is an interesting excursion into the recording process, with some reflections upon the original release. This runs for 16:27.

The History of Jubei is but six pages of text going into just that, plus the politics of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Character profiles follow and there are 11 of these at one page each with a character soundbite from the film.

Finally, six trailers as Madman propaganda. Included here is Ninja Scroll – The Series, Samurai X: Reflections, Patlabor WXIII, Hellsing, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust and Biohunter.

There’s also a nice jacket picture included, as per usual from Madman DVD. Overall there are some interesting pieces added here, but the film is naturally the killer highlight of the DVD and I’m sure would have buyers queuing regardless of any extras included.


Well, I’ve finally seen Ninja Scroll and I’m thankful I got to see this version first, rather than a grainy video or even the edited version. This is as the film was intended to be seen, and with this relatively clean print and the digitally remastered and mixed soundtrack, makes this the only way to see it.

I’m thoroughly impressed by this film and its DVD treatment and I know fans of the original edit will eat this up. It’s a great adventure, the animation is superb and the treatment is top of the range. A must have for any discerning animé fan.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3536
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      And I quote...
    "Ninja Scroll finally evolves to the full measure of how it was meant to be seen with awesome visuals, killer sound and truly bloodthirsty animation... but sadly, a hachet job on the widescreen."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Receiver:
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          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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