Ninja Scroll: The Series

Ninja Scroll: The Series

DVD Rating: **

Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

Read Anton Bitel's film review of Ninja Scroll: The Series

The three discs that make up this boxed set have already been released separately by MVM, with the only addition being the natty cardboard sleeve that houses them. The made-for-television series comes in its original 4:3 ratio, with the original Japanese 2.0 audio soundtrack (English subtitless optional) as well as a very good English dub (in 5.1 surround) directed by Jack Fletcher.

Each disc has a 'creating the cover art' section, in which the camera is fixed silently on a guy sketching the disc's cover image of Jubei in black-and-white. Despite the artist's undoubted skill, it is not unlike watching paint dry, and the version on the first disc is a stultifying seven and a half minutes in length. The other two are, thankfully, shorter, but they are still the very opposite of essential viewing. More welcome are the multi-angle 'comparisons' of black-and-white storyboards with the finished colour sequences, available for select scenes on all three discs.

Copy picture

Additionally, Disc One includes an interview with the series' composers. Filmed on the cheap and sorely in need of editing, it is a great idea let down by clunky execution. At one point one of the crew can be seen passing in front of the camera, and there is no introductory caption to indicate who the interviewees actually are (in fact, electronics maestro Kitaro and multi-instrumentalist Peter 'Peas' McEvilley). The art gallery of character and background designs is much better and there is a bunch of trailers both for Ninja Scroll: The Series, and for other MVM titles.

Aside from more trailers and art gallery material, Disc Two also features two further interviews, this time with title captions. In the first, director Tatsuo Sato expresses his admiration for the original Ninja Scroll movie, mentions that his career began in animated comedy and reveals his desire to introduce a spaghetti western style to the swordplay epic. The second interview is with character designer and animation director Takahiro Yoshimatsu, who is, in many ways, the hero of the production. He claims that the most straightforwardly human character, Shigure, was the hardest to design and declares the TV series to be 'friendlier' than the Ninja Scroll feature.

Disc Three's main extra is a 20-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, which turns out to be behind the scenes of the English dubbing process only. All the principal American voice artists (Daisy Tormé, Scott Menville, Dwight Schultz, David Rasner) roll up for interviews, as well as director Jack Fletcher, but there are few insights here that you could not glean yourself simply by watching the series. Also featured for the most diehard addicts of extras are textless versions of the opening and closing credit sequences.

Reviewed on: 06 Nov 2006
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Ninja Scroll: The Series packshot
Mercenary ninja becomes involved in a violent struggle between two clans of demons.
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Product Code: MVD6009

Region: 2

Ratio: 4:3 full frame original ratio

Sound: English 5.1, Japanese 2.0

Extras: Interviews with director, character designer and composers, behind-the-scenes featurette, storyboard to feature comparison, creating the cover art, art gallery, textless opening and closing, original trailers

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