Ninja Scroll: The Series (Jūbē Ninpūchō Ryūhōgyoku Hen)

In many ways this is a less compelling echo of the film.

Same lead character of Jubei, similar quest feel with stumbling blocks presented by different monsters/adversaries to defeat, and there’s even some (toned down in comparison) sketchy content, but all without the production budget and schedule of a feature film.

Ninja Scroll: The Series (Jūbē Ninpūchō Ryūhōgyoku Hen) 2003

Naturally, there are going to be differences between the two forms – and I don’t always like to compare based on budget; as I should take the time to describe and evaluate a thing upon its own terms, right?

Still, I think at least some comparisons are worthwhile for this review – one of which being the MA vs R rating.

Another is the tone, far more comedic at times.

The Ninja Scroll series has significantly slower pacing too, as its straight-forward quest storyline is stretched to fit into the monster-of-the-week format (a format that I usually love).

Despite what probably sounds like a long list of grievances here, I enjoyed individual episodes enough to overlook the at-times stark differences between series and film, such as the Shelter from the Rain and A Dragon Within eps.

It was interesting also how bold this one is, with more exaggerated character design and the use of brighter colours; the series does ensure that it’s distinct from the film. However, in terms of storyline, in a way, the anime seems only generally concerned with the main quest its characters are on, and the supporting cast has limited impact on plot or theme, leaving the heavy-lifting to Jubei.

(Well, aside from Shigure, but she’s sort of ‘tagging along’ in her own story, sadly).

Further, while the design of a lot of the creatures and enemies were usually pretty interesting, during a lot of their scenes, I found myself keen get back to the main quest.  

In that respect, the last two episodes were among my favs, since the team got to the lost shrine/city at last and kicked the magical aspect up a few notches at the same time. (There were also a few fun surprises toward the end, a nice escalation of stakes also).

However, I’m not sure I’d recommend Ninja Scroll to everyone, but if you love supernatural ninja stories there’s going to be at least a few elements you’ll enjoy. In addition, I liked the OP a lot!

3 Stars

4 thoughts on “Ninja Scroll: The Series (Jūbē Ninpūchō Ryūhōgyoku Hen)

  1. I love the film, am a huge fan. But when I tried to watch the show, I really couldn’t get into it. I wonder if it’s because I picked up relatively quickly after watching the film so the differences and quality variations of the writing were too fresh. I loved reading your write-up. It makes me wanna give the series a second chance.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! I’d love to see what you think if you give the series another chance – it’s probably both not as disappointing as I made it out to be, while at the same time, not as great as I wanted it to be 😀

      Watching them fairly close together would be hard on the series, yeah! I’m hoping to review the film one day but it’s a little daunting in terms of its legacy, lol

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah, that legacy is what made me wait so long to watch it as well, so I totally understand haha. I think it’s important to remember it’s definitely a product of its time when going into it. That’s like my only advice for watching it.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. That’s a good point – I felt that last time I re-watched it actually, yeah, very much a product of its time!

          I wonder if what I’m most worried about in terms of reviewing it is whether I can step aside from my appreciation of the film and really see its flaws, or at least, its shortcomings? And at the same time, set aside my own hang-ups when it comes to reviewing 😀

          Liked by 1 person

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