Ninja Scroll

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Ninja Scroll Movie Poster Image
Extreme violence and graphic sex in anime classic.
  • NR
  • 1993
  • 94 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

Parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

The hero, Jubei, begins the story as a loner, working only for money and uninterested in causes. He becomes involved in this battle against his wishes, but eventually learns to work with others toward a common goal. He also learns to believe in someone else other than himself, and even falls in love. Unfortunately, part of his journey involves revenge.

Positive role models & representations

Jubei starts out as a loner, working only for money rather than any actual causes. He is reluctantly drawn into a new battle and eventually learns to work with others and to believe in others. But part of his story still hinges on revenge. On the other hand, Kagero is a tough, powerful female character, but she winds up being rescued by the male hero and also suffers rape by a monster. Even so, she manages not to lose her humanity and her faith in others. In all, it's a mixed bag, but there are some admirable traits here and there.

Violence

Very strong fantasy violence here, including sword fighting, gallons of blood (and a blood "rainstorm"), electrocution, limbs ripped off, drinking of blood, bodies and heads split in half, eyeball piercing, head-butting, dead bodies, dead animals, and other various, scary monster images. A main character dies. Perhaps worst of all is a rape sequence with a monster forcing itself upon a naked woman.

Sex

A man has sex, doggy-style, with a woman. (It appears to be consensual, with nudity, thrusting, grunting, and moaning.) In another scene, the heroine takes off her clothes and offers herself to the hero; it will apparently help save his life from a deadly poison. He refuses.

Language

The language is much stronger in the Japanese version with English subtitles. The English-dubbed language track tends to soften some of the harsher words. "S--t" is used in the subtitles many times, but not as often in the English language track. Other fairly frequent words include "hell," "damn," "God" and "bastard."

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

The old man, Dakuan, is once seen drinking something strong from a gourd, though the movie never discloses what this is.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ninja Scroll is a classic anime (Japanese animation), made in 1993. It's one of the best-known titles among fans in the United States. If your child is a fan of the genre, he or she will eventually come upon this movie. It contains severe, extreme fantasy violence, with fighting, gushing and raining blood, slicing-and-dicing, pummeling, and death. It also contains a brutal rape sequence in which a monster forces itself upon a naked girl, and there is a very vivid man-on-woman sex scene as well. Language is much stronger if viewers choose the Japanese language track and the English subtitles. The English-dubbed track tends to soften curse words. It's beautifully made, with some incredible action and artwork, and the male and female heroes have some admirable qualities, but parents should exercise strong caution in showing this to kids under 17.

User Reviews

Parent of a 12 year old Written bydiaryofamommy January 7, 2012

Not for kids or young teens, may be too cheesy for adults

Between the extreme violence and graphicly sexual scenes, this is not for anyone under 16 (and of course my son won't be watching this), but some of the sc...
Parent of a 13, 15, and 16 year old Written byNervousParentOf3Boys April 4, 2015

of any anime I will not let my teens watch this one.

Horrible for my teens. I won't let them watch even when they're 43. They don't need to be watching graphic sex.
Kid, 8 years old April 27, 2013

What's the story?

Jubei is a wandering samurai-for-hire, with deadly sword-fighting skills. During his travels, he happens upon a village that appears to have been wiped out by a plague, but in reality, eight powerful, evil creatures, the Devils of Kimon, have done the damage in order to retrieve some lost gold. Jubei rescues a girl ninja, Kagero, but finds himself the Devils' new target; they will continue to attack him one by one. Worse, it turns out that Jubei's old enemy Gemma has been reincarnated and is behind all the violence. With the help of an elderly little spy, Jubei must survive this onslaught of deadly attacks, and -- possibly more difficult -- resist falling in love with the mysterious Kagero.

Is it any good?

The movie features some truly dazzling action sequences and some tense fight scenes. Characters zip through the trees and move quick as a flash; there's a real sense of speed and weight to these scenes. It also does a wonderful job setting up a rich atmosphere and the time period of feudal Japan with excellent artwork and character designs. The "devils" are appropriately scary, and the movie manages a constant sense of mystery and dread. It should be noted, however, that the violence is very, very strong here, including sequences of explicit sex (and even rape). This is definitely not for kids.

Along with titles like Akira and Ghost in the Shell, Ninja Scroll is considered one of the classics of anime in the West. Like many others of its genre, the plot is very complex and relies heavily on "backstory" events that occur well before the movie begins. Eventually it becomes clear that we get three heroes: a good guy, a tough, pretty girl, and a wise old man. Everyone else in the story is a bad guy, and everything clicks into place.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's extreme violence. What effect did it have on you? How did it make you feel? Did you feel tense, or excited? Or disturbed?

  • As a ninja, is Kagero a strong female hero, or is she a stereotype?

  • What makes Jubei change from a wandering samurai-for-hire into a real hero who believes in his cause? Is it revenge? Or is there something more?

Movie details

For kids who love anime

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