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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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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."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The old man, Dakuan, is once seen drinking something strong from a gourd, though the movie never discloses what this is.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.