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File:Ninja scroll 7057.jpg

Ninja Scroll is an award-winning 1993 Anime film set during the Tokugawa period; as one of Manga Entertainment's first major releases during the mid-1990s anime boom, Ninja Scroll is fondly remembered by those who entered the anime fandom during this period.

The main story begins when a dying peasant girl staggers into the village next to hers and claims a plague has wiped out her village before collapsing. The area is promptly evacuated and quarantined, but the leader of the local lord's ninja force receives reports of a group of strangers seen in the wilderness around the village just before the plague outbreak and asks for permission to investigate.

As the ninja squad make their way towards Shimoda village, they're slaughtered by a giant of a man who can turn his skin into stone. The only survivor of the massacre is Kagero, the sole female ninja in the squad -- and she survives only because the stone man (Tessai) wants to rape her. The empty temple he takes her to isn't quite empty, however, as wandering Ronin Jubei -- the film's protagonist -- has stopped there. Jubei manages to wound Tessai in a brief fight and helps Kagero escape, but the duo parts ways afterward.

Kagero returns to report about the death of her squad, and is promptly sent back to gather more information about the attackers. In the meantime, Jubei is attacked by Tessai and then by another strange member of the group of super ninja that Tessai is a part of: the Eight Devils of Kimon. Jubei is saved from one of these attacks by Dakuan, a crazy old man who works as a government agent tracking the Eight Devils. Dakuan asks Jubei to help him, but Jubei refuses until Dakuan traps Jubei in a Poison and Cure Gambit before revealing a startling piece of information: the leader of the Eight Devils is Himuro Genma, a man Jubei has some history with -- and whom Jubei insists he killed years ago.

Jubei's only chance of survival lies in defeating the Eight Devils of Kimon and retrieving the antidote he needs, and working together with Dakuan and Kagero (after they encounter each other again) appears to give him a greater chance of staying alive -- but even for a Master Swordsman, taking on the rest of the Eight Devils and their schemes is a formidable challenge as the Devils turn all of their considerable power to wiping out the three protagonists. The Eight Devils are:

  • Tessai, a giant who can turn his skin to stone at will and wields a BFS that doubles as a boomerang.
  • Benisato, who has tattoos of snakes that she can animate, can summon swarms of poisonous snakes, and can shed her skin to escape.
  • Yurimaru, the electrokinetic Bishonen. He can also send long-distance messages through nearly-invisible wires.
  • Shijima, an assassin who can disappear into shadows and wields a crazy spring-loaded claw/crossbow contraption. He also has a sort of mind control/puppet master ability that he uses to temporarily turn Kagero against Jubei.
  • Utsutsu Mujuro, the blind swordsman.
  • Mushizo, the ugly hunchback who is a living hornet nest.
  • Zakuro, the female explosive specialist whose body appears to be stitched together like Frankenstein's monster and who also gives the same treatment to the Action Bombs she creates.
  • Himuro Genma, who cannot die.

There is also a minor subplot of the strange love rectangle between Yurimaru, Zakuro, Genma, and Benisato. Zakuro is hot for Yurimaru (who is gay and sleeping with Genma), while Genma is also sleeping with Benisato, much to the chagrin of Yurimaru. For these characters, Love Hurts.

A semi-related anime series was created years after the film's release. A cinematic sequel was announced in 2005, but it's been dangling in Development Hell ever since.


Ninja Scroll provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Hero: Utsuru Mujuro has Jubei dead to rights in their fight before Kagero tries to save Jubei by backstabbing Mujuro; the attack fails and leaves Kagero's blade stuck in a bamboo tree. When Mujuro later attempts a killing blow on Jubei, his sword hits against Kagero's blade (which he can no longer track by his hearing). Jubei doesn't waste the opportunity, and Mujuro dies while wondering how Jubei blocked his sword and stabbed him simultaneously.
  • Acquired Poison Immunity: Kagero is immune to all types of poison, although it's implied she's a poison taster because of her immunity (instead of being immune because she's a poison taster).
  • Action Bomb: Zagero turns the leader of the Koga ninjas into one to attack Kagero and Jubei.
  • And I Must Scream / A Fate Worse Than Death: This is Genma's final fate.
  • Badass Grandpa: Dakuan
  • Badass Normal: Unlike the Devils, Jubei doesn't have any special powers, which means he must rely on his basic skills and his wits to come out ahead.
    • For a given value of "basic", anyway. Jubei has the ability to perform an iaijutsu draw, which can strike an enemy or object that is beyond the actual range of his blade. The visual effects used to convey this are fairly understated in the movie (and much less so in the series).
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Jubei is this to Kagero when he confronts Tessai
    • Kagero returns the favour when Jubei fights Utsuro Mujuro.
  • Blade Reflection: Utsutsu Mujuro uses this to blind Jubei.
  • Blood Lust: Tessai drinks the blood from the lead Koga ninja's dismembered arm to freak out Kagero.
  • Body Horror: Good God.
  • Boob Bite: Tessai inhales an entire breast before clamping down, enough to inspire the "Ninja scrolling" slang verb in 2010. This show was broadcast to Canadian children in the late 1990s on Teletoon's debut before parents noticed.
  • Broken Bird: Kagero has been pretty much used and abused by everyone until she meets Jubei.
  • Can't Have Sex Ever: Kagero's body absorbs poisons instead of processing them; it makes her ideal for her job, but the numerous toxins have made her bodily fluids so poisonous that even kissing someone else would be deadly. Tessai finds out the hard way.
  • Carrying the Antidote: This trope is subverted; Jubei thinks Dakuan is doing this, so he attempts to Cut The Knot by hitting Dakuan with the poison too, but Dakuan had already thrown away the poisoned shuriken and replaced it with an ordinary one.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Kagero reports the massacre to her chamberlain, who is...preoccupied, much to Kagero's disgust (and possibly jealousy, depending on how you interpret the face she makes).
  • Conservation of Ninjitsu: Justified Trope; Jubei blows through a group of Mooks in the opening scene, but is forced to fight for his life against the Eight Devils of Kimon throughout the rest of the film.
  • Corpse Land: One town is littered with diseased corpses. Then we find out they were poisoned...
  • Death Seeker: Kagero shows signs of this throughout the movie. In the dub, Jubei chastises Kagero several times over her willingness to throw her life away even in situations where she doesn't need to risk her life.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Genma
  • Depraved Homosexual: Yurimaru
  • Deus Sex Machina:
    • What Shijima does to Kagero to take control of her appears to involve molesting her; see Rape as Drama below.
    • Benisato extrudes a snake from her vagina to bite Kagero.
    • Kagero poisons people who sleep with her. This is subverted when Jubei chooses not to sleep with Kagero despite knowing she's the cure to Dakuan's poison.
  • Did Not Do the Research: The melting point of gold is nearly eleven times the boiling point of water; a fire burning at those temperatures would have completely destroyed the ship long before the molten gold could have enveloped Genma. (Also: trying to battle in a fire of such magnitude would be akin to dueling inside a blast furnace.)
  • Disability Superpower: Don't mess with the blind swordsman.
  • Effeminate Misogynistic Guy: Yurimaru
  • Everything Is Better With Explosions: Zakuro
  • Exotic Weapon Supremacy: Shijima
  • Eye Scream: Tessai is not hard as rock all over.
  • Fan Disservice: Lots of it, although given the tone of the film, it's difficult to say whether it was intended that way...
  • Fan Service:
    • Benisato and Kagero, though rather disturbing.
    • Zakuro's outfit qualifies.
    • There's also Jubei's appearance at the hot spring.
  • Foe Yay: Yurimaru really seemed to be getting his jollies from stringing up Jubei and electrocuting him.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Kagero's heartbreaking farewell to Jubei.
  • Gosh Hornet: Mushizo sends a bevy of hornets to attack Kagero.
  • He Who Fights Monsters

 Dakuan: "When you fight demons, be a demon yourself, or you can't win!"

  • High-Pressure Blood: It rains blood during the Koga massacre.
  • Honor Before Reason: Jubei refuses to sleep with Kagero despite knowing the act would cured him. They eventually do kiss just before she dies.
  • Hot Springs Episode: Jubei drops by a hot spring after fighting Tessai.
  • If I Can't Have You: Zakuro doesn't take rejection by gay guys very well.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Benisato and Kagero both have powers that revolve around this.
  • Intimate Healing: Dakuan tells Kagero she has to sleep with Jubei to cure his poison. Their kiss is implied to be enough to cure him.
  • Irony: The death of Utsutsu Mujuro is rather ironic: after saying Jubei's sight was a weakness, Mujuro is killed because he couldn't see a knife stuck in a bamboo tree (which deflected his attack and gave Jubei the chance to deliver the killing blow).
  • Jerkass: The chamberlain and Dakuan fall under this trope.
  • Juggle Fu: In Jubei's introduction and Establishing Character Moment, he simply had to take care of three disgruntled assailants before he could finish his declicious rice-ball. So, he tosses said rice-ball straright into the air as two of his would-be muderers leapt into him, blocks the first with his sheathed sword and knocks him silly with a headbutt, takes his spear and smashes the second incoming idiot unconcious with it, then cuts the pistol of the third in half and sheathes his sword in one fast motion so fast the audience couldnt' see it, and then opens his hand and catches the rice ball, nonchalantly finishing his lunch afterwards. It's as Badass as it sounds.
  • Last Kiss: In a World where lust, violence, and greed have cheapened sex as an expression of love, Kagero's simple kiss for Jubei was an expression of love stronger than any other.
  • Mad Bomber: Zakuro
  • Made of Iron: Tessai
  • Make Sure He's Dead: Yurimaru detonates an entire river trying to kill Jubei and his friends -- then makes sure to comb it for dead bodies.
  • Master of Your Domain: The Big Bad has an extreme example of this trope.
  • Meaningful Name: Tessai means "Made of Iron.
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: Dakuan
  • Ninja: Every named character in the film is a ninja.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The final fight between Genma and Jubei is easily one of these.
  • One-Man Army: The best way to describe Jubei VS Genma's minions would be: Lawnmower VS Grass.
  • Pillars of Moral Character: Kagero
  • Poisonous Person: Kagero
  • Psycho Electro: Yurimaru
  • Rape as Drama:
    • When Kagero resists Tessai's attempts to rape her, he flat-out tells her he wouldn't mind raping her corpse instead.
    • Shijima molests Kagero, but whether it's part of establishing his mind control over her or for his own jollies is never made clear.
  • Razor Wind: This is Jubei's only supernatural power (other than his ability to survive getting the crap beaten out of him by Tessai and Genma).
  • Shout-Out:
    • Well, sort of. Some of the film's character designers also worked on Samurai Shodown and its sequels, and several characters' designs are based on characters from Ninja Scroll: Caffeine Nicotine (Dakuan); Tachibana Ukyo (Mujuro); Shiki (Benisato); Amakusa (Yurimaru); Basara (Shijima); Sieger (Genma).
      • In a more direct fashion: Kibagami Jubei's name comes from Kibagami Genjuro and Yagyu Jubei.
    • Mujuro is a blind swordsman in the vein of Zatoichi.
  • Significant Haircut: Kagero cuts off her topknot to show she's not going to Stay in the Kitchen while her fellow ninjas are out risking their lives.
  • Smug Snake: Benisato
  • A Storm Is Coming: Jubei says this as he runs off at the end of the film's opening scene.
  • Sword Sparks
  • Suck Out the Poison: Jubei attempts to do this to Kagero's thigh after she's bitten by a snake, but he earns a swift kick for the effort (as she was trying to protect Jubei).
  • Summon to Hand: Jubei does this with his sword via a barely-visible string.
  • Taking You with Me: Tessai attempted this with Jubei, but failed. (Tessai left an impression of Jubei's face in stone so his comrades could avenge him, though.)
  • Tragic Keepsake: Jubei ties Kagero's headband on his sword's scabbard.
  • Tsundere: Kagero is a rare tragic example of this trope; she didn't learn to express her feelings until it was too late.
  • Twinkle Toes Samurai: Utsutsu Mujuro.
  • Use Your Head: During the climax, Jubei manages to knock Genma to the ground -- despite having a broken arm -- and repeatedly headbutts Genma hard enough to cave his face in. Genma gets back up seconds later, but still...
  • Villainous Rescue: Yurimaru has strung up Jubei with his wires and is torturing him by via electrocution -- then Zakuro uses one of her "living bombs" to kill Yurimari (Jubei manages to escape, although he is severely hurt).
  • Walking the Earth: Jubei starts the movie doing this. He ends the movie in the same way.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: The Koga ninja clan is regarded as expendable; their lord regards their slaughter with irritation, since they didn't do their job properly.
  • Woman Scorned: Zakuro
  • Worthy Opponent: Mujuro
  • Yandere: Zakuro
  • Yaoi Guys: This trope is alluded to with Genma and Yurimaru.
  • You Have Failed Me / You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Yurimaru kills Benisato when she outlives her usefulness by failing twice to kill Jubei in one evening; the fact she was sleeping with Genma, his lover, was an added bonus.
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