Ninja Scroll (Jūbei Ninpūchō) is a historical thriller anime that is set in feudal Japan. It was written by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, who has made a name for himself in the anime thriller department. Ninja Scroll was released in Japan in 1993 and made its way to America in 1996. Since its release in the west, it has become one of the most popular, and well known, anime movies to come from Japan. It has a huge fan base and appeals to anime lovers and non-anime lovers alike due to its complex and fascinating story. Ninja Scroll is often used as a “first timer” anime for those that have never watched an anime before. It’s story is so universal that it can be enjoyed by any.
There is no one story line doing on in Ninja Scroll. True to anime form, it is a complex tale, weaving in and out of different plots until it comes to a climactic end. The movie opens with a group of Ninjas being attacked and slaughtered by a giant stone golem. Only one person survives: a female ninja named Kagero. Kagero is not just any female ninja, but is also the poison-taster. The golem takes Kagero back to his lair and proceeds to rape her, but is interrupted from his task by Jubei Kibagami.
Jubei is a wandering samurai who happens upon the rape taking place. After a bloody battle, he manages to defeat the golem. Kagero explains that her group of ninjas was being sent to find out why a plague has been sweeping the country side. Jubei himself is trying to discover that answer as well, and they shortly discover, with the help of a mysterious monk, that an old enemy of Jubei’s named Himuro Gemma, has hired the 8 Devils of Kimon to aid him in his quest to overthrow the government.
The 8 Devils of Kimon are strange, supernatural beings that all attack Jubei, the golem being the first. Jubei also has to fight a blind swordsman, a woman whose snake tattoos come to live, and the wasp fighter. Though out it all, Kagero is with Jubei, attempting to help. It is quickly discovered that the only reason Jubei was able to defeat the rock golem was because he raped Kagero. Kagero, Jubei finds out, is filled with poison. If a man even kisses her lips, he will die. The rape weakened the golem enough that Jubei had a chance to defeat him.
Kagero and Jubei become close as the anime goes on, even though Jubei knows he can never touch her. At one point Jubei becomes poisoned, and Kagero tells him that the only way to get rid of a poison is to counter-act it with another. She strips and offers him her body. Already respecting and caring for her, he refuses.
Kagero, Jubei and the wandering monk have a lot of enemies to conquer in order to stop the plot to overthrow the government. But with Kagero’s talents and Jubei’s sword skills, they might just stand a fighting chance.