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Ninja Scroll: Volume One
 
 
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Ninja Scroll: Volume Two

director: Tatsuo Sato

90 minutes (15) 2003
MVM DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Thomas Cropper
Four more episodes of the excellent Ninja Scroll come in another neatly packaged DVD. Once again we see the lone ninja Jubei continuing his quest to find the Light Maiden, and running into more unseemly customers in the process.

Jubei is still trying to persuade the Light Maiden to take the stone, but she, strangely, seems reluctant. Perhaps it's the armies of monsters who leap out of the woodwork any time the stone is near - we may never know. We do not know much more about who the Light Maiden is, but we are learning a little more about the stone. Apparently it's the key to a treasure of some kind that our villains are trying to steal and that only our heroic ninja can keep away from them, but these next four episodes are really more about the past than the future. We have a mother, with her child, whose husband Jubei killed. It's an introduction to the darker side of his nature when he cheerfully admits that not only can he not remember if he was the Ninja that killed this man, he doesn't even know why. We also have a couple of characters reprising their roles from previous episodes either to enrich the story or because they have unfinished business with Jubei.

Ninja Scroll is an ideal introduction to the world of anime, which takes cartoons to a level we've never seen here in the west. The action depicted and the issues covered - of abandonment, rape, violence and murder - aren't the kind of things most people would consider suitable material for a cartoon were it to be made over here. But the result is a rich and complex art form that, although it remains only a cult favourite over here, deserves wider recognition and the release of the DVD is an ideal avenue in which to get your hands on this stuff.

Extras on the DVD do plenty to enhance the episodes themselves. Whereas last time we got an interview with the man responsible for the music, this time we get director himself. There is also a trailer and some propaganda for other anime features.
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