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Ninja Scroll Review

  • Runtime: 1 hr. 34 min.
  • Genres: Anime, Martial Arts, Adventure
  • Director:Yoshiaki Kawajiri

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 17+

Extreme violence and graphic sex in anime classic.

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.

  • 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?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    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.

  • rolemodels true1

    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.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    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 false4

    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 false2

    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 false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

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