Wrath of the Ninja: The Yotoden Movie Anime Review
Legend of the Mysterious Blade - Movie Version
US Release By
In the year 1563 or something like that (I don't think that's actually when he lived) Oda Nobunaga is leading his unholy demon armies across Japan to take it over. He has destroyed the three ninja clans: Kasumi, Hyuga, and Hagakure. Possessing one of the three mystic swords of sorcery, Ayame leaves to find the people who possess the other two swords: Sakon from Hyuga and Ryoga from Hagakure. Together they go off to destroy Oda Nobunaga and avenge their clans. However, things heat up when the demons attempt to merge the underworld with the human world... Can our brave heroes rescue us?
Wrath of the Ninja: the Yotoden movie was the first thing I ever saw where Oda Nobunaga was the bad guy. Ever since, there have been plenty of things like that, and even more anime about ninjas who go off to fight demons. If you're a die hard fan of Ninja Scroll, you might want to see this. The story is definitely not original. It borrows too much from anime tradition. Myself, I'm not a big fan of superviolent blood infested anime. On another story note, the subtitle "The Yotoden Movie" comes from the fact that this is based off a three part OAV called Yotoden: Chronicle of the Warlord Period. In a move almost as stupid as those made by American TV networks trying to edit Hokuto no Ken for five year olds, they hacked the story portions out of the OAV, slapped it on a DVD, and called it Wrath of the Ninja.
The story may not be original, but at least the Yotoden OAV had one. This hacked DVD has the parts of the movie that involved both fountains of blood and story, but anything to do with the story that didn't involve fountains of blood was hacked. Most of the story goes completely unexplained. To make things worse, the idiots stopped producing subtitled VHS OAV with the complete story. Unfortunately, this was the first US Manga Corps release I saw, and subsequent release's terrible dubbing did nothing to make me think better of them. Which brings me to the sound. The subtitled version has okay acting and the voices fit the characters quite well, especially the oboro ninja's freakish high voices. The three main characters also had good voices in the sub. The dub was terrible. Voices were flat and emotionless, oftentimes not fitting the characters at all. The oboro ninja's great freakish high voices from the sub were changed to men who sounded like they were begging for money on the streets. The background music fit the movie, but most of it didn't catch my ear at all. The ending song sounds like it should be in a ball room or something. The translation from sub to dub was fairly faithful. I only speak two words of Japanese, though I'd like to learn more, so I can't speak for the translation from Japanese to English.
The animation was actually pretty good IMO, even though it was made circa 1989. The textures look realistic. Backgrounds were rather dull, but everything moving was quite fluidly and realistically animated. Even blood was well animated. The characters are a little questionable. Ayame and Sakon have definite personalities, and even a little romance (Ayame is a girl, in case ya didn't know. Ayame is a girl's name) but the problem lies in the other characters. Ryoga in particular has no personality whatsoever, and every side character was around long enough to say a few words and then they were dead. So many people died that after a while I got confused whether I was watching an anime or some kind of demented documentary about how they kill cows in slaughterhouses. In the end, it seemed that everyone within the entire country of Japan was dead except Ayame. The character designs were pretty good, with everyone having a unique look. The oboro ninja especially were well designed. In one scene, it looks like one of the oboro ninja is gearing up for a tentacle rape scene like in some hentai anime. Luckily, this is only suggested, not shown.
I really can't think of anything more to say. If you want extreme amounts of blood not hindered by a story, I'd say get it. If you like a dash of story and a little less blood, get something like Cyber City Oedo 808 or something.
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Notes and Trivia
The movie is a theatrical version of the three-episode OAV series Sengoku Kitan Youtouden (戦国奇譚 妖刀伝; Mysterious Story of a Civil War - Legend of the Mysterious Blade). The OAVs were cut together and shortened by about 40 minutes to make a theatrical movie. Note that this was not done by US Manga Corps, but for release in Japan.
The real-life Oda Nobunaga rose from a relatively lowly position to conquer most of Japan between about 1560 and 1582, when he was killed in a coup. He is famed for his military tactics, and frequently shows up in anime and video games, often as an exaggerated villain.
US DVD Review
Was originally available on a bilingual DVD as only the movie, which was recently re-released in an "anime 101" edition. Also available in a 2-disc "Collector's Edition" that includes both the movie version and the 3-episode OAV series it's composed of. The Collector's Edition, in addition to Japanese and English dialogue and English subtitles, features historical and cultural notes and an art gallery.
Appropriately rated 16-up by USM.
Violence: 4 - Enough blood for a whole war.
Nudity: 1 - A few panty shots.
Sex/Mature Themes: 2 - Suggested tentacle rape; nothing shown.
Language: 1 - Nothing of note.
Available in North America from US Manga Corps on bilingual DVD, both alone in an "anime 101" re-release and as part of a "Collector's Edition" 2-disc set that also includes the OAV series that it's made from. Was previously available on bilingual DVD and dubbed VHS.