Ninja Scroll (unrated)
ANN; IMDb; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Hulu; iTunes
Well, there's plenty of ninjas, but no scrolls, as far as I noticed. Anyway, it's about a wandering ninja named Jubei Kibagami, a master swordsman for hire. Um... I didn't manage to follow the entirety of the plot, but basically, it seems a village called Shimoda is wiped out by an epidemic, so some chamberlain guy sends a group of Koga ninja to investigate. They're all slaughtered by a single giant ninja named Tessai, except for a woman named Kagero. He kidnaps her, but she's rescued by Jubei. When Kagero returns to her master, he tells her to investigate the matter further and report back. Meanwhile, that one monstrous ninja wants revenge against Jubei. The ninja is defeated, but he's apparently just one of eight "Devils of Kimon." And the others will want revenge against Jubei, as well. Then there's this old guy named Dakuon, who wants to recruit Jubei for a mission he's on, but Jubei isn't interested.
Dakuon is a spy for the Tokugawa Shogunate, and he poisons Jubei to force him to help him in his mission, in exchange for the antidote plus 100 pieces of gold. The two of them will also be joined by Kagero, who is the chamberlain's poison-taster, and so she's now so full of poison that she can't be poisoned, but anyone who makes love to her, or even kisses her, will die. Anyway... the three of them will have to face various other ninja, each with their own strange techniques, such as controlling snakes or wasps. I'm assuming they were the 8 Devils of Kimon, but I didn't actually count how many of them there were. They seem to be led by someone named Yurimaru, but he himself answers to a man named Himuro Gemma.
The odd thing about that is, Jubei himself had killed Gemma five years earlier, for reasons that are explained in a flashback. But apparently Gemma knows a reincarnation technique, so he can't die. Anyway... there's some gold from a secret mine, which the Devils of Kimon wanted to acquire. And apparently this relates to what happened five years ago. And um, there's someone mentioned several times called the Shogun of the Dark, and I'm not sure who that is, actually. Maybe it's Kimon. Whoever it is, I don't think we ever saw him. But I think they're planning a rebellion against the Tokugawa Shogunate. And they were working with a group of Toyotomi ninja. But in the end, Gemma wanted to take the gold for himself, and become Shogun of the Dark, I guess, build a ninja army and rule Japan from the shadows. As I say, I didn't follow everything very well. Then of course there was the Mochizuki clan, for whom Kagero worked, but they were too small a clan to be much of a threat to either side of this larger conflict.
Well, not much more I can say. I'm trying not to give away too much, especially how it all ends. But Jubei grows closer to Kagero. And of course there's an intense battle between Jubei and Gemma. And um... yeah, that's all I can think to say, I guess. Hmmm. I'm not a fan of this style of animation, at least as far as faces are concerned. But I've certainly seen worse, and everything else looked good enough. And while the plot confused me a bit, in general I thought it was a pretty good story. And the ninja fights and all that were good. Kinda made me think without anime like this movie, later stuff like Naruto probably wouldn't exist, so I certainly appreciate that.
There's also a 13 episode TV series that followed the movie, which I haven't seen yet but would probably like to eventually. And there's going to be another Ninja Scroll movie at some point....