Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ninja Resurrection: The Disappointment (A Review & Rant) - It's NOT Ninja Scroll

I waited years for this?

Ninja Scroll (which, was just released on Blu-Ray this month) was an awesome action movie that I enjoyed as a kid, so when I saw Ninja Resurrection on VHS, I bought it as well.  I watched the first OVA, but the 2nd I never bought, so I never saw the conclusion.  I wouldn't know until college that Ninja Resurrection used the same font as Ninja Scroll to trick people into buying it, and that it was actually based on a series of novels and already had 3 Live Action films.  Despite this, I enjoyed the first Ninja Resurrection as an interesting set-up, was excited when I finally found the DVD of both OVA's at a Movie Stop for $5.00 this year, then greatly disappointed when I finally watched the 2nd OVA.

<center><strong>Ninja Resurrection:  OVA 1</strong></center>

Let's sum up Ninja Resurrection:  OVA 1.  We learn a long history lesson about historical figures (so that the anime can the nscrew with the history in any way it pleases); the only important thing from the narration is that there is a tale of a savior of God helping turn the people and land, but if he is stopped in any way, he could instead become the next Satan.  We see an army attacked a house, destroy the Virgin Mary statue inside, then shoot a boy to death who happened to enter.  That boy is seen my his friend Okho, who cries for his death, until it is revealed that he is alive; the bullet hit his cross.  Everyone comes out of hiding and believes it is a miracle, and the boys' cross glows with light and the Virgin Mary statue is magically re-created. 

Years Later, that same small boy (Shiro) is now the head of a farmer's movement that is fighting the local government (it's situated as Farmers = Good, Government = Bad).  Shiro tells his followers not to forget that the enemy is also dying, and that they are also suffering.  Later, he tells his mentor that he will surrender himself to the government because they are without food, and victory is now impossible.  However, his mentor tells him they must fight to the death, or everything they started will mean nothing.

Every attack the government makes fails.  At a meeting describing this by the general of the army, Jubei appears, stating he will go in.  He and four of his allies attach themselves onto a kite and decent into the castle on gliders (so, apparently, this is what really happened in local history [sarcasm]) and start killing everyone.  At one point, Jubie spots some children, wall walks past them, and continues running.  Later, they are spotted by Shiro's Mentor, who kills them (if you were watching this, this is totally obvious given his per chant for smiling malevolently when no one was looking).  With the defense down, the army is also able to get through.

Shiro meets Jubei on the roof and says he will kill himself if the women and children are protected.  Jubei agrees, but then Shiro's mentor shows up with the children's heads, telling Shiro that Jubei is not to be trusted.  Angered at Jubei's (supposed) lies, Shiro calls forth the power of good and forms a dragon out of ceiling tiles to fight Jubei.  This is where we see Shiro fall, as his anger comes lashing out, and his eyes glow with hatred which he has most likely never shown before (it is also unknown whether the power he got actually came from God or Satan).  After a long battle, Jubei uses the heads of the children to distract Shiro, and in a moment of hesitation, is able to kill Shiro and knock him back into the church.

There, however, Shiro's mentor appears with his childhood friend Ocho, and tells him to have sex with her so he can give birth to Satan.  Shiro is unable to stop the consummation, but it is assumed that Shiro will return as Satan, having given birth to himself.

The only problems with the first OVA is that you get back-story on the general Jubei talks to, for no reason whatsoever, as he is never seen again.  Also, Shiro is clearly the main character.  The OVA feels like a compressed story that hints at far greater things to come.

<center><strong>Ninja Ressurection:  OVA 2</strong></center>

I can't even begin to describe how completely annoyed I was at this.  The storytelling is off the wall, characters are raped (because it's 90's anime I suppose), people are killed, and not a single thing happens.  It ends on a cliffhanger.  This is a another set-up after the initial set-up.  What the hell kind of storytelling is this?

Before I start to sound like someone who has had their dreams crushed, I'll give you the synopsis.  First, Jubei is relaxing while two kids (a brother and sister [Onwei]) catch fish and play in the water.  Jubei suddenly remembers the two kids that were killed.  Their father returns and chastises the girl for being a tomboy, and his son for doing servant work.  Then, what follows is plot exposition (and this is in addition to the lengthily historical info that happens before the anime even starts).  Apparently, the local Shogun wants all girls of noble birth ages 15 - 22 to appear in his city, and I immediately realize it's for a virginal sacrifice.  After a long dinner scene, we cut to morning, where we see the female that cooked them dinner (Ohina) to be a fighter that defeats everyone around her.  She then spars with Onwei and they battle to a standstill.

Jubei trains everyone at this place, in case you are wondering.  He also wants to quit fighting.  He is now clearly the main character this time around.  Jubei's father and mentor train him in a flashback.  Jubei had just killed some men, and his Father/Mentor tells Jubei to attack him as if he is anyone else.  Jubei doesn't try to kill him, so Father/Mentor stakes him in the eye and tells him not to rely on strength alone, and that he used his knowledge that he would hold back to defeat him, then banishes Jubei.  Jubei doesn't like his lessons, but apparently agreed with them, because in the first OVA, he sticks out the heads of the children to distract Shiro to deal him a killing blow.

Also, why did Jubei kill Shiro?  Apparently it was because it was his duty, but it appears in the first OVA that he is almost a mercenary force or something.  It's not really explained.

Anyway, the good character set-up for Jubei's character is now pointless because Jubei in now removed from the rest of the OVA.  You heard me right:  the main character is gone from the rest of the story.  He sends Onwei (who clearly has a crush on Jubei) & Ohina off to the city, then leaves to investigate on his own, which also seems to mean, "I don't have anything to contribute to the plot anymore."  Hell, even Onwei & Ohina, who we have JUST ESTABLISHED, are gone from the rest of the OVA. 

The OVA does a total 180, as we see a guy who ran through the forest in OVA 1 then smile at the end as if he was a villian, now doing something unvillian like, drawing pictures of Buddha while surrounded by evil looking statues.  It's never explained what he is doing or why.

Then, we get a rape scene to introduce the evil demons.  Well, these aren't demons, they are 3 of the 6 masters of some fighting styles that are now evil for no reason whatsoever other than to show people that they are experienced badasses and that no one can touch.  I guess they are expected to be obstacles for Jubei to overcome and show that they are actually a viable threat, if he ever got to fight them.  One of the other demons (I don't care at all to name them or look them up, I really stopped caring at this point) kills a ninja who was spying on them, then is staked with multiple swords.  Instead of dying, we see the swords in his body push themselves out, while his intestines swirl up and cut people (yes, you heard me:  deadly killer intestines).  One of the ninja escapes, but it looks like he escapes because a third demon-ninja-fighting-style-master interfered.  Did they want him to get away?

That ninja reports to Jubei's Mentor/Father and we find that he still hates Jubei, but also thinks his follower is drunk for stating who the people that killed everyone were.

Next, onto a long and boring resurrection scene.  We see Ocho from OVA 1 give birth to Satan.  It's not pretty.  There is some smoke, some skin movements, some hair extending out of her body, and then it explodes (this takes over 10 minutes, by the way).  Shiro/Satan returns (I assume it's Shiro, he just sort of screams) and then gives his 3 followers a green glow of power (except for Shiro's old master, who just praises Satan and watches with glee the entire time).  We later see one of the follower demons that just powered up standing in the middle of a busy street festival, and then he starts killing everyone by cutting them up with his sword.  The other two followers do this as well.  People are killed for a few minutes, then the 3 fighting-style-not-zombies jump toward the screen, followed by Shiro/Satan; and then it just ends.

What the hell was this?  Why did you do a set-up of a set-up?  Why did you draw out the narrative of the resurrection for half of the entire OVA?  Why are the characters missing?  Why does this feel like 2 different writers when 1 writer is credited for both OVAs?  Why was this the last OVA?  The story is not continued anywhere, I checked.  On Wikipedia, the stories of the Live Action films are completely different (even though this is technically a sequel to one of them).  Also, Wikipedia, states that Ohiro is the girl that is raped.  If that's so, what was the point?  Why set her up as a fighter only to have her now dead?  And furthermore, where was Onwei if that was the case?  If the Demons are actual positive historical figures, were they corrupted?  If they are just lifeless husks, why do they have personalities and speech?  The characters were entirely pointless, as was the entire OVA itself.  Nothing is explained, not even Satan/Shiro's motivation or what he is.  Does Shiro have the powers of Satan?  Or, is he Satan's mindless Avatar?  Did his soul merge with Satan?  Why does he only grunt and scream?  How are we supposed to figure out what Satan/Shiro's plan are other than just killing everyone that exists?  The one thing that does get explained (the Sata/Shiro resurrection) is long and takes up way to much screen time.  At one point I realizes there was no way this would finish and I was already expecting a cliffhanger that would never be solved, but I was still pissed about it when it happened.

So, yeah, OVA 1 has potential, but OVA 2 destroyed every ounce of the potential it had.  I am not surprised that the next OVA was cancelled after this one came out, and after watching it, I'm glad I'm angry about it so that I don't care, otherwise, I'd be silently wishing for the remaining OVA's which would never come, which is a rant for another time.

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