Archives for : Edo Period

Ninja Scroll on Blu-ray (anime review)

Ninja ScrollTitle: Ninja Scroll: The Motion Picture

Director: Yoshiaki Kawajiri

Studio: Madhouse

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Re-release Date: May 19th, 2015

Format: Blu-ray / 94 minutes / Feature Film

Genre: Action, Adventure, Edo Period, Historical

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B+


Jubei Kibagami has always been the master dealer of death, but in rescuing a ninja woman from a monster he sets loose a chain of events that puts death in his own veins and sends them on a nightmarish odyssey through a surreal and devil infested ancient Japan. How do demonic possessions, an annihilated village, and a man Jubei thought safely buried in his past all connect? If Jubei can’t piece the blood-soaked clues together, his only consolation will be that he won’t live to regret it for very long!


Some films and series keep finding their way back into the spotlight  and consistently are begin resurrected just to try and make some more money. In the case of Ninja Scroll saw it most recent reincarnation in December of 2012 when it was re-released on DVD and now Sentai Filmworks has moved it onto Blu-ray. I know that I’ve seen plenty of older series and movies reproduced on Blu-ray and I am constantly stumped as to what difference it makes. For Ninja Scroll I see a little improvement in color and brightness, but overall I can’t say it is a hit for me. I almost like it on the original Manga Entertainment VHS version just because a gritty look to the film adds to its mystic.

Overall Grade: B+

I know that Ninja Scroll is a anime classic and the one thing that stands out is the action and battles. The simplistic violence that is presented comments on how cruel that time period was. The only thing that really makes a difference for me is the blatant simplicity these films and stories were created and written in the 80’s and 90’s. They thought that they were presenting some deep commentary, but in fact were playing to the basic fan base of the single males audience and gave us plenty of violence and sex to keep the viewer interested. I have a feeling that if they were to make it any more complicated they would have lost their audience and it wasn’t until later in the decade that it was discovered that deeper reflection or complicated plot lines really do make a difference.

Ninja Scroll is wonderfully animated and the action scenes are phenomenal but the plot is simple and only slightly interesting. I’m not sure how this latest iteration of the film is going to go over. I suspect that it will only be a item for the collector who wants to own it on blu-ray. I can’t say that the high definition doesn’t really make the film any better.

Short Peace (anime review)

Short PeaceTitle: Short Peace

Directors: Possessions; Shuhei Morita, Combustile; Katsuhiro Otomo, Gambo; Hiroaki Ando,  A Farewell To Weapons; Hajime Katoki.

Writer / Creator: Possessions; Shuhei Morita, Combustile; Katsuhiro Otomo, Gambo; Hiroaki Ando, A Farewell To Weapons;  Studio is Sunrise.

Studio: All Short Films are done at Sunrise.

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Aug. 5th,

Format: Blu-ray / 4 short films / 68 minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Edo Period, Sci Fi

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B+


In 1995, Katsuhiro Otomo’s anthology Memories showcased the work of upcoming superstars of the anime world. Now, Otomo’s spotlight shifts to a fresh generation of master creators with an all-new anthology of visionary films.

A lone traveler is confronted by unusual spirits in an abandoned shrine in the 2013 Academy Award nominated Possessions (Tsukumo), directed by Shuhei Morita (Coicent, Kakurenbo). A mysterious white bear defends the royal family from the predations of a red demon in the brutal Gambo, directed by Hiroaki Ando (Five Numbers!) from Redline’s Katsuhito Ishii’s original story with character designs by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (Neon Genesis Evangelion).

The focus shifts from supernatural to science fiction for the action-packed A Farewell To Weapons (Buki Yo Saraba), as Mobile Suit Gundam designer Hajime Katoki helms Otomo’s tour-de-force saga of men battling robotic tanks in apocalyptic Tokyo, while grandmaster Otomo himself assumes the directorial reigns for a spectacular tale of love, honor and firefighting in ancient Japan with the multi-award winning Combustible (Hi-No-Youjin).

Prepare your senses for the animated films that are taking the critical world by storm as a new era in anime is ushered in with Katsuhiro Otomo’s Short Peace!


Compilation sets are not as common as they used to be and for as much fun as they are there was often a real letdown when they came out. The expectation that we would see something amazing was always followed by dashed hopes and a sense that the future for anime is nothing new. Now comes Short Peace and a look at four short films that approach animation in very different ways.

Before I get into the films I have to mention the opening sequence. In some ways it was very special in itself and managed to heighten my expectations for the films. Now as the films go I was immediately shocked by the look of the first film, Possession, looked. I thought I was looking at a edo period version of Appleseed. Now this could be construed as something great because I really like Appleseed and feel like it was a ground breaker for its time. Now-a-days  this blocky style of Computer Graphics looks dated and somewhat naive, but as soon as you get into the story this feeling of obsolescence fades away quickly. The story is based on an old Taoist belief and brings the idea to life in an imaginative way. By the end of the story I didn’t care about the animation style.

Combustile is a different story all together. This is another Edo period film that quietly takes on a simple story of the loss of childhood and dreams. I loved the look, but found the story to be lacking in substance and ended up leaving me flat. I think that what really happened is that there just wasn’t time to connect with the characters  and the complex human aspect to the story needed a larger opportunity to develop. None-the-less, it comes off as the weakest of them all.

Gambo is a interesting story of alien devastation and also during the Edo period. The look of Gambo is outstanding and gives a slick stylized look to a naturalistic film. The story is straight forward but the overall look is what takes this one home. There is also a battle at the end that is rather intense. This clearly is what helps make this a memorable anime.

The last film, A Farewell To Weapons, is by far the slickest of all the films. It is not based on the past but rather in the future and carries with it a rather realistic opinion of what happens after humanity is done playing god with weapons and weapon systems. It may also be the one with the least complex of all the stories. Even though is is simple in form the animation is beautifully done. It matched the subject matter and came across with a realist impression. It also managed to show us how good Computer Graphics have gotten.

Overall Grade: B+

Unlike other compilation sets like Voices of a Distant Star, by Shinkia , or Heavy Metal, Short Peace doesn’t seem to providing us a glimpse of the next great director / creator. Although, I was impressed with Gambo and A Farewell To Weapons for their ability to give us a slick anime that left a real impact.  Short Peace does provide a solid hour of entertainment and because of the variety of styles it keeps us engaged. In closing, this compilation set could be a genuine addition to any anime collection.

Fusé: Memoirs of a Huntress (anime review)

Fuse: Memoirs of a HuntressTitle: Fusé: Memoirs of a Huntress premium edition

Director: Masayuki Miyaji

Studio: TMS Entertainment

U. S. Distributor: NIS America

U. S. Release Date: May 6th, 2014

Format: Blu-ray / Feature Film / 110 minutes

Genre: Supernatural, Edo Period, Romance

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-



Hamaji, a young huntress from the mountains, stumbles into the middle of a shogun’s vendetta against a group of human and dog hybrids – the Fuse. Rumors of Fuse murdering innocent people in the bustling city of Edo have sparked a bounty for their heads. Hamaji joins the hunt for this dangerous quarry along with her brother, but after accidentally befriending one of them, Hamaji is torn between two worlds: her life as a self-reliant huntress, and the young woman her new friend has helped her to uncover.


Fusé: Memoirs of a Huntress is one of those films that you must give it some time to develop. The first 20 minutes are all about setting the plot up and after that it becomes very easy to sucked into this beautiful film. With the rich color and rather straight forward story the characters come alive and make you root for them and their progression through the film.

The animation is stunning. It is rich and full of vibrant color that keeps you interested and at the same time allows the love story to wash over you like a slow moving stream. This juxtaposition of imagry and story serves this film well. I makes the story become all the more important as the dramatic final scenes come to fruition.

Overall Grade: A-

Fusé: Memoirs of a Huntress is one of those films that just might fade into obscurity, but I certainly hope not. It is rich story that has plenty of emotion and is able to tell a rather pure love story in a way that is neither overbearing or sappy by nature. I believe that most ages would enjoy this film but would not recommend it for younger audiences due to some of the violence.


This premium edition includes a hardcover, 32-page, full-color artbook, which contains character information, concept sketches, an interview with the director, and setting illustrations. I really feel that this artbook showcases the quality of the animation and the artistry that went into creating this fine film.