Blu-ray: Ninja Scroll (Sentai Filmworks) [2012]


Ninja Scroll

English Blu-ray Title (Region A)

Ninja Scroll: The Motion Picture


Japanese (2.0 Surround), English (5.1 Surround)

Aspect Ratio:

94 minutes
Sentai Filmworks
1.33:1 Anamorphic


Ninja Scroll



  • Menus (English)
  • Chapters (24)
  • Trailers: Children Who Chase Lost Voices (US), Towanoquan (US), Persona 4 the Animation (US), Intrique in the Bakumatsu ~ Irohanihoheto (US), Un-Go (US), Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere (US)
  • Commentary track with director Yoshiaki Kawajiri and animation director Yutaka Minowa



By: Anthony Romero

OVAs, or direct to home video animated movies, have a well earned bad reputation. Ninja Scroll is an exception to the norm, being an action packed, highly entertaining entry with high production values. Incredibly violent and overly sexualized, the film also gave Anime a bad stereotype in the West as this film is for mature audiences only. Regardless of the film's legacy, it's one of the better known Anime in the US. This release is the first release of the film on Blu-Ray in the States and does an excellent job with the overall presentation, offering great video and audio quality, although lacking when it comes to extras.

 Video: Star Rating

Ninja Scroll looks stellar on this release. The most obvious thing to note is the incredible noise reduction used on the movie. The animation looks clear, like a modern production rather than one created in the 1990's. Details are also crisp, with no overt signs of compression or negatives introduced by the noise reduction process. As a result, the movie looks fantastic in high definition. Sadly, the colors are a bit muted, although the more earthy tones seen in the film do a better job of matching the bleak outlook of the film than a vibrant array of colors might. The black level is also a little low, though. While I prefer this over some of the really dark transfers that I have seen on the Blu-ray format, all the same a deeper black contrast would have been nice. For whatever reason, the text on the end credits does streak a little on this release, something that was improved for the 2015 edition.

Ninja Scroll is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, or "full screen". Being a made for home video release, it was never given a widescreen treatment.


 Audio: Star Rating

There are two audio tracks contained on this Blu-ray. The default is a 5.1 English dub surround track. The dubbing performance, done by Manga Entertainment for their DVD release, is iffy. If anyone grew up with the older DVD they will likely appreciate its inclusion, though. However, my main complaint with this track are the sound effects. While the voice performances sound great in surround, there is a slight echo to the sound effects. The added directionality just doesn't sound natural and really forced in the grand scheme of things.

Thankfully the disc also offers a stellar 2.0 Japanese version of the audio track. This one sounds flawless, with high fidelity and no discrepancies to be noted. Dialogue, effects and the soundtrack all sound really nice in the frame.

The Japanese track can be accompanied by removable English subtitles.


 Extras: Star Rating

Before diving into the extras, it's worth noting that this disc has a real, real annoying commercial that plays before arriving at the menu. This is a rather cheap advert for The Anime Network which features someone screaming about the content available there.

Now, that out of the way, the bonus content on this release is light. It offers adverts to a variety of other animated programing, although none of these are the original trailers and more like footage set to music making their value solely to promote the other available titles from Sentai Filmworks.

The disc does offer one true extra, though, in the form of a commentary from director Yoshiaki Kawajiri and animation director Yutaka Minowa. It's moderated by Hiroyuki Ohnuma, an author who presents himself as a writer which, from a quick Google search, seems that most have confused him as writing this film when that was director Kawajiri. The duo talk about creating the film, and do briefly reflect on the process behind restoring the film for the Blu-ray. As a bit more background, this commentary track was created by a company called Flying Dog in Japan for their 2012 release of the movie on Blu-ray. While it feels like neither director prepared ahead of time, the commentary feels natural and regardless some nice information is learned. This extra is spoken in Japanese and offers removable English subtitles to translate.


 Overview: Star Rating

Ignoring the lacking extras, this is otherwise a solid release of one of the most famous OVAs ever created. For fans of the more violent Anime productions, this release gets a strong recommendation. That said, if you are choosing between this and the 2015 release, go for the latter version as it's marginally improved.

As a side note, the back of this Blu-ray touts the 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes for the film. In reality its 100% off of just six reviews, while an incorrect double listing has it at 86% off of just seven reviews. Either way, there are so few reviews on the site for the movie it feels odd to single this out.