Jubei Ninpucho: Ninja Scroll - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
International Title
 Ninja Scroll
Music By: Kaoru Wada
Record Label: ADV Music
Running Time: 45:56 Discs: 1
Release: December 2003 CD Number: CD-005
Anthony Romero
Thanks goes to Jessica Stan for sending this in for review!

This release by ADV is a US printing of the original Toshiba EMI soundtrack to Ninja Scroll (TOCT-8035). For this release they decided to utilize the Romaji version of the Japanese title. An odd choice, given how famous the movie is under its Ninja Scroll name. Regardless, this score is composed by Kaoru Wada, of InuYasha fame, with songs by Ryohei Yamanashi. While not a bad score, it's ultimately a little forgettable although one of the better entries in Wada's career. It does, however, feature two great songs that really elevate the release.

Now I'm not a fan of Karou Wada. While I enjoy a few themes from his InuYasha scores, as a whole it's a small percentage. That said, I find Ninja Scroll to be one of the more enjoyable Wada scores. It does, though, still suffer from the normal Wada downfall: good themes dragged down by bad moments. The best example of this is also, sadly, what is otherwise the best theme on the disc. This is the "Blood Wind" theme. It plays during the famously brutal scene where Tessai is massacring the Koga Ninjas. It starts off really sinister, with a good sense of the foreboding from deep horn work. It then switches into a high pace piece, adding a welcome sense of energy but keeping the sensation that things are now taking a turn for the worse. Sadly it then devolves into some awkward horn work, which is unfortunate as the theme was so grand before that. The high energy element returns, thankfully, in "Pursuit" for the scene where they are trying to escape from the wasps. It's not quite as on point as the earlier version, and is also plagued by the same awkward horn use sadly.

The rest of the score ranges a bit, although Wada's preference for traditional Japanese instruments is on display. This includes traditional Japanese string and flute instruments on tracks such as the 8 minute "Kagerou". "Visions", "Devil Swordsman" and "Dark Shadow" demonstrate this a bit too, although only in a small segment in the case of the latter. While there is some reputation of themes here, the score does start fresh with unique pieces like the slightly whimsical "Prologue" and the march-like "Jubei" theme.

The disc also features two vocal songs by artist Ryohei Yamanashi (spelled Ryouhei on the booklet). The first, called "To Those Who Face the Wind", has a very exotic and upbeat vibe to it. It's starts off with a middle eastern flavor before a Peruvian flute kicks in followed by Yamanashi's great voice. It's a energetic track that feels totally out of place with the dark tone of Ninja Scroll... and was actually never used in the film. While I can't find the back story to this song, it's possible it was created for a CD single or was going to be the end title for the first half of Ninja Scroll. The latter seems like a remote possibility as even though they had at one point planned to sell the film in two parts, ala Super Atragon (1995), it was decided during production to avoid this rather than post production. The second song on this disc, "Somewhere, Faraway, Everyone is Listening to a Ballad", was used in the film during the end credits. It's a soothing melody that fits the film a bit better, as it sounds wishful and works for the backdrop of Jubei and the fireflies.

Overall, mixed feelings about this soundtrack. Huge fans of the 1993 Anime should enjoy this. Those with a passing interest are probably better off skipping it, especially with its lower run time, but it does have a few saving graces.
Rating: Star Rating
  1. Prologue
  2. Jubei
  3. Eight Warriors of the Demon Clan
  4. Blood Wind
  5. Kagerou
  6. Visions
  7. Devil Shadow
  8. To Those Who Face the Wind
    By: Ryohei Yamanashi
  9. Pursuit
  10. Devil Swordsman
  11. Strategy
  12. Reincarnation
  13. Struggle to the Death
  14. Epilogue
  15. Somewhere, Faraway, Everyone is Listening to a Ballad
    By: Ryohei Yamanashi