Manga is proud to present the anime classic, Ninja Scroll on Blu-ray for the first time ever! This new HD transfer of the classic action-anime from acclaimed director, Yoshiaki Kawajiri and Madhouse Studio (Summer Wars, Redline, Animatrix) will be available as a strictly limited edition Double Play Blu-ray/DVD Steelbook ™. A ninja-for-hire is forced into fighting an old nemesis who is bent on overthrowing the Japanese government. His nemesis is also the leader of a group of demons each with superhuman powers. Also includes an exclusive Director Commentary (Japanese language with English subtitles).
“Look’s like a storm’s brewing,” comments the wandering swordsman Jubei at the start of Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s action classic, Ninja Scroll. Its opening minutes are full of portents. In the first scene, Jubei moseys across a wooden bridge, like a gunslinger at high noon; pity the fools who mess with him. We see riders framed by a raging sea; crows peck at dead villagers. Soon the action is soaring, as ninja warriors leap through tree branches, fighting a giant with a skin of rock. Strap yourself in; any dangling limbs are liable to be lopped off.
Ninja Scroll is crammed with memorable images, set-pieces and characters. Like many of the best international anime hits, the contents of Ninja Scroll are foreign yet familiar. Instead of the future megacities of Akira, we’re deep in the Japanese countryside. We’re weaving through fog and fireflies, springing through treetops, sneaking down rivers, hanging halfway down stone cliffs.
Arthur Rankin Jr, who died last Thursday, was not often thought of in connection with Japanese animation, though he played a major part in its history. In America, he’s best known as the co-founder of Rankin/Bass Productions. A stateside brand, the Rankin/Bass name is linked with handmade family cartoons as fondly as Oliver Postgate or Aardman are in Britain. But while the studio’s cartoons – especially the stop-motion Christmas classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) – are evergreens, few people know their animation was Japanese.
Right, hands up those of you who have been betting on which 1990s anime would get a Western live-action remake first. Ok, who had Ghost in the Shell? Evangelion? Cowboy Bebop? But Yasuomi Umetsu’s notorious sexed-up actioner Kite (1998) has beaten them all to the screen, starring anime fan Samuel L. Jackson.
Mochi-tsuki (rice cake pounding) takes place during all kinds of Japanese celebrations such as Festivals and New Year. Yesterday I got to try it myself, and I have to say that there is nothing quite like the taste of fresh mochi.