An epic historical fantasy of noble young ninjas fighting an evil conqueror in feudal Japan, WRATH OF THE NINJA is a better-than-average Japanese animated adventure, boasting a strong story, compelling characters, imaginative supernatural touches, and plenty of action. This 1989 feature
received its first official US release on home video in 1998.
In 1580 Japan, Lord Nobunaga Oda (voice of Flavio Romeo) seeks to "attain the power of a true demon god" by conquering all resisting provinces. He sends his army of riflemen on a campaign of destruction, until only Iga remains as the last stronghold of resistance. Arrayed against Nobunaga are the
three Shadow Warriors, survivors of the three Shadow Ninja schools: the female ninja Ayame of the Kasumi school (voice of Rose Markisello), Sakon the Whirlwind of the Hyuga school (voice of Hideo Seaver), and Ryoma of the Hagakure school (voice of Peter Patrikios). Gradually, Iga is isolated as
its allies submit to Nobunaga or are destroyed by his army of monsters, including a three-headed dragon and the demonic Seven Oboro Ninja. When Iga's last ally, Koga, surrenders to Nobunaga, Iga seems doomed. To make matters worse, Sakon deserts the group, convinced of their impending loss and his
unwillingness to die for a lost cause.
The monk Ryoan (voice of Jack Taylor), who had originally brought the three ninjas together, pleads with Sakon and reminds him of an ancient prophecy, the Legend of the Sword, which dictates that the three ninjas must combine their weapons--a long sword, a short sword, and a halberd--in order to
defeat the demons. Only when the three finally reunite for an attack on Nobunaga's castle are they able to summon up the power to destroy Nobunaga, his evil sidekick Ranmaru (voice of Vinnie Penna), and the remaining demons once and for all in a spectacular final battle that leaves all but Ayame
A Japanese theatrical release made up of three made-for-video episodes flawlessly edited together, WRATH OF THE NINJA creates an epic tale of ninjas, armies, civil war, and raging demon monsters. Parts of it are based on history; Nobunaga was a real historical figure, but the rest is purely
There's a hint of romance between Ayame and Sakon in a brief, tender kissing scene, very rare in anime, done in beautifully rendered closeups. There is little time for romance, however, as Sakon has a crisis of faith midway through and, uncharacteristically for Japanese heroes, questions the
validity of dying to fulfill a preordained destiny. It's all very well animated and produced with expert design in all departments.
There are bursts of graphic, bloody violence and some imaginatively grotesque monsters that may put off casual viewers of anime and Japanese history buffs drawn to the subject matter. Devoted fans, however, will rank this alongside such later, similarly themed anime as RAVEN TENGU KABUTO (1992)
and NINJA SCROLL (1993). (Extreme violence, nudity.)
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- Released: 1989
- Rating: NR
- Review: An epic historical fantasy of noble young ninjas fighting an evil conqueror in feudal Japan, WRATH OF THE NINJA is a better-than-average Japanese animated adventure, boasting a strong story, compelling characters, imaginative supernatural touches, and plen… (more)