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The Dagger of Kamui back to product details

The Ultimate Ninja Anime Movie
written by hneline1 March 10, 2004 - 12:06 AM PST
3 out of 4 members found this review helpful
Forget Ninja Scroll. THIS is the ultimate ninja anime movie. Unlike many lengthy anime "movies" that still feel like an extended TV episode, I'm blown away by how much presence Dagger of Kamui(Kamui no Ken) has as a solid, well-developed, full feature film.

The story follows young Jiro in a long-ago Japan, whose adopted mother and sister are killed by an unknown assassin. Jiro is taken in by a ninja clan which trains him until he becomes a young adult and is told to find his missing father, who may have been a ninja himself. As we watch Jiro through his adventures, what starts off as a timeless tale of ninja fighting and betrayal slowly metamorphs into an epic saga set within a rich socio-historical backdrop.

Director Rintaro (Galaxy Express 999, Captain Harlock, X: the Movie, Metropolis) is a master visual storyteller. From the thrilling opening title sequence where Jiro is being chased to the quietly intense closing credits, Rintaro uses a variety of camera angles, old-style action sequences and new-style experimental animation techniques to draw us into the tale. The music is a mixture of classic Japanese plus an ethnic rhythm, reminiscent of Neo Ranga. Rintaro's attention to detail in character depictions is mesmerizing, from Andou getting his finger stuck in the sake bottle to Sam's shadow rippling on the curtained doorway as he steps away.

Of course, keep in mind that this is a mid-80s anime, so the drawn animation is slightly dated and you are not going to see gorgeous CG backgrounds or modern character design. There are some plot devices that puzzled me but made sense for story continuity, like why do all the foreigners speak Japanese so well? Also, I like epics and dramas set in history, but some people may think that it's too overblown.

Think of Dagger of Kamui as Princess Mononoke meets Rurouni Kenshin with ninjas, sprinkled with some Indiana Jones and Jack London. It's just a well done film. Oh, and there's no sex, just the action and the adventure and the non-gratuitous violence, in case you're squeamish.


(Average 6.20)
56 Votes
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