- Ninja Gaiden (1991: Studio Junio) 1/1 ep.
Videogame anime are some of the worst ever made. There are countless crappy fighting game tie-ins, shitty JRPG shows, and awful mobile game anime. However, on rare occasions they can be pretty good, such as the Street Fighter II movie. I’d be hard pressed to call Ninja Gaiden good but it is pretty fun and has some sweet ass action.
The OAV was directed by Mamoru Kanabe. He has done some pretty good work having directed Kimi to Boku, Sound of the Sky, and some episodes of Cardcaptor Sakura. However, he has also directed some real crap such as Elfen Lied and Psycho Driver. Coming out in November of 1991 I presume this OAV was there to promote the Ninja Gaiden Shadow, and the Gamer Gear Ninja Gaiden, which both came out at around the same time.
The OAV itself is quite simple, as any good ninja story should be. Ryu owns “Ryu’s Japanese Shop”, what an imaginative name, in New York and runs it alongside his love interest named Irene. Meanwhile, a dude discovers a cure for cancer but seems to be very secretive about it. This makes Ryu’s journalist buddies, at least I think they are journalists seeing as they keep talking about writing articles, curious and they decide to investigate. Ryu is also suspicious because he gets a telepathic message from a little girl and also because dudes keep attacking him. This mystery just so happens to involve the end of the world and demons, so normal ninja shit. As you can infer, the story is pretty much there just to carry us from action scene to action scene but as far as those kinds of stories go this isn’t a half bad one. At least they kept it fairly simple instead of the convoluted mess that some of these things can be. But as long as the bad dude is bad and we get some sweet action then I’m happy. The characters are even less fleshed out but they have some nice quirks and most importantly none of them are annoying.
The question remains however; if watching this for the action then is the action actually good? I am happy to report that it is! The action scenes are actually choreographed pretty well and have a nice amount of fluid motion rather than being stills with lines on the sides. They are also fairly varied as Ryu’s buddies have quite a bit of screen time and use explosives and guns unlike Ryu. In addition, there is a pretty cool car chase in there, I always love anime car chases despite them being so rare. This solid action does, however, seem to have meant that the rest of the show took a hit. The most noticeable thing is how bad the background art it. It is pretty much always minimally detailed, totally off model, or one of those multicoloured action affairs. They also have a habit of using drawn lens flare and the bloom from under lighting to let them get away with putting even less detail in there. But to be honest it isn’t really an issue, I’ll take the dope action over some highly detailed background art that I barely pay attention to. The character designs are ok but nothing special, pretty much the epitome of 4/10.
The only thing of note left to talk about is the music which is 80s as fuck. It features a lot of 80s synth rock and it actually works pretty well. I wouldn’t listen to any of them by themselves but together with this kind of silly action flick it just seems like a natural fit.
Overall Ninja Gaiden isn’t deep, serious, well written, or clever. However, it does have some dope ninja action and duds shooting dozens of demons to ribbons. Given that the story and characters aren’t actively bad or boring all one really needs is the cool action and this is shown by the fact I was having fun all the way through. So for 45 minutes of your life you cool do a lot worse than Ninja Gaiden, it isn’t good and it isn’t bad but it is pretty fun and has ninjas doing ninja shit.
Final Score: 6C