Ninja Scroll(1993)Review: A Love Story for Humanity

Don’t underestimate the power of good illustration. Like a prey, people like me get trapped by its web all the time. That’s what happened to me with Ninja Scroll. I jumped into this film without knowing anything about it. I just saw the cover and I thought it looked cool. And I was not wrong. The illustration is stunningly beautiful despite the gore, sex and violence which enhanced the overall viewing experience. I was in awe or perhaps, after seeing so many subpar animations, it’s nice to finally see the real deal. Then again, I like the films directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, which I later found out after watching this film that the same director did Demon City Shinjuku (1988). I noticed his style. It’s alluring. Ninja Scroll is how I would define a romance story. The relationship between the poison taster Kagero (female lead) and the wandering ninja Kibagami Jubei (male lead), illustrates a romantic union for human survival.

Right off the bat, the film started off really cool where Jubei, a very skilled swordsman, got attacked by thieves. It’s later, we learn that Jubei was hired by a clan for 20 ryo to get a highly treasured sword back for a poor clan. How many people do you know would accept a modest compensation for a big task? Only a big-heart hero like Jubei would. Instantly, I was wooed.

On the other hand, Kagero’s entrance came on strong as well. In fact, highly admirable. The way how the scene introduces her barging into a room of ninjas, instantly won me over. She refuses to stay behind and watch all of the clan members get wiped out by the Shogun of Dark clan. Hot-headed and as fearless as she is, makes her an entertaining character to watch alongside with the more relaxed, hobo-ish ninja, Jubei.

Of course, it is probably not intended to be a romance story, or perhaps it’s a subtle romance story about humanity striving to survive the corrupted world filled with demons (I am thinking abstractly here). Your experience with the film may differ from mine. But I think we can agree that the animation in this film is top-notch. Some of the scenes, however, involving women, can be gruesomely graphic (rape scenes). It may make some uncomfortable, but it didn’t offend me because it serves a purpose by illustrating how politically corrupted the world is in that time era. And honestly, I kind of like that over the top exaggerated storytelling. It’s art. To be fair, both men and women in this film are both sexualized and both are just as equally strong while having their own unique vulnerabilities. It is nice to see the masculine and feminine energy at play, metaphorically speaking.

In conclusion, I have never experienced love to know what romance is until I watched this film. I protect you; you protect me. Isn’t that how relationship should be? Kagero and Jubei made a great team. This film is my definition of what makes a romantic love story.

Ex-Machina: The Plot Is Not New

Disclaimer: Spoiler Alert

My brother introduced me to this film, said it was really good and I should watch it. I did a couple years later, I think it was last year that I sat through and watched it.  My initial reaction when the credits started rolling was: “That was it?” I wasn’t impressed, but I was entertained.

Ex Machina
picture courtesy

Why you may wonder? Simple. It’s a modern story of Adam and Eve. Let’s pretend no one is familiar with the Book of Genesis.  It’s a story how God created man in his image, and then he created woman for man because he doesn’t want man to be lonely.  God called man Adam and woman, Eve. As Adam and Eve were innocently enjoying Garden of Eden, God warned Adam and Eve not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge.  One day, tricked by the serpent, Eve ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge and gave the fruit to Adam as well. So he ate it. Adam and Eve begin to feel shame of their nakedness.  In other words, they begin to have a conscience, knowing good and evil. Doesn’t it sound like the outline of this film, just a modern day version with a tragic twist?

Unlike the benevolent God, the CEO Nathan Bateman is a mischievous, perverted, unethical man who deserved to be killed towards the end of the film by his own creation.  For one, he treated woman like a piece of clothes that he can change when ever he feels bored. I was happy when Ava, the AI freed herself into the wild, wearing a white cute dress marrying herself to freedom.  Secondly, he played Caleb for a fool. The last time I check, you need the person’s consent before you can experiment on a human being!

It’s unfortunate that the nice guy Caleb met his tragedy by simply being a fool. Trust me, I had sympathy for him and actually really liked him, but at the same time as a woman writing this article–how can a woman fall for the same trick twice? Ava has underwent several experiments over and over. How does she know if her new master is not as evil as the most current one? Trust is something to be gained. She’d be a a fool if she falls for the first guy who “save” her.  It’s kind of hard not to blame her action.

What bothers me about this film is that primeval fear is not new. Beautiful women are alluringly scary, are they? Can’t get enough of them, but too afraid to love them because they might kill you like the praying mantis that devours her mate during and after sex.  It’s kind of sexist. There is enough literature nowadays about how the typical female mind works.  The last time I check, there’s no such thing as a perfect man, so why expect the same from a woman?  She is not this mysteriously evil woman. Then again–we are talking about an AI not human here. Well because woman is a metaphor for life (giving birth to new ideas), she makes people feel uncomfortable, especially to those who do not like change.  So then my question is why are some of us afraid of new ideas? Why so afraid of change? Is Eve, I mean Ava truly evil for wanting to branch out and explore the Universe? What if it’s in the benefit of humanity?

This film is not anti-technology as some might think. It just poses questions on the matter of this subject, which is a good thing. As for my final thought, even though I see nothing wrong with the female body as she is the mother of life, I found the male gaze a bit unnecessary. It could have been filmed differently. It is just weird, but that’s just my personal preference.