Ninja Resurrection (Makai Tenshou: Jigoku Hen 魔界転生地獄編 lit. Demon Resurrection: Portrait Of Hell) is an 2-part OVA series released in 1997-1998. It was one of ADV Films infamous licensed anime titles as the plot and story barely exists and a cliffhanger ending. It is an adaptation of the novel, Makai Tenshou, by Futaro Yamada.
Why It Sucks
- The story and plot is barely existent, and just seems to be an excuse to show off mountains of blood and gore, and characters killing each-other. Granted, this series is based on real events, so everything shown in this anime, except for the fantasy elements, actually happened in real-life, unfortunately it handles the subject matter very badly, to the point of being borderline exploitative.
- And the blood and gore in this OVA can get very messed up and disturbing, with several mind-scarring scenes, such as one of the villains decapitating a young boy and a girl then holding their heads in graphic detail, a woman having sex with Shiro, even while he's bleeding and dying, and a scene where one of the villains rapes a woman then kills her off-screen causing blood to go everywhere. And no, this is not a hentai, in case you're wondering.
- The series doesn't explain that much of what's going on like for example: How, or why, did the Japanese imperial army become enemies against the Christians? And considering this OVA is based on real-life events (as mentioned above), you would think that they would take it seriously enough to at-least elaborate these events better.
- All the characters in this series were actually real-life people, including Jubei Mitsuyoshi and Shiro Amakusa. However they're not well portrayed here at all.
- Shiro Amakusa, despite being a charismatic and intelligent christian leader, is also shown to be incredibly naive and trusting to the point where it works against him, because he believes every lie his corrupt strategist, Soiken Mori, tells him without any question or critical thought, regardless of how transparent the lies he tells him are, and he gets easily manipulated as a result. A notable example is where while Shiro is lying on the ground dying in despair after being stabbed by Jubei during his battle with him, as well as asking why God never protected his people, Soiken tells Shiro that god never really existed and that he was a lie created by the weak to give them a sense of false hope to help get them through their struggles, never-mind the fact that during Shiro's battle with Jubei, Shiro literally calls out to God to summon a giant snake dragon in an attempt to kill Jubei, but even then, Shiro still believes Soiken in spite of that.
- Likewise, the villains are not well developed and have very little characterization outside of killing people and raping people for their own amusement. Soiken Mori in particular wants to bring forth hell on earth just for the sake of being evil.
- Episode 2 has forced comedy mostly in the first half.
- Poor English dub acting, to the point where some of the dub actors mispronounce Japanese words.
- Cliffhanger ending where the bad guys win.
- Many nonsensical scenes, such as the scene where Suiken Mori slices off his own finger which then comes to life to finger his own daughter to make her have sex with Shiro. We are left to assume he used black magic to make his sliced off finger come to life, but still.
- False Advertising. Despite what the title suggests, this is not a sequel to Ninja Scroll. In fact, this anime wasn't even originally called Ninja Resurrection in japan, it was called Makai Tensho (which roughly translates to Demon World Resurrection), however ADV films thought it was a good idea to capitalize on the success of Ninja Scroll by deliberately making this OVA look like it was a sequel to Ninja Scroll by replacing the Makai part in the title to Ninja, and they even went as far as to make the letters in the "Ninja" part of the title look almost identical to the logo for Ninja Scroll.
- Furthermore, to make the title even more misleading, it barely even focuses on Ninjas. While this anime does have Ninjas in it, they only play a very small part in the story, and the series actually focuses more on Samurai. If this was called Samurai Resurrection instead, it would have made more sense, especially when you consider the fact that Kinji Fukasaku's 1981 live action adaptation of Makai Tensho was called Samurai Reincarnation.
- Very poor handling of the source material.
- The character designs and visuals look very good, even if you consider the time this was made.
- The orchestra soundtrack composed by Masamichi Amano is amazing.
- The voice acting in the original Japanese dub is fairly decent. Tessho Genda's performance as Jubei is pretty good.
- The scene where Jubei pays tribute to two children murdered by Soiken Mori by burying them and paying his respects to them is pretty moving.
- While the villains in this OVA barely have any characterization, Mataemon Araki stands out for being slightly more fleshed out and quite a terrifying villain compared to the other villains in this anime, and a badass on top of that. It also helps that he is voiced by the great Norio Wakamoto in the original Japanese dub.
As mentioned above, this anime series is actually based on a novel by Futaro Yamada, and all the characters featured in this anime, including Jubei, Shiro, Musashi, etc, are all based on real life people. Ninja Resurrection, or Makai Tensho as it was originally called in japan, is just one of many adaptations of the novel it is based on, as the novel also received three live action adaptations (one of which got a sequel), five manga adaptations, four stage play adaptations, and even a PlayStation 2 video game adaptation. Ninja Scroll is widely considered a spiritual adaptation of the novel, since Yoshiaki Kawajiri was a big fan of said novel, and it inspired him to create his movie, Ninja Scroll, and all the characters in Ninja Scroll were named after and inspired by the characters in Makai Tensho.