Anime DVD Review
It's Ninja-paloosa meets "The Matrix". Based on the popular manga series "Nabari no Ou", the anime series plays fast and hard with the plot, shoving an entire fictional history of Ninjitsu and the Shinra Banshou at you before the first commercial break! It's enough to make your head spin. Fortunately, it loosens up a bit afterwards, but be advised, things do happen pretty quickly, and before you know it you're in the middle of a giant, full-blown, no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners ninja war.
The Shinra Banshou is the "ultimate power" of the hidden ninja realm, a power that can do great good, or cause great harm, sealed within Miharu's body and represented by Japanese text flowing over him, which makes it look very much like "The Matrix" (and it doesn't help any that he's "the one", with a super-power that can unite all of the Ninja clans, except that all the ninja clans are currently killing each other like crazy in an attempt to possess Miharu, and therefore, attempt to extract the Shinra Banshou).
How this apathetic, know-nothing loser wound up with a superpower is all quite beyond me at the moment, but I have to say, the series is keeping my interest, as the characters and situations are well-done and the action sequences are top-notch (particularly impressive as the series starts off looking cheap, but that just turns out to be the style). Regardless of his apathy, after a few attacks it dawns on him that his life is really in jeopardy, and he realizes that he must become the Ruler of Nabari in order to survive.
So basically, what we've got is Naruto on steroids, but wait, there's more! By episode three, mass-killing is in full swing, and we haven't even met the full cast of characters yet. And the "good guys" need to do the exact same thing as the "bad guys"— which is steal all the forbidden techniques of each clan to create a new Ninjitsu that will allow them to release to Shinra Banshou.
It's a confusing and wild ride, but ultimately a satisfying and entertaining one. The full series isn't that long, so, as we said, things happen pretty quickly. Try not to blink.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, November 2009
Below: Scenes from Nabari no Ou.